Three things

I got the EU copy and already registered/patched it. While Gamestop is kaput (so no US copy for a while, I fear).

Three things:

– The opening screen with the portal has a great impact. The screenshot doesn’t give it justice.

– The musics. Wow. I love the rearranged theme. Epix!

– I gave a look to the credits. The full trio (Pardo, Kaplan/Tigole and Chilton/Kalgan/Evocare) is credited as design lead. While Furor was also promoted and he is now “Lead Quest Designer”. And… Sachant works for WoW? Huh? Last I heard she was with Shadowbane, but the credits list “Danielle Vanderlip” as one of the community managers. That’s her name, right? Or it’s her or someone else I already know. That name isn’t new at all.

Grimwell sits on Blackguard’s chair

I just found out that Grimwell (“Craig Dalrymple” says Cosmik) is at SOE as the community manager for EQ2. Wow, big grats and good luck.

I like a lot reading these kinds of news because I like to see people succeed or move toward interesting perspectives, so I’ll keep registering movements in our community. Now if I was naughty I would link his previous call for independence ;p

His welcome message on EQ2 boards can be found here.

In-context I also relink and quote Lum:

Public relations people are normally great people (they kind of have to be, being that dealing with people is their job and all) but they are at direct cross-purposes from a free flow of information which is necessary if developers are to ever get honest feedback. Which is why the best community relations teams aren’t treated as PR adjuncts, but their own seperate fiefdom, where they act more as ombudsmen then salesmen.

That’s quite pertinent, ain’t it?

Btw, there was a lot of movement during the past year. Everyone found a good chair to sit on. This is positive, no?

Well, there’s Cosmik who’s looking for a new job.

Jeff Freeman in space

I swear, way too many unexpected things happened today and it was by far the worst day to stop posting. There’s enough material for what I usually write in a whole week. Restraining from writing has NEVER been so hard.

But, come on. At least this: Jeff Freeman works at Spacetime Studios. It’s sort of confirmed.

It was the very first thing I thought as he linked the lead designer blog, that by the way has a GREAT piece on server architecture that ties back to all I wrote about server travel, even recently with the “grid” idea for Fallout, communities and the TRUE impact those choices have. With a wonderful conclusion:

My point is to make it clear to other designers that the fundamental server architecture has an impact on the game in a very real, money-in-the-pocket, subscribers-on-the-line kind of way. Most architecture decisions are driven by cost-benefit analysis: what the programmers can do, how much money and time it will take for them to do it, etc. These are important considerations, but considerations generally made without much a consideration of game design. Game designers may accept the programmer recommended path without considering all the implications that structure has for their game.

That is SO true. Glad that at least someone is looking at it from the right perspective. FINALLY.

Anyway, I had this suspect that also Jeff Freeman worked there (or it would be hard to explain how he knew about this new blog), then I noticed that this guy lists Jeff Freeman under “Spacetime Dev Blogs” (listing Lietgardis as well, but I knew that already). Ehehehe……. OWN3D!

So. Senior designer. And, if I’m not wrong, “Lead System Designer”?

Good luck and everything. You seem to have a good team there ;)

P.S.
Who’s Brandon Reinhart? I tried googling and got lots of stuff. He even has an IMDB page! Filmography? Lol! He comes too from SOE/SWG and, gosh!, he worked on Duke Nukem Forever!

So what is Raph doing?

My FEAR is that he is working for Second Life, in a way or another. I had this suspect since Cosmik stalked him (WTB SEARCH FUNCTION!).

Spotted by Ubiq:

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.

While I’m very curious I keep hearing in my head the voice “not for the gamer”. Sigh.

It’s like two factions at war for predominance. And I’m definitely on the “gamer” side.

Anyway, after one year wondering I have some anticipation.

EDIT: Cosmik is right (comment here below). The new company is named “Areae”.

He is NOT working on Second Life. He is building HIS OWN:

What matters is what it means: many places, many worlds.

Areae, Inc. is a company dedicated to taking the tired old virtual world and making it into something fresh and new. Something anyone can jump into. Something where anyone can find something fun to do or a game to play. Something where anyone can build their own place on the virtual frontier.

We’re working on some new tech that will literally change how virtual worlds are made. We’ve got a cool world or two incubating on the back burner.

We want to make sure that putting you guys first is something that is in Areae’s DNA from the very beginning.

(from jobs page) We’re all about having fun while doing great work, a real collaborative environment, openness with the community and real respect for community members. We’re making the next gen of virtual worlds — and it’s not what you expect.

If you’re interested in revolutionizing virtual worlds and online gaming, we want to hear from you.

We’ll be running quiet for a while — check back in a few months to see how far we’ve come.

This is coherent with what Raph wrote from the beginning. “The game of games”.

I have to say that the way he is “selling it” is fascinating. Instead of saying much he is just teasing the curiosity with a site with a simple layout and incisive choice of words. Straight to the point and very, very effective.

“We’re definitely working in the virtual world space,” says Koster, but adds that though “there will absolutely be games involved, I would say that we are disruptive. We’re doing something different. We’re trying to reinvent how virtual worlds are made, how customers are treated, how they’re accessed, how the business models work, pretty much everything.”

Koster says that the seed of Areae was planted as soon as he’d left Sony Online Entertainment. “In a lot of ways,” he says, “this is something that I’ve been dreaming about doing for a long time. But we’re setting forth now, the company is funded, we’re venture backed, and we’re out there hiring. It’s pretty exciting.”

“We’re not talking too much about the business model yet,” he says, “but the way to put it is that we’re really looking to bring the qualities of the web, especially of Web 2.0, to virtual worlds. There’s a lot of things wrapped up in that – everything from very low-end user costs for being able to participate, lots and lots and lots of listening to users, having them involved, having them contribute.”

What he is *actually* doing is not important. For the next six months we’ll just discuss how you pronounce “Areae”.


EDIT: Since I got linked I’ll copy over the “meatier” comments I wrote on the forums. At least there’s something more to it.


I like a lot the “words” on the site, but I don’t like much the way my brain guesses what he is doing.

On Gamasutra he says that he’ll do something that is different from EverQuest as it is different from Second Life.

He says that the players will build content.

He says that there will be some sort of “metaverse” from where you access different kinds of games.

He always repeated that he wants something that requires almost nothing to download.

He says the business model will be different.

The point is to take all those hints and de-dignify them, translate them in common language that would probably remove much of the “magic”.

It can be a portal or an aggregator, but in this case there are already other examples.

If it’s a “platform” then the point is to build tools, scripting languages, engines and so on. But that would be Second Life again.

He probably wants to make something much simpler than Second Life and that everyone can jump in. Something that doesn’t require you to read instructions. Easy to get into.

Maybe less tech-savy and more game-y.

Jayce: When did this turn into a “beg and carp for a job” thread?


More concrete details right from “the producer”. And Raph himself gave it the best coverage.

I knew he loved the teasing.

Where Game Meets the Web”

On a browser?

GMG continues the leeching

If their first goal was weaken SOE I guess they hit it (press release):

Maynard , MA . – December 6, 2006 – Green Monster Games, LLC (GMG), a company dedicated to producing innovative massively multiplayer online games (MMOs), today announces that Scott Cuthbertson has been appointed Vice President of Creative Development. Cuthbertson will oversee GMG’s internal creative design process, working closely with creative visionaries Todd McFarlane and R.A. Salvatore to bring their unique and unprecedented vision to life.

“Scott Cuthbertson has a proven track record of developing successful games with a global appeal. Drawing such talent from a source like Disney brings something very special to our company. Signing Scott to our team broadens GMG’s capabilities as a game studio and raises the bar for creative contributions,” said Curt Schilling, founder of the recently launched online game company based in Maynard , MA . “We are honored that he has accepted our offer to lead the creative talent at GMG.”

In his 15+ years of experience in production management and creative direction in the videogame industry, Cuthbertson has specialized in managing high-profile properties for the world’s largest entertainment companies, including Disney, Warner Bros., Vivendi Universal, and Nintendo. His credits include games based on such renowned properties as J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings ™ , Namco’s Ridge Racer ™ , Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean ™ , and TSR/Wizards of the Coast’s Advanced Dungeons & Dragons ™ .

“The vision of Green Monster Games is to build a company driven by creative ideas, a strong team dynamic, and a single-minded focus on pushing the boundaries,” said Cuthbertson. “It’s a privilege to have been chosen to oversee the formation of the creative foundation of GMG, and I am quite frankly in awe of the team that is coming together from all corners of the creative world – whether it’s from videogames, film, novels, comics, toys, music… wherever. This team is unified in its goal to craft an exceptional MMO gaming experience.”

Today GMG also announces other additions to its creative team:

Billy Ahlswede joins GMG as a Senior Character Artist. Ahlswede comes from Sony Online Entertainment. With 6 years of experience in the games industry, he has worked on Untold Legends™ Dark Kingdom™ for the PlayStation®3, NBA 05 (PSP®), NBA 06 (PSP®), and NBA 07 (PS3) . Prior to SOE, Ahlswede worked with Breakaway Games.

Josh Singh joins GMG as a Senior Character Artist. Singh is an award-winning character artist with 11 shipped titles during his time in the games industry. He comes to GMG from Sony Online Entertainment. Prior to SOE, Singh was with Iron Lore Entertainment.

Niraj Desai joins GMG as a Senior Animator. Desai’s career in games began with Sony Online Entertainment in 2002. He helped ship PlanetSide®, PlanetSide® Core Combat™, PlanetSide® Aftershock , EverQuest® II , EverQuest® II Desert of Flames™, EverQuest® II Kingdom of Sky™, EverQuest® II Echoes of Faydwer™ , and Untold Legends™ Dark Kingdom™ for the PlayStation®3.

Damarcus Holbrook joins GMG as a Senior Environment Artist. Over the past 6 years, Holbrook has created zones for many games in the MMO and first-person-shooter worlds. His environments can be seen in Valve Corporation’s Half-Life® 2 , EA Games™ From Russia With Love™ , and in Sony Online Entertainment’s Untold Legends™ Dark Kingdom ™ for the PlayStation®3. Holbrook was previously an environment artist in the film industry, having worked on League of Extraordinary Gentlemen for Big Red Pixel.

About Scott Cuthbertson they omit saying he worked on Matrix Online (or so says Mobygames), which would be pertinent for a MMO, while they underline he worked on AD&D. Twelve years ago (Menzoberranzan).

Celebrity catwalk?

To comment I’ll use an excerpt of a reply I wrote on the GMG thread on FoH:

Now when assembling that team is your focus on people who are cool, creative, and innovative but have no experience at actually launching a game?

That’s a mistake, it’s obvious.

But it would be interesting coupling experience with inexperience. It’s not a choice between one or the other. It’s about taking something out of both so that one feeds the other. A game project for a brand new studios is also a constant learning process.

In the longer term it is also essential that you don’t just have experienced old guys on the same chairs, but also that you TRAIN new talent. So that you don’t just “leech” big names and “worth” from nearby companies (only to be leeched when at the worst time by someone else) but also produce that talent. Become a stimulus for other people, introduce new faces in the industry. A laboratory of ideas that keeps things alive.

As I wrote somewhere else: a company that pushes the evolution of the genre instead of being victim of it.

I think that good game companies should become academies when you build a culture and produce talent instead of just “stealing” it from somewhere else and using it up.

Jeff Freeman isn’t at SOE

Sometimes I have odd premonitions. I found Jeff Freeman post as Dundee on my thread on QT3 and, I don’t know why, but I thought that maybe he left SOE. It was just a random thought I had without a reason.

Then I start reading a long post he wrote on his blog (that maybe I’ll comment), and here’s what I find:

I haven’t been on the SWG team in a long time, and I don’t work at SOE now.

And:

I am currently the Lead Systems Designer for a different project.

Wow.

So where?

Eve-Online yearly patch day

So, Eve-Online went down for the September patch. Yes, I know it’s almost December ;)

As I commented months ago when the features were announced, it’s fun to see at them from another perspective, The WoW perspective.

Even Eve-Online can be inspired and “copy” WoW. And what it is incredible is that they are doing this without making look things out of place. I mean, you would think that adapting fantasy game mechanics to spaceship game wouldn’t be trivial.

So, this is what we have:

Rigs – In Eve “rigs” are modules that change a ship’s setting in a permanent way. So they aren’t modules that you can switch on the fly, but adaptations to the structure of the ship that till now weren’t possible. In WoW these are the “socketed items” that Blizzard is going to add with the expansion. They also involve the “hardware” (in WoW: your gear), they allow to specialize it more and they are also permanent.

Contract system – In Eve this is a powerful tool that allows to set auctions but also tasks that can be seen as player created quests. Obviously in WoW this is the Auction House, made more powerful and deep.

Combat Boosters – In Eve these will be temporary bonuses that will likely be used during combat. Combat Boosters are crafted through some new mini-professions. In WoW these are the “potions”, they are crafted through the professions and have a temporary effect.

And there’s also a mix of enchanting & disenchanting (invention & salvaging in Eve) made functional to the game.

So yeah, Eve-Online is adding auction houses, socketed items and potions. For the Battlegrounds wait next year :)

It’s actually odd that even CCP didn’t use those comparison to explain better how those new toys work. Maybe they want to appear original ;)

(disclaimer: You can find all kind of ideas represented in older games, but it’s obvious that the power of influence of a blockbuster is greater, even if it didn’t invent anything.)

Moreover the Kali 1 patch is named “Revelations”, and I think that even this “Kali 1” has been subdivided into ANOTHER three branches. Revelations Part 1 of 3.

So we are like… part 1 of 9 in total? For something that was expected to be concluded for May 06, and that will probably be dragged till we ding 2008 (wanna bet?). Heh.

Nevertheless their work is good, as I underlined a while ago when I commented those features (in the first link above). And I’ll probably resubscribe to check. Even if I doubt I can notice any difference with my noob characters and considering how all the content is usually only targeted to the hardcores. At least I can play with the new character creation. Which is amazingly good (and maybe I’ll quote and comment later).

In the meantime I also noticed that Pann has returned as Community Manager (not really manager but something else, I’ll edit when the forums come back up).

She left long ago to work for Auto Assault *chuckle* I wonder why she’s back, eheh… Kieron instead (he replaced Pann when she left), was coming straight from UO and he did a SO MUCH BETTER work than her. I don’t miss Pann at all.

Luckily it looks like she will do work on the background and not on the forums or directly with the community. Good.

On the matter of good communication (CCP is stiull doing better than everyone else with those great blogs and a good forum activity) I point out that they are working on a “Dev finder” function on the forums and they are also compiling a “daily digest” of all the posts (all stuff that I can link only when the site comes back up).

Moorgard and Blackguard working for GMG

Yep, speculations were right ;)

Taking hands down from SOE and few other well-known studios. They went for badge-collection.

Steve Danuser has been appointed Director of Community Development/Senior Designer. Danuser will oversee the construction of the company’s official website (www.greenmonstergames.net) and develop its fan community while reporting directly to GMG’s Founder, Curt Schilling. Danuser, known in the online world as “Moorgard,” was the co-founder of Mobhunter, one of the first websites focused on game design analysis and discussion. He joined Sony Online Entertainment in San Diego in 2003 as the Community Manager for EverQuest® II, founding one of the strongest and most vibrant communities in the MMO space. At SOE he later became a designer on EverQuest® II, working on many aspects of the game including significant contributions to the Echoes of Faydwer™ expansion. Danuser continues to discuss game design on the popular Moorgard.com website.

Ryan Shwayder has been named Community Relations Manager/Designer at GMG and will be working to establish the company’s presence through the web and other media alongside Danuser. Shwayder, commonly known to the gaming world as “Blackguard,” has been developing online communities for years, most recently as the Community Relations Manager for EverQuest® II where he also worked with Danuser. He volunteers his time for local IGDA chapters and is well-known for his game development blog at Nerfbat.com.

Erik Theisz has signed on as a Senior Producer for GMG. Theisz also contributed to the worldwide launch of EverQuest® II. He was Design Supervisor and Associate Producer for the original EverQuest® II game, as well as the expansions Desert of Flames™, Kingdom of Sky™, and Echoes of Faydwer™.

Michael Woods joins GMG as Assistant to Director of Customer Service Development/Designer. Woods has an extensive background in customer service, including three years at Sony Online Entertainment.

GMG’s design team will feature an impressive group of experienced MMO artists spearheaded by the creations of Senior Artists Brian Jones and Brian Labore. Jones, known throughout the online gaming community as “BoBo the Seal,” is an industry veteran who has contributed to over twenty-five projects, most notably Age of Empires® 3 for Ensemble Studios and Titan Quest™for Iron Lore Entertainment. Labore, also a veteran in the MMO community, worked at Turbine Entertainment and Blue Fang Games as a Lead Animator. Most recently, Labore was the Animation Director/Lead Animator at Iron Lore Entertainment for the title Titan Quest™.

J. Robin Bickhart has been hired as Director of Business Operations. Bickhart relocated to Concord, MA from Dallas, Texas where he had 18 years of IT, project management, and Business Operations experience.

Brandon Franks joins GMG as Director of Internet Technology. Franks previous employment was as an IT Manager at an industry-leading engineering firm in Arkansas.

Keith Moegle was appointed Assistant to the Founder. Moegle is a former Senior Program Developer for Microsoft when the company first opened it doors back in the 1970s and still consults with Microsoft and other major corporations on software development. Moegle is an associate of Curt Schilling through the ALS Association, a non-profit organization Schilling has supported since 1992. Moegle has been living with ALS for two years.

So… Where’s the new blood?

Veterancy isn’t fruitful if it doesn’t have anyone to train.

P.S.
Both “Blackguard” and “Moorgard” commented the press release.