MiscYear-end roundup

 Posted by (Visited 5779 times)  Misc
Dec 312007
 

It’s the end of the year as we know it, and I feel fine.

Well, no, not really. I still have the remnants of a chest cold. I am cancelling plans to head up to LA for a New Year’s Party that is always one of the highlights of the season. Ah well.

With the last blog entry or two, the blog quietly crested 500,000 words in the blog alone. The vast majority of it was about virtual worlds and massively multiplayer games, with a substrain about game grammar and game design. I slacked off hugely on book reviews (my desk is covered in books I was planning to post about — like, 40 of them). I almost might as not bother with the Watching category.

The blog is due for a redesign… it happens every couple of years. Ideas?

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Game talkZT Online

 Posted by (Visited 8863 times)  Game talk
Dec 302007
 

PlayNoEvil’s description of ZT Online is worth reading.

As wonderfully described in Joel Martinsen’s translation at Danwei of an article that originally appeared in the Chinese Language Southern Weekly (courtesy of Frank Yu), the ZT Online’s history, game design, mechanics, and experience are revealed.And it is amazing.

Take everything you “think” is good MMO design and turn it on its head.

MusicThe Sunday Song: Market

 Posted by (Visited 4471 times)  Music
Dec 302007
 

This here’s a bit of an experiment.

I wrote “Market” originally as a solo guitar piece. It wasn’t anything too complicated — just two lines, mostly. Here it is on piano.

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I have been fiddling with this other way, though.

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Game talkYou are all cheaters!

 Posted by (Visited 19514 times)  Game talk
Dec 282007
 

So, there’s an interesting side note to the post I made a while back on cheating, and the discussion surrounding RMT. A whole lot of people seem to think that the sort of info in Internet strategy guides isn’t cheating.

As someone who has been gaming for thirty years, I want to pat these people condescendingly on the head, and tell them to stop trying to make themselves feel better. But they happen to be highly influential bloggers, so I had better refrain from sarcasm (man, am I turning tetchy in my old age or what?). ;)

Here’s how Ten Ton Hammer puts it:

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Dec 272007
 

Michael Zenke declares himself the law-giver, and the top five trends are:

  • the rise of “little” games, meaning indie, browser-based, and social worlds. And, for some reason, Maple Story even though I don’t see how you can ever call it little.
  • Big MMORPG failures, which lists Vanguard, Gods and Heroes, and Auto Assault. Now, all three of these had radically different problems, so I am not sure there’s a commonality there other than the fact that perhaps it was brought home to players in a more comprehensive way that Making MMOs Is Hard(tm).
  • World of Warcraft extending its dominance, with celeb endorsements, Toyota commercials, etc.
  • Mega-big clashes of the titans, with the Activision Blizzard announcement, plus Warhammer waiting in the wings.
  • Microtransactions versus subscriptions, for which he uses the now-infamous panel at AGDC as the proverbial tinder that lit the fire.

That’s a pretty good list, I have to admit. I might have combined the “failures” and the “clash of titans” ones in order to insert the investment and hype surrounding virtual worlds and ancillary services, though — in some ways, it is going to have a longer-term impact.

He goes on to suggest that a game designer throwdown TV show would be entertaining. I’m game. :)

Game talkDeRMTingWoW

 Posted by (Visited 6919 times)  Game talk
Dec 242007
 

In the latest exchange, we see Tobold proposing a thought experiment on RMT. Catch up on the previous steps in the debate here:

  1. Tobold’s original proposal
  2. My response
  3. His disagreement
  4. My more detailed response

In his post, Tobold suggests basically choosing between a WoW with limited to no trade, and WoW with an RMT service and a few other features — bind on equip instead of pickup, mostly — and labels this as his interpretation of my idea. FWIW, I don’t think he quite got what I was saying. I said in the previous post, the issue is actually incentive structures in the game design. That was pretty vague. So here’s my take on what would be needed to make these games more RMT-resistant.

  1. Remove all stats from all equipment.
  2. There is no step #2.

This design advice is worth exactly what it is priced at on the tin. But there’s some justification after the fold:

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Game talkDigging more into RMT

 Posted by (Visited 12446 times)  Game talk
Dec 232007
 

I made Tobold mad… not something nice to do right before Christmas, I suppose.

It started when he made this proposal for the eradication of RMT (bolding is mine, to emphasize the key point):

I think that RMT is possible to eradicate. You just need to make gold “bind on pickup”. That is, you need to remove all possibility of asymmetric trades where one player can give or send gold to another player. And you need to change the auction house system to make it anonymous and blind, so that players can’t buy a worthless rock for 1000 gold and transfer money that way. This is totally possible, but it would have a cost: it would also remove twinking (unless you program a shared bank) and sending money to friends or guild mates. But possible it is, the only thing that is missing is the will of the game companies.

Now, I was really prompted to comment by an anonymous poster in the resulting thread (on whom I unleashed some sarcasm), but my response specifically to this design was to say

Technically, you would have to make every item in the entire world bind on pickup. Eradicate all forms of trade. Remove healing. Remove grouping. Remove all forms of assistance between one player and another.

Tobold disagrees, and perhaps feels that the sarcasm was directed at him (it wasn’t, and if he thinks so, I apologize).

In a typical example of how little developers are open to new ideas, Raph tries to discredit me by saying that my proposal to remove asymetric trade is equivalent to removing groups and guilds and all forms of cooperation from MMORPGs. Apparently he didn’t understand or chose to ignore the important word “asymetric”. A group in which one person tanks, another person heals, and other people deal damage is *not* asymetric as long as the characters involved are of roughtly the same level.

OK, to tackle key points one at a time…

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