Gaming Massively

Monday, September 8, 2008

Burning Sea resurgence?

I was over at the Pirates of the Burning Sea blog, wondering what they were up to these days, as I hadn't heard anything in a while. Turns out they planned it that way. In what was probably a very good move if you have the wherewithal to do it, they basically went underground while they fixed all the bugs and such, and are now (like, right now) going to start a new advertising campaign to bring people in. They're also hiring several of people, which is hopefully a good sign.

I have to say I found the game enjoyable, and that's impressive, given that it was the beta I was playing. I just didn't see it replacing WoW at the time, and I couldn't bring myself to do two subscriptions. And now I'm off gaming, for the most part - too much going on in RL. I really wish they didn't have the subscription model - I would love to be able to play some of these games more casually....

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Pirate ambassadors

I really enjoy the idea of ambassadors, though perhaps not as PotBS has envisioned it. According to massively, a certain number of Australian players will be given a year free to help... I don't know, actually, what they're helping do. I originally thought the idea was to choose especially good players from elsewhere and have them play on the Australian servers, but that's not the case at all. It seems like it could work, if you needed to seed a new country, to have some well developed guilds and intense players already in-game - and I guess that's what they're doing here, but the whole thing seems to suffer from a 'chicken and egg' type problem to me, whereas I could see pulling in people from a place the game was already well underway to help a new area be more lively on day one. It also seems to fit the spirit of the game (though I haven't played since it went live, so I don't know if it fits the current spirit of the game or not...).

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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Mobile Gaming and the Virtual Economy

With CES going on, folks are talking about gadgets. Tobold has a post on multi-platform gaming, with a specific reference to auction houses.

However, it was a later post, about material production in PotBS, that really made me think about the mobile possibilities. Why not go beyond - create a real (game based) economy, complete with loans, stocks, etc, all accessible in the same way real markets are. Since clearly people seem to enjoy participating in (fake) economic transactions, let the game become literally two games. Pure traders need never set foot (so to speak) in the game. It would be a way to create a profit center as well - you could let people buy the currency with real money. To prevent inflation, however, it might be better to limit this exchange.

But there's also the game, whatever it's based on. Putting some production limits in place (like PotBS does), and making everything player produced, allows you to control the availability of higher level items. Allowing them to be permanently destroyed is another limit.

Then, for giggles, allow natural disasters (to keep investors on their toes). Combined with the natural chaos a market will induce (runs on certain items, etc) the game will never be the same twice.

I think the biggest key is not to let the level of the characters determine the value of items - make sure that the lower level stuff stays valuable, even as the upper level stuff gets out there.

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Sunday, December 2, 2007

Pirates reviewed

Hooray! Apparently the NDA has been listed from Pirates of the Burning Sea (which I have been playing a little bit of during the stress tests). Tobold has posted a lengthy overview of the game to get you started.

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

MS SQL? Really?

I'm always interested in the way an MMO gets put together, and while I don't read a lot of dev blogs I will pop over if one has something particularly interesting to say. Thus I found myself at Joe Ludwig's blog reading the post how to make MS SQL cry like a baby. I will confess - I'm an open source fanatic, and when MySQL can't get the job done I turn to Oracle. So it came as more than a little bit of a surprise to me that Pirates of the Burning Sea was running Microsoft. I would have said it couldn't be done, but they are obviously out to prove me wrong.

If you have survived my tech talk, here's an article on crafting in PotBS to help you unwind. I've been following this aspect of the game with some interest - I really like the idea that everything in-game can be built, though it makes striking a balance even more important - how do you prevent someone (or a cartel) from cornering the market on a key good? Of course, maybe there's a military option I haven't heard about....

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Pirates beta take 2

Oh boy - another stress test for Pirates of the Burning Sea. You can head over to fileplanet to register. I'm hoping my key from the first one will work. We'll see what happens.

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Monday, October 15, 2007

PotBS stress test notes

The folks over at PotBS have an article up on their stress test from last weekend. It's a pretty interesting run down the fun they had over the 72 hours or so the stress test ran. If you ever needed a reminder of how much more fun playing games is than running the servers that run the games, this is it. From a technical standpoint, it tells you a lot about how they've designed the game to operate.

One thing you'll notice is the discussion of the zone servers. Based on the fact that players wait for these to start, it must be a form of instancing, which is one of the big MMO debates. The trick is, instancing is easy - you can easily load balance servers that are running instances, whereas it's much more difficult to keep things up and running when everyone is in the same place.

I'm kind of of the opinion this represents a failure of the developers to properly leverage the hardware, but that's not really fair of me - there's nothing worse than an armchair programmer. In my head, I imagine massive clusters powering a single, crazy large instance of a game. This is tough if you're going to be located in various sites around the world, though you can speculate that if you could get fiber between your sites you could run the whole thing as one global mass. But that'd be quite a network setup.

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Friday, October 5, 2007

weekend beta

The beta stress test of Pirates of the Burning Sea has opened to all, so I went and downloaded a copy yesterday. More accurately, I tried to download a copy. FilePlanet is now fairly far down on my list of likes, after I discovered they don't support downloading to a Mac. As we use a Mac mini for our home server, it makes sense to download files to it, then pop them over to the game machine (which sucks approximately ten times the electricity when it's turned on). But no soup - their ActiveX downloader doesn't work on Mac, and the link to bypass it was broken. So I used the gaming box to download the client, which finished just before I left for work today. So hopefully there will be piratical action this weekend. I understand I'll be subject to some sort of NDA, so details may be thin.

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Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Pirates beta

Tobold just posted that you can get a beta for Pirates of the Burning Sea, but it's through FilePlanet, which is subscription only. I just can't bring myself to do someone's server stress testing for them, and pay for the privilege beside. If my interest doesn't wane, I'll consider it, but I think that's a long time off.

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