This is the first volume of a projected three that gather together many of the essays and writings that I have been sharing on this blog over the last several decades. This book focuses specifically on games I have worked on, from LegendMUD up through social games, and is a book of design history, lessons learned, and anecdotes. Richard Garriott was kind enough to write a foreword for the book.
It’s not a memoir or tell-all; the focus is on game design and game history. There’s still nowhere near enough material out there in print covering things like the history and evolution of online worlds (MUDs especially), in-depth dives into decisions made in games by the people who made them, and detailed breakdowns of how they worked. So I hope that this will be useful to scholars and designers, and that players might find it a fascinating glimpse behind the scenes. Just don’t expect salacious stories and secrets.
Those of you who have been reading the blog for a while will find much in there that is familiar; if you have ever wanted the SWG postmortem series in book form, here it is in expanded form. If you have ever wished that the various articles on the UO design were gathered together, here they are, along with new chapters covering things like all the things we tried doing to curb excessive playerkilling. If you ever wondered what happened with Metaplace, this is how you find out, as there’s a new and extensive postmortem. Many blog commenters make cameos in footnotes.
I spent a lovely few hours on UOForever yesterday, wandering around and seeing what UO looks like for the first time in fifteen years. Much of that time was spent doing a livestream where I told tales of UO’s development, and showed off pictures out of my design sketchbook from back then, many of them things that no one has seen publicly before.
It was a real trip to wander around Trinsic and point out art of mine that is still in the game, the rippled terrain that I still remember painstankingly making, and seeing objects that still act the way I coded them two decades ago (though of course, UOForever actually reimplemented everything themselves).
The GDCVault has posted videos of sessions from this year’s GDC already! That was fast!
I’ve linked videos for the three sessions of mine that were filmed (a fourth was for a private event and wasn’t; a fifth was on the Expo floor and wasn’t). You can find them each on the page with the slides:
I want it all. I want to have the tools, the machine learning, the AI, the rich data environment, to be able to make a single, probably online, connected universe that we are in fact simulating down to the point of the little pink alien gophers on the thirteenth planet around that particular green sun (which was entirely procedurally generated) actually have a history and care about one another, and I want it to have all of that stuff and have all of it be alive. Specifically because I want to drop a player into that world and have them realize, as they play, that they are touching lives, messing with things that are alive, they are trampling grass that struggled to grow, “goddamnit, you’re stepping on me again,” to realize that when they build their virtual cities, when they conquer their virtual enemies that they are being colonialist about, you know — all of those things, I want them to realize that in their daily lives, they do the same thing in the real world. Because I want the AI and the machine learning and the code and the systems out there to hold a mirror back up to us as humans. I want them to use that space as practice for being better here. So give me all of it so that people can wake up and realize what they do day to day.
I have posted up a page with the slides from the UO postmortem panel that Richard Garriott, Starr Long, Rich Vogel, and I gave at GDC 2018. We ended up doing the hour long talk, followed by an additional hour and a half (!) of Q&A afterwards. No video is available yet, but I’ll post here once it is — likely not for a few weeks.
One thing that the static images of the slides don’t capture is that the opening had “Stones” playing (the version from the opening screen of UO) and the chest actually animated opening when the crowd shouted that yes, we should log in.