Game talkDoes trading suck?

 Posted by (Visited 10972 times)  Game talk
Dec 212007

Over at Tobold’s, I seem to have set off a discussion for the second time in a week. It starts because Tobold asserts,

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.

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.

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Game talkLinkrealms

 Posted by (Visited 7730 times)  Game talk
Dec 192007

This post is about Linkrealms. In the end, anyway. Time for another anecdote, which I have told some of before.

There were always questions about what to do with Ultima Online after it launched. EA was moderately baffled by the project, and the lawsuit didn’t help. People had figured out the network protocol, they had figured out the asset file format, they had figured out the map format… it wasn’t long until there were people making better tools for UO data than we had in-house.

The most notable of these was probably UOAssist, which prompted the creation of a program called “UOPro” for tools that we approved for usage and didnt’ consider exploits… as I recall, the UOPro program didn’t last very long. My favorite, though, was the one that let you edit hues, the palette files that were used to tint clothing and monsters — our in-house tool for that was so terrible that we promptly stopped using it and used the fan-created one instead.

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Game talkWhat is cheating?

 Posted by (Visited 24652 times)  Game talk
Dec 182007

I was struck by this paragraph in this Massively article about Live Gamer:

Raph’s idea seems to be that RMT is simply another ancillary service that can spring up and provide revenue around the MMO market (of which this very site you’re reading is one). But there is a serious difference between RMT, and services like the one this site provides (in the form of MMO news and guides). RMT is still, among most players, considered cheating. As most people trying to make money off of RMT have pointed out, it’s a cultural thing, much more ingrained among Westerners than anywhere else. But it’s still a perception that exists– it’s OK to look at a strategy guide to become a better player, but it’s not OK to pay real money for better gear.

The thing that’s funny is that yes, of course players regard RMT as cheating. But make no mistake, looking up the steps to a quest was once upon a time a bannable offense on many muds, and widely considered cheating. (Calling the sites out there today “strategy guides” is a bit of stretch — they’re more like complete walkthroughs). Powerlevelling someone was once upon a time a bannable offense on some muds. Going through a quest with someone and telling them the steps. Chatting the location of an item on a public channel. You get the idea. Yes, all of Allakhazam is the equivalent of something that would have gotten scorn and anger from among both the playerbase and the admins.

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Dec 172007

First, look at the beast that is the new 3-way SLI video card.

Then consider what it gets you (reg required):

Two key FPS titles failed to make waves in their opening month of sales in the US. Research firm NPD Group said that EA and Crytek’s critically lauded FPS Crysis sold just 86,633 units last month, following its release on November 13… A Metacritic average review score of 91 wasn’t enough… A PC with a dual core processor, 2GB of RAM and a mid-level DX10 card runs the game at around 30 framers per second average at midrange resolution… Midway and Epic Games’ Unreal Tournament 3 for PC fared even worse, selling just 33,995…

Game talkLive Gamer: an official RMT platform

 Posted by (Visited 10551 times)  Game talk
Dec 172007

The news is out about Live Gamer, an independent, VC-funded platform for player-to-player transactions using RMT. And it’s got publisher backing. Gamasutra has a Q&A that answers some questions.

They kick off with a slate of MMO and virtual world operators including Funcom GMBH, Sony Online Entertainment, 10Tacle Studios, Acclaim, GoPets and Ping0 Interactive, all of whom will work with Live Gamer to provide the transaction platform to their users.

Of course, they are backed in part by the now-ubiquitous Charles River Ventures (who are also backing us over at Metaplace).

My thoughts? There’s a large and thriving ancillary services market that has sprung up around MMO publishers and developers — and some percentage of the users’ dollars have shifted from going to publishers to going to these service providers. Over time we have seen services aimed directly at users for the following:

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The Sunday PoemThe Sunday Poem: Diminuendo

 Posted by (Visited 4253 times)  The Sunday Poem
Dec 172007

Our control over so much of our musical performance is indirect. The subtleties can be great — a slight variation in the pace of a melody, a minor variation in the force with which we tap or pull or blow. In those gaps lies artistry. The difference between bowing one way or another on a violin; a fraction of an inch’s difference in how we rest our foot upon the piano’s pedal.

Without this, the music lacks humanity. But sound lacks humanity, intrinsically. Sound is oscillation. We are shaping vibrations in the air much like we might plane wood, to give the arched back of a chair a smoother curve. In the end, is it the grain of the wood we admire, or its shaping? Is it the majesty of harmony built into nature, or is it the humanity we see through the gaps in the intervals?


Suppose you plucked a string,
And made the silly sound thing
Play a tune and learn to sing.

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