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.
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. Read more “Darwinia”
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.
Who cares? Need I say more? GDC Austin is coming up… bound to be far better.
SOE last week announced a new magazine for Everquest 2 called EQuinox. Now I don’t necessarily think an MMO magazine by SOE is really that bad of an idea, after all they have several games to cover and would have insider access that the other MMO magazines wouldn’t be able to get. However, this magazine is only for EQ2, which by all accounts isn’t even the big MMO that SOE has, certainly EQ1 still has more subscribers, and with new games coming up (The Agency made quite the splash at E3) I would think these would be slightly better choices.
Read more “EQuinox unveiled”
This last weekend we had some guild drama. So our guild has never been big, and many in our guild do not want it to be big (leaders included). It is a rule free, fairly rank free guild, that by design is meant to limit the drama and strangers (some might call this family oriented).
I went to the GLS Conference this past week. I wanted to start going to more conferences so that can network better and chose this particular one because it was here in town so that I didn’t have to worry about paying for hotel stay and travel arrangements and such. This conference is a small conference which really focuses on how games can be used for learning purposes and how they teach players how to use the game. This is a topic that I find somewhat interesting, however it is a very base interest. I mostly like when they talk about the games or the social aspects of games because I find that more interesting being in the MMO field myself. However a good majority of the field seems more interested in the learning so I do pick up stuff here and there.
The Conference itself is mostly used as a forum for students, professors, and other teachers, however there are some more mainstream developers and writers as well. This year’s speakers included a writer from the New York Times, a game critic from the New York Times, a couple of writers/designers from GameLab, Pathfinder Linden from Linden Labs (Second Life), and some guy that works at the company that made There.com. Rich Vogel (of Ultima Online fame) and Jeff Briggs (one of the producers of the Civ series) were also supposed to attend, however they both did not which was a major upset for me as I was really looking forward to both of them.
All this said the two day event had its ups and downs.
The ups were that the food was fairly good, though some was questionable. I was mostly disappointed that the beverages were weird (tea, milk and coffee). The snacks between sessions were great (nummy cookies, muffins and fruit). The Monona Terrace was beautiful as expected, though surprisingly small considering how big it seems and how much of a fuss was made over it, though I understand that part of that is meant as a transportation hub too. Several speakers were very good, I liked the two NYT speakers, as well as Constance Steinkuehler, and Katie Salen from Gameslab was absolutely amazing (she is seriously underrated, I put her up with Will Wright as far as speakers on games concerns). I got to meet plenty of people, including a couple in town I plan on hooking up with over the next week or so (and incidentally got myself pictured a couple times in Mark Chen’s blog.)
The downs really was the lack of the two that I was looking forward to seeing, as well as the lack of much strictly about games and even society to a lesser degree. It really is a meeting meant for people studying learning which just isn’t what I am into. I also had some issues apparently with paying. I thought I did back when I registered, and now they are telling me I did not so I don’t know how exactly that works. What makes it worse is that now they want to charge me the full price instead of the early entry price that I should have paid. This sucks only because I thought I had paid.
Would I go again? I don’t know. For networking purposes I suppose I would. What makes this decision more difficult is next years I will not be a student anymore so I will have to pay more. This makes it far less worth going to. For the student price, I think it is worth it for the networking, the food, the cool location and the about one session each day that was really worth the while. I don’t know if I will go again next year, depends on my situation. But I will definitely think about it.