Zen Of Design

The design and business of gaming from the perspective of an experienced developer

Month: April 2005 (page 1 of 2)

Buy Yourself a Cursed Iguana

Is there a dev studio that you’ve always wanted to bring to your knees? Idlenews humbly suggests that what you need is the cursed “Fischbach’s Iguana of High Acclaim“, the stuffed mascot of two defunct Austin studios, which is on sale on eBay for a current bid of $102.50.

Supposedly forged unknown years ago in the shadow of Mt. Bonnell, and forged by the first of the Acclaim kings, after the destruction of the Austin Army, its whereabouts became unknown for many moons…

It eventually surfaced in the small studio known as Ion Storm, where it’s true and potent powers soon drove the studio into despair. After a valiant effort, the power of the Iguana won through and another studio had perished through its damning gaze…

Could whoever buys that thing get it the hell out of Austin for me? kthx.


Is SOE hoisting their own petard?

In the broken windows thread, Aufero had this sharp piece of insight.

SOE has been responsible for drilling into many, many people’s heads over the years that selling in-game assets for real world cash is cheating. It’s due in large part to their own efforts on the subject that it will continue to be perceived as cheating in the games they started with those policies in mind.

True, true. Continue reading

Everybody’s doing it — It’ll Make You Feel Good

Following Scott’s footsteps of posting laziness, I present to you some of the more bizarre search strings that somehow pointed to my blog in the month of April.

phone sex
kids having sex
do people watch too much tv
squirrel huge nuts
elephant graveyard
god of war screenshots fleshbot
keep em separated
cry more
aizu wakamatsu
high school problems
jesus billboard
diet coke marketing
huge nuts
nude or naked jade empire
project entropia what can i do with sweat
strip tetris
ubiq philadelphia
war booboo
effects of watching too much television
evil bastages
george clooney eyebrows
god of war screenshots nudity
how to make money project entropia
jack-jack incredibles fanfic
jesus with guinness
mammaries pics
online free not even a game card not even a pass toontown
pathological lying
person that made the mario bros.
pretty rickey grind on me
project entropia how to make money
swg down
robbed a kentucky fried chicken with a fork

You people frighten me.


Broken Windows

Sociology is, of course, an intensely interesting field to those in the business of making MMOs. One of the most interesting social theories of recent years is called ‘Broken Windows’, a theory based on an Atlantic Monthly article. Continue reading

MicroProse’s MTG

Over the weekend, I had the itch to play the computer version of Magic: the Gathering. No, not the Online variant (although I’ve been dabbling there a bit), but rather the old Microprose version, a standalone game where, for the most part, you wander the world, fighting PvE battles against computer opponents to fatten your deck. Continue reading

WoW’s Honor System

Lost in all the noise about the sky falling and it all being Smedley’s fault, WoW also had a big day yesterday: they launched the honor system. Early feedback around the office has been mixed: everyone who played last night agrees that it turned our PvP server from a polite, armed society to an all-out gankfest. The disagreement is whether or not that’s a good thing or not.

Personally, I haven’t played yet so I can’t comment. I’m not optimistic, though – despite reports to the contrary, Paladins can’t kill anyone unless that person wants to die. Sure, we’re tough to kill, but I spend most of my fights trying to actually get close enough to take a swing at them.


Sony Does the Macarena With the Devil

Sony has come full circle – in the days after the launch of EQ, they were the company most likely to ban or sue customers that dared used eBay to bypass the mindblowing fun that was their advancement grind. Now, instead, they will fight fire with fire. And there was much factual reporting, intelligent discussion as well as gnashing of teeth.

My honest opinion? I’ve been trying to convince people to try this exact approach since I was toiling on UO2. Why? Because at the end of the day, the biggest problems with eBay and MMOs are service issues that are solvable if the trades can be secure (as illustrated by the lovely cartoons on Sony’s explanatory site). Continue reading

Finishing Games

Jamie over at GameDevBlog is sad because 55% of the people surveyed about Spiderman 2 didn’t finish the game.

So, well, that’s depressing to me. That’s a little like hearing that half of my readers put down my novel halfway through. Or that half of my audience walked out of my movie halfway through. (Not that I’ve ever made a movie. I’m just trying to make a point.)

Continue reading

Beating a Pale Horse

Has anyone noticed that some ideas seemed married to the MMO genre for no discernable reason?

Let’s take the flogged equine, permadeath. Has anyone noticed that no one is asking for this on other genres? Can you even imagine, for example, playing Doom 3 or God of War with Permadeath on?

We used to, of course. Back in the days of Pac-Man and Space Invaders, your game ended after 3 lives. Then someone comes up with ‘Insert a quarter to continue’, and we haven’t looked back since. Now, single-player developers are bitched out if they don’t drop save points enough, and many argue that we should be beyond that whole save point thing, and just allow players to save anywhere they want. Continue reading

Learning By Doing

One of the recurring ideas in the great permadeath debate (now slashdotted, for her pleasure) is the notion that permadeath might be saved only for certain extremely high-powered encounters (in fact, this idea is central to the Corpnews post that started this whole mess).

One of the things that ideas like this need to work around is that game players learn by doing. They tend not to read manuals, they tend not to listen to NPCs, they tend to want to try things and see what happens. And why not? People learn by reading in books, learn by observing in movies, and learn by doing in games. That interactivity is the cornerstone of the gaming experience, and it’s part of what draws people to our medium over others. Continue reading

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