I still don’t really like doing a lot of these potpourri posts, but there are a few things I wanted to call attention to and comment briefly on, and the 140 character Twitter limit just doesn’t work for this.
Greg Street, or Ghostcrawler, penned a minor missive on dungeoneering at the endgame in WoW. Petter called my attention to this one, and I think it’s worth a read. The parts that stuck out to me were:
Boss fights in 5-player dungeons generally shouldn’t last more than two minutes or so
That’s an interesting metric I hadn’t heard of before. I wonder how many players will think that’s too long… or too short.
In fact, we think the game is more fun overall when you play with friends, which is why we put so much effort into encouraging players to join guilds for Cataclysm.
I maintain that guild levels and perks just increase the selfish “use the other guy” mercenary nature of guilds, rather than foster friendship. That’s always what happens when you have to bribe people to play together. Some friendships might form by the wayside, but I think the cost (increasing selfishness coated in gooey guildy goodness) outweighs the benefit.
You shouldn’t need to invoke a silent majority if you can make an articulate and salient point.
Oh, if only that were understood by pundits of all sorts.
Rowan and Copra followed up on a Twitter conversation regarding storytelling and worldbuilding in MMOs. I’ve commented on both, and recommend going there for more context, but in a nutshell, my initial Twitter response works:
I believe that MMOs should be about the player’s story in a vital virtual world that’s indifferent to them.
If I want to be the Big Dang Hero in a RPG story, I’ll play Chrono Trigger again or maybe finally pick up FFXIII. Story always clashes with player autonomy, and I’ve felt for a long time that I’d rather have autonomy in a virtual world than a big ol’ story. I’d rather tell my own story, rather than play through the exact same Hero’s Journey that everyone else does (with all the cognitive dissonance that involves).
Speaking of story, the Rampant Coyote notes that Story Isn’t Cheating. It’s a great article that touches on a variety of things that I’ve thought about regarding game design over the last few years.
It seems to me that pure interactivity (Tetris, Chess) and pure storytelling (film, novels) have their niches, and that the potential of games is playing in the murky middle ground of the spectrum that mixes narrative with interaction. My college education was all about making movies (I’m a computer animator by training with a fair dose of technical competency), but I have found that games are more interesting to me as a vehicle for storytelling. Sure, I’m working on a novel and a couple of pure games based in the same IP I’ve created, but it’s the weird middle zone between them that makes my imagination really spark. That’s why I still prefer game development to other jobs that might be more financially lucrative or stable. Someday the economy might force my hand, but for now, I’m enjoying tinkering in the badlands. That’s where I think the best games are found.
When it comes time to actually play games, though, I need to start digging up. (When you’re in a hole, digging yourself in deeper, stop digging down, and dig up.) Thanks to Steam, my birthday and Christmas, I’m more behind than I have ever been on games I want to play and finish. I’m in the middle of A World of Keflings, ilomilo, Raskulls, Dragon Quest V, Prince of Persia (the XBox 360 2008 game that Shamus loved for many of the same reasons I love it, despite the inevitable warts), Batman: Arkham Asylum, Recettear, The Dig, Wizard 101, Mr. Robot and probably a few others I’m forgetting. I really want to play Greed Corp., Chime and Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, games I bought via Steam on deep discount for those mythical days “when I have time”. I’d even like to dig into Fract, apparently a sort of Myst-Tron hybrid. Sounds like yummy cinnamon and dark chocolate fudge to me.
Oh, and I’d like to do at least one quick playthrough of each zone in WoW, raids excluded. I have a gift card for two months that I’ll use one of these days to try to blaze through and get some screenshots. Y’know, once I finish illustrating this book for my mom. The book that was supposed to be done more than a year ago.
And after all that, I want to finalize my six player chess-inspired game and a tabletop miniatures game, write some novels and do some other paintings.
Yeah. I’m never bored. Just busy. (This is all “spare time” stuff, incidentally. Family, church and work come first, but those don’t strike me as something I want to write all that much about.)
Oh, and speaking of work, we’re doing “art challenges” again. The theme for January is “Greek Myth”. I’m not sure if we’ll post other artists’ work on the company blog, but I hope so. If nothing else, I’ll post what I come up with when it’s done. I’m limiting myself to 8 hours of work in 1080p format. We’ll see how it turns out. Two hours and plenty of revisions into the project, with a fair bit of Clockworks and Percy Jackson on the mind?
What if Prometheus (one of the more interesting Greek mythology characters to me) was also behind the Industrial Revolution? Yay for Steampunk/Greek Mythology mashups, hm? That’s a lot of story to tell in one illustration, though, so I’m going with a fun portrait of Prometheus instead. One really must learn to limit the scope of a project that’s actually supposed to get finished.
Bonus link: Dresden Codak artist Aaron Diaz talks about Costumes. Too bad he’s doing futuresciencepunk instead of steampunk.