Zen Of Design

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

Month: December 2005

Green and Red ARE Christmas Colors

This is getting large chuckles around the office: a WoW Alliance guild trains an Emerald dragon all the way to Orgrimmer, capital of Horde territory, where it lays waste on everyone for a few hours (AVI file, requires the XviD codec, takes a couple minutes to get to the good part).

Sometimes, it seems a shame that my job is to limit too much of this from happening.


Intelligent Design Advocates lose in Dover

It turns out that you can only teach science in science class! CNN has the down low.

“Intelligent design” cannot be mentioned in biology classes in a Pennsylvania public school district, a federal judge said Tuesday, ruling in one of the biggest courtroom clashes on evolution since the 1925 Scopes trial.

Dover Area School Board members violated the Constitution when they ordered that its biology curriculum must include the notion that life on Earth was produced by an unidentified intelligent cause, U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III said.

Several members repeatedly lied to cover their motives even while professing religious beliefs, he said.

It’s nice to know that somewhere in this country, sanity is prevailing.

Update: From the decision text.

Those who disagree with our holding will likely mark it as the product of an activist judge. If so, they will have erred as this is manifestly not an activist Court.Rather, this case came to us as the result of the activism of an ill-informed faction on a school board, aided by a national public interest law firm eager to find a constitutional test case on ID, who in combination drove the Board to adopt an imprudent and ultimately unconstitutional policy. The breathtaking inanity of the Board’s decision is evident when considered against the factual backdrop which
has now been fully revealed through this trial. The students, parents, and teachers of the Dover Area School District deserved better than to be dragged into this legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources.


Original comment thread is here.

NCSoft vs Marvel – Closure?

News.com reports that Marvel and NCSoft have settled their lawsuit over players making characters that looked like Marvel characters in game – a suit that many observers called, to use legalese, ‘as dumb as a bag of kittens’. This case looked like it had lost serious traction when the judge found out that Marvel themselves created the offending characters (normally, NCSoft and Cryptic are extremely diligent about coming down on copycat characters when they are pointed out by other players). Continue reading

Topdeck, Scooping, Johnny, Timmy, and Spike

I was playing Magic Online not long ago. I was down to 1 health, and one more turn would kill me. Fortunately, on my next draw I drew Glimpse the Unthinkable, a card that puts 10 cards in his draw pile (or Library) into his discard pile (or Graveyard). Running out of cards in your library is an alternate win condition, one which rarely happens, but since he only had 7 cards in his library, he was defeated. He was furious.

“Did you just topdeck that card?” he asked me. I responded that I had. He went off in a huff, while I pondered this new verb, which previously I hadn’t noticed but now I see in MTG message board posts all the time. Topdeck is interesting because at first glance, it’s synonymous with draw. But it’s not. Continue reading

Guitar Hero Makes Newsweek

I pop open Newsweek to find an article about Game Of The Year Guitar Hero. And it’s a nice-sized 3/4 page article near the front of the magazine, not a tiny text capsule lost in some lame Gift Guide. Congrats again, Harmonix, on your success and recognition.

The writer mentions how he was so pumped when he beatKiller Queen that he almost put his guitar through his TV in a fit of pure rockaholic adrenaline. I can’t wait to see his reaction when he finally beats Cowboys From Hell.

Professor: Game Education a Sign of the Apocalypse.

This Political Science professor sees the coming of video game classes to major universities as the sign of the end times.

[These courses are] yet another sign of the coming of the apocalypse. Schools of higher learning are simply cashing in on a fad that is destructive to society.

I resent that! Video games have only been screwing up society for 30 years, max, whereas politicians have been screwing up society since the first time that three people that disagreed with each other ever climbed into the same room.


Original comment thread is here.


Football Outsiders

I don’t read them as often as I should, but I always get a kick out of Football Outsiders, a website of amatuer statisticians, who attempt to desperately use nerd math to find new angles on the game that occupies so many of my Sundays.

In particular, I found this article and it’s companion piece on Fox Sport’s website very interesting. It talks about, statistically, what turns out to be a better indicator of football success – a team which systematically dismantles lesser opponents, or a team which manages to squeeze out close victories against the good ones. Human nature is to give more credit to the opponent that squeezes out a gutty victory in the waning seconds. However, the stats don’t bear that out. Continue reading

There’s A Lot Of That Going Around

Digital Anvil closed today.

One wonders when the Austin area industry will ever hit a semblance of stability.


Original comment thread is here.

Star Trek Poll: People Like The Borg

Players often ask why game companies running MMOs don’t run polls more often and show the players the results of those polls. The answer is simple: in the players minds, those results are binding, even if there is no way for a company to act on those poll results in the immediate future.

Things like that were flashing through my mind as I read the poll results that Star Trek Online released. In particular, even though STO will only be able to ship with the Federation, it seems that players would vastly prefer an opportunity to play a Klingon or a Borg (27% an 29%) to a goody-two-shoes Starfleet hack (17%). Continue reading

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