Nov 212014
 

500px-WOW_logoTen years of World of Warcraft. Well. So many thoughts.

WoW has always been a contradiction of sorts: not the pioneer, but the one that solidified the pattern. Not the experimenter, but the one that reaped the rewards. Not the innovator, but the one that was well-designed, built solidly, and made appealing. It was the MMO that took what has always been there, and delivered it in a package that was truly broadly appealing, enough so to capture the larger gamer audience for the first time.

Don’t get me wrong; that’s not a knock on it. If anything, it’s possibly the biggest game design achievement in all of virtual world history. After all, we’re talking about taking a game skeleton that was at that point already almost a decade and a half old, one which had literally had hundreds of iterations, hundreds of games launched. None of them ever reached that sort of audience, that sort of milestone, that sort of polish level.

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Mar 202012
 

Once upon a time, there was a game set in a science fiction universe where the economy was very important. Its name was not Eve.

In this game, players could, if they so chose, run a business. They could

  • designate a building as a shop
  • hire an NPC bot to stand in it
  • give the bot items to hold for sale
  • specify the prices at which those items would sell
  • customize the bot in a variety of ways
  • make use of advertising facilities to market the shop
  • decorate the shop any way they pleased

With this basic facility, emergent gameplay tied to the way that the crafting system worked resulted in players who chose to run shops being able to do things Ike build supply chains, manage regular inventory, develop regular customer bases, build marketing campaigns, and in general, play a lemonade stand writ large.

The upshot was that at peak, fully half the players in Star Wars Galaxies ran a shop.
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Game talkAvatar rights come back

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Apr 102011
 

The Lawbringer: A prelude to avatar rights is an article kicking off what appears to be a series looking at avatar rights in the context of World of Warcraft. It has been a while since the original article on avatar rights has been commented on much on the web, though it still regularly gets discussed in books on Internet law. Very few worlds ever adopted any variant of this as a terms of service, and Metaplace doing so back when we ran a customer-facing service had no real impact other than garnering some publicity.

Oddly enough, the article has been much on my mind lately, mostly because of how it closes, with a prediction that avatar service providers will both hold immense quantities of personal information but also dominate the market, making it hard to use an alternate provider:

Someday there won’t be any admins. Someday it’s gonna be your bank records and your grocery shopping and your credit report and yes, your virtual homepage with data that exists nowhere else…  it may be a little harder to write to Customer Service. Your avatar profile might be your credit record and your resume and your academic transcript, as well as your XP earned.

On the day that happens, I bet we’ll all wish we had a few more rights in the face of a very large, distributed server, anarchic, virtual world where it might be very very hard to move to a different service provider…

…It’s a hypothetical exercise.

For now.

“Declaring the Rights of Players”, 2000

Not very long ago my daughter was banned from Facebook. She has no idea why; neither do I. I would keep an eye on her page, and there was nothing untoward on it that I saw. She hadn’t been using it actively, and it took her several days to notice it was gone. And she’s just not interested in it enough to bother setting up a new one.

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Game talkMan beats WoW

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Dec 032009
 

Well, sort of. All the achievement points. Not all the achievements. He cheated on one. Which is somehow fitting.

To reach the milestone the Taiwanese power-player killed 390,895 creatures, accumulated 7,255,538,878 points of damage, completed 5,906 quests (that’s 14.62 quests per day, apparently), raided 405 dungeons and hugged 11 players.

The achievement hasn’t arrived without some controversy though; WoW-heads point out that technically he’s still missing one illusive, event-tied achievement (called “BB King”), but he’s managed to dodge it via a glitch awarding one extra, false achievement point.

— News: Man ‘finishes’ World of Warcraft – ComputerAndVideoGames.com.

Nov 302009
 

I am unsurprised to see that there is a fresh paper out that states that there are strong mathematical commonalities between gang formation and guild formation. (I am also unsurprised to see Nic Ducheneaut and Nick Yee among the authors of the paper).

In particular, we find that the evolution of gang-like groups in the real and virtual world can be explained using the same team-based group-formation mechanism. In contrast to the quantitative success of our team-based model, we find that a homophilic version of the model fails. Our findings thus provide evidence that online guilds and offline gangs are both driven by team-formation considerations rather than like-seeking-like. Interestingly, each server’s Internet protocol (IP) address seems to play an equivalent role to a gang ethnicity.

“Human group formation in online guilds and offline gangs driven by a common team dynamic”

The source data comes from WoW guilds and from Long Beach CA street gangs — and with lots and lots of data points to boot.

What’s the mathematical model underlying the two? Well, it’s a basically pragmatic approach to team-building:

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Game talkChina gov’t rejects WoW again

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Nov 032009
 

Massively is reporting that WoW is caught in the battle between the Ministry of Culture and the General Administration of Press and Publication over who gets to regulate online games — and has been denied permission to operate (again).

The Ministry of Culture was, I believe, the arm of the government there that recently banned gold farming, but also the one that last gave WoW permission to operate there.

The GAAP was the group that issued the recent regulations on foreign companies operating in China.

The Ministry of Culture gave the last approval; the GAPP is the one now saying that the game is in “gross violation” of regs.

Massively’s got all the links for you!

Game talkWoW addiction therapy guild!

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Jul 312009
 

An addiction therapist is forming a WoW guild so that he can reach the addicted where they live: on raids.

He has called on Blizzard Entertainment, the company that makes World of Warcraft, to waive or discount the costs associated with joining the game so that therapists can more easily communicate with at-risk players in their preferred environment.

“We will be launching this project by the end of the year. I think it’s already clear that psychiatrists will have to stay within the parameters of the game. They certainly wouldn’t be wandering around the game in white coats and would have to use the same characters available to other players,” said Dr Graham.

“Of course one problem we’re going to have to overcome is that while a psychiatrist may excel in what they do in the real world, they’re probably not going to be very good at playing World of Warcraft.

“We may have to work at that if we are going to get through to those who play this game for hours at end.”

via Addiction therapists signing up to World of Warcraft – Telegraph.

Gosh, I hope they don’t get addicted.

Jun 022009
 

Still confused about this use of the word persistence; coming here with the dictionary meaning and trying to understand a seeming contradictory concept.

— David, in a comment in the earlier post

The technical sense of the term arises from “persisting something to the runtime database.” The base states are usually in a template database of some sort, along with all the other static data. The template database is read-only as the game is running, and only developers get access to it. The runtime database is where everything that players do goes. (See here and here for more).

The base data in the static template database doesn’t count as “persistent” or “persisted” because it’s actually baked into the world’s rules in some fashion, as a starter state. Delete everything in the runtime database, and that map will still be there, usually. You will have playerwiped WoW, but the world of WoW will still be there: every loot drop, every monster, every quest, every house.

The virtual world definition of the term means “to save changes on top of the base dataset.” So a base character starts with no real gear and newb stats, and a designer sets that up in the template database as the definition of a newbie character. But we save their advancement. That’s persisting a character to the runtime database. The stats and gear might go up OR down, but they are different from the base.
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