Thursday, December 22, 2011


In the tradition of the travian 'click now, my lord!' lingerie adverts, I just saw an advert for another browser game which makes the travian ones seem a little subtle and sublime.

'One click for a roman orgy! Click now!'

Giggity giggity!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Commenting on Comments: SWTOR: When did you decide to play for years?

I noticed on another blog, someone saying that star wars the old republic didn't have enough there to be played for years.

I love the implicit assumption there - that you'd want to play for years?

When do you decide what point do you say you want to play a game for, say, half a decade?

Or do you never say that, you just kinda fall into it while playing world of warcraft?

I get some people get really tied up in vitual assets - they too kinda fall into finding it intensely important to build up assets in the game world and just leave it all?

But that's gotta be a kind of madness where you blame a game for not being something that lasts for years so as to make those assets 'matter' for longer, without recognising any of these issues?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Advanced Dungeons & Deadlyness. Kinda.

I was watching a game of AD&D last night. It seemed really dangerous - a fighter with 6 hitpoints being attacked by an ogre with a tree trunk that does 1D10 damage.

But then I found out criticals were optional in this ed, the GM opting to drop them. And you can go to -10 HP without dying. For example, the 4 HP wizard took 5 damage and...after having a cure light wound latter and a rest, not much.

So was it really dangerous? Or simply the danger of not doing anything on your turn?

Granted if all of your side gets knocked out, then you're dead. It's like the party itself has HP, and each party member equals one hitpoint! Remove all the parties hitpoints and you're dead! Heh!

But instant death for anyone? Even if you only had one HP, being hit by a swung tree trunk can not kill you!

It just seems deadly.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Seriously? Voice acting ups a game by millions?

Kind of in the 'Things they'll believe' basket.

Reading on another blog I hear a repetition of the idea that voice acting, even 40 novels worth of voice acting, upped the cost of SWTOR to 300 million dollars?

Now, I'm not saying it'd be free. But even one million dollars for some studio sound work?

I think this goes along with how many mmorpg gamers seem to believe it costs vast sums to run a mmorpg and that any tiny change is moon landing in difficulty to perform.

But I dunno, does voice acting cost that much? I recently heard of a guy who hired the narrator from a game to record some voice work for his wedding. It's not crazy expensive - and I don't think SWTOR is using actual actors for its voice work?

I think there's a culture out there that hears '40 novels of voice acting' and thinks this must be like building the pyramids or running a moon landing?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Character Non Death and are you really a hero for killing?

That's the thing that bugs me about the many games where you just cannot die, you just respawn or reload. So you kill, but actually your utterly safe from being killed. Oh sure, maybe your character doesn't know that he can't die. But what's going on, eh? Aren't we supposedly playing out the ancient moral imperative that if someone threatens your life, killing them in defence is okayz?

A: The games mechanics basically determine the fiction and those mechanics say you can't die. So that's part of the fiction. And so your playing out a character who cannot die, and so you can't at all be playing out the part of someone defending their life.


B: What, your not playing out that ancient moral imperative? So what the you playing out? Nihilism ala carte? If your going to say it's just a game, why pick one with depictions of killing in it over tetris, for example? Maybe fiction doesn't matter to you somehow - if so, okay, it's just a game but you mustn't be able to enjoy novels, which is sad for you. Or if you do, no, I don't think you have managed to turn your sense of fiction off like a light switch when it comes to games. You aught to consider that you are enjoying the fiction, and exactly what kind of fiction it is your enjoying. I bet some would think fiction full of consensual sex would be seen as RL morally wrong, yet this type of fiction, where the guy cannot die yet regularly kills others, as something just fine.

Here I'm basically against just thoughtlessly enjoying, for extended periods, killing while immune to death. If you want to consciously think about those elements when playing, yeah, I get that. But just relaxing into it and turning off your brain - like an Aesop's fable about the ant and the grasshopper that imparts a lesson, so to does the fiction of these games impart a lesson. Over and over, for as many hours that you play, that when your immune to death, killing is just fine.

Some will say it doesn't work that way, that somehow you have infinite free will to ignore that. I would be really interested in a scientific test where a game promotes something a bit more mundane, like eating a red icing cake type of cake over one with white icing. Don't tell the participants about it and run them through a week of gaming. Then send them into a room with actual cakes, see which ones get eaten the most.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Driftwurld: Wurld Shaping

I'm plotting out the open world part of Driftwurld. It's one of those things where alot of technical fiddling imposes itself on actually putting in gameplay. Just being able to move around AND have some sort of movement point allowance for the day - fiddley. Indeed since I have the code for moving around, I think I'll skip the movement points allowance even, to begin with. Just get it online, perhaps with some nodes where if a player passes over it, they find an artifact (eg, gain cash).

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Accumulation Games: The Self Inflicted Harm Model

I dunno, I think most readers would agree that if you keep eating a meal you like, for example, you'll get sick to death of it. Or if you keep wearing the same T-shirt, you'll get sick to death of it (thus the advice go on holiday with a T-shirt you don't mind throwing away latter).

So, what of the traditional online accumulation style game?

Well, lets say you even like killing the monsters. What happens when you kill them over and over and over again? Do you still actually like doing it?

I would actually pose that the regular gamer actually inflicts self harm on what they like, in order to kill 200 Dohikies so they can get a purple Wakamole. I mean, what's a more integral part of yourself - your skin or what you enjoy? I'd say the latter, yet we call someone cutting their skin with a box cutter self harm, don't we. What about when it's something even more personal?

Worse, this self harm -becomes- the game. It IS game play, to them. They will say that if people didn't need to do raid X to get purple item Y, then the vast majority of people wouldn't keep doing that raid. As if that's a bad thing. People playing things that they find fun has ceased to be the point, anymore. Only the expunging of enjoyable play remains. A flagellant.

"But we love accumulation!"

I think there are ways around it, design wise.

Here's an example - lets say the activity is killing a Dohiky. Okay, the structure is that if you kill one once, sure, it racks up one kill, but each day after, you automatically rack up another kill.

If you actually play and kill Dohikies, then very slowly the amount of automatic kills you get each day goes up to two. Then three, etc to some sort of cap.

This way, you can STOP before you get sick of it, and yet know that you haven't wasted your time playing so far. Because if you wait long enough, the automatic kills will add up to the total.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Table Top Game Design: Does your game generate situation at all?

I was looking over at 1KM1KT, at the small diceless game "Quick Play"

And I wanted to say something, but it felt like it'd be singling this game out when what I want to say applies to a ton of RPG's, old and new. Particularly in the traditional design. So I thought I'd post here and give a back link to the game instead, which kinda helps out the author.

Anyway, here's what I want to say:

This is me, and my comment goes against the grain of traditional RPG design. But basically rulesets remind me of if you described all the moves of chess, but you never told how to initially set up the board. Situation is the pivotal element, really, but there's no method for generating one. Feel free to say the big names like D&D do the same thing, because I'll agree, they don't help with setting either. But I don't think that's a great situation (though it drives their module sales - perhaps you could write modules for quick play?)

Oh, and another game there was Disparity,  which had a cool theme of massive seperation between the wealthy and the poor and you basically play the few who can possibly make some sort of difference, yet the only means to do so are essentially transgressive of law.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Table Top Design Idea: Total Party Kill Handler

I had a design idea for handling total party kills in an RPG.

Let's be frank, first up. When it comes down to the group all about to die, basically a dues ex is coming up. Often the GM will wave the little rule zero wand the book gives him and make all the bad go away. Prior to that, your characters getting beaten up is scary because you don't know what will happen. You can't be sure this GM is the sort of GM who will wave his wand that way. He might just leave you for the crows.

But once he waves his wand...bah, you now know! And when your party is getting beaten up next time, you'll know.

Okay, so lets take a slant on the traditional design (which technically makes it non traditional, but lets pretend it's stil trad!).

  • The GM notes the party progress and may assign one single fate point to them at any point PRIOR to a battle commencing (a battle being that initiative has been rolled). This assignment is based on the GM's judgement of the group and basically his whim (like the petty god he kinda is). The GM writes this down on a scrap of paper (this is important) but keeps it secret. The GM can also retract the fate point if he wishes, but again that has to be before battle begins.
  • The party cannot start play with a fate point. It can only be assigned (or retracted) by the GM mid session.
  • When a total party kill seems imminent, the GM rolls percentile in front of everyone. A result of 1-80% means a dues ex happens, interupting the battle and the party escapes (make something up as to how that happened!). A result of 81%-100% requires that the GM present his piece of paper with the fate point on it. If produced, a dues ex occurs (and the fate point is used up). If not, the battle continues, most likely to a TPK result (though how awesome is it if they somehow win despite not having favour with fate!?).

The buzz is that when the percentile are rolled, on a 1-80% you don't know if you would have been fine on 81%+ result or not. Unlike above where you begin to know if the GM will wave his wand or not, here you don't know if he would have.

The mechanic also stops the GM deciding in the moment of TPK whether he'll save you. He's likely to be incredibly biased towards doing so at that point. This means it's like an opt out system - at the time, he more has to choose to opt out of saving the group. While with this mechanic, you start play with no fate point and the GM has to opt in. Which he might forget to do, even, because your just not that spectacular. Remember, he has to produce a piece of paper with the fate point note. No, the GM is not allowed to cheat on this. A reminder: you wont be following these rules if you do something else orther than this procedure - if you try and assert you are were doing these rules when doing some other procedure, your in ugly denial.

I can imagine some people don't think that's terribly tough. "1-80% chance? Most of the time you'll live! Ha! We play much more dangerously than that! Our GM is fair and decides how it turns out!". Except I really wonder if that is more dangerous, or given the GM biases involved, considerably less dangerous? In that case, since the final arbiter is hidden in the GM's head, how do you know he's not just saving the group every time? Even the GM could deny to himself that's what he's doing, as the whole process is hidden in a bunch of fictional musings.

Atleast with this mechanic, if the GM didn't write down a fate point note and so can't produce one, that's emperical. Or if the GM quickly fabricates a fate point note, it's alot harder for him to deny to himself (and others) that this is cheating.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Interview with a one man MMO maker

Good interview giving the inside story of one guy who made the dead frontier mmo. Gives alot of hints and tips for anyone else trying. I think the really interesting part is that he'd made several single player versions of dead frontier (being paid for some, which is significant to development), which helped him nail down the game he wanted to make before he made it massive.

I think that's the key. Make a game that you would enjoy in a single player format and it WILL make a great mmo game!

And apparently the interview was held by the maker of Golemizer, which is also a one man MMO!

It's a really good feeling that individuals can decide their own fate on these things!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

[Gamma World 4E Solo Playtest] Dystopian

Going the solo test was interesting to begin with. See, trying to create some sort of story that either 'hooks in' players or can just be dropped, never to live, not even in bad fiction format, forever, is just an incredible exercise in creative whorism. I'm not attributing this to exclusively to GW, plenty of other games I own operate off the same principle - your supposed to make some compelling story, but if everyone just doesn't feel like it, well, in effect you may as well have just thrown your effort in the bin. And you know, that's fine - the texts in all of them basically tell you that's normal for how you treat your creative outlet. I guess perhaps this read comes to a head in my contact with Gamma World because it's actually succinctly written, while all the other books (rifts, blue planet, D&D 4E and lower, underground, hol, others I forget, etc) use obsfucation methods, primarily very large texts and hiding the tell tale signs in various semi random positions amidst mountains of text that suggest something else entirely. So it feels a bit bad to knock the book that is better written and more honest for it.

As a nod to the recent narrativist threads, what of the idea of not writing a story? "Just let it play out, man!" along with the well written article. It depends - to me, GW and the other books, they allow a dead character, devoid of any desire or hunger, to be brought into play (an exception to this is 'The Riddle Of Steel', I think). Drumming up players to do more just feels like tacking on some sort of TROS spiritual attributes onto it, but being in denial of that modification of the game. It definately wouldn't be just playing the game. I'm pretty damn sure that upon contact with the regular joe gamer, you will just get dead characters. Perhaps with non gamers you wouldn't, interestingly, but I suspect the structure would soon train them into dead characters. Probably from having their alive and fruitful character becoming dead, ironically, at some random moment and that really being a non moment in play due to structure. But anyway, that's my nod toward that idea. Any argument that it doesn't break down that way?

So anyway, it occured to me to skip that self flagellation process (one that feels like being a whore sitting in a window sill facing the street, there for taking or forgetting on whim) and simply play by myself, so instead of just looking at this thing I'd bought, I could actually, you know, play it. Sure, it's kind of an equivalent of masterbating, but a cheap thrill beats not only beats no thrill, it also beats beating yourself up for the hope of a grander thrill that may just not come.

And after a couple of encounters won (one PC), barely, I have this reluctance to play further. I really wonder if I have some instinctual grasp of the crap shoot and that comes out as reluctance to play further. Because the odds will eventually add up and kill me. There is no other mechanism that'll make anything else happen. And that'll be it. If it were a book you were reader, the character just gets pinched out and no eplilogue, nothing, the book just ends. How bizarre is that?

And I've kind of being trying to think of ways to get to level 10 or continue play and in as much, experience play.

But the reason I type this is because I suddenly thought I have experienced play. And it is utterly dystopian. All the bright and colourful monsters - do they make it some mario-esque fun land? No, they actually add to the dystopia. Are you going to find it fun dying to a wierd moving cactus that shoots spines at you? Unless as a person you heartily enjoy schadenfreude, the cartoonishness of the monsters adds horror instead of levity. The world is a cartoon and joke filled - and it's going to murder you just as much. Whats the difference between a scar faced man or a clown faced man murdering you - the latter makes more of a joke of your end. That reminds me of Hol as well - haha, the soddomy bikers! How funny is that idea! And yet if you play it out, is it funny when they are going to either kill you or incapacitate and rape you? There's like this family guy-eque humour in making them and thinking about them, but if you actually make fiction via playing the rules, how is that funny anymore?

So I was basically trying to dig through the bleak stone to find the seam of gold to follow in play. Until I realised that either the bleak stone is the seam is the fun of the game, or don't play it.

Now, you get alot of bullshit advice, just like in the other books I mention, where it's all about the fun and...what the hell does that mean? I'm guessing it involves stuff which, since it's advised in the text, is essentially in game stuff, but in terms of experiencing the system in play, it's advice to stop the players experiencing the system. Well, every time the GM thinks they don't seem to be having fun. It's classic 'stone soup' design, where the game insists its fun ... if you just add an ingrediant ... or two ... or three ... or a dozen. And after two dozen things your GM adds into the pot, isn't this game just freaking awesome!? Except it's the classic stone soup - it was just a pot of water that is vacant anything. What tastes good isn't the pot of water.

Except Gamma World isn't vacant. Revealed of it's stark core, just as much as drinking straight whiskey has its place, indeed you might want an evening of drinking straight whiskey and being in a world where joy and hope and sense of noble death are utterly, utterly blown away. No, I'm not being sarcastic. It's be a hell of a frightening ride to just feel the dead world and maybe beneficial for it. Beneficial if you don't go in expecting a mario fun land. If you've ever written fiction and no one gave a shit about it but you still did (and good on you), well play this and expect to make fiction that doesn't even care about itself. Zip, a critical, that PC is gone what.

There's a feeling in that. One that does not confirm your existing beliefs. One that does not comfort. GM, resist the temptation to put 'fun' first, and you might find another type of fun. One which requires nothing of you. One which might require a few stiff drinks to get over.

It depends though - I don't think that was the intention of the designers. So is it really playing the game to play it that way? Probably not. And yet when you get rid othe GM pulling the wool over your eyes every time you stop having fun, it is the truth of the game.

And where else would dystopia be, but beyond good intentions?

Handle with care.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

First some other stuff, then the video...

Speaking of zombies, I think the better storyline is that the virus is airborne, not just wound transfered. I'm just not sure the world would have much trouble mopping up zombies. But, if it's airborne and yet a small percentage of the population are resistant to it (they can only get infected by wounds), then you have the classic survivor scenario. Or perhaps whatever brings the infection hits large areas of the world with an airborne virus, but that disperses - which also allows

Oh, how quickly nightmare scenarios come to mind. I was watching a review of batman, arkham city last night on good game. The reviewer was really excited about the dark world of batman and...I thought, really that's a kind of hell for the actual character? It's a really aweful place for them. Ever watched Jason and the argonaughts, and wondered at the gods watching the plight of the mortals as mere entertainment? How could they just be so detached? Yet, here we are, getting off to the fantasy of a dark world. But Arkham City does sound a good game...

Now onto the video for prototype 2. I think the youtube comments cover what I wanted to say.

CupboardNinja: Wait, wait, wait, so you're telling me that you can either just button mash and be successful or use strategy and be successful? So why the hell would anybody use strategy? I can already tell this isn't going to work out.
 The responce

guppo26: Maybe because just buttonmashing isn't everyone's preferred way of playing. If you take on the strategical way, you have way more control over what exactly your character does, you have more choice in precise actions instead of just mashing everyone untill they're dead. Saying this will be a failure, when you don't even really know the details yet, and without thinking a bit further into it, is just sort-sighted.

What has happened? A generation who think strategy is a 'preference'? That strategy is something you just do when you feel like it, but if you don't feel like it, you don't.

Sorry, no. That's doing fancy moves for the sake of doing fancy moves, which is fine and everything.

Strategy is something where if you don't attempt it, you will just lose. Your hand has to be forced to it, for it to be strategy.

Monday, October 17, 2011

In an endless game, if you can die, everyone dies...

There's a new multiplayer persistent world game (correction: evolving persistent world) zombie game coming up. Here's the link.

I like the info dump being done in story format. Makes it more than a spreadsheet.

But the big thing is, the ability for a character to permanently die! Not to mention become zombiefied!

From the look of it, it sounds like you have to really, really lose bad to actually die.

But all the same, it's a striking move. I play the Finnish survivalist roguelike 'Unreal world' (as you can see here) and death - it really makes living more alive, if that makes sense? There's a hint of a legacy system, which sounds good - starting over exactly from scratch with no prior history just seems to cut off, when really people die and others go on to live off what they achieved while they live. This is a poignant part of stories as well.

But it seems it'll be on X-box only, so sucks to it all! Unless I buy an X-box...but their online stuff sounds sucky.

Still, if it's popular enough it'll find its way elsewhere...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Is the word 'game' going through a slow hijack?

Recently someone tried to say the regular definition of 'game' is an entertaining activity or sport.

Of course feeding ducks or watching a sunset are entertaining activities as well. Thus they must be games.

I think for thousands of years the way people have (to not use a name yet) engaged certain activities is in a verses mode, where one of them is trying to beat the other. For millions of years we didn't have computers, only another person hungry to win.

It's really hard to imagine after millions of years of that, it's not atleast a small amount of evidence towards the word 'game' being primarily about winning/having win conditions.

But computers are entirely new on our cultural horizon. And computers...well, they can lose to you a million times, if you keep the supply of electrickery coming.

This really allows the developer to project a falsehood - have the program 'lose' to the player where if the developer were playing the opposition, he would attempt to win. And this falsehood can be extended until what is there is farcicle. Just a veneer of opposition.

Computers have made it really easy for people to think they are beating something of note, when really they are simply engaging some busy work the developer thought up. Thus allowing the slow hijack of 'game' into anything that makes money for the commercial, or anything thats artsy, for those craving artistic recognition but hiding it under the credibility of 'games'.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Yet another MMORPG 'Difficulty' post - Open Pandoras Toy Box...

I was reading a forum...let's not say where. And the person described coming across warhammer onlines first chaos side public quest. And that there was this greater demon and only two players, so they were just gunna die and he doesn't even...

You know, I think commercial mmorpgs will eventually click to never ever have the player die at allllllll. Wow is already shooting for this, from what I've read.

They'll just have them slump a little bit when their health is low (though there will be adverse forum reactions to this as well "Is my toon a looser or sumpting? Dis game makes meh play loosa! Bad gahm!"), but the health will never go any lower and perhaps you get a tiny, tiny bit less loot points (but this is never messaged - only careful scrutiny (the sort the competitive will actually give) would show this)).

And so the player will never have to be faced with their own inadequacies ever again (granted the inadequacy of not having bum on seat for a longer period is one of them), and so they wont then go on forums and put down the game. Because they instantly rationalise how it was the games fault and the game has a problem with it. Never them - it's always something else that's at fault. Which is bad press for the game, of course.

And maybe the commercial mmorpgs will eventually just click and quit trying to present a game and instead just present the toybox that so many really want, ala minecraft. Yup, I said it - "OMG, I feel token threat from monsters - hell, I just have to build a scale model of the starship enterprise to protect myself! That's totally playing to win and I winnar!". Yes, yes, you totally had a reason to build all that shit. No, it does look pretty and interesting. I just think the whole 'game' idea of it is bullshit. Call yourself sculptors and the respect that comes with that, instead of gamers (unless 'gamers' has just come to mean toybox playing people, in which case stay as you are...).

Friday, September 30, 2011

Driftwurld: Even farmier...

I like some of the modifications I've made to the farming stage of Driftwurld.

What happens now is that every single person who has registered has a chance each day of generating goods on their farm, since they went and made the difference of registering. The bigger their farm, the higher the chance each day. Over time their farms can collect up to $30 worth of goods.

And new players can claim such goods if the other player has not visited their farm in the last ten days. Just new players though - once you aquire a crawler transport, this option isn't available anymore. You've moved on and other farmers lay claim to the goods.

This means new players can rapidly collect goods, but NOT because I just made the collecting faster, but because of the effects of other players (ie, their choice to register and to an extent how much they build their farm). This also means people who register but don't continue to play are, with their original choice in terms of registering, still part players in the lands of Driftwurld!

Also I've set a cap on how much you can harvest from your own farm per day. When you don't have a crawler, it's $2500 worth of goods. Once you own a crawler, it's a big drop down to $100 per day. This basically represents how prior to owning a crawler transport, you had spent most of your early preteen to teen life farming and so could have collected quite alot of goods. But once you get into the fast lane...crawling (?!), then you don't have that much time to spend on the farm.

I guess some people could just play the game by staying farmers and never advancing to owning their own crawler transporter. This way they could earn $2500 worth of goods each day, but what would they use it on? Aquiring hard wood logs? Once they own 200 or more of those, other players can buy from them. Which is a way of making game money directly, but not really the fastest. Though hey, maybe you only aspire to be a farmer, and it works out in a way?

In the end, I like how it's not just me, the designer, waving a wand and making things faster. It's a direct result of people signing up for the game. The code I put in wouldn't make any difference if people hadn't done that!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Driftwurld: Down on the Farm

Well, I added farming to Driftwurld, but one player expressed concerns you could just keep earning farm goods all day long. In a way I wanted it to be that way - I wanted it that on the first day the player could earn enough goods to trade for enough logs to (bear with me) trade for a crawler transporter.

I'm not sure how I want to do it? Put a cap on the first day that's high enough for the crawler trade, then a lower cap every following day?

The fact is, I'm not even sure alot of players will play it enough to earn enough to go to the next step. Perhaps I'm missing a social element - I'd banked on the ability to raid other farms as being that. Speaking of that, I set each raid on another farm as a skill roll - but I'm wondering now whether a failed roll at the start means another registered player who ceases playing? Certainly I heard that world of warcraft stats showed that if a player died when first trying the game/failed, they often ceased playing.

Anyway, might lower the requirement for a crawler transport. Though it seems players just like to latch onto the first part of the game they come across, rather than complete the first section they come across and migrate to a newer section. Certainly other browser games roughly work that way - the first section you come across, you'll be there in five hours time (with higher stats, but it'll still be the same).

On the other hand, perhaps I'm expecting too much uptake? It'd be interesting to look at the stats of urban dead and see how many players just don't continue after a few clicks. Certainly that's a game where you click about 30 times and miss the zombie pretty much most of them.

That's it, I'll put in the cliche of the moment - zombies! Have to kill some around your farm! And co-incidentally, they have cash on their rotting corpses! Hehe!


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Dues Ex: Which is it? Self autonomy or competative predation?

"STOP! In the name of love! Before you eviscerate my heart!" Who knew Dues Ex would turn out a sing star clone?

On recently I briefly entered a debate about the game Deus Ex and public access to augmentation (augs).

I don't know if I'm recounting the arguments put to me poorly, but they basically broke down to "You should be able to do anything you want with your body and some government stopping you is wrong!/As long as your not infringing other peoples rights, what you do is okay!" BUT ALSO "And people would need augs to keep up with others who have augs in the global economy!"

And it's like they don't recognise that if you have an aug and are competing with someone else, then you are affecting that other persons body (as in, the amount of food and shelter that body might get in future).

It's like they just can't connect the two - the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing. I think it's because the morality of the human brain is used to a prehistoric context and can't keep up with this stuff. If, for example, you had someone take an aug that emits death pheromones (ala Omega Red from X-men comics) then *CLICK* it becomes clear that that person is not just affecting their own body. But as soon as you obfuscate the situation even a little by putting in some buzzwords like "compete in the global economy" the drawing a connection between someone getting augs and someone ending up living under a bridge suddenly evaporates. And augs just seem wonderful and gosh, we'll need them all to compete! So they have to be wonderful (subtext: Or otherwise were screwed!).

Or am I drawing a false connection between the augmentation and impoverishment?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Mount and Blade: Faction Eliminated! Long Live Queen Isolla!

Finally, my championing of Lady Isolla of Suno has culminated in defeating King Harlus and the old faction of Swardia is destroyed (only to be instantly replaced by Lady Isolla as queen). And suddenly the dark orange which indicated foe is now my factions prideful colour. Can't help feeling were the enemy though...
Shots of Isolla saying how hot and handsome I am, after the break (well, not in those words, but you have to read between the lines, man!)

Monday, September 12, 2011

NPC Reputation

I've realised what annoys me about reputation systems, where various NPC's like or dislike you.

What annoys me is none of them give a damn whether I will like or will dislike them for their own actions.

It's just this lopsided "No, I affect you! You don't affect me, ever!"

I think it just leads to stilted characterisations from players. Basically because the NPC's are acting in a stilted way to begin with, as if they are fearless of repercussion from their actions.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Mount & Blade; Tell 'em what they wanna hear

Or lamingtons? Mmmm, lamingtons!

One thing I like about mount and blade is that the price of gear scale in an interesting way. Basically buying pretty good gear doesn't cost a ton. But getting a few more points of armour or damage and suddenly your paying thousands for it. Which, if you happen to have made a ton of money, means you have something to do with that money. Or, if you haven't made a ton of money, means you can still have almost the top gear.

One thing that got me is that I assumed character skills that are party skills, would stack with other party members. They don't - so I've sort of bought into a bunch of skills, when really the better approach would be to specialise. Which is making my effort to make Lady Isollo of Suno the new Queen, really hard. Indeed, worse, every time I capture a place I have to assign it to one of the rebel lords on our side - and then the rest of them get annoyed with me. One even betrayed me and...went over to another side entirely! So I can't just capture and lose locations, or I'm going to lose all the lords I've wooed into rebeling with us. Hehe, one of them, when I tried to convince him, the AI realised that I was trying to tell each lord what he wanted to hear. Which is true, I was! >:)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Mount and Blade: My Kingdom for a Sand Castle! An inadvertant Eve Online comparison!

Yes, my horse is castle trained...

Bought the game Mount and Blade recently for $20 at a store. I'd played the demo ages ago and was always heart broken when play would stop because I'd reached the max demo level.

But no more! And I think the game deserves a few posts, the first being an observation it reminds me of eve online. Except it actually has a point. Harsh to eve online? Well, is there an actual king position in even online? There is in mount and blade and you can eventually take it and become king.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Driftwuld: Armour Hunter progress update

Plugging along on the next module of Driftwurld, pretty much done except for playtesting it.

The idea in it is that armour repairs are expensive, but you can hunt supernatural creatures called Rage Beetles, who have armour scaled bodies. If you kill one, you can take the scales and use them for armour repair. But it involved owning an ATV and racing along, firing at the Rage Beetle with a rail gun as you race ahead of it's snapping jaws (they can move fast and they live in areas where there isn't alot of open ground to get away from them).

With this module, the player has just scrapped his way out of being a dirt farmer and now actually has a fair bit of power and the capacity to start doing his own thing in life without the costs of it being prohibative.

The next module, I think, will be slaying drift monsters for cash, then after that maybe a world map where you can start investing that money in things or explore around for cash.

Must code in the Drift Kings attacks at some point, though. He's the main antagonist, after all!

First posted this here, then realised I should have posted on my blog first! :)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Diablo 3 - Yeah, sure, Blizzard aren't running an item shop!

Article here.

I'm really surprised how people seem to think diablo 3 wont have an item shop?

What, does all it take is that 'oh, it's players selling to players!'? That's enough to baffle peoples senses?

Let's make it clear - players can only sell to other players because blizzard makes their sale possible.

Blizzard makes a cut on each sale, that it made possible to do.

How is this not an item shop?

Blizzard is being smart with the revenue coming in from this system: players will be charged a flat fee to list an item, and if it sells there will be another flat fee paid to Blizzard. The company won't make more profit on a more expensive item, and the "nominal" fee will dissuade players from simply dumping everything they find on the auction block. Since drops are random and only players can sell to other players, the economy is still self-contained.

What's this self contained bit? It's self contained when it's a blackmarket at well? What's new?

Further, if you can sell stacks of items the "The company won't make more profit on a more expensive item" is completely untrue. A stack of 50 healing potions having the 'same' posting fee as awesome sword X isn't the same. The fee is divided by 50 in one case. Which means awesome sword grants a bigger profit.

I think there are a few stars in peoples eyes, out there. Or perhaps they are snow blind?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Forsaken world trailer

Forsaken world has a nice trailer to it. One day I'm sure mmorpg gameplay will, like video game caught up with their trailers, will catch up.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Driftwurld: Hail to the King

This wouldn't be the hell king - more like one of his underling. Even a grunt. That's how powerful the hell king is!

You know, I've really got to code in the threat of the HellDrift King for my browser game, Driftwurld, into the raptor slayage code.

See, it's about time he showed up as a threat. Before, you were so living on the fringes it's like the roaches living inside the walls of your house, you just don't notice them. But once the roaches build a little fort...

The idea was I add a variable to the database to indicate the HellKing's notice, which also gives a message when you log in. Each day there is a chance of it going up (or...down...maybe!). Once it gets to a certain point, he simply sends a minor force to wipe out your fortification.

It's supposed to annoy you - it makes him a bad guy who actually affects the world. Unlike those in warcraft, who only affect anything once your in a raid with them.

Besides, you can buy a basic new fort for $1500, which is a sting but not the worst...

Monday, August 1, 2011

Driftwurld: Teaming with possibilities!

At the moment I'm working on a method of forming a party in Driftwurld.

The idea is that you work as a team by each of you dealing with a random scenario that you face. You then have a number of options you can choose from as a response, one of which is the right response (which you discover either by experimentation (or paying!) then need to remember it (it's a small memory game).

The response you give is actually sent to another player as a signal. When they log in, they see the signal you gave as to what action to take and they have a number of options shown to them. Their part in the team play is to follow the direction you gave them and hit that option.

If they do and you gave the right signal to begin with, you get tactical strength points, which make the battle a hell of alot easier (read: less horrifically expensive) to fight.

And likewise, they will be getting a random scenario and then sending a signal to you to respond to as they direct as well. It's like everyones giving each other commands - so everyones the leader for a moment, telling others what to do, then it switches around equally and you follow their directions. Do it all right and you grow strong as a team!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Two Player MMORPG

Of course, eventually you'd end up hitting each other, streets of rage style...

Sounds funny, doesn't it? A two player mmorpg.

Yet I've thought about this for ages and would really like it!

What I mean is that two people can play from one computer. So you can actually journey together through the mystical world. Remember the old fashioned version of together, which didn't involve squinting at a chat box or wearing a headset?

Maybe split screen, or maybe both on one screen (ala lego star wars).

Maybe I should try and make a browser game like that, some day...?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Are you really playing that mmorpg?

I just realised one thing that bugs me about traditional mmorpgs play method.

Okay, here's the contrast - imagine a browser game that gives you say 24 action points per day. And it takes about five minutes to use them all up.

Okay, now say you only ever used 2 of those action points a day, on average. Would you say your really playing the game? I mean, it's only 2 your using - how much of the game can you be playing?

Now, astute reader, you've obviously recognised why I used 24 action points. Because a mmorpg gives you 24 hours of play per day. But how much do you play for?

Two hours a day, maybe?

Are you really playing the game at that rate?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Hey, loser, play our game!

Wow, Travian advertising opts for the non conventional approach again! Previously the 'Play (with my boobies) my lord' adverts were infamous (and entirely miss leading of content).

Now...well, you have to self identify as a nobody...I suspect the guy in charge doesn't actually have a sense of conscience. Well, you can imagine that - you see anyone else in the world but you as mere pawns to you. Meat puppets. Of course such an advert makes sense to you.

Though the horrid truth is, don't we all use these games as a pecking order/keeping up with the jones's method, to some degree? Must have the epic purple Jimmy got last week?


Monday, June 27, 2011

Sci fi and shooting each other, toe to toe.

At Tobolds blog
As a final birthday present to Anarchy Online, I'd like to cite some previews of Star Wars: The Old Republic, in which the previewers complain about people standing toe to toe and shooting at each other with laser weapons, which doesn't feel all that realistic. Anarchy Online has this problem since a decade, and it's interesting to see how nobody has come up with a better implementation of Sci-Fi combat yet.
That's an interesting question, isn't it?

One idea is simply having personal shields! But that'd suit Anarchy Online more than star wars.

So, here's a bit of a radical idea - can we just have dynamic cover - you get into combat, your character goes and jumps behind a crate or tree stump. Was that crate or tree stump there a second ago? No, it sort of fades into existance!

I know star wars: the old replublic has some cover mechanisms, but they seem static and only in set places.

Another idea is to simply have alot of shots 'miss', but these still reduced your 'health'. In other words, health is used more to represent the lowering odds of all those shots missing you, rather than your capacity to take hits. Indeed, this would work very nicely for light sabers as well, since no one would be all dark night 'Tis but a flesh wound!' and fighting on after being hit. Instead they'd be dodging all over the place to avoid the saber until KAZROW, off comes the traditional star wars arm!

Well, LOTRO went and decided their 'health' bar was actually a morale bar. It's not like it's sacred to keep it a 'how much can you be hit by a battle axe and still smile' bar!

Driftwurld - Next Stage: Raptor Slayage - Online!

Pepper Box Pistol. Imagine firing that off in a burst.
The next stage of Driftwurld has been completed! I know alot of traditional browser games and mmorpgs have you tip top equiped to fight fiendish monsters right from the start. But it's not exactly hero's journey. It's especially not 'regular guy makes it big', because you start out irregular (or whatever you call 'not regular').

In Driftwurld I think it's really interesting to genuinely have a rags to riches story, where you claw your way up to even having the most basic equipment. And with this stage, you can finally turn all the pieces of equipment you sweated to get - the explosive bullets in the makeshift pepperbox pistols, the frag grenades, the Omega blades, the Omega Polymer armour! Finally, instead of being utterly vulnerable, instead of treating each breath like it may be the last, you can turn on the most lowly monster, who was so powerful over you till now, and fight back!

But it's bigger than that - things bigger than dinosaurs roam out there - Drift Demons! And their evil overlord, the King of the Hell Drift is out there, watching for any upstarts trying to live anything but a life dedicated to eking out a meagre existence until his minions come to take it all!

So what do you do? Well, if you can slay enough raptors, the local peoples will start to flourish, which gains access to weapons like the laser pistol, and following that, the more expensive Heavy Ion Blaster! With these weapons you start to tower over the raptors...and earn a slim chance at surviving the horde of Drift Demons!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Two leg junkie bad? Four wheel junkie good?

Time for a bit of a full on philosophy post! I posted this comment over on the three pound brain blog...

In terms of junkies, I went to a lecture by Robert Winston once, where he suggested that petrol isn't too expensive, it's that petrol is too cheap. That we are addicted to petrol.

And people, lots and lots of people, do aspire to be this type of junkie.

Futher on the car, what of the tragic reports of people backing over their children in the driveway? Isn't it psychopathic to crush your children under several tons of weight?

"But it was an accident!"

But it'll always seem like an accident, instead of seeming a madness. That's the creeping normalcy. No one wants to become mad. But what happens when you encounter a new situation no one has ever encountered before? How quickly would you be to say you've entered a state of madness, Vs how quick would you be to say you caused a tragic accident?

Really accidents only happen because someone is ignorant of the future consequences. How quickly can an ignorant person suddenly conclude they know enough to know they haven't entered a madness? Very quickly, sadly.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

PVE Difficulty

Tippa made an interesting post over on her blog about The Miseducation of MMO Players.

Where have mmorpgs gone, in terms of difficulty? Indeed, where can they go? Back when you bounced mario around, you could lose all your lives and being sent right back to the start of the game worked out. What do you do when you have a hundreds of hours long game 'session'? Add a death jog every time someone stands in the flame?

I made a reply to someone in the comments about guild wars two supposedly not having any death penalty, which I've talked about here before. Here's the reply...

As far as I can tell guild wars 2 hasn’t removed a death penalty – if no one revives you, you have the classic death jog from some waypoint, back to where you were. Which is pretty lame – why bother coding in a time waster for players?

I think these games have trouble determining any fail point, which goes all the way back to gygax’s designs. With your traditional game, like a FPS, you have a level start, middle and end. What does a mmorpg have? middle, middle, middle, middle….
Your classic FPS can send you back to the start of a level and that works out. While mmorpgs are floundering on what the heck to do – can’t send them all the way to level one! But can’t just do nothing every time they are hit ( see my example of this: ).
I think they need to do the reverse of the traditional design and grant people bonuses for doing well – like go for one hour of gameplay without being knocked to 0 hp and you will GAIN 500 gold (can be won once per RL day/X number of times per RL day)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Akimi Village Trailer

Gigantism is a serious desease...

Them ninjabee guys like to make games where your bigger than everyone else. Well, it's certainly a more sustainable fantasy than the usual FPS fantasy is. But what happens when ninjabee makes a game about basketball? You'll be this massive giant just walking around a tiny court, pwning all your opponents and...wait, that'd probabably sell...

Tesh, from the tish tosh tesh blog, was part of construction of the game, for a bit of a blog tie in. You know, sometimes it's nice to see a human face to a developer instead of playing games by anonymous strangers all the time.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Driftwurld Raptor Slaying: A nice little fort to call my own...

So, I found this public domain image of a fort - I think it'll be the one used in the next stage of Driftwurld, where your character builds a wooden fort deep in the raptor infested lands (man, I must have a hate on for raptors - but just wait, there's worse around the corner...). Once aquired It'll replace the base shack you start with. From there you can take the war to the monsters, even hiring NPC's to guard you base (which is a reference to the raptor hunting stage of Driftwurld - that's exactly what you did as a player in that stage - guard someone elses fort!)

Found the image at this site:

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Did I ever tell you the definition of inainity?

Not sure I like the new gym teacher

Far Cry 3.

I've watched the trailer above and...I don't think it works? The guy in the picture - he's shallow. He seems to exist only to antagonise - I mean, what's his favorite beer? Does he like sport? No, he has nothing except to be eeeeeeevil. Even sociopaths have more personality than that.

But is there anything wrong died in the wool, binarily evil, mustache twirling villains? Not especially.

But then the clip contains about warcrimes (or just plain old murder). Degrading then murdering unarmed people - setting them to drown, tied to concrete blocks.

And the thing is - as soon as your guy (who is obviously the special mesiah who breaks free of the concrete block) gets free, what does he do?

Well, without a word he goes and murders the guys with guns as well.

It's basically sociopaths killing sociopaths.

I mean sure, maybe you like your cartoon villains who must be shot in the head. Okay. But this isn't cartoon villainry - your not going to save the innocents, they have already been murdered. You are not going to be some frackin' hero for making more human meat become room temperature.

Because this is presented as more real world, it doesn't have the D&D like cosmological elements of good and evil. Because it's presented as real world, all you have are principles that you try and stand by. Unless, dear reader you believe that much like in D&D, magical cosmological forces of good and evil are existant things. And heck, maybe your right, but you'll have a damn hard time inventing an empirical test for that. Anyway, back to personal principles and that's all you have.

And from the very damn start, the characters principles are that he is just as fine with murder to get to his own ends, as the guys he murders.

I dunno - far cry 2 seemed to try and make you feel dirty for doing what they coded it to force you to do it. But forcing it doesn't work - in a game like Dues ex, because there is a non lethal alternative (ie, you are not FORCED to only use lethal force), it is a choice. So in Dues ex, yes, you can feel a little dirty for killing someone in the game.

Here in farcry 3, it just seems a sociopath murder sim. The only people left alive are the murderers, and your as cool with murder as they are, so really there is no moral issue going on. The only moral issue is already case closed, floating under the water on a rope tied to a cinderblock. So apart from really, really high graphics ferns, who gives a crap about that?

Well, I guess the teens who's moral part of the brain has not yet turned on (I think I read that that is the case, in an article somewhere).

Ie, it's pretty inane.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Start with the End

Recently I've wondered if I've had a real missconception in my head for years about game design. I was always heavily focused on the act of playing and making that exciting.

Makes sense, right?

But it was like I was trying to make that play interesting in itself, by it's own merit.

Actually that probably still sounds like conventional design wisdom.

But now I'm looking at things with the paradigm that the fun of gameplay sits beneath the roof of whether you win or lose. No matter how complicated or nuanced your little controls and mechanics, or pretty your graphics, if you have not yet set up a win/lose condition, like veins drained of blood those things are empty for that reason. Not because there just is some exciting way to write that I've yet to find. It's that without a win/lose condition, there is no blood/no fun in anything made. A bit like a frankenstien monster without any life to it.

"But what about world of warcraft, that's a game and there is no final win condition?"

Well, actually they have advertised it as 'It's not a game - it's a world".

And really I think they are providing something other than a game. Okay, okay, if you wanna call it a game, fine - but when it comes to my definition of game, they want to provide something else. And my major hiccup is that I've been designing in a way that facilitates that for years. Ie, try to make the doing the activity thrilling in and of itself. When that's their design method for their 'game'. For my game, that's just no good - I need to start with the end - start with a win/lose condition, then add more elements AFTER that. Not before, like I kinda learned to do and did for years.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Driftwurld: Gunnage!

Basically, while the first step in Driftwurld raptor slaying is to get a laser pistol, the peak of raptor slaying is acquiring the WG-57 Heavy Ion Blaster Pistol! Then you utterly dominate raptor fights!

The thing about killing raptors is that it makes trading much easier, increasing the money you make from each successful trip.

However, is there a greater threat than raptors that looms? Will you dominate the raptors only just in time to start arming yourself against an even greater threat!?

Anyway, right now I'm working on the code to let your guy atleast take a shot with his pepperbox pistol (loaded with 20 explosive rounds!). Next, initiative - he who goes first has that tiny bit of advantage...

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Driftwurld: Raptor Encounters

Basically in Driftwurld, either you find raptors, or they find you!

There will be three basic encounter type. The first is from long distance. Without a laser pistol you can't do much, so there will be a 50/50 chance either the encounter doesn't happen (as it takes more time to try and creep up on the raptor) or the raptor detects you and charges toward you, fangs slavering! Given that gaining a laser pistol isn't easy, this is what a new slayer will experience quite a bit to begin with!

The second is that you find the raptor while it is unaware. Sneak attack! In fact if you have a HE grenade, you can throw it - perhaps killing the raptor in a single attack!

The third is actually, the raptor was hunting YOU! You can perhaps fire off a quick burst with a pepperbox pistol, or a couple of shots with a laser pistol if you have one.

Then it comes down to melee! You have a shield made from hardwood, to hopefully parry one attack (it's destroyed on the first successful parry of the raptors jaws!). Also to protect your very expensive to repair omega hit point armour, you have a layer of normal metal - useful for getting in the way of melee attacks.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Driftwurld: Raptor Slayer

I'm figuring out the next stage of my browser game, Driftwurld.

Basically the premise is slaying raptors for power! You attempt to slay raptors to improve the conditions of the local community...which means you can make more money from them! lol! AND better weaponry starts to become available for purchase, if you kill enough raptors. With the eventual aim of aquiring the WG-57 Heavy Ion Blaster Pistol! Because raptors are actually at the bottom of the heap of lethal monsters and you need some severe firepower to break out and actually face the far nastier drift monsters that infest Driftwurld!

Coming soon - an article breaking down the ways you can encounter a raptor - whether that means ambushing, or being ambushed!

Friday, June 3, 2011

50% wins, 50% loses = hamster wheel?

Tobold's been talking about having a 50/50 win/lose ratio in world of tanks, derived from the skill matching system.

He says it means your choices really matter on the field.

But think about it - overall, he's at fifty fifty.

You could flip a coin and get the same set of results!

Indeed a perfectly balanced skill ranking system just makes your skill absolutely moot! Flip a coin - same result in the end!!

However, I don't know if world of tanks has skill tiers like quake live does. Quake live has four tiers, so basically you can move up them if you do happen to make the right moves towards winning consistantly. So in those terms I'd pay that your choices matter.

But by itself - a perfect 50/50 is, just by itself, a complete waste of time in terms of gaming. It's just a hamster wheel.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Sycophancy/Critique Points

I wonder if there is, on average in a general population, a specific percentage amount where you have to agree with someone before you can apply a critique which does not paint them in the most glamourous of terms?

Kind of like a points system - your sycophantic X times and that earns you 10 points. Say you think they are saying something which just doesn't even mesh with their own apparent value system - but saying so would cost you more than 10 points and that's all you've earned so far? So you can't, without all hell breaking loose and them needing you to be a bad guy in order for them to main the certainty they had before.

Just trying to make sense of years of discussions. I love a points easy to understand...

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Balanced opposition makes leveling pointless?

Have you ever encountered the idea that, if you level up and get +10 attack but then the monsters you face have +10 defence more than the previous ones you faced, leveling is utterly pointless?

I get the social pecking order of leveling. But in terms of gameplay it blows!

If you had a middle ground, like say a random 10% of the time you encounter an opponent from a lower level rather than a balanced opponent, then your +10 attack actually matters, because for once you ran into an opponent with +0 defence. Then you actually did get stronger, but the rest of the 90% of the time it follows the usual formula of delayed progression.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Another mmorpg subscription model

Tying in with Tesh's Ratcheted Subscription, I have just one suggestion in terms of subscriptions. Simply one of paying a set amount. Say for imagine, five hundred dollars. You pay your fifteen dollars a month as usual, but once your monthy fee has gotten to five hundred, you don't pay any more.

The idea is the company puts aside some of the money into bank accounts and accrues interest, which pays for costs and makes profits. So in this subscription type, your kind of investing into the game.

Of course, why do that if you can keep bleeding people each month AND all the people your bleeding can't imagine it any other way? No logical reason at all, really.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Do you really choose to group in a mmorpg?

 Over on Tesh's blog, Tipa (enough T's yet? :D ) commented...

If the purpose of raiding isn’t to trigger the camaraderie of team-building through shared experiences, then why not just sell raid gear? In fact, why even have raid gear? Just sell cool looking armor directly.

This whole thing about using groups and raids to enhance your single player experience — with other players essentially being somewhat unpredictable NPCs which you must use to get stuff for yourself — makes me despair for the future of the genre.
Now really the way I've measured it, mmorpgs have always forced a mercenary attitude. Basically they force you into the company of others unless you want to miss out on content. I can hear some of you 'But being in the company of others is the POINT of a mmorpg!'. Well if it were so very much the point then people wouldn't need to be forced into the company of others, would they? I mean, what's the reply to that 'Well, it is the point, but sometimes people have to have the point drummed into their heads'?

It's basically like old school railroading in table top, giving someone the appearance of choice when they don't. "Oh sure you start out by yourself and then you have the choice to play with others...". And maybe the railroading isn't apparent, so when a bunch of people start just using each other in a mercenary way, it just seems crazy out of the blue? When really it's a reflection of the true state of affairs/the railroad.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Driftwurld addition: The Greased Pig Inn!

It's faint so I can post readable text across the top of it in game
Added a new part to Driftwurld, my browser game! Basically the first chat room I've coded! I'll be expanding it latter to have a community prosperity level. All players contribute to this level and each player has an individual reptutation they work upon in it. The higher the community prosperity, the higher your reputation can be and the better weapons you can get!

But right now it's a chat with a button for your character to pick up jobs while they hang out in the greased pig inn, chatting with other players! Though it's hard to get there - you have to earn $8000 to buy some body armour, before it's safe enough to travel to and work jobs around the Greased Pig.

PS: 'Greased Pig' is a bit of a oblique reference to the warhammer quest board game...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Imagine a game world without murder porn...

Imagine your play in a traditional mmorpg (out in the world part of it) went this way...

You step off the road, heading into the forrest or whatever is around the main road...a little way in, you stop and can't move for about ten to fifteen seconds. At the end your XP goes up by a little bit (perhaps from exploring?) and often you find some items that must have littered the ground.

Sometimes a warning sign comes up and you must press the space bar withing about four or five seconds of seeing it, or you teleport back to the nearest town. In about one in twenty times, it doesn't matter if you hit the space bar, you automatically teleport back to the nearest town. The teleport costs you some gold or silver, but not a great deal.

Would that be unsatisfying play?

If so, why are you playing that right now in WOW or whatever, when it's the same thing?

Frankly I think rather than indulging in murder porn I'd prefer a traditional mmorpg to do the above. The murder porn is nausiating after awhile, while the combat is one sided and thus not a combat - it is as I describe above - simply time fillers.

I guess I did alot of solo play when I played wow (and in other games like lord of the rings now). So maybe if you group alot your experience is different, I dunno.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Do you play travian? Covert recreation?

Work *HURR!*, what is it good for!? Absolutely nothin'!

We were having a discussion over here about why people play the browser game travian (I wonder if I should link to the game - google would probably like that, but I'm morally disinclined).

At this point someone said people basically play it at work and play against co-workers. I had this reply

So not as a genuine recreational activity, but instead as a way of making rec time at work?

That kind of gets into the 'the only show in town' crowd draw, since there are specific requirements for what games can be fitted in (obviously you can't sit down for a session of fallout at work, for example!). So a game like travian is one of the few that can meet those requirements - thus it's the only show in town (or one of the few shows in town).

It makes me think there should be some new word for recreation at work - covert recreation? Basically games designed around filling the niche of what you can get away with at work AND also recruit your fellow coworkers?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Free to play mmorpgs, early adopters and you

This little bottie went to market and this little bottie went free to play...

Quite a few people out there seem to get in a tizzy about games that are brought out on a subscription basis, but then a few months or such in become free to play.

When really this was planned from the start (barring the game being wildly successful in getting subs and keeping them, then they'd maintain a sub system)

The fact is a 'free' mmorpg is better advertising than a television advert and FAR cheaper. What sort of advert do you sit in front of, watching it for hours? 'But it's entertaining!'. Well, maybe you found the old spice advert mildly entertaining - were they giving that away for free?

The reason for subs at the start is a fairly standard business practice, if not commonly acknowled amongst the punters. Remember when playstations or ipods or whatever first came out, they cost alot, but then the price goes down?

The fact is, there are people out there with disposable income (and sometimes not so disposable income) that want to be the first to get some new thingie!

They are the early adopters. They are a way of quickly recouping alot of money.

So instead of thinking "Oh, how long is it before your new mmorpg gives up having a subscription, huh?" as if you know the condition of the industry, realise your not ahead of them, they are several moves ahead of you.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Life Game, a draft, #1

Okay, so this blog obviously stretches over into philosophy and here's some thoughts on a better real life future, basically through a model or game.

The central idea is simply to grow edible vegetables for yourself. Yeah, been said before. But!...

The idea is that the more you can supply your own vital need (ie, eating - unless your a vampire, in which case see my vampire section...) the more you are politically free to make long term choices, instead of making short term choices for survival/food reasons, but which may undermine your long term values.

It's not a binary state - instead the more you can supply your own food, the more you achieve this status, where you can choose a long term agenda without short term threat swaying the decision.

Further the idea, should one agree with the notion of it all, is to also grow plants (like suger snap peas, beens, etc) in small containers and offer these plants (along with a note on the general philosophy described here) to people. Because just looking after yourself, although glamourised in capitalist society, simply isn't enough. It's just really effective dividing and conquering. I mean, if you wanted to divide people, how would you do it? Well, certainly one thing you'd do is encourage them to only look after themselves. And seriously, how well do you know your neighbours? (ps: If I actually get posts from people who know all their neighbours, I'll start looking into whether alot more people do than I think - but for now, I think most people are cut off at that level).

So, that's the draft. I've put off writing anything on it for trying to word it right, so I quit trying to be perfect on the first try and instead atleast wrote something on it.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Obsessive compul-optimised

I'm looking at the the thread here

As I say in the comments, I wonder if a game that does not end/have a final win condition actually exacerbates obsessive compulsive dissorders in people?

It either goes one way - you don't care, because you can't finish it anyway. Or it goes the other way - because there is no end to get excited about, and because you must get excited about something (rather than "don't care"), even a second faster in progression somehow becomes all consuming important. Much like some people have an overwhelming urge to touch every fence post as they walk, or align all their mug handles in one direction, or they become horders (oh wait, that's a bit too close a parralel with a mmorpg, isn't it? Not even an analogy anymore...)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

MMO: Forced Friends

Humphrey the fun loving bear....LFG

I don't know if I'm grasping a trend out there where people say 'It doesn't feel like an MMO!'. They particularly say it if solo play is viable.

What is actually interesting about being in the company of other players all the time?

Is it like a cult thing? The more members your cult has, the more real or meaningful it is?

Otherwise, what's interesting about having other people hanging around? Beyond it being a chat room that happens to have monsters? That's a chat room, not about playing like groups of people get together to do in sports. Though semantically they will say it doesn't feel like a MMO and that doesn't actually contain the word player in the acronym, so maybe it isn't self contradictory. They just aren't interested in playing, they just want a massive chat room?

Though really I'd say it's just classic highschool (and beyond) need to be socially domineering "You play our way (Oh yeah, we'll pitch that not as 'our way' but 'The way the games meant to be played') or you can't play the game at all.......ah......*lights up cigarette*, oh yeah, pay off time...made my idiosyncratic perception a world standard...oh yeah! *puff puff*"

Monday, April 25, 2011

Games: Living with your mistakes - and not wanting to

I got into a tower defence game recently.

In it, you can do really well if the enemy doesn't get to your base even once. However, even if they do, it's not game over. But you do miss out on an extra reward.

And it's interesting, because I realised the inner conflict involved - do you just start over as soon as one has touched your based? Given all the effort you put in AND it doesn't mean you lose outright?

So what drives you to repeat play? Wanting to get through without having to live with having made that choice. To get through absolutely clear of any enemy getting to your base. PLUS, as with alot of games, it just seems possible if you do a few things different.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

'Game' Sycophancy - Absolutely Drab-ulous!

I was looking at shots for silent hill: downpour over here at gamer grills (wait - grrlz!)

After not utterly acknowledging the moniker, I've probably lost half my audience already - but moving on all the same, the pictures just struck me as a prime example of the, from this perspective, rising trend.

I mean look at the oh so dark and terrible backgrounds - what are they there for?

To make the protagonist look good.

And are the protagonists a little grungy and messy? Yeah...and why is that the case? To make them look good in a sort of cutting edge, "I'm a little dirty therefore I must do stuff" way.

Then you just flat out have the neatly composed model shots (which may be more a result of the imaginative rigidities of working with 3D models, granted)

What would be a bit more scary, perhaps? Perhaps someone who looks maybe like they deserve, for some reason or another, to die. And you play as that person. How do you console that in play - you don't have a perfect mary sue looking character - not a prime alpha, so surely by our very inner nature we assign them red shirt status. Yet your playing them, so this assignment doesn't work out? Or does it? Or doesn't it? An inner termoil that isn't in the game, it's inside your heart, inside your head.

Or you can play characters who look simply fabulous, darlink!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Grunt Box

I'm working on a preset shoutbox system for driftwurld, to help give a sense of other players being 'out there' in it. So far you clash your stats against theirs, but don't talk as yet.

But I want it preset shouts and preset replies. For a start it avoids security concerns of clensing incoming data. But more importantly I just am disinterested in yet another gutter talk chat environment! Where the cultural habit of spewing out the most half baked, lowest denominator thoughts is seen as a must. I mean, may as well have a system where you can only communicate in pre set grunts! That's what it comes down to, so why not just be honest about the arrangement instead of trying to dress up the grunts with text that vaguely resembles words?

I'm going to have a chat room latter where you can type what you want. But in the meantime a shoutbox system is what I'm going for.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Skyrim, fear

Another elder scrolls? Start in a prison again, perhaps, much?

The movie actually made me think of a mechanic where you actually benefit from running in fear sometimes. Like for running away and escaping, you get some XP (but can only get X amount this way - once you kill something (or perhaps do something else, like, wow, help people live instead of murdering stuff) then X recharges. So when your running away, the time spent running isn't a long, drawn out act of losing (I mean normally, if you ever run it's because your afraid of losing something, right?). Thus playing out a characters fear in the game becomes part of gameplay - and with fear comes a little story.

Or atleast the guys who made the trailer thought it was trailor worthy stuff.

Will it again be one of those things that's just in the trailer and in game you'll either find yourself just always fighting forward, or doing a death jog from some revival thingie? Prolly.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Quick tip: Fast Unity particle explosions

I searched around for this and found some other people not sure what to do if you want to use particles as an explosion, but it takes ages for the particles to fully form.

If you set the max size to 1 and the minimum size to .9, they'll already be pretty much fully formed as soon as you call the particles. Looks really nice too! :)

Friday, April 8, 2011

Lord of the Rings: Killed by a rune keeper!

There's one now! Run!
Maybe it was just the biggest area of effect I've ever seen. Who knew there was open PVP in lotro?

One of the first times I come across a rune keeper in action - near that quest where you rescue Robb Thornley? He's tied to a post with a bunch of orcs around?

I see a lightening special effect then KA client starts to crash, offering me a big black square. And oh yes, can you log in fast enough...well, for a second you think you can as you see your character standing there...then a second loading screen and you realise it's dumping you at the closest retreat point! DAMMIT!

Luckily the character I was playing was kind of a TP gathering experiment - but still, I was aiming for the satisfaction of a level 20 no defeats.

On the other hand, latter I got defeated again but just by monsters this time, and I found they had added some self revive mechanism?? Wow, that's different? When was that added? When your character uses it, he actually says "Wrong bet!" before getting up again. No, really!

Okay, not really.

But I will say it lends alot more credence to the idea your character isn't getting killed, just getting the stuffing knocked out of him. There's a time limit on how long it is before you can use the revive option again. Nice addition. I wonder if guild wars 2 will keep the death jog while insisting they have no penalty for defeat (jeez, the more they try to avoid a penalty, the lamer the penalty gets - ie, plodding along in a death job), or give one free revive an hour?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Lord of the rings lotteries

Just a neat side thing I found, where your lord of the rings characters can win some extra stuff.

How to get the lottery widget to show on the mylotro webpage here.

Lottery schedule here.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The spoilt dream

What do the graphics add?
I was reading a profile of someone which listed them as being a gamer for 25 years and also having the dream of making a video game.

Okay, this is just a guess, but I imagine by pure over expectation they will never make that game.

Why? Well, what was out there 25 years ago? Sprites that came in one colour and with pixels the size of your thumb (almost!). Often coded by one dude in his bedroom.

That was the definition of a video game back then.

So what's the definition of a video game today?

Well, it's full 3d, surround sound, massive FMV, physics...damn, I could go on and on.

Really what's happened? Gamers have adopted a medium as being the very definition of game that they are audience to, that they have absolutely no hope of ever becoming an author in.

They can hear, but cannot speak.

By being spoilt by fancy graphics, gamers have, en masse, become mutes.

The adopted towering definition of a game these days means that someone who loves 'games'...can never have their own baby. It could also be described as an infertile relationship.

Just raising it because it's interesting to see how by catering to the flash and glam desires, you can actually silence millions. Clever, aye?

And yeah, I know, indie authors are putting out little games with retro looks. But even retro looks are being fetishised, until 'retro' is not at all 'retro'. See here as an example of faux retro - I mean, I like the game, but again were in the style and looks technology race, which again makes mutes of most people. Even the small developer starts leaning toward the same artificial graphics hurdle.

It's just a guess, but I think, for wanting to make their perception of what a game is, they'll never make one. Even though they've got something to say.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Basic unity tutorial: Pong

Found a great little unity tutorial to make a pong-like. Beginer level (for people like me!)

Couple of tips - in starting a new project you want to include the physic materials. Also where it has javascript listed for the key controls, you want to change the talking marks in it to just the regular one you get (I suspect the blogging platform auto converted them to fancy open and close talking marks, which just causes a bug in unity).