Zen Of Design

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

Month: October 2006 (page 1 of 2)

Classes Continue to be Misunderstood

Hades has posted an article about the state of Massively Multiplayer games, where he hopes to figure out how to capture the casual gamer market. Chief on his attacks is the class system, which again gets, in my opinion, a bad rap. A snippet:

My problem with class based games is that it creates tons of downtime that simply isn’t called for. Most of the downtime, inside or outside a guild, comes from organizing your group. You can litterally sit there for hours trying to organize your groups, especially if you are relying on pick up people, just to do a task that takes 30-60 minutes. When it comes to dealing with groups in PVE or PVP, I stand by my statement from 2003.

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Why Werewolf Doesn’t Work Online

MMOG Nation notes that Teppy has decided to add a special event to A Tale In the Desert III: the game of Werewolf. For the uninitiated, Werewolf is a large, 15+ person game where a small number of werewolves (2-3) randomly whack villagers while the villagers randomly lynch people until they (hopefully) nail all the wolves. Note, the game is also called Mafia and has no relation to any Whitewolf property at all). Continue reading

I Want Some Of What Sony Is Smoking

With Microsoft cornering the online console space, and Nintendo going for the unique control scheme, it seems that Sony has found it’s own niche in the console space: directly trying to corner the ‘What the Fuck’ market.

This can be the only possible explanation for some of the ads coming out of Sony in the last week. Most notably, this refers to the Creepy Ass Chucky Ad that played last night during the World Series: Kotaku has the vid there, as well as the commentary. Continue reading

Second Life Hits Bogus Milestone!

I’ve got to hand it to Second Life. They know how to keep the buzz going. Even despite their recent problems with grey goo and credit card problems, they manage to keep their presence up. Second Life recently announced their millionth login. Of course, that stat isn’t all too meaningful, given that SL is free to play, and has little relation to how popular the game is on a given night. According to their front page, they have 11,ooo people playing right now, giving them a concurrency of about 1%. That would be pretty awful for a standard subscription-based game, but again, the free model changes all the rules.

What’s more intriguing are the number of other corporations that have bought into the idea that Second Life is the place to be: Coolzor has the rundown of companies that have bought in. The list includes Reuters, CNet, Adidas, Reebok, American Apparel, and some advertising agencies. Again, that’s to reach 10K users. People over on Terranova seem interested mostly in talking about Second Life as a creative genesis, but to be honest, Coolzor’s tour of Second Life makes me really happy with the men in tights games – at least in WoW, no one’s going to try to sell me shoes.


Original comments thread is here.

Notes from the Honeymoon

  • No sleep on our wedding night – we left the reception around 11 PM, and the plane left the next morning at 6 AM.
  • When we landed in St. Maarten, we found that the new Airport is due to be completed in 3 weeks. I can only hope that it has air conditioning – the old airport did not, which made the hours-long customs wait very tedious.

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I’m Off the Market

Tonight, in a beautiful candlelight ceremony in a glass ballroom behind a beautiful southern mansion, I married my wife and soulmate, Sara. She was as beautiful and radiant as I’ve ever seen her, and I’m in pure bliss right now.

For everyone who was invited and came, thank you so much for making the evening magical. For anyone expecting insightful design commentary – sorry, but for the next week, I’ll be in St. Maarten, where the food is french, the casinos inviting, the beaches are sunny, and the planes land about 20 feet from the beach they fly over, providing comical video opportunities of tourists washed away in jet backwash.


Original comments thread is here.

Grey Goo Invades Second Life

I really want to like Second Life. I really do. Perhaps if I were still in touch with my coding side, I’d be able to amuse myself with creating and coding inside the space. But as it is, by the time I get home, I’m just too tired to think in code. And so when I do log in, I just browse. And I tend to find the place just a bit too chaotic for my tastes.

It got a bit more chaotic this week. Designers distrust user created content because they egotistically believe that their content will be better than 99% of the content the users come up with. Programmers tend to have more pragmatic concerns, such as players creating self-replicating objects (affectionately called ‘grey goo’ by those with sufficient geek cred) that brings down the whole service.

It’s been a rough couple of months for Second Life, who had all of their credit card information hacked in September. It will be interesting to see how resilient the service in in the face of this turmoil.


Original comments thread is here.

This Should Tell You About My Fiancee


The fiancee sent me this: The Nietzsche Family Circus.

TimeGate Gets In The Game

You know those guys that did the pretty cool Kohan series? Well, they’re making an MMO.

Emergent Game Technologies, makers of the Gamebryo engine and comprehensive Emergent Elements suite, and TimeGate Studios (Axis and Allies, Kohan) have announced a new agreement to provide TimeGate with the full Elements suite for use in developing a yet-unannounced forthcoming MMO title.

It better be as cool as Kohan.



On the heels of E3 effectively becoming a non-event, we have word that AGC has been swallowed up by the suddenly borg-like CMP, who currently run GDC.

SAN FRANCISCO – Oct. 9, 2006 – CMP Technology, the premier global marketing solutions company serving the technology industry, and parent company of the industry-leading Game Developers Conference (GDC), has acquired The Game Initiative, a producer of conferences and events targeting game industry professionals. The deal, effective immediately, will allow CMP to expand its offerings to the burgeoning game development community in the areas of online game development, casual games, and other topics that the Game Initiative serves so well.

The Game Initiative’s crown jewel, the Austin Game Conference (AGC), took place September 6-8, with 2400 attendees and 150 vendors, featuring top-caliber speakers including Michael Dell, Jon Landau and Rob Pardo. The CMP Game Group looks to build on the success of the AGC, by leveraging their deep conference management experience, marketing resources, and exhibitor support from the industry-defining GDC.

I’m really hoping this doesn’t mean that the price of AGC quadruples. But I’m not getting my hopes up.

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