Lost Rambling

Lost has a lot of potential, but doesn’t apply himself.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Crafting and MMOs

Massively Multiplayer Online Round Table has an interesting set of articles about crafting within MMOs (I use “set” since the articles were written independently of one another about the same subject).

I have to say that all three are worth reading and have caused me to rethink my own view on crafting within MMOs. It is not so much in questioning the value that crafting brings to the game, is mostly based in my distaste for “Item-centric: A game that focuses on the acquisition of items (in which such items affect your avatar greatly).” (as defined by Ryan). Which you might think would make me a great supporter of craft based systems, but the problem is that you rarely have just crafted items only within a world (Horizons tried this, but later added limited use drops). So you end up with a competing system of dropped items vs crafted items, which is nearly impossible (if not completely impossible) to balance it to make either side happy.

As always, I don’t claim to know the right answer. But I do enjoy being challenged to reevaluate my views on MMO design, because without being able to see both sides of the discussion you will not develop any new ideas.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Mixed reactions.

Ultima Online will soon begin testing PunkBuster in order to head off cheating.

Needless to say reactions have been mixed. While most want to see hacks and cheats out, there has been enough of a reaction that UO quickly posted this.

This is my gut reaction:

What I don't understand is the whole idea that EA can't manage what is going on in the game themselvies (sorry if I expect to much from the people that created & maintain the client)?

Why isn't EA the ones that "should" be the ones to know what would be an advantage within the game and know where to look? The should have people different teams try and think of ways to "hack/exploit" others ideas/designs. *flash back housing deeds and factions comes screaming to mind*

Or *GASP* some reseach and reviewing logs of current players and logs of thoses that have been banned in the past when caught (if a player is having skill checks for lumberjacking or mining for 18 hrs straight, or having an abnormal amount high deposits of insurance vs insurance withdraws either might be a good place to start).

Short term it might help, but in the long term I don't see it solving the problem. People will find a around it sooner or later and around the patchs that come out for that new one.

IMHO, EA is trying to deflect the hacking and lack of stopping it, problem off onto someone else. It's easier to have GMs and developers say "I can not help you with that, please file a report at (insert url here)". Sound familiar?

Maybe I'm over reacting. As I've said before, I really don't play UO anymore but as a player and armchair designer I can't avoid the thoughts above.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Raph's blog and what he is saying.

How I forgot to have Raph Koster’s blog listed eludes me. But recently he talked about the ecology that was originally planned/attempted in the early UO and the reasons that it didn’t work (Part 1, 2, 3).Which is very interesting to me, since I have been reading up what I can. In a strangely related piece UO had helped me while reading “Hidden Order: How Adaptation Builds Complexity”. In the preface Dr. Holland uses the word “untrammeled”, which is a word that I never expected to see in print and only know the meaning because of the facet debates (putting it nicely). Someone had found and listed the definition of trammel: literary restrictions or impediments to freedom of action and is the name of the non-pvp facet in UO (I can only guess that the designer that came up with the name might not have liked the idea of non-pvp facet). Side note, the book is pretty good, but it can be hard reading for a layman and probably a bit deeper than what could be workable for a game setting.

Raph also has a great write-up about NPC’s. Where he compares them to “pellet dispenser”, which isn’t far from the truth. Also nothing breaks the suspension of reality when you have a NPC with a big green “!” above their head.

I can only hope that the right people are reading Raph's ideas (despite my desire, I don't kid myself about being able to build something so complex). Who knows, maybe someone with lots of money to throw around could get Raph and Richard Bartle together to design a MMO.