A bit of painting I was just working on.

MMO Design Discussion to Return Soon

I've taken some time off from MMOs, going back to single player games has given me a great deal of perspective, in my opinion. Single player games have a few simple rules that seem curiously absent from MMO discussion. A: If this isn't your game, go play something that is. B: If you aren't in the mood to play a game... don't play it. It'll still be there tomorrow, and probably a lot more fun then. C: You're game's competition is not Starcraft, Brain Age, and Halo 3, it's whatever else in your genre is happening to release in a nearby time frame.

I certainly realize those don't work on a one to one basis in the MMO market, but they do help pad out some foundation. Before I get back into seriously discussing MMO design I'm going to lay out some basic rules, definitions and philosophies. I'm tired of talking at cross purposes with everyone, so from now on these can be used as a filter for all discussions unless explicitly stated otherwise.

The Definition of Success: Actually there are two. In the case that a core overriding goal is specified for the design, success is closeness to achieving or expressing that goal. If however there are no defined goals, a successful MMO has a subscriber base large enough to theoretically pay back it's development team in three years given it's business model. When in doubt, assume 30 million in development and a sub model of $15/month. That's about 220K players without box costs.

A Game Not the Game: The WoW killer and the Platonic game are pretty much pure flights of fancy at this point. If you find yourself wondering whether a design will kill WoW or be "The Perfect MMO", stop yourself right there. My goal will always be to design a game, one intended to exist in a field of many, not some ideal of a game. Also the mechanics will have flaws, period. You cannot design non-flawed mechanics, so any discussion of mechanics will be mainly about how well they fit the overall concept, not whether or not they are flawed.

When in Doubt, Quit: My personal philosophy is that if a game stops being fun, stop playing it, at least for a while. This also means that you can assume any game I design is supposed to, assuming I don't forget, encourage that behavior.

Two for Tuesday: A game exists within the context of the games around it. This also means that there is no point putting time and energy into a system that games around it simply do significantly better than my concept will allow. In other words, no "one game to rule all play styles" reasoning. If someone else does one bit better, I'd rather they played that for that bit, and my game for my bit.

The Inefficiency Coefficient of Efficient Content: Measuring the efficiency of content in number of players who get to see it is simply wrong in my opinion. Content does not exist on it's own and for it's own sake, only as part of a larger context of the game. Ergo if the game seeks to benefit players going off the beaten path, one time content is perfectly applicable to that. Content that is seen by all players but breaks suspension of disbelief or disrupts the flow of game play should still be weeded out. If you absolutely need some other measure of quality, then go to the level of positive reporting by the audience who do see it.

Ludic and Narrative Harmony: I strive for it.

Quest Hubs, Quest Givers, Quest Vendors, Quest Aerospace: I'm not going to say I won't use them, but it seems to me there is a lot of space to explore in what exactly most of these are.

Dude Where's All the Rats: Just because almost all of our games have rats doesn't mean you should just assume the ones I'm talking about do. Some won't have mobs, others just won't have static mobs. For even some others, they may be enemies who simply don't fit the mob classification.


206 Odin

The raw pencils of a comic that I had the idea for last night.


Artistic Tendencies

Just some recent artwork.

Got access to a scanner again, so here is some sketchwork. on Twitpic

Speed paint - The Unseeing Eye on Twitpic

Messing around in Photoshop. on Twitpic

Some modeling, twice smoothed in front, poly in back. on Twitpic

The March on Twitpic

And this one is NSFW:


A question for the listening audience.

Just real quick, I was wondering if any of my readers were reading this on their phones? And if so is it because of or in spite of the layout?


September 25th, 1958

From the diary of Dr. Arland Wright:

Having already lapsed a day in my journaling, I had feared that this journal would be of difficulty to maintain. However, while present in my mind, I can hardly wait to write of this days events.

It was in the early morning that I was gathering samples in the area of the old town hall. The fore of the building had survived the years of quarantine well enough, hardly looking dilapidated in the slightest, the rear, though, had caved in long since creating something of a garden area. While in this partially enclosed space, I was standing with my back to the opening when I noticed a shadow cast on the ground. When I turned to investigate it's source, I found myself not but a few inches from the face of a vampire.

The skin on her face had a the quality of rubber drawn taut, the veins and muscles of her face were clearly visible without any fat to obscure their shape. Her eyes were of startling properties, the irises being a bright pastel purple and the general shape being slightly too round and too tall to seem correct on her face. I was immediately taken a back out of reflex, but she instead leaned towards me, as if to examine me for her own curiosity.

The shock had left me unable to find an appropriate reaction, and so I merely remained still. I was never more aware of every inch of my body, I was afraid that even small twitch might startle her and end this momentary meeting of the species. For a few seconds I even found myself pondering the possibility of removing the top of my hazard suit so as to get a better view of the creature, but what small rationality I had preserved persuaded me otherwise. Nonetheless I found myself in place for what seemed like far too long, and yet every moment brought a fear that it would soon end.

In those moments I had a better chance to study her general appearance. The rest of her visible body was barren of fat, as her face had been. Her musculature, combined with the lack of swelling around her stomach, seemed to indicate this to be a property of her race and not the result of being malnourished. Her clothing was an old style of workers pants about her legs and a crudely sewn bandanna about her blonde hair. The fact that her breasts were exposed hardly seemed to be bothering her, and I would have to admit that their form, that of the skin being pulled taught over two small spheres, made them not of any particular stimulation to myself either.

Finally, the vampire grew bored and decided to escape my presence at best speed. Even the form of her running seemed feral, though not so much as to be completely dissimilar in form to that of a typical human's running. At this point I could hardly help myself but run straight back to the compound, forgetting in it's entirety the task I had originally set out to perform. But once returned I immediately made a full reporting of my spectacular incident to Doctor Shelby and the Lieutenant. According to Doctor Shelby I am, to wit, the second human being to ever be so close to a living vampire.

For the rest of the day, as I completed collecting the samples I had originally intended to obtain and began the initial testing I could not help but feel a certain sense of giddy optimism. Not even Doctor Gunterson's usual churlish manner was enough to dent this pleasant sensation.



Opening shot of a woman watching the fireplace, camera should be on getting a left rear view with an intimate shot width.

"It's just not the same without Mom and Dad..."

Change to a shot of a man watching the fireplace with the exact same camera angle.

"Well, so long as there's cocoa it's Christmas to me."

Change to a shot of another man watching the fireplace from the same camera angle.

"It's a good thing we can all still get together like this, watching the fire and drinking cocoa..."

Camera shifts back to the girl. The angle is now from far back, slightly higher and to the right of her showing her alone in the room with a laptop playing World of Warcraft and a bluetooth headset in her right ear.

"So what instance are we going to tackle today?"

Play the usual WoW commercial outro without the voice over, just the fading sounds of the sibling's banter.


Trying to get some more written.

Sorry I haven't been posting as much here. I do have a few story ideas floating around that I want to get written up, but lately my pixel art and 3d modeling have been sucking up all my time. I'm also working on UV unwraping my latest model, a process that, I must confess, frustrates me to no end.

With luck, I'll be getting back to writing updates for the blog soon(tm).