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Posts Tagged ‘piracy’

Ostensibly, the much-ballyhooed “SOPA” means “Stop Online Piracy Act”, but I prefer to think of it as “Sack Our Pathological Administrators”.  Not that such will happen, mind you, but one can dream.

As near as I can tell, SOPA is a thinly veiled statist control grab, all in the name of stopping piracy.  Guess what, guys?  Piracy can’t be stopped.  And no, the varied and vehement denizens of the internet don’t trust you with power.  To echo a famous pithy quip:

“Orwell’s 1984 was a warning, not an instruction manual”

It does strike me as odd, though, these “going dark” protests.  The problem is that the U.S. government weasels want to control the internet, possibly censoring it, and the answer is to… take your ball and go home?  Effectively self-censor?  It seems like a weird message to send, but with big ol’ sites like Google and Wikipedia in on the action, at least it’s calling attention to the stupid potential policy.  (Though curiously making it a little harder to research said policy.  Again… odd.)  I do like XKCD’s take on it, found at this convenient link.  Sam and Fuzzy’s author comments briefly on it as well thisaway.  Shamus of Twenty Sided has a good article up on it, too, and I like the Rampant Coyote’s take.

As for me, well, I’m going to go work on Zomblobs!, which will be released as a Free to Play tabletop tactical wargame.  The ruleset will be free in PDF form, but you can buy nice printouts.  The PDFs will come with units, maps and tokens you can cut out and play with, or you can go buy models from my Shapeways store or maps from The Game Crafter.  Play a fully functional if vaguely unaesthetic version for free with a little elbow grease, or upgrade a bit to a nicer version for a little cash.  Seems simple to me.

It’s evidence of my mindset; create something that’s fun to play and offers great value, create a relationship of trust and goodwill, and hope that some kind souls are willing to chip in a few bucks for the experience.  I won’t be able to make a living off of the scope of what I’ll be offering (though Three Rings does with their games, notably Puzzle Pirates, and they have a similar philosophy), but I’ll still be offering something I consider to be valuable.  Giving, not controlling, sharing, not stealing.  …and perhaps sneakily, monetizing actual, tangible stuff rather than the digital parts of the game.  Sure, my work is copyrighted, but again, pirates can’t be stopped.  I prefer the carrot approach rather than trying to find a bigger stick.

Seems to be a better way for me to conduct my business.  I’m the sole proprietor of this site, Alpha Hex and Zomblobs!, so I’m going to do what I want with them, and that’s try to get as many people playing and having fun with them as I can.  I think I’ve made some fun games, and while I’m no Raph Koster, Klaus Teuber or Wil Wright, I’m just confident enough in these games to want to put my work out there for consumption and feedback.

Rally ho!

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…what a ship is, what the Black Pearl really is… is freedom…

Jack Sparrow

Allods Online is a polished, well crafted MMO.  I dearly wish it would have taken a page from Puzzle Pirates, though.

One of the key points that differentiates Allods Online from most modern MMOs is the Astral and Astral Ships.  Players build ships that they can sail the Astral with, flitting between Allods (landmasses in the Astral aether), exploring PvE and PvP content.  The core mechanics of cooperative PvE and “open sea” PvP (making piracy viable, since players have to “port” with their treasure chests before laying proper claim to them) are very similar to Puzzle Pirates.  I’d say they make a lot of sense in any game where you have ships and islands or rough analogies.  EVE also comes to mind, though I’m not sure how well the concepts track there.

The part that I wish Allods Online would take from Puzzle Pirates is the wide range of ships, all the way from soloable Sloops (with NPC assistants) to Grand Frigates that can have 150 or more players aboard.  (Multiship PvP is also great in PP, with each “weight class” of ship having a use, given maneuverability, crew and firepower.)  Sloops are cheap enough for players to acquire one pretty quickly (depending on player skill and crew support), and players can be out sailing the ocean on their own ship far before what might be considered the “endgame”, easily within a couple of weeks for all but the most casual and incompetent of players.  There is a ship for nearly any group size, and a couple that fill similar niches, changing the combat tactics rather than the group size.

There are other things about PP that would make Allods Online more interesting, like the ability for crew conglomerates (flags) to own islands, the ability to make a living as a merchant (shipping, buying and selling goods between islands), the Black Ship to prevent ganking, and the dual currency system with blind auction currency exchange, but what really stands out to me is the ships.

I want my own ship in Allods Online, and I want to be able to solo it, and to take it out with a few close friends if I so choose. It’s no accident that I’ve grouped more in PP than any other MMO combined.  It’s easy to do, it’s easy to solo, and it’s easy to transition between the two via NPC swabbies, even midsession.  The bad guys are controlled by a dynamic spawn system that adjusts the PvE to your current ship’s staffing.  It’s painless and fun to be up and running, playing the shipboard games, solo or with others, very quickly, and changes midstride don’t wreck the whole journey.

Beyond game mechanics, though, there is a personal connection that you can have with ships.  I have a handful of ships in PP, and my most cherished game possessions are on one particular ship that cannot be sunk (you can sink ships, but only in arenas where you have to click through a confirmation to get to), decorated with the finest stuff that I’ve found in the game.  I’ve renamed the ship, painted it, and stocked it with trinkets and doodads that are irreplaceable.  It’s like private housing and a gameplay vehicle all in one, and I’m inordinately fond of it.  It is my home in Puzzle Pirates, more than a crew, more than an island, more than a server.

I want that connection to the Allods Online game world, a beautiful, imaginative place that I want to explore in glorious 3D.

That the current proposed implementation of ships in AO is based in the endgame and forced grouping (ships require a handful of players to function) makes me sad.  I still heartily recommend the game for its varied classes, great art direction, interesting lore, great business model, good combat and overall polish.  Apparently, you can customize your own ship in AO, a decision I do applaud and consider wise.  I don’t dislike the game at all.

I just wish that I could find the same connection with it that I have with PP, a connection firmly rooted in the freedom to own and sail my own ship, whenever I please, with whomever I please, even if it’s just barely-competent NPCs.  Allods Online looks to be shaping up to be a good or even great game.  It just can’t be my home the same way Puzzle Pirates is.

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