It has been a little while since I have post largely because I went camping last week with my daughter and haven’t had much time to do any posting. We went to Governor Dodge which is about 45 minutes away from where we live. I had never been to Dodge before in my life, and I was amazed at this little park that really is quite close to the city.  It is in a valley system with bluffs everywhere, a river goes through and there are a couple small dams that turn them into small lakes, a waterfall, a prairie land, a forest, and a bunch of campgrounds.

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Epic Video Games

So why do all video games have to be epic anyways? I look around and the storyline of every game is some epic scale… save the universe/world/girl/etc. Nothing real. In fact these are the same type of stories you tend to get from action, fantasy, and sci-fi movies. I use movies here mostly because much of the game industry compares itself to the movie industry, even if done so unintentionally. Continue reading “Epic Video Games”

B5 Returns

Last week I was surfing around somewhere and I saw that Babylon 5 was putting out a new movie which was releasing last week. Thinking back on it now, I think that I did hear about it previously but I didn’t remember it for the life of me and it took me by surprise. So I promptly ordered it.

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Gold Pharmers

Back in the days of Asheron’s Call and Ultima Online, a lot of people sold stuff on eBay and made some money. I personally sold stuff in order to make up the cost of the game to help myself afford it. At the time I did not have a job, this was a luxury that needed to pay for itself, and it did. I probably paid for about a year and a half this way and was happy to have the ability to do it. At this time, there were people who farmed for money, but not many, and most of them were players like me who were in reality just trying to make some money if they could. At best you would make about $20k a year which is by no one’s means a good salary.

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I mentioned that I was going to put up a review of Darwinia in a comment I made on my Uplink review. However, I haven’t had the time since I stopped playing it until just now. Overall, I think Darwinia is a fine game, however I don’t think it is nearly as good as Uplink is. Continue reading “Darwinia”

MMO quests.

I recently read an interview that Richard Garriott (Father of the Ultima Series and modern MMOs). In this interview (sorry can’t remember where I saw it), he mentioned how MMOs haven’t really changed in the last 10 years. And though I didn’t think he was particularly correct (more like 6 years as UO was drastically different than EQ), he was on to something in particular. The three main points he brought up were quests (and how they are normally meaningless fetch quests), AI (or lack thereof), and player choice (which I think has generally changed for the worse).

He then went on to describe his quest system for Tabula Rasa where choices that you make in the quest will make you branch down various paths in the quest line. So for instance, two merchants will give you pretty much the same quest, and depending on how you chose to complete that quest, only one merchant will give the reward…. and then let you go further down his track, whereas you will never be allowed to return to the previous merchant and get more quests. Now this isn’t really that different than some quests in modern games, after all, EQ2 has a few quest lines that you can only get by raising your faction with a group to a certain level. And by raising the faction of one side, you are lowering the faction of the other so you can’t get the other’s quests… (sometimes you can go back and reverse faction to get the other side, but is usually too time consuming and not worth the reward but this isn’t always). This is the same basic premise, however, I think his is more indepth than just a few random quests that do it. I think he wants every quest in the game to work this way and to really give the player a truly unique feel in the story of his character…

This really got me thinking about numbers… what marketing guys love to tout. I think EQ2 probably has around 3500 quests currently in the game. Most of them aren’t really worth the time, but also there are race, city, class, and faction specific quests. In all, the average EQ2 player likely only does about 650 quests by the time they hit level 70 (the current cap). For percentage freaks, this is 19% of all quests that a player will do, and I would bet somewhere around 66% can be done by an individual without switching cities, or factions. This is really a staggering number, and I think fairly accurate for most MMOs… I bet WoW % is higher, but they emphasize the racial/city differences more than most games and likely have similar completion numbers, though more lik 40-50% completable quests by any individual character, thus players are doing more on average, just not getting as many to chose from with each char.

The problem is that all MMOs these days don’t give the player to choose which quests he does other than “this one is worth it, this one is not” most choices are really tied into class and race, which if you ask me should have little to do with the quest lines (yes I think having class & race specific questlines are nice, but not at the expense of choice). So instead of choosing to split up the player population amongst all the cities that they tend to do, why not minimize cities, start players off with the same quests, but have them fork in different directions. So that two 70s may not have as many overlapping quests. This creates an issue of finding groups as people like to group for quests, but what if everyone who works on a quest gets the reward for it or not? Regardless of if they actually had, or even could have, the quest. Maybe just reduce the reward a bit.

This type of handcrafted story play could be immensely more rewarding to players, not just for more interesting and unique characters, but also you could choose to have much larger rewards for those quests to reduce grind. Current MMOs (even WoW to some degree) intend you to do many quests so they give you lwoer rewards and thus lower the worth of them. However, if you are setting up the quests from the beginning so that players will only see 20% of them with each char, then you can plan your quests accordingly and make each individual reward much better.

Food for thought at least.