Come Fly With Me

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Come fly with me.  We can listen to the wind from the top of the Statue of Atlas right next to City Hall.  You could get lost with me in the un-mapped forests of Perez Park.  We can dive down into the Hollowing, or we can go on a super speed footrace around the interstates of Skyway City.  I’ll show you the statue of Talos and the island he protects.  We can race around the streets of Steel Canyon, zigging and zagging at top speed, as we dodge sky scrapers and overly-high curbs alike.  I will fly you out over the waters of Independence Port, watch out for the giant squid and ghost ships.  And then we can see the towers of the Terra Volta Nuclear Reactor (from a distance of course), and I’ll show you where I met some of my favorite people, every one of them amazing.  Darkskie, Wild Thyme, Sub-Pulse, and Sel.

I can show you doorways to other dimensions and then, we can defy reality together as we burst through them.  I’ll take you on a tour of the Chantry, and you can see the infamous Rikti Crash Site for yourself.  I can show you where we fought Babbage and the Kronos Titan.  Well, a few of the places we fought those guys.  They got around.  And you can catch your breath in the hidden lounge put into a wall by the devs in Faultline.

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I can show you an ancient underground city steeped in magic, and a complete and fully functioning sewer tunnel system, made back when developers thought such attention to detail would come in handy later.  I can show you where the greatest threats to humanity lived, and where the heroes that fought them congregated.  We can go to the past and explore a lost Greek civilization, thriving with the gifts of the gods.  We can come back to the present, you can see a shining beacon of humanity, at it’s absolute peak.  And the lies that rotted out it’s foundations, dooming it and all who lived there to death.

I can take you down a ski slope that feels so real, you’ll remember the air as it bites into your skin and scours your lungs clean as you go.  Then we can warm ourselves by a fire in a lodge that’s suspended in mid-air.  Ever seen a super-villain volcano base?  A carnival of shadows?  A haunted mansion, complete with hedge maze?  I can show you one.  Or all.  All you have to do is come fly with me.

I can introduce you to Scarab’s wit, and Mouse’s cleverness.  You can flirt with Tera.  He is incorrigible though, you’ve been warned.  We can laugh with Muddy and Blu, and rely on Turtle to remind us when we’re missing something important in-game or out.  Rej will always listen to you, even when you’re just bitching.  And few are as reliable or as capable at EVERYTHING as Phantom Meltdown.  Duskfall will never stop encouraging you and if you ever need a dose of humble, Uncarnate has you covered.  Freeze Warning is the clever contrarian though you will find few as willing to shake things up for the pure sake of shaking them up, as I.  Come fly with us.  It will be, fun.  I promise.

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An Ear Infection as an Adult????

That happens?  Ugh!

 

Feeling awful!  No writing for now.  UGH!!!!  More later!  Go read other people’s stuff.

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Real Life Continues to Interfere

But my hope is that by the end of the day tomorrow that will cease to be as big an issue.

Tomorrow I take an exam for PMP (Project Management Professional) certification.  It’s a big dealie with standards and stuff.

Look for actual work next week, in the meantime here’s a link to a podcast that awesomely talked about my MMO Loot Mechanics post a short while back.

Also, I’ve been trying out The Secret World, and HOLY @^#%@!  This game is so turning out to be everything it promised.  I’m kind of in shock to be honest.

More to follow, I promise.

 

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Writing and Posting; Posting and Writing

Schedule updates for the next few weeks everyone.  You’ll see me posting here as close to regularly once a week as always.  However, writing efforts are temporarily suspended.  Doing some heavy training at work for the next 2 weeks and it is devouring my brain.  Apologies for those that were waiting for more MMO Mechanics discussions.  I hope to have another post on that up as soon as my training schedule subsides.

In the meantime, I’ll be posting links here to interesting things I see and hear about.  I’ve been doing a great deal of research on my MMO Mechanics posts and one of the best articles I’ve found came from Ralph Koster again.  In this piece, he breaks down the what and why we use levels in our games and speculates on ideas for how to go truly level-less.  It’s a great read and worth some deeper discussions, when time permits.  I’ll definitely be coming back to it.  See you soon.

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MMO Mechanics: Loot

Editors Note: This is the second in a series of articles talking about the ins and outs of given MMO mechanics.  I’m no game designer but I research a lot and have been gaming for an obnoxiously long time.  I’ve played MUD’s, MMORPG’s, MOBA’s and have been a PC and console enthusiast for as long as those things have existed.  I’ll be citing appropriate references where possible and as always comments are turned on, so please disagree if you do.  Part one of the series on MMO Economies can be found here.

In games with a well defined vertical progression scheme (WoW and most of it’s clones), loot is the primary tool to drive character growth.  Go to a new dungeon, get a new drop, it becomes part of the character.  Since it’s difficult to decouple this style of progression from the loot itself, we’re not going to get into a discussion of vertical and horizontal progression systems here.  Also, depending on how a game has been built, loot-based progression can totally undercut your crafting mechanics if the loot from drops is better than what can be gotten via crafting.  We’ll cover crafting mechanics and how those should interact with loot in a later post.  After that we’ll possibly wrap up our economic discussion and move on to other mechanics.

So with all this in mind, let’s get right into some of the mechanical issues of loot that most games, past and present, fail utterly to deal with in any sane or reasonable manner.

“You’ve defeated a savage wombat.  Press x to search the dead carcass and x again to collect anything you find.”

Can this mechanic please die in a fire now?  This particular abstraction is some hold over from pen and paper RPG’s where some particularly sadistic DM decided to punish his players for not paying attention to the world around them.  As a mechanic in an MMO, the only game design reason I can see to propagate this is to create some kind of perverse half second time sink that over time manages to be no more than a minor inconvenience in the game.

And it is an inconvenient.  When I kill a spawn and it drops loot, I shouldn’t be asked to search for it.  There’s no searching.  The body is right there.  I just go over and metaphorically rifle through the dead thing’s pockets (though let’s not ask where a forest boar is going to store a +3 mace of disruption, ewwwww.)  And that abstraction helps to push away the notion that we’re really corpse looters and quite probably murderers too. Yeah, you killed that guy, now take his stuff.  Aren’t I supposed to be a hero or something?

“Come play the exciting and rewarding game of Inventory Management!”

I swear Guild Wars 2 is one of the worst perpetrators of this issue, because it feels like inventory management is all I do every time I log in to play that game.  If your game requires that I spend 10 minutes at the start of the game and 10 minutes and the end and probably a few breaks in the middle just to manage my inventory, than I’m not really playing your game.  My guild mates goaded me into Guild Wars 2, and the very first thing I asked my high level friends to make me wasn’t a suit of armor or a weapon.  It was inventory bags.

Guild Wars 2 (and most other modern MMO’s) throw the loot at you, right from the start.  And they keep throwing it at you as you go.  It gets ridiculous after a while, and it turns my game into the game of inventory management.  This is not desirable behavior.  Clean up your bag space, sell off your junk (GW 2 even has a sell junk button at every vendor, wtf???).  This is just housework.  I can play that game in real life, and it benefits me more there.  No subscription needed.

The Extra Credits video, linked in my last MMO Mechanics post, talked briefly about this.  How games flood players with these low value items of loot that are good only for selling back to a vendor.  Well if all they’re good for is cash, why not just give me the cash?  Are you looking for time sinks?  Why?  Is your core gameplay not good enough to sustain the game without all these needless account tasks?  Hmmmm.

Crafting materials in your inventory backpack

Sell it.  Sell it all.  Rare, common, I don’t care.  It’s taking up space in my inventory and the game of inventory management up above says I must keep things clean.  So what if I never ever try to craft because keeping up with crafting components and my inventory is just too much.  Inventory management the game MUST be played.

This Sword of Santa has an iLevel of 3568, 3 major and 2 minor gem slots, and will boost attack power by 92 points, damage 127 points, and gift wrapping speed by 18%.  It will also proc a long white beard on your character with every 20th attack.  Ho ho ho!

Loot has a lot of mechanics associated with it.  Stats, slots for boosts, and procs are hard to keep up with.  While these mechanics won’t go away over time I do wish loot, especially loot designed to boost a character’s stats, were designed universally and with the same rules that characters were designed for.  Just some better integration in terms of how a particular piece of loot improves a character versus a wall of stats that I’ve got to check to see if it’s green or red to see if it’s actually better.  And that’s just for some pre-defined version of better decided by the devs when they crafted the item.  Not necessarily what I would consider better.

So.  There are alternative mechanics to some of these issues.  Let’s take a look.

Press X to search and X to collect loot…..

This one is simple.  Loot should drop into my backpack automatically.  There shouldn’t even be a prompt aside from a notification of what I’ve gotten.  Just do it.  Stop making me stop everything and pick it up.  It’s a tiny fractional annoyance that has to be repeated for every monster you kill.  People have rage-quit over the fact that they’ve lost out on loot because they couldn’t find it in the chaos of a battle/dungeon.  Just drop it in my backpack, notify me if it’s full through some icon update, and let’s move on.  On the same note….

Crafting materials in your inventory backpack

If your game has a separate inventory space for crafting materials, then auto-drop that into that space and give people easy access to it.  It won’t eliminate the game of inventory management, and I’m not sure you want to totally eliminate that anyway, but you do make some of the more onerous aspects of it less annoying.

Geographical Loot

In many ways all end-game loot is already implicitly geographical.  The devs add a new high level zone with all new loot and you raid that zone until you have the best of it all and then you move on to the next one.  You could make this explicit and offer up loot that has a geographical bonus.  Something that offers up some bonus that only works while you’re in a certain area.  For example, when you’re in the Sky City, maybe you find a belt with some good stats on it that’s worth hanging onto.  But while in Sky City, it also gives a fly bonus for short durations so you can’t just fall out of Sky City and never return.  Or loot with fire powers that only work in an ice dungeon.  There are lots of ways you could go with this and since it’s already being done implicitly, why not deliberately do it as well and add a level of variety to your loot beyond what has previously come before.

Max-Level Only Loot

This is similar to the above suggestion, however, this is loot that only applies to max level content.  Below max level the loot stops working, or at the very least, stops giving max-level bonuses.  This is actually a reasonable method for dealing with Power Creep and some of the issues that continually raising the loot cap causes, though it would be very hard to implement on a game that didn’t start out with it.

Loot that has a story

The quintessential example of this kind of mechanic would be the masks from The Legend of Zelda, Majora’s Mask, one of my favorite games of all, ever.  None of the masks in that game were loot that you could just find in a random chest somewhere.  Each one was in a particular part of the game world and getting it required doing something, such that by the time you had it, you also had a story for how you got it.  And that’s something that’s super important.  When you give players a reason to get something, they keep it for a lot longer than they might necessarily want to because it has a story attached to it.  Sentimentality.  The item in question has meaning and value beyond just the stats associated with it.  Unique gear that has a story will always be better and the more of it that’s seeded into your world the more your players will go after it to try and get it.

So that’s it for loot today.  Sorry no sweeping reassessment of the systems but loot in general should be a means to an end and not an end unto itself.  Lots of moderm MMO’s have forgotten this and we can talk about what the point of an MMO should actually be some other time.  As always, these are just some suggestions for how to fix loot and make it better in our games, but there are surely others.  Please feel free to post your thoughts on how to fix loot below.

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Links and Lateness

I swear sometimes it feels like this is a regular feature….

This week’s post was supposed to be about Loot and how that can and maybe should work, but the draft for that is not yet fit for human eyes.  So in the mean time.

I think I mentioned Ralph Koster a few times on the blog.  I really need to pick up his book when I can but his website is a treasure trove of amazing game design and theory essays.  One of my favorites that I keep pouring over right now is this 2 part essay on why levels suck.  It avoids the discussion of vertical versus horizontal progression completely and offers some really great insights as to what game designers should be trying to accomplish.  This is just some of the reading informing my series on MMO Mechanics and I highly recommend it.

Paul Ford wrote an amazing piece for Bloomberg on what code is.  It was amazing to read, though I am heavily biased as I have a programming background.  But it’s a good read for anyone who wants to understand what programmers think sometimes and too good to pass up.

J3w3l has another great piece up on the crafting mechanics of Albion and how those along with some other guild rules are fostering a real sense of need in her for her other players, something that many modern MMO’s fail to grasp at.  I’ve thrown my two cents in on it over there and you should too.

Go to Offworld.com and read everything.  Yes, all of it.

And that’s all I’ve got for now, gang.  Next week, my second piece on MMO mechanics is all about loot and we’ll round out the topic of MMO economies the following week with a discussion of crafting.  See you then.

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MMO Mechanics: MMO Economies

Editor’s Note:  This is the first in a series of articles talking about the ins and outs of given MMO mechanics.  I’m no game designer but I research a lot and have been gaming for an obnoxiously long time.  I’ve played MUD’s, MMORPG’s, MOBA’s and have been a PC and console enthusiast for as long as those things have existed.  I’ll be citing appropriate references where possible and as always comments are turned on, so please disagree if you do.

MMO economies are weird as heck.  Given their completely artificial construction, you’d think you’d see more actual economists attempting to take advantage of the simulation possibilities available with them.  Sadly, no.  Regardless, in most single-player video games, economies are only simulated, and most act as a gate for content or abilities that a player works their way up through as they play, as an alternate to experience.  Weapons, armor, consumables, etc, all provide a way of increasing a player’s power and can be a nice alternative or supplement to a leveling system.

Most MMO economies go one step further and allow for actual trade between players.  This creates markets which we can then buy and sell goods on, track purchases, and use that information to possibly take advantage of and become rich, and “win” for some form of winning.  I’ve known players to focus their entire gaming experience on these goals and it’s somewhat surprising to me that the infamous “marketeer” has never been given it’s own character class in any game.  But many modern MMO’s drop economies into their games without really understanding enough about what purpose they should serve in the game, and end up making more problems for themselves down the line.

So what types of behavior should developers be trying to encourage when they create markets?  What is the end-goal of your market?  Trade isn’t an answer, that’s just an activity.  And depending on how that trade is regulated determines what behaviors your player base ends up displaying in your market.

The point of any game is to have fun.  Duh!  Therefore the point of an MMO economy and a market should ultimately be to have fun as well.  The trick is how do you create fun by playing a game of fake trading? There are lots of answers to this.  You make your players feel like they’re getting value for their time and effort.  Or you make your players (virtually) rich and encourage them and everyone else to try and get rich too.  If your market has high liquidity, then you greatly increase the odds of making more players rich.  If your structure is rigid and locked in, then only your top marketeers are going to “win” and this sets up issues around monty-hall styles of gameplay or worse ignoring the market (and thus a whole sub-section of your game) entirely.  And this is just one of the basic problem that designers need to be able to answer about their in-game economies.  While I’m not sure how much economic theory is needed to answer these questions, I know that most efforts actually trying to work out these issues fall very short. Complicating all of this is the fact that your trade economy will likely be tied closely into your crafting and loot economies and those will exponentially increase the complexities of your markets.  So how should designers address these issues?

For a basic primer on how most MMO economies work and some of the most common problems found in them, you can’t go wrong with this great 8 minute segment by Extra Credits:

It’s a great video and gets to some of the key issues with MMO economies right away.  Money flows in and money flows out.  How do you keep the value of that money from degrading, while also providing an experience that encourages players to try their hand at it.  After all, if people think their money and time are worth something on the market, they’re more likely to try engage and HAVE FUN.  Most money sinks fail in their efforts to control the problem of MMO economies because they either don’t go far enough and players just ignore them or they go too far and players avoid them.

The most effective sinks I’ve found, are the ones that focus on the most excessive behavior of marketeers and turn their psychology against them.  Want to be a gazillionaire?  Okay, you can do that, it’s just going to cost you half a gazillion dollars.  No problem for you, right?  When you force players who want to be rich, to really have to work at being rich, you’re basically doing two things.  You’re still giving them the status and rewards they crave (being rich), but by forcing their energy into the sole purpose of making themselves rich you reduce the impact of their fortunes on everyone else.

Caps on the amount of physical money a player can carry, combined with things like costly premium bank slots, extra inventory storage, the use of alts to store money, or even additional accounts needed to store the loot/cash, all provide sinks to those who want those vast sums of money and also puts that money to use storing itself, as opposed to flooding your economy and making mischeif.  These are the kinds of problems you want your high end marketeers to have.  “OH where will I keep all me money?”  “Well Mr. McDuck, you can store it in this super vault here, where you can swim in it and look at it and count it all day, for HALF your fortune.”  “Highway Robbery!  Oh well, I knew it was a problem when I started.  Let me get my bathing suit.”

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Actual In-game footage

But that only solves one problem in your economy.  Why should people play in a market if they can’t get rich, or at least wealthy enough to buy what they need?  Solve this problem and you solve a lot of issues regular players have with markets.

Most markets in most MMO’s use the WoW model.  WoW uses an auction house to control the buying and selling of goods on their market.  Auction houses are, by their very nature, sellers markets.  Sellers come in, put up their wares, and allow buyers to come in and bid on their products.  Sellers are in a prime position in these kinds of markets.  In addition to getting a premium spot in the buying/selling cycle they also see the entire history of the goods they’re selling and those of others as well.  These markets are rife with speculation and usually suffer from at least some hyper-inflation.  All this leads to barriers to entry that are very high for the average person.  If you want to get rich in the WoW market you have to REALLY want to get rich.  Just scrounging together 5000 gold so that you can buy your master level flying mount can be a huge challenge and require significant levels of farming to pull off.  Fortunately, there are better models out there.

In 2010, Simon Ludgate, reviewed several MMO economies and came to the conclusion that Eve Online (were you really surprised?), had a great economy.  The key thing they did differently, was that in their auction houses, buyers had the option to place buy orders in them.  These buy orders acted as a pull against the speculators and high end sellers on the market and forced the value of goods closer to their actual in game value, which made the market more fair for everyone.  Eve Online also does several other things mentioned elsewhere, from it’s onerous death penalties, to it’s use of real world money to help keep it’s in-game currency stable.  It also helps that it has an actual economist in-house working for the company, overseeing everything.

Most game companies can’t afford a real world economist (though I wish they could).  So, are there any other means to control the amount of speculation and make the market actually approachable for more than just the marketeers who thrive in those kinds of environments?  (And please note, I’m not using marketeer as a pejorative.  Being a marketeer is a perfectly reasonable thing to do and should be an expected way to play the game.)

Ralph Koster talks at length about how they didn’t introduce an auction house into Star Wars: Galaxies because it basically would have ruined the profession of entrepreneur in their game.  An auction house can create what’s called a total information economy and thus those who can take advantage of the information available to buy/sell at the cheapest, tend to win out over everyone else.  A real world example of this is Amazon.com.  There are no more mall bookstores because when you can buy books super cheap on Amazon, why go anywhere else?  The same thing happens with auction houses as well.

A possible answer then is to limit the amount of information available to a buyer and seller when they enter the auction house.  By making all trades anonymous and limiting the number of known trades on any given item, you create a system where you still have all the basic components of a market, speculators, arbitrage, and all the rest.  But you make the amount of information available to just the most recent purchases of an item, and thus make it very difficult to do any kind of long term manipulation of that item.  You end up with a system where the top of the line and most popular items are heavily traded on, but everything else tends to fall towards it’s actual market value over time, creating a 2-teired model of market activity.  A small top tier, where the best of the best marketeers converge to do battle with each other (a form of PvP).  And a much larger, broader, lower tier, where everyone else can engage to buy and sell the lesser popular and more common stuff based on an item’s actual value.  Though heavy marketeering is still possible in a limited information economy, the ability of any marketeer to corner a given sector of a market is much harder given the limited information available and thus reduces the barriers for non-marketeers to engage in your economy more generally.

Combined with significant sinks on the storing and maintaining of a vast treasure horde, a limited information economy can be a great option for producing an MMO economy that has multiple levels of engagement.  Players who won’t or can’t compete at the top-most levels, can still engage the market for the stuff they need, while the big marketeer girls and boys fight it out at the top for the big prizes and the prestige of being at the top.  This gives a developer the ability to focus on what money sinks they actually need, versus penalizing players for griffon storage-rental, boot repair, or you know, actually playing the game.

Once you add in solid crafting and loot systems that don’t work against each other or the rest of the game, you can produce a virtual economy that’s healthy and stable, while still allowing for a wide variety of activities that simulate events in real world economies.  All while giving ample opportunity for everyone to engage in a manner that feels fair.  We’ll talk more about what those crafting and loot systems can look like in later posts.

This is by no means an exhaustive discussion of how to craft a proper MMO economy, as there are surely others.  Agree?  Disagree?  Let me know in the comments below.  Stay tuned for more.

Posted in MMO Mechanics | 3 Comments

City of Heroes News! Paragon Chat and City of Titans Updates

So before I begin my series on MMO mechanics, first I need to get some recent City of Heroes news out of the way.  Consider this a mid-summer Urbanite Update if you will.

Paragon Chat has been announced as a new and exciting tool for communicating with the greater City of Heroes community.  Paragon Chat is basically the Sims in Paragon City.  It’s a custom XMPP chat server set up to work with the City of Heroes client.  You’ll need the I24 Beta client in order for it to work right and my instructions for getting that are still valid and can be found at this link here.  You’ll also need an account on the Titan Network if you don’t have one already.  Paragon Chat is supposed to launch some time this week, but that’s looking iffy at the moment.

So, I know what you’re thinking.  A chat client.  Why is this a big deal?  The short answer is, it’s not.  Aside from some base nostalgia that the client will surely generate, being able to walk around Paragon City and I mean walk, travel powers are coming in a later patch, it’s basically just Icon with a chat client added to it.  However, there’s more to this than a first glance may show.

There’s talk of building bases again and enabling that functionality in the future as well as enabling all powers to animate on your character when you use them.  The FAQ is found here.  While that still doesn’t sound like much, let me assure you, people are already working on chat bots that can function as combat simulators.  The technical details run deep, quickly, but while this may seem like just a chat client, it’s actually a huge leap forward towards getting full emulation.  Best of all, there are no real legal constraints with this as there would be if someone broke down and hacked the server code.  It probably still won’t be this year, but sometime in the future, we’ll have a functional version of the game in some capacity.  It won’t be the same as the original game, but it’s only a matter of time.

Speaking of time, the latest City of Titans update was very hopeful and honest.  Frank discussions of past difficulties were revealed and there was good news too.  A functional client/server architecture is up and running, which means a game, in some form, exists.  Content generation can now begin in earnest.  Beta has slipped to 2016 but let’s be honest.  Nobody thought that they were going to hit their original dates anyway.

I’ve been down on the City of Titans folks in the past lately, mostly due to my own personal reasons for wanting them to cater to my needs first, but I’m still very glad to see that progress is happening.  If for nothing else, I desperately want to see a crowd-funded volunteer MMO launch successfully.  The less industry interaction, the better.  I have a variety of reasons why I want to see it be successful and, we can get into them down in the comments section later.  But for now, we wait as we always have and hope for the best.

Regulars to the site will surely note the change in WordPress themes.  It would seem that my old theme was too old to work with the current version of WordPress and thus all my issues with comments.  It is unlikely that this current theme will stay but it allows for comments to work so it’s in for now.  Yes comments should be working again, so play nice.  Stick around next week when I get deep into the guts of MMO economies, discussing what they do, why they exist, and how to make them work.  It’s the first in a series of MMO mechanics I’m going to discuss.  Hope to see you there.

Posted in City of Heroes, Urban Renewal Updates | 2 Comments

Why you should be reading Healing the Masses

Over at Healing the Masses, J3w3l repeatedly puts out solid coverage of video games and the video game industry, way better than anything that I do over here. If you aren’t following her work regularly, you’re doing yourself a terrible disservice.  She recently went off the training wheels and got off of WordPress.  She’s now forging her own path with her own site over at Healingthemasses.net and what you need proof of it?  Okay fine.

To highlight some of that work, she seems immune to the hype trains that I regularly fall for, and her article on the failures of Daybreak Studios, while something of a rant, is impossible to aruge. She discusses the cut over from SOE to Daybreak, and many of the promises that don’t seem to be materializing and right now feel like they never will.  And while my affectionate fawning and crying over the firing of Dave Georgeson feels embarrassing and foolish in hindsight, I would argue that his departure from the studio has taken whatever momentum the games had and thrown it right into the toilet.  Terry Michaels, the current project lead for the games is a competent game developer but you can tell just from his demeanor how much he hated the live streams and other outreach programs the company was engaged in before Daybreak took over.  Say what you will about his priorities or managerial expertise, but Georgeson was a masterful salesman.  Without him, the games look like concept pieces that had never been fully fleshed out, and announced way before they knew if they could even deliver on what they were promising.

She also lays into the hype around the Guild Wars 2 expansion as well.  Her deeper dive into what’s really going on in that expansion is a welcome bit of reality, given the marketing hype that’s surrounded it to this point.  I had always been dubious of the expansion to begin with: one class, one new major story area, and a boatload of balance-altering class changes were all that was on the schedule.  Was this an expansion or just a content update?  Also it’s NCSoft.  Do I really need to say anything else?  Finally, given the cost for this “expansion,” I feel like I’m back in the Cataclysm/Tales of Pandaria days and god please, no more of that.

Lastly she takes a shot at the Kickstarter craze and is seeing what I’ve noticed as well.  Systems like Kickstarter (and Patreon) are especially vulnerable to co-opting by cults of personality.  I’m glad she’s noticed the issues that this has caused and is advocating for a much more discerning use of the tool.  With my own experiences with Pillars of Eternity, Bloodstained, Tales of Numinara, and a host of others that I haven’t backed, there’s a real bitter taste in my mouth from some of these projects with the way they took advantage of the tools Kickstarter offered, and more awareness around this is always good.

I would be remiss in not mentioning that she also pointed me to Ralph Koster’s site who had a deep in-depth discussion about Star Wars Galaxies that was tremendously inciteful.  His comment have led me to buy his book on game design and have helped close several research gaps that I was pursuing on my own.  Look for my first in a series of articles on MMO game systems next week.  We’ll be focusing extensively on MMO economies and how they work and I’m looking forward to it.  Later on we’ll get into crafting, pvp, loot, class building, society building, content creation and maybe even talk about a way to make weather work as well.  I’m looking forward to the series and I hope you’ll hang around for it too.  It’s an ambitious bit of writing I’m working on.  See you soon.

 

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E3 Coverage and an Urbanite Update

Killing two birds with one stone today, I thought I’d discuss where to go for coverage of E3 as well as a few updates to note.

A week or so ago, when it came out my long time tanker from City of Heroes contacted me, bursting with excitement.  Fallout 4 had been announced and I just had to talk about it on my blog.

Here’s 2 minutes of gameplay footage.

And here’s the original game announcment trailer.

I’ve got Fallout 3 saved in my Steam queue waiting for me to play.  Unfortunately I don’t have much of an opinion on the series, but when your tanker gets this excited about something, you make your tanker happy,  damn it.  This was the dude who stood in front of EVERY horrible thing I ever aggroed and pulled it off of me so that I wouldn’t die horribly every 2 seconds.  And I aggroed a lot.  LOT.  So he gets a plug for Fallout 4.  Go check it out.

For standard coverage of E3, you can mostly go anywhere on the internet.  For a different and way cooler discussion of E3, check out the coverage produced by Offworld.com.  Leigh Alexander keeps knocking it out of the park again and again and her breakdowns of both the Sony and Microsoft keynotes are on point.  She hits the good stuff, ignores the bad, and still discusses the inside baseball better than anyone else out there.  Go check her stuff out.

Sony

Microsoft

Nintendo didn’t go to E3 this year and sadly there’s no Offworld coverage of their Nintendo Direct Event for E3, so you’re stuck relying on my own opinions of the event.  The 3DS is getting a new team Zelda game, similar to 4 swords, and a new team Metroid game as well.  The Wii U is getting Mario Maker, a game that will let you make your own Super Mario levels and Xenoblade Chronicles X.  That’s the letter X not the roman numeral ten.  This is a mecha combat fighting giant dinosaur/kaiju things on another planet.  I expect it will seriously scratch my giant robots/sci fi itch for quite a while.

At least until Mass Effect: Andromeda comes out in December of 2016.  God who are we kidding, they’ll never hit that date.  But yes, independent of any publisher news, Bioware put their first trailer for the new Mass Effect game up.  See it here.

Speaking of giant robots from space, I’d be a bad fan not to point out that Activision has announced Transformers: Devastation for Xbox 360, Xbox one, PS3, PS4, and PC.  Everyone who seems to have grown up in my era has that one toy property they latched onto as kids and never let go.  For me it’s Transformers.  I was there in the theaters in 1986, bawling my eyes out, watching Optimus Prime die.  While the products have changed styles and forms over the years, Activision seems to be playing right to me specifically.  Look at this trailer.

It’s being made by Platinum Games, the people who did Mad World, Vanquish, Metal Gear Rising: Revengerance, and the Bayonetta series.  Their pedigree is solid and it looks like for the first time ever, they’re going to combine both aspects of vehicle and robot mode in combat in some fashion.  And look at it.  JUST LOOK AT IT!  It’s gorgeous.  I’ve always thought Cell-Shading worked really well for anime based games but it makes the G1 Transfomers look absolutely amazing.  Also, most of the original voice cast from the G1 series has been pulled in to provide voice work (including both Peter Cullen and Frank Welker and if you don’t know who those guys are, sorry non-fans) and oh my god shut up.  I’ve been waiting for this game since 1986.  Just shut up already, I’m allowed to fan-boy out sometimes.

And that’s all I’ve got for now.  Urbanites can be found on Guild Wars 2 right now, on the Isle of Janathar if memory serves correctly.  Please enjoy my horribly unprofessional review of E3 and also the actual professional reviews I linked to above.  See you next time.

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