A small bit of writing.

The universe is vast. Much more vast than any mortal mind could possibly comprehend. If the single most advanced mortal mind were to actually comprehend just an infinitesimal fraction of the universe's true scope, they would go completely, horribly, gibberingly and most importantly violently insane. I feel that I should add that this is the best case scenario.

Throughout this incomprehensibly vast universe is a swath of worlds, their numbers as mind boggling as the scale of the medium they dwell in. Each of these worlds has their own histories. Each of these worlds has their own cultures of mortals and beasts, or gods and demons. Each has their own rules of operation including laws of physics, magic, nature, and cohesion. Most importantly though, each of these worlds is encased in their own pocket universe, completely isolated from all the others with a few exceptions.

I am called Glyph. I am, at this time, unaware of my own origins. I suspect that most are. Over time, it has become apparent to me that I have lived many lives. I would be born into one of these worlds. I would live my life as the natives would. I have no idea how long this cosmic cycle of reincarnation has been going on, or how many others this occurs to. The past dozen or so incarnations however, I have become increasingly aware of this cycle which is normally completely imperceptible to most. I would live my life for quite some time as a mortal with none of my prior memories until one day when things start to trickle in from the edge of my perception. Visions of other places which could not possibly exist in our own world. Fantastic technology, awe inspiring feats of the arcane, monstrosities of the zoologically dubious, and so on.

Eventually, I would return to a state I like to call Blended. I am my mortal incarnation, but I am also the immortal spirit which has travelled the roads of the Astral and defeated demons and monsters alike on countless planes. I get the urge to set out and explore this new world to its fullest. I take ships across the seas or the skies. I travel the vast ocean of the galaxy. I try the foreign cuisine of those places. I seek out wrongs and right them. I make friends and enemies among the locals. I undertake vast tasks of heroism and importance.

And when I feel that my time has reached an end on that world, I simply leave it. I am then reborn into a new one and the cycle begins anew.

This time feels different however. I have left my most recent inhabitance, yet I do not feel the pressing need to find a new one. Instead I feel the urge to create. I recently met a goddess. I use the term loosely as it is so ill defined considering the things I have seen, but to most mortals it is the appropriate term. She told me that she had met me long ago in the time I cannot recall. It was then that my creator set me on my task. I was placed on this path of rebirth for one purpose: to learn. I was meant to learn all I could about as many worlds as I could find. There would then come a day when I felt the urges I feel now and I would know it was time for my work to begin.

My creator long since perished during my long apprenticeship, though he or she is not strictly necessary for me to begin. My creator was a creator of worlds, and so shall I be with my knowledge. I do not feel that I know all I need to know to perform this task competently. The Goddess has given me an offer. I will reshape one of her own dying worlds as a sort of Journeyman's trial. If I can mold into a successful plane of existence which serves its purpose well, then I shall be granted what I was created to have.


So I shall undertake this task. The Goddess has told me that there are many who walk the same road as I. If they should come to my world in their travels, then I shall shelter them as they gather the knowledge they seek and I shall guide those who seek my counsel on such matters. It is my calling, after all.

I am the Architect.

(( Just thought I'd create a little background character information for a character I would play in my own game. This would the the Master GM admin character for the game world with a backstory geared at an RP realm. ))

Posted by Glyph, the Architect | at 2/24/2010 01:41:00 AM | 0 comments

Free for All World PvP

I've seen several articles cropping up on various sites recently from people bemoaning the fact that today's MMOs are lacking what Ultima Online had. I.E. You could kill other players and take their stuff.

Of course, the responses are very accurate. It's not fun to get ganked and have your things taken. As there are many more players who do not like this sort of gameplay, the developers of games cater to them and are creating games where PvP is strictly opt-in and limited in some cases to battlegrounds and other forms of competition. I remember the first character I rolled on a PvP realm in WoW. I reached level 25 or so, and couldn't go anywhere near a contested territory because there was always three or so level 60 rogues stealthed at the border, waiting to kill me all at the same time. All I wanted to do was go and see some new scenery (and later would discover that most of these horde areas had very little to see anyways). So I went and rolled on a PvE server.

It's gotten me on the thought train though. Would it be possible to create a game where free for all PvP was possible, and not a niche game by default?

Imagine: You can kill any player or NPC you can see. If the player is of an enemy faction, you gain infamy with that player's faction. You also gain a slightly lesser amount with that faction's allies, depending on how friendly those factions are. If the player is of your own faction, you gain a large amount of infamy with your own faction. The more infamy you have, the more likely you are to be attacked by NPC guards, soldiers, and police of the maligned faction. When you reach a certain amount of infamy, a large reward bounty could go up where any player who belongs to a faction different than yours (or to factions you belong to if you killed one of your own factionmates) could kill or capture you and gain a large reward.

The basic idea that I like for a game is that everything is allowed. However, actions such as ninja looting, ganking, spamming chat channels, acting out of character on an RP realm, speeding through quest text completely ignoring any and all instructions, and other actions which could be seen as undesirable (depending on the particular game and the atmosphere desired by Developers) should have in game consequences to discourage them actively. There would always be other alternatives for these players to continue playing. For example, players who are hated with officials could be able to obtain the same services as others through back door and black market sellers (at a slight premium of course). Players could also earn their way back up through the ranks to good standing if so desired, or they could go as far down as they wanted and eventually meet terrible punishments from getting caught (possibly even permanent death?).

Posted by Glyph, the Architect | at 2/23/2010 08:01:00 PM | 2 comments

Allods: Day 2

I was turned off a little bit by the lack of an Assassin class on day 1. I then rolled an Arisen Mage and decided to try the other side of the fence. The newbie experience over there is much better, and though the events are all triggered, there isn't the feeling of being rushed through the entire affair. You can stop and take your time to look over the menus, read the stats and talents, and so on.

I'm liking the play experience on the mage. As you go, you automatically learn new spells. The is a Mage trainer NPC in the capital city who offers talent respecs and sells specialty gear, so I'm not sure if the automatic spell learning continues forever, or just for a limited amount of time after which this guy takes over the teaching.

There are two mechanics that the mages have that I haven't seen before in other games. The first is that several spells can be pre-cast. You can cast them the normal way by targeting an enemy, starting the cast, and then firing it, or you can just cast the spell and it saves it for later use. When you see an enemy you want to use the spell on, casting the spell is then instant. It's nice, and likely serves some pvp functionality for having an instant retaliation when being attacked.

The other mechanic is Entropy. There are three spell schools the mage has access to (and I'm not sure if other classes have their own schools or mechanics). Each time you cast a spell of one school, you gain an entropy point of that school. When you cast a spell of one school, you also lose an entropy point of a specific opposite school. Ice removes Fire, Lightning removes Ice, and Fire removes Lightning (I think). If any of the three entropy counters reach 5 points, then a random effect occurs. You could gain or lose mana, health, cause your next spells to be instant, or cause all your spells of a school to go on cooldown (or a few other effects I don't remember right now. You also have a set of three spells (one for each school) which triggers this random effect early. These spells offer a greatly increased chance of getting a positive effect, and scale the effect for the number of points you have. It's a fairly nice mechanic, though I think it would be better if the regular 6th point trigger had a much higher chance for a negative effect. It would cause players to actively pay attention to how many points they have and use that expending spell to get as much positive benefit as possible. As it is now, I haven't even paid attention since most of the negative effects have been largely ignorable.

I'd also like to bring to everyone (or anyone)'s attention something I saw just a few minutes ago:

Yes. That's right. They gave me a quest where I have to go kill guys and take their elf porn. I can bet you 100 bucks that there isn't really any investigation and that cop is just trying to get some free porn.

Posted by Glyph, the Architect | at 2/23/2010 01:07:00 AM | 0 comments


Tobold has been writing about Allods Online for a little while now. As my WoW subscription has ended (the reason I didn't renew it means I probably shouldn't be trying to jump right into another game, but that's another story), I decided to try it out for a second. I've only played one character through the very first tutorial area, but I thought I'd post my first impressions of it anyways. I'll likely post more about the game as I go.

Although he is right that it seems to be a WoW clone, there are just as many things done differently as there are done the same. There is a "two factions" choice when you roll your first character. Your choices appear to be the League or the Empire. These appear to be analogous to Alliance and Horde just based off the races available. Both sides have humans available, distinguished only by what I assume is nationality (and appearance slightly). The League has Elves which look like Blood Elves taken to their most emo extreme complete with fairy wings. The other races is the equivalent of gnomes, called Gibberlings. A Gibberling player controls three of these little guys who work together as one unit. They are small, furry, and look like Moogles from Final Fantasy with sharp teeth. On the Empire side are the Arisen and Orcs, along with humans. The Arisen are undead, apparently. No idea where they came from, as the game's history on their website makes no mention of them. They appear to have come from sort of cyberpunk planet as they all have a mechanical appearance with implants and tech looking armor like some sort of weird fantasy Borg. They may not even be undead, but simply robots that look undead. The Orcs look like Buzz from Home Alone with large tusks.

I'd like to point out that character creation is fairly limited. I understand that there are programming limitations such as packet size that keep the number of options limited. There isn't much point in having options though when most of the options look exactly the same. Want to roll an Imperial human? Hope you like hair styles that look like this:

Really. That's it. All short hair, with slight variations such as where it's parted, which way it's combed, and so on. The Orcs all have white or pale blue skin, and they are all just very slightly changed shades of each other. You would have to be standing right up close to someone to be able to tell the difference (although I'm sure this was intentional since at a distance, they could just use a generic texture to save server load).

The classes that are available are not all the standard classes. There is the warrior, the paladin, the healer (which they couldn't be bothered to think up a name for like Priest or Cleric), and the Mage. Then you have the other classes. There is the Psionicist which is supposed to be some sort of psychic caster? They do lots of mind control and mana draining, and the like. Basically a shadow priest with other things mixed in. There's the Scout which is some Ranger class with a few rogue abilities mixed in. The Warden is the pet class, and is either Druid or Shaman depending on which faction you pick (also to note: The bear pet is 10x more adorable that the WoW bear pet, and the Gibberlings get a friggin giant squirrel pet). There's a Necromancer class called the Summoner. There's probably a few others but I don't remember what they were.

It's nice that they didn't just go with the standard same classes as every game and mixed it up a little bit, but it's also a detriment as I cannot play the stealthy assassin class like I always do. It is very noticeably absent. I just rolled a human Scout, being the closest there was, and went on ahead with the game. I should note that I rolled the League human Scout, as they were the only side with hair they didn't look like ass, but they have forearms like Popeye for some reason, despite being the same race as the guys on the other side of the fence. I digress: On with gameplay.

The first thing that happens on the League side is you start in a little room in a building. There's a quest giver there who wants you to follow him. Apparently, everyone in the building is there to hear the Archmage guy give a speech. I guess he's in charge of the place or something, so I go with this NPC. We walk in the room, and there are lots of emo fairy elves and little furry guys. I'm already regretting rolling on the League side as, even though I am used to some of this as an Alliance player, this is just too much sugary wuss stuff for my stomach to handle. Regardless, you stand there for a second and listen to the guy start to talk, and then everything goes to hell.

There is an attack by some bad guys, the mage is killed, and everyone has to evacuate to building. Apparently, the mage was keeping the little floating island the building was on from falling into the black void of nothing, and this is now an imminent danger. Thus begins the tutorial sequence where you learn about combat, interacting with NPCs, looting, and all that jazz.

Let me say that if I was a new player to the MMO genre, I would have turned the game off and went to play something else. The entire building is shaking, debris is falling (and occasionally killing NPCs), and you have to fight your way through several packs of enemies. The actual instructions for how to do the things you need to do pop up on screen in a large window that blocks much of the action. It's all great for guys like me who are MMO vets and can pick everything up without blinking. The atmosphere is right and you get a feeling of "We're in some danger". This is not the way to do a newbie tutorial. There is barely any time to get acclimated to the game systems before the NPCs are directing you to do this or do that. I didn't get to spend any of the points I got for levelling until after I'd finished.

All that being said, the graphics are very beautiful. I've yet to encounter anything that has made my computer crawl to a standstill like WoW does, and the actual design of everything is gorgeous.

I'll post a bit more after some more play time.

Posted by Glyph, the Architect | at 2/21/2010 06:48:00 PM | 0 comments

Trade Skills. The possibilities!

I've been developing my trade skill system a bit today. As the game has no classes for players, only abilities which fall under certain class categories, I thought it would be a good idea to have the trade skills do the same. Instead of "Tailoring", players have the "Weaving", "Sewing", and "Dying" skills, which fall under the Tailoring skills (Actually, I lumped them in with Leatherworking skills and called it Needleworking, just as I lumped mail and scale armor in with Blacksmithing).

It's getting a bit unwieldy though. At the moment I have 15 different professions, which consist of 7 crafting professions, 3 service professions, 4 artistic professions, and the general Gathering profession. Each of these has their own subskills (some of which overlap), of which there are 52 or so total. Each of these subskills are intended to be their own minigame of sorts.

That seems.........like a puzzle game maker's absolute worst nightmare. 52 minigames for crafting and other skills which must somehow be fun and entertaining. Like playing Peggle, only in a way that is related to that skill, and also doesn't get you sued by one of the dozens of puzzle game companies.

I might have to try and cut this down a little, except I have absolutely no clue what to cut out. Maybe some of them could be added in expansions like Architecture. (That's right. Player housing. Built and financed by players. Wait till you see my plans for Engineering. :O )

Also, each player has a set of Knowledges. These represent the sum of everything the character knows, and grant bonuses or prevent catastrophic failure to each of the subskills. Geology gives bonuses to Masonry, Sculpting, and Gemcutting. Anatomy gives bonuses to Butchering, Skinning, and Surgery. And so on. Each of them gives different bonuses to different actions and gives hints in the minigame on how to be more successful. In order for me to pare it down, I'm going to have to condense these as well.

Game design can be a pain.

Posted by Glyph, the Architect | at 2/11/2010 09:04:00 PM | 0 comments

The Eye of Benediction

Tonight, my guild and I went to ROFLSTOMP though Molten Core for fun. One of the bosses dropped the Eye of Benediction. One of our priests got it, and then went and farmed for the other pieces to do their epic priest quest. They now have a shiny new epic priest staff, which while once a symbol that someone knew exactly how to play their class, is now just a trophy that looks nice and has no additional meaning (as the encounter has already been nerfed several times, and a level 80 can run roughshod over it).

It got me thinking though: Are class specific quests a good thing? I honestly think they are. They teach players how to play their class in endgame situations, which are normally quite different than situations encountered while leveling. In addition, they do provide those epic trophies which show everyone around you "Hey. If you bring me to a raid, I won't be a nub and stand in fire/not heal/not kite/not whatever. You can depend on me to do my job." The class specific quests provided a measuring stick with which people could tell that someone knew what they were doing. "That hunter has the epic quest bow. They know how to kite mobs and would be useful on Saurfang for handling blood beasts."

I think it was a bad idea for Blizzard to remove all class specific quests and content. Sure, it was a good business move. But like many of Blizzard's recent decisions, I believe it was a bad game move (and bad game moves made when listening to forum whining are often the start of a game's decline).

I think that the class specific quests are an amazing concept though, and should have not only been left in the game, but expanded to include all the roles for each class.

It gave me an idea for them for my own game. The class specific quests would be quests which define the flavor of the classes. This is only a rough idea at the moment, but what if in addition to some trophy showing you completed the quest, you also got some new ability or bonuses which cover your weaknesses? What if you could extend a bonus to others of your own class? I had the idea of player alignment as a defining factor in how NPCs interact with characters, maybe they could also define the bonuses for those who complete the quests? The players who complete the Barbarian quest only get bonuses when their alignment is chaotic neutral. Paladins only get bonuses when Lawful Good. Or maybe the bonuses would be different when under a different alignment.

Or are these extras strictly not necessary and the prestige of completing the difficult tasks enough?

Posted by Glyph, the Architect | at 2/06/2010 02:35:00 AM | 0 comments