Aug 292008

This is a nice blog anniversary surprise!

I don’t know for how long, or why (maybe the publisher stuff is sorted out? Maybe someone found a cache of them hidden under a mossy rock north of Pirate Cove) — but it’s claims 1-3 weeks shipping time, and it’s $17.24, and it’s not used copies. As you may or may not know, it’s been out of print since last October or so, and copies have been going for as high as $300.

If you’ve been waiting, now might be the time to order it!

Theory of Fun for Game Design @ Amazon

BTW, if any current owners want to review it, it could use some fresh reviews…

MiscOpen threadHappy birthday, blog: 10 years

 Posted by (Visited 8887 times)  Misc, Open thread
Aug 292008

The banner today

The first posts on the ancestor of this site went up ten years ago today. The site was dark blue. It used this newfangled HTML tag called frames, and I added each post by handcoding the HTML and uploading the file to the server.

I feel old. 🙂

Some of the oldest things on this site date back before the site itself, to when I was a young punk designer of 25 or 26, cocky and arrogantly sure I knew everything. I turn 37 in a week. I like to think I’m still a young turk tilting at the windmills.

Ten years ago, I started the site to archive some of the things I was telling the UO community and the LegendMUD community, things about the ways in which online communities can self-determine, things about how virtual worlds can serve as bridges, as ways to connect. To talk about how something people see as “mere games” can mean much more. I eagerly read everything I could by people like Randy Farmer & Chip Morningstar, Richard Bartle, and other pioneers. I collected aphorisms from mailing lists and gathered them into a reference source. I tried to share it back, to do my learning in public.

The previous banner, aka "the pixelly look"

In some ways, the site has become a book — most literally, in the way that A Theory of Fun was born from blog posts and snippets from MUD-Dev, but also in the over half a million words I have written here.

"Wood site #2" -- there was a wood site #1 before that one. This is where the knotwork thing came from.

I thought a good way to celebrate might be to turn things around on you. I am pretty sure that there are plenty of folks who haven’t been here that long — given that the site has gained several thousand daily readers in just the last year. So I thought I would ask some questions and use the anniversary as a chance to point people to some of the older material they might not have read.

So I want to turn it around on you! I have questions for you!

I don't seem to have that old art anymore... and there was one design older than ths, all dark blue.

I don't seem to have the old art for wood site #1anymore... and there was one design older than this, all dark blue.

I have my favorites and am thinking of showcasing some of them over the next week, but I am curious, because I suspect that to some degree I am better known to many of you for what I have said than what I have done. So many of the things I have done aren’t really there to see anymore, but the things I have written and said are still here, for better or worse. 🙂

So thanks for coming  on the journey! Here’s to another ten years, another half a million words, and more learning in public.

Aug 282008

Kim's surprised by the giant PC game rack that has 1/3 casual titles and 1/3 adventure games

Holy balls! Look at the PC game shelf! Approx 1/3 traditional PC hardcore fare (not shown), 1/3 kids & adventure (e.g. Dora, Nancy Drew, etc – also not shown) and 1/3 $20 casual download titles.

…on pampers, programming & pitching manure: Evolution of retail

See now, what have I been saying? 🙂

Though when I point this out (as I did most recently in my criminally underreported, one of the best talks I have ever given, go watch the video now Sandbox/Web3d speech), I usually focus on adventure games, not the casual games.

The point is the same though — a misread of what the average consumer is purchasing. Target has plenty of data on this, they make their living from it. First fact: the PC rack is large, despite what anyone may say about PC gaming dying. And what they stock tilts pretty heavily towards game cards, adventure games, and casual games.

If you do venture into the “core games” shelves, by the way, what you find is that there are two shelves of Sims stuff, two shelves of Blizzard stuff, and a smattering of current popular titles.

Game talkMcAfee publishes virtual world fraud whitepaper

 Posted by (Visited 5951 times)  Game talk  Tagged with:
Aug 282008

The in-game economies of virtual worlds are being hijacked by criminals who attempt to hide their profits through the exchange of virtual currencies, Dr. Igor Muttik, a senior architect at McAfee’s Avert Labs says in a white paper entitled “Securing Virtual Worlds Against Real Attacks–The Challenges of Online Game Development.”

Rising fraud threats in virtual worlds | News – Security – CNET News.

The PDF is here.

ReadingWhere are Asimov’s children?

 Posted by (Visited 5581 times)  Reading  Tagged with: , , ,
Aug 262008

Saturn's Children

I just finished reading Saturn’s Children, and enjoyed it quite a lot — Charlie Stross manages to nail the late Heinlein voice quite thoroughly, and although some of the late Heinlein books are vilified in some quarters, I liked quite a lot of them. Here Stross is clearly going after Friday.

There’s quite a lot of Heinlein’s children around these days; not just stuff like the recent Variable Star posthumous collaboration, but also stuff like Scalzi’s “Old Man’s War” books (the latest of which, Zoe’s Tale, I haven’t read yet), and of course the outright homages than John Varley has been writing ever since Steel Beach.

Now, Charlie dedicates Saturn’s Children to both Heinlein and Asimov, and it made me wonder — who is writing the Asimov homages? I mean, aside from a few of Cory Doctorow’s short stories (thinking here of “I, Rowboat,” one of my favorites of his shorts, though of course “I,Robot”, also in that book, is a more direct homage), it doesn’t seem like there are a lot of folks who consciously work in this mode. Charlie is after exploring Asimovian ideas, just in Heinleinian dress, but you don’t see Asimovian dress these days.

I grew up reading them both. I fact, I make the claim to having read everything of Heinlein’s — yes, even Take Back Your Government and Tramp Royale, every short story, everything; and every scrap of Asimov fiction, even all the Lucky Starr books and all the Black Widowers (though I think I may prefer The Union Club Mysteries), even Murder at the ABA (reading all the non-fiction being unattainable).

To me, they have always represented two poles of SF. Is the Asimovian style simply more dated, or is it that the other influences of Heinlein, such as his politics and quotability, have made him more prominent in an Internet-based world and culture?

BTW, Charlie swears to me that few people get the terrible terrible pun about the chicken. Keep an eye out, and don’t be drinking something when you reach the page with the chibi dwarf ninja attack.

Game talkReadingWritingSettlers of the Virtual World: new book

 Posted by (Visited 4546 times)  Game talk, Reading, Writing  Tagged with:
Aug 252008

The book's cover


Gosh, i am behind on reporting stuff. Anyway.Settlers of the New Virtual Worlds is out.

It’ssort of my book, because I have a chapter in it. But it isn’t really mine. 🙂 it’s more Erik Bethke’s and Erin Hoffman’s. And really, my chapter is just another reprinting of the Avatar Rights piece, which at this point is in a lot of books.

As you may or may not know, they’ve been spearheading a project called Better EULA which tackles the issues of user rights in virtual worlds (there’s a blog too). I am on a panel with them about it at AGDC in a couple of weeks.


Aug 252008

Once upon a time, there was an acronym we used for certain sorts of virtual worlds. We called them PSW’s, for “persistent state world.”

Most virtual worlds today don’t actually have persistent state. Oh, your characters do, but not the world. In fact, the ability to affect the world has fallen dramatically since the days of Meridian 59 and Ultima Online. M59 featured shifting political balance, and UO had full world state persistence. If someone killed Bob the baker, he was gone. If you dropped something on the ground, it stayed there until it rusted away (or more likely, someone came along and grabbed it — and that someone was just as likely to be a monster as it was a player).

It took half an hour to 45 minutes to save all of the world state in UO, by the way. Which meant rollbacks to your character if the server crashed. 🙂

Continue reading »

ArtQuick dragon sketch

 Posted by (Visited 8833 times)  Art  Tagged with:
Aug 232008
Quick dragon sketch

Quick dragon sketch

Was noodling around with a dragon to add to a Metaplace world I was fiddling with, and sketched this. Then I ran it thru a few Photoshop filters. Been a long time since I put a doodle up on the blog, so here it is.

This was done first with Adobe Sketchbook Pro on my tablet, using “pencils” “airbrush” and “paintbrush.” Then I brought it into Photoshop and filtered one layer with charcoal, another with craquelure, and blended the two together with around a 60% opacity. For comparison, the dragon’s head used to look like this.

His wings don’t line up. Oh well. 🙂

Aug 202008

If my comments caused any harm or hurt to the hard working Americans who play Dungeons & Dragons, I apologize. This campaign is committed to increasing the strength, constitution, dexterity, intelligence, wisdom, and charisma scores of every American.

Ben Smith’s Blog: Goldfarb keeps experience points –