Zen Of Design

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

Month: December 2006 (page 1 of 2)

Reaching That Nebulous Liberal Geek Audience

WoW is advertising on the front page of the Daily Kos, shrill liberal blog extraordinaire.

Tragically, I don’t know enough right-wing blogs to see if the justice is even-handed, or if liberals are more likely to be locked in their mom’s basement, shouting ‘Leeeeroy’ at the top of their lungs.


All I Want For Christmas Is True Plug ‘n Play Functionality

I hope everyone out there had a merry Christmas. Our Christmas was the fairly standard trip to the Schubert ancestral home, complete with opening some presents and watching the Dallas Cowboys choke on national TV (which is fast becoming a holiday tradition).

The big Christmas gift for me was the XBox 360 – yes, I am finally part of the next-gen generation of gamers. Normally, my gaming habits are more PC based, but as a designer, you gotta keep relevant. Although I swear to god, I will never be able to play a shooter on a console. Last night’s Rainbow Six episode was almost comical, with me taking about five seconds to line up every shot, as bad guys rained hellfire upon me unmolested. Continue reading

If you’re against RMTs, You’re With The Communists

Apparently someone in China’s Ministry of Culture got tired of gold farmers in the Plaguelands, because it looks like they are considering banning virtual item trading in the Land of the Rising Sun Communists. Continue reading

Fine, I’ll Post It

All of you can stop sending me the story about the Major League Baseball player who was rocking too hard playing Guitar Hero, and got tendonitis. Here it is.

I’ll note that my wife also got tendonitis, a mere three days after GHII’s launch. She’s suspicious about causality, but I don’t think she was rocking sufficiently hard enough.


This is Not the Pre-Christmas Press You’re Looking For

Compared to the PS3, the Wii is getting insane buzz from both the hardcore and the mainstream press. So much so that the fact that people have been maiming each other throwing the controller around is considered someone of an amusing joke to most gamers (see Wii Have a Problem). So much so that everyone seems to have forgotten how disgusted and appalled they were when they heard the thing was being called the ‘Wii’. Continue reading

Raph Koster Announces Metaplace

Buried in the comments on Yet Another Second Life Post on Raph’s blog, Raph says the following:

I am glad you think of me as enlightened. :) We will be announcing our startup in the next couple of days, and when we do, believe it or not, I hope you’re among those who are interested.

Continue reading

Phantom Subscribers

In the midst of a Second Life article that picks on the Linden boys for glibly announcing they’ve reached 2 million accounts (including the mysterious fact that they’ve gotten 1 million new accounts in the last 2 months, but still seem to average 14K players a night), Van Hemlock makes the following observation:

Residents Logged in in the Last 60 Days: 809,960
(From http://secondlife.com/whatis/economy_stats.php)

Accounts signed up in the last 58 Days: 1,000,000

Add two days’s worth (34,482, from above): 1,034,482 signups in 60 days


1,034,482 – 809,960 = 224,522

I might be getting confused with definitions here, but doesn’t that mean 224,522 people have made a Second Life account, but have never used it to log in even once, not even to have a look for an hour and get bored? How does that work? It gets worse if you take into account that many of the 809,960 logins are existing residents who had signed up prior to the one million mark, and are still logging in. That can’t be right – more than 12.5% of all SL Residents have NEVER logged in EVER?

Yeah, that’s about right. ALL MMOs get this – it’s one of the more mysterious things about the industry. I’ve seen one standard MMO quote that roughly 10% of the people who buy boxes for their game never log in, and another 5% create an account but never log into a game – the percentages vary from game to game, but are never insubstantial. In a pay-for subscription model, the latter group would be considered by cynics to be ‘the perfect customers’.

Linden Labs’ 12% makes sense when you consider that its a free trial. There’s no financial incentive to play. Probably a bunch of people got distracted between the time they created their account, and the time they downloaded the game. Perhaps they even got distracted by a story about how their credit card information isn’t safe.

I Roll My Save vs. Facehuggers

Obsidian (the makers of KOTOR 2 and NWN2) are making an Alien/s themed RPG. Presumably a single-player one, but still. I, for one, cannot wait to play the Jerkface Lawyer class!

Alien/s is a property that is clearly ideally suited for more action-oriented gameplay, with numerous examples of that in action, so it will be interesting to see how the game becomes ‘RPGed’. For my money, I probably would have considered a different direction, and focused on making it like horror games like Resident Evil. The original Alien was, after all, a horror film first and foremost.


Want to Make a Fallout MMO?

Too bad. InterPlay is already making one (Search for ‘Fallout MMO’). Yes, that Interplay. And they seem to be ready to spend about, ohhh, $75M on the title. That’s a lot of coin from a company that was rumored to be practically insolvent just a couple years ago.

Could Fallout succeed? Possibly. Post-apocalyptic is deceptively difficult to build an MMO around – players are choosing to live in your online world, and the end-times generally do not provide an inviting experience. That being said, the Fallout universe sidesteps that with charm and wry humor, and most importantly by not taking itself too seriously.

So I have comparatively high hopes, provided they realize that’s where the magic lies. I’d give it at least better odds than the Firefly incursion.


Original comments thread is here.

My Worthless Opinion on Various Things…

Casino Royale: This is both a deeply flawed film with horrible timing, as well as the finest Bond film in years. I think I have a longer essay on me about it, but let’s just say I enjoyed it up to a certain point, and anyone who has seen it probably knows exactly which point I mean.

Sneak King: The Burger King game that involves sneaking up on people to do a little dance and whip out a Whopper for them is utterly hilarious, and totally engaging for about 20 minutes or so. So it was well worth the price tag ($3.99).

Dexter: With all apologies to Heroes, Dexter is the best new show of the fall. Dark, creepy, thought-provoking — good stuff.

Time Spiral: The new Magic expansion is a lot of fun. The new expansion borrows heavily on older mechanics and vibes, and therefore leans heavily on nostalgia. Anyone else whose playing on MTGO, send me mail.

Borat: I laughed all the way through this movie, only feeling marginally guilty about it. Probably the hardest I’ve laughed at a film in a theater in a long time — at least for a film that was intentionally funny.

Prey: I keep trying to get into this game. I keep washing out. I’m sure I’ll get through it at some point.


Original comments thread is here.

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