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Well, we’ll see how I do.

1.  Maintain this blog, and preferably improve it.  Kinda important if I’m going to revisit this on 12/31/2007, eh?

2.  Lose another 25 pounds.  (I dropped about 50 over this past year, but I want to be around and holding at 225 by the end of the 2007.)

3.  Get a test of concept for Voyages up and running.

4.  Reconnect with my old friends as much as possible.  (I’ve been neglecting them badly.)

That’s enough for one year, I would think…

Rolemaster Cover-original Character Law bookRolemaster (1982)
 Publisher: Iron Crown Enterprises (
 Copyright: (c) 1982 Iron Crown Enterprises, Inc.
 Advancement: Level/XP based, modified
 Features: Extensive skill system, individual weapon/attack charts, detailed critical hit system, massive magic system

If there is ever an award for the RPG system that best represents the phrase “More Is Better”, Rolemaster will be the title to beat.  From it’s inception, this has been the game that tried to provide detail and resolution options for Everything.  Three revisions (at least), dozens of expansions and alternate settings… if you need some inspiration on possible ways to handle anything, anything at all, the Rolemaster line has always been a good place to start searching.

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Two very similar posts from rather different perspectives at Virgin Worlds and “Maybe Progress Quest wasn’t that far off” and “Casual Play: Lowbies of the World, Unite!”.

The Virgin Worlds article talks about growing frustration, subsequent bouts of alt-itis, and finally discontinuation of play well before the “end-game”, resulting from reaching the point where “I no longer feel that I can make progress in a typical gaming session”, a period of about 2 hours for the writer.

At, the writer of the editorial states “a long-running problem I have in massive online games is my inability to stick with one character.  I like to try everything, sample every class and combination… this has held me back in the traditional treadmill games”

Here you have an “Achiever” perspective and an “Explorer” perspective, both largely admitting (paraphrasing here) that the “end-game” is usually a waste of effort on the devs part as far as they are concerned… they never see it.  Additionally, the comments following both posts are largely supportive as well: “You’re not alone”, “Can I get an Amen!”, and so on.

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This is from my ever-changing Voyages design document.  I figured a little more detail on exactly how Lessons are supposed to work might be interesting to anyone looking at the design, so…

Lessons are a special category of Knowledge elements that can be used by players to develop the more generally useful elements named Concepts.  In short, a character develops Concepts by “contemplating” Lessons, i.e. spending time with the Lesson in the Concentration bar.

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Cover for Tri-Tac FringeworthyFringeworthy (1984)
Publisher: Tri Tac, Inc. (
 Copyright: (c) 1982, 1984 Tri Tac Games
 Advancement: Level/XP-based
 Features: extensive hit location system, detailed rules for other physical stresses, guidelines for multiple levels of technology

Fringeworthy is a detail-packed game system first published by Tri Tac Inc. back in the early 80s. I like this title (and it’s close cousin that I happen to own, Bureau 13: Stalking the Night Fantastic) for the sheer volume of data provided on a variety of topics. The ’82 version can seem dry and chart-laden at first casual glance, but taking the opportunity to truly think about any randomly selected page can lead to some interesting extrapolations… the type of thing I truly love to find in an RPG rulebook.

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So, when you realize you’re looking at the upcoming holiday (i.e. Christmas) as just another 3 day weekend… (and trying to figure out which day you’re going to work on to “try and get a few things done”, to boot…)

Anyone else think that’s an indication that maybe you should get away from everything for a bit?

Inspired by this post and comments at Raph’s and this post at Tales of the Rampant Coyote… 

Frankly, I can’t imagine how a Cthulhu MMO could be done “right”, at least based entirely on the original Lovecraft stories.  Cthulhu Mythos stories are largely about being slowly stripped of support (and “innocence”) and facing the powers of the eternal night utterly alone.  The protagonists in most Mythos stories are lucky to end up stripped only of their sanity… most of their colleagues lose their lives, and most encounters end up being characterized by “I ran away fastest, so I survived.”

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Raph has announced his new endeavor, Areae, being entertainingly mystifying about the details.  Even the various announcements and interviews give little direct information about what Areae will actually be making.

So, of course, how can I resist speculating?  Come on, Scooby, let’s go look for Clues…

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Not as cool as a Gamma World MMO would be (I want my dual-brain methane-propelled mutated cactus!), but it could be fun anyway.  Damion mentions it on his blog, with links.  Raph did as well.

This gives me a perfect opportunity to pick a trivial nit with Mr. Schubert’s AGC presentation “Men in Tights” (about the only one I had, actually).  One of his points was that “You don’t need fantasy, but you need a world that’s inviting”.  The first slide was a shot of the gang on the TV show Cheers.  The next slide was a prototypical “city in flames” shot.

Despite the excellent point (and a nice little sight gag), a city in flames is no more representative of the entirety of a post-apocalyptic setting than a snapshot of Hell (or nearly any “end-game” instance/setting) would be of the entirety of fantasy.  The basic point is well-taken… but I’ve been a little worried that it would be taken too far.  Whether Interplay actually makes it to release or not ($75 million?), at least the idea is still out there.

A comment on the thread at Zen of Design also brought up an interesting point.  I do hope they don’t get caught up in the “everything is a desert” concept from Mad Max/Road Warrior.  The original RPGs didn’t… hopefully they hire designers who do more than review promo shots from Road Warrior, or worse, Beyond Thunderdome.  (There’s always Waterworld, I guess… -shudder-).

Just a heads up: there’s a great inspirational article in this week’s Escapist for those of us looking to build MMOGs without offing a rich eccentric relative. Of course, the entire thing is excellent, read it all… and subscribe for the newsletter while you are there, it’s always a good read.

Also, added a few new links to the blogroll, each with a ton of great design musings to be perused and contemplated.  Visit the Rampant Coyote and Mike Rozak’s site when you get a chance.

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December 2006

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