Richard Bartle’s IMGDC keynote

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Apr 252009
 

…is quite wonderful. It basically makes the case that freeform play (and even user-created content) should be the elder game on top of a more directed and guided play experience — and that we don’t tend to see this because of historical divisions between player types.

Here’s the PDF.

PS, I’ve periodically gone digging to find the origin of the term “elder game.” Anyone know? This old MUD-Dev post references the moment when it probably became common currency…

  39 Responses to “Richard Bartle’s IMGDC keynote”

  1. If you regard players as consumers, what they consume is content

    We don’t consume food to consume food; we consume food to get something. Content is a means to an end, not an end itself. Just wanted to add that.

  2. Yes, but if you regard people as eaters, what we eat is food.
    If you use the content ie food to create something else, as we use food for energy to get us through our day’s work, then you are also consuming content to create more and possibly, different content. That I do understand!

  3. then you are also consuming content to create more and possibly, different content.

    …and that possibly different content is a means, too.

  4. good stuff.
    thoughts:
    1. someone else who uses the term “conceit” in reference to world/design/methodology.- 🙂 More product makers of imagination should use it and not think one means “conceited”.;).

    2.Liked the Dorothy, Alice, and Wendy metaphors, but realizing its the Peter Pan syndrome that directs much of the failings between reality and the virtual today should also become part of the why things are show\:)

    3.Now wasnt that easier to follow than TERRA NOVAN psuedo meta-ring 😉

    anyhow- liked the read/view/scan.
    thanks
    c3

  5. Certainly some astute observations, and I think that perhaps maybe some of the big MMOs will arrive to similar ideas organically. Of course, they would then call it a master breakthrough and pretend they invented the entire idea. (I was just now talking about my irritance at the NCSoft PR that keeps spitting out silliness about how the Architect tools in the City franchise are the first for an MMO “ever”.)

    The real trick, of course, would be to mimic how children play, but at the scale of an MMO, and start as a more free-form play and slowly codify rules until you get a well-defined game, until eventually it deconstructs back into free-form play (and examinations of rule-sets for the next round). I don’t think that such a thing could be done as a commercial MMO, and open source effort might get trapped into endlessly writing nothing but tools and engines for such a beast. But it certainly would be fascinating if someone were to pull it off.

  6. 3.Now wasnt that easier to follow than TERRA NOVAN psuedo meta-ring 😉

    Bartle is a Terra Nova author. 😛

    The real trick, of course, would be to mimic how children play, but at the scale of an MMO, and start as a more free-form play and slowly codify rules until you get a well-defined game, until eventually it deconstructs back into free-form play (and examinations of rule-sets for the next round).

    The point seemed more to me that it would be both at the same time, in parallel, not sequential. It would be one for some people, the other for other people, and those people could swap whenever they wanted to.

  7. I’m curious if there’s a transcript or video of the talk as well?

  8. Eolirin>I’m curious if there’s a transcript or video of the talk as well?

    I noticed that Robert Rice was recording it, but I don’t know if he kept it, or it came out well enough to be useful.

    There is a more academic version of the talk as a chapter in the new book, Third Person; it goes into some areas more deeply, but isn’t quite as thought-out in others as I wrote it last year and have had more time to think about it since then.

    Richard

  9. Thanks Richard, I’ll look into that. It’s very interesting.

  10. “3.Now wasnt that easier to follow than TERRA NOVAN psuedo meta-ring ”

    “Bartle is a Terra Nova author.”

    yes, i know.

    and as noted a post or so later “the more academic version….isnt as quite thought out…”

    which kinda suggests my point which was about communication/media and intent:)

  11. Selective reading is awesome, isn’t it?

  12. Brilliant, Mr Bartle. A continuous range of self-selected vs managed affordances. Improv to script.

    I think of it as a multi-arc system for story tellers in which the arcs can be simultaneous and locally constrained.

    From an acting perspective, it is the polarities of script and improvisation.

    Possibly because I am sampling IrishSpace back into a movie (rendering as I type), I am starting to see the 3D world more like a musical instrument for rendering into other media and then back into the 3D world.

    Merely moebic.

  13. […] Richard Bartle’s IMGDC keynote – […]

  14. Good stuff. So, going back to what originally was the concept? To me, that original concept is a natural. Probably had nothing to base it on except the expectations of the original folks, designer and player alike. Which, when you think about it, can design be any more pure?

    And can I point out that Bartle doesn’t want change, he wants to go back to the best ideal, the pure ideal that comes naturally and without any of the flak that’s come about since. Good conservative thinking there. 😉

  15. I would have loved to have seen it in LV.

    In fact, I was supposed to be there. Now I regret not making the effort.

  16. To some extent, we’re recapitulating the evolution of hobby gaming. We started with wargaming, where figures are divided into broad classes with little or no variation between individuals and strict predifined roles, and scenarios which are generally recreations or variations of historic battles. Arneson and Gygax layered in advancement for individual characters within their classes, a fantasy world whose history could be altered by player actions, and the idea of players collaborating rather than fighting one another. Champions tossed out the idea of player classes and helped popularize the skill-based system, later refined by Steve Jackson’s GURPS. And White Wolf put aside the growing stacks of rulebooks in favor of the game as a forum for collaborative storytelling rather than an exercise in dice and charts.

    One of the innovations I’m looking forward to is the Champions Online adversary system, a system that allows players to craft a unique nemesis to oppose their hero. Again, this is an implementation of the ability of a tabletop gamemaster to customize an adventure for a specific character or group.

    So we’re often not popping into Wonderland for the first time; we’re stepping through the looking glass for a another visit. But like Alice, we’re always sure to find something new.

    (I didn’t mention that UO leapfrogged the evolutionary cycle in a great many ways and the rest of the industry is still playing catch-up. If Raph understood his real impact on the history of computer gaming, he might get all stuck-up and stop talking to us :P)

  17. Cheeta’s Mom>can I point out that Bartle doesn’t want change, he wants to go back to the best ideal, the pure ideal that comes naturally and without any of the flak that’s come about since. Good conservative thinking there. 😉

    The point of that last slide was to attempt to make clear that I wasn’t asking for a return to the old ways: I was saying that by combining the old ways with the current ways, we can get new ways. What did you think I was saying?

    Richard

  18. In slide number 26 you talked about the first ten years as being all about freedom (the lost promise of MMORPGs) and the balance between socializers and achievers. And when the socializers left for other forms, the achievers went hard core into the gamey diku forms. And then your comment “We’re living in the legacy of this even today”. So, really, what you are pushing for isn’t new at all. It’s going back to where things should have gone from, and building from there using all the new developments made in the MMO arena. Depending on how you use the words, that’s not “change” so much as “reverting”. But what it really is doing is suggesting the ol’ “tried and true” method, conservatism at it’s best.

    Your astute observation that the diku developers of today’s MMORPGs are still trying NOT to make social, balanced worlds is getting away from your question, but I can’t help but get into this. The play on words war that’s so common these days is apparent here. The claim is that making games that are social among friends, like today’s games where friends play together, is misleading. Is creating a system for cliques a social environment? No. But the developers are saying it is. And while it can be looked at that way, in general it is far from social. Guilds in MMOs (that include the game and aren’t really an expanded form of pure social environments) don’t even want new members unless they meet qualifications. There is almost no socializing except in the form of world wide chats, where gamers aren’t trying to meet others as much as just joke around. Again, that can be looked at as a socialization, but in the overall game/world context it’s nothing more than a chatroom linked from the game.

    I still, to this day, miss the old UO. Not the PKing, although the freedom to do that was important, just not the abundance. When you talked to people it felt like you were talking to them from inside the game world, in the world of Sosaria, instead of from outside of the game. This was for several reasons; the freedom and variety, the overhead chat, instant news of what’s going on, official events, completely socialized world (as opposed to the broken-by-levels worlds), needs, dropping items on the ground, true customized avatars (some characters were well known by their looks and colors, and amazingly this was done with wardrobe instead of facial features, except hair), bank sitting (yes, vanity has a social place), direct trade, and probably more. But when you look at these, much of it boils down to the freedoms allowed by a world simulation.

  19. So you are saying that in the beginning there was:
    1 part socializer and 1 part achiever

    And now there is:
    1 part achiever

    So combine them to get:
    1 part socializer and 2 parts achiever

    Is that really “change”? I suppose a Rolls Royce is newer than a Model T, but they’re both still Horseless Carriages.

  20. The talk drills down from a high level a certain extent when we get to Slide 34 (How it would work.) I would love to see this slide become the starting point for a new talk because I’d be curious how Richard goes from there.

    “You start off by selecting a character pack optimized for one style of play, but you can diverge from it any time you want”

    “The first quests are hand-crafted but later on they emerge from player interactions.”

    “Eventually you segue into a freeform game.”

    This is food for thought, but not a solution in and of itself. The next question is, of course, how do we create quests based on player interactions? Is this quests created by the live team in response to their observations of player interactions in the game? Is this players handcrafting quests for each other in a freeform way?

    Or is this procedurally generated quests based on data recorded during that player’s newbie experience or during competitive / cooperative play with other players? If a competition for resources or dominance of the map meta game is going on simultaneously to the traditional leveling game, maybe the meta game can provide quest content for the leveling game. I might be off-base now because this is starting to feel like a more complex Dorothy style game. The challenge of going half way between Alice and Dorothy is tough, because you need to track and measure Dorothy to look for progress or wins, while Alice is often left up to the interpretation of the player.

    I’m also curious why the focus on quests? I like the idea but I keep getting stuck in the details and technical implementation when I consider Richard’s suggestions. Habbo has an example of an emergent “MacDonald’s” with players role playing minimum wage jobs and a ton of other examples of emergence, none of which seem to involve quests. Their “game” theme is very flexible, allowing for role playing and emergence. The lesson from them seems to be give the players some cool toys and features that have the potential of interconnecting and get the hell out of the way.

  21. In the end it all boils down to artistic ambitions. If your artistic world isn’t more precious to the players than the competing worlds, then you’re fucked and you’ll be forced to go down a relatively narrow path to retatin subs. If you have to work to retain players you’ll end up adding “carrots” (in terms of character-configuration) and when those are present players will lay down rails whether you provide them or not. Those rails will kill free-form play even among free-form players(like hard core role-players) because it steals resources they depend on (like time). When players then hit the end of the railway (or their friends do) then they will move to the next world breaking the social fabric. Can you have it both ways? Sure, for the first couple of years after opening…

    But if you want breadth in playstyle beyond that you need to: (1) avoid adding carrots that make players lay down rails and (2) have a damn good artistic world in an area with little competition. Point (1) assumes no subscription model, point (2) assumes that you either assemble an excellent and focused artistic team (unlikely) or spend a lot of time creating a relatively small world…

    That said, players who tend to pursue freeform play do so from day one. It is not an end-game as such. In fact the soil is more fertile for free-form play in the early stages when there are relatively fewer hardcore players to mingle with… Sure, elders do free-form idle-chatting and i-am-bored-and-is-going-to-experiment, but that doesn’t count as true freeform play in my book.

    (Note: I haven’t played Eve, but I suspect they thrive on a lack of competition in their genre.)

  22. […] to build an eldergame April 28, 2009 Posted by jeremyliew in Uncategorized. trackback Via Raph, Richard Bartle’s IMGDC keynote on how to build an eldergame is very interesting. He notes […]

  23. Cheeta’s Mom>In slide number 26 you talked about the first ten years as being all about freedom

    Yes, that’s right.

    >And when the socializers left for other forms, the achievers went hard core into the gamey diku forms.

    So far, so good.

    >And then your comment “We’re living in the legacy of this even today”.

    Yes. What I meant by this is that the MMO’s we have today are the way they are because of the consequences of that schism. At the time of the schism, the game worlds and social worlds were keen to establish that neither was the other nor the worlds that went before them, essentially for idealogical reasons. The paradigms that were established took this on board, and so it is that today we have MMOs dominated by philosophies that grew out of a conflict of views. In order to establish these new orders, perhaps a degree of “we’re not like you” was necessary; now the new orders are getting close to 20 years old, though, there’s no need for this separation – the concepts are now well established.

    >So, really, what you are pushing for isn’t new at all. It’s going back to where things should have gone from, and building from there using all the new developments made in the MMO arena.

    Perhaps I’m not being clear enough.

    Before the schism we had MMOs with a gameplay that promoted open-endedness. Following the schism, we had MMOs with a gameplay that more promoted structured play. Both these approaches have advantages and disadvantages. One important advantage of the open-ended (Alice) worlds is that they give long-term players the kind of experience they want; however, what they have to provide in order to do this (ie. a richly complex world) is off-putting to newbies. One important advantage of the structured (Dorothy) worlds is that they give new players the kind of experience they want; however, what they have to provide to do this (ie. hand-holding) is off-putting to long-term players.

    I was saying that we can combine these approaches in a single MMO that starts off Dorothy but leads to Alice. I wasn’t, as you seem to believe, saying we should all play Alice games.

    The reason that we don’t have these combination worlds at present is for historical reasons that trace back to the schism. When a new paradigm is being established, it needs to differentiate itself from rival paradigms; it will actively keep out philosophies that are associated with the old paradigm. This doesn’t mean they’re bad, just that the new paradigm has to construct its own identity as separate from its parent and sibling paradigms. Once it’s done this, though, we can revisit its relationship to the other paradigms and see if they can offer anything that the philosophies behind their creation threw out in the tumult of being born.

    >So you are saying that in the beginning there was:
    >1 part socializer and 1 part achiever

    This isn’t a player types argument. This is a virtual world types argument. In my player types paper, I described four virtual world types that could exist if you ran the dynamics for player types: socialiser dominant, achiever dominant, balanced and empty. Ignoring the null case, this means Wendy, Dorothy and Alice worlds. They have players of all types in them, but in different proportions.

    However, that said, I see what you’re saying here: considering only socialisers and achievers, in Alice worlds there are AS% socialisers and AA% achievers, whereas in Dorothy worlds there are DS% and DA%. If you combine them, you get (AS+DS)% socialisers and (AA+DA)% achievers. Because AS+DS is neither AS nor DS, this means you get a percentage of socialisers that doesn’t match the ideal for either Alice or Dorothy worlds (and the same for Achievers).

    The thing is, players change types over time; typically, they will become more social (with their closer friends). We can therefore afford to add more socialiser elements to the elder game, as some of our earlier achievers will have morphed into socialisers. This isn’t why I’m proposing we make these changes – mine is more a “palette becomes more discerning” argument regarding gameplay – but it does mean it’s not ruled out by a player types argument.

    >Is that really “change”? I suppose a Rolls Royce is newer than a Model T, but they’re both still Horseless Carriages

    Depending on the Rolls Royce, it may be older than a Model T..!

    Richard

  24. Gene Endrody>how do we create quests based on player interactions?

    We don’t. Player interactions themselves give rise to goals. Those are not going to appear in any quest window, although a “contact” system could give something similar (ie. you contract to do something by a certain date for a certain reward offered by another player). In general, though, if the world is rich enough it doesn’t need a formal quest system any more than the real world does.

    >The challenge of going half way between Alice and Dorothy is tough, because you need to track and measure Dorothy to look for progress or wins, while Alice is often left up to the interpretation of the player.

    No, players switch themselves from Dorothy to Alice when they find the Alice gameplay more to their tastes. They can revert to Dorothy for periods if the like – the content is still there and available – it’s just that they themselves now generally prefer the large, emergent gameplay over the more directed gameplay.

    Richard

  25. Richard A. Bartle:

    Gene Endrody>how do we create quests based on player interactions?

    We don’t. Player interactions themselves give rise to goals. Those are not going to appear in any quest window, although a “contact” system could give something similar (ie. you contract to do something by a certain date for a certain reward offered by another player). In general, though, if the world is rich enough it doesn’t need a formal quest system any more than the real world does.

    In such a world, wouldn’t players need a means to settle differences? If a player makes a contract with another, and one fulfills their end, and then the other backs out at the cost of the first, shouldn’t there be something the first can do about it? Otherwise, a system like that would be open to both misunderstandings and abuse, possibly making it something most players would avoid.

  26. I find it slightly disturbing that Bartle has put into this presentation the conclusions about interesting design principles I have drawn myself from playing a lot of mmo’s.

  27. It’s a really interesting idea, but there’s a key issue it missed. The big problem with UGC.

    It’s out of control.

    Honestly, most people just don’t want to, and can’t be trusted to, create an entertainment experience for others. This is especially bad in games where players can obtain some kind of authority over others (coded or otherwise) because then to thet player, the majority of others who need to benefit from that authority will feel like throwaways, faces in the crowd. (One person just _can’t_ care about every one of 1000.) Meanwhile, for the game authors, those are all lost subscriptions.

    Case in point: Castle Marrach. Had a horrible newbie retention problem for ages, not because the game was hard to learn/understand, but because there were cases such as a newbie bothering the wrong person once too often and being told they were banned from the armory forever, so they would never have a sword to fight with. They unsubscribed. Who can blame them?

    Case in point 2: Achaea. Originally had a system where levelling in your class was governed, in part, by interactions with your “guild” – an organised group of players related to that class. This, however, had to be removed because what it came down to was, again, that if you said the wrong thing to the wrong person, they would have you never level again, and your game would be over. Even once it was removed, there were still radical differences in how different people were treated simply because of who they happened to meet at what time.

    Case in point 3: Second Life. SL loves to talk about creativity and potential, but if you have 5 newbies in a sandbox (ie, a creation practice area for beginners), again, 1 will probably have a learning experience with incremental reward, etc, that encourages them – and the remaining 4 will be completely ignored and soon just quit connecting out of boredom.

    MUD1 may have had the protection of being “the only game in town”, but it’s just not clear that a game based on UGC can survive in competition with other games, unless these issues are dealt with – which usually means restricting players’ actions and pulling away from the game model proposed.

  28. Note: I haven’t played EVE, but I suspect they thrive on a lack of competition in their genre.

    EVE Online is a very interesting case. Something like 75-80% of players never or rarely leave the “guard zone”, according to statistics compiled by the publisher, despite the “hardcore” reputation of the game. High security space plays like a theme park, and null security is the sandbox.

    The inhibiting factor here, of course, is PvP. The developers dump all the best carrots in null-sec, trying to pull more players into the fray, apparently unaware that this tactic has never had any lasting impact on the percentages in any MMO. The people who want to fight, do; the people who don’t want to fight, don’t. As Mark Twain observed, never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and annoys the pig.

    I won’t advocate changes to EVE Online; it just wouldn’t be the same without that “cry more, noob” attitude. I’ll keep playing because many of the other game systems have a tasty crunchy complexity I find lacking in other MMOs. But anybody looking to emulate their approach towards integrating multiple playstyles would be well-advised to consider the limitations and complications that open PvP imposes on that goal.

    Interestingly, of our three heroines, Dorthy’s the only one that’s got an entry on the killboard. Sure, it was an “accident”…

  29. Hyphz, what if the players who have authority and powers related to the community have to answer to those players who form the community? Such as elected officials? Furthermore, what if there’s also a set of appointed Judges who have their own arena of powers to wield, towards both the community as a whole and the elected officials? Yes, I’m sort of taking a page from the US system here. It’s got checks and balances that we might look at and use in these MMORPG communities.

  30. Cheeta’s, I’ve seen attempts at doing that before. Achaea technically had a system like that – the problem that comes up is that if a user feels hard-done-by by other users and isn’t enjoying the game, they’re far more likely to just stop playing than to return to make a lot of effort to politically unseat the other users in question – especially since even if one or two users do this, the majority won’t, and so they’ll be outvoted every time.

    Most of the users who continue to play will be the ones who are happy with things how they have been and will vote for the status quo. Awkward but true. 🙁

  31. Great presentation at IMGDC Richard! Thanks for making the PDF available to the public. Do you know if they plan on making your speech available in audio or video format? Thanks.

  32. Cheeta’s Mom>In such a world, wouldn’t players need a means to settle differences?

    Yes, they would. In the past this was done by allowing unrestricted PvP, although with the larger scale of today’s MMOs it’s now feasible to use other mechanisms (social, economic, even in-world “law”) to do accomplish this end in a way that won’t leave players in tears.

    >If a player makes a contract with another, and one fulfills their end, and then the other backs out at the cost of the first, shouldn’t there be something the first can do about it?

    For contracts involving the exchange of goods, this can be hard-wired into the MMO. If I say I’ll pay you 10 gold for 200 ore, then the exchange can be managed automatically and risk-free. There can even be riders, eg. if you don’t deliver me 200 ore within 24 hours then you pay me 20 gold in compensation (20G which would be held in escrow automatically by the physics of the world). I’m not saying it should be done this way – it’s another example of using physics “unrealistically” to hand-hold players – but if you’re OK with that then hey, go for it.

    The problems come with services. If I promise to “defend you” or “teach you how to joust”, then there’s know way the game world can know that the task has been accomplished, therefore no way for it to enforce a contract. This is where your point about needing a means to settle differences comes in.

    This means of settling differences, of course, be one of the mechanisms by which new, interesting and unpredictable content arises.

    Richard

  33. In the past this was done by allowing unrestricted PvP, although with the larger scale of today’s MMOs it’s now feasible to use other mechanisms (social, economic, even in-world “law”) to accomplish this end in a way that won’t leave players in tears.

    Or more to the point, leave devlopers in tears as players depart in droves for more sensible designs. Cry more, dev.

    I would like to see a workable design for a player-powered dispute resolution system with more justice and less “might makes right”. Perhaps it is feasible. But is anybody doing it yet?

  34. Wolfshead>Do you know if they plan on making your speech available in audio or video format?

    They didn’t record it..!

    I did notice that one person in the audience was videoing it unofficially, but I don’t know how well it came out or what his plans are for it.

    Richard

  35. Yukon Sam>Or more to the point, leave devlopers in tears as players depart in droves for more sensible designs.

    Why would they leave? They wouldn’t have to engage in this particular elder game – that’s kinda the point! Or are you saying that merely knowing that there was a more freeform style of play available would scare people away, because they’d think it was mandatory?

    Richard

  36. My apologies, Richard. I was responding specifically to PvP as the centerpiece of the elder game, not to the alternatives, but I wasn’t specific enough in addressing the point.

    I think successfully implementing and maintaining the elder game you suggest requires a critical mass of people who are citizens of the world rather than mere players. I think we already have the tools and systems to achieve that. And I suspect that just as WOW assembled many of the best pieces of the theme park style into a polished blockbuster, somebody needs to “borrow” the best parts of social/sandbox worlds and create a monster hit. Then we can reconcile the two.

    And I’ll bet the final result looks a lot like a very glossy new UO. With less duct tape.

  37. As an ex-UO player, I want to understand the attraction of UO. What do you mean by “very glossy new UO”.

  38. I think there were a great many things about UO that are relevant to the discussion, but one that stands out in my mind is the quests.

    UO launched with an NPC quest system, but it was badly broken, with NPCs sending you off on missions that were impossible to complete for rewards that they never gave you. If I recall correctly, the automated system was yanked before long, and eventually a more limited “escort” system was implemented.

    However, in the meantime, a player volunteer system was put in place. At first, players acted merely as counselors, augmenting the GM staff, but in time some were recruited as storytellers and questmasters. These had access to a limited set of GM tools to spawn monsters and treasures, and take on NPC roles. They scripted adventures, created and placed settings, and became actors in the scenarios.

    The result was human-moderated adventures, highly responsive and customizable to the adventure group, each unique and focused much more tightly on telling the story than on providing material advancement.

    Two serious issues spelt the death of the system. The first was a lawsuit that claimed the volunteers in MMOs were employees and subject to minimum wage and other labor requirements. The other factor was that the system was very limited. It usually targeted certain high-profile roleplaying communities and venues, and participation depended strongly on hanging out in these locations (or being notified by somebody who did). Inevitably, there was a hue and cry of favoritism against the system, and perhaps it was deserved — while some of us were fortunate enough to have several of these adventures, most players never even had one.

    Still, it was to my mind the promise of the sandbox fulfilled — the ability for players to craft a compelling experience for other players, and the capacity to alter it on the fly in response to player actions.

    SWG built on the premise, eliminating key issues by making the tools available to all. But since then, right up to the launch of City of Heroes’ Architect expansion, none of the dominant players have picked up the ball. Even COH tools are limited – the mission designer can’t step into the archvillain’s shoes, cackle madly, and make rude comments about hero #3’s elderly widowed aunt (mentioned briefly in his character bio).

    And that’s one way in which I hope the evolved elder game, the “Wendy” game if you will, will emulate UO. Building tracks is fun. Madly laying tracks in front of unpredictable players careening wildly across the landscape? Priceless 🙂

  39. Ah those. And they were a great source of lag too. I had to think there about what from UO was actually salvageable. 😉

    A better ratio of GMs to players is one of those things that have eluded MMOs. Even in pen and paper land it is not idyllic when you consider the quality of your average GM. Not every GM is a Ed Greenwood. And we see this surface in CoX with the mission architect system. I would wager that system generated missions where better than 90% of the player generated missions. Even with good missions I find myself beta testing them more than actually playing them. Plus, I have seen more than a few players using them to create the ultimate farming mission. *sigh*

    Speaking of dialogue, you know what we need, we need bullet time… I mean drama time. So I can freeze action for a moment to exposition. In games right now, when people talk, it’s over the corpse of the other person which isn’t very fun. AoC sort of does this with the fatality moves. While you are locked into this long animation, you are invulnerable.

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