Zen Of Design

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

Month: May 2006 (page 1 of 2)

Horizons About To Launch Ability for Player-Created Quests

The problem with player-created content can be easily summed up: the number of people who think they have talent vastly outstrips the number of people who actually do. Perhaps for this reason, there were a lot of skeptics when Wish announced, some years ago, that they were thinking of allowing players to contribute quests to their games. According to this article, Horizons is close to implementing something like this.

Using a public copy of the game database, players and writers alike can use existing characters, enemies, and items to add or change their own quests. Tulga’s staff will evaluate these quests for quality before bringing the customized quests into the live game. These customized fan quests should certainly add a homespun dungeonmaster feel to the thousands of Tulga-crafted quests already in the game.

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I’m Employed!

Back to the pixel mines I go. Today is my first day as the Lead Combat Designer for Bioware Austin. Having the luxury of time to pick and choose your next gig is always a pleasure, and I’m delighted at being able to snag this opportunity. Now for the frequently asked questions:

What are you working on?
I can’t tell you. But you knew that.

Are you excited?
Hell, yes!

If you really want to know more about what we’re doing, you can read this E3 interview with the BWA head honchos. The key quote for me:

“[There is] nothing like working for a company that’s all about quality,” explained [Gordon] Walton. The biggest thing they could stress was that no matter what, they are well funded, well organized and will be given all the time required to make their game the way they wanted to. BioWare, like Blizzard, does not rush things.

So yeah, I’m excited.



Original comment thread is here.

Uru Live Returns!

Not too long after the announcement that Shadowbane will survive in a new form comes word that another Ubi.com title, Uru Live, will be making a comeback, finally seeing the light of day as a GameTap downloadable product. (Another link). Continue reading

Stray Bullet Studios

Finally, some sort of announcement has been made.


Make Your Own Guitar Hero!

Forgive yet another Guitar Hero story: A Friend of Zen sent in this link to me: Freetar, a freeware (open-source?) Guitar Hero project in development, complete with an editor allowing you to mark up your own songs.

So, is this the coolest open-source app ever or is it stealing bread from the mouths of Harmonix? I got a ton of email from my last Guitar Hero update, most complaining that they too had to buy second controllers because the original controller becomes defective in a stiff breeze. That being the case, I suspect that most people will feel it makes things about even.


Original comments thread is here.

I’m Unemployed!

So yesterday was my last day at Wolfpack Studios, which is I believe now officially closed down. Yesterday was an odd day, with basically two dozen people sitting around chatting and playing Magic, waiting to be fired. Er, “downsized”. Whatever.

As it stands now, it looks like a new studio will arise phoenix-like from the ashes of Wolfpack. That new studio will initially work on providing contract service and support for other MMO developers, and use the earnings to pitch a next-generation MMO. Some of the contract work is lined up already. As for the original title, it’s far too soon to say what it will be.

As for Shadowbane, I see the rumor mill has already started to spin up, and some sort of announcement should be happening soon, so I’ll leave it at that.

As for me, I’m not joining in on the above adventures. I’m pursuing an altogether different alternative, which will be revealed all in good time.


Original comments thread is here.

Lawsuit over in-game item sales

Finally, it begins.

Marc Woebegone, known in the real word as Marc Bragg, has filed suit in the local district justice court in West Chester, Pennsylvania, a small town located 25 miles west of Philadelphia, PA. Bragg purchased virtual land, known in Second Life as “sims,” using real US currency. Bragg learned of a way to purchase virtual land significantly below market values, and invested thousands of US dollars purchasing land in an attempt to resell this land at a profit. Bragg claims that employees of Linden Research, Inc., the company who creates, manages and maintains this online world, allowed the auction to be created, and after Bragg paid US dollars for the land, terminated Bragg’s account, without explanation, without citing any violation of community policy, and have since refused offer a credit or a refund. Bragg’s calls to customer service and Linden Lab’s legal counsel have gone unanswered. Bragg’s final option? Seek relief in a real world court.

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Beware of Cheap Guitar Hero Controllers

So every now and then, I have a few people over to my place for gaming, drinking and various shenanigans. I try to do it every month or so, and lately, Guitar Hero’s been the big hit. The problem is, my guitar controller’s been kinda finicky lately. It occasionally thinks it’s disconnected when it’s not, and the only solution seems to be random jiggling, which while fun when involving hot women on trampolines, is somewhat distracting when one is in the process of appeasing the rock gods. Continue reading

Primus and Guitar Hero 2

Here’s the real measure of the success of Guitar Hero – bands have started giving Harmonix the real tracks to make the game from (previously, Harmonix used soundalike cover bands). From, of all people, Wil Wheaton:

Well, it turns out that Les Claypool, bass player and lead singer for Primus, is a huge Guitar Hero fan. When he found out they were doing Guitar Hero 2, he gave the team permission to include Primus’ first single John the Fisherman in the game. He also gave them the master tracks as recorded for their album Fizzle Fry, so when you play John the Fisherman in Guitar Hero 2, you’ll be playing along with Les, Larry “Ler” Lamond, and Tim “Herb” Alexander, just like you were with them in the studio in 1989.


GoogleTrends – Google’s Shiny New Toy

Google’s Trend Tracker is the coolest thing ever (kudos to the fiancee for pointing it out). Compare, for example, this graph seeing how the smaller MMOs compete for attention.

Even more interesting is looking at the World of Warcraft vs EQ2 graph. Shortly before launch, the two weren’t that far apart in terms of attention and buzz, but the gap widened once they went live. Sure, there are undoubtedly other reasons for it, but one wonders if there is some sort of tipping point in between the two lines on the graph, which resulted in one game hitting critical mass and the other not doing so. Continue reading

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