Saturday, January 30, 2010

Scaming browser game and bad math, or just more scam?

There was a browser game recently that said it was going to have a real world economy. Ie, it's game tokens represented real life cents. I wont say the name because they hiked up the cash out requirement and then, a couple of months in after getting a whole bunch of players, removed the cash economy entirely.

Yeah yeah, some TOS clause that says we can change anything we like whenever? But then they send an e-mail around two months in saying the 'experiment' (ie, the main feature to set this apart from a million other browser games) was being removed.

Perhaps say it's an experiment at the start/sign up screen, that might be removed? Oh no, that might get you fewer players! It's more important to get the players than tell the truth on this.

I'm still wondering whether to report this to some authority, given the geological locations of myself and the game company. Also their upgrades page, which previously used game currency you could get by playing are now cash purchase only, making it a very different game to before.

But really what I wanted to get at is that I think the author is just shit at math. He had a cash out requirement of 10,000 points ($100) at level 20 (latter to change to 30, then cash out was removed).

It's just stupid - even if the player has somehow sunk say $1000 into the game, now he's at cash out he can just keep cashing out each time he gets enough - he will eventually drain more than he put in. And you've got a hundred players slowly getting toward this.

Or, I'm thinking right now, was he shit at math or did he just know this wouldn't work out?

I even made a post about this in the games forum, about putting a cash out limit on each player and it would rise as the appropriate amount of income came into the game. It was ignored.

And now I'm thinking it was just a scam. It wasn't an experiment that went wrong, it was just a scam.

I wanted to describe how it went wrong and if he'd just designed it better...but I'd look pretty stupid saying that if it was a scam that was intended not to work.

Oh and of course when I posted about the 20 to 30 level requirement rise, I got a bunch of evangelicised game fans jumping on me about questioning that. People will nastily defend things without even a thought in their head they are being scammed. Probably they get so defensive because the very thought of it would make them feel really stupid. So no, they defend all the harder to prove they aren't stupid!

Given this is the internet, I'll say it being a scam is my opinion. Hell, I haven't named the stupid game here anyway. Though I don't know how you can say something is a scam without hitting libel, even if it IS a (as yet, not trialed in court) scam.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Single player draft for a massively multiplayer game

I'm going to draft out the core combat for the browser mmo I want to make, in a single player gamemaker game. Because that way I know I can code it and see a working (single) player version, instead of trying to get one working in what I know of browser code (which isn't even the right word for it) and all the pitfalls and dead ends that'll involve.

One element I'm going to have is injecting a real sense and even possibility of instant defeat as the monster will have it's fighting approach described under it's name. You also have two attack options - regular and evasive. Normally evasive gives you a large penalty to hit. BUT on certain monster attack descriptions, the monster has a damage output potential that's going to have around a 75% chance of defeating a full health character (let alone a wounded one). If you hit evasion attack at these times, you still have the penalty to attack but you avoid the big damage attack entirely (no dice roll!)! You just have to keep watch while battling instead of clicking attack over and over and over.

Also I kept writing 'killed' instead of 'defeated' when drafting this. I'm not sure if I want perma death or not. I'll write about that gaming hot topic shortly!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Bog off, hope

I've been looking at the browser mmo tutorial over at

It nails some basics quite nicely, but then it's drifting into traditional design. ie, you have potions, you have spells...stuff weve all seen a million times before and even if I hadn't, drinking a potion or casting magic missile isn't terribly exciting in itself. I suppose I need it justaposed onto some sort of issue...I was about to link to this cheesy movie about a cyborg (and how for me it turned cool when he got betrayed, etc), but youtube pulled it (the movie was called 'Eliminators', from the 80's).

Anyway, so in terms of learning I'm at this tricky point where I don't want to learn to do the traditional design yet again - I've learnt that so many times already in other formats. But I'm still not so hot on things that I can deviate and yet still learn from the videos. Also I haven't ploted out what I want to do with a browser game AND I'm trying to gain some ground in the real world in terms of advertising (I happen to like project wonderful atleast for the moment).

I'm just really tired of running off faith 'things will work out'. You can run off that for years and I think I already have - when does 'things will work out' end? Ie the point where you accept that no, they did not work out? And the answer is that the idea that 'things will work out' can keep going until your dying day. I don't think 'things will work out' is right, to be honest. So I don't want to go there - but in terms of right here, right now returns for doing things, I'm not really seeing many options (except at the abusively low 'five cents for two hours of work' level).

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Game death and someone else gaining a kill, rather than you repeating a level

You know, I think there's maybe something to stuff like quake live or other FPS shooters in how you die so often as part of regular play.

I mean, compare that to an RPG - how often do you die in them? It's typically pretty rare.

And it's not even the concept of dying that's really important - it's that you die and someone elses score goes up. You can't go to town and rest that off. You can't drink a healing potion and make that go away. Thier win count keeps going up.

But that's drifting on a little - the main thing for this blog entry is, there's a sense of vulnerability, of not having a clean slate in terms of winning. There's always a black mark to clean up.

And the way you lose is alot different - in alot of platform games you go all the way back to the begining of a level. In a FPS you just respawn in a different spot. This facilitates the ability to lose a heck of alot more than repeating the same ground over and over again. Some of the games I've made recently are repeat the level types and I'm wondering about it now...

There's something else to it as well, I'm going to mull it over further...

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Hypocritical or Enlightenment?

I was going to respond to this post here: "Why do I suck"

I was going to say something along the lines of go back to what you find fun, and make your own game of it, no matter how it turns out. If you like quake live, or dragon age, make a game of it even if your game turns out to be pong or space invaders. Just try - if you try there will atleast be some thin, tiny vein of what you find fun and cool about those games, but now it'll be in your own game.

And then I thought, doesn't that apply to me just as much?

Is not doing so myself hypocritical? Or did I need to give blessing to someone else to do it, before I could feel blessed to do so myself? And so a point of enlightenment? And is a critical on a hippo the same as a hypocritical?

All this and more...thing...

Edit: Oh, I wrote more in it that I thought would be good to post here too
The hard thing might be realising you've put so much effort into learning code and your only getting that thin vein when all around there seem to be awesome games abounding. But just remember that the commercial ones had a ton of guys paid full time. And even the indie ones usually have a team as well. Alot of good games do very well at hiding exactly how much money and skilled man hours were put into them. Indeed the more skilled man hours put into them, the more they hide how many of those hours were put in. Which leaves you thinking you aught to be making something that matches these things, which isn't fair on yourself.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Risk #2, Transparency

Even more comments along from my last post and last time at mmocrunch.
I'll quote Inktom,
Unfortunately Hulkageddon 1 and 2 has made safe mining impossible even in empire space. Since Apocrypha and the introduction of wormhole space, you can get that 0.0 feel and profitablility without venturing past gatecamps getting to null or lowsec. They even have wormholes that lead to 0.0 and that enables the term: Stealth mining. But that requires a few hulks and an orca. HUGE RISK! But tremendous reward if you pull it off.

But EVE is not for everyone, but gets the risk/reward ratio right.
My responce
No, not a huge risk. It’s just the impression of a huge risk – what info do you have to prove it’s a risk?

For example, say someones in front of me, flips a coin and it’s my call, heads. They hand me hundreds of game coins and I go weee! Also I don’t lose my game coins.
Now imagine someone goes off into a black box, then comes back out and hands me a few hundred game coins?

Did I face a big risk? Did they flip a coin while they were in that black box? Or did they just decide to hand out game coins to me?

Should I go weeee! or would I just be fooling myself?
Without transparent risks or atleast some level of transparency, you don’t know.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Risk in mmorpgs

There's a good article about risk in mmorpgs on mmocrunch at the moment.

However, while it lays into the often zero risk nature of mmorpgs, they felt EVE made sense. Here's what I had to say:

As far as I'm aware, in terms of risk Eve suffers or fails in that in more dangerous space you have no idea of the risk (you have some idea in poker, for example) since people who will kill you aren't regulated in any way. Is it thrilling when there was a zero change of being ganked, cause all the local gankers were on bio break?

Well I guess that raises the question that if you don't know you couldn't die, but you felt as if you could and that was exciting, whether it the truth of the situation or the feeling of the situation that matters. Personally I'd go with the truth.

Second is that as far as I understand it, it's risking $100 to gain $1. For example, in more dangerous space, will one instance of mining pay twice the value of your ship and it's mods/your guys mods? I'm thinking no, it'll only pay a fraction.

In poker you don't risk $100 to gain $1. You usually risk a certain amount to win multiple times that amount.

I think even if you like risking $100 to gain $1, it'll make you risk adverse and when you do lose, it'll really, really suck. Atleast in poker you can say "Well, I lost $10 but I could have won $100!" while here it's "Well, I lost $100 but I could have won $1...AH CRAP!"

Friday, January 15, 2010


Extending a comment I made over at play this thing
i think should is just a shorthand for 'recommend' -- i.e. if something is recommended, it should be done

Really I can't think of anything getting much more passive aggressive than that.

Honestly I prefer moustache twirling villains who say 'do this or I'll harm you somehow' rather than someone who says 'I recommend this...' and leaves it ambiguous as to whether they threaten or really offer a genuine choice.

The original question on difficulty curves is centered around downrating the game if it doesn't do what it 'should', unless I'm mistaken. It's not a recommendation if you give the recommendation with a gun in your hand (so to speak).

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The prima donna audience

heI'm writing this for people who might be in a similar position. I think the game writing industry is completely unnurturing - indeed its greedy, self centered and prima donnish. That includes most of the audience.

Sounds extreme? Okay, put somthing out there and see how people evaluate it. Check whether they look at it soley as in whether it satisfies them, or whether they look at whether there's something enjoyable for them AND to some degree they are also interested in the artist is expressing/doing what they want as well.

Indeed, see if you can find someone who is 90% self interest, but does give even 10% interest in what the artist wanted to do. In fact, see if you can find a 99% self interest and 1% interest in what the artist wanted to do.

No - generally you'll find people 100% self involved, self infatuated. Either it'll be some sense that it's all for them, or they'll have some sort of standard that MUST be met which they insist is a galactic standard but is really their own, so again completely self absorbed (here's a previous post on that). Essentially a bunch of mewling children.

Now if you've even got 1% interest in what the artist wanted to do, but otherwise you want to be pampered, well I'll note that you atleast give a nod toward what the other person wants, rather than just being a me, me, me. So if you think I'm being harsh, look at me - I'm saying even 1% is something good and this thread doesn't apply to you. And if you can't manage 1%, yes, your a selfish, mewling child. It does not make sense that other people are 100% making things for your benefit - if you have no sense of community and an interest, even at a minor level, in what someone else is trying to do, then your only interested in you, you, you. And you don't like or want to hear that, because it's not about you, you, you.

But this advice is for people who might think that when people go 'Oh, yeah, but your game needs some X' they want to nuture your own artistic direction, to some degree, as well.

They don't.

It's uncanny - they can full on want to support what their own muse wants, while not supporting someone elses (especially the person who'll actually be baking the bread, so to speak).

I'd label it a widespread failure at theory of mind, where basically people just can't form the theory that someone else has a muse as well. They just hear what their own muse says and that's it, that's all that matters to them.

So you get a sprawling crowd of prima donnas, all so blind to any other muse they think their own muse is not their own invention, but the actual standards of the world. Which is pretty much the model behind religion as well, but never mind.

What to do?

Well it depends if you've been trying to appeal to this crowd, either for it's own sake, or to try and earn a crust.

To engage this I need to think on this more - I'll try and formulate a post to come up shortly.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A man and his told you so's

There seems to be alot of love going around for WOW's new looking for dungeon (an example is on Tobold's Blog)'d be terrible of me to say that I wrote about the idea of dungeons working more like BG ques on RPG net perhaps about a year and a half ago and the idea was put down that 'dungeons don't work like that'. Terrible cause I don't have a link to it so you'd have to take my word on it and...ah screw it! There, I said it anyway! Bwa ha ha ha! :)

Hmmm - I'll throw down another prediction - they'll put in some sort of socialising service, almost like a bar in game, so people can get to...wait...that's a public quest from warhammer, I guess.

Okay, I'm out!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Being too responsible in game design?

I wonder if you can take too much responsibility?

Today I was thinking why do I want to run/make any gamist design - along with the ruminations of a recent post, I had to think of it in RL physical terms. And in the end it meant some sort of primordial fear manifested in a physical task. Which isn't a surprising revelation - something like dodgeball stimulates primal fears of attacks and a desire to dodge them. But we all kind of get that.

The thing is, the fear is a hang up on some RL physical event done in game. It means getting stuck on some mechanic (the one the primal fear has picked out) and staying with it. And that's where the vitality at the table comes from in a PVE game (in a PVP game it's much simpler - your facing real people) - that real fear drives the play to be an event.

But you see, I took the entertainment of my fellow gamers so seriously, so responsibly, and with a natural inclination, I saw everything from the outside. Far removed from any of my own emotions. I didn't want to get hung up on anything and put that ahead of their entertainment. But this vitality comes from my own genuine fear (unless the other people don't get my fear, or don't care, but that's another subject). That genine fear at the table is what makes overcoming the obstacle worth it, even with a simplistic game system. Without that fear, even in a complex system overcoming a PVE obstacle is just an exercise in statistics.

But I tried so hard to give other people what they wanted, I left behind the personal emotions that could fire that up. I was so keen to please...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Flea Tinning

I recently patched up runes of magic and had a quick play. Given so many shiny things in the game, coming back after a break is a bit of a treat since you forget all the little things (and they had a few new things, like attacking santas!). Though I quickly start to remember (this happend on a return to wow once, as well).

But the thing is, they patched in one click gathering. Previously you had to click on a node again and again, every five seconds, to get stuff out. Now you click once and it keeps gathering till the nodes empty.

And the weird thing was, I was kind of excited about it!? Like it's an improvement? I was going around using it and kind of going 'yeah!'

And that's BS.

I mean, if it had been there from the begining, I wouldn't have found it exciting. It'd just be standard.

And this is what I call 'flea tinning'. Ever heard of how if you put a flea in a tin with the lid on, it'll learn to jump only as high as the lid...for the rest of it's life? Here it's similar for the player, but after having learnt to jump only so high, breaking out of that previous pattern is 'exciting'. Even though it was an entirely arbitrary limitation and if it hadn't been there to begin with, there would have been no excitement.

It's something to think about in terms of mmorpgs and whats 'exciting' about new patches or buffs to classes. Is it really exciting, or did they just get you used to a constraint then remove the constraint?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

mmorpg harems

Tobolds got a post in regards to mmorpgs asking about how you treat it, like a one night stand or a marriage.

Honestly, a marriage? A harem, you mean! In one case, a harem of 11 million, apparently!

In terms of having a 'relationship'? The one night stand is healthier!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Love the one your (actually) with

I wonder if there's a situation with designing for game worlds, where your just trying to add fun to what is otherwise an uninteresting and unrewarding idea of a world. I know alot of people are into setting, but in terms of gamism it's the real life hurdles that make the fun (or atleast with the gamism I pursue). And setting is just an idea - it is not as yet anything in real life.

Actually I guess that answers it - there is a situation where it's adding real life things just in the attempt to make this unfun thing, fun.

I guess I should be taking something I enjoy already, like lunch money or chess or connect four and...continue to enjoy it. If I feel like adding some sort of game world element to it, fair enough. But otherwise enjoy the fun thing that exists, rather than try and make something fun out of something that doesn't exist/is just an idea. Love the one your actually with!

BTW, if there's an ad above about guns and networking...well, what do you think about that one? I'm open to influence from posters on whether I let that one show up.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Evangelicized design and waiting for snood...

There's an interesting article over on 'Play this thing' about a game called Snood. It's a shareware title that tenaciously spread and apparently sold in the millions.

This ties into my previous post because this does not appear to be a game that has a 'journey' or a 'sense of menace'. I'll grant it probably has far more playability than invaders from space, but the point is these other qualities are make believe requirements for playability.

In the play this thing article author Costik* says game developers can't take it seriously, since they themselves devote their lives to complicated 3D worlds and huge budgets. And that's the thing - once someone devotes their life to something, they have a hard time thinking it's wrong. Indeed, they start evangelicising it and teaching it to others as if it's perfectly right. And so you get a culture who is basically out of touch with what human needs really are but couldn't consider being wrong at all, for how it would invalidate their lives (or so I'd hypothesize). A bit like the church (ooh, a sideswipe there, but also a genuine parallel).

So if your starting out as an indie game developer yourself now days, I think your probably facing up to abuse by your essentially brainwashed peers. If you want encouragement from them, you'll have to do things their way. Or you'll have to go it alone. Which isn't impossible, if snood is any indicator!

* Should I list his full name? I'd have to look it up for proper spelling, and this is the name he works under there. Hmmm.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Awhile ago on 'play this thing' I said I put the program 'everyday the same dream'  in the same pidgeon hole as 'the graveyard', in that there is no gameplay. No playability.

Recently I've been on the recieving end of much the same claim myself for my game 'invaders from space', so it's interesting to be in this position. Check out the comments section. The guys saying because it 'has no sense of menance' and 'no sense of journey' it's not playable.

Now the thing is, I consider playability to be that the outcome of play is uncertain. You have to play it to find out. If the outcome is certain even before you start 'playing' then it isn't playing at all.

I also include, not surprisingly, games like playing catch in the backyard as having playability and is a game. You may fumble and drop the ball.

So it's interesting to be in between these two assertions of unplayability. Invaders from space does have play - I lost at it during beta tests - the ending, as in whether you'll win, is uncertain. It used to only give one life, making it more uncertain, but someone suggested adding more lives so I did. While everyday the same dream - there is no uncertainty to the outcome - or atleast as far as I could tell. There seemed so little uncertainty I didn't play it all the way through. So someone might be able to blow me out of the water on this. But in terms of this blog entry, there was no uncertainty. Thus no play. Thus not a game.

But then I'm being told that games, for some reason, need a sense of journey and menace to have playability??? No, a game needs a sense of journey and menance in order to have a sense of journey and menace.

Now, I don't think my own standard for playability is just something I made up in my head - I'm sure catch has been played for thousands, perhaps millions of years by humans.

Having to have a sense of journey and menace? No, this is just made up shit.

Which I don't mind, except when someone takes the shit they made up in their head but doesn't take responsibility for it. They just pretend their invented shit IS the way the world works. Which still isn't so bad EXCEPT when they act upon it. In this case downrating. Because while they'll whine that the game has to have journey and menace, really they are saying 'do as I tell you - put in journey and menace'. But there's disconnect where they pretend to themselves they didn't invent the idea it has to have that - thus they can pretend to themselves they aren't telling you what to do or they will downrate/punish you.

But it's interesting to be in the middle, to claim non playability and to hear it too. I will say, every day the same dream would make an excellent music video that I would watch. Indeed, it basically was a music video.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Making money: Growing and selling vegies!

Spotted a great page on growing your own vegetables for profit and even as a main wage and this womans experience with that. Really informative!

I've been looking at the idea of growing and selling myself - just working on the growing at the moment mostly. It sounds like she has an awesome set up!

Do guilds themselves defeat the idea of massively multiplayer?

There's something I heard about mmorpgs - "Oh yeah, there are idiots, but if you get a good guild..."

Don't guilds actually destroy the idea of a mmorpg?

I mean, how many people do you have in your guild active when you are? Even in a really big guild, perhaps 200 or so? Most likely less?

And if the idea is that you stick with your 'good guild', then really your interacting with around 200 people or more likely, alot less.

That's hardly massive, is it?

It's a common desire in mmorpgs to have a guild - but it essentially removes the 'mm'.