A “Happy New Year” wish

I’m bitter today but this post from Alice was too good. Quoting David Braben:

Our golden age has not yet started but the door is open, and somewhere are the Welles and Hitchcocks of the future.

They may even be reading this piece right now.

Keep chasing dreams :)

(you can keep the Welles and the Hitchcocks for yourselves, can I be Ed Wood?)

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OUCH! A flying sandbox hit my head!

You can never know from where a sandbox may arrive:

Derek Smart:
The campaign locks the type of craft you can use. So, uhm, how were you able to change it?

Ben Zwycky:
I didn’t change it, just a simple matter of going down to a planet, visiting your local showroom (base) exiting your craft and entering your craft of choice (though it’s a bit more complex to get hold of a zodiac)

The best part was overcoming the problem of how to get the zodiac off the planet. It’s only found on naval bases or the starbase on Majoris, but the Zodiac’s conventional engines are too weak to escape the gravitational pull of earth or Majoris (it can’t reach the required altitude).

So I went down to the naval base on Earth, landed on the carrier, exited and got into the shuttle on the carrier, then grabbed the zodiac on the same carrier with my tractor beam and left the planet.

I now have my zodiac in space, but I still can’t use it because I can’t exit the shuttle in space because I’m an EFP and don’t have a space suit.

I then flew to the Moon, landed, got out of the shuttle and into my lovely new craft, which was able to escape the much weaker local gravitational pull with ease. All that remained was to dock with galcom HQ and change all my ATS and ATA missiles for STS ones and I was ready to go a huntin’.

Conventional methods? What are they? :)

The Battlecruiser series is also an example of sandbox, and has always been closer to a mmorpg than a single-player game. Even if it IS a single-player game.

It perfectly exemplifies another critical problem of the sandbox: it does many things, but it does everything ugly.

Exactly like a Derek Smart’s game.

In other occasions I explained my perplexity about this point:

What I’m noticing is that the trend is to specialize. Instead of building games that try to reach a wide public and create a virtual world that appeals to different player “types” (we had this discussion long ago), we have games that specialize more and more in just one precise direction.

There’s a natural and even obligatory drift to focus more and more. On the thread of Grimwell Brad wrote that he thinks it’s possible to arrive to a virtual world starting from a Diku and by adding progressively more “world-y” parts and move closer to the ideal. But instead what I see is that both the games, devs and players focus progressively and erode the game to the essential. In DAoC the players focus on PvP and the PvE is more and more left out, despite a decent amount of resources have been spent on it with the time.

What I’m saying is that these games seem to become progressively “poorer”, eroded to the minimum common denominator. Specialized and focused as much as possible. I don’t think is exclusivelly a matter of the continue optimization done by the players.

The general impression is that a game offers progressively *less* as the time passes. Maybe the focus helps to rise the quality of that specific part but there doesn’t seem to exist a possibility to move in the other direction and enrich the game instead of draining/exhausting it.

I’m not sure how to wrap all this up, this is just what I observe. Then I blame the mudflation as always.

Ubiq wrote about this in January but I think there’s more than just marketing observations…

Give a look to this strip:

Is the sandbox just the overambitious, silly dream of the (visionary) drunk geek without any practical chance to do something good?

Not from my point of view, of course. This is a different model that I consider more appropriate in the long run. See for example the two curves Raph used to explain the two types of marketing trends:

Raph already explained these, so I won’t comment further. My point is that a mmorpg should found itself on the evolution, because this is one of the native strengths of the genre: the possibility to observe and evolve. The possibility to “reach” what was only a dream before. Dynamism, growth, learning. Already in the processes of the development, not just for the players.

The difference is that WoW, after some years, will be the same game of today. It will still do one thing only, stretching it as much as possible and then more. Exploiting that one thing to the limit. But it will remain the same game. It will never suggest anything else and will never add anything worthwhile to the experience. It won’t use its potential, it will just strain it. This is why, even if it *will* remain successful in the longer term (the general poor state of the industry helps), it will still belong to the first curve. Something that is destined to fade out and get replaced. A transition.

While other games may belong to the second curve. Where the launch isn’t the last stop, but where the journey begins. A game that starts from that point to move toward a maturity.

To do so, though, we need to develop sandboxes that are already “accessible” and “fun” on the very basic level. And then work on top of that. SWG basically didn’t work for these two reasons. Because it didn’t start as accessible and fun and because the devs seem to have demolished more than built.

This is why cannot tolerate anymore sandboxes that overlook the fundamentals.

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About “death systems”

I was thinking:
– In general some players demand harsher death penalties (or even permdeath) so that it is more “meaningful”.
– But then we also know that these games are about “learning”

Now my point is, from when “learning” is a practice of death? Isn’t “dying” the exact opposite of “learning”?

I mean, even in real life, “learning” implies that you survive the process. If you die you don’t learn anything at all, you are done. Game over.

Postulate: “Learning” is a mechanic of life, not of death.

Let’s delve some more (but still remain on the “navel gazing” level). What’s the difference between WoW’s death penalities and those in other games? I already wrote a long analysis two years ago, but, essentially:
1- It’s *quantitatively* small
2- It isn’t incremental (here I lack the proper term, but you know what I mean)

Don’t let the absence of xp loss fool you, there’s no *qualitative* difference from dying in DAoC and dying in WoW. In both a death is a loss of time. This loss can be quantitatively different, but qualitatively it’s still about the time. You could lose xp, but it’s still about spending time to recover it. Many mmorpgs have toyed with these concepts through whimsical solutions, but they didn’t really go anywhere. From xp loss, to corpse recovering, xp debts and all the rest. It’s all the same. Qualitatively.

Then there’s the other point. In WoW the death isn’t incremental. You die once or you die twenty times in a row and you don’t pile up the penalty. This is the most important element of the two, and it’s where WoW’s death penalty works better: these games are about learning, so it’s useful to keep the frustration away and lead the player more than teach him to fear death. “Fear death” here is the key. In this game “death” is the experimentation. If you “fear death” you stick on the standarized path, you avoid risk and maintain a “low profile”. No good for the game, not fun.

This is basically why the market rewarded more bland death penalties:
1- Games are about learning
2- In games you learn by experimenting, taking risks and dying. So you learn by dying (if you don’t do anything wrong you learn zero, obviously)
3- The market rewards a game where the learning process is the most efficient and satisfactory: dying is not frustrating, so you can take risks and learn

Pretty much linear and logical from my point of view. “Killing” the players for good doesn’t work because you are simply killing their possibility to learn. So you are killing the game itself. It would be a nonsense.

Now, why you would want to use “permdeath”? It’s like selfstabbing. You would kill every semblance of game.

Let’s delve on the level of navel gazing even here. What’s permdeath? Another “ring a round the rosey”. Nothing changes, you lose progress and need to restart. So it’s again a mechanic about time. You need to redo things, so you have to spend your time to return to where you left.

So what’s the actually impact of permdeath if it’s concretely nowhere different from WoW’s death penalty? What it would add that isn’t already largely used beside the “quantitative” difference?

Imho, nothing at all. Permdeath would only make critical the replayability of the game. It’s not the loss of progress that would scare me in WoW. It’s the fact that if I have to redo my character, I also have to repeat all the initial levels and all that content that I’ve already seen too many times.

It doesn’t look like a good idea. It would be really stupid, in fact.

Morale: Permdeath would be vaguely possible only in a game with a superb replayability. Which doesn’t look like a common feature and would also pretty much nullify the reason to have it in the game in the first place.

Conclusion: harsher death penalties are exercises in futility.

The bitter, hollow pill at the center of the Shitsie Pop

A quote from Haemish:

A lot of what we liked in EQ was the (what we thought at the time) great group of people around us playing it with us. We had fun in spite of the game’s flaws, because we had fun people to be around.

Then we found the bitter, hollow pill at the center of the Shitsie Pop, these people turned into lewt-whoring assholes, and the game didn’t give us much else to do but whore lewtz.

Vanguard will be different, in that we (or I) won’t have the group of people together anymore.

I think this fits in the debate as well.

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The industry isn’t short sighted. It is BLIND

Saving another comment from Amberyl that is a perfect follow-up to everything that was said.

El Gallo:
New irreversible choices are being made right now, and if you want to have any input in them you need to accept the ones that have been made in the past.

Amberyl (Lydia Leong):
That’s the philosophy of market leaders that are about to become ex-market leaders when some new company comes along with totally new ideas and rolls right over the competition.

Accepting that the glorified treadmill is the only reasonable way to make a commercially viable MMORPG fundamentally means accepting that the market for MMORPGs is highly limited. I don’t accept that premise, and anyone with some business smarts shouldn’t accept that either.

It’s also important to note that the “make max level, conquer the game” mentality is only important to some players. MMORPGs (and most computer games, really) are currently aimed at those players, but they are by no means the only audience out there, and they are a relatively small part of the general population. Diverse reward mechanisms are more likely to draw diverse audiences.

Sadly everyone out there wouldn’t recognize or understand good ideas even if you shoved them down their throats with a foot.

Everyone will acknowledge them after they happened, though.

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Back to the roots

(first part)

Its not a problem of quests, its a problem of the fundamental game mechanics that enforce the quest-types.

For example, mobs in WoW do not eat. They do not sleep. They don’t go to a job. They don’t talk. They don’t move to a different zone. They just stand around, walk around a bit for exercise, they attack a PC if he gets too close, die, and respawn a few minutes later.

WHOA… its shocking that complex quests can’t be built around the pathetic limitations of mob behavior!

The only (current) solution given the mundane and static world of todays VSOGs is quests that are about WoW players. But the problem, again, is gameplay limitation. What do WoW players want? Items, gold, experience, socialization. WoW players actually want much more, but WoW only gives them so much.

That’s a quote from a very old post on Q23, from Brian Koontz. I wasn’t expecting to use it but I found it on a text file just a minute ago and it may fit. This will be a follow-up to my summarized analysis about quest mechanics. This time focusing on the solutions and the answers to those questions that concluded the previous article.

Here is where I left:

In the quest I brought as an example above the text seems to get in the way of the game, not part of it. Again, you are rewarded if you read it (well-written text) but it’s still felt as an intrusion. Something that doesn’t seem to belong there. An ‘extra’ text (once again) that in that case is getting a tad too much “inflated”.

Now the point is, Mythic seems to have some good writers, and then some wonderful artists. These are precious *resources* and they seem good. Isn’t there a better way to use them? Would it be possible to move the text there (without changing it) to a different context to make it more meaningful and with a more appropriate “presentation”? Is there a way to valorize that text?

I don’t mean changing the font and making it more readable. I mean transforming it in a *subject* (and value) of the game instead of just an ‘extra’ that most of the players would (and will) rather skip (the outcome is the same, your “duty” is to click till the end till you “ding” the reward. Nothing could go wrong).

The “solutions” to these problems will be the subject of another article. But I’ll anticipate that these ideas I have will be about recovering that functional purpose that made the text in those old games I quoted so relevant and… fun.

The goals here are about:
1- Transform passive, ‘extra’ text as *subject* of the gameplay and not as just an inflated backdrop that the players would rather skip so they can go back at “playing the game”

2- Recover the interest and fun in “reading”, bringing back that special flavor from the old RPGs that seems now lost for good

3- Detach the “functional” purpose of the questing from being just an artificial excuse to add some bland variation to grindy treadmills and level-up mechanics

4- Reward those players that read and ‘explore’ actively the game this way

As I always say what is important is to set the goals. Once the goals are set we can consider the possible solutions, which could work or not. What is fundamental is to have a reference that is valid. Those four points are the reference I used to come up with my ideas.

Now there not much to invent. I always considered ‘game design’ as not something where the rabid creativity is terribly useful and I also don’t feel so talented when it comes to the pure creativity. What I consider more useful is the capability to observe, understand how things work, bring them back to the essential and figure out new, better ways to use what’s available. It’s about rediscovering and adjusting. Shaping things more than inventing them out of thin air. Working and researching more than being a genius doing everything perfect at the first try.

In this case the second point defines what I want to bring back. This isn’t abstract theory, this is about concrete ideas. What’s written in the first goal may appear as fancy but it already happened in those classic RPGs, like the Ultima series, System Shock and even Bioware games, like Baldur’s Gate or Torment. These were wonderful stories where the gameplay was more about the dialogues than combat. And that ‘text’ wasn’t felt as an intrusive extra. It was the spice of the game, what made it *fun*.

So what’s the difference between those games and the quests in the current mmorpgs? To my eyes it’s rather evident. In WoW the essential part of a quest is its objective. Similarly in DAoC you click through lenghty, optional text that is there as context. While you’ll have what’s actually relevant for the gameplay in your “journal”. In both these games the quest has two, nearly autonomous parts: the context, which is optional, and the objective, which is required. Autonomous because you can easily do without the first part (and the game somewhat pushes you that way) and because the two, nearly always, have nothing to share when it comes to the gameplay.

Basically, the optional text gives a context to the quest but serves no practical purpose. In nearly all the cases you can do without it if the quest objectives aren’t poorly written.

The first two goals I wrote up there can be joined together, the same it is possible with the last two. I believe that reading in the old RPGs had a special flavor and was “fun” because it was, in fact, the *subject* of the gameplay (first goal) and not an inflated backdrop. So one goal flows naturally in the second. The point here is that in those old games you didn’t have any “aid” to streamline your gameplay. See these three examples:

In System Shock you start basically stuck in a room. You cannot move out of it till you don’t find a log file and read it to find the key-code that will allow you to open the door. The same log file will tell you what is supposed to be your next step, but from that point onward the game loses the linearity and will become just a complex, hostile environment where you follow “bread crumbs” of informations. The first environment is that small so that you can get used to the mechanics of the game. You have to read the log files to understand your situation and place in the game. Learn the environment where you are put, collecting and putting together parts of the story till you are able to figure out the overall scheme. This game has its greatest quality in the freedom it leaves to the player. It isn’t directly linear and all the game is fragmented in those little pieces that you progressively bring together. It’s one of the most immersive games ever.

In Ultima 8 you start on a isle and there’s basically no interface helping you. No quest journal to speak of. You are basically trapped in the first small town till you don’t figure out who to speak with and where to go next. You won’t have a waypoint on a map, you won’t see big exclamation marks hovering NPCs heads, telling you that a quest is available. You’ll have to figure out all that by yourself. By speaking with people, exploring the place, asking the right questions, progressively learning about the world around you. Two seconds in the game you’ll meed Devon, a fisherman. If you ask the right questions he will tell you a lot of the place where you are. If you ask the wrong questions those informations are lost and you’ll have to gather them from other sources. Devon will still give you two basic hints: go see what’s happening on the dock (an execution) and go speak with Bentic, a librarian that you can find in the eastern part of the town. Again you have to figure out these basic informations from the dialogues, since the game doesn’t point you artificially in those directions.

In Ultima 7 you gate directly into Trinsic. Even here you are stuck in the town and cannot leave it till you don’t accept to investigate a crime and obtain the permission to leave. Even here you have to explore the game world, talk to the people inhabiting it, learning about their stories, figuring out their relationships and finally playing a role in how things develop. There isn’t one defined path shining brightly and when you finally solve the first “quest” and are able to leave Trinsic you aren’t rewarded with a “ding” and some experience points. Your character basically remains the same throughout the whole game at the exclusion of some story items you’ll have to acquire.

All these three examples are WONDERFUL VIRTUAL WORLDS. They still are better than anything we have online right now. There’s no other game with the same depth and immersive experience. To deliver all that these games have characters that “live” in those worlds. They aren’t functional buttons you press to get a quest or buy stuff. Are those characters to give life to the world. You start with no knowledge and you move your first steps talking to those NPCs so that you can slowly learn about the game world, slowly becoming part of it, taking an active role. But that world and those stories existed before you stepped in. You are an explorer. You wander around, find places, get to know those NPCs. Live with them.

Ding! Grats? There’s none. Noone cares about skills or stats. In the Ultima series the combat and the micromanagment of your character are close to NULL. Still they are wonderful games. Some of the best (if not the best) ever created. Still today.

It should be clear that the difference is that the text was used in those games as part of the *exploration*. It wasn’t an optional backdrop. Without going around, exploring, asking questions to the various NPCs, taking notes and learning the history and culture of that world, you wouldn’t be able to do ANYTHING in the game. There wasn’t a total focus on the combat, or kill ten foozles, or gain ‘x’ levels. It was about the world, the stories, living an immersive experience in as many aspects as possible. In Ultima 7 the NPCs had schedules and it felt already so incredible watching the guards patrolling and turning off the lights in Britain at night. It was pure atmosphere in a self-consistent virtual world.

Two are the patterns that I isolated in those old games and that we completely lost today:

– The first (first and second goal) is that the text was an active part of that research I explained. You had to figure out the objectives by yourself, dialoguing with the NPCs and progressively acquiring the informations you were looking for (this is gameplay). Engaging the logic of the game world (and your own). The dialogues were just that: dialogues. They didn’t need to be anything else.

– The second pattern is about the *function* of the quests:

In my idea (that mimics that magic that made me love so much those early games and that the modern ones have lost) a quest is a mean for the story. A quest can be a way to get access to a different zone, discover a new spell, convince an NPC to do something for you, and so on. If an NPC asks you to obtains some reagents (kill10rats) it’s because once you have accomplished that simple quest, something will happen after. And then something else. You wouldn’t chase strictly your character progress. You would chase a story and discover, step after step, a world. A world with its own depth and identity before you put your foot in it. Learning from it and not inflicting ‘punishment’ on everything that budges. If you don’t deliver those reagents that were requested, or if you don’t find an alternate way to pass that point, you wouldn’t be able to continue with the (your) story. Because the story is the *function*, not the pretext.

This means that there could be “kill10rats” quests. But they would be part of a world and a story that goes on, cohesively. And not a redundant action without a purpose.

In those old games questing was a mean for the story. Acquiring more power, if it was possible, was to move the story onward (Raph described exactly the same things on his analysis of the D&D, here). Not the opposite. The narrative was the purpose of the game, not an intrusive ‘extra’ getting in the way of mob-bashing. The purpose was the story, the world, your active role in that world. Learning it, discovering it. You were discovering something BESIDE you. Not your e-peen growing indefinitely. You cannot tell me that a growing e-peen is more satisfactory than the immersive experience of those virtual worlds. Because, if this is true, it’s YOU to be broken beyond repair, not these games.

Everything I’m writing here closely resembles to what I was shouting during Wish beta. There are two faces of the medal similar to what I said defining the dichotomies of instancing. It’s in the PvP that the world should be focused on the PLAYERS. Make them the pivot of the game. Giving them control, letting them cooperate. And then there’s the PvE, with its antithetic needs. Where the focus should be on the *world* itself. Offering stories, learning its culture, exploring it. If this world doesn’t “breath” on its own, if it doesn’t has secrets to discover, if it doesn’t frighten, well, it wouldn’t have any value. It wouldn’t offer anything worthwhile.

The PvP is about a game where the players make experience of each other and relate to each other. It’s the social layer. The players are brought together, the collective effort. Something bigger is being built. It’s the starting point for emergent content.

The PvE is about a game where the players make experience of the world and what it has to offer. Where you narrate a story to them and to that story they will belong. It’s the journey toward something you do not expect, the exploration. It’s about the surprise, the discovery, the fear. This is the roleplay where you impersonate the character and live a story with him.

I want real dialogues and “living” NPCs as it happened in the Ultima series. Where you don’t skip the quest text to get a strict summary of the objectives, but where, instead, you have to RESEARCH and EXPLORE. Talk with different NPCs, taking notes, figuring out the stories. Where you can ask about different topics and not just click, click, click and click again till you reached the end of a one-way text and finally got the quest. Where these NPCs are interconnected and where the dialogues are more rich. So that the world comes to life as something cohesive and not a bunch of quests glued together without any tie between one or the other if not a vague reference. A world where EVERY item is interconnected.

Dialogues that aren’t simply functional to get or finish a quest, or flagged clearly that way. The NPCs would tell things to you, recommend who to speak to, where to search what you are looking for, give informations about the world where you live, explain how to open that portal. But without strictly functional quests that trigger at some point. Without the game recognizing between “this is the text for a quest” and “this is extra text”. Without a “you got a quest!”. Without functional mechanics “you gained 300xp!”.

If you are trapped in a dungeon, your duty would be to escape alive. Not to get experience points because you killed the monsters. If you are working to open a portal to another world your duty would be to research and collect the items and knowledge you need to do open it, and not other unexcused rewards. If you are researching a new spell, your duty would be about studying it, learn where you can acquire it, train it. But not magically “dinging” and the spell appearing in your hotbar because you “gained a level”.

Then, maybe, reading will regain its function instead of remaining “optional” extra text without a purpose.

Concretely? Here is the plan:

BACK TO THE ROOTS, a list of “no more”

– No more advancement through quests, all the player’s skills should increase through a natural use and new skills and powers should be learned through realistic means such as: discovery, exploration, training etc… Everything happening “in” the game, meaning not directly directly spawned by a non-immersive element, like the UI itself, a “ding. grats!” or another abstract game mechanic.

– Quests or “journeys” (a “journey” is a chain of quests) to learn new spells, acquire new powers, discover other zones, find your way through the world, learn about it.

– No more logbooks or journals, no objectives, no exclamation marks hovering NPC heads, no coordinates or waypoints. No abstract mechanics such as “quest levels” to deliver content.

– Dialogues with NPCs made through branching trees and multiple choices. No more one-way text. No optional, “filler” text.

– Different NPCs all talking and offering more informations about the same quest paths. No more isolated quests and unconnected, oblivious NPCs. No NPCs standing one next to the other and knowing nothing about each other.

– No more NPCs sitting in one place and waiting to be clicked-on like cheese dispenser. Every NPC should have and follow a simple schedule. The NPCs should go sleep at their homes during the night and their existence in the world should be always “motivated”. No more just a “service” for the player or for a strictly artificial purpose. The NPCs should be there for their own life and motivations, not just for you. You are there to learn about them, discover their world, not just to use everything as your own tool. The world is the pivot, not you.

– The PvE areas and instances should have no maps (possibly with the exclusion of in-game drawings manipulable by the character). No more radars, or on-screen compass. If you have a compass or a map, it’s an item in the game, used by your character.

– More quests should have the purpose to grant access to new areas and develop the story. So questing should be mandatory to progress in PvE. All the areas and the instances should exist with the only purpose of enacting stories and immerse the player.

Problems to sort out:
– NPCs sleeping when you need them
– Replayability

Even CCP devs don’t play their own game!

I skimmed some more through E-On and my opinion is still the same. Lots of interesting stuff, I’m glad I got a copy before it was too late.

Still didn’t have the time to actually read it but I found some interesting things.

They talk about their upcoming launch in China (can I have one of those pretty PR girls? thanks!) with some interesting comments:

Currently Eve Online boasts about 2.000 Chinese subscribers, but in the long-term CCP hopes to increase that figure beyond that of the global Eve player base.

“The Chinese MMOG market is currently about 10 times bigger than Europe and the US combined, about 27 million players,” says Hilmar, “Given that we now have more than 70.000 subscribers in the West, all things being equal we could have 700.000 subs in China.”

Cheap math for the win! Keep dreaming :)

Anyway they also reference an interesting project, the “wild idea”. We already know that they are going to build a separate server cluster for the eastern market, so moving away from the one-world concept. But this doesn’t seem to be the end of their plans:

Imagine, if you will, a new larger universe developing beyond Eve current space, with hundreds of thausands of players fighting wars and forging alliances. Alliances and wars that may one day find a way to reach the ‘Western’ arm of the Eve galaxy. On one hand it’s frightening – threatening, almost overwhelming – but the possibilities for interaction must surely go far beyond even CCP’s far-from modest ambitions.

Eve Online may only be just beginning.

“The wildest ideas about the China cluster involve them starting out in a different part of the galaxy, unconnected to the regions of Amarr, Minmantar, Gallente, Caldari and Jove. We could give them, say, two years to catch up, in an accelerated fashion then, once TQ (Tranquility) and the China cluster are about equal in tech level and player infrastructure , we would merge the clusters and alloe everyone to duel it out in massive uber-fleet combats on server hardware of the future.”

The idea is rather crazy but also terribly interesting. It’s also not so far off from my ‘shard travel’ idea. The possibility to create two different communities developing as two different cultures has a lot of potential. Linking them would probably have a strong destabilizing impact on both. But the fact that these “passages” would be in low-security space controlled directly by the player corporations themselves would open so many possibilities.

This is again how worlds are built. Forming own rules and structures that could have a strong impact on the whole game.

Another thing that caught my eye is the Eve CGI movie, no really. This isn’t another crazy project by CCP but something done by a player in the community. There’s a thread on the official forums with the links to mirrors for the original two-minute trailer released early this year. The plan is to release consequent chapters with a duration around five minutes. The first is named “Darwin’s Contraption” and is slated for a Q1 2006 release. The trailer feels really short but not too bad (brighten up the monitor).

Then there are the two devs profiles that excused the title. I already explanied my point of view about developers not playing their games (I’m really not shocked) and it’s fun to see those questions coming up in the interviews.

Interesting stuff, especially because you would expect those sort of comments to come from a player, as a rant. Not from the lead designer:

Do you play much EVE yourself – for fun?

Kjartan ‘LeKjart’ Emilsson (lead game designer): No. I played early on in the game, but quickly realized that to have any chance to compete with the hardcore players I would have to sacrifice the precious little time I have left with my family. I sometimes go in, train some skills and do an occasional mission, but I have long foregone any hope of becoming an EVE tycoon.

Borkur ‘Nag’ Eiriksson (illustrator/artist): I played it ferverishly for a year after release and I was so consumed by it that I almost screwed up my graduation! After I started working for CCP I found I had less time to play and slowly drew myself out of it so I could devote more time to work (and more time to my girlfriend as she was complaining a lot). So today I play it regularly but not nearly as much as I used to.

The last page is instead about “Teh Funnies”. On the left there are some funny quotes taken from the game chat (with portraits):

Harry Stoteles> rofl, i just tried for 3 minutes to target lock a small stain on my monitor
Shrike> ……..
Harry Stoteles> thought it was a rock…
Harry Stoteles> honestly

Futher Bezluden> 3653m/s in my stiletto
Bjorn Stahle> Pretty good speed in heels, how fast is your ship?

Talostan Gurt> how ya doin?
LordChaos> ALL BOW TO THE MIGHT LC!!!!!!!!!
LordChaos> i always forget the f*****g Y lol
Talostan Gurt> /emote licks lc in the balls
Talostan Gurt> kick***
LordChaos> lick?
LordChaos> ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww
Talostan Gurt> ewwwwww
Talostan Gurt> nooooooooooooo
LordChaos> LMAO
Talostan Gurt> i did not mean that!!!!!!!

And on the right of the page, a glossary:

Brash, overbearing NPCs who reward the completition of deathly dull assignments with thousands of items that you’ll either never need, never be able to sell or be permitted to recycle.

So true!! Here’s more:

A race of pompous religious fanatics who take themselves far too seriously, some of whom have taken to hiding their faces under a hood because they are so abominably hideous.

Arbitrary character statistics, decided upon without due knowledge as you begin your EVE journey, that after two years you’ll realise you got horribly wrong.

Ridiculously expensive cranial inserts that enhance characteristics and skills, that upon death will have you crying like a baby that you ever bought them.

On a sidenote not related to the mag: I saved on the forum section a guide to the use of missiles to complete the wonderful guide about the turrets.

One of the aspects of Eve I find severely lacking is the graphical representation of the combat: there is no difference between a hit, a hit for no damage and a miss. That’s something that could use some work…

[Eve-Online] A guide to missiles

On the official site there’s a wonderful guide explaining the turrets, not much about how the missiles work, though. Expecially since the significant changes in “Cold War”.

This is an archive of some posts that should clarify how the missiles work. Completing the guide to the turrets.

Missiles are fairly simple. There are three factors to consider: missile velocity, target velocity, and target signature radius.

Missile velocity is fairly self-explanatory – if the missile is not fast enought to hit the target, it will follow until its drive burns out and then disappear, with no damage inflicted.

The second is target velocity. Each missile has an explosion velocity (check individual missile type for the exact amount). If the target’s velocity exceeds the explosion velocity, the target takes reduced damage (which scales as the difference between explosion velocity and target velocity increases). If the target’s velocity great enough in comparison to the explosion velocity, the target will not take any damage at all (really a fraction of a percent of 1 point of damage). Please note that missiles do not inflict extra damage for the target being under the explosion velocity – anything moving slower than the explosion velocity simply takes full damage (before resists, of course). Also note that the target’s actual velocity is used, not transversal velocity.

The third factor is signature radius. Missiles have an explosion radius, and any target with a sig radius smaller than the explosion radius takes reduced damage. Again, damage does not increase beyond normal as the sig radius grows larger than the explosion radius – the missiles just inflict full damage before resists.

Add these three factors together and you have the current missile system.

Things that will help you kill targets that are smaller than your particular missile’s exlosion radius and/or faster than its explosion velocity:

Stasis Webifier – reduces target max velocity by 75% (or more, for named).

Nosferatus and Neutralizers – indirect. Kills target’s cap, making it impossible for them to use speed enhancing modules, such as MWD and afterburner.

Target Painter – increases target’s sig radius.

Target Painter Drones – increase target’s sig radius.

Design notes from TomB (dev):
The overhaul of the missile system is mainly focused on:

# Reducing damage for bigger missiles against smaller ships – the missiles now uses the Signature Radius of the target which gets factored by a new missile attribute called Explosion Radius, where the explosion can only deal maximum damage to a ship that meets the Explosion Radius in size
Damage can be increased on ships that have Signature Radius smaller than the Explosion Radius by either using Target Painter on the target or if the target activates a MWD, the intend how ever is not to make MWD none useable around missile boats as the velocity will be used as a damage factor as well

# Keeping ship velocity a factor for missile combat, allowing it to reduce the damage – each missile class will have a unique threshold where ship velocity can decrease the damage dealing and a unique factor of how fast the damage decreases per m/s once that threshold is met
Everyone who loves shooting or fears getting hit by missiles should give this a test for the feel of how the velocity factor works for the different missile types, it is still at the first level, it will getter a better look at

# Increased missile velocity – this is to make them more friendly & feared at long distanced combat engagements, missiles “do not” have the same benefit of instant damage on module activation that turrets are capable of, while they “do” have the benefit of consistent damage

Known issue here is missiles visually disappearing in space; this has been investigated and fixed (possible the fix ain’t out on the Test Server yet) and missile explosion occurring at freaked locations is still being investigated

# Increasing the missile skill group advancement – players that want to become ultra violent with missiles will be able to get skills to improve their missiles in various ways

Their base damage on average sized battleships does not change, Torpedoes are still able to deal the most damage to battleships and are the hardest missiles to counter, they are how ever not as fast as guided missiles, do not have the same possible range and damage is easier to reduce with ship velocity.

# Extreme damage capabilities against big ships like before, but very little damage to smaller ships and easily reduced with velocity

# Velocity has been increased from 750m/s to 1250m/s base, capable of 1875m/s with skills and 2813m/s with a single ship bonus

# Base distance has been reduced, but able to cross 84km with skills and to 127km with a single velocity or flight time ship bonus

Cruise Missiles:
Like all other guided missiles they have maximum velocity, are able to cross long distances in xl-greatly shortened time, significantly increased range and very high velocity is needed to affect their damage – the reason for all guided missiles to have the same velocity is because the velocity of the missiles are not considered a factor for being able of catching a ship or not, they all have to cross long distances and need the highest possible velocity

# They still work the same in damage against battleships but have been improved in DPS with cruise launcher changes (listed below), but only deal average damage to cruisers & frigates

# Velocity has been increased from 1600m/s to 3750m/s base, capable of 5625m/s with skills and 8438m/s with a single ship bonus

# Distance that these can cross has been increased by a big number, capable of 169km with skills and 253km with a single velocity or flight time ship bonus

Heavy Missiles:
Like all other guided missiles they have maximum velocity, are able to cross long distances in xl-greatly shortened time, significantly increased range and very high velocity is needed to affect their damage – the reason for all guided missiles to have the same velocity is because the velocity of the missiles are not considered a factor for being able of catching a ship or not, they all have to cross long distances and need the highest possible velocity

# The DPS for Heavy Missiles against cruisers has been increased with Launcher improvements (listed below), but only deal average damage to frigates

# Velocity has been increased from 1600m/s to 3750m/s base, capable of 5625m/s with skills and 8438m/s with a single ship bonus

# Distance that these can cross has been increased by a big number, capable of 84km with skills and 127km with a single velocity or flight time ship bonus

Light Missiles:
Like all other guided missiles they have maximum velocity, are able to cross long distances in xl-greatly shortened time, significantly increased range and very high velocity is needed to affect their damage – the reason for all guided missiles to have the same velocity is because the velocity of the missiles are not considered a factor for being able of catching a ship or not, they all have to cross long distances and need the highest possible velocity

# The DPS for Light Missiles against frigates stays same for average sized frigates, but gets a little less against the smallest frigates

# Velocity has been increased from 1600m/s to 3750m/s base, capable of 5625m/s with skills and 8438m/s with a single ship bonus

# Distance that these can cross has been increased by a big number, capable of 42km with skills and 63km with a single velocity or flight time ship bonus

These have not had much changed, they will stay the ultimate missile damage dealer for frigates in close range engagements but still limited on distance, their velocity how ever won’t be increased much because of defender purposes in close range engagements

# The DPS for rockets is the same for mostly all ships

[*]Velocity has been increased from 1000m/s to 2250m/s base, capa


The missile and launcher changes will make size classed weapons deal more damage per second to same ship class than bigger weapons, there are how ever two exceptions:
1. Cruise Launcher can deal similar amount as Heavy Launcher to a large cruiser with new guided precision skill
2. Assault Launcher deals more damage than rocket or standard launcher to large frigates with new guided precision skill

Siege Launcher: are only able to shoot Torpedoes, they are still the ultimate damage dealer for launchers.
* No more cruise missiles or FoF’s

The Cruise Launcher: now shoots faster than before, it doesn’t have the same damage capabilities as the Siege Launcher, but is a much better option than before and also gives fitting space for other grid/cpu greedy modules.
* Base RoF reduced from 28 seconds to 22 seconds
* Base Power Need increased from 1000 to 1250

The Heavy Launcher: also shoots faster than before, increasing the DPS against cruisers / battleships from currently on Tranquility.
* Base RoF reduced from 20 seconds to 18 seconds
* Base Power Need increased from 60 to 100

The Assault Launcher: has only had little reduced CPU need for fitting, it keeps it average DPS for a cruiser sized weapon, stays the king of defenders, also the only launcher that gives an edge against smaller ship classes in DPS.
* Base CPU Need reduced from 40 to 35
* Base Power Need increased from 30 to 50

The Standard Launcher: has had increased fitting requirements in power need, also due to changes to the light missiles it’s now able to operate at further distances and significantly decreased down time to the start when damage starts taking place.
* Base CPU Need increased from 12 to 25
* Base Power Need increased from 3 to 8

The Rocket Launcher: also has had increased fitting requirements in power need, they will stay the ultimate frigate class launcher for DPS in shorter range engagements
* Base CPU Need increased from 12 to 15
* Base Power Need increased from 1 to 4

Defender Missiles: have had their velocity increased to 7500m/s so they are able of catching faster missiles, the Defender Skill continues increasing their velocity which enables them to get to 11250m/s, capable of crossing a distance of 113km.
Other changes to the multi-launcher-class Defender Missiles have not been done, i.e. you will need more than one defender to take out a Torpedo.


# Missile Launcher Operation – decreased rate of fire bonus from 5% to 2% (addon of Rapid Launch)

These are new skills that have been listed as possible advancement candidates for the missile changes:

# Missile Navigation – Increased missile velocity

# Missile Bombardment – Increased missile fly time duration

# Guided Missile Precision – Signature radius reduction factor on damage reduced for guided missiles

# Warhead Upgrades – Increased missile damage

# Target Navigation Prediction – The threshold where velocity of target starts decreasing damage is increased

# Rapid Launch – Increased rate of fire for launchers

# T2 Specialization – For T2 junk only

Latest conclusions from the “flow”

I’ll have to add an index as I have time. Here I’m saving some final considerations and basic points that I’m squeezing out the ongoing discussion.

Raging Turtle:
I hear people complaining about power creep, but really, why the hell would you stay in the game otherwise?

Straight from Raph:

I don’t at all equate levels and character advancement. Levels is one means of providing character advancement. I very much disagree that increasing power is the sole way of doing this.

Why would I play a game? Because I’m interested in the experience it offers me and having lots of fun in it. Consequence -> I really want to be part and active subject of this world.

The power creep is really a detail, even for those who love the progression. Again from Raph (I’m starting to feel like a well-trained bot):

Rather, I agree with what you said the first time, which is that it’s about the journey. I don’t think very many people get much enjoyment solely from the levelling process. Rather, the levels are the markers on the road. The road is what needs to be interesting and fun. You seem to be saying that as long as the growth via levels is there, the game can be less. I think that the ways in which we acknowledge achievement — and yes, even grant increased power — are secondary to the actual journey. Saying that “the enjoyment is less about the game and more about the growth” is exactly what is parodied in ProgressQuest.

This is REALLY the most basic stuff. We shouldn’t discuss about this in this sort of community. We aren’t five years ago. With WoW there’s a REAL RISK to demolish all we learnt if that success is observed superficially like that.

I find it’s best to stir things up occasionally by pointing out that thousands of fun games have been made, but no one has yet succeeded in making a fun virtual world. They’ll deny that fact, but that’s what puts them firmly in the “wrong” camp. :)

Well, I didn’t deny the fact at all. Quoting from previous comments:

We all know how sandbox games SUCK. And they do. But this doesn’t mean that they HAVE TO.

What’s the first flaw of a sandbox? It’s lack of direction. The fact that you don’t know what you are supposed to do next and you feel overwhelmed and lost.

Still today the sandbox games are those where I had the LESS fun. So why I love them anyway? Because what I see is their potential beyond those flaws that have been impassable barriers for me. And if have that silly dream of becoming a developer it’s because I dream about what these games will be when those barriers will be removed.

That’s the myth I’m chasing.

Back to Raph:

Many many MMO devs disagree with you. I have heard many MMO devs cite “story” as the principal reason and strength for MMOs, for example. I happen to disagree with that, but there’s little doubt that this rigid control is a major success factor for WoW.

And back to me:

The point is: the rigid control is needed to overcome the huge flaws of freeform games (see the discussion on F13). What is interesting to figure out is why the rigid control is a success factor.

Imho, because it adds accessibility. And this whole genre has HUGE problems in the accessibility. ESPECIALLY Raph’s games (take that).

But it’s still possible to have direction and a whole collection of linear paths *within* a freeform sandbox. You would still preserve the possibility to go on your own, but the presence of those paths would allow you to still have a definite “purpose” if you need one. And learn/enjoy the game progressively instead of feeling ‘lost and overwhelmed’.

That’s the core point that isn’t working in the “other type” of games.