Friday, February 26, 2010

Perverse 'grouping' games/gaming

There's a particular cultural meme on the internet I've seen a few times, that's in love with the idea of forming a group.

Here's a thread on that has some examples. A quote from it

In the end it's a trade-off; you've given up the sense of spontaneous server camaraderie and overcoming adversity for accessibility and convenience.
And another quote from it
When you do get into a group, it's mostly people you don't know (PuGs being cross-server now) and will likely never group with again. You don't care about them; they are just tools you use to achieve Phat Lewts.
 Which seemed to be the case previously, so eliminating the idea of 'spontaneous server camaraderie'

Really it seems in terms of gameplay, getting a group together in the f'ing first place was the actual game to most people, and the actual dungeon crawl effectively an afterthought to them.

It's just an amazingly lame 'game' and 'adversity' to 'overcome'.

Perhaps it's a breed of brain damage? They are sitting there for hours, literally, looking for group - they are told over and over this is a great game. So they start to treat those dead, dead hours as fun. They just get their minds bent by repeated hours of exposure. The same way I'd brainwash someone, if I had someone in my basement that I wanted to brainwash...not that I...have a basement....


Peasant Play!

What I think would be neat is to have what I call peasant play in a mmorpg.

Basically you have an alt that you can set to be a peasant. It's perhaps alot like monster play in lotro, where you have a monster and playing it gives your hero character extra destiny points.

The peasants top level would be about 10 or so! Level 10 is epic! And they would have perma death (before you moan, c'mon, it's only ten levels lost and peasants can do peasanty stuff at level one, just not as good)! Also other players, when on their hero's, would get bonus points for killing mobs around peasants, so as to rescue them (peasants can fight mobs but aren't designed to - they engage special peasant resouce nodes like animal traps and crops).

The idea is that peasant play for a few minutes every so often would be attractive in terms of resources and it would give a sense, when playing, of how big and dangerous the world is.

Also there could be events where hero's might have the chance of saving many peasants lives. Yeah, granted they may fail and your peasant dies, but again peasants would be able to do their stuff at level one to a certain extent, and level ten wouldn't be hard to achieve at all.

Peasant play!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Allod of addicts?

In responce, in relation to the Allods cash shop prices

What is this ‘gouge with the cash shop’ meme I’m seeing around the net?
I mean, they literally wield it like a knife and run at you?
Makes me think of a user getting cut at their dealer for hiking up the prices. You know your hooked, that’s why you get so upset and vehement about something you could just not buy – because your hooked.
Basically there's this aggitation because people know they don't really have a choice because they are caught between their addiction and the cash shop price.

If there was no addiction they'd just shrug and not buy it.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Better than life is not better

In responce

Personally I would hope we are tourists and the game world helps us to care or self reflect about the real world were in, right here, right now. Much like many books and movies might suck all our attention, but then we leave and take some of their wisdom (if they have any) into the real world.

But I think much like a moth’s ancient, legitimate instincts are screwed up by a flame, humans are story creatures – we get our attention sucked into stories. Because like the moth navigates by the stars, so we navigate by stories. And as humans we try to get all intense about mmorpgs due to an ancient and otherwise legitimate/otherwise functional desire to get into stories.

But they don’t end here, with mmorpgs. You don’t exit them and take any wisdom out into the real world. In the old ways, the story teller would get tired and you’d have to go back to real life, stronger. Here, the server is precisely like the terminator – it wont get tired, it wont stop.

This might be a racy comparison – but watching porn so as to then have much hotter sex in real life, that makes sense. But just getting more and more intense about a game world – it’s like just watching porn, and more porn and more and never actually doing anything in the real world.

MMORPGS which make us hotter about dealing with real life? Fantastic! Trying to make mmorpgs which make us get hotter about dealing more with mmorpgs, then more with mmorpgs, then more with mmorpgs?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Darkfall - the missing link between themepark and eventual play to win mmorpgs

You know what's dreadful? I don't happen to think of any content at all for this blog...then I'll find someone elses thread and respond with what I thought would be a two sentence thing...and it's blog entry sized in the end. This is responding to an article on mmocrunch about risk, again.

I think darkfall is evolving toward a play to win mmorpg, but it's still in an amphibian state - it's moved on from being a fish, but it's not a mammal yet, either.

The risk system, which perhaps seems shocking and exciting at first, isn't fun from moment to moment once you start seeing the overlaying structure.

Take this example: If you went out with 200 gold on you, your risking 200 gold. Now say you come back to base with 200 gold...does that sound exciting? No, it sounds like risk for absolutely no benefit at all. Now with darkfall, imagine leaving home base with 150 gold, then finding 50 gold? Great? No. Because you don't have that gold yet - you could lose it all on the way home. It's actually the same as the 200 gold example - you haven't won anything, your just risking more and more and more stuff for no benefit at all.

Now granted if you get back to base and bank it all, then you've won that money. But it's going to be half an hour to an hour before that happens. That is not moment to moment fun. It might feel like it when you find a chest full of gold, but once you see the bigger structure, you see that chest isn't any fun at all. Only getting back to the bank with it all is, and that's not happening any time soon.

Sure if you like delayed fun, it's okay. But that's why I call it an amphibian or reptile - it's not warmblooded yet. It has to laze around in the son for ages before it really gets going.
I'd suggest just having an ante - an amount a player has to fill with a certain amount of gold, or equipment equivalent to a certain amount of gold. This ante and only this ante is lost upon being killed. So if you do find 100 more gold, it really is a win right here, right now, because you can't lose any more than the fixed ante from before.

Also I wish I could figure out how to put captions under the pictures so I could write "It's only a flesh wound" in the pic above!

Edit: I think success with the caption! Found out how to do it!

Friday, February 12, 2010

mmorpgs: heavy personal investment before you even know if you like a game

It struck me the other day, about world of warcraft or pretty much any other mmorpg, how they have an 'invest in the product before you even know if you like it' structure.

Eventually top level raiding is what your either going to end up at, by design, or you will have quit.

But do you know if you'll like that? No, you have to plug in 300 hours or so for something you don't even know if you like.

Heck, even if you had to plug in one hour to find out whether the main part of the game is for you, that wouldn't work.

So why's it work? Well the classic mmorpg doesn't present itself that way - the first few levels seem to go by at the same sort of speed a single player game would. So compared to if you were playing a single player game, you seem to be playing the game.

But then it slows down'd be throwing away all that effort and why not play a bit longer, eh?

And pretty soon you've invested in a game you don't know if you'd actually like. It's like pre ordering a game and can't get your money back, but then trying to think about not playing...not gunna happen, is it?

The critical thing here is once your invested in something, psychologically your more likely to think it's good. It's hard to be invested in something yet then genuinely critically analyse it.

By hooking players into investing heavily well before they see a product, they effectively turn off the players critical analysis.

Imagine just playing a raid on the first day of playing a game. You'd think about whether you like it.

Now imagine having invested 300 hours to get to the raid. Are you really going to think 'Oh, nah, don't like this'?

That 300 hours is likely to have you play a game you normally wouldn't find fun (enough) to play.

Yay, nailed some basics in the browser game php code!

I finished my commenting and coding of some php code changes to the indie resources tutorial that do the following...

A. Monsters to not delete from the database upon death
B. Monsters not to have their HP changed in the database and
C. To not pass on the monster type through the address line
D. Record where the player is in a fight, so even if they close the browser, when they come back they'll come back to the fight just where they left off!

I've posted it over at indie resources. I'm pretty pumped it worked out (and now I've said that I'm dreading some unforseen bug coming up...I did test it a few dozen times though...)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

One small step for (a) man in browser MMO programming

With the tutorial from indie resources I managed to change the code so when you kill a monster it doesn't delete the creature from the database and it doesn't reduce it's hitpoint score from damage. Instead I added an integer to the player database to store a temporary hitpoint count for the monster, and managed to access it.

I feel quite proud that it did NOT explode or catch on fire or any other dire, unassailable error came up!
Here's an interesting perceptual issue in terms of table top RPG's.

If you try and do diplomacy with someone in table top play, and the GM says you can't do a roll, is that him altering the mechanics of the game? Or do the mechanics say he gets to determine if a roll is involved?

Frankly from RPG texts I've always read the latter. But D7 says it's the former.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Roll to dodge writers block

I made up that draft of a browser mmorpg (written in game maker), but

A: It's not that attractive to look at and far more importantly

B: Trying to impliment it into what I know of browser coding right now would exceed the VITAL effort to reward ratio.

Basically the effort to reward ratio is where alot of burn out or writers block comes in. It basically means trying to put in more effort than you have a certain feeling you will be rewareded for it. Maybe you think all the coding will turn out awesome - but at a certain point during it you feel the effort building up and you haven't had any actual fun out of it yet. That makes the coding a chore or even downright repulsive and it burns you out.

I like my draft, but I'm going to instead take a simple random element and see if I can get that to show up in the code from the tutorial I followed. Then I'll see if I can get that random element to go to the database. Then I'm going to work in a cash in your chips won so far or keep gambling them for the chance of winning ten times as many chips, mechanism.

I could post the draft - it's ugly to look at, but fun to play (kind of when you bake a cake that looks ugly but is yummy to eat). Comment if you want to see it! But I doubt anyone will commnet... :( I'll not doubt continue with my plan not to post it.
I was looking at this post on RPG net...

As I understand it, Insanity isn't actually balanced with the game's challenge model in mind - it simply cranks all the numbers way, way up in order to cater to the masochists, regardless of whether doing so breaks anything.
 The short, clipped responce RPG netters don't want to hear (so I'm posting it here)? If someone can finish the game, it's not broken. It's just that your not good enough to do it.

Caveat: If you have to load and save every five seconds, that makes it sucky gameplay IMO. But it's not broken.

Sirlin; who doesn't censor posts - he just enables others to do that

I was idling through Sirlins main page.

I would like to respond to the articles. It's funny - from what history I understood on his forums a guy under the handle 'final slayer' started making alot of heated posts.

Now Sirlin likes to talk about freedom of speach and letting him do that, even though he thought final slayer was driving off constructive forum posters.

So what does Sirlin institute on the forum? Post rankings - and get enough of a negative post, and by default people don't see it. And they see the rating people give it as a negative.

I'm not sure what idea of freedom of speach he has - as long as he's only enabling a mob to censor peoples words, he's fine with enabling them to do that? Perhaps he's got a 'It's the mob doing it, not me' mentality over it, even as he handed them the tools to do that.

Censorship by proxy is still censorship.

If you've read my posts and take me to be a somewhat productive poster, then he's driven me away. Getting past a bunch of people with their own personal agendas, none of which are required to have anything to do with freedom of speach, all able to evaporate my post. Why the f' would I bother thinking out, drafting then posting for that crap?

It's just forum vigilantism - Sirlin enabled that and as much as I found final slayer a dick head, I found I could avoid him. Sirlins new forum set up? Unavoidable.

But hey, I'm sure everyone who was driven away is just a completely non productive poster. All of them - there's no way you could be wrong in that. Hell, if anyone tried to argue you were, their post would evaporate.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Logged in - but as what? Free will or machine?

On mmocrunch, cmagoun posted this article, which quoted me.

It's a question on risk - cmagoun started using a different definition of risk. I'll use it in the sense of it meaning chance of danger.

Now, what happens if you think there's danger in say, crossing a section of eve space, or even crossing a zone in PVP world of warcraft? But even though you think there's danger, all the gankers are actually on bio break, or they are asleep, or their girlfriend got frisky (okay, I guess the GF part is pretty unrealistic...hehe).

Well, did you face a risk?

Perhaps in some sort of butterfly effect, chaos theory way you did? Because all the real world factors, including the players own will and deciding if they log in, that might determine whether they are on at the moment you cross that sector. And facing all that, that counts as risk, right?

I might actually agree with that, except for the human will part.

I mean, if you start treating a persons decision to log in (or not log in) not as a human choice, but simply as a statistical obstacle to overcome...well, is this how social connection between people works?

That's starting to treat someone like a vending machine - like calculating the odds of them vending a certain result then fist pumping the air if the 'logged out' result is vended.

I prefer to think of peoples free will as a sort of gentle mystery - and thus it's not at all facing risk to face whether they are logged on or not. That's simply human choice.

Now I grant, it's totally possible to treat people as a type of vending machine - there is nothing that says one has to always just paint peoples free will as a mystery. You can instead treat it as a biomechanical machine - just a pile of drifting, wet, carbon based mud. Sometimes you have to cut the crap and see the truth of 'humanity' underneath. BUT NOT FOR A GAME! Surely? For just a freaking risk thrill? Surely not?

Treating someones free will as just a set of statistical odds is treating that person as a machine (and oh, there's truth in that, but lets not get into that truth simply for a mmorpgs sake, surely?).

And if you don't treat their free will as a set of statistical odds, it's simply not risk taking to face off whether they are logged in or on bio break. No risk taking is happening.

For more on the idea of free will, see my other post.