Zen Of Design

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

Month: August 2008

Humor Me

A version of this article appeared in the August 2008 issue of Game Developer magazine.


Darker!  Deeper!  More serious!  These were the marching orders given to the Shadowbane writing team.  The world of Aerynth was a brutal world, appropriate for our PvP-oriented gameplay, with a backstory of politics and treachery spanning centuries.   And to be honest, even as a developer I would be hard-pressed to remember the names of any of the major NPCs.  What I do remember is that we had a combat ability called ‘Hammer Time’.

Beyond the Leisure Suit Larry series, there is no substantial comedy genre in video games – at least not like in film or TV.  And there are good reasons for that – funny his hard, especially in a genre where you don’t control the rhythm of the narrative. Still, you don’t have to be in it just for the yukks in order to add moments of levity to your otherwise serious games and virtual worlds.  The proof that it works can be found in our megahits – how many times did World of Warcraft, Guitar Hero and Grand Theft Auto make you laugh?  These aren’t explicitly comedies, but all games with hardcore audiences that used comedy with surgical precision to enhance the experience. Continue reading

God’s Gift to Multiboxers

This is all we were talking about at work today:

Our new Recruit-A-Friend program has added features that reward you even more for bringing your friends into Azeroth™. Recruit-A-Friend and earn:

  • An exclusive ZHEVRA in-game mount* when your friend pays for 60 days of subscription time.
  • 30 Days of FREE** WoW gametime when your friend pays for 30 days of subscription time.

Also, from the moment your friend creates a character and starts adventuring with you (including the trial period), both of you will receive these additional in-game benefits:

  • You and your friend will earn triple the experience when grouped together.
  • For every two levels of experience your friend earns, they can grant one level of experience to any one ofyour characters of lower level.
  • You and your friend will have the ability to summon each other from any point in the world.

Continue reading

Illinois Lawmaker Throws Snit Fit Over Cancelling FFXI Account

Ever spend a couple hours trying to cancel some sort of service, and say to yourself, “There oughta be a law”? Well, if you’re a politician, you can do something about it.

The Illinois House and Senate have just passed a new bill requiring subscription-based Internet gaming service providers to give customers safe online ways to cancel as well as clear instructions online on how to cancel. Apparently this all came about after one alderman had a tough time canceling his son’s Final Fantasy XI account and took it up with the House. The full text of HB4178 can be read here, but it’s not made clear if virtual worlds are included in “games.” My guess would probably be yes, though.

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