I think that some people who complain about rewards for scenarios, also underestimate the simple desire to brawl.

Open RvR takes a loooong time. There is a lot of orchestration, especially for the keep lord, and at the end of the day your guild leaders are going to be critiquing you and coaching you... And all in all, it's a good long bout of managed chaos. What would a brawler say to that? "Fuck the management, give me chaos!"

A short and dirty fight, someone walks out calling themselves the winner, the other walks out pretending their not the looser. Both have stuff to boast about, neither much gave a damn who was on their team unless they were obviously pulling their weight. The more the merrier, but the only thing better than even teams, is a win against a bigger team. And at the end of the day, it ain't about whether you win or loose, it's that you cracked enough skulls in the process to keep a hospital open for a few months.

PQs? A bunch of people taking on the sure win against a bunch of little guys, then ganging up on the first guy to actually put up a fight. Brawlers would much rather take on a situation where they could loose, whats the point in fighting if you already know you're gonna win.

Of course you don't have to be a stereotypical brawler to enjoy brawling, WAR just makes easier since you don't loose anything, like teeth for example, for your effort.

I'm not saying that's the whole reason, but it seems to me like a whole lot of bloggers have just ignored the possibility that some people might honestly enjoy scenarios much more than everything else. And not just because it's an easy way to grind out that next level.


By the way

I didn't think to say this before, but I had a really interesting experience the other day.

For a few moments... just a few moments, I was completely at peace and secure. For a few moments, the abyss looked back and I saw... that this life doesn't matter. Not in a nihilistic sense, but in the sense that, everything is going to be fine. I saw life, and death, and how beautiful it all was.

People are basically good, we've always progressed, we've grown less violent over time, our weapons though terrible and impersonal have thinned our barriers. Our communication is better, and people are more empathetic on average. Of course, it's not guaranteed to continue, but so long as our race remains, we will strive to improve. It's who we are. And the day we stop striving, well that will be fine too because then enough people will have learned that it's okay to just be... or not be.

I saw the possibility... that even if there is life after this one, that we may not be judged. And I was happy with that. If all the hurting and broken people in the world could go on to another life free of all the pain, anger, and hate, especially their own, what a beautiful thing that would be. I've long since come to terms with the possibility of nothing, all the more reason to be good in this life. But with this... that we can shed all those bad things and be free of it... even if that's not the afterlife, it's so worthy of working towards in this life.

For those few moments I wasn't afraid. Why should I fear terrorists when I can feel no terror, why should I fear death when it's so beautiful, all harm is temporary, all wrong doings eventually forgotten. Why worry about what people think of my work, or my lifestyle, what people try and pass into law around me. No person on Earth can take away hope, no person can take my integrity or make the world less beautiful, only someone I give that power to, and I refuse it. And I was alive.

Now I'm afraid of my own shadow again, worrying about money and how to live. But you know, it's not so bad today. And you know, I think I want to find a way to live in that moment forever.

What any new place needs

I just realized what it is that any new place, and MMOs count as places in my mind, needs. Traditions! That's right, get in and make lots of traditions and make sure they filter into the community. After all, what better way to celebrate coming somewhere free of all those useless old traditions than to make a brand new set. It's brilliant, I mean now you can ensure your legacy by making damn sure that generations of newcomers do things for no other reason than you said to loud and early!

I wonder what stops people. Stops them from talking in WAR, stops them from not building alliances with severe SP limits in EVE, stops them from being fun people to be around in the Barrens. Is it really all the player's fault? Is it the designers? Could the scale simply be so large that one or two people stops making a difference? I've found that as games progress their communities become more and more focused on "the good old days", can't say I'm out of that fire myself. But this isn't anything new, the question that keeps me up at night is, how do we fix it? Much like raising a child, I don't think it's as easy as saying it's "party the first part's" or "party the second part's" fault, mainly because by blaming one you abdicate the other when each bares some part of the blame.

Of course, I'm not a blame oriented person. Blame requires a judgment, an assessment of fault, I usually don't care. I never say to myself, "damn Goonswarm, it's all their fault we have bad communities!". Their part is significant within their sphere, and I can hardly ignore them, but the well ordered and malignant agents of chaotic benevolence, while more hypocritical than anyone I've ever known, can't really excuse a poor design. I've had to revise many designs of my own, and I'm still struggling with certain areas and parts, but that is just dealing with reality. Eventually players will have to build their communities, but I'm not really at liberty to say whether those communities are right or wrong. I can merely lay a foundation, but then if I lay a cracked foundation what is the point of complaining of the weight of the house.

But even if I lay a fine foundation, someone has to take responsibility for building the house. Even if the work is diffused to many and varied people, the house remains in need of building and thoughtful building at that. But then how do you balance that responsibility, is it the job of a few people to build it and many to add fine details? Or is it too much to ask of the few, are we breaking them with our rush to get it built? And how can we help them build, when by and large only the minority can even talk to each other, only the minority even sees the discussions that will profoundly impact the lives of all players? What if they have too much sense of entitlement and you can't convince them to have some solidarity and reason? What if they have no sense of entitlement and let bad changes go unmarked and loud minorities to run roughshod on top of them?

I'm sure these questions have answers, but for so many, I'll be damned if I can think of them.


Q and A

I want to test out something new here for a bit. As I rummage through the internet I find myself with a lot of different thoughts and so forth. Problem is, when I most feel like blogging about something, other than writing, it's because my emotions are starting to run high on the subject. So most of the time I refrain from posting, instead letting myself run off on a tear.

This time, how about we have a question and answer on pretty much whatever anyone wants to ask. Of course, I can only give opinions, but hey free reign to get my opinion on anything you want. I figure this isn't anywhere near enough direction, but this is a test afterall.


Do you know where we are?

Do you know where we are?

The words wake her from her restless sleep. The room around her is light, with bright sunlight filtering in through sheer purple drapes. Pulling the drapes aside she looked out over a quiet garden area, with a running river and a strange pagoda like gazebo. She almost forgot to breath when she saw the woman standing in the center of the pagoda looking out into the unfathomably deep bamboo forest the garden ran into.

She pulled on a silken gown to cover her nakedness and walked out the nearby door into the sunny day. A glimmer of trepidation took her heart as she approached the woman, some part of her mind telling her it can't be true. In the time between seconds, Jane turned to smile her coy smile, the one she'd only seen the morning after that night so long ago. Emotions as powerful as the Potomac raged inside her, gushing out as a stream of tears while her legs gave out.

"There, there now," Jane says as she strokes Shandra's hair. "It's all right, shhh, it's all going to be alright."

"But you're... you're.."

"I know, I can only assume this means you are too. Not what I thought it would be, being dead... it's so... peaceful."

"I don't understand, why? Why am I here... I don't... I don't deserve..."

Jane's laughter was... perfect, infectious, and somehow almost powerful. "You can imagine how I felt. All this, I don't deserve any of it... especially not you. I knew you were coming though, Shandra, I could feel it for so long."

The two held each other for a long time. The began to reacquaint themselves, first with words, then with tender affection and even more tender kisses, continuing on through the night to the inevitable climax. And then they held each other, content in each others' care as they drifted into a blissful sleep.

And then she awoke, still in the predawn hours. It was strange that she could focus on the third woman so easily, but could not bring herself to feel alarm. The svelt young woman simply sat, unconcerned with her nudity, across the room starring.

"Who are you?"

"Do you know where we are?"

The phrase tugged at something... something terrible. Something she didn't want to know. "Who are you? Why are you here?"

"Do you know where we are?"

The memory clicked, and she cried out in rage. Her sleeping lover awoke and stared up at her, transfixed by the anger in her face. "Is something wrong, Shandra? What's going on? Who is this?"

"Not enough time! It isn't fair, it isn't right! Why!? Why must it be me!?" Shandra's cries were futile though no less pained, she knew already what she needed to do.

Finally in a voice barely above a whisper she asked, "will I ever be back?"

"That is a decision you will make on your own. Now, do you know where we are?"

"Shandra, look at me, what do you mean 'ever be back'? Where are you going?"

Her only answer was a kiss, not the passionate kind that had ruled the night before or the tenderness of the afternoon. It was a heavy kiss, a kiss of promises.

"Yes, I know where we are." Shandra said. The other woman nodded.

Shandra's world erupted into pain.

* * *

It was a long time before Shandra stood again, her broken arm making it difficult to pull herself up while injuries made breathing or moving difficult. The room around her looked almost completely destroyed, with a pair of dead bodies not to far from her. She didn't bother with the enemy, he had been cruel in his life, but she found herself kneeling again next to the other. The third woman, the former side kick, the hero who had dragged her this far. The tears wouldn't come, the despair in her heart crystallizing into resolve.

She wouldn't cry. Not until they were all defeated, until nobody else would have to cry because of them again. Maybe then she could return to paradise.


Even for those born in endless caverns, with but a single glimpse of boundless light the candle begins to seem too dim.

Rather than, or maybe

I was reading Ysh's most recent post, just one of a long line that has been causing this to boil over for me.
I was thinking about giving a long lecture on persistence in MMOs, the three approaches to persistence there are, how most current games (and all the really popular ones) have almost no trace of them. But I'm trying to be positive, and I know that would devolve into a diatribe.

I've been mentally toying with the possibility of a DMO lately, a multiplayer/cooperative experience designed to be consumed by relatively small, 6-24 player, groups. The worlds would be dynamic, so new groups could enter semi-randomized worlds and make completely different choices. Of course the point would be to keep them on the small side and instead expand variety. Strong networking tools and drop in/drop out functionality would be key.
A few ideas for magic systems, one would be to have a system based on ancient words which the player must learn to spell and basically speak in. Of course you can take the easy road out with players being able to simply learn it then cast it at the touch of a button, but mics could be taken advantage of for voice activation. The basic point more simply being having the language have correct syntax so that the player builds the spells effects, size, duration, targeting and so forth by simply saying it right. Of course the longer the sentence the longer the cast.
Another, which I had a few months ago but actually showed up in Fable II, is for players to gain levels in spells individually, but as they gain more, and more powerful spells the power of all their spells increases.
These two ideas were to be the basis of a non-combat magic system, where the players would be effecting weather, creating illusions, summoning familiars, or traveling faster most of the time. The ideal, of course, would be that of very powerful and knowledgeable magi being able to perform veritable miracles within the game world. Growing forests overnight, teleporting massive groups across vast distances, summoning towering familiars that function as buildings in their own right, illusory powers to create and maintain an entire scene indefinitely, or even some mix of powers, like an illusory gypsy caravan where it's always raining that teleports outside a new town every five minutes, and lasts for about an hour.

I have the same problem in WAR as I have in WoW, and really in most MMOs I play. I do not feel like a badass/hero, hell the longer I play the more pussified I feel. I have no problem with solidarity, I ran missions, mined and ratted in EVE without ever doing PvP for a long time... but I knew I had the chance to set myself apart, to become part of the living thriving shared history of EVE. WoW has no history, no future, and WAR feels very much the same, it'll be basically forever locked in time at the exact moment of opening, until a new expansion allows you to start somewhere else. Perhaps it's just me, but I find that, more than any PvE wierdness, to be simply depressing.


The Story

It was back in 1945, the spring had just begun and blossoms were all around us. My parents were from Koblenz, Germany, and even after father was stationed at the Riechstag my mother stayed in Koblenz. There was this old mineshaft near the town, the kind you're told not to play in as a child, but as the allies were coming ever closer some of the more loyal Nazi members had the idea to hide away deep in the shaft until after the war to start anew. It was a silly idea, even as a child it seemed silly to me, but my mother believed in her party very much so we couldn't talk her out of it.
I'll never forget that day, the shaft had been expanded so that heavy equipment such as vehicles could get in, though we still went in on foot. There was even a tank, well it seemed like a tank to me, it was more of a half track on review, held together with string and a prayer at that. But none the less, into the shaft it, and we, went. My mother was talking to one of the SS officers about some sort of glorious return that we would have. I was already thinking it would be glorious to return to light and trees and open spaces.
For how long we walked into the mine, I'm not sure I'll ever know. At one point there began to be rumors that someone was following us, a dark figure staying mostly out of sight. Talk began of British or Soviet spies, trying to ruin our great plan. I wasn't too partial to that theory, since we would need a great plan to ruin in the first place. Still I wondered for a long time about the dark figure, why would they follow us, and what did they want? The answer was unexpected, and I still have trouble believing it myself sometimes.
It started with distant sounds, but recognizable, gunfire and screaming. Then some very loud shots that must have been the half track firing, that stopped soon, but the gunfire and screams didn't- They just got closer. My mother tried to protect us, made me huddle with my brother while she stood with her back to us, I just stared at the frill of my dress and wondered if we'd actually make it out of this. Mother started yelling at something, and then cussing while backing up to my brother and I. Finally she screamed as I watched this massive blade rip into her, and when she finally fell to the ground and my sight was unobstructed I could see the terror so clearly. It was a woman, a tall woman wearing some sort of grey armor and carrying a spear with a massive tip.
She stared at us for what felt like ages. Just looked and looked, with those strang yellow eyes, like she was trying to make up her mind about something, then she just turned and went deeper into the tunnel. The gunfire and screams returned, and then after a while it was just screams, which also died out eventually. We waited a long time, brother and I, before we finally stood up and wandered back out of the tunnels, running into some of our friends along the way. I was told later that all the children had been spared.
What most stays with me though was the image of that half track, since we passed on through it on the way out. You see, it had been cut clean in half, with each half compressed against one of the walls, and the whole area just sort of stank of dead people.

"I told you it was a weird story," Lanie said. Resting against the side of the couch her grandmother was sitting on. The modern living room, with contemporary furniture around them seemed to form a strange counterpoint to the tale of yesteryear. The twenty year old had heard the story many times over, but no 'meet the parents' was complete without getting 'the story' out of the way.
"Lanie, don't call your grandmother's stories weird," her mother, Elise, chided her from out of sight in the kitchen. The two rooms were seperated by wall, but her mother heard everything, she could probably hear a pin drop from two blocks away.
"It's actually pretty cool, can't say I've ever heard anyrhing like it!" Desirea was, as always, fitting right in and playing peace keeper. Definitely trying for girlfriend of the year award, Lanie thought to herself.
"These days I only tell it if someone asks, after a while I just got tired of the strange looks." Lanie's grandmother looked wistfully out the window as she spoke. Ursala Gothe had aged well over her long life, keeping the general figure of a tall, imposing woman, though lately she had seemed to soften somewhat. "As we grew up, I left the Reich, the Nazis, and even Germany behind me. But not Gerald, no, he just couldn't see the nonsensical dreams of a murderous madman for what they are."
The room was real quiet for a few moments, just the sounds from the kitchen to keep it from being unbearable. "Ahh, but now I'm spoiling the mood! So tell me about yourself, Desirea, what do you do?"
"Well, I'm a production sound designer, which just means..." The conversation buzzed back and forth for a while until dinner came. Her mother got in on the questioning then, the two women drilling her on family, education, politics, and finally trailing off into philosophy where the questions disappeared into debate. Evening became night, and energetic debate turned to playful banter, finally breaking into quiet excuses and long goodbyes. Then it was just two young women, driving home on a warm summer's night. The strange breeze in the air still so subtle that anyone could be forgiven for missing it.



Just read a post by Raph Koster and some of the responses...

Fun is the practice of learning skills to mastery.
We know this because learning skills to mastery is fun.
Therefore, any fun not had through learning skills is false fun.
All fun must be through learning skills to mastery, and there can be no other forms of fun, since we already know:
Fun is the practice of learning skills to mastery.
We know this because learning skills to mastery is fun.


Any Suggestions?

As much as I love good action sci-fi, Star Wars, Starship Troopers, Chronicles of Riddick, I have a special place in my heart for good speculative or character driven science fiction, Bladerunner, Solaris, Sunshine or Godheads for example. So I was wondering, does anyone had any good suggestions for movies or books that I could look up within that vein?


An Industry within a Nation

There is something deeply humbling about looking up from a book about people dealing with an impending doomsday and using a slip of paper smaller than a folded napkin that contains a brief history of my working life as a bookmark. Of course, I'm writing this while tired with a whole day of classes stretching out in front of me, so I doubt I'll be particularly coherent from here on out, but I'll try.

Recently I got the chance to listen to Chris Martenson's Crash Course on the American economy and where we stand overall. Of course I haven't done further research to verify, so I'm not willing to call it gospel, but the underlying prediction isn't so different from what I've been thinking for years. Quite simply, what's coming is not going to be as big as what came before... and that means bad things if the underlying presumption of the business is constant growth. Which means especially bad things for corporations, since growth, read profit, is essential to sustain a corporation of any size. They need profit the same way a fish needs water or a person needs air, and unless we start rethinking what we get and how... well it's not going to work out too well.

This effects my thinking on the industry and current business models a great deal. Right now I rather feel we need to focus on two areas, making the content creation process cheaper and more accessible, and increasing the artistic quality of our works such that they can stand on their own as great works. Frankly, I don't think I'm entirely alone in those priorities, though I may be more unique in my reasoning.

Spore was a good, if gamey, step towards the first section. Lots of tools for the creation of content and sharing of said content, but unfortunately a bit... strict on the rule sets governing that content for my tastes. I'm trying to have high hopes for MetaPlace, but I find my hope to be somewhat thin on the ground these days. Who knows, maybe I should have been an avid Second Life player/activist, but I find it significantly hard to form any amount of excitement over SL.

The second has been a much touchier issue lately, at least in the MMO space. Single player games have been doing better on some fronts, we're seeing some serious play with physics and world environments along side some very focused story telling.

I want to get the controversy out of the way early here. As many of you already know, I was quite firmly on the WAR too close to WoW side of that debate, more recently a Blue commented on everything they plan on taking from WAR. I'm pretty derisive of it, but contrary to at least one commenter's opinion I'm not some shit stupid cynic who bitched without any thought for the sole purpose of bitching. What it all comes back to is homogeneity, that is my great problem with the current MMO sphere. We have a few budding sub genres, but so far it's a battle between dungeon crawlers and sandboxes, of course I'm sure if you compared the sub base between WoW, WAR, LOTRO, AoC, EQ1/2, DaoC, AC1/2, AO, Neocron and TR, with that of EVE, SW:G, Ryzom, MystO, and Second Life the concept of a battle begins to seem patently absurd. You can talk yourself blue about there being no great innovations in RTSes, but the simple fact is they exist and evolve alongside FPSes, RPGs, 4x, Racing, Sports, and a number of other genres. MMOs on the other hand tend to patently ignore the best features of single player games, meaning either the they simply aren't evolving alongside or they can't evolve alongside. This begins to paint a rather grim picture as we find ourselves in a state of stagnation where the surrounding genres have failed to evolve in the parallel state needed to retain evolution in the primary genre. From this perspective, WoW stealing things that do set WAR apart rather than focusing their development dollars on the aspects of gameplay that make them unique is just another step towards homogenization in a dangerously homogenized market.

But the question in my mind is how many magna opera do my generation have left in us? Have we really hit the kinds of peaks that can grant us the respect to last through at least of a century of cultural starvation? If I honestly felt we had a century or two to perfect the art I'm not sure I'd be so vocal about it, at least to the offline people who have to listen to me. Problem is, I'm not sure we have forty years; it's certainly probable the industry will last that long, but inevitable... hardly. So have we built games that will still inspire people even after centuries... actually, better put, if worse came to worse, would future generations of game designers achieve greatness because of us, or in spite of us?

I guess meanwhile, I'll keep working on the business theory I never actually outlined in this post. Keep working with what I've got towards where I thought I was going. All though, I am curious if anyone heard that initial 500k number for WAR and immediately thought, "that's it?"



It's been around the blogosphere lately. Someone very important and gifted in my particular industry has chosen to take their own life, and that makes me very sad. Well, it makes me sad, confused, frightened and more than a little pissed off.

Tobold is allowed his opinion I guess, but I'm allowed to disagree with it. In fact I'm allowed to disagree with it a shit ton.

I didn't know Mr. Freeman, not personally, not professionally, not even blogospherically, so I don't really have anything to say about him. What I do have something to talk about though is what all this has brought right to the forefront, the urge to kill oneself.

A. Killing yourself is a bad thing.
B. Suicide is not the result of having too much fun and happiness in your life.
C. What the fuck people?

Lets get that first point out of the way, killing yourself is bad. If you want I can give you all the line graphs and charts to prove it. For a data point we could hand out questionnaires to the family to chart their grief from 1 to 11, and then just keep a tally of the number that come back with "fuck you" written on them and the ones that don't come back at all since they probably get shredded and tossed. Suicide is painful, for everyone, and like people tend to say, suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

Which brings us to the problem. Best quote I've ever heard about suicide is that "suicide is simply the final result of when the pain in your life exceeds your coping mechanisms". Life sucks, and not everyone handles it the same, some just can't handle it at all. The worst part is when your coping mechanisms are all just stop gaps, and nothing ever gets fixed because the only thing that gets you to wake up tomorrow is pretending it doesn't exist. Hell, I can guarantee that it's past the point where you have given up hope that tomorrow will be better in some small way. Why? Because I've been there.

Now, you see, since you can't ever expect tomorrow to be better than today, and you're stuck watching the good things in life slip away bit by bit because you can't do anything, your self esteem is officially in the shitter. You're good for nothing, you tell yourself, everything you touch breaks, and all you can hear is how badly you failed at this or that. All your flaws are thrown into harsh light and nothing you do is good enough anymore, hell you wonder if it was ever good enough in the first place... which brings us to point C, what the fuck people? All this pent up good will for the guy and nobody gets to hear about it until he hates himself to death.

Yeah it's unfair of me, yeah this is just adding to your pain and guilt, but you know what, fuck it. Honestly you couldn't have made him happy all of the sudden, but who knows, maybe just knowing that someone was real frickin' happy with the stuff he created would have helped him get through to tomorrow. Maybe we should make writing a eulogy for everyone you know a yearly event, god knows Halloween could use some soul, so that people can see how someone else perceives them and how much they mean to everyone.

Of course, I'm only writing this because I'm scared. I've been there, that point where you stop believing tomorrow will be a better day... it's debatable whether I've ever left. All the good shit stops being good, and you can't find joy in doing the "fun" things because all they are now is an excuse to avoid the pain. The shit on your doorstep is piling up and the only way anyone else seems to deal with it is to get mad at you... snap you out of it, yeah 'cause thinking I've pissed you off with my inability to fix this is going to make me feel so much better.

I wish I could say this isn't about me, but, well, it's my blog and I'm too damn honest to pretend I'd write this much about someone I never knew. Although, there is one thing that really scares the ever loving shit out of me, how many other people are afraid of the exact same thing I am... afraid that when all is said and done, you're in the ground fertilizing daisies or floating on the winds as a bunch of soot, what if nobody says word one? What if you pass in silence, unmarked, unnoticed, and never really were all that important to anyone anyways?

And would you really want to know?