EQ Progression servers ruined by careless implementation

I’ve never been an EverQuest player even if I log in EQ2 from time to time, but even if I’m not so familiar with its content I still have followed its development as I do with every other mmorpg.

I’m three days late commenting this, but on FoH’s forums those hardcore players that decided to undertake the challenge of the new “progression servers” started to heavily rant about a particular aspect. And I think they are complaining legitimately:

This kind of lack of foresight/complete disconnection with the game/basic imcompetance or WHATEVER it is, is what drove people away from EQ in the first place and aparently it’s still going stong, except now the impact it has on the game is even more devastating. The hotzones need to be removed and the server needs to be rolled back, but somehow I don’t see this happening.

What are they ranting about? They are ranting about a system already active on the classic EQ servers from quite some time that is, in their opinion, completely inappropriate for the progression servers, and, still, SOE didn’t do anything to remove it or at least adapt it so that it wouldn’t have damaged the game.

This system is about the addition of “hotspots”, a selection of zones where the experience you get from killing mobs is permanently doubled compared to the other zones with a similar level range. It worked for the classic servers where the great majority of the content is mudflated anyway. But on the progression servers this idea goes directly against EVERYTHING that this server type should be.

Now one of the reasons why I have a website and write about mmorpgs is to build a “memory”. Gather and develop ideas and discussions so that we (I) don’t have to restart from zero when something comes up. To solidificate ideas around certain points. To give things some consistence so that everything doesn’t feel volatile and vain as on a message board.

So let me refresh the memories. The “hotspots” where added a couple of years ago when Rod Humble was still the producer of the game. Here’s the original design purpose behind them:

As for the hotspots, no, the original intent was not to change populations in underused zones. It was to assist a more casual playstyle (whatever “casual” means in this case it just meant how some folks including myself play.)

Many of us in at SoE are casual players, its been an ongoing joke that I play a character upto level 23 then restart, then I discovered another person who played that way, then another, then another. Obviously we were not doing something right for people like us. If there were 4 people in the studio who played that way there must surely be many others out there.

This combined with the refrain I kept hearing from experienced players that “anybody can get to level 50 in a week” started to grate on my neves after all I know I cant do that….. so we took a look around..

We did some data farming and sure enough there was a big dropoff around certain key levels in player activity as a percentage of their numbers which shot back up again at later levels (when for various reasons there is a ton of more stuff to do).

Well EQ is in a pretty rare position of having more content than most casual players can ever handle so why not hit the level ranges where casual players have the biggest barren patches and give them a boost?

This combined with Marks comments about “why are developers afraid of letting players get to the top?” struck a chord with me. After all “hardcore” players get to the “top” anyway and they can still enjoy playing so why not extend that to a wider audience?

After all we WANT people to succeed and experience all of the fun content, we have years of it just waiting for folks to experience we dont want to put roadblocks in their way we want to take barriers away and give them a boost.

A better summary about the concrete design purpose could be found in a quote I took recently from Dave Rickey and about the mudflation that is becoming again a very actual theme for discussions as the WoW’s expansion draws near (everything is connected when you observe mmorpg game design):

Every new expansion effectively invalidates an equivalent amount of old content, every extension of the level range requires ways be found to reduce the time investment to reach the basline for the new cap.

That’s it. I couldn’t have explained it better. As more levels and tons of content were added to EverQuest, there was an increased need to actually keep the gap between the players manageable, or the new ones coming to the game could never hope to see the higher level content that made EQ successful or even reach their friends to play together.

That’s the nature of these kinds of games, the *illusion* of progress. Because the truth is that there isn’t any evolution. Nothing is really added because the model used forces a selection and replacement of the content. It’s not an “expansion”. It’s not “growth”. What happens is actually a collapse because the old content is made obsolete and loses its purpose and value, so the inner core of the game can just collapse on itself. Negating any real progression or evolution of the game world and slowly making the game progressively “hostile” to new players (“how mmorpgs die”). It’s a suicidal kind of development.

You don’t move forward in your gameplay, you just replicate it with shinier technology and bigger numbers.

Let me connect the dots. Look at what I wrote about “this is how MMORPGs die”, after reading that go see some emergent episodes that are coming up in WoW. See how all these discussion are: very actual, all tied together and all still lacking of a real answer?

If the bigger burden in creating these games is about producing good content fast enough, then why we are sticking to a model that actively invalidates and progressively erodes and even makes that content accessible only for a minority of the players? But this is a complex discussion that cannot be exhausted here (and that has also valid counter arguments, Scott Hartsman commented this on Raph’s blog a while ago). So let’s focus on this new problem of the progression servers and the hotzones.

The hotzones have concretely two basic purposes:

1- As the majority of the population in the game stagnates at the level cap and higher level zones, the rest of the players at the lower levels are too spread around between too many zones, now almost deserted. So there was the need to better direct and consolidate those players so that they could meet and play together more easily.

2- Provide “highways” from the lower levels to the current cap, so that the new players could complete their transition to the endgame in a reasonable time frame. With each expansion the gap was increased. Doubling the exp in some selected zones was a way to keep that gap more constant.

Both of these are directly connected with the mudflation and aimed at new players. Trying to keep the game accessible. Firstly by giving double exp to reduce the time needed to level and secondly by directing the players toward a manageable number of zones and content instead of letting them get lost in a deserted game world where the majority of the group-oriented content isn’t anymore viable due to the lack of other players. So fighting the dispersiveness of zones that have lost their purpose and function.

Now the problem is that the “progression servers” are nothing but an answer to the mudflation. So changing completely the context and offering their own solution to that problem. Quoting from my comments:

The content isn’t anymore mudflated as on a standard server, but is instead “aligned”. The idea of “progression” comes from a series of objectives that must be completed before you can advance. It’s all focused to be a solution to the mudflation. This new server type is just a way to remove the rust from content that has been ignored for a long time. Find a purpose, an use, a motivation. A way to refresh the memories and restores those qualities that the game has but that have been erased by the “progress” of the mudflation. A way to answer that existential question that plagues the whole game.

A solution that now collides with the purpose of the hotzones. The progression servers are a fresh run through the content. All the players start at the same time, the community is young and the content all relevant, with a function, because the new zones will be progressively unlocked and the level cap raised.

The hotzones were a bandaid for a collapsing game. But the progression servers are instead an attempt to revitalize the content. So the hotzones are completely out of context on these servers. Look at those two basic points that were the objectives of the hotzones. They are both *invalidated* on the progression servers.

The hotzones are a selection of a few zones so that the players don’t finish too dispersed on a game world that lost its purpose. But the point of the progression servers is instead about putting back the value in those zones that lost it. SOE made a HUGE mistake here because by not removing the hotzones they basically invalidated the whole idea of the progression servers: make the players enjoy content that was “lost”.

But who wants now to go explore zones that only give half the experience? The hotzones were a bandaid to the mudflation, in this case they are applied to a context (the progrtession servers) where the mudflation *doesn’t exist* (the whole purpose of these servers). And the result is that, instead of contrasting the negative effects of the mudflation, here they introduce them. So the solution (hotspots) to the problem (mudflation), applied on a context where that problem is not present (progression servers) have the paradoxical result of *introducing* the problem itself. Negating the value of the progression servers and basically fucking up the whole thing.

So yes, those players who rant have all the reasons to do so, because the whole idea of the progression servers just went straight to hell thanks to that oversight.

What should have been done? It’s simple and it’s again all within what I wrote about the progression servers (same link):

But there are also some basic weaknesses that undermine those ideas. The biggest problem is that the progression servers are only a temporary solution. They are transitory. The motivation is strong if you were there from the very beginning, but the majority of players won’t be able to keep up with the pace and will have to deal with the reality quite soon, which is much different from their expectations. People will be excluded from that sense of progression and, with the time, the players will trickle off as they understand that their hopes aren’t realistic and that it won’t be easy at all for them to be part of that community.

So the progression servers have done the miracle of giving EQ back a soul, identity and meaning. But these answers are only a temporary and the motivation will only work for a minority of the players. And then less and less.

The point is that sooner or later the mudflation will have its effect even on the progression servers since they are only a “temporary solution”. And it’s then that the hotspots will have an actual purpose without fucking up the whole thing.

When more and more content is unlocked and the level cap raised, THEN it makes sense to help new players who are left behind to catch up instead of just giving up to play. This is why a good implementation of these hotzones was about slowly enabling them for the lower levels and content as the progression server “progressed”. Parallel to that progression instead of ahead of it.

But that’s not what happened. All the hotzones are already enabled right away. Content that was unlocked two minutes before and that obviously IS NOT mudflated yet, is instead mudflated out of the game because of the hotzones. And the whole idea of playing on the progression servers to enjoy that content completely fucked up by this huge overlook.

This time those “hardcore” players are absolutely right. They were offered an idea that was crushed by a very bad implementation. And a mistake that cannot even be made up without rolling back the whole server.

Hell, this is a rare case where reducing the exp by 25% or so could have been a good idea.

WoW “world PvP” more stupid than expected

I written about next patch world PvP additions already. But there are some new details that are unbelievably bad:

Four towers are crucial to establishing complete strategic control over the Eastern Plaguelands. Capturing these towers works very much like a tug-of-war. Control over a tower shifts depending on which faction has more characters with an active PvP flag in the tower’s direct vicinity.

I really didn’t make this up.

To conquer a tower you just need to zerg it and sit around. Combat is optional.

The main purpose of a PvP system is about giving an occasion to fight. This one *discourages* any attempt to actually have a battle. At least in Alterac Valley you had to fight your way to a tower and then manage to cap it uninterrupted. It opened up at least a possibility for an effective defence.

This system instead not only is totally unplayable due to faction balance problems, but it will even encourage the players to avoid each other (the same in Silithus), running away to go zerg that other tower that is left empty. Instead of the heat of a battle it will be like chasing each other’s tails without never actually meeting.

The buff is also quite silly. Why would you need a PvE buff if the second you leave the tower you just conquered to go kill some undeads in an instance the other faction would go cap the tower and make you lose it?

It’s even paradoxical, it’s because of the uselessness of the buff that maybe the players will stop and fight. Or, if the players cared for the buff, the gameplay would be just about the downtime of running from a tower to the other for the great majority of the time instead of actually fighting.

Add this to the fact that the PvP players not only don’t get any faction reward from this, but not even Honor, thanks to those retarded diminished returns that shouldn’t have never been implemented. So, really, this world PvP has no reward outside an useless +4% maximum PvE buff that those PvP players that are supposed to power this system will never take advantage of and care about. And in the practice it’s all about who can bring more people to a fight that will never happen (being outnumbered doesn’t open any alternative possibility, it just leads to players quitting).

If it’s about gameplay and reward, this system does BOTH badly.

I also don’t understand the point of the system used in Silithus. If it’s about which factions delivers more “dust”, then the best strategy would be about doing that as quickly as possible. Why would you instead go kill the other faction players to steal their dust? You can only carry one. So whether you take it yourself from the source or gank a player it’s exactly the same. With the only difference that in the second case you would waste time. Inconsistent design, really.

Have you played that kids game with the players aligned in two rows, with someone in the middle holding an handkerchief and then calling numbers corrisponding to one player for each row? Then the two players called need to run to the guy in the middle and then decide the right moment to steal the handkerchief. If one of the players gets it, the other can run after it and try to touch the player. If the player with the handkerchief reaches its row, then he got the point. If instead the other player manages to touch it, then the point goes to the other group (english name for this game?).

This is PvP. The sense of it is quite simple: there are two players, and only one handkerchief.

That’s the competitive nature and that’s why in this game the two players have to confront directly instead of competing separately. That’s what’s wrong in that mechanic used on Silithus. Everyone can go take some dust from the source. It’s a separated competition instead of a direct confrontation.

Now think to the alternative. Let’s say that only five pieces of dust can be active at the same time. It’s in this case that there’s a reason for a player to go kill the opponent who is running with the dust to steal it. If the player doesn’t get the dust from him, then he wouldn’t be able to get the dust at all. Limited resources, OR he gets it, OR you get it.

It basically would turn into a large-scale capture the flag. Where the two factions fight over those five pieces of dust that need to be returned. So, instead of just fetching garbage, you would have to actually *fight* for it.

Does it make sense?

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Dave Rickey on mudflation

Pretty much what I wrote many times about “systemic” Vs linear games.

The problem I see is that the “character based” games very quickly wind up running down the same treadmill, not just for the players but for the development team as well. Every new expansion effectively invalidates an equivalent amount of old content, every extension of the level range requires ways be found to reduce the time investment to reach the basline for the new cap. So you don’t move forward in your gameplay, you just replicate it with shinier technology and bigger numbers.

Contrast this with Eve Online: Every bit of content they have ever created is still valid, every bit of gameplay is still accessible, expansions are literally expanding the scope of the game rather than simply changing the scenery. I suspect that I’m going to be using Eve as an example a lot, simply because it’s the first game to break away from the Diku model and succeed in a big way without simply being a casual game writ large.

I was thinking that I didn’t really understand how the first line was linked to the rest (and in fact I was going to cut it from the quote).

Then I thought that maybe it’s tied to the fact that “character based” games are locked only on that kind of “personal progress”, so where the world is just a passive backdrop without any persistence or signification. Fixed, static. Disposable.

Which is why a systemic approach isn’t about another form of character progress, but more about interactive worlds.

Quoting myself:

In a systemic model:
– The players are brought together. The model is represented as a circumference, where the players/dots create groups or “cells” and move within while bouncing one against the other (creating alliances, conflicts, politics etc..). The space belongs to them (known) and is “managed”.

In a linear model:
– The players are spread apart. The model is represented as a vector, where the players are pointed toward an obligatory direction and have a set position that “qualifies” them toward the other players. The space is external, alien (unknown) and only conquered and progressively consumed.

In a systemic model every element has a precise function and is then linked with other elements in a complex relationship. This means that the function is always preserved. In a linear model, instead, the idea of progress means that you leave things behind. You use up. The function of an element is just about leading you to the next.

As Raph would say, those two models aren’t really “alternative”. Since the systemic model could easily contain one of more linear ones.

(Hm. I’m not sure “alternative” is the right word. My brain is fried. I mean “one OR the other, not both”.)

Raph’s fault (Narcissus)

Answer to that comment:

I can see your point about moving on too early from SWG, but in the case of UO, I was on there for two years after launch, and was in fact the only original team member left. :)

Let’s agree on something: both UO and SWG were ruined by the fact that the original minds left. And it will be the same for EVERY mmorpg out there. Now and in the future. Dev teams change and things usually go right in the toilet. In particular those games with a so strong “imprinting“.

Bring in more people with new ideas, that’s good. But an high churn rate in the dev team will almost surely lead to a disaster. If people won’t stick then nothing good is going to come out. Before or after the launch it doesn’t change absolutely anything. It’s in fact quite obvious that SWG was hurt in particular because it lacked a real direction. Every few months there was someone else at the wheel with a different idea about where to go.

It was your own game and there was noone in the world who could run it beside you. That’s the only real truth. *You* killed it the moment you accepted to pass the duty. It’s your own responsibility.

Actually I even think that you consciously or unconsciously built it so that the game would have rejected everyone else. Or you or noone else. Like some kind of DNA code identification system that started a countdown to self destruction as someone else tried to “violate” it. You definitely cheated SOE by handing them a crippled game that noone else beside you could have utilized productively.

I do think that not only SWG was rushed out, but that it was also flawed. But this doesn’t change the fact that the only one who could have fixed those flaws were you and noone else.

Want to design new games every few months? Good, then DO NOT aspire to be a Lead Designer for a mmorpg. These games aren’t waiting rooms where you sit for a couple of months before moving onto something else. A mmorpg is a life-job, if you have the opportunity and privilege to continue. It shouldn’t be a walk in the park. Being a Lead Designer should be a daunting task that noone wants, not the easiest way to the game industry stardom.

Plus I only see two different kinds of game designers: the first is the “George Lucas type”, who continues to make the exact same game over and over and over. The other is the one who make ONE great game that will be remembered and mimicked for a long time, while all the rest he tries just sucks so hard and is better forgotten.

I wrote that also thinking to what Gordon Walton said about TSO. I mean, you both had the opportunity to continue the development.

It would be different if you were *fired* from the respective projects. In that case it would make sense to “rant” about what went wrong and how things should have worked. But instead you both decided to drop the ball and leave it there. There’s no privilege of ranting in that case.

That’s too easy. Or you admit that things went wrong and you made a mistake and decided to flee away as quick as possible, or you could have taken the opportunity and kept working on those projects if they were something in which you still believed.

Imho a Lead Designer shouldn’t move AT ALL. Stop. There’s no “early” or “late”. Or there is commitment, or things go to hell.

Or you build a game without personality and so derivative that everyone can lead it. That works too.

SOE did the right thing. Yes. They lobotomized the game because it was the only way for them to break that goddamn DNA lock you sneaked into it.

And *why* you put in that lock? Because it was the greatest way to demonstrate that you are unique and irreplaceable. Or, romantically, a “work of art” ;p

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WoW expansion: raiding isn’t an investment

If this is true it’s great, because it could lead to a “paradigm shift”. I saw it at FoH’s, here the quotes from Blizzard CMs:

Eyonix: The advantage for players in current tier-3 will be having a bit of an easier time leveling through the initial content. After that, the current tiers won’t really qualify or be comparable as end-game loot.

Leveling-up gear will begin to replace current end-game raiding gear.

Let me mock myself and say that: I had anticipated this already a few days after the expansion was announced, in October:

The rise of the level cap is a quick “fix”, both in the sense of game-drug and as a functional and effective way to give back to the players that experience that they loved along the way and that faded when they hit the top, when they had to adapt their habits to the bigger raids and guilds. It works basically like the nostalgia. It’s like if you are warped back ten levels without even remembering to have gone through them and have to repeat the experience like if it was the first time. In this genre the possibility to refresh the sense of awe and achievement is definitely something precious and satisfying for the players. So: why not?

While we can argue whether the current content will go or not right in the toilet, what is sure is that the current *progress* will.

We could assume that the players will retain their current gear for most of the hike to 70 but if this is true Blizzard would lose one of the strongest “fun” points: the sense of achievement. In the current game levelling is fun because you acquire new skills, spend talent points, get access to the mount and acquire progessively and constantly new gear. If the next 10 levels become just a grind with each level just giving out higher stats and nothing else, the “magic” would vanish easily and the expansion would finally feel rather dull. A game where you retain the same sword for 10 levels is a game that isn’t fun. So what could happen? Where is the line that will part the brand new level 60 character ready to move to 70 and those other players that have been at 60 for more than one year and collected all sort of powerful items? From my point of view the expansion will HAVE TO replace the gear for *all* the players.

Tobold was also right:

But a raised level cap also would have downsides. Most importantly you basically lose all motivation to continue playing your level 60 from now to the release date of the expansion. The way the game works now, you level from 1 to 60 at a pretty steady rate, and then you get stuck at 60. Your only way to advance further before the cap is raised is improving your equipment, which is relatively slow. To get the best level 60 equipment, an immense effort is required, organizing raid groups of up to 40 players for a tiny chance of finding something you need. Raise the level cap, and the reward for all that effort will become pretty much meaningless. The epic level 60 equipment from Molten Core will be considered as junk at level 70. Whether you did Molten Core fifty times or never will not make much of a difference on the power of your character at level 70. Oh, and if you continued questing at level 60, you will have “lost” all the experience rewards from those quests, and will wish you had waited until the cap was raised.

So it’s actually quite good. I support that choice.

The real problem is now the one I outlined in that old link. Hello mudflation? We continue to repeat that the production of content is the bigger problem today, and still we erode the little content there is through the unscrupulous use of mudflation.

People complain now about the lack of endgame content. In fact the devs are buying time by adding those endless grinds. Now, instead of expanding, they are resetting all that work.

Then people also talk about creating techniques or systems for player-created or auto-generated content. We don’t really need those. We just need to unfuck the model that is used right now and that is, honestly, just terrible.

So that we can at least valorize the content that we can make.

In short, Blizzard has still to figure out things on two important fronts:
– How to recycle the current endgame content so that it doesn’t get pushed/mudflated out of the game.
– Figure out a more fun, involving and accessible (inclusive instead of exclusive) endgame at level 70.

Samflam: Kinda makes me wonder why I am bothering raiding at all right now.

Because it’s fun!1!!

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60.000 WoW banned accounts, someone wants them?

Announced on the forums:

As part of our efforts to eliminate cheating from World of Warcraft, we recently banned approximately 59,000 World of Warcraft accounts in the month of June, and with that removed well over 22 million gold from the total economy across all realms. While we regret having to take such extreme action, these accounts were participating in activities that directly violated World of Warcraft’s Terms of Use, including the use of third-party programs to farm gold and items. Such behavior not only negatively impacts the economy of a realm, it diminishes the achievements of those who play legitimately. We will continue to aggressively monitor all World of Warcraft realms in order to protect the service and our players from the harmful effects of cheating.

We’d also like to take this opportunity to thank the community for their assistance in reporting suspicious behavior. Numerous account closures come as the direct result of tips reported to our GMs in-game or emailed to hacks@blizzard.com.

Moving forward, if you suspect that a World of Warcraft player is using an illegal third-party program to farm gold or items, or is otherwise violating our Terms of Use, please report the suspected infraction using one of the methods listed above. All reports will be investigated, and the appropriate action will be taken when warranted

We appreciate your support and wish you the best with your continued adventures in Azeroth!

Observation #1: Wow… That’s more than what most other mmorpgs have in TOTAL subscriptions.

Observation #2: Blizzard is crazy? No. They are just making the game a better place for all the other players who respect the rules. That’s “quality” as well. It is also important to not legitimate what goldsellers do.

Observation #3: Uhm, is this really a news as big as it appears? The announce says nothing about WHERE those accounts were banned. In USA? In Europe? In China? Everywhere? I cannot remember right now, but isn’t creating new accounts in China really cheap? Without those details we cannot know the real consistence of that announce. Even if I guess it’s just the USA (the announce wasn’t copied on the european forums, for example). In that case it would be around 4% of total subscribers.

Anyway, the goldsellers and bans are still only consequences of a problem. That problem is still a design problem that is waiting to be addressed.

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Rule for successful new game development

– At least 30% of the dev team must be female.

That’s a first step if you really want new and different games that also “talk” to a broader public.

How many game companies are respecting that rule? None?

Expanding as an answer to a comment to explain better the idea.

To be fair, game companies don’t get many female candidates – there’s slim pickings out there. Especially if you’re talking about programmers (or were you talking about other disciplines as well?).

It doesn’t matter. the 30% is overall. Programmers, artists, designers. There should just be an overall presence of the other sex so that we can start seeing games from the other perspective.

Male designers pretending to design a female-friendly game are just silly. So we need real women working and be part of the process. We need to valorize them so that they can be part of this industry and improve it.

I’m drawing this idea from the political debate here in Italy. Since there aren’t many candidates, what is necessary is to make a rule and then strive to respect it. Without the rule (like setting a minimal quota) nothing will ever change. So we need to put the premises for that change.

The context of the work, the hours, and other problems in the game industry are very off-putting to women who’d potentially be a great influence on games.

Yes, those are problems. You want new games? Ok, then it’s time to start to solve those problems in a radical way. Or we just lack premises to pretend to make new games.

Before we can pretend to make new games, we need to change how our game companies work. Change must be internal before it can hope to show a different result.

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Addicting Flash platformer

“N” is a very nice and well done platformer, hard to master and quite addicting after you “get” the controls. For a 1.3Mb download I was really impressed.

It was linked on Q23 and at the beginning I didn’t find it so great. Then I started mastering the controls and discovering new tricks and it became much more involving :)

In particular I like a lot how the whole application was made. Lots of polish and well designed. You unlock levels progressively but you can also download highscores online and then replay other people’s games. It was an useful feature because it’s by observing those replays that I started to figure out how to move properly and all the tricks that are possible.

The game isn’t shareware or limited in any way, there are 100 chapters, with five levels each, so a grand total of 500. You can have fun trying to beat your own or other people’s time records, or continue to unlock all the levels without caring much about your performance. Then it’s not even over because there is even an editor (press ~ from the menu screen) that is really simple to use and you can even download new levels directly from within the same application.

The game itself is a platformer with wall jumping and all based on a physics simulation. Mastering the jumping and movement isn’t exactly easy but the help page within the application does a good work at explaning and teaching all the possible actions. With only three keys you’ll start to have a lot of control and fun over what it is possible to perform.

After the relatively easy start the other levels are definitely challenging when you have to dodge chaingun, laser turrets, mines and drones all at once. The game is built only around a small anf finite number of elements, but the possible variations are amazing.

It can also be terribly frustrating ;)

Observing it from the perspective I’ve described here the game is addicting because it does both “moments” really well. The first moment requires you to solve the level by “reading” it and then planning a course, the second moment is then about the quite challenging execution and the mastering of the movement.

Both of these together keep the game fun and varied, letting you experiment new solutions and then slowly improving and getting used to the control scheme.

This game is a small gem.

I wonder if Valve’s Portal will also have the two “moments”. The first where you have to figure out and solve the puzzle, and the second where you have to master some dynamic elements. If it’s just about discovering the right trick without any particular good execution then the game could feel tiring (the Narbacular demo is, in fact, exactly because it lacks the “execution and mastering” moment).

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Brad McQuaid like John Romero?

So again with The Escapist, I’m reading this description about John Romero and I couldn’t stop to think about it as an omen for Brad:

McQuaid’s game was Vanguard. It was intended to be larger and grander in scale than any videogame ever made, and was heavily advertised as the game that would make you, the player, Brad McQuaid’s “bitch.”

That Vanguard eventually sold 200,000 copies – a smashing success by some standards – is irrelevant. Costing more than $10 million and taking three years to develop, Vanguard would have had to do far more than make you its bitch to have been considered a success. Since day one at Sigil, McQuaid and Co. had set their sights on EverQuest-like sales figures, and in what was certainly the greatest example of star-driven, game industry hubris, had been completely surprised by their failure.

Sigil’s Carlsbad, California office, rocked by political in-fighting (which led to a near-complete walk-out of McQuaid’s Vanguard team) was closed in 2007 by SOE following a bail-out deal in which the publisher had acquired a controlling interest in the hemorrhaging game company.

Hey, maybe it could work like a lucky charm ;p