Tag Archive for gaming

Playing God

It has been so long I had forgotten how much fun it is to be God.

For years I have been spending my time in online games, MMOs, and as a creative individual it has taken over my thoughts on gaming. Inside I have been designing an MMO of my own… but its never going to work. What I really want in an MMO just can’t happen. Maybe someday someone will figure out a way, but I really doubt it.

But what is it I want?

The personal touch. And what does this have to do with being God? Have you ever tried to seriously design an RPG game and have it service a hundred people? two hundred? a thousand? five thousand? If you have, have you ever taken that step back and looked at what you have done with new eyes? As rich and inviting as the World of Warcraft appears on the surface, if you spend any time there the trappings fall away, and the game is… well… bland. Pretty much all games are. They can be boiled down into a half dozen quest types, and if you pay attention to the game mechanics at all, 99% of all fights are a foregone conclusion, you either know you are going to win or you know you are over your head. Rarely do you really go into the unknown, rarely are you truly surprised at the outcome, and if you are its likely because you don’t really understand as much as you thought, it was your miscalculation, not the game’s.

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been pen and paper gaming with some friends. We started doing an old school AD&D (1st edition) campaign, but eventually we converted over to 3.5 because it works better and flows easier, less looking up stuff in tables. Then we started interweaving two campaigns. In the first, we’ve all hit 10th level and things have been getting easier, but I suspect only because the DM has been a little hesitant to throw hard things at us since the behir encounter back when we were level 5. We lost nearly half the party in those tunnels, and unlike MMOs the dead are dead and the players roll up new characters. The second game is going along swimmingly, I think we’re all teetering around level 6, maybe 7, and the real story is beginning to unfold. Both of these games have been far more engaging than any MMO and even any single player RPG. Computer canned responses just feel flat, but a DM who can roll with another one of your crazy schemes… oh yeah.

So back to the God bit… a couple of our group has asked me if I wanted to start running a campaign. And I do. So I’ve been digging out my old notes and pulling together a world I originally created fifteen years or so ago, and filling in the gaps, and expanding. I am molding the world, shaping the societies, and setting up what could be a legendary adventure and hopefully will be. I am God.

Does this mean I’m giving up on MMOs? Not likely, but hey, with my aging PC and my mortgage, I’m probably not going to be playing any of the graphics card busting, memory and processor hogs that are coming down the pike. I’m also not likely to stop thinking about game design… I’m a programmer by trade, so that’ll never change.

There had better be a 2fort map

The news has been out for three days. How on Earth did I not know about this already?

The only game I ever played for longer than EverQuest was TeamFortress for Quake. It freaking owned. I really hated deathmatch games, and bland Capture the Flag wasn’t too much better. But TF… that was awesome. Nine classes, allowing a player to play to their strengths, made for incredible strategies. The leagues for TF were some of the most intense things I have ever experienced in gaming. But when TF Classic came out for Half-Life, well, it was a little disappointing to me. It just seemed like a straight port of the game into the new engine. It was fun, but I just didn’t get into it, in fact, I kept playing TF.

TeamFortress 2, as you can read in the article I linked, has been a long time coming. And I love the new style of graphics they have going. Lots of games have come out over the last couple of years, but nothing that made me want to upgrade my PC. This… this will do it. Now I just have to figure out a way to afford it.

Working From Home

I look forward to the new house. There are many many reasons for this, but one of the ones on top has got to be my office. The house is a two story, three bedroom house. The three bedrooms, living room, dining room, kitchen, and two full bathrooms are all on the “top” floor. I put top in quotes because the front door for the house is in the middle of both floors, with a half flight of stairs going up and a half flight going down. Originally the lower level was unfinished leaded some people to describe it as a “raised ranch”, ranch meaning everything on one floor with raised meaning they put a basement under it. Anyway, the bottom floor also has a full bath, but most of the floor is a large media room/living space that has a place where there was (and will be again) a bar. Then there is the garage, also on the lower floor. Originally (I believe) it was a 2 car garage that ran deep, with lots of room for a workshop or something. The previous owners enclosed that part of the garage and made an office. This is going to be my room.

Working from home has always been a problem for me, mostly because there are usually two places to work: my computer desk or in front of the TV. In front of the TV never works. No matter how stupid the show, you can always find something on the idiot box to stare at. My Super Sweet 16 is the most offensive and retarded show ever. I think I’ve seen them all. My computer desk isn’t much better because its where I do all my gaming and stuff. The temptation is just too great. The one thing I’ve always wanted is a room that is more dedicated to work, separated from the TV and my gaming PC where I can be a little more easily focused. So this new room, my office, is going to freaking rock.

Aside from location, the biggest issue with working from home has to be the tendancy to remain in my pajamas. I think some people enjoy doing that, but for me, if I don’t shower and get dressed it will take me about 4 hours to get my day going instead of being able to jump right in. That’s a personal thing to deal with, but I feel that having an office in my house will help with that because since I have to pass through the garage to get to the office, I’ll be more inclined to be dressed, and I can actually make a morning routine of it because I’m still “going to the office” in a manner of speaking.

Sometimes though, I just like going to the office to get out of the house, so even if I am allowed to work from home all the time, I’d still prefer to have a place to go to escape distraction. We’ll have to wait and see what the future holds, but not too long, I should have my home office by the end of the month.

What happened to .plans?

Many moons ago, when technogeeks were first beginning to form within the webs of what would one day be called the Internet, people with shell accounts on company systems could manage a ‘.plan’ file. In it they would keep a list of projects they were working on, tasks for the day. And system admins could poll the .plan files to see what people were up to (when they weren’t looking at porn).

Later, as the technogeeks formed their own companies… gaming companies… some of them still maintained .plans. They would write about the work they were doing, graphics, game engines, world physics, pasta recipes… all the important things (like porn). This was when I started. As a fan of all the gaming sites, I read the .plans of the guys at id and the other game companies daily, and decided to start my own. First in IRC, then on a GeoCities site, then one of my own sites… through loadfix.com, squadleader.com and on to probablynot.com.

Somewhere along the way, retards started abusing the internet. They didn’t understand ‘.plan’ and because most of them read like journals they just called them weblogs. Then more retards came, and ‘weblog’ was just too long a word, so they called them blogs. And now, with the internet bursting at the seems with retards (and porn), blogging has become a national passtime… (why couldn’t they have chosen porn?)

I’ve given up on calling mine a ‘.plan’ because… well.. its not anymore. But I flat out refuse to call it a blog… weblog is as far as I will go. The line in the sand has been drawn. This is my weblog.



Yesterday I got back from 4 days at Dragon*Con.

If you don’t know what it is, go here. Short version, its a convension for Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Comics, Horror… Books, Film, Games, etc… Everything.

I had fun as usual. I managed to go through a few panels and seminar things on gaming, writing, publishing, short films, and more… Plus I got to see tons of people in various costumes, and meet people from all over who have some of the same interests that I do.

We snapped a few pictures and those are up in the Pictorials section. Not alot, but.. well, check it out and see the reason.

Next year I’ll be more prepared.

Changes, they are a-comin`…

The first round of melee changes went in a little while ago. Disciplines for pure melees (WAR, ROG, MNK) were split into 4 separate timers, partially unlinking them. Hybrids got theirs split into 2 timers, but then they only get 2 high level disciplines.

Some of the less useful disciplines got revamped, like Thunderkick now enhances all kicks for 60 seconds instead of just a single kick.

SOE also introduced the Endurance bar to replace the mostly defunct Stamina bar.

And Warriors got their new taunt skill-spells put in.

At first glance, I was happy I got my disciplines unlinked, but I was worried about the Endurance. However, after playing with them a while, I’m able to juggle 3 of my current discipline – Innerflame, Whirlwind, and Ashenhand – without to much trouble. I don’t sit, and I’m regularly full endurance when its time to use one (except the rare cases when the differing timers line up and I have 2 ready to go at once). Each discipline uses from 50% to 80% of my endurance, but so far that’s no trouble.

On the test server they are still playing around with the rest of the new combat system. The original on test was pure twitch gaming. During a fight, an “opening” would appear, in EQ that was a time bar on a window that said “Offensive Opening” or something like that. Lasted approximately 6 seconds. Or rather, 1 tic. In EQ a tic is 6 seconds, or rather, it is at most 6 seconds. Some of the openings flashed by in under a second. While the opening is counting down, you are supposed to push a button for the skill you want to use, expending endurance for the effect. Some of the skills were quite nice. Rogues got a form of snare, monks got a form of root, extra damage, stuns, attack and armor class debuffs… it was looking quite cool, except for the Whack-a-mole! style gaming they introduced. You had to sit and stare at the screen, and when the opening came, pray you caught the beginning of a tic so that your brain had time to fire off a message to your finger to push the button.

There is still hope though… SOE withheld releasing the new skills in order to make them less twitchy.

In addition to those combat skills, monks will be getting a form of limited use Lull. Should make pulling interesting. But the best of all is, after being successfully feigned for 2 minutes, a message will indicate that the player has been removed from all hate lists. No more /q’ing out of the game! Woot!

So, the end result is.. it looks like they are listening. Pure melees, who were too simple to be balanced, are being made more complex, and several long standing annoyances in the game are finally being handled.

13 February 2001

Been thinking alot lately about jobs.
Been thinking alot lately about jobs.
I just started a new one and, well, I’ve already decided that I don’t “like” this job. I don’t mind going, and it fills the space of the day and makes my money to pay my bills, but its just doesn’t make me smile.
Everyone should find a job they enjoy. I used to think it was enough to enjoy the people who worked with if nothing else, but I just don’t see that anymore because even if you like the people, the little tasks that make the day will slowly drive you insane.
And here I am, slowly being driven insane.
So, how to find a job that I like, that I enjoy.
Well, I often think that I would enjoy working in the computer gaming industry, but to get in the door I have to make one of two sacrifices. Either I scale back my life alot and take a much lower paying job, or I scale back my social life and spend time learning something useful to get a better job in the industry. I like my life outside of work, and making that sacrifice is hard.
Then there is writing, but as with the above, I like my social life and just can’t seem to get myself in a frame of mind to sit and write instead of going out or hanging with friends.
So what do I do?
I’m open to suggestions.

15 October 1998

Argh… missed a few days… and I still don’t remember what I was going to rant about…
Pete and I have finally gotten some things rolling with our new gaming clan / social club… you’ll find us on Gamesnet irc servers in channel #nobody.
Other than that… I watched the Braves make a stab at a comeback that ended as I expected… they brought it to 6 games, but lost. From a 3-0 deficit they did a damn good job in any event.
Well… I’m off to do some junk (work mostly)… until next time… all good things.
TV Highlight: Buffy… Charmed… and now I’m digging the commercials for Brimstone. This show should last about 6 episodes because most people won’t like it, but I think it looks like it’s going to kick some serious ass. I don’t like Peter Horton, but a show about a demon trying to do good to get into heaven just is a cool idea. I will be glued to the TV.
Trivia Answer: Dennis Quaid and Val Kilmer both played Doc Holliday in movies about Wyatt Earp. Dennis did it with Kevin Costner in “Wyatt Earp” and Val did it with Kurt Russell in “Tombstone”.
Trivia Question: What was Val Kilmer’s big screen debut? (if you have been keeping track, we have circled back around to a member of the Top Gun cast.)

5 October 1998

Things are a brewing around here… A friend and I started up a new Clan for online gaming (and for social gatherings for the local people) called “Nobody’s Heroes”… the name is cool, Pete gets kudos for that. Things are going well with it, gathering up some of our old friends, some from our old clan, some from other clans… it’s nice.
I’ve been toying with the idea of sponsoring a “National Standing” for TF2… I worked out a bunch of details and I think it could work.
Pete and I have also come up with some cool map ideas for TF2 that we are going to start working on… they should rock if we can do them right.
Today’s Song: “Operator That’s Not the Way it Feels” by Jim Croce. I work in tech support. I sit on the phone all day. And this song just gets stuck in my head sometimes. It’s a great classic tune, and if you’ve never heard it, you need to. Most of Jim’s work is really good. It’s folky, but sometimes it’s just what you need to lift you up on a lousy day. And not the way heavy metal or punk lifts you up. Not pumped. Just a smile.
TV Highlight: If you have the Sci-Fi channel check out “Space: Above and Beyond” on Sunday nights at 7pm. The show was created by a couple of guys who left the X-Files, but never got seen much. It originally aired on Fox, and only ran a season, maybe a little more. It’s about the 58th Squadron during a war with aliens in the near future. It’s not so far fetched, and it’s not just about killing aliens. This week was an episode where after setting down on a planet in enemy control to med-evac the 61st, they discovered that the Chigs (aliens) were using their radio signals to triangulate rescue ship landings and attack the group waiting for rescue. But the episode is done from the point of view of Nathan West, the appearant sole survivor of the 58th, who is having trouble remembering what happened. It turns out the 58th aren’t dead and that Nathan only played dead to get pulled out so that he could communicate the new landing zone directly to his commanding officer, to eliminate the use of the radio. It was definately a cool episode, and the show it good all the way through. Too bad real sci-fi never lasts on regular TV (see this show, Sliders, and I’m sure a few more. Any show that uses real plots instead of a “Monster of the Week” format gets cancelled. And face it, X-Files is still an MotW format show.)
Trivia Question: What current Top Notch actor once played a character nicknamed “Mother” in one of those Spring-Break-Fraternity-Romp movies?
Answer next update.