Category Archives: Game Design

A Breaking of the Long Silence

I’ve been struggling for several months over what exactly to say here.  Truth be told, when I was actively streaming, I ended up saying more than I cared to and previous little I felt of substance.  Regardless, opening my mouth there kept me from opening my proverbial mouth here as I found myself out of topics that I cared to discuss.

That’s changed of late.  Realizing that perhaps active streaming is not my calling and, further, that it impeded me having the daily time necessary to tend after my own health needs and interests, I’ve decided to refocus my attention on Youtube and my older, original projects (that is to say, my art, novels and game design ambitions).  That isn’t to say I won’t stream at all — far from it.  I still rather enjoy my biweekly live role plays and I will still get the occasional urge to play some video game or other before a live digital audience.

Aside from that, I’ve recently learned that a site I use as a gallery has been acquired by another company that, frankly, annoys me.  Despite the assurances of the site’s operator, I do not trust my artwork in the hands of the new owners, and given my ownership of this particular website — something I’ve owned longer than that particular gallery has existed — I’ve decided to relocate and exclusively post my artwork here.  To that end, I hope that will inspire me to be a touch more vocal in this blog!  🙂  And now, for the latest:

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Substantive Evaluation

I have been finding it somewhat challenging to decide on what to post here in my blog versus what I broadcast in my now regularly scheduled vlogs.  As a result, I find I’ve been neglecting one in favor of the other.  To that end, I will do my best to use both to mutually support my efforts; and where one fails, I will lean on the other to take up the slack.

As such, one of the things I find myself challenged by is coming up with a reasonably objective method by which to rate the various MMOs that I have been playing and discussing in my weekly vlogs.  After significant consideration, I have come up with the following elements as key to a successful and thorough review that, when averaged out, will result in a fair rating system.

As such, I put these out there and welcome your input as I work on my first formal game review:

  • Gameplay
    • UI and Stability
    • Tutorial
    • Leveling/Training
    • In-Game Economy
      • Equipment
      • Trade
      • Crafting
    • Missions
      • (Instanced; Solo)
      • (Group Queue; Elite; Taskforce)
    • World Events
    • PvP/Duel/Arena
    • Endgame
    • Replayability
  • Immersion
    • Character Creation
    • Environment/World
    • Lore
    • Soundtrack
    • Voice Over and Dialogue
    • Cutscenes
    • Travel/Mounts
  • Community
    • Grouping
    • Guilding
    • Housing
    • Community Support (Channels; Forums)
    • Official Support (GMs)
  • Cost
    • Initial Purchase
    • Monthly Subscription
    • Cash Store/Microtransactions

I welcome your thoughts and input!

MMO Theory: Crafting

A chief complaint I often hear when it comes to crafting in MMOs is that it is often an overlooked aspect that, if lucky, results in one or two key recipes once you’ve reached maximum level, but is otherwise a waste of time, money and resources in the game pursued only by completionists.

With as many MMOs as I have played, I sadly find this to be true more often than not.  Many games have attempted to come up with ways to help crafters better monetize their skills (such as WoW allowing enchanters to infuse their enchantments into scrolls that can be sold on the auction house) while others have attempted to create dedicated tiers of crafted items that — if however briefly — exceed the quality and power of items you might otherwise earn through random questing.  Unfortuantely, such tiers are easily and necessarily overshadowed by max level dungeon and raiding gear.

Something I have always proposed was that items should be looked at from their base components and potentially any item that exists in the game is learnable as a receipe given time, practice and expertise.  In addition, an item’s “ilevel” should be equivalent to the skill level required to create it.  Taking armor crafting as an example:  You would have your standard city blacksmith who could teach you any number of common type items and techniques so that you could improve your skill through standard, mundane crafting.  You might encounter the occassional recluse or eccentric or master level blacksmith in the wilds who have uncommon talents at their disposal that they could impart with the proper inspiration; but the real meat and potatoes of your crafting value would come from adventuring.

In the middle of a dark dungeon, you might face off against an enemy who drops an uncommon piece of armor you’ve never seen before.  Returning back to your smithing station, you might opt to disassemble and reverse engineer the item for a chance at learning how to recreate it yourself.  Being an uncommon piece of armor, there would be built in code that would set the base requirements (for example, the appropriate level metal ore, multiplied appropriately based on the body part the armor is designed to fit) followed by another formula that would enrich the recipe based on the bonuses granted by the armor in question (such was requiring infusion of elemental components for resistences, or herbs and gems to boost attributes, etc.).  Such recipes would not necessarily need to exist in advance and could, in fact, be created by the game code on the fly as they are discovered — this would allow the coders to modify them later if need be.

But how do you prevent crafters from flooding the market with dungeoneering goods?  First, by disassembling the item, they lose the item.  No salvaged components would come from it.  Further, they only have a chance at learning how to create the item — not a guarantee.  The higher the rarity of the item, the smaller the chance to learn it.  Further, the crafter’s exeprtise in the skill would have to exceed the “ilevel” of the item in question.  Items of exceptional rarity or uniqueness may simply be coded to prevent them from being disassembled at all; the same could be true of soulbound gear such as those items earned at the end of complex quest arcs.  Finally, limiting either the number or frequency of which a crafter might learn recipes through this method; allowing them to attempt a disassembly once every 24 hours and to successfully learn a new recipe once per week.

As always, I welcome your thoughts.

The Entry Without a Name

I’ve known for years that men have a regular hormonal cycle just like women although it follows an annual pattern as opposed to a monthly one. I had hoped to finally learn the name of that cycle so that I could come up with a topically witty title for this journal, but all my Google searching was for naught. That doesn’t mean t here isn’t a term — it’s simply so uncommon that I can’t ferret it out; so for the sake of argument, I’m going to call it solustration (as opposed to menustration).

But to my point: Anyone who knows me well knows that I have a vey hard time staying focussed on a single project from start to end without interruption, however it isn’t so much a matter of me growing bored with a particular project but my desire to move on to a different outlet. This seems to fall into a somewhat regular pattern throughout the year as I move from writing to art to programming to organization and back again. So, to keep this blog from being silent 50-75% of the year, I’ve decided to go ahead and ramble on about whatever project I happen to be working on, regardless of form and outlet.

And so, last night I picked up GameMaker Studio from YoYo Games and decided to play around with a potential side scroll adventure based on one of the characters I had designed as a new shopkeeper for my now-defunct forum. For the time being — until I come up with something better to call it — I’ll refer to it as Project: Niko. Who knows where this little side distraction will take me but if it turns into a multi-million dollar franchise, I certainly won’t complain!