Shattered World Pt. VIII - Communications and Management


One of the goals of Shattered World is to make a far more omnipresent communications structure. The hope is to allow the community to express itself and maintain in-game communications out of game.

Technologies like PlayXPert certainly seem tempting, but there are a few major concerns for working them in as part of the game. For instance we need a 'lite' version of the UI which is ever present during our game, which would be our effective chat widget. That widget also needs to work as the in-game chat works, knowing zones and channels. Basically there is, as yet, no plug and play solution for how I intend it to work.

Vivox on the other hand is an easy enough choice. While most likely more expensive it is a developer API at it's core. This allows it to easily integrate into whatever system or core engine we eventually decide on. While the game can't run purely on voice, building in voip with Vivox is just good business.


Managing friend lists, guilds, and ignore lists is made both easy and powerful with the graphical tier system. The exact features of the page are slightly different from page to page, but in it's most basic form, the page is simply a group of containers. There are individual containers which contain a link to a player, these will show headshots of thier avatar and name. You then have tier containers, which are overall groups of players, and then subgroups, which represent players bound together as a group. You can finally add labels to tiers, groups or players, allowing you to easily identify important roles or information.

For guild management, the screen shows a set of tiers, the top being the founder teir which can only be altered by the founder, and the bottom being the members tier which is where all guild mates are automatically dumped. As a founder you then drag up an empty tier, you grab the authority arrow tool and click on a tier with more authority than it, and then drag down to it. It will automatically move it to the line below that particular tier. You may then use the authority arrow tool and drag from it to any other tier on par or below it. This sets it's seniority to be above the other tier, which also allows it to automatically gain authority over any group that the lesser seniority group is in authority over.

You can also right click on any tier besides founder or members and set them to be electable and set the times for elections, as well as the number of votes per player. When players log on during election times, there will be a stack of election tokens, they simply drag the election token onto the player they choose to elect. Groups can be added to any tier, including the founders tier, though only by the founder. Groups may have lateral authority over other members of their tier. For instance you may make a group on the founders tier with six month election rotations, then draw an authority arrow to the founder, this makes the new leaders of the guild a democratically elected council.

Your friends screen begins as only three tiers and is entirely void of authority lines. The beginning tiers are friends, and group, anyone in a group you are in may be easily dragged upwards into your friend tiers for more permanent bonds. The third tier is the search tier, it has a small text box allowing you to search for the name of a player, and returns the player links for any players matching your search filter. You may drag up new tiers, but when you do you will be asked to name them. These named tiers will now work as channels, allowing you to simply type /t to send a message to everyone on that tier. You may also drag tiers into chat, and drag tiers out of chat to import or export entire tier setups, allowing you to easily share tier channels.

Finally you have your ignore list, which has four tiers. The bottom is the search tier, and the top is the highest ignore tier. Typing /ignore player automatically adds the player to the top tier, you will ignore their yells, their says, any chat of any sort, and any private tells. The level below it will block any tells, says and regular chat, but not shouts nor grouped chat, you will be warned when joining a group if a member in it is in any of your ignore lists. The final ignore is a soft ignore, allowing you to block tells and tells only.

At any point, simply picking up any object you have authority over and dropping it on the trash container will remove it.

The tier system should be accessable from outside of the game as well through the chat program.


Shattered World Pt. VII - Scale

This will be a short one in comparison, and it actually makes me a bit sad to think about it.

Given our current level of technology, I don't think I'll be getting to the scale I want. I haven't gotten any comments on this, but I imagine when I showed the first photo of the island, your mind automatically did something like this.

But strangely enough, I actually like having continents larger than a small island in the Bahamas. In fact my island is much larger.

I was thinking closer to Ireland.

There are a few things that this brings to the table.

Travel Forms and Mounts

Unlike games like WoW, you won't be working your ass off saving every penny hoping that you might some day be able to travel faster than a snail's toe, just as soon as you get well over halfway to the level cap. No, you should have a travel form of some sort by the time you exit the starting city, assuming you ever exit the starting city. You may have the appearance upgrade of wings, though you will need to put more points into it to counteract enough weight to stay afloat, or you can upgrade for quadrupedal, equine or insectoid. Or you can buy things like roller blades, add to kicking attack as they are literal blades, motorcycles, or ATV like things. Also guilds with their own towns can open portals.

Society and Gameplay

Imagine, if you will, that a bunch of friends are sitting around in a player owned tavern, playing Texas Hold 'em for kicks, shooting the shit up in the mountains north of Matre's Mind. One of their friends who is on a shared channel with the group is running around helping newbies back at the main city. Finally this friend goes on a long tirade about all these f*ing gankers interrupting their helping the newbies. One of them types half jokingly, "why not just move South?"
Someone else pulls out the map that came with their box, "Aren't there supposed to be Angel mobs down there?"
"Yeah have you seen the screens that one guy put up of them, totally weird crap..."
"Hey, if we all chipped in, we could start a city down there. I mean how many gankers are going to play for six hours of travel just to get their asses kicked by town guards."
They all laugh.

Three days later...
"Hey Krimper, can you go buy a field transport kit."
"A what? Where the hell are you?"
"I'm sitting in our brand new Town hall!"
"Where the hell is that?"
"Well, I can't tell for sure, I just kind of walked around exploring for a few days until I found the Northern Angel Fortress... Great view of it from here!"
"Holy crap... give me a second, I'll go pick one up."

A year later.
The same group of friends plus about eighty other players sit on some hills watching Angels and Demons duke it out over the "don't effin build here you twats" zone. It wasn't that they hadn't seen it before, only five or six of the players were new enough to the South to be seeing it for the first time.
"You see the way the Heavy Defenders hit the ground first, they do the same thing in fortress seiges, but not in town attacks. In town attacks they'll usually drop in around the town hall, try to dps the crap out of it before you can retaliate."
"So we all group around the town hall?"
"Nah... what you do is..."
It been a long time since they had been learning that the hard way. The early days of loosing town halls and farms, about every week had been tough. Now though, they were pretty successful at keeping their little alliances' territory. The "Southerners" as they thought of themselves had even built their own forums site, they were just too far removed from the politics up north for it to matter. The Northerners were going to be taking a keep sometime this week, supposedly. It wasn't something the Southerners were going to succeed at any time soon, the Angels had at least twice as many troops as the demons, and so much time was spent fighting them off there really wasn't time to try and push it back to them.
The battle below was starting to look more certain, the demons were getting pushed back hard. Finally the leader stands and all the others stand up right along with him.
"What do you say we make this a wee bit more even guys?"
"Lets roll!"


Tabletop Wargame Enters Alpha

So the temporarily titled, and logo-ed, Mercs has entered it's alpha stage. Play testing is very much so appreciated. (No I have no miniatures or easy cool looking print-outs...)


Before you even set up the game, you and your mates are going to have to set a limit on things like unit numbers and budget. I'd recommend starting out with 8 units and 10k, to keep it small and tactically interesting.

Then you're gonna want to print out the Character Sheets and Quick Play cards. Each player gets one character sheet per unit variant(any units with the exact same equipment and stats get the same character sheet.), and a quick play card per person.

You can then reference The Armory to find equipment for your units. Equipment cards like that for the SMG are coming for almost all equipment, but for now are limited to ammunition and the SMG. Check the bottom for what stats to give your units to begin with. Stats aren't on a point buy system, but instead you assign the already drafted numbers to specific fields.

After you have your units set up, you and your mates can then decide whether or not to include officers. Officers are named units which should be appropriately rare, they have higher stats and gain twice as much from leveling up.

At some point, you are going to want to prepare your playing area. There really aren't any hard or fast rules as to where to play, any surface with objects that can be used as cover is acceptable. Just be sure to grab a tape measure, or buy a 24"-32" dowel and mark it off at every inch. Cut out some 1" by 1" squares, mark one side with an outwards pointing triangle of a color unique to you, and then write numbers on them sequentially. (Units are technically 1.5" tall) Voila, play space and army all assembled and ready to go.

In order for stealth play to work, each player must have a map of your play space, with scale in inches well marked.

First Turn

First things first, you'll want to roll d%100 all around the table. The lowest roll wins and play continues clockwise from there. Each player then rolls %100 and adds 60 to that roll, all units belonging to that player begin with that value rounded up to the nearest ten, or their highest possible morale. Players then set their units in their designated starting areas, or simply across the table from each other if the start points are not designated.

Exception Notice: In Extended Campaign Style Play, defenders always go first.


Every unit begins with movement points equal to the tens column of their run stat. You may expend 1 mp to move one inch, or 1 mp to kneel, record this in the quick play card by putting a K in the final column for the appropriately numbered unit, an additional mp to go prone, or 1 mp to switch to stealth mode.

Running - expending MP to move has no negative effect on your chance to hit, nor chance to be hit, it's considered sound tactical movements.
Standing - If you remain standing, your movement rate remains normal, you take a -10% to your to hit, and a +10% chance to be hit.
Kneeling - If you are kneeling, each MP will move you only 1/2", you take -0% chance to hit and +0% chance to be hit.
Prone - If you are prone, 1 mp will equal just 1/4", you take +10% chance to hit, and -10% chance to be hit.

While in stealth you remove the unit from the table and instead work on the small map available only to you. Each unit has a spot statistic, much like run, you simply take the tens column and multiply it by 1.5, that is your spotting radius. Anything stealth that enters that radius has to roll below (their stealth - half your units spot) in order to remain hidden. When the spotting radius of multiple units overlap, their spotting is cumulative where the overlap occurs.

While half way behind cover your opponent rolls with -20% to hit, and -20% chance to spot. Full cover removes chance to hit and chance to spot entirely. Soft cover, such as bushes or open bar fences, offers only a -10% chance to be hit.


You may attack with any unit at any point during your turn, provided you have the MP to afford the attack. The MP cost of an attack is dependent on the weapon and firing mode, you should have The Armory readily available with that information.

You may fire on any unit within your weapon's maximum range. You simply take your marksmanship ability, add any bonuses to hit, and subtract any penalties to hit, and attempt to roll below that number. 00 being the traditional critical hit, which does double damage.

When you are within 2 inches you gain a +20% bonus to hit, within 1" gives you an additional +10% to hit.


When a unit is hit, it must succeed at a soldiering check, roll below their soldiering stat, or they will loose ten morale. When a friendly unit is killed within 6" you make the same check, but apply double the penalty, 20, in case of failure.

If a unit falls below 30 morale they will expend all remaining mp to travel back to their starting point and off the map, removing them from play, for two turns. After two turns they recover 10 morale.

The death of an enemy adds morale dependent on the level of the killed enemy. The rule of thumb is 10 morale per level, and 20 morale per level with officers. Also, every inch +Z (upwards) adds 1/4" to your units effective maximum range.


Phew, it's done-ish.
If you notice anything missing, or anything I didn't cover or that isn't covered in more detail in the army, please feel free to ask me about in the comments or in private messages.

A Theory of Game Designers

Inspired by A theory of Fun

What does a game designer do? Well most of the time their pushing around Venn Diagrams of prospective players.

For instance we can pick out a really big group with lots of easy to please people.

Or a group of really hard to please, and extremely dedicated players.

Most games fall somewhere in between.

Most of us would like to be remembered 20 years later because it had profoundly changed your life...

Not because you just realized it came with your cell phone...

Even if we are only fond memories.

We can hope for lots of money for the effort...

Though most of us will happily settle for a cool studio.

So we trudge onward trying to make something cool...

By these people's standards.

So these people will pay us...

To make these people...

And these people work together at least long enough to avoid...

This happening, or even worse...


But when you can manage to walk that line...

It feels a whole lot like this.


All images were found off google search and link back to their original context, mostly, without regards to the subject matter of the page itself. I make no guarantees the pages will be relevant or entirely work safe, though I am sure none are porn. But yes, follow the links at your own risk.

I heartily recommend you check out the Rainbow studio link, it'll make that part make much more sense.


Shattered World Pt. VI - PvP and the World

The World

Building Cities and Travel

In Shattered World, PvP and the World around you are intrinsically linked. While the Demons may control the Western side of the island, and the Angels the Southern tip, the vast majority of the island is uninhabited wateland. This wasteland is the first and final destination for most players. With enough biomass, you and your guild can build a city all your own to make or break.

The world represents two intrinsic resources, travel routes and arable farm land. Both are potential sources of biomass and/or scrip for a resourceful guild. Since you gain biomass from killing players, controlling a travel route can gain you easy pks, but of course it won't be long until your area is avoided. On the other hand, you can make your area a safe zone, making certain high level guild mates are always about on patrol for trouble makers. If you can attract the heavy money crafters or large sections of business, you may find yourself with a reliable and profitable tax revenue from exchanges within the limits of your city.

Of course much like steel in the real world, it's your arable farmland that really represents your guilds actionable power. At present, I'm still trying to decide on what time frame I will work the farming. For instance will it be an instant action with very small rewards, or will it take multiple days to set up a good plot of farmland, grow the crop then harvest. I'm actully leaning towards the multi day system simply because it means poeple don't feel the need to be on seven hours doing nothing but farm. Either way, the amount of land your guild can farm and defend is a major factor in how much clout you hold in the area.

Building a city also allows you to build two important buildings, the field portal generator and the portal hub. A field portal generator is a form of energy channeling which is capable of bending space a comparativelty short distance, just within the confines of the island. A member of your guild equipped with a field portal kit can set up the kit and you'll have an instant travel portal to it's location. The hub on the other hand, is a series of smaller portals that connect to hubs owned by cities owned by guilds which have a good standing, or are in the same alliance with you.


In WoW, if I were to talk about PvP, the basis of it would be how, where, and with whome you would be fighting. However, in this case all those are already answered just in talking about character progression and combat. (Sorry, I'm trying to get that post back, but I will rewrite it in the next few days if necessary.) No, the basic unit of PvP in Shattered World is politics. It's every bit as importnat who you aren't fighting as who you are, how many useful individuals you can recruit.

Joining a guild, and it would be near suicide not to, is a major decision, not to be made lightly. Much like EVE, joining a guild goes on your permanent record, meaning you can't just switch between arch-rivals on a whim.

This means there is a need for a few powerful player level tools for identifying other players. Each player will therefore have a small color bar next to their name, it will be a shade somewhere between blue and red for players not in your alliance, red is indicitve of a hated or target guild, while purple is indicitave of neutrality, blue means they are favored. Within your alliance the bar is between green and yellow, greenest being a guild-mate, while yellowest is a very low standing alliance mate.

Players on your guilds KoS list will show a black skull over their head, and players on yuor Alliance's KoS list will have a silver skull over their head. Players on your ignore list will have a microphone with a line through it, and players on your personal KoS list will have a golden Skull above their head.

Also since there is an inherent group aspect to PvP certain appearance upgrades will be built solely around working in a larger group. The Bestial Head upgrades will allow you to detect players out to a certain distance, dependant on the biomass in the ability, tracking of individual players will be available at higher levels. The Tentacle upgrades will have a snare heavy ability cloud, much the way the kicking style (high speed, high strength, high kick attack) segment of the unarmed ability cloud will be heavy on cooldown slowers and stuns. Shields come with blades making them viable weapons and abilities allowing you to cut in and take damage for an ally, making heavy tanks usable in certain areas of PvP.


Previous Sections
Part IV - Character Progression
Part III - Writing up a Features list
Part II - The End
Part I - The Setting


Shattered World - Pt. V - Character Progression and Combat


After making the last post, I had some time to think, and some questions to answer. It seemed to me that I had missed a few important details in Character progression. First, though I want to go into a bit about PvP and how it's connected to what I posted last time.

First off, biomass. Biomass can be aquired through the killing of NPCs (level 300+ only) the killing of players or from farming. If you die, no matter how you die, you loose biomass and all equipped weapons that are not appearance upgrades. The lost biomass will come out of your floating pool first, then out of appearance upgrades starting at your highest level upgrade.

While I'll go into it more, the way pvp and character progression connect most directly is that you are only allowed to attack people +/- 5 levels. This is important because every ten levels your biomass doubles, this means you'll be fighting people within 75-150% of your current level. Enough to allow some ganking, but not enough to ever make it honestly easy. Now why would I limit you in such a way when the levels are theoretically infinite? Because it means that all players of all levels are needed by a good guild. So you've only made it to level 10? Great! You can walk right past an entire guild and start attacking the buildings that aren't inside the town proper. You can get low level gangs together to run around ganking or destroying unprotected buildings in the middle of nowhere, or you can run medium level, testing different builds until you find the one that works for you and then polishing it to a perfect shine.

There are a few important exceptions, though. The first is within the limits of a town belonging to your guild. Inside those limits you may attack any player, no matter their level, that is not a member of your guild or alliance. Second is declared guild wars, these will allow you to attack within fifteen levels, and finally Alliance wars, which raise the limit to 30.

But enough of that for now...

Character Progression Part II - Abilities

Now last time I said something I live by, abilities are fun! Clicking things and watching something happen is by far and away one of the funnest things in games. The problem with staying out on the macro as often as I do is that sometimes you loose sight of the little things. Like, the fun and what not. I really hope that this isn't the case with my system.

You'll begin with the standard row of action buttons, 1-10, this is your general action bar. The first three are the basis of all future combat, these are punch, block and kick, arguably the basis of all martial arts. While unarmed punching is your basic damaging attack, blocking will reduce the damage of the next incoming hit and kicking will do some damage and cause knockback. All players have those basic abilities, and if you open the skill window, will show up in the 'unarmed' skill cloud.

You see, each weapon type has it's own "ability cloud" they aren't trees, as such, rather groupings of abilities which can be preformed while carrying that type of weapon. Each one has a minimum statistical requirement unlocking for you to use as soon as you meet it's minimum requirements. Each picture will also have a set of small pictures you can zoom in on to it's left connected to it with lines pointing to it, and on it's right with lines pointing away from it. During battle, if you use the ability to it's left, then it, it's effectiveness will be increased, the effectiveness of an ability on it's right will be likewise increased if it's used first.


Combat itself isn't too terribly different from what you've played before. There will be an auto-attack, but very minor global cooldown and significantly more powerful active abilities so no real reason to use it as a crutch. I wish I could say combat would be new and innovative, but it's something I've seen done right enough times to not want to re-invent the wheel with it.

I do have a few minor additions though. The weight of a weapon or shield will counter your speed, increasing the cool down time of abilities using it. Also, a shield does not effect your damage mitigation what so ever. That is why you have a block ability, when you have a shield equipped, it will take the physical damage of the next attack straight to it's own HP when you block. Damage it too much and it breaks, permanently gone. Of course people with high enough channeling statistics, I haven't decided on the appearance for that one just yet, can channel biomass into a shield healing it. Actually, all weapons have HP,which is why they are destroyed when you die, this comes into play when you parry or block with a weapon instead of a shield.

It's comparatively boring. However, it's the secondary anchor, opposite character creation, so it needs to be stable and remain intuitive and relatively fun for years to come.


Shattered World - Pt. IV - Character Progression

First off, props to Rayne and his Making the MMO series of posts for inspiring me to do this in the first place.

The Process

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that when some of you read the words, "classless skilless" in my last post it made you tip your head a little. Now if you can bear with me, I'm going to go into why I made the system I did, and what process I went through to come to it, before actually going into the details of how the system works.

After spending months hanging out over on the multiverse developers forums, I learned alot about actual game design. What I also saw was that certain ideas really tended to resonate with people, but few could actually explain why, or point out why they were so superior. Personally, I internalized much of the information, took part in various debates, discussed it with some level headed individuals, then after weighing all sides, began working on this.

What I had found was that, by and large, very few people liked the idea of having straight up levels. Killing rabbits to kill rabbits better can be fun, but more often than not isn't terribly rewarding in the long run. So people began to harp on skills, you would use them, and they would go up, but just as you used them! Genius, right!? While I do think it's a solid system, it has a few general issues. For instance, skill decay is almost a necessity, since you can't have everyone skilled at everything. Which drew you into either creating systems where every character has a static number of skill points and moves them around, such as what Caab posted though I have seen examples of similar systems before, or player demoralizing systems where they could conceivably sit there and watch their skills drop. Lastly, a significant section of people really wanted a system free of statistical analysis where they just watched their character to know things rather than checking the UI.

At the end of the day though, all of these come back to one basic point. Representing the underlying statistics. After playing some more games, including WoW I decided that we could pretty well group the systems that are used to effect your underlying statistics into 4 groups.


Each one is already in use to effect statistics in triple A games right now, since I count Race as a part of appearance. But let's go through each one a little.

Levels are an excellent system for reporting the rough strength and level of progress a character has attained. The problem is, they have been done to death, and are often used where they are weakest, as a system of progress in and of themselves.

Skills are more representative of the actual level of skill a player would have, which makes them both simple to understand and very direct. My problem with them is that they seem to be a second level of abstraction, abstracting things out too many times away from the real core is almost always messy and bad.

Abilities are things players click or press a button and use. THESE ARE FUN! In all seriousness, there is nothing in an MMO that contributes as much to the sheer fun factor as Abilities. The cons are, they suffer terribly from lag, since activating them too late is often fatal. However, we have ways of dealing with that.

Appearance is probably the most underused of them all. People like to look at their pretty new armor, and like to look at their character as they grow and progress, but it's an incredible amount of work to add new armors and what not to the models.

So what did I do? I simplified, cut and rolled them all up into a single category, Appearance. I then connected that one category to the base statistics which make up the computer's concept of your character. Much like in the game of go, the removal of the more complex systems actually opens up an incredible number of options and possibilities. It adds depth, while simplifying initial game play.

Character Progression

In the Shattered World system, all players start off essentially the same, with the same starting statistics. As they perform early training quests they earn biomass, that's where the game of character creation really starts.

Players are allowed to spend biomass on appearance upgrades, these upgrades range from spikes to changing an entire body part to be bestial or insectoid rather than humanoid. Each upgrade group adds to certain skills, and opens or closes some abilities. For instance, your basic strength and toughness are increased when you increase your size, allowing you to wield heavier and bigger weapons or armor, and denser muscles will increase strength and speed, allowing you to move faster, hit harder and wield heavier, though not bigger, equipment.

These changes are immediately reflected in your character, you look stronger, bigger, scarier, or meaner immediately upon purchasing the upgrade. When your overall stats increase, your level increases, reporting the change in your character. When you equip armor or weapons that increase total damage mitigation or damage output, it will also effect your level. If there will ever be a cap on levels, it will be imposed simply to prevent values from becoming so large as to cause bugs in the game engine.

Now, since I mentioned it earlier, some of you might be asking, how can all this asset modeling be accomplished? Simple, procedural changes. If you only had to model every upgrade twice, very young and very mature, you could then create procedures to automatically generate the in-between stages. Tweening basically. Armor models can be built to accommodate all upgrades at very young and very mature stages, then tween and blend to allow for it to dynamically choose the correct armor. These can be pre-generated and stored in a data file to save client run-time, or be run by the client at run time to save disk space.


Where Sick People Go

She woke from her short reverie and checked her watch, only five minutes had passed. Her old bones were aching, spending six hours in a waiting room wasn't good for her, she guessed. The nurse at the desk looked up and gave her a cautious smile, she smiled back even though she wasn't entirely feeling it. Her eyes wandered down the hall of the maternity ward, wondering what was happening in the room she had left her daughter in.

A nurse finally emerged from the room carrying an infant, she hurried into the nursery and set the baby down behind the glass then half ran back to the room. Kelly stood up to take a first look at her new grand daughter. The little fingers of the baby worked furiously testing the bounds of it's new world, the pink blanket. To her the girl seemed somewhat pale, but, from the way she was moving, she certainly seemed healthy.

The scuffing of feet made her look up just in time to watch another pair of nurses rush into her daughter's room. The girl at the desk was looking at the room as well, she didn't seem happy. Finally she too stood up and jogged to the room.

Kelly rested against the glass, trying to keep her focus on her grand child and not on the questions filling her mind. The child was settling in for sleep, probably tired from it's ordeal. She smiled, wondering what it would be like, watching her daughter raise a child the way her mother had watched her. Finally, she could understand all those times her own mother had just stood there shaking her head.

Out of the corner of her eyes she caught someone leaving the room, she turned to face them then froze. It was black as pitch and covered in blood, about as tall as her from it's toes to it's head, but wicked spines extending from it's shoulders and back went higher. It was obviously female, all the anatomical bits were easy enough to recognize in motion. Finally her eyes settled on the face, and her mind shattered.

It began running towards her, and her mind restarted. 'Have to run. Get it away. Get it away from the baby. Get it away. I don't want to die! Run! RUN!' Her footfalls echoed down the hall, it's steps echoed close behind. A nurse walked out of a room off to her side, barely a note as she blew past. The scream behind her was nice and loud, but ended in a sickening gurgle. 'Run. Run! Get ahead! RUN!' Her mind screamed at her legs to move faster but it wasn't enough.

She reached out and touched the door to the stairwell ahead of her as a step landed directly behind her. The door turned red in front of her. 'Strange. So beautiful.'


Shattered World - Part III - Writing up a Features list

Original Go Raise Your Game Post

So there it is on Go Raise your game, the line breaks are now back in, btw.

A game without skills or classes, but still maintaining character progression built around mostly open ended PvP, player built cities, powerful guild management and communication tools. Shattered world also attacks the problems of PvE and end game raiding head on, allowing players to observe real change in their environment that they initiate. Crafting will also be meaningful and challenging.

Characters begin in Shattered World, not looking much different from a typical humanoid. However, when you collect Biomass, the basis of all in-game crafting and creation, you can absorb it and devote it to a mutation. These can be anything from denser muscles to growing two percent larger. What mutations you select will change the appropriate character statistics, your level is the average of all your statistics.

PvP is allowed for anyone within five levels of you, without setting any flags or doing anything at all other than walking up and attacking them. You may select from two factions to begin with, Purist and Carnalist. While aligned with the Purists, you will be fined both scrip(currency) and biomass when you kill a player without a bounty. When aligned with Carnalist, you will not be fined for killing a player, however the bounty placed on your head for pking will be doubled. While in the starting city, guards will defend players without bounties when they come under attack.

Players may build their own cities in the wild. Though any building may be placed anywhere, if you find a wide enough space of open ground you can build a Town Hall which will give your guild the ability act as planning and zoning within the effected area. You may set certain areas to be marked as road, residential, or commercial only, and/or require the appropriate guild officers signatures on any potential building sites. Buildings are destructible, and will need to be guarded, as such the Town Hall also creates an area in which members of your guild may PK any non-guildmate player without acquiring a bounty. Towns also leverage taxes, taking a percentage of all sales and trades involving scrip or biomass in the area.

The Chat System in Shattered World is actually a separate client that is automatically started anytime you run Shattered World, if it is not already running. After exiting the game, the chat will minimize to your quickbar, but can be opened to chat with guild mates, friends or any other player just as you would were the game running. The hope is this will free you from feeling the need to be at all times, since you can easily find out if you are really needed. It's powerful guild/player relations tools, should also allow you to contact your in game friends without needing the game running and manage guild functions, friends, and ignore lists without having to enter the game world.

The player versus environment dynamic is turned on it's head by giving the enemies strategically located spawn in points, and a real time strategy level AI. This means that the AI will intelligently attack player owned towns as well as the starting town. The friendly AI will give quests that work towards it's goals of defeating the enemy nations. You may see an increase in fetch style quests as they prepare to repel an attack or launch one of their own. During the actual attacks and defenses you will be given kill quests and raid targets based on what will actually help your side's agenda most.

The environment on Shattered World is, well shattered. You can take on the roles of farming, gardening, foresting, breeding, and a host of others to attempt to repair to the broken landscape and turn the barren desert into a flourishing paradise. Farming and Herding can greatly increase the aggregate Biomass in the world as well, making your guild more powerful and allowing your craftspeople to build heavier arms and equipment.

Crafting is not a matter of merely gathering components, you must also combine them in the correct proportions. Beyond a few simple recipes all others are found through trial and error. The properties of the various metals in the world will have a direct effect on the final product depending on how they are combined. For instance, when creating a sword, you will need to balance the blade and pommel to increase damage dealt, but using too dense of a material for the blade and to light of a material for the hilt will still result in a product that is overly heavy for the amount of damage it deals.

MMO - Shattered World - The End, kind of.

You sit down at the computer after a long day of work. A brief glance at the calendar on your wall reminds you that today was supposed to be the conquest of the North Demon Tower in Shattered World. It was going to be starting two hours ago though, is it even still going? You decide to ask.

You double click on the icon in your quick task bar, bringing up the Shattered World Chat window. You click on the tab for the Guild Chat and type in quickly, "Secured the Fortress yet?"

"Get your butt in here! We're about to break into the tower!"

You chuckle, "All right, be in there in a second."

You double click on the Shattered World Icon and wait impatiently as it automatically resolves your login from the chat application and connects you to the server you were chatting on. You spawn in in the middle of the guild town, and run over to the channeler's portal in front of the Town Hall. Stepping through places you at the field portal outside of the Fortress, where the players in the member guilds of another alliance are fighting off a small npc patrol. You let out a few shots from the energy cannon you're carrying in your right hand, easily defeating the corporal npc, as you pass them, eliciting some thankful tells.

At the base of the tower you find the doors bashed open and no players in sight, obviously further up the tower. You run in and up seven circular flights of stairs before finding yourself in the middle of ninety level 300 + players milling about the gargantuan fortress commander. There are long range players lining the stairs to the room above, as six massive tanks take turns rushing in and taking the brunt of it's angry assault. Occasionally a heavily armored transferrer will run up to one and begin field repairing their shield while the other five take over.

The boss is already down to 10% and you can tell he is powering up one of his major attacks. DPS players ran to either side, taking to the stairs hoping to avoid the worst of the blast. A tank from both of the alliances represented run forward, switching to less expensive blade shields and locking both shields together in front of them. The attack lands snapping the heavy shields in half and leaving each with barely enough health to limp, an unfortunate dpser who hadn't quite gotten out of the way in time evaporated. 'Sucks to be him, those were good weapons' you think. The other four tanks ran in taking the brunt of his follow up attacks, so their damaged companions could switch to other shields and put some biomass towards regenerating.

You run in on the boss, unleashing energy blasts while getting into the thick of it with your bladed left arm. Next to you a guy who had obviously put almost all his biomass into dense muscles and leg spikes was going at him like an angry little Brazilian Capoiera master. The health dropped down to 6%, then five minutes later to 5%. 4%, 3%, you're guild leader calls for an energy barrage in tactical chat, and you can hear the distinct tunk of setting your energy weapon to charge being echoed all around you. Halfway to 2%, the final ranged user reports, "charged".

"Fire!" The leader of the other Alliance yells for the whole room, and all at once everyone fires. The light going into the boss is blinding, but can't stop the reports of "weapon melted, glad I switched to my secondary" from flooding the tactical chat. You check yours but it seems your weapon survived, barely, but it did make it. The boss is down to one tenth of a percent of health left, the dpsers land their final blows, ending it's existence.

Tactical chat becomes very busy for a while as people tally up the biomass and progress scrip totals coming their way, metals of varying rarity also seem to be pouring in. Finally as everyone calms down the various guild leaders of the two alliances meet in the center of the room. The alliance members shuffle around, trying to make sure they have position on the others should the dealings go south. They all waited for the moment that an alliance war would be announced and they would be free to attack within thirty levels of their own.

You even watch as some of them redirect their biomass into pvp builds, changing their appearance.

Finally your leader says, "North, South split."
"Only if we get the North."
Your leader goes silent for a minute.
"Then we get the tower."
"Fair is fair, you know as well as I do it's worth it."
The other leader pauses, then finally nods.
"All right, but it'll cost thirty thousand scrip."
"Oh come on, twenty thousand is more than enough."
"Twenty thousand! That won't even buy us enough biomass to repair all our gear!"
"Twenty five then."
"Twenty seven at least."
"Twenty five."
"Twenty seven."
"Twenty five, and we'll pay the guards."
"Sounds good."
"So we have a deal then?"
"We have a deal."

The strategy channel tab flashed.
"Incoming, looks like their pretty pissed. Got a couple Attack Commanders with two whole divisions backing them up. Could be more though."
"We've got npc backup incoming from Ventrair."
"Holy shit, it's the fucking Angel Stompers!"
"This far north, I thought they were all busy holding back the Angels down south..."
"Well theres twenty of them headed straight for me. One sent me a tell, looks like they want to help us out with defense to train up some noobs."
"How many noobs?"
"They say about fifty."
"Well tell them we're glad they're helping! Someone send Krog a tell, he needs to tell his alliance not to attack them."
"Oi, pirate bastards heading this way too. I don't get the feeling they want to talk."
"Great, like we needed to beat down more dick heads today."

Private tell from your friend:
"Aren't you so glad you logged on today, lol."

Shattered World - Pt. I - The Setting

A Brief Overview : Nine Months of Setting Writing, years 4,500,000 BM - 10 AM

- Thanks to Knowledge Junkie, for his excellent rewrite and copy editing.

The Setting:
Our story begins almost five million years ago- on a world not so very different from our own. A world that had survived the invention of the automobile, the television set, and now looked ready to accept the home computer.

Yet the slums their cities were populated with "street rats" of every kind, but most dangerous among them were the "Elementals", rogues skilled in the destructive use of their elemental magic. Raised on the streets and resistant to conscription into the military, they spent much of their lives fighting: the government, each other, it mattered not to them. The strongest among these, those few who managed to get old, were cagey, fighting through proxy and generally avoiding attention.

A new kind of warfare was needed to defeat them- a new weapon.

Nobody knew the name of Amalee Drath before she created The Solution, but no one who has learned it since has ever forgotten.

She had been recruited in the "Elemental" training program, but soon found she had no gift for manipulating any of the standard elements, despite passing the initial tests. However, as she bent her will to geological study, she discovered a power never before written of- never even dreamed. She could alter the composition of any metal, but only slightly. At first she had toyed with it, trying to find some proper use for it, but no such use had surfaced throughout the entirety of her career. The breakthrough came innocuously when she had been tasked with carrying a load of food and metal at the same time. As she carried it, her power began to alter the food, allowing it to liquidate encompass the metal to create a new alloy- one of superior strength that bent to her will.

Some say the military approached her with the idea of how to use the power, yet others say she thought of it herself. The result was clear enough all the same: by finding others with her talent they could create nearly indestructible golems, loyal servants capable of fighting the street elementals. The war brought on by their initial skirmishes soon spilled beyond the streets as elementals from all nations and creeds banded together to fight "the artificial army". After a long and bloody conflict, the last Elemental on the planet fell to the blade of a golem, ending the age of Earth, Wind and Fire, and giving rise to the age of Metal.

Golems were eventually made intelligent to some extent, though never quite sentient. They could never understand the feelings that other beings had. This was perhaps due to the fact that they were unquestioningly loyal to their creators, and somewhat subdued by their wills. They served their makers well, as golem armies began to fight wars in their masters' steads. These "Crafters", as they came to be known, were highly feared, as nation after nation was conquered and consumed by the golem armies until only two remained-Isobel and the Imperiatus Unificas . Isobel used golems known as "Angels", similar in form to the achingly beautiful mythical protectors from the sun. The Imperiatus used golem "Demons", in forms like the inquisitors of the olden times, bound to the will of its one religion, one emperor, one empire. It was ironic then, that the Angels were the first to resort to attacking the populous en masse.

It was then, at the height of the conflict, in the final workshop of the Imperiatus Unificas, that the final "Crafter" of the Demons built his masterpiece: the self-replicating Demon. His final orders were simple- "Kill all the bastards, and break their little toys." This new Demon quickly proceeded to build its own army and began the destruction of the Angels. It first targeted the Crafters, the workers, the very infrastructure that made the Angels possible. It was necessity that forced the Angel's Crafters to retalliate against these new Demons by inventing their own self-replicating Angel, and giving him a symmetrical task- the destruction of the Demons. For hundreds of years, these self-replicating armies labored endlessly at their tasks, leading to the destruction of all humans, but they could not seem to take the upper hand on one another. The two forces found themselves in deadlock, taking and loosing land and resources, dancing around each other but never succeeding in acquiring the killing blow.

For four million years their struggle continued, destroying the earth beneath their feet as they discovered and channeled new energies. Laying waste to entire continents with their unending warfare.

It was ten years ago that four humans from a plane even closer to our own arrived in some confusion to to this land, in the area now known as "The Valley of the Matre's Children" . They had no idea how they had come to be here, or why. They were soon set upon by a small patrol of Angels when one amongst them unintentionally used her power as an empath to split off sections of her very being and give them to the Angels... these Angels turned on one another, slaughtering themselves, thrown into a chaos of pain and anger they had never before felt. Eventually the survivors came to their senses, awakened to a new existence- to sentience. They worshiped the empath as the Matre, the mother of their new kind.

These "Children of the Matre" grew in ranks over the coming months, little by little, including outriders from the Demon camps to their west and the Angel camp to their south. The Demons who suffered the greatest losses to the Matre came to a logical conclusion: that it was time to crush this small army before they became an even greater danger. They sent Raan, an elder over three million years old and the leader of the entire region, to quell them with an army thousands strong. They had not , however, accounted for the power of the Matre. In her final act of sacrifice (to prevent the destruction of her "children"), she gave her soul to convert over one third of the Demon army, Raan included.

The ensuing battle was bloody, and all the humans except the Matre died in the fighting, but the newly converted Demons, led by Raan's awesome might were impossible to stop, leaving the leaderless Demons to flee. Though the Matre did not physically die, her body became a mindless shell, a soulless vessel in a state of perpetual dream.

Eight years after the Matre's arrival, and five years after the "Battle of Matre's Mind", as it is now called, the converts finished building their city on the Northern tip of Almony, which they named Ventrair. The city sent a small party south to build a gate that would allow them to cross into the plane from whence the Matre came, to recruit more empaths to their aid. However, the gate was destroyed almost immediately upon opening, and only the Matre's child known as Drekaa made it to the other side before dieing. Drekaa's spirit, in the form of a little girl, found a medium, and through the medium found and recruited an empath at least as powerful as the Matre was. After rebuilding the gate between the planes, they returned to Almony, in time for the ten year anniversary of the Matre's arrival in that land.

The Culture of Ventrair

Ventrair is split into many factions, but of those, two factions hold roughly seventy percent of the total population, the Purified and the Carnalists.

The Purified seek to build a world without pain or suffering, many of whom seek personal redemption for their long lives of warfare. Raan leads the purified as well as the city as a whole, being the oldest and most powerful amongst all the converted. He is, however, an even handed leader, and has seldom had complaints of favoritism.

The Carnalists revel in sadism, masochism, and wanton lust. They believe their new found empathy and choice are a gift to revel in, to use to the fullest extent of their capacity. Their current leader is the resurrected Drekaa who brought the new empath to their people. Drekaa no longer occupies the form of a little girl, but instead that of an adult- an adult grotesquely morphed to include the wicked tools of her sadism.

The Mercenarium have become a relatively powerful group, even though they represent only five percent of the cities population. They run the majority of training in the city, and trade their services as guards of some skill.

The Revivers are the last group of any note, roughly four percent of the population comes under their sway. Their goal is to repair the environment of the world, to support plant and animal life again. They plan to do this by re-engineering every strain of plant and every breed of animal themselves, then testing their survivability and adaptability. It has been slow progress at best, but they have managed to maintain a small nursery- the only place on the planet to support living plant life.

Though the factions do not always get along, none will fight one another in their "holy" locations. Of these, the Matre's shrine is the holiest of locations, where hundreds visit every day to see the Matre, wishing to touch her as a testament of faith, though none but her care takers are allowed to do so. Another sacred ground lies at the location of the first conversion, where the first Angels were given the light of empathy that all factions hold sacred. Finally, the battlegrounds at Matre's Mind, where the vast majority had their own conversion, and where the Matre spoke her last words- these grounds are held in the highest regard.

"Do not cry for me after this, daughter, for you will never be alone." - The final words of the Matre.

Part II

Part III
Part IV
Part V
Part VI
Part VII
Part IX

Some Additional Backstory


The ALPHA! (Open Alpha Testing: Tabletop Wargame)

I've gotten to the point where I'm ready to release the core rule set so far into the wild for some testing. If I could actually get the pictures off my camera I would show you my playspace, but it isn't cooperating.

What you will need:

- 8 1"x1" squares, one edge needs to be marked as the forward edge. 2" tall is the best height for an object, but the z measurement of your unit representation really doesn't matter.
- A table.
- Some scenery and cover, it doesn't matter what it is made out of so long as it exists. The height is important as it represents the real height of the object.
- As many character sheets as you want unit measurements.
- One quick play card for each player.
- Percentile dice. These are two ten sided dice with one of differing color than the other, or having double digits on it.
- A neutral arbiter may be required in cases where players can't be trusted to follow the honor system.

Before you get the table setup:

Before you are ready to play, you will need to set your limits, build your kits, and set up an officer.

Limits You can limit a game by dollar amount total with which to build an army, by total dollar amount per unit, or by number of units. You can also mix the three in whatever combination best seems to suit your groups preferences. You may also create limits as your group sees fit.

Kits Kits are the type of unit you will be creating. For the moment, I only have test information for standard infantry and smgs, but far more is available. Head over to the armory to see the current information on what is available.

The Seeds of Fate Are Sown

It wasn't lightly that Maxine stopped the car. Never pick up a stranger had been her credo for a long time, no matter what their blog page looked like. None of those strangers had been barefoot little girls in yellow sun dresses, standing sixty miles away from any of the towns and cities in the area, though.

She stepped out of the car and took a wary look around in all directions, then approached the girl who was just watching her curiously. In a few moments she was squatting in front of the child asking in her most soothing tone, "where are you from, hun? Where are your parents?"

The girl stared at her and blinked once, but then went right back to staring. She had never seen a child so unreadable, so guarded. Her hand stretched out almost of it's own volition, "Well, how about you ride with me hun? We'll take you right to the sheriff's station and he can figure out who your parent's are and get you all taken care of! What do you say?"

The girl stood unmoving, time stretching to the breaking point as the two remained totally still. Then finally the girl reached up and took the offered hand.


Jenn walked into the interrogation room slowly, but she hadn't needed to worry, the woman was staring straight ahead, towards the window. Her heart was pounding against her ribcage, the back of her mind running through everything that could go wrong, and how. One unplanned move, one glance the wrong way and the illusion would be ruined.

Finally she dropped to her knees behind the woman and locked the woman in a hug, placing her head firmly against the base of the woman's neck facing away from the mirror.

"Erin." The woman whispered, still looking forward.

"I'm here, right here." Jenn whispered back, keeping her voice low and husky, hoping it would cover the differences enough.

"I'm sorry, Erin, so sorry."

"You couldn't have saved me, don't blame yourself." Jenn whispered back reassuringly. "It's not your fault."

"But. I could have tried"

"And you could have died. They'd never know what happened to me, just that we were both dead when they got there."

"I don't know what happened to you! That black thing just cut through the door... so fast, it was just writhing there, in your chest like it was looking for me! Why!? Why did it happen, why are you gone!? I want answers dammit, why won't they give me any answers, they're all just asking their fucking questions, fuckers won't listen. Won't..."

The woman was sobbing now, too hard to talk. Jenn held her, riding out the storm of emotion the woman was finally releasing. She whispered tenderly in the woman's ear, using her illusion to comfort her just a bit longer.


Arnice could feel her mother's hand on her shoulder as they pulled up to the hospital. The contractions were starting in earnest and it was easily the most painful thing she had ever felt. It hurt in ways she couldn't begin to explain, and why did it hurt so far up her body? But she wouldn't ask her mother, the old whore didn't take well to weakness.

It was so arduous waddling into the hospital, she couldn't but wonder if this was all just a nightmare, like the ones she had been having so often lately. Still onward she walked, hoping the delivery room would deliver her from this private hell


Meanwhile Somewhere Only We Know:

Kenneth leaned back in his chair, the familiar creek reminding him it was probably about time he bought a new one. The low hum of the UV lights on the table in front of him was strangely comforting, the warmth of the lamps adding an unquantifiable element of comfort. Still he focused his attention on the seven petri dishes in front of him.

The dishes each had a small piece of tofu sitting next to a small clump shavings from various metals, a thin layer of filmy white growing over each and around the edges of the dish. He zoomed in viewing the first colony carefully, watching the billions of nanites move and coalesce carrying instructions from one hive to the next. Each drone following the orders he had so carefully engineered into them.

This was the hundred and eighty-second generation of nanites in this dish, the ancestors of the first bit of comparatively cheap and near useless nanites he had managed to acquire raw. Seven distinct hives had developed, each more powerful than the implant currently circulating through his body, and specially engineered to remove all the standard security measures. No GPS tracking would be able to locate these, and without a body to effect, no commands to incapacitate their user could be carried out.

He gave each other colony, forty hives all told, a quick one over to make sure they were building in normal parameters. He pulled on his old style computer headset, making a few last adjustments to ensure comfort. The three dimensional interface opened up, leaving him at the operating system's primary interaction level. Turned to the left and picked up a blue block, then threw it in front of himself where it flattened and stabilized, floating in the air like an old fashioned television screen.

The initial reports from the nanites forming their connections to the mesh scrolled across the screen. It seemed almost painfully slow at times, even with the fastest bandwidth headset he could find, it wasn't as fast as thinking the command. Still patience was his strong suit, and the ability to evade detection had it's benefits. How strange that IP addressing had opened the world to the wonders of communication, and now it formed the perfect bubble to close that world out.

Finally the text logs of a half dozen Air Force commanders scrolled across the screen. He always enjoyed their discussions on catching the hacker they only ever referred to as "that annoying fucker", it was good to know you were popular.

Finally his eyes rested on the initial report on the Delta Airliner that had gone down last night. Unknown biological entity... The full report didn't seem to have any useful information. Whether that was to keep it away from his eyes, or because they just honestly didn't know much, he couldn't tell. But still it made him curious, sent his mind a thousand miles an hour down the fast lane. Finally he disconnected from the Air Force feed.

He quickly built a new pattern search for all black level connections, first key word, "biological". Again he relaxed, watching the results roll in and automatically become stored in a local database.


Getting Ahead in the GAX Game.

I've been accused of many things... GAX addict among them. I really have made this place a home of sorts, and like any home things get worn in, places become well used, and routines are set.

So I thought I'd help some of the newer GAXers, and even some of the older GAXers with a few tips and tricks I've picked up along the way.

A: Learn to comment almost as often as you read. This gets your name up on the front page, and it tells the person that you cared enough to at least take ten seconds to talk about the subject. And if you really find it interesting, ask a question! Questions keep the conversation open, and lets the person talk directly to you amongst all the noise.

B: Don't read everything! Jesu Christo there aren't many people who can sit down and do more than skim all the blog posts. You aren't going to have all the time in the world, so find the people that talk about what you're interested about, and be sure to check their pages regularly. True, you won't have quite the same overall name recognition from scatter shot posting, but the people on the other side will get to know you. People who get to know you, may give you a mention when talking about a specific subject. Blogging is an inherently social activity believe it or not, and making good connections will benefit you quite a lot.

C: Get involved in a group or eight. They may be relatively deserted in most cases, but it's still a chance to get in and be associated with a particular subject. Besides, you never know who you will have the chance to meet because of them.

D: Say HI! You can use chat to say hi to a lot of the older members, and you can always pop in to say welcome to a newer member. You'd be amazed the positive feedback you'll get from something as simple as "Welcome to GAX!" This also leads into people's first blog posts. Give them feedback, even if it's just to say that they need to fix their font or something.

E: Constant blog updates! Find a project, do a project, blog about said project. It can be leveling an alt in your game of choice, designing a full game from scratch, or just trying to keep up with a daily drawing challenge. You have to get it out there for people to read and comment on, and you have to make sure they have something to look forward to when they come back.

Lastly, the general theme of this all... Put yourself out there! Nobody is going to wander along, trip over your page and say, "hey this is kind of cool." You need to be out there, where they can see you, making sure they know you exist. So long as your cool about it, try to be entertaining, and most of all put other people before yourself, people will be glad to help you out with comments and friend requests.

The New Night Dawns.

Jen held her wife close, resting her head on the womans shoulder. The room around them was dark, and silent but for the sound of their breathing.

"Jen?" The silence broke.
"Yeah?" She replied, wishing she didn't have to. She didn't like that tone.
"Will you promise me something...?"
"No." Jen replied automatically.
"What!?" Her wife looked at her incredulously.
"You were going to ask me to do something after... I won't promise anything."
"...I just want you to be happy."
"I will be, because you'll still be here. You aren't going to... die." She'd had to pause, it might as well have been a physical impact for all the pain it caused her to say it.
"How can you be so sure?"
"I just am."
"But.. just in case..."
"In case nothing. It's not going to happen."
"But if it does... I want to know you'll be happy."
"Then you'll just have to live and make sure."

Her wife pulled away a little, Jenn just held her closer. She wasn't letting go that easily. But then the connection was cut, and the room around her faded back into the more familiar setting of their bedroom in Pennsylvania, and she was alone. 'Damn that woman.'

She had just settled back in to go to sleep when the doorbell rang. She brought up her mesh overlay to check the identity of her visitor. Three visitors, all with government quick tags, could be a lab, but she didn't recognize the numbers as being inside the normal researcher range. She took a few moments to get some semblence of dressed then answered the door.

"Mrs. Cruise?" A man in a formal Air Force uniform asked her politely. He probably didn't have to ask, her civilian quick tag would have shown him all the information he needed.

"Yes? May I help you?" She asked, trying to keep some guard to her expression.

"We have immediate need of your expertise. You are an expert in evolutional mutations in microbiology, correct." It wasn't really a question. "Rest assured you will be well compensated for your trouble, and we believe you will find the situation very... interesting."

She paused for a moment, "How well compensated?"

He smiled slightly, "I'm glad you asked. You'll be given a working salary of four hundred thousand a year, and have a stake in whatever products or research evolve from this project. It's difficult to estimate what those could be worth, but if I were to hazard a guess, the amount coming back to you would be upwards of a hundred million."

Jen felt her knees go slightly weak. The salary alone was enough, but everything else sealed the deal. "I'll take it."

"Good, if you'll follow me to the car, ma'am. I'll explain the situation during the drive and we'll get you set up with a military nanite injection."


It was a couple hours of driving before they let her out in front of the currently grounded airplane. Something had torn a hole above the wing, and she could only assume the red streaks in the paint around it were blood. She took a deep breath and steeled herself, it wasn't like she hadn't worked around dead bodies before... it was just that the last time had been in med school.

The stairs up into the plane creaked every other step, and once inside the smell was over powering. A major broke away from a couple forensic investigators and walked up to her. "It's good to meet you Mrs. Cruise, or is it doctor?"

"It is doctor, though I try not to shove it other people's faces."

"Well, Dr. Cruise, there isn't much I can tell you about what happened here. We were kind of hoping you would be able to tell us. What I can tell you is, it's a biological life form, and has very long, very sharp claws."

"Have you collected any samples of foreign tissue or bodily fluids?" She asked, easily slipping back into her field research days.

"We did manage to collect some of a black substance from behind one of the chairs. Other than that, we haven't got much to go on. There is an eye witness back at the terminal, but she doesn't seem to be talking." As he mentioned that they stopped in front a latrine with a ragged hole in the door. Inside a woman lay slumped over a sink, half naked.

"This is where you found her?"

"yes, ma'am."

"I think I have an idea..." She picked up a coat off the floor, and opened the dead woman's purse pulling out a bottle of perfume. "Let's go see this witness..." She pulled the coat on, it was a bit bloody, but the sleeves were still unstained and it fit almost perfectly.


Just tying the thread into some of my other writing. Can't say I was really planning this when sat down to write it yesterday, but it seemed like a logical enough progression.


A morning in the life.

Jennifer Cruise sat comfortably in the brightly lit window office. The chair she was sitting in was black leather, and well padded. Across from her Mr. Miyatamo was reviewing her resume, critically appraising what she thought to be the work history.

"Well, Mrs. Cruise, you seem to have some history working for Japanese companies. I find that important in potential employees, many Westerners are, shall we say, shell shocked by the organizational differences."

"Domo arigato, Miyatamo-san. I was well liked with my former employers, though obviously there are some differences in position and responsibility."

He smiled slightly at the Japanese. Even in a world where translations were accurate and instantaneous employers still liked employees who took the time to learn a few words. "You certainly do come highly reccomended. This has been very informative, Mrs. Cruise, I will inform you of the company's decision within a week."

"Again, domo arigato. Have a pleasant day Miyatamo-san, I will look forward to hearing from you."

After they exchanged bows, the office melted away leaving Jen in her kitchen. She walked calmly to the refrigerator, flicking her eyes to the left calling up a pair of blog posts. One from her wife the other from their neighbor. The two posts scrolled by at her typical reading speed, the text adjusting color to remain visible against the background.

Her neighbor was a particularly entertaining sort, always some sarcastic bite to his words, but always truthful. Today it was politics, yesterday it had been technology, of course it would be about the coming elections in Germany, he had family there she recalled. She almost dropped her bowl of cheerios on the way to the table when he so elegeantly summed up the strangest candidate as having "Ron Paul's solid brass balls, but no heart to speak of".

It was somewhat harder to read her wife's blog. More painful in it's way, as she mused on the effect her nanite treatments were having, or in this case failing to have, on her breast cancer. For all their technological savvy, there wasn't much more that technology could do for her. Soon enough she would have to start Chemotherapy, the ultimate last resort, but probably their last hope. It was hard not to feel another small piece of her heart chip away.

Giving up her career in Microbiology had been hard, but it wasn't paying so well these days. It was time to put that masters in business development to work, and perhaps she could keep them from falling too far behind on the medical bills. Medical nanites were still far more expensive than consumer nanotech, and after five treatments in as many months, the cost was overwhelming in all senses.

After a few moments, she started subvocalizing a blog post of her own. She set the maximum privacy settings, making it a record rather than an open entry. It twenty minutes to set all her fears, concerns, and complaints into a digital wall of text twelve paragraphs long, and less than half a second to delete it all. She began again, setting the privacy for friends and family, and composed a few short paragraphs about her excitement over what could be her new career.

A couple RSS feeds caught here eye and she pulled them up, careful to make sure they overlay the table, which was pure white for just that purpose. The morning news was discussing the recent changes in weather, apparently it was going to be a bit chilly this morning. Also her former team had just made a minor breakthrough, not the kind of thing that really made the grants roll in, but enough to make sure their lab would be open for at least another ten years. She was happy for them, really...

All in all, one more day for enui to take hold. One more day she should really be spending with her wife in Peru. One more day she wouldn't be getting back.


Attis' Mud back story has had me thinking about this a little, and then Brent's tech episode just added to it. Honestly, it seems to me that the next logical steps in technology and communication seem to be all in one solutions and access points. Perhaps it'll culminate into Mesh technology connecting all of our incredible implants, or maybe we'll regress back to the stone age. I don't know, just got me thinking.


Sword Duel: Possible MMO Dueling Mechanic

Just a thought on a possible mechanic allowing for sword dueling inside an MMO.

From the first person perspective you stand at about 4-6 feet away from your opponent. Just far enough for your blades to touch 6 inches below the tip.

Left click is a lunging attack, right click is a slashing attack. When you move the sword without attacking it can act as a block. While blocked, you can push against their sword by tapping space bar. It adds an amount of force dependent on your strength statistic, likewise for blocking, perhaps on a global cool down. W moves you one step toward your enemy, S moves you one step away, A sidesteps to the left, D sidesteps to the right.

The tip of the sword follows the mouse, allowing you to move it about the screen in order to block. Number keys may control different stances and ways of holding the sword. Moving the sword in front of a slash attack can block that attack, moving it across a lunge can push it aside. You're ability to block or push aside a lunge is controlled by strength. Speed of your steps would of course be speed, and speed of a strike would be dexterity.

Different combinations of strikes and movements in particular contexts would be the "special moves" and, if you have classes, could be class dependent.


Contents: One 300 disc binder

Just as an aside, my brother gave me his old game collection, so no I have not played all of these. Nor did I buy all of these.

007 Nightfire
Absolute Zero (Mac)
Jane's ATF Gold
Air Warrior III
Al Unser Jr. Arcade Racing/War Birds (Mac) x2
Aliens Vs. Predator Gold
Sid Meiers's Alpha Centauri
Ambrosia Software Disc 5 (mac)
Anarchy Online x2
Asheron's Call
Asheron's Call Dark Majesty
Battlefield 1942 (only disc 1...)
Battle Zone 2
Beyond Atlantis
Ceaser 3
Call of Duty
Civilization 2: Test of Time
Civilization: Call to Power
Command & Conquer (Only disc 1)
Command & Conquer: Generals
Command & Conquer: Generals: Zero Hour
Command & Conquer: Red Alert
Command & Conquer: Red Alert: Aftermath
Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2
Command & Conquer: Renegade
Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun x2
Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun: Firestorm
Command & Conquer: Yuri's Revenge
Computer Gaming World - July 2007 (Battle Cruiser Millennium demo featured)
The Crystal Key
Dark Age of Camelot
Dawn of War: Dark Crusade
Deadlock (mac)
Delta Force: Black Hawk Down
Descent 1 & 2: The Definitive Collection
Descent 3
Descent 3: Mercenary
Descent: Freespace
Descent: Freespace: Silent Threat
Diablo 2
Diablo 2: Lord of Destruction
Dungeon Siege
Dungeon Siege 2: Deluxe Edition
D&D Character Generator (I think it's 3rd ed)
The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind
Fable (Copyright 1996)
Fighter Squadron
Final Fantasy 8:PC
Baulder's Gate
Baulder's Gate 2
Baulder's Gate 2: Throne of Baal
Icewind Dale
Never Winter Nights
Never Winter Nights: Hordes of Underdark
Never Winter Nights: Shadows of Undrentide
Freedom Fighters
Gamefest" Forgotten Realms Classics
Grand Theft Auto: 3
Guild Wars Pre-order disc
Guild Wars
Guild Wars: Factions
Half-Life GOTY Edition
Team Fortress Classic
Opposing Forces
Half-Life 2
Heavy Gear 2
Heroes of Might and Magic
Indiana Jones & the Emporer's Tomb
The Journeyman Project Turbo!
Buried in Time, The Journeyman Project 2
King's Quest 15 year Anniversary Collectors Edition
King's Quest 6
Jane's Longbow Gold
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Game)
Mechwarrior 2 (Mac)
Masters of Orion 2 (Mac)
Max Payne
Maximum CD (Mar 99) (Heretic 2, and Populous the Beginning featured demos)
Mech Commander 2 x2
Mechwarrior 3
Computer Gaming World (March 02) (Mech 4 Black Knight featured)
Mechwarrior 4
Mechwarrior 4: Black Knight
Medal of Honor: Allied Assault
Computer Gaming World (Feb 02) (Medal of Honor: AA featured)
Medieval: Total War
MSI Multimedia: Games Collection (No idea whats on this.)
Need for Speed: High Stakes
Nemesis (Copyright 1995)
No One Lives Forever (Only disc 1)
Out of the Sun (mac)
PC Gamer Demo Discs, 31 discs in all, earliest is Nov 98, Latest is Holiday '03
Quake 2
Quake 3
Quake 4
Red Faction
Redneck Rampage: The Early Years (I swear I borrowed this from a friend and forgot to give it back...)
Ryl: Path of the Emporer
Septerra Core: Legacy of the Creator
Seven Kingdoms: 2
Soldier of Fortune: Platinum Edition
Spider - Man
Starcraft x 2
Starcraft: Brood War
Star General
Star Lancer
Star Trek 25th Anniversary (Copyright 1993)
Star Trek: Bridge Commander
Star Trek: Deep Space 9: The Fallen
Star Trek: Starfleet Academy x2
Star Wars: Dark Forces
Star Wars: Episode 1: The Phantom Menace
Star Wars: Force Commander
Star Wars: Battlegrounds: Saga
Star Wars: Dark Forces 2: Jedi Knight
Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Mysteries of the Sith
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
Star Wars: Episode 1: Pod Racer
Star Wars: Rogue Squadron: 3d
Star Wars: Star Fighter
Star Wars: Tie Fighter
Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance
Star Wars: Yoda Stories/Behind The Magic: Vehicles
Superpower (If you don't know what this is, and your interested in what I consider a deep game, pick it up. It was pretty cheap even when it was new.)
Supreme Commander
Titan Quest: Immortal Throne
Tribes 2 x2
Trivial Pursuit: Millennium Edition
Total Air War
Unreal Tournament: 2k3
Unreal Tournament GOTY (My brothers, I went to buy my own when I was 16 and got turned down because It was rated M. Eat that Jack Thompson.)
Unreal Tournament: 2k4
Unreal 2
Vampire the Masquerade: Redemption (for the love of god never buy this yourself.)
Wing Commander 4 (Missing disc 7...)
Return to Castle Wolfenstein
World of Warcraft

I'm not a fan of flight sims at all. So if it isn't for the mac, and it's a flight sim, it's from my brother.


Infantry Character Sheet and Quick Play Card

Okay I spent most of today working on some character sheets and what not.

My first test game went well this morning, gave me some good info, and forced me to get some rules onto paper. I only used basic infantry with SMGs and Body armor, I'm going to need an easy way to measure the range of longer range guns, probably just use a tape measure for now.

Hmm, actually it's not too bad. I could post them up in the original 2400x3000 and make them REALLY big, but I won't.


Sins of a Solar Blogger

Sorry for the lack of screenshots with this, I wasn't thinking of doing this while I was playing the game.

Anyways, what I'm going to do is write a an overview of a scenario I'm currently playing in SoaSE. To start off with, I used a Large Random Map, it contained 3 star systems, I missed the planet total, sorry. 8 players, myself and seven default normal level bots. I was Advent, my favorites, they tend to do less damage, but have a vast selection of support abilities. I've found they work best if you shy away from using masses of the same ship, and instead use well balanced groups focusing on carriers and light carriers.

First thing I did once getting in game was zooming out and getting a feel for the map. I was on the far left, of the furthest right of the three systems. The systems were in a relatively straight line, and I would later find out that we were seperated into four players per system with the furthest left being completely empty. I had two scouts and five light frigates under construction immediately, on the building side I just began on some planetary upgrades and a military research station.

While my early attack fleet was building, my scouts revealed that I had asteroid belts to the north, two, and east, one, of me, two volcanics to the south, and north past the asteroid belts were two Terra worlds. Asteroid belts are always protected by one light frigate and one planetary bomber, volcanic worlds are protected by an small assortment of light and medium frigates and aren't colonizable until I research something only available with two civilian research staions. Terra worlds are tempting, but are protected by a pair of heavy cruisers, big hitters, and about twice as many light/medium frigates as the volcanic worlds. My first goal then is to take the asteroids belts so that I can get resources rolling in to build my capital ship yard, which comes with a free capital ship.

As an aside, A capital ship has roughly three times the hp, shields and firepower as a heavy cruiser at first level with no upgrades.

My five light frigates moved to the Eastern asteroid belt and handily dealt with the frigates there in about the time it took me to build a colony frigate. A colony frigate can take a long time to colonize a place since it uses up all its energy, Antimatter in the game, jumping and needs to recharge before it can colonize. In the time it took to recharge I had finished saving up the cash for a capital ship yard. I like to take a mothership for my first ship since it can colonize, my first point goes into an ability called malice though. Malice attaches a psychic connection between enemies ship within a certain range, so any damage dealt to one carries over to some extent to all the other connected ships.

This small fleet easily tears through the nothern asteroid belt, but doesn't quite level up the capital ship. I start building some more light frigates and send the missionary ship to colonize the belt I just cleared, my mothership fleet continues on to the next belt.

On a strategy note, I'm noticing that I'm not taking any systems with more than one crystal asteroid, the market price of crystal over the next hour or so skyrocket from 400 to 1000 credits. It's a major factor in the game when one of the resources grows too expensive, there are a lot of times when you need a timely upgrade or extra ship and are missing more minerals than you can mine in the next ten seconds. It also means that if you wind up taking worlds rich in that mineral you can easily play off that to fix mineral and credit shortages on the fly.

After taking all the belts I immediately turned to the Terra planets. I lost all five frigates pretty quickly, but luckily a replacement fleet of three light frigates arrived in time to take out the last of the protectors. My cap ship made it out with only 1/3 hull, but I wasn't in any hurry to go after the next Terra planet without picking up some more frigates. I'd built three more research stations by now, two civilian and one military, so I could research volcanic planet colonization. My fleet turned around and headed south to pick up those, my colony ship got to head one more system east into a plasma cloud to pick up a metal extractor, but the next system east of that was the Pirate base so I did so cautiously.

Back on the strategy face, I had sent a red TEC player a couple hundred metal as part of a diplomatic mission. I had no idea at the time where that was going to lead me. It would eventually get me the trade deal that would prove the most lucrative across the length of the game so far, and place me in a diplomatic mire of epic proportions.

After taking the two volcanic worlds I felt I had the firepower to take on the last Terra world, and sent my fleet. To make a short story shorter, it fell easily. What was more important was that Red sent me another diplomatic mission, destroy some of oranges civilian structures. I backed out and surveyed my system now that my scouts had discovered the majority of it. Red was to my North, Orange was a TEC player to my South and Light Green was an Asari player on the far East. I failed the mission, but still managed to get a trade treaty with Red. I then built a Battlecruiser, capable of learning vengeance, which causes damage to any ships attacking it, concentration, which increases the attack of friendly ships in range, and vertigo, which just generally decreases incoming damage. With a bit of building and research and I had a medium frigate ready to go and was feeling good to head South and take on Orange. Red and Green had both sent me new diplomatic missions to destroy Orange's ships, and Orange was starting to move light frigates and a battle ship around my volcanic worlds somewhat listlessly.


Why copying WoW is just plain stupid.


Follow that link, look at that chart.

Yes I know this is pre-LOTRO, pre-RGTR, and pre-Vanguard, but seriously, can anyone look me in the eye and tell me that one of those games had over 3 million subscribers? What does this have to do with copying WoW? Simple, you will not get WoW's marketshare. I don't care if you're EA, if your Sony, or if your Microfreakingbucks themselves, you WILL NOT get WoW's numbers!

I've seen alot of discussion back and forth, as to wether a game should build around a focus on the PvP and player politics or make something nice and tidy for the so called "carebears". The hugh and cry seems to be "build for the carebears they get you the money!" Look at the chart and shed a tear for how completely and utterly wrong you are. WoW is the only MMOG to break five million subs, and honestly if people want to play WoW, they will play WoW. Who is next on the list? Lineage. I realize there is alot of Asian influence to this, but still, 3 mil subscribers. Let me repeat that, three million subscribers. Where all other non-WoW games fight their asses off for 500k, Lineage which is built around grinding and pvp got it's 3 mil.

Eve with very little chinese influence has managed to pull in a constant increase in numbers. EQ with very little chinese influence has managed to hold on for a long time but still fights constant decline.

So what is my point in all this? The market share for good creative games, with world effecting pvp is there. It may not be WoWs millions, but it exists in the first place. The market for pve games is not there. The only thing that will pull in pve gamers is an already strong IP like Lord of the Rings, and even then we're still talking 500k max, if you are really drop dead lucky and have leprechauns on your marketing staff. Designers, you can't steal WoW's share of the pie so when it comes right down to it, if you're looking at a feature and have a choice, be inventive out there and new, or play it safe and copy WoW, choose inventive. And producers, don't get pissed at your design staff for choosing it, ? ROI is better than 0 ROI.