Slowing down

The more the time passes the more I lag behind on my own schedule of “things to write about”. Recently I also have the desktop filled of lengthy text files that I refuse to post because written too awfully. It seems that I cannot pull the thoughts together and write down something interesting and comprehensible. It doesn’t even pass my personal check of quality.

I have a lot of stuff to “parse”. A few sequels to past arguments like the problem of the secondary market and my critique on the mudflation. In this second case I want to delve on what I’d propose as an alternative, because that’s exactly where I wanted to go. Then I wanted to write a short article about the “role of healers”. I believe this is one of the fundamental problems, with the healers being the most needed, unreplaceable class and, still, the less popular. It’s something that should be considered directly and my solution is probably even too elementary, but working. I have an half article about “questing”. How to build interesting quests? How they can be structured? When they are completely useless? I have to write down a cumulative post to Jeff Freeman’s article about clustering, joining and organizing together the few points I already commented. An article about why surveys are always bullshit, an article about why SWG was and still is flawed and why it won’t move if the approach isn’t changed (and it’s all Raph’s fault in leaving behind his responsibility). An article to explain why we are getting clones of similar games, because there are -more than good- reasons. An article comparing mmorpgs to the comics market, Marvel vs DC, characters->powers vs powers->characters (processes of identification). Brian M. Bendis writes that Spider-Man 2 is the Star Wars of this generation. But why SW is lagging behind and isn’t able to hook anymore as before? What brings instead legions of fans to love the Lord of the Rings? Cultural patterns vs formal patterns…

Sometimes I also feel like forgetting everything. I pile up plans for articles and then I simply forget what was exactly my point. How stupid.

Anyway. For at least the next week and half I’ll be busy with RL. So I’ll zone out of here as much as possible. The fact that I’m writing this is to force me to zone off or I know that nothing would change at all if I do not draw a line. (that’s was the reason of this entry, then I got carried away as always)

Lengthy un-contextual P.S.
One of the unwritten articles was an analysis about an old Squaresoft masterpiece, “Vagrant Story”. In particular there’s a system used for the combat that at first glance would be extremely interesting to deploy in a mmorpg. It would allow (in my idea) to create an absolutely balanced environment that would still grant an -high- degree of specialization and, at the same time, avoid completely the cookie-cutter commonplace. So I tried to delve more but I got stuck -completely-. I thought about it for more than an hour and felt my brain like filled with vapor. I suck even as a wannabe designer. I really couldn’t understand how it may work even if it’s absolutely simple.

Basically the system works on three rows of “dichotomies”: Fire/Water – Earth/Air – Light/Dark. Plus “physical” that is a special case. A weapon will react to an element by developing the opposite affinity. This means that the more you hit a salamander (fire) the more your weapon will be water-based. So the more your weapon will hurt that mob-type. At the same time your armor also develops affinity. But the same type of affinity, meaning that it becomes more efficent protecting against that element.

This means that the more you fight a fire-based mob the more your weapon develops a water affinity (dealing more damage) and the more your armor develops a fire affinity (protecting more efficently). The concrete result is that you’ll be able to fight that class of monster progressively more easily, while becoming weaker against other types (or not?).

How the fuck this translates to a mmorpg? The first stage was about figuring out that Square doesn’t give a damn about this. The system is probably unique to the character while the mobs don’t use it directly. So it’s already planned to not be balanced. But how this could work on a multiplayer scenario where your weapons and armor develop “affinity” (so they specialize)? Will all the players choose one, and only one element to maximize? Will the players chose to remain strictly neutral? Will the players go with an hybrid? What the fuck happens when someone full-fire goes against one full-water?

I really drown in there. I cannot understand how it could work even if I believe that it could generate something actually fun. What happens when someone full fire goes against a neutral player? Who wins?


(in my mind I imagined a slider going like “+10 fire <-- 0 neutral --> +10 water”. Now, a +10 fire against a neutral would deal damage based on the relative position, so 10 spaces equal to 10 damage. But the neutral guy would be able to resist 10 damage since that’s the gap for his armor. He’d also deal 10 damage to the fire-based guy who would resist exactly 10 damage. Always zero as a result. Fire vs water are also again supposed to nullificate each other. So, how the fuck this system is supposed to work if the result is always zero?

I mean.. Okay, I know that if I hit the fire based guy I’ll progressively to do more damage to it. But the fire based guy will also progressively develop a resistence to my progressively powerful weapon. So the result is “nothing at all”?

And is someone able to draw from this an actual working and interesting mechanic?)

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