Moo Tang Clan: March 2011

Friday, March 25, 2011

Help players tell their stories

Chris Hecker has a fascinating GDC talk up on his site: "Achievements Considered Harmful?". Its long, but totally worth viewing.

In the Q&A section at the end is a notable question, about the 61:40 mark, which is about how sometimes players will take a video of something really cool they did in the game and post it online, sort of like asking for a verbal reward from other players. The question to Chris was then "is there a way to have players decide when it is time for a reward, and what would be the result of that?"

I find this interesting for a couple of reasons. Firstly and foremost is that this is an area of game development which, in my opinion, has been largely unexplored.

What support is provided in the game? In some you can take screen-caps, some have built in video capture. I forget which FPS it was, but some even provide instant replay video capture - that is, you don't need to actively and consciously turn on the video capture facility, you can instead say "omg, that was cool, what the hell happened" and press the instant replay button. I wouldn't be surprised if there's a game that lets you do an instant replay and show it from multiple camera angles, not just the one you saw.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Idle thought - name policy vs NPC reactions

Instead of game moderators hitting the "you must rename your toon" button, maybe a flag could be set such that non-player characters would react negatively. At first with various emotes, and then some derogatory remarks, and eventually by adding on an additional 20% vendors fee to any goods they sell.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Linger a while, and hear my story

But if the npc's would talk to each other and talk about events, use turn of phrases and even react to the player inquiring about these things, now that would be something.
They do this to some degree. It's really not too bad. Problem is that there is no character building in the story line. So you don't feel that any of this is important.
-- Nils' MMO Blog
That's an interesting point, and with the accelerated questing and leveling and fast travel and all the leaving zones behind stuff that's becoming the norm ... no wonder players don't bother reading quest texts at all anymore. They just don't get the chance to care for the characters they meet.

I'd prefer a slower paced design, where players stayed for longer in the same place, and experienced more story with the same characters.

Looking back at a few quests in WoW and I see a common pattern: even when there's a bit of story developed between a couple of NPCs, they are nonetheless isolated from other NPCs and other quests. You play through their tiny set piece of story, and then move on to new quests from new NPCs, never to return.

Such a shame, because there's so much more potential there once you let Metcalfe's Law kick in, and you'll get to see more sides of the same characters. Maybe the lovestruck frontier warrior also has a shadowy gambling habit with a traveling goblin trader, is estranged from his father, and is also being groomed for promotion by the local captain. The captain who sends you on the inevitable series of kill-ten-then-repeat quests, also enjoys taking off with that goblin trader to do a bit of quiet fishing, and thinks he's left behind some unfinished business at his previous posting. And that gambling, fishing, traveling goblin trader ... well, best not to ask why he's got such itchy feet.

Then again, maybe I've been watching too many daytime soaps.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

One benefit of long travel times

It would help stop the spread of plagues and zombie outbreaks.