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Just wanted to post a brief apology for my recent dearth of posts… various issues over the past week chewed up every spare moment.  I’ll be resuming a more normal schedule over the next couple of days.  Sorry about that…

A pair of good posts (well, rants, really) by Sara Jensen at We Can Fix That With Data on the newbie experience.  Just thought I’d follow up with a few random thoughts of my own on the general topic. 

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… is that when a player has an interface problem that actually effects that part of your game, you don’t get a bug report.

I have a problem in Vanguard beta right now where, if I try to open a pop-up interface window like the options panel, quest windows, or the bug reporting pop-up, it apparently defaults to some other resolution, because I’ll see it pop into what looks like 320×240 resolution or thereabouts, then flash back to the (laggy, but beautifully rendered) 1024×768 I am playing at, with no visible pop-up.

Now, of course, I _could_ post the problem in the forums… if I could access them.  Unfortunately, whatever my login and password are supposed to be, I have not been informed of them.  (It is apparently not my Station login, or my Vanguard account login, or any of a dozen other combinations of likely values I tried…)

Ah, the joys of beta-testing… 🙂

Chill Campaign Book CoverChill (1984)
 Original Publisher: Pacesetter Ltd.
 Current Publisher: Otherworld Creations, Inc.
 Original Copyright: (c) 1984 Pacesetter Ltd.
 Advancement: XP (Insight Points) spent to purchase skills, attributes
 Features: Skill system, horror/victim-based gameplay 

Chill is one of a subset of notable RPG titles (along with Call of Cthulhu and Paranoia, amongst others) which significantly deviate from the typical “Hero’s Journey” perspective built into most such titles.  Revolving as it does around gothic horror concepts, the characters are rather more expendible than normally assumed, and the challenges are generally vastly more powerful and resilient than the characters ever have any hope of achieving.  Chill is definitely an entertaining representative of the genre.

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Well, I finally had a chance to get into Vanguard (took almost a full 24 hours to download and update… whew!)  It’s an interesting game, hopefully I’ll get a chance to play more… but while I’m taking a break, thought I’d post comments on what little I’ve seen of the diplomacy subgame so far.

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It should be an interesting year. 

There are a bunch of new titles that should hit the shelves, as well as massive expansions to existing products coming out.  The upcoming nearly simultaneous releases between Vanguard: Saga of Heroes and the Burning Crusade expansion to WoW are just the tip of the iceberg.  MMORPG.com has a good at-a-glance run down of upcoming titles, and MPOGD.com has a searchable database with somewhat looser criteria for inclusion… lots of stuff that’s getting near the end of the development pipe.

It should be an interesting year.  But, I’m not all that interested.

However, at least I think I now have an inkling as to why.

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Sorry about the absence… been rather tied up.  There has actually been a fair bit of activity and related ideas I wanted to comment on, too.  Eh well, better late than never, I guess.

Quoting from this recent post by Moorgard…

The ideal, then, would be to create a game that players found absolutely compelling for years on end without feeling like they need to play a large number of hours per week to enjoy it or match up to other players in the world. They would limit their own time in the game spent performing repetitive tasks as a natural result of how the game is designed to play. In other words, that they would play a given number of hours per week because they want to, not because they need to.

The topic is finding ways to prevent the types of problems created in systems where ability is tied directly to “time played”: friends with different time constraints end up not being able to play together, that kind of thing.  So, how about somewhat disconnecting advancement rate from actual time in play? 

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(Inspired in part by this post over at Zen of Design, and this link to a Gamespy article from the comments thereafter.)

“Crafting” is one of those topics that, I suspect, could stand for a fair bit more definition.  I am beginning to think that, perhaps, some of the disappointments that those of us who occasionally request “crafting” in our MMOs typically face arises from the fact that we haven’t done a very good job defining what we really want, even amongst ourselves.

I was reminded of this disconnect, which I had noticed before (back during my EQ days, and again in the weeks after the EQ2/WoW simultaneous launch), while reading the Gamespy article linked above.  Some of the points that author makes are dead on in terms of what I’m looking for… others, I’m sitting there shaking my head in denial.

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Been pondering the data design for my little test app… thinking about running with a relational database (prolly MySQL) to handle “relationships” between objects, then switching to XML docs for detail data.

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