Gaming Massively

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


You know, I still can't wrap my head around the whole Penny Arcade Expo thing. The Penny Arcade phenomenon was crazy enough, but now the Expo is huge. Crazy big. I try to imagine what went through those guys' heads the day they realized they had become the gaming industry. I'm sure it's in the blog somewhere, but I'm not quite curious enough to wander through six years of posts a few at a time....

Labels: , ,

justify the grind

I was thinking about levelling in the context of rewards, and how players need positive feedback to keep them playing a game. And yet, real life doesn't have levels (heh - or does it?) but there's a sense of forward motion. How could one capture that to keep a game interesting without having to add levels every time you want to do a new expansion?

I think WAR may be onto one route, if what I've read about their combat system is correct. Making the combat a more skill-based system means that people can actually improve their combat skill (as opposed to just gaining skill points - I mean real hand-eye coordination type skill).

But then I got thinking about some of the other ways that we 'skill up', and how those skills require constant attention in order to maintain them.

For example: I have studied about six or so languages (not counting programming languages). Some of these (French, Japanese) I can operate in, with varying degrees of success. But the German I took in college, or the Greek I studied for a holiday? Those are gone. I might be able to get a cup of coffee or tell someone 'Good Morning!', but that is it.

If we envision this as skill points, it's very clear that when I was taking the class in German, my skill points were increasing rapidly. But as soon as I stopped using it, they started to go away.

Now, this is pretty basic stuff, and easy enough to implement in a game. If you were feeling a bit feistier, you could even have a second system that made your skills atrophy less quickly after you reach certain proficiency levels or after a long period of time (I doubt, for example, that I will ever lose my ability to speak French, whereas my Japanese, which I never really became comfortable in, requires constant attention).

You could also implement this in terms of physical skills (weightlifting, anyone?) and combat skills. More interesting might be various types of combat skills (versus, for example, Rodents of Unusual Size, and another against armed warriors).

An additional facet of this might be a variation on "Player Achievements". I had been thinking for a while that if you have earned the right to call yourself 'RoUS slayer' then shouldn't you be a mite bit better than the next guy at killing RoUSs? You know their wily ways, and you're ready for them when they leap at you from above in the fire swamp. This should grant combat bonuses. (on a side note, in the case of intelligent creatures who recognize you, they should either run away or call immediately for reinforcements).

This sort of system might also do away with the need for alts - your class is based on your education (heh - that's player class, not social class, though that's an awfully ironic mis-speak), so if you stop warrior-ing, and start wizarding, the change will happen organically. This would also allow Warriors who know a bit of magic, or wizards who carry a two-handed bastard sword, making every class individual (and making PvP a game of identifying what kind of enemy you're fighting during the fight.

Maybe there's already someone out there doing this. If not, I hope someone does!

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, August 22, 2008

More WAR

...and speaking of Tobold, he's managed to do something I didn't really think could be done: make me think I should try WAR. The description of how groups work in WAR that he gives sounds positively exciting. A whole pile of folks have noted that public quests are one of those head-smack type ideas where everyone goes 'that's so obvious - why didn't anyone do that before?!'

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

WAR NDA is off

Oh lordy - the NDA for Warhammer has apparently been lifted (at least, so says Tobold). I expect it's going to be tough to find folks talking about anything else for a while.

Labels: , , ,

Interview with Flagship Studio's founder

Massively has an excellent, long, interview with the founder of the company that did Hellgate: London, which is basically an extensive postmortem of the company. There were clearly some business/personality issues that ended up causing the company to fold, and Bill Roper lays them all out (or at least, lays out his side of the story). It's a fascinating read, well worth a look.


Thursday, August 7, 2008

Stargate Worlds' AI

I've read multiple places now that the makers of Stargate Worlds hope to have a fairly complex battle AI. These plans were reiterated most recently in an interview. I've played a number of first person shooters, and to be honest I've never survived long enough to evaluate the AI. Of course, this will be different, as you'll see things from a different perspective, so maybe I'll live long enough to do better. I do know that I always found the WoW AI to be frustrating - if I set off an alarm, I expect the whole base to come get me, not just the one guy in my aggro radius. We'll see what they do, as this would be quite tough if you have 700 people running the instance at once....

Labels: , , , ,

Warhammer set to release the day before my birthday!

So it seems really real now that Warhammer will launch on September 18th. You all know what you can buy me as a present now, don't you?

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Back from the dead

...and I'm back! The move covered some 900 miles, and while I've been reading all the latest, I haven't been posting that much. There have been a few interesting developments, not least of which is that I get to play a new game I can't tell you about. Since my gaming computer should arrive with the movers on Monday (fingers crossed) that should keep me busy for a little while.

Let's see: if you haven't read it already, Tobold does a nice job using Magic: the Gathering to explain why games that require levelling will probably always add levels as part of their expansion. Let's hope some of the up-and-comers break the trend, as levelling, at least in the grindy-grind way, makes me sad.

As near as I can tell, in the past month Age of Conan has pretty much continued its downward spiral, at least as the blogs would have it. They continue to add content though, so at the point you play it your mileage may vary.

LotRO is prepping for their big Mines of Moria expansion, which will have some serious content, I have read. The trailer is online, and looks ... well... I'm sure it will be fun.

Honestly, I feel like most of the current gen of 'up and comers' still need some work. The stuff from 38 Studios I am very much looking forward to, but it sounds like another year before we even hear from them. The turn-based strategy games I want to look more at - they sound like they could be fun. We'll see.

Labels: , , , ,