Zen Of Design

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

Month: October 2005 (page 1 of 3)

AGD Summary Part 4: My Casino Talk

I gave an AGD talk late Thursday on Casino Design, and how it can inform MMO design. I think more than a few people were surprised that I didn’t talk about the games at the casinos at all, and talked instead more about interior design of these spaces. I’ve put the Power Point presentation up for download here.

A quick and dirty bibliography: Continue reading

AGD Summary Part 3: Platformania

In his keynote, John Smedley talked at length about the idea that the same game should run on your PC, your laptop, your console, your handheld, and your phone. My gut reaction to this meme has always been negative – it sounds like exactly the sort of thing that’s contributing to the ridiculous budgets we’re facing nowadays.

I’m also worried that, unless the handheld versions are limited to simple things like checking your shop inventory (and I actually favor things like this and SOE’s excellent guild pages), these lower-end versions could result in a ‘dumbing down’ of the primary products. Can you make a game that graphically competes with WoW, if you also have to guaruntee the product will run on a PSP?

The other challenge would be organizational. Even supporting two platforms (Windows and Mac) can make testing and patch deployment difficult. Adding additional platforms just increases the logistical complexity of making fixes when they are necessary. And when the fix is crucial, such as a dupe fix, agility is what developers love.

Is addressing this doable? Certainly, but the level of organizational commitment necessary certainly means that you need to be sure that its something the players will find viable. I think most observers of the industry realize that it’s mentally healthy to seperate these game players from their games from time to time. I think most player’s recognize it too.

AGD Summary Part 2: Bleeding Customers Is The Future

Raph has said that the overall theme of AGD was ‘change the world’. I think that shows his idealistic side. To me, the recurring theme seemed to be ‘how can we shake users for loose change?’ Runescape, Station Exchange, and Real Money Trades came up very frequently, to the point I was tired of hearing it by the end of the first day.

I understand there was a heated exchange between Ted Castranova of Terranova and Steve Salyer of IGE on their panel, with Ted saying “I’ll stop interrupting you once you say something truthful.” Unfortunately, I got in the room right after that exchange so I missed it, and can only relate it anecdotally. On that panel, a Sony representative said that they were spurred by the decision to do SOEbay by the fact that 40% of their service calls were related to dealing with potential RMT fraud. Smedley in his talk says that we can expect to see Sony try to make a game where RMTs are much more central to the game experience in the future. Continue reading

AGD Summary Part 1: Sex In Games

The nice thing about living in the town where a major conference is being held is waking up the next day in my own bed. Sure, with a hangover, but that’s a lot better than the standard GDC ‘what-the-hell-way-I-thinking’ airplane trip home.

On Wednesday, I went long enough to see the Sex in Games talk hosted by Brenda Braithwaite, who helps run the Sex SIG for the IGDA. Her talk was very good and very funny – while I was well familiar with the history of sex in games (I’m a … er… student on the topic), she encapsulated it well, managing to give insights into it without condemning or condoning it. Continue reading

Chinese Crab Catchers Counter Counterfeit Crabs

China has long had a real problem with piracy. DVDs. Games. Music. And… crabs? My fiancee pointed me to this article on the topic, which led me here.

[W]icked counterfeiters are trying to pass off tasty but mundane crabs without credentials as the elite crustaceans….To fight counterfeiting, the Suzhou Yangcheng Lake Hairy Crab Association now attaches metal rings and logos to the crustaceans for customers to check its identity.

Many hairy crabs are raised elsewhere, but the consensus, or the mythology, is that the Yangcheng Lake hairy crabs are the best — and they cost more. Those who raise them want to ensure that their crabs are recognized as No. 1, and priced accordingly.

Excellent. First off, I love any press that uses ‘wicked’ as an adjective – it’s a style points thing. What’s unclear is how they plan to make these branding implements uncopyable as well.

Gamestop: The Choice of Discriminating Arch-Villianesses

A friend of Zen points out this preorder promotion for City of Villians. See if you can spot the fatal flaw! (Answer after the break)

Continue reading

XBox 360 Not Wal-Mart Compatible

Okay, this is now a new design requirement for all upcoming console devices – your console should not interfere with the store management systems of the world’s largest softare (and everything else) retailer:

A spokesperson for the retailer told Next Generation, “As we began setting the Xbox 360 up in sample kiosks in our stores we’ve found that, in a handful of some of our older stores, the devices are interfering with our Telzon printouts. We’re working with Microsoft to correct this and should have Xbox sample kiosks available and working in all of our locations in the next few weeks.”

See, this is exactly the sort of thing that probably doesn’t appear in any QA plan anywhere in the world – until now.

I Like This Site, Even Though I Like Joe Morgan

I watch sports in moderation. I watch NFL football (sorry, I think college football is broken), and my childhood love of baseball has been reduced to catching a handful of games in the post-season. Still, I know enough about baseball enough, or rather hate sports announcers enough, to love Fire Joe Morgan! Bring the snark! This story was found on CNNSI, which includes a nice interview with the founders. Continue reading

When Millionaires Catfight

There is a surprisingly blunt in-depth analysis in the Escapist about the history and eventual winding death of Origin. Long, too. It starts off with memories of a historical bitchslap.

Richard “Lord British” Garriott even worked an EA reference into Ultima VII (1992). Two high-profile nonplayer characters, Elizabeth and Abraham, perform seemingly helpful tasks for the player – but E. and A. turn out to be murderers in league with the player’s nemesis, the Guardian. The three items that power the Guardian’s evil generators are a cube, a sphere and a tetrahedron – the former EA logo.

Continue reading

A Look In The Psyche Of Jack Thompson

I’ve been feeling sick, so the only energy for posting I’ve had has been Jack Thompson-related stuff. I’ll do better next week. Promise.

Speaking of Jack Thompson, he’s now in a full blood frenzy: Brokentoys reports he’s now threatening to sue the Florida Bar Association (I hear that professional organizations like threats!) Game Politics reports that he has also forwarded his complaint against Penny Arcade to the feds. My favorite part (from the brokentoys article): Continue reading

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