Enjoy the year, enjoy the ride

Enjoy a year without me ;)

As I said this was an extra-month and my reasons to leave are unchanged.

I decided not to post my predictions for 2007 that I wrote for that interview with Zonk. I think it’s better to spare those critics and exit in a more positive way instead of the usual, pointless angst. Enjoy WoW’s upcoming expansion that is just a couple of weeks away. I know very little about it but I think it will be good in the end. Surely it will be the biggest event of the year and it will fuel a lot of discussions for a lot of time. So, even if things could be surely better than what we have, enjoy the ride.

I’ll be off the blog till some things change or till I find the answers I’m looking for.

Just a reminder: never pretend to know what I would say :)

And in the case you need me there’s always the mail: abalieno at cesspit.net (Messenger too)

May this year bring some well-founded optimism and exciting perspectives to everyone, and to this genre we love in particular, players and devs. Some sincere enthusiasm.

Posted in: Uncategorized |

WoW’s expansion will ship in time

Contrarily to what I expected, The Burning Crusade has Gone Gold and will be ready for the January 16 launch:

The expansion has already gone gold. We see no reason why the game isn’t going to be on the shelves at the planned date.

January 16th, in case you forgot.

With the release not being delayed I wonder if the expansion is actually complete.

I do expect the servers to have problems and bugs to come up, but there isn’t much you can do about that. Those are issues that I consider tolerable because you can never be ready about everything. In those case you can only have patience and I’ll always excuse Blizzard (or any other company) for that.

But I wonder if the content is complete. Outside of those things that they said won’t be there at launch, all the rest is already accessible and working properly in beta?

I’m a bit skeptical. Maybe I’m wrong.

Posted in: Uncategorized | Tagged:

TMI Interlude

From a comment (referred to that bad idea):

I wonder if there is a connection between your obsession with two-handed swords, your inability to come up with a simple match making tool and the fact that you’ve never kissed a woman. ;)

Ah, well. I knew it was a bad idea revealing that. Uhm, no, there aren’t any sexual parallels ;p Big swords and shiny armors have always been a myth for me since my youth. I liked very “high fantasy” settings more than realistic fantasy. The reason why I never kissed a girl is because there’s a moment when things are supposed to “happen”. Then the more time passes the more things become unlikely.

At some point I felt resigned to be destined to be “unhappy” about certain things. Like with girls or the desire to find my way into the gaming industry. My baby steps are inadequate and bring nowhere.

Today I COULDN’T CARE LESS about girls. They lost priority. I’m at a point where I HAVE TO find a path for myself, and while I can surely do without “love”, I cannot do without “work” or at least that’s what worries me today.

I knew I should have replaced that point with this one: “I actually don’t like Start Trek or Lost as every other legitimate geek. Instead my favourite TV series are Dawson’s Creek and Gilmore Girls (and another it’s better I don’t say)”.

Is that any better? :)

Posted in: Uncategorized | Tagged:

My poor, smartass design debunked

Two of my recent and, I thought, more solid ideas were criticized. And those critics actually have a point, so there’s something to discuss.

The first is against the proposed LFG tool for WoW, from FoH’s Frott.

He actually has a good point that I considered but probably not as much as it should have been. A probable reason why Blizzard’s LFG tool is limited to three fields is to not kill the database. In my proposed panel I used a bunch of checkboxes, but could this work technically when the database server has to go through more complex queries?

That may be a problem. To fix it or find better solution I’d have to know better what the system tolerates and what doesn’t, but I think it’s possible to find workarounds. For example through timeouts, so that the LFG data is not updated in realtime but there’s a delay. The current /who command in WoW for example has already a 10 second delay.

I don’t know if WoW is particularly vulnerable to this, but DAoC allowed something similar to what I proposed without issues. So I believe it would be possible to preserve the general scheme I described while adapting the tool to the limits of the game.

In theory you could consider each checkbox like a “room”. You add the name of the player to each room and then you return all the names in that room during a search (for every room requested). This is a very simple query and I find hard to believe it could give problems to the servers. With an intelligent use of delays I think the impact would be minimal.

I’m writing about this also because of what I wrote recently about Guild Wars. I started to write how the LFG tool sucked, but in the end my opinion was different. It wasn’t too bad. Not a powerful tool, but the simplicity wasn’t really a flaw.

Frott was actually right:

Why do we need to reinvent the wheel? Here’s my LFG design:

1. you are flagged LFG or LFM
2. you can enter a comment
3. people can see that you’re LFG/LFM, see your comment, and talk to you

Holy fucking hell, what a radical invention.

Guild Wars does that. And it does it well. It just gives five general categories and then lets players set their messages. It’s like a “message board” more than an automated matchmaking tool.

But there’s a reason why it wouldn’t really work for WoW. In WoW you need a centralized system, and without a way to “filter” the results you would get just too much “noise” to make the tool usable. In GW it works because the LFG tool is location-based. WoW has a different structure and a similar LFG tool just wouldn’t work well.

The other critics is about the “grid” mechanic I proposed for Fallout. Just because I create an adaptable structure doesn’t mean that the players won’t overload parts of it.

But there are two points to consider:

1- The players usually police themselves if you give them the possibility. If there’s too lag and they can move freely to a better server without losing progression and without complicate procedures to go through, then they WILL.

2- In the intended scheme there would be territorial control in the game. And if you have experienced the insane rush in UO as a new zone where you could build an house was opened then you know that the players will cover as much space as possible. They would fill EVERY hole faster than the time you need to blink.

So, of course the possibility to travel between grids/shards doesn’t automatically solve the overloading problems. But it’s already a first step that is also good for the players (it’s not just to balance the server, but also for the principle of “permeable barriers”, letting the players go meet each others easily).

Nothing prevents players to log all in one server in WoW. Nothing would prevent the players in this idea of Fallout to travel all to the same grid. The point is that you already offer them a way to spread when there’s need to without suffering losses (as you don’t leave friends permanently behind). The rest can be done through game design (providing reasons and incentives to go out and explore, conquer, move away from a tight crowd and so on).

Especially on launch day you could spread the players around easily. Forcefully placing them in a grid distant from their friends wouldn’t be a dramatic problem, because later they would be able to meet just by traveling to the same location. And the first approach to a MMO is usually single-player. You start to learn how the game works and only later you care to “reach out” for the rest of the community.

At that point (when the barriers are permeable) it’s entirely a game design competency to maintain the ideal density of players. All the issues coming up should be dealt one by one.

After all that idea was just an adaptation of an old one about server travel, but where this travel was regulated by portals that opened only under certain conditions, so keeping the population levels even on all servers. Obligatorily. Obtaining the same results without strict rules would obviously require a lot of careful and good game design. But it’s entirely possible.

Posted in: Uncategorized |

The interview: uncut version

I noticed that Zonk published that interview I was using as an excuse to write here for another month.

I believe that he actually did a great work to condense all I wrote and retain the sense. Editing all that stuff in a presentable form must have been a pain in the ass.

So thank you.

When he asked me to do this thing I thought I couldn’t care less. I don’t want to publicize the site, I don’t want new readers, I don’t want to show it to a bigger public. I always did this relatively alone and never joined things like the “carnival of gamers” because they are beyond the purpose of what I do here. I think those who may be interested about what I write know already the site and that’s more than enough.

So I couldn’t see the purpose and couldn’t be bothered doing this. But then I was also curious about the… “interview”. I saw it like a test. I particularly liked the idea of having an interlocutor and have a discussion about games, ideas and the rest. I liked the idea of a confrontation. In fact I wish the interview was more like an interview. More interactive. I wanted to DELVE into things, not doing a “presentation” of the site to people who probably couldn’t care less. I’m not selling anything. I don’t need ads.

But if it didn’t exactly as I expected it’s mostly my fault as my insanely long replies surely didn’t help to make the an eventual discussion “breathe”. I took all the space and then more.

I actually asked Zonk to not cut the flames, but he did ;p In particular that “Mark Jacobs is an idiot”. Oh well, it was fun.

With the off-topic flames he also cut a few passages I cared about. Mostly my design thoughts on certain parts. For example when I use my experience with UO to talk about “directed play” and the part where I talk about “communal objectives” and the bland footprint that players leave in WoW, along with some critics to its PvP model. I think that part was important and pertinent to the point I was trying to make.

So this is the “uncut” version of the interview. Or more like: Zonk gives me a theme and I write about it.

There was also a last question where he asked me to comment about mmorpgs in development and who I think is going to succeed. You know that I wouldn’t back off “predictions”. So I went commenting company by company without sparing bullets. That’s a very long reply.

I don’t know if publishing it is a good idea, as most comments are sort of “unnecessary” or apparently unjustified. But if I’ll do it then it will be standalone.

The point is simple, though (and a J. quote): there aren’t anymore free lunches.

In bright yellow the parts that were cut. I hope the color is distinguishable enough.

The interview, “uncut” version

Michael: The Cesspit is primarily, it seems, a focus for your design-related ideas and thoughts. What prompted you to start the site? Was it a specific event, or just a general need to get your ideas out there? Once you’d begun, what kept you blogging over the course of the two+ years since May of 2004?

Abalieno: Well, there are many different aspects to it. Let me take this from an unconventional perspective. I recently watched the second movie of “Ghost in the Shell” and it talks a bit about the concept of “external memory”. It’s something both modern and ancient at the same time, also deeply connected to the “nostalgia”. What I can say is that it’s something I’ve always done a lot. That I have the “urge” to do. Before I started writing on a website I always went around with a voice recorder. I have thousands of hours recorded with my thoughts about everything. Then I have notebooks. The ideal would be about using a videocamera and record just everything, every single second. The particular light of an evening, your thoughts in that moment, and so on. It’s like an obsession (Wim Wenders’ “Until the End of the World” is also about this).

More specifically, I think everyone who participated to a community like a forum knows the frustration when a site goes down or a database gets wiped. Or an hard drive crash, in a more personal case. I don’t think I’m the only one who freaks out when things like that happen. Well, starting from the “golden age” of Lum the Mad there’s so much that was lost. Millions of messages, articles. That’s our history and it’s priceless.

You can go pick randomly an old post on my blog/webiste, or any other blog and I’m sure you can find plenty of broken links and severed discussions. That’s one reason why I tried to include as much as possible in my posts, quote a lot, save the news, comments from devs and so on. The website basically has two purposes, work as a memory and a workshop.

Initially the website was the result of a whole lot of frustration. I beta tested “Wish” for a couple of months and poured a lot of thoughts on the beta message boards. There were many interesting discussions going on but shortly after Christmas everything changed, Dave Rickey, the lead designer, was fired and the game took a completely different direction. It was very clear that it was all going down the toilet. And in fact it did. My shouts at that time were really awkward and out of place, but also a true description of what was going to happen.

I saved some forum threads before the beta boards were closed. The frustration was because I couldn’t accept that all the community had done, and all the good premises of that game were going to be wasted. I couldn’t accept that the time I passed there was going to be simply useless. So I felt the need to save all that, give it a “following” so that it wouldn’t be all lost and forgotten. Keep a memory of things. Learn lessons. Be part of a process. It was an attempt to contrast all that, and also the natural “volatility” of the forums, where threads and meaningful discussions disappear in the span of three days. You say something and two seconds later it is forgotten. Or repeated anew every two months, which is worse. Like living in a loop of redundant forums’ habits.

People today mock me with the phrase “I predicted this on my blog”.

So my site served the purpose of “fixing” some stuff. Maintain a memory and use it as a value to fuel a learning process. My own. I think working on games is exciting also because there’s a lot going on, a lot to absorb. And I’m a sponge. The site was a way to embrace all that.

I also have to say that my site wasn’t just about game design thoughts, but also about reporting news with some commentary. This is something I’m looking for even when I’m a reader. I like when on VodooExtreme or Evil Avatar I can occasionally find some “unsolicited commentary” from the editors. Many think that those are out of place and unecessary, often going too far. Instead it’s exactly what I’m looking for as a reader and what I tried to provide with my own site. Not just the “polite and clean” press release handed to you right from PR staff, but also some objective and subjective commentary that tries to delve deeper. For what is possible, as we all know that “game journalism” isn’t something easy to pull.

I’m always looking for different opinions and points of view, as long they are backed up by solid arguments. And I think there’s always the need to put beside the blind fanboysm some more objective and critical commentary. It builds consciousness when the trend is to get rid of it, uproot it systematically through polls and surveys. Today eveything goes through polls and surveys. You aren’t anymore entitled of an opinion that isn’t pre-made.

From that point onward, meaning the reason why I continued and now pulling the handbrake, is simply for one reason: addiction. An endless passion that I fear is way beyond what I’m allowed to do. So the dead end.

Michael: On the site, in commentary, and in your discussion of why you started the site, you show an obvious passion for Massive games. What got you ‘into’ the massive genre in the first place? Was there a friend or game that drew you in?

Abalieno: Well, should I answer? ;) Because here it shows how I’m FAR from the stereotype of the hardcore gamer who has been around since AOL and played and beta’d so many games that you would need three pages only to list them.

None of my friends play online games and none of them could be considered “gamers”, so I’m mostly a loner. Even today I’m not really part of any community, in the sense that I’m not an active part of any guild, I don’t use any Instant Messaging programs and my e-mail is relatively silent, if you don’t count spam. Sure, I post a lot on various forums, read a whole lot, but I was never able to feel at home in any group, even if I don’t know how to explain this part. I’m somewhat elusive and often people fail to recognize and understand me. It’s not a choice, just the way things are. So it’s not the hook with a group that led me to online games by chance. Instead it was something I looked for all by myself and that I strongly wanted.

Previous to mmorpgs I had some experience on MUDs, both as player and as maker, but as maker I just wrote a whole lot of ideas, so many that is not even funny. Months passed, I keep writing and nothing was ever implemented… I liked the kind of experimentation that Tarn Adams is doing today on Dwarf Fortress, and I wanted to bring that to a MUD. At that time I was also inspired by another MUD very popular here in Italy and absolutely impressive (The Gate, now closed). It was one of the most innovative, deep and articulated MUDs I’ve ever seen, sadly never exported outside Italy. It was similar in complexity to Dwarf Fortress, completely skill based, roleplay enforced and with an impressive building/crafting component. Even in that case I spent very little time playing and a whole lot discussing features, development and more, but I wasn’t part of the team (and all of the design and coding was done just by one guy) so I was just there creating and participating to discussions. Then, with the time, the MUD kept growing and drawing in more players and the focus moved more toward the game itself, worldbuilding and less on the experimentation and creative design, so I slowly lost interest and moved my attention somewhere else.

I’m not particularly smart, nor particularly creative. But I’m a sponge. I absorb, understand and learn very rapidly. And as a sponge I think I’m one of the best in the world ;) This means that everything had a strong influence on me at some point and that I owe a lot to my experiences, the communities and so on.

Michael: What was your first MMOG?

Abalieno: My first “real” mmorpg was Ultima Online. I was in a mall with my friends, around the end of November of a few years ago and I noticed the boxed set of the “Second Age”. I was already “late” on the mmorpg thing. When was that? I don’t even want to remember… Anway, I’ve always been a fan of all kinds of RPGs and obviously also of the Ultima series. My first computer was a Commodore 64 and I never had an Ultima game for it, but I remember that I kept rereading hundreds of times the same reviews of those Ultima games, the Bard’s Tale series, Wastelands… For me they weren’t games I wanted to play, they were dreams. Playing those games was for me like the ultimate wish, so I created a myth in my mind that wasn’t necessarily tied to the reality of those games, but just the way I imagined them. That kind of approach still influences me today. It’s something extremely strong. When I was young the *quality* of the game didn’t matter. I remember that I played and loved games that from the design perspective were terrible. Despite this I still preferred them to much better games because I saw in them the projection of my myths, my desires, and that was stronger and more important than everything else. This is something I have a strong nostalgia about. The sort of feelings I had by playing those game when I was young are lost and elusive. And when I try to imagine something today I try to go back with my mind and try to seize those feelings. The possibility to see in a small group of pixels the most incredible things. The more time passes and the more you feel detached, and you need more and more so that you can feel a similar emotional bond. But at the end, even today, that’s what keeps me hooked to games and, inherently, to game design. The immersion. The “magic”.

If I forget what time it is, then the game I’m playing is a good game. Which is still the exact opposite of forcing long playsessions and get bored to tears.

Anyway, I was in the mall and I saw this box of Ultima Online: The Second Age. If I turn my head I still see it there in the pile of chaos behind me. They don’t do anymore good packages like that. Even “holding” the box triggers sensations that are part of that magic I wrote about above. ANYWAY, less digressions, I obviously had read about the game and I had a decent enough PC at that time to make it run. The only problem was that the game was online and I didn’t have a credit card to pay it, nor a decent connection, so I never considered the possibility. It was the REAL ultimate myth, the classic RPG love joined with the true “alternative world” where you could live with other real players the myth of the “virtual life” (at that time there was a lot of interest in the media for everything “virtual”). I was admiring the box in my hands, with the growing desire to play it despite the hurdles of the online play. It just wasn’t accessible, but the desire was so big that I decided to convince one of my friend to lend me the money (I didn’t have any available) and buy it, while starting to think all kinds of escamotages to find a way to pay it. I also knew there were unofficial shards, so in the worst case I could have continued there. Instead, in the ultimate effort, I was able to convince my mother to make a credit card just for that and the journey began.

I still remember when I logged in the game for the first time, after the long patching process. I made a new character in Trinsic (mimicking the start of Ultima 7) and the very first impact wasn’t too bad. I already knew how to use the UI as I had some experience from previous Ultimas and the inventory system was essentially unchanged. But while I didn’t have any problem with the basics, I still didn’t have any clue about what to do. There wasn’t any kind of NPC who came to greet me as the “avatar” as I expected. I was dumped in this new world without even a vague clue. After getting lost in Trinsic (and get disconnected twice because of crappy connection) I decided that a trip to Britain to visit Lord British should have been my first goal and I met another noob just outside of Trinsic. I remember we had a little chat as both of us didn’t have any clue about what we were supposed to do. So… You know what? We decided to call a GM. No, really. The game didn’t give you any direction, today players have a lot of initiative on their own, but at that time, despite being familiar to the Ultima world, I just couldn’t figure out what was the point of the game, what should have been my next step. So after a brief discussion with my occasional noob friend the most logical thing to do was to call a GM so that he could give us a clue. The problem was that the GM took some time to appear and he did in the worst moment. We were walking north toward Britain as in my initial plan, but, I don’t remember exactly, we aggroed something and neither of us knew how the hell to fight back. I remember that the GM appeared right as my noob friend died and I started to flee as fast as possible, leaving both of them behind.

That was the first and last time I called a GM in UO. I made to Britain only to be left clueless again. I was expecting to go straight to Lord British, but the throne room was deserted. Actually Britain in general was deserted. I was expecting to find it filled with NPCs, quests and stories to discover, and instead the more I continued to explore the game, the more it was impenetrable to me. For months all I did was to go from the inn near the center of Britain to the sewers to kill some rats and frogs while skilling up a little bit. When I had the courage to dare some more I learnt to go deep in the sewer till I was able to zone into the “Lost World” where I could fight some more challenging monsters, and in the case I died I could quickly come back and save my stuff. I memorized that path and that was all.

Really, for many months that’s all I saw of the game. Britain, the sewers and a very small fragment of the Lost World. I usually played during the evening for a short time and it became like an habit. I never grouped or talked with anyone at all if not to ask repairs or buy better armor. One year later my main and only character… well, still had just one GM skill (swordmanship) and another at 95 or so percent (tactics, I think). I could have won the medal as the worst player, but despite all that, I still liked the game even if I still wasn’t able to “get it”.

If I’m writing about this it’s because today if we talk about World of Warcraft, in a certain way, it is BECAUSE of those experiences I had. And I’m not talking about my personal case, but the fact that today “directed play” is one of the most important topic when mmorpgs are discussed (see the recent interview with Bioware). Or what I always defined “accessibility” (and not “polish”). And these are things I felt strongly and wrote about for a long time. It’s actually disappointing that we had to wait for that game to address very, very basic problems that were identified by our communities from a LONG time. Today everything seems foregone, but at that time it was like a crusade, or trying to fight the windmills. No one would listen or understand. And the first who did, got 8 millions of players. Heh.

Then, with the time, things slowly improved. I was able to join a guild and they introduced me to PvP, even if I was never able to do anything worthwhile due to lag issues. I was usually just the victim. I was the perfect goose for PKers and thieves. But at the end I had nothing worth stealing (despite veteran rewards, that I lost in some spectacular scams) and I learnt to avoid entirely those places frequented by gank/looters. I have never thought about complaining about them, or that a complain could be legitimate. I had accepted that part of the game and adapted to it. There were instead other things that bugged me in that game, for example the fact that there were more houses outside a town than inside it, or that I couldn’t find a two-handed sword. You know, when you play your first mmorpg you COULDN’T CARE LESS about what the game can offer to you. Instead you bring along your own expectations, your own imagination. Raph Koster actually wrote about this. I wanted to fight with a goddamn two handed sword, but there weren’t any, and I was pissed. Those are the sort of things that I never accepted. The shantytowns outside towns, lack of quests, lack of stories, lack of two-handed swords. And the dragons looked very lame and so far from my idea of a scary, powerful, huge, fire-breathing dragon. UO graphic could have been considered everything but awe-inspiring. It was very conventional and monotonous.

UO didn’t offer me sense of wonder. It killed it for good. It was a world with its own rules and habits. While instead I wanted to play my ideal of a fantasy game, with rules that came from books, movies and other games that were part of my experiences.

What fucking fantasy game is it if it doesn’t have a two handed sword? That’s what I thought.

I’ve never been an hardcore player. My interest moved from the initial fascination about RPGs to the creation of worlds and be part of that process of creation. Being a player was just the least interesting aspect. So, the reason why I care about this genre is because of the myth that lays in Origin’s slogan: “we create worlds”. I was a player as a reflection of the creative part. I like online games when they try to be something else and become worlds with their own depth. I’m still chasing that original myth and fascination. While with the time I’ve also learnt to see things from a different perspective, I’m still clinging to the same philosophy I always pursued.

If we build worlds, then numbers and sequels are retarded. And if we REALLY build a world, then there’s NO END to what you can do. You’ll never reach a point where you can sit back and say: “Ahh, I’m done. Let’s do something else”. A world can be as deep and interesting and varied as you want. And I think online games should capitalize on that, instead of progressively remove their “virtues” ( through instancing, sharding, sequels, mudflation). I often commented this from the point of view of the “ecology”. What all the developers out there are doing is BURN their worlds, and design them so that they can burn as quickly as possible. Till they become completely inhospitable to the new players who may arrive. I know this because I felt it on my skin as I felt those “accessibility” problems I described when I logged in Ultima Online for the first time. I hated all that from day one.

I use to say that this is the consumerism applied to online worlds. You jump on the new, burn it to the ground, throw it away and jump on the next. It’s all going to waste, and, incidentally, it has NO taste. It leaves very little to you. It becomes really just that compulsive, obsessive type of gameplay that gets you hooked through tricks but that lacks a deeper involvement and participation. Some players take the bait and do get hooked, but many others discard entirely the whole thing. As I wrote above, I’m not interested in this aspect, but in the “magic”. The way to create the “sense of wonder”, the awe.

This is why I often have no shame in saying that I have no interest for in-game economies. It’s not that I disown the public who likes them. But there’s very little sense of awe, “looking things as a child”, and “immersion” in an economic system. So I don’t think those parts shouldn’t exist, but they are parts that do not directly interest me. Parts that I cannot create strong bonds with.

It may sound as a contradiction as linear content can better represent the kinds of feelings I described, while a complete economic system can bring the participation and player’s involvement I was preaching about. But the real point isn’t to choose between one or the other. But find an agreement between the two. Coordinate and intersect them.

“Empowering” the players, give weight to PvP, while at the same time always try to make everything accessible for everyone. Removing the barriers. These are some of the interesting challenges. But instead I see the genre moving away from its innate “virtues” like persistence and the “massive” aspect, and those are losses that shouldn’t be underestimated, even if they lead to systems that are easier to manage and control.

But, honestly, my main interest is not even the “massive” aspect, but the “ongoing” nature of the development. As I wrote above I see these games as all-around “worlds”. They are never done and there’s always something to discuss, to learn, to imagine. Something without age. The endless craft. The endless journey.

And, of course, the desire to be there and be part of it.

Michael: What would you say your ‘proudest’ moment from a Massive game might be? The moment you’ll tell your grandkids about.

Abalieno: Here’s a question not so easy to answer for me. As I said I’m a rather mediocre player and what I have achieved in MMOs is sometime even less than the “average” player. I don’t remember anything that stands out or that I’m really proud of, again also because I’m a loner.

I think the best moments I remember are still from DAoC. You see, in WoW there’s a lot of activity at the endgame in the raiding guilds, but the way this content was developed “segmented” the community a lot. There can be from ten to twenty raiding guilds or more, each with its own little world and ecosystem. These guilds rarely communicate between each other and, in a general sense, there’s no real community or identity on a server. There isn’t anything that you achieve as a whole or truly communal objectives. So the perspective of “success” or the maximum achievement is always personal and within the bounds of each guild. Outside a guild people simply ignore each other. They are phantoms. There’s nothing that really connect the players in a “world”. And the more you move toward the endgame the more your playtime will be focused on instanced content. The more your “footprint” loses consistence. More and more vaporous.

DAoC from this perspective was really different and *felt* different. You started as a phantom and slowly became tangible. That’s the reason why my memories from that game will remain stronger. The idea of the three realms at war is a very strong one and what everyone was expecting from WoW’s PvP and was deluded when instead we found just gameplay modes ripped straight from first person shooters with very little involvement and motivation. DAoC felt different because it gave truly communal objectives that were shared between all players. There was a community because we shared the world and we played always together in the same zones. The “war” was a context shared by everyone and where everyone could participate. Your own story, or the few hours you had available during an evening to play, weren’t just a personal experience that is relevant solely to you and your guildmates. Instead the RvR zones were a real battlefield, and every other player was playing a part in your game. Participation.

Those are my fondest memories. Playing for hours deep in the night (for me till 6 AM in the morning and later) to defend or capture a relic. Huge, truly epic battles between hundreds of players. A “campaign”. Aside bitching and discussing strategies on the raid chat channel I never lead anything, but even being there as one of those hundreds of players was a great experience. Sometimes the action was very slow due to some design issues. Waiting just too long inside a keep waiting for an attack that never arrived. But despite the downtimes you could feel the motivation and involvement. You could feel part of something. You could capture a keep and be sure that soon the enemy realm would come to take it back. Those desperate battles were something truly unique. It didn’t matter that at the end you would lose, what mattered is that it felt great and you had a part in a greater scenario.

Today we lost completely all that and I think this loss shouldn’t be underestimated. Today everything is relative. You could have killed Ragnaros, or its bigger friends, but it matters to you and maybe your guildmates. It’s a pocket experience that can give some “fun” feedback and maybe adrenaline rush, but when it’s over it is already past you. There’s no sense of “world” and participation. It’s just an experience to “use” and forget. It again gives you the feel of a well-trained phantom. You obediently walk along the line that was traced for you. You are just part of an herd. How’s this memorable?

(and it’s actually interesting that with Warhammer Mythic is going to remove some of those qualities from DAoC to be some more “like WoW”)

Michael: Likewise, what would you say was the most memorable bad experience you’ve had in a MMOG?

Instead I don’t know about the memorable bad experiences. I use to think about these from the perspective of game design. So I can remember bad experience because I was deluded by some decisions. Guild drama never touched me. I never fed it, nor felt it entertaining. I use to think that guild drama only really happens to those who are looking for it. Drama works till it has an audience and people like it much more than what they are ready to admit. Maybe because of my interest for game design, but everything that isn’t directly connected with the game seems to go over me, same for the drama. It just doesn’t stick on me. I’m actually sad of this, because there are some dynamics I think are interesting to observe.

I consider “Wish” as a bad experience for all the time and commitment I dedicated to it. It started abruptly as a nightmare. All at the sudden they decided to fire Dave Rickey, and from there the whole project went downhill till it was canceled a year later. The premises weren’t exactly brilliant but I had faith in that game. Today I’m still between those (few?) who would really love to see Dave Rickey working for a well-founded MMO company. I think he still has something interesting to show and I want to see it.

Maybe I could say I’m angry at Mythic because firstly they brought DAoC to the ground, and secondly because they sold out to EA, wasting in a second all that they had achieved and that was left. I had an infinite esteem for Mythic. But at some point they decided to make a backflip and throw everything in the air. From there they cruised in a downward trend that I still cannot believe was even possible. They made a great entrance in the industry, they were a wind of change. And then they threw everything to hell. You have to have some great talent to ruin completely things like that. Of course, as a fan, I cannot forgive that.

Since I’m not aware about what is going on behind the scenes I slowly identified Mark Jacobs as my scapegoat. And the last interviews he gave confirmed my ideas. He’s an idiot and the first responsible of all the potential Mythic wasted. Whether he actually is or not.

Posted in: Uncategorized |

Guild Wars LFG panel sucks as much as WoW’s one

I was giving a look at the latest update notes and beside the great feature of “reconnect after disconnect” there’s also the mention of a new “party search” that works along the lines of the one introduced in WoW.

First consideration: you need WoW to make a basic MMO feature take the spotlight?

That’s an important point. MMOs have been broken on a basic level for a long time. They were niche because only a niche of players could swallow the bullshit they fed us for years. Our communities kept underlining those flaws for a long time. Like it happened against questing, soporific combat, solo play, insanely long treadmills and so on. But all that stuff was blatantly ignored and considered worthless. The same was with decent interfaces and not that shit pre-WoW, with movable panels sitting randomly at the border of the screen that had no sense.

Then WoW comes and EVERYONE goes on a copying spree.

I wonder. Devs copy WoW because they understand it’s good, or they just copy for the sake of it? Considering what Mythic is doing with their PvP/RvR the answer is kind of obvious. Devs don’t copy the good part because they RECOGNIZE them, they copy just everything. Good and bad things together. They chase and love the smell of WoW’s ass.

But then we also get this. That revealed another important truth: you need talent even to copy.

Anyway, Guild Wars LFG tool sucks as much as WoW’s one. It does one thing worse and one better. With the difference that a good LFG panel would be much more necessary in WoW than in GW.

The worse thing is that it lets you flag LFG just for ONE purpose, while at least WoW gave you three.

The better thing is that when you are searching you can see the whole list of those LFG or LFM. While in WoW you had to repeat a search for each different topic listed.

So the point is: WoW is infectious.

Till WoW spreads good habits, then all it’s good, because games improve. But the same happens even in the other case. WoW does something wrong and you can be sure it will spread like a plague.

Good game design would need to go through WoW to be recognized.

I gave it a look in-game and it actually sucks more than WoW as it only “sees” players in the same location (or the different instances of it). So it’s even less powerful. But at the same time GW is a game with a different structure and there is no real need for a more complete tool. Overall GW’s LFG tool accomplishes its purpose better than WoW and its respective tool.

They were smart to use five general categories, including “trade” and “guild” and then just letting the players set their custom messages. When you open the panel you have the complete list with all the categories and this helps to have a broad view (the good point I underlined above).

It’s not surprising that people use the tool mostly in the capitals where they can reach a wider population and override the limits of the one location.

Found the problem with Oblivion CS/Oscuro

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

I finally figured how what the hell was wrong.

It’s again that messy Oscuro’s design. I discovered that certain, arbitrarily chosen, NPCs have a spell on them named “ZUnWimpageLesser”. What the fuck.

And that spell is a “Fortify Health” always on that adds exactly those 40 more HPs that I couldn’t justify.

I discovered that Oscuro’s makes a good use of those effects to give NPCs and creatures more health than normal (that produce very silly fights where you have to hit the NPC thirty times before he goes down as things go obviously out of scale). He has five flavor of this kind of spells, used on a total of more than 2k entries.

That’s your “enhanced” difficulty in Oscuro’s mod: unreasonable health boosts. A cheap trick.

Things are also rather jerky as for example you have “boosted” bandits just next to standard ones. So there’s one who can go up to 130/140 HPs, while another has 24. It’s that kind of “random” and inconsistent behaviour that I criticized from the beginning.

I don’t see how this is better than Bethesda’s original design.

In the meantime I also discovered that the “preview” for leveled lists used in the equipment (those that give better armors and weapons to NPCs as you level) is broken as it ALWAYS return level 1 stuff.

This is the reason why I would NEVER give Oblivion GOTY. Game design issues aside I really HATE Bethesda “one and done” patches, completely lack of involvement with the community and inadequate support.

The game still has a bunch of technical issues that weren’t solved (for example the usual “crash on exit” or sound effects getting cut off or not playing at all in certain circumstances, a problem that I saw reported multiple times) and I wish Bethesda would continue to perfect and maybe add a minor features here and there to support the modding community. As Bioware did with NWN.

For example it wouldn’t be too hard to modify the launcher so that you see the mods listed in LOADING ORDER, and maybe enabling “drag&drop” on the list to let the players sort and tweak the order easily. Instead of having to rely on complicated 3rd party tools.

Small things like that would be hugely appreciated and would be a sign of love to the game. But obviously Bethesda cannot be bothered.

Posted in: Uncategorized |

How to design a Fallout MMO game that gets 1 MILLION of players within the first year

(this post may look very superficial but there’s an HIGH density of pure game design)

I started to gather ideas just for fun a couple of weeks ago and it’s when I decided that title you see. I did some brainstorming for a few hours but then forgot the whole thing and looked elsewhere.

Today I was thinking again about a part that I didn’t completely resolved, so I decided to put together at least what I had written (and that I partially posted on Q23). I love to brainstorming, in particular in this case that it is BLATANTLY OBVIOUS that this title is pure vaporware that will never be released.

So, pick up the challenge. Put together a sketch of a design plan for a Fallout title aimed at the mass market and that can reasonably aspire to get 1M of players within the first year of release.

As I said I sort of dropped this challenge, but here it is what I got during that initial brainstorming phase.

Inspiration: Mad Max, Army of Darkness and Cowboy Bebop. What I used for inspiration is already quite weird, but I think it works to visualize the kind of world and gameplay to mimic.

Ash Williams! Chainsaws, shotguns and dynamite!

I started to find some key values that are meaningful to that setting. Things directly “fun”, visceral. The cool factor. Basic expectations. The post-nuclear world.

– Ranged combat (getting ranged combat right in a RPG isn’t trivial)
– The setting: I see it like a flavor of cyberpunk, just more decadent
– Tribal nature (small outposts, gangs, local mafia etc..)
– Water, food, gas and ammunitions represent the “wealth”.

It’s also a bit steampunk. There’s technology, but a raw kind of tech. We don’t have spaceships and fancy computers, we have muscle cars, dune buggies, rust, heavy metal (not the music), screws, nails. Gritty world. Dirty. Both new and old. Sixties music could fit better than modern. It’s the “retro” feel. And the reason why I used Cowboy Bebop for inspiration.

The Fallout world has the essence of something strongly familiar. It’s more a distorted way to see the past, than an interpretation of the future. It’s actually more fantasy than sci-fi from this perspective (hence the reference to Army of Darkness).

One part I was considering is that the setting is somewhat “desolated”, few people around, most are dead. You really cannot portray a noob zone with hundreds of survivors whacking droves of mutated spiders, rats and scorpions.

How to preserve the post-apocalyptic mood and give an idea of a mean world where nothing is secure and where the personal initiative makes the difference?

That’s the main theme: there isn’t anymore a general government, so everyone is organized in smaller tribes, ala Mad Max. Everyone is more than ready to stab the other at the right time and steal what is possible to steal. And most of the gameplay should be about the smaller, unexcused wars between the tribes while the rest of the world goes to hell.

Now the overall scheme is where the game can be more interesting and it’s the easier part to realize as there may be so many good ideas and things to build around the concept. From this perspective the setting is ripe of good ideas and the possibility to step far away from the usual treadmills. So I don’t think it’s too hard to make an interesting, “fresh” game with a wide appeal.

The part that actually gave me more problem is about the combat itself. The gameplay. How do you realize this core?

Obviously you cannot go turn based. I discussed this on the forums. The premise of the challenge is to make a game that could be a huge success and a turn based game will be much harder to market. The other common mmorpgs are also turn-based, in a certain way. But instead of dividing “time” in regular segments, the division is more variable and the gameplay more fluid. I see this as a step forward, so I wouldn’t go back.

The first idea I had was to use a RPG kind of (ranged) combat that could feel “right”. Right meaning the opposite of SWG. SWG had ranged combat totally abstracted and weird. To explain what I meant I used the example of Company of Heroes. A kind of gameplay that feels “right” without the need of going “twitch”. But people thought that a CoH from a closer perspective would be boring. It’s actually hard to explain what you mean when you bring these examples.

The point is: no fancy particle effects and floating icons. Bullets, not rainbows.

It’s not just CoH that got ranged combat right. Even Gears of War is a good example of combat going in the right direction with the use of the “cover”. The cover is a basic element in the real ranged combat, and it’s exactly what you have to reproduce if you want the combat to feel “right”. The cover mechanic that is now popular in that game was something I asked *for a very long time* for SWG when I was criticizing its combat on the forums.

SWG was oblivious of those basic lesson and we got weird, fancy combat with colored bars and special attacks. THIS is what I never forgive to Raph and that I’m rather sure he still didn’t understand. The “metaphor” isn’t a dress. It’s EVERYTHING. And if you betray it, the game will greatly suck.

The second idea I had was to use squad-based combat, like a mini-RTS where each player controls four characters with different classes. I quickly discarded this idea for a number of reason. I believe there are many good reason to keep mmorpgs the way the are. One player = one avatar. That’s also a kind of visceral relationship that I don’t have the courage (or real motivation) to break. It would be odd to have a player with four different names and it also depersonalizes the game. It would look also odd seeing everywhere these squads of four guys going around, especially where games have problem with lag when every players controls just one character. All these problems could be actually addressed one by one. But I don’t think it’s worth the work. So idea discarded.

The third was about making it a FPS. So aiming and everything. Assuming the game has a huge budget we could dare to put aside all the technical problems and try to go in this direction. But in a realistic scenario this would mean focusing the WHOLE development on trying to make a good FPS. And in the end it would mean that we have little more than a FPS. So idea discarded because I think I could use better the resources available and focus on other parts to make this game an unique experience. Not just a FPS set in the Fallout world. That’s not interesting enough.

And this is the part that I didn’t complete. My design here branched in multiple directions between these various modes.

When I brainstorm stuff I use to repudiate the kind of gameplay of today’s mmorpgs. One good way to force things in another direction is by designing the controls on a gamepad. Not only you get rid of the typical “hotkey” kind of gameplay that BORES ME TO TEARS, but you would be also able to design a game that will be easy to port on the consoles. And if you want that million of players then every other market opening up is precious.

So. No aim-twitch because we care for the servers and cannot waste three years of development just on that. And a gamepad. Now design the combat. Ranged combat.

I usually try to portray things as a cutscene, then I try to translate that into gameplay. I was thinking of a bunch of characters with ragged clothes, all whacking mutated rats and scorpions. THAT’s what you expect from a Fallout mmorpg (Fallout 2 actually started like that). Then you hear a buzzing sound that seems increasing more and more. You cannot see far away because there’s a sand dune and all at the sudden you see a black shape that kind of takes off from that dune, leaving a dust cloud behind it. And it’s the classic dune buggy with one driver and another on a mounted turret controlling a vulcan. This dune buggy moves incredibly fast, jumps off the dunes, nearly turns upside down after a sharp turn. The poor guys killing scorpions see this thing approaching at them at an insane speed, they try to run away and the dune buggy passes right through a bunch of giant scorpions sending pieces and green stuff in all directions. Then the buggy does a sideslip and the other guy on the vulcan turret takes care of the remaining scorpions.

That’s the kind of clash I want between two kinds of gameplay. No sitting there and exchanging slaps with a poor creature. I want something fast (but not twitchy), something intuitive, immediate, with as little UI noise as possible. I want a kind of fun, arcade combat that still leaves a lot of freedom to the player. In particular I want vehicles and I want a realistic physics system. I want these vehicles to be fun to drive, even if you just do that. Driving, jumping off sand dunes, create spectacular crashes. Have you played Flatout? Company of Heroes has a very simple control of vehicles, but the physics system can do wonders to make the driving feel realistic.

I want the vehicles to have an important role in the game. We also solve the problem of travel. Today we are stuck in mmorpgs with mounts that go a bit faster than running speed. But even with a mount the travel still takes a lot of time if you have to go through a few zones. A vehicle completely reverts that perception because a car goes MUCH faster than someone walking through a desert. You can have a huge environment while making travel not a burden. And without the need of fancy teleports that aren’t appropriate to the setting.

Of course vehicles need gas, and gas is precious. The inspiration is Mad Max again. You need mechanic skills to repair and mod stuff. This part about vehicles alone already provides hooks for all kinds of interesting gameplay. You can also have race circuits, destruction derbies and whatnot.

You use Fallout to ridicule Auto Assault and demonstrate them how to deliver on the theme.

So: vehicles, physics system, turrets with mounted vulcans. Lots of bullets. Lots of Mayhem.

But this doesn’t complete the problem of the combat. It’s just a way to explain the direction I would like it to take.

Today I was thinking about this problem and I found a better solution. We use a control system similar to other arcades. Resident Evil, Tomb Rider, Metal Gear Solid. Classic third-person, non aim-twitch. You have a key that works as the “aim”. You hold the key and your character automatically targets what’s in front of you. No “target lock” as it depends on the direction you are facing, the position of your body. But we can also add a lot of interesting elements. For example lowering the precision if you are moving. Or the possibility to decide how to shoot between classic two/three types (single shot, burst and things like that).

It very simple and familiar but also different enough from current mmorpgs to feel fresh. Press a button to aim and then shoot. But without needing to aim yourself. It should be quick and visceral enough to be appreciated by a large public and at the same time it won’t scare away those who just cannot digest furious twitch FPS. It’s something in the middle that is intuitive and that at the same time retain a RPG depth, stats, kills, detailed character sheets, perks, professions and so on. You don’t have to be good at aiming to do well in the game.

Plus why not taking the best from current games. The cover mechanic of Gears of War again. You use a key that automatically makes your character take cover. You don’t need a real FPS to make a good use of a good mechanic (Company of Heroes, again, also uses cover mechanics). I say Gears of War because its a recognized example but surely not the first game to do that. Metal Gear Solid had similar functions and, again, it’s part of what I asked a few years ago for SWG. So aim, shoot, take cover. With simple, familiar, streamlined controls AND NO HOTBARS. No rainbows. We have already a good core. A basis of gameplay that can be used to define the rest.

No pulls also. I can integrate here all those design principles I bring with me from a long time. If I can see a bandit, then the bandit can see me and react accordingly.

In fact the success of this part of the game is all about the AI. Today the mmorpg AI just make a creature run or shoot at you. We would need instead an AI that also takes cover, uses the environment, cooperates and so on. The goal is to “simulate” a gunfight. If this part is well done then the game has already a good possibility of becoming truly successful.

The overall scheme

As I said, this is the part that offers more hooks for new ideas. There’s a lot to play with, perfect to push the creativity.

The overall scheme: The scheme of the “onion”. The more you move further away from the center, the more things go wild and only ruled by the players. “No Law” zone.

The idea matches the one of the original games. You have a central zone that is “known” and that is more secure. But the resources are scarce and you have to move out where it’s risky, build factories to produce ammunitions and weapons, vehicles and all the rest. Find oasis. Smoke dope. The hippie community, with the van painted with flowers and bright colors. Till they don’t find you.

It would lead to a structure similar to Shadowbane with the players-run outpost and everything, but with a predominant central hub where you can keep things under control (and directed).

You could also play with the concept of the “radiations” as a way to “shuffle” the game world and generate dynamically new things. You irradiate a zone and then the server regenerates it so that it will be ripe again for exploration. This procedure can be more or less tied with other parts, like the player’s settlements, PvP and more.

Balancing the servers

Starting from the idea of taking the deep scheme of Eve-Online, while replacing its slow, long-range, icon & spreadsheet combat system with a simil FPS where you SEE your target. Something frantic. Something strongly visual, immersive, visceral and with as less “interface noise” as possible.

All within a SEAMLESS world. From the room inside the building (and close combat), with a player-to-NPC dialogue, till the larger desert and larger battles. No loading.

Of course this is already a huge problem. Eve-Online worked as a massive world because it’s very slow and requires almost no bandwidth. So how to fit a large world, so that the players aren’t lacking, with a more fast and direct combat? First answer would be: instancing. NO. NEVERMORE!

A rough idea I had was to build the world like a “grid”. Now, normally you reach the limit of the grid and it would correspond with a “wall”. Instead I was thinking to something that was happening to older games. Instead of hitting the zone wall, you exit from the top of the grid and reenter from the bottom.

Yeah, lame :) But wait.

With one trick. Instead of exiting and reentering the same “grid” from top to bottom, you would enter a new grid.

Every grid = one server/shard. Every grid is a nearly exact copy of a shard (with the possibility to prepare slightly variated maps as it happened with Shadowbane’s shards). With its own “hub” and its own “wilderness”.

This would basically allow for a “seamless” world where you can add as many new “grids” as the population of the game requires. You could add new grids on the fly without affecting the remaining ones. You can expand or shrink the world depending on your needs. Every grid would work like an independent “shard”, as in current games, but with the possibility for the players to travel to the grid border and switch “server”/grid if they want. (permeable barriers)

It would work to “chunk” the players into more manageable units, while keeping the barriers between the servers permeable, so letting players meet each other in a global world.

It would also offer a perfectly scalable world that fits every need and that solves both overcrowding and desolation.

That’s pretty much everything I thought. And I really think it can be valid enough to go as close as possible to the goal and a broad market.

Of course only as a fancy dream, because this game will never see the light of the day. Nor in my interpretation, nor in another.

Victim of a blog chain

Oh well.. Why me?

I guess the answer is a simple one as the blogosphere doesn’t look big enough to resist even three of these loops. But the problem here is that I suck at being funny or have amusing things to say. Don’t make me look even more ashamed than how I am. I suck.

Anyway. Let’s see if I can think of something.

1- Uhm… I never read “Lord of the Rings” *ducks!* No, really. I actually love the book, but never read it. It’s about the way my brain works and something I’m victim of that I was never been able to fully explain or justify: if I like something too much, I keep it “secret” to myself. Like waiting for the perfect moment that never arrives. I actually bought the book when I was ten or eleven. I was on vacation for the summer with my parents on the Alps, as every year (both summer -trekking- and winter -skiing-).

It was a rainy day so we went shopping instead of trekking and I discovered this huge book on a book stand. It was everything I could desire as I was already an avid reader and still looking for something as fascinating as Michael Ende’s “Neverending Story” (my favorite book at that time and true personal myth). I couldn’t buy the book but when I was back at home I convinced my parents to let me go back to the shop (that was in another town) even if it was already late and getting dark. I remember that I ran a lot and it even began to rain again. I was able to find the shop open and buy the book. While I was running back home I remember I was keeping the book below my sweater so that it wouldn’t get wet. And it felt like a magic moment. I was feeling like I was holding the most precious thing ever. That evening I carefully set the book on a table and started reading… from the appendixes.

That’s where I discovered that the book was only one part of an universe. The “world” was for me more fascinating than the story and the single characters. And I decided that before reading it I had to track all the other books and then read them in order. I didn’t want to miss anything and I started a research that went on for a long time. Today I still haven’t read the book from the beginning to end.

The truth is that when I love something too much, I wait “for it” forever. I don’t want to read ten pages, because it means that I have ten less pages to read. Like if they are lost and without the possibility to go back. So I keep hoarding “precious stuff” to me but that I cannot really use because I don’t want to lose it. It’s stupid, of course, completely illogic, unjustified, but it’s something I cannot really control. And it still happens today with other books, games, comics. I leave the best stuff last, and it often means that I never see that best stuff. I’m always waiting for the “perfect” moment while actually wasting it all.

So I never read LotR because I loved it too much and I could read it only when that loved faded, so that it became actually a “mortal” possibility. There are things I simply love too much to use them. If I don’t use them they remain in the realm of perfection and I can venerate them properly. I venerated LotR for a long time, like an idol. But I didn’t read it.

2- I’m a bit hypochondriac. Not the kind that invents problems. But the kind that gets worried and anxious about just everything. I transform little problems into big dramas, but not because I like dramas, just because I get really worried. The kind of: OMG! THE END!

Of course that kind of reaction doesn’t really help.

3- I don’t know how it translates to the USA school system, but something like college graduation. We have to go through some tests and a final exam. The most important of these tests is about a writing essay. Well, I went school drunk and after having slept two hours. I started to write and chased the flow. I never had problems writing, but that was a moment of my life that I was particularly inspired. I got the max possible in that test but the final exam didn’t end exactly well as the president of the commission finished to yell at me and generate another drama scene.

But I was above all that. It was the best period of my life. I was… free. I was inspired. I had the right answers for EVERYTHING. I had learnt to see things from the other perspective, break the rules, find my way. Reclaim an identity, thoughts and all that. I could do just everything, I had all the power of this world. I had everything in my hands and I wish I could go back. Because today I feel lost, powerless and have no answers.

4- I scared a teacher when I was in college because I used to play with the “Necronomicon” and other, more serious, magic books. Writing symbols on stones, amulets and all that. I didn’t do that seriously but I really had lot of absurd books that I was able to track. For me it was something to play not more serious than reading horoscopes on a magazine, but I like digging stuff, finding old books, follow references, authors and whatnot. I also played a lot with yoga and all sort of other fancy things. But I’m also a very rational person so I never believed in anything.

5- I.. Doh! Never kissed a woman! OMG! But proud of it! I actually started to have interest in girls extremely early. I was around girls when most boys only cared about trucks and monsters. Every moment of my life is accompanied by a woman, just without her being aware, or without being really involved. I’m a case limit.

Ok, now who’s left? Foton, J. (who I doubt will ever know about this), Darniaq (who stopped writing there and I’m going to join him very soon), Krones (who was briefly resurrected) and, just for the sake of it, Anyuzer, because I miss him.

Posted in: Uncategorized | Tagged: