31 March 2010

Push-button Role-playing

I recently chanced upon someone who was role-playing.  I was excited to see this, so I hung around and observed.  As I watched, I noted that some of this individual's actions were being repeated.  And repeated.  Randomly repeated.  This person was AFK and running a macro.

This was slightly disheartening to witness, and it lead me to reflect upon my (overly ambitious) plans to create Story NPCs.  One of the great thing about CL stories is not so much the plot, but it's the interaction between the characters.  It's fun to see the players' reaction to a developing situation or to have them match wits against a wily antagonist.  No matter how skilled the GM, I doubt that players would react the same way to a scripted NPC.  In fact, they would probably react to a scripted Story NPC the same way that I reacted to the scripted role-player.

Skirwan had a pretty good observation between macros and scripts:
Macroing is a Good Thing -- it saves typing, and lets people participate in the world at a more reasonable speed than if they had to type out "/action waves." every time.  Scripting is a Bad Thing -- it separates the player from the character and the game, and almost invariably hurts the game environment in the process.
I think that his comment applies to GMs just as much as it does to players.  Story NPCs could be a good way to spread some basic information, but NPCs should not be a substitute for good ol' fashioned organic role-playing.

30 March 2010

And They Lived Happily Ever After. The End.

I talked with some players the other day, and one topic of concern was that of unresolved story lines.

There are many unfinished stories in Clan Lord, all started by assorted GMs who, at one time, had a clear vision on how their story would unfold, or in some cases, would unfold the story based on the actions of players.  But GMs come and go – sometimes our lives change in a way that lead us away from Clan Lord – and some stories are left without a conclusion.

This is a bit of a quandary for the younger GMs such as myself.  I face numerous issues in attempting to resolve someone else's story line:
  • Documentation on the story is either sparse or non-existent
  • Unfamiliarity with the story and characters in question
  • Visionary handshaking: will my story match that of the original GM's vision?
  • How and to whom shall the story conclude?  Is it a large event which involves as many players as possible, or a subtle resolution to which a small group of players are privy?
I suppose that I shouldn't worry too much on how to resolve a five year old story, as long as it gets resolved.  Disseminating the ending to the players may be the hardest challenge of resolving a story.  We all want to participate in the Happily Ever After ending, don't we?

    29 March 2010


    I am still digesting the information absorbed over the PAX East weekend.  I have located a transcript from the Storytelling in the World of Interactive Fiction panel discussion (NSFW content) and I have skimmed through it.  It seemed like a great subject and it only makes me sadder that I was unable to attend.  Thanks to the anonymous blogger for providing the summary.

    This week will be a doubly busy week for me: I have another ongoing RL project/commitment that will be drawing me away from Clan Lord development, and this is an update week.  I'm worried that my submission content will contain little more than just a couple of bug fixes.  I very much want to do more and give more than time allows, but time continues to be the limiting factor.

    28 March 2010

    PAX East, Final Day

    The only Sunday panel discussion that interested me was "Future of the MMO Scene - MMORPG.com."  This panel was moderated by Garrett Fuller [News Manager, MMORPG.com], and had the following unannounced guest panelists: Bob Ferrari [Sanrio Digital / Typhoon Games], Craig Alexander [Turbine Entertainment], Paul Barnett [EA / Bioware / Mythic], and Curt Schilling [38 Studios].

    This discussion was different in that they immediately opened the floor to questions, and the questions, unlike the questions asked in previous panels, were very good.  The panelists discussed their views on transmedia (accessing your favorite MMO from iPhone apps and web widgets); various pricing models (subscription-based services, transaction-based services, the "Las Vegas" model, where some pay a little and some pay a lot); technical accessibility (if you don't meet the specs then you can't play the game and you've lost a potential customer); web browser MMOs (instant accessibility with a minimum of download times: click-and-play right away) and the WoW Killer (WoW does everything right: it is the iPod of MMOs).  The biggest laugh came from former major league baseball pitcher Curt Schilling, who stated "I played professional baseball, and I could not wait to go home and go online."

    After the discussion, I toured around the exhibition hall again.  Sometime last week I mentioned the Emissary by Geek Chic, and I was surprised to see this company present at the expo.  I had a delightful chat with company founder Robert Gifford and briefly discussed his niche business and its rapid growth.  He was very cool and I wish this company plenty of good karma in the years to come.

    Afterwards I played a hand of Magic: the Gathering at the WotC demo table.  There was five seats available: I had one seat and the others were occupied by a family of four.  It was humorous to see the eight year old boy leap into action, sending a monster at me in retaliation for my playing a card against his dad.  Afterwards I played the XBox version of M:tG, and had much better luck in winning against the computer than I had against the eight year old boy.

    All-in-all, it was a very enjoyable weekend, and I can see myself willing to attend another PAX someday.  And like Curt Schilling, I am glad to be home and back online.

    27 March 2010

    PAX East, Day 2

    I arrived at day 2 of PAX East a little after noon, so I was late for the panel discussion "I HAVE A GREAT IDEA FOR A GAME!!"  The gist of this discussion was getting yourself to SACWAG and surround yourself with talented people.  It was very entertaining and the panelists,Chris Oltyan [Director of Product Development, ZeeGee Games], Eitan Glinert [President, Fire Hose Games], Darius Kazemi [President, Orbus Gameworks], Ichiro Lambe [President, Dejobaan Games] were very lively and engaging.

    While waiting for the next event, I visited the exhibition hall and played a very entertaining (if not very abbreviated) version of D&D 4E.  Instead of using miniatures, we moved ourselves through a small tiled area and battled against a life-sized (cardboard cut-out) opponent.  Our group was victorious defeating the wraith, and we each received a "Monster Slayer" medallion.  I applaud WotC for the way this booth was operated; the personnel were really into it in a light-hearted stage way.

    While I had not planned on attending this next event, I found myself thoroughly enjoying and laughing throughout "A Sophisticated Evening with Rooster Teeth Productions."  This raunchy, irreverent group is responsible for the hit machinima series Red vs. Blue, and the audience got a lengthy preview to season 8.  This event was truly a lot of fun.

    The final panel discussion that I attended was "MMO Gamer Behavior 101," featuring Ethan Gilsdorf [author, Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks, freelance writer], Victor Pineiro [Social Media Strategist, Big Spaceship], Juan Carlos Pineiro [CEO, Pure West], Sean Stalzer [President and CEO, the Syndicate].  This was a discussion on the social aspects of MMOs, focusing primarily on World of Warcraft and Facebook, and where the two intersect.  We all love to be the hero, and we all love the opportunity to overcome challenges, but with MMOs, we are able to face these challenges with friends, and within there lies the appeal.  This was a very informative discussion, and I have more to say on it.  I'd best save that for another journal entry.

    I've really been enjoying myself.  Tomorrow is the last day.  I'll need to play more games before the exhibit halls close.

    26 March 2010

    PAX East, Day 1

    Whew.  Today was a long day.  I attended one panel discussion and one movie, separated by four hours of waiting.

    The panel discussion was Design An RPG In An Hour, lead by David Hill and his wife (whose name I don't remember).  It was a light and whimsical discussion that was heavy on designing game themes and less on game mechanics.  I suppose there's only so much that one can cover in an hour (the game that we decided on was Scoop! : a Game of Cold-Blooded Journalism! featuring dinosaur reporters trying to uncover tales of conspiracy).

    I learned something important at PAX: if one wished to attend two back-to-back events held in the same room, then one may not linger around in said room; one must leave that room and reenter the line for the second event.  I missed the "Storytelling in the World of Interactive Fiction" discussion as a result.  I shall bear this in mind for the rest of the weekend when planning my events.  I'll need to look around for an online transcript or podcast of this missed panel discussion; it was a subject that I was really interested in hearing.

    I had some down time, so I wandered around the exhibition hall and saw some neat games: of note was Power Gig, a competitor to Rock Band (but uses a six string guitar instead of a push-button guitar), as well as Open Chord, which is more of a do-it-yourself version of Rock Band.

    Two other games caught my eye: Red Dead Redemption by Rockstar Games, a very impressive first-person shooter set in the Old West; and Limbo for the XBox, a moody black and white platform game.

    Throughout the convention hall were Sumo beanbag chairs.  These things were pretty awesome.

    My evening ended with previewing the documentary Get Lamp.  This was a more of a "very long trailer," as director Jason Scott phrased it.  The film is still being edited, so we saw a special director's cut that gave us a general feel for documentary.  One especially fascinating sequence concerned interviews with three blind Interactive Fiction players.  It was intriguing to listen to their perspective on playing these games (one player mentioned commented on the need for a light source: "It's dark and I can't see? Like, so what?").

    I didn't stay around for the panel discussion, as the pace was a little slow and unfocused and I was finally all Conned-out for the evening.  There's still tomorrow and Sunday for more gaming and panel discussions.

    25 March 2010

    Pens and Cons

    I started creating some Story Pens this evening.

    I find something therapeutic in creating areas.  I wouldn't call it a mindless task – quite the opposite, really; it requires a lot of creativity.  I find this style of design very relaxing; I don't need to concentrate when creating areas.  Drop some trees here, place some grass there, add a few finishing touches and the area is done.  Mix in some light music and some light snacks throughout the creation process and it makes for a pleasant way to spend evening.

    PAX East begins tomorrow, so I will be very, very AFK for the next three days.  I'm very excited about this event, and by the end of Sunday evening I hope to come away with a lot of new ideas that can be carried over to Clan Lord.

    Maybe some of these new ideas will be cooler than Story Pens!

    24 March 2010

    Story Pens

    Another GM and I were watching some players overthrow the second circle of the Abyss and the two of us got to talking.  "Wouldn't it be fun to create a 'third circle of the Abyss' on-the-fly?"  And that's what we did.  Sort of.  Well, not really.

    The other GM borrowed an unused area, added some decorations to it, and lastly populated it with some monsters.  As we reviewed the area, we discussed creating an abundance of "story pens," which would be a collection of empty areas, kind of like theater stages.  These areas would have some basic dressings (like a forest area, a mountain area, a cavern – or an Abyss-like area) and then we could add details to them as needed.  We also have the potential for adding some stock NPCs to enhance the area.  Once an area is set and ready for visitors, we open it and run the story.

    I really love this idea, and the potential for it is enormous.  Sometimes a silly pick-up adventure leads to some good brainstorming.

    23 March 2010

    Rock, Paper, Shotgun

    Although I was away from my computer for most of the day, I was giving a little thought to the design of a new area.  Specifically I was trying to classify tactics into Rock, Paper and Scissors.

    I think that everyone is familiar with this children's game, and I always liked the simple design of it: regardless of what you selected, you had a chance of beating the other player, but you also had a chance of losing to that player depending on what you both chose.  Magic: the Gathering had a similar tactical design: one color of magic was particularly vulnerable to two opposing colors, such as red (the color of fire and destruction) struggled against the colors blue (the color of water and manipulation) and white (the color of healing and protection).

    So how does this translate to Clan Lord?  That seems to be the design challenge.  What kind of CL-ish tactics could I design that has a balanced strength and a vulnerability?  I was thinking along the lines of this: if we had a monster of the Scissors family, then fighter who has a training in Rock should easily defeat that monster, while the fighter who trained Paper would typically struggle and fall while facing the Scissors monster.  A Scissors fighter would hold a stalemate against the Scissors monster.

    I don't know how far I'll go with this concept, but it has been on my mind for the past couple of days and thinking about it has been keeping me both creative and entertained.

    (And for those who don't know, today's title is taken from rockpapershotgun.com, which is a pretty good site for PC Games.)

    22 March 2010

    Monday is Bug Day

    Today was Bug Day.  I spent a significant portion of my day reviewing and fixing bugs.

    I was so focused on my bug fixes that I nearly forgot an appointment that I had this evening.  I don't have the words to describe the sudden change in head-space from "how do I fix X" to "oh no I'm going to be late."  I made my appointment with fifteen minutes to spare, but I wore the appearance of one who had been rushed out the door.

    This upcoming week will be very busy for me, so my Clan Lord time will again be limited.  And PAX East is this weekend!  I'm very excited about that.

    21 March 2010


    I spent three hours today taking the fighter's circle test.

    I was curious on what kind of training would be required to pass the fighter's circle tests, so I created a new character and tried.  I cheated a little, and created a special trainer to expedite the process: I trained exclusively with Evgus, who taught two ranks of Evus and one rank of Swengus.

    The criteria that I set for myself was that I could not just pass the test, but I had to pass the test two out of three times.  On the times that I failed two out of three, I went and trained a little more and tried again.  Once I passed, I took a "snapshot" of myself, recording my statistics and rank totals, and then I moved onto the next circle test.

    Why would I do this?  I now have a better understanding of roughly how many ranks of Evus (and Swengus) are required to pass the circle tests.  I think that I have an idea of how the 9th circle fighter test would look – at least in terms of Evus ranks.  I also have a better understanding for the feel for hunting areas: if I am designing an area for 3rd circle fighters, then I now have stronger knowledge of how many ranks that fighter should have, and how challenging the monsters should be.

    There was probably a faster and simpler way to collect this data, but my way was a lot of fun.  I was surprised by Evgus's training ratio: it's really good!  Perhaps a variation of Evgus will turn up within the game one day.

    20 March 2010

    Invasion for Two, Please

    I observed today's FMOCR (as I have mentioned before, I really enjoy that quest).  The group was small but scrappy.  They made great progress, but unfortunately ran out of time.  I thought that an appropriate response would be to have the orga march upon the town.

    I created a sizable invasion for the relatively small number of defenders.  Some stronger members of the party ran forward – separating from the main group – and were ambushed in Tanglewood and fell.  Some individuals left the main group to solo-rescue the fallens who in turn got ambushed and joined the fallens.

    This intrigued me: why would a group leave the strength of the party and run ahead into danger?  Could it be the glorious call to battle and the wish to demonstrate one's bravery?  Or is it some deep-rooted rankwhore compulsion seeking to get some secretive vanqs?

    Or is the answer simply an aversion to mobs?  Could it be that some people prefer to act in groups of two or three instead of a group of fifteen?

    I'm now thinking a little differently on how I run invasions.  Perhaps I could try making some small-scale invasions for smaller groups of people and see how they go.  And I still need to be a little better on improvising stories on-the-fly.  I need me one of those generate-an-instant-adventure charts.

    19 March 2010

    Helping the Helper

    A portion of today was spent upgrading one of the quest scripts.  I had the idea for some variations on this particular quest, and I have been slowly making modifications.  I hope to have a couple of new quests using the upgraded script for V645.

    In other news, I have impulsively agreed to assist a Helper with his project.  It is quite an ambitious area and there is some exciting potential with a new hunting environment.  After reading his quest proposals I realized that there is a lot of work involved in this area, but I'm okay with that because the helper will be doing all of the work!  I'll just put my feet up on the desk and smoke a cigar.

    It will be interesting to see how this area develops and how players will react to it.

    18 March 2010

    The Emissary

    Although it's a little old, I saw an awesome article on RPG.net regarding the gaming table of gaming tables: The Emissary.  It's a small article with a lot of amazing photographs of a table.  Yes: I used "amazing photographs" and "table" in the same sentence.

    The company that makes this table is Geek Chic, whose motto is "Emerge Ex Hypogaeo" (Latin for "Come Out of the Basement").  Any company that makes high-end geek furniture is Okay in my book.  If I had $1500 then I would show my support for this company.

    Maybe I could set up a PayPal tip jar.

    17 March 2010

    Erin Go FAIL.

    I thought that it would be fun to make some silliness for St. Patrick's Day.

    It started off well enough, but as you will see, I should have paid a little less attention to the set-up and paid a little more attention to grammar:

    Oh well.  I blame the excessive Guinness.  Here's wishing that your grammar on St. Patrick's Day is better than mine.  Cheers.

    16 March 2010

    Re-Envisioning Experience

    There's an interesting (if not verbose) discussion on the Sentinel about experience and slaughter.  I've added my opinion on the Clan Lord experience system (it needs an overhaul), but that lead me to think a little more on what I would do differently in Yappy Lord.

    The basic premise of Clan Lord experience is that fighters are rewarded for fighting creatures that are a challenge.  Less challenging monsters yield less rewarding experience, and more challenging monsters yield more rewarding experience.  In Yappy Lord, each character class would be rewarded for experience when that class fulfills its role: fighters would earn experience for challenging fights, healers would earn experience for challenging heals, and mystics would earn experience for challenging use of skills (and yes, "use of skills" is deliberately vague).

    Just as a fighter has vanquishes and slaughters to measure the experience earned for fighting, healers and mystics would have a similar measurement system to measure the difficulty of their challenges in applying their trade.  A healer that just manages to raise a severely fallen character should receive higher rewards than healing someone who is standing and having "green" injuries.  A healer healing a fighter with 300 Histia should receive more experience for healing a character with 10 Histia.  And so forth.

    Such a system would be a drastic change within Clan Lord.  It would pretty much eliminate the need for shares, as healers would not have any need to rely on fighters for experience.  Of course, injured fighters would be a wonderful source of experience for healers, so shares would be either meaningless or gravy-on-the-cake.

    In no way do I profess to have given this topic extensive thought.  Just some thought.  There would be a lot of caveats and conditions for healers receiving experience for healing to reduce botting and cheating.  I have no idea what those caveats and conditions would be, but by golly in Yappy Lord they would be thorough and comprehensive.

    15 March 2010

    All Right, Mr. DeMille, I'm Ready For My Close-Up

    Today was spent cleaning up some artwork for a new area which is still under development.  It looks very nice and is ready for the next step: place it into a test server and see how it looks in game.

    I also watched Pulp Fiction.
    Jules: What country are you from?
    Brett: What? What? Wh – ?
    Jules: "What" ain't no country I've ever heard of.  They speak English in What?
    Hearing that dialog reminds me that I need to revisit my NPC Theater Script.  I want this kind of dialog in Clan Lord.

    14 March 2010

    PAX East Itinerary

    The schedule for PAX East has been posted, and I've been looking through the list of panel discussions.  Of particular interest to me is:
    • Design an RPG in an Hour.  According to the description, this panel will "address the problem-solving and analytical questions required to design a successful game."
    • Storytelling in the World of Interactive Fiction, covering "reordered storylines, unreliable narrators, deeply responsive NPCs [and] how they apply to other kinds of games."
    • Beyond Dungeons & Dragons, which explores the "'indy' role playing game scene."
    • I HAVE A GREAT IDEA FOR A GAME!!   Finally I'll be able to SACWAG.
    • A Sophisticated Evening with Rooster Teeth Productions, which is unlikely to expand my gaming knowledge but will undoubtedly cause me to bust a gut laughing.  If you've never seen Red vs. Blue, then get thee viewing Season 1 (NSFW: strong adult language).
    • Naughty Dog LIVE – Game Design with the Dogs, where "designers hold a game design meeting right in the middle of PAX East to tackle the challenge of developing a new gameplay sequence."  I know nothing of their game, but I want to learn about challenges that they face.
    • Fail Now!  A discussion on learning from one's mistakes.
    • MMO Gamer Behavior 101.  This one especially interests me, as the panel will discuss what "...exactly is it about [MMO] games --- killing the dragon? feeling powerful? vicarious adventure? acting out?--- that explains their massive appeal?"
    • But Thou Must: Choice in Games, which examines how "role-playing games need choice to propel the plot and motivate the player."
    • Community Managers: More than Forum Monkeys, which is an especially interesting topic.
    • Beyond Candyland, another very interesting discussion which will "explore the theory and thought behind the so-called 'German Board Games'."
    • Future of the MMO Scene - MMORPG.com, just because I want to know.
    • D&D Seminar: Save My Game! Live, which may not interest me if it's all technical questions.
    The convention looks great and I hope that I have the energy to last me the entire weekend.  I hope to come away with a lot of ideas and insight that can be transportable to Clan Lord.

    13 March 2010

    Righting Wrongs

    ShackNews ran a nice article on game design entitled Rob Pardo on Blizzard's Success and Failures.  The article analyzed what went wrong in some of Blizzard's games and how it was fixed in subsequent games.  I would have like to have learned more on how Blizzard identifies problems and fixes them in the current version of that game.

    It's fairly simple to spot design problems within a game: when players gravitate to one particular playing style, then that's a sign of a problem.  When there's one resource (a card, an item, a power) that becomes the must-have resource, then there's a problem.  When there's a tactic within a game that becomes the winning strategy, then there's a problem.  When there's a character class that becomes the class to play, then there's a problem.  This last point leads me to Clan Lord: the most common fighter in CL is the Ranger.  That's a problem.  In theory, there should be an even mix of fighter subclasses, but in practice Rangers account for something like 70% of fighters (at the time that I write this, 8 out of 11 online fighters are rangers).

    How can this problem be addressed?  What I take away from the article is "fix the problem in the next game."  I wish I knew how to apply this to Clan Lord.

    12 March 2010

    V642 Is Now History

    I surprised myself this evening when I counted 33 areas for my V642 submission!

    A lot of these areas are bug fixes (I do read the bug reports), and some are old areas with new content.  I had not realized just how many areas I had updated over the course of V639.  I'm rather pleased, as I now feel more productive than I had yesterday.

    With respect to the April Fools area: reviewing the scripts for Movieland required more time and energy than I had to offer, so I abandoned updating these areas for V642.  I could re-review the scripts over the weekend (and use my last-minute trick for submitting scripts), but otherwise I have made other arrangements for the April Fools area for this year.  I would have loved to have added an Avatar movie area (using a blue version of the Gan Vara Soldiers for character images, and naming the Noob'i) but, as stated, my mind wasn't available for the project.

    There have been some interesting behind-the-scenes updates for V642.  I am curious to hear reactions to these changes.

    11 March 2010


    I find that I am having a lot of trouble concentrating on creating content for this update.

    I spent a small portion of the evening updating the functionality for one of my scripts, but asides from that I have done very little in the way of preparation for V642.  The break that I took last week complete broke my work rhythm and I have struggled to regain the productivity that I was enjoying several weeks ago.  Instead of focusing on updating areas, I find myself noodling around from mindless game to mindless game.

    I wanted to get my V642 content in this evening.  There's always tomorrow morning, I suppose.

    10 March 2010

    Designer's Block

    Although I have been playing Clan Lord, I have found it difficult returning to the mindset of designing for Clan Lord.

    My deadline is Thursday, as I will be away on Friday, and I have been dragging my developmental feet all week long.  I know what needs to be done for the V642 update: I simply have been unmotivated to do it.

    Thursday is going to be a busy day for me.  And a hectic one, too.

    09 March 2010

    Jailors and Janitors

    I came across an article regarding a moderator banning a kid from his X-Box Live account (NSFW video containing vulgar language).  One of the readers made an interesting comment:
    For all you worried about [the moderator] acts as a customer rep... Think of him instead as a bouncer.
    When I read about these types of players, then I am reminded on just how grateful I am to be a developer for Clan Lord.  CL may be a smaller MMORPG, but it has a great community and the players love the game.  I'd much rather have a couple of hundred players as cool as our current players than to have tens of thousands of players who behaved like ItzLupo.  I don't want to play the role of a bouncer, nor that of a jailor.  I'd much rather play the role of the janitor, and just go around and clean up bugs.

    08 March 2010

    Back At The Desk

    I spent a portion of this evening reviewing some April Fools areas.  There will need to be some minor updating to these areas (very minor) as well as a thorough review of the supporting scripts.  I started this evening and will continue to review areas throughout the week.

    I thought that it may be fun to add a new area, but we'll see if there's time for that.  My deadline will be Thursday, as I will be away on Friday.  That means that I have less days to do more work.

    07 March 2010

    Back again

    I logged on this evening and was greeted by an invasion in full swing.  Ahhh, it's good to be home.

    On a semi-related topic, I had been using the trial version of Cornerstone, a Subversion client, for the past 14 days.  The trial ended this evening, and I tried to launch Versions, a competing application.  After launching Versions, it updated itself and then immediately hung and I had to force-quit the application.  I then relaunched it, and tried to set up my Subversion information and could not connect to the server.

    Three minutes later I purchased my Cornerstone license, and haven't had a moment's regret.

    06 March 2010

    Got Nuthin'

    Aside from a short discussion on what we're going to do for April Fools Day, I spent the day AFK.

    It's still taking me a day or two to decompress from the previous week.  And then, starting tomorrow, I go right into update week.  I'm looking forward to thinking about Clan Lord again.  I've missed it.

    05 March 2010

    Steamed Heat

    I've heard that Valve is bringing Steam to the Mac.

    Long have I watched the cool videos of people playing Half-Life, Portal and Team Fortress, but, being a Mac user, had to content myself to playing old games like Oni and for six or seven years (Clan Lord is excused as it is not a third-person shooter).

    I don't know how to feel about this.  It's great that the Mac is getting attention and receiving more games, but I can't help but feel that it's a little like getting your older brother's shirt after he's outgrown it.  I'll hold judgment until I see what's available and what price they're charging.  If they're charging $50 for a game that's five years old, well, that's $50 staying in my pocket.

    Besides, if I start playing Team Fortress, then Puddleby will never hear from me again!

    04 March 2010

    I'm Not An Addict

    It's been four days since I've logged onto Clan Lord.  Real Life is keeping unusually busy and away from the computer.  Well, at least my computer.  The one loaded with Clan Lord.

    I'd log on now, but in truth I just want to get to bed because I need to get up early tomorrow for another marathon day of work.  Tomorrow is Deadline Day, and I'm just meeting that deadline.

    And then I'm away until Monday.  I won't be able to relax and decompress by logging on and invading Puddleby with a host of horrific monsters.

    It's not like I need to play Clan Lord.  I can quit any time I want to.  It's not a habit.  It's cool.  I feel alive.  I'm not an addict.

    Maybe that's a lie.

    03 March 2010

    Ok Go: This Too Shall Pass

    Today's entry is entirely off topic.

    I'm sure most of you have seen Ok Go's YouTube music video "Here It Goes Again."  This group recently teamed up with Mindshare to develop an enormous Rube Goldberg machine for their video "This Too Shall Pass."

    I don't think that any words from me can adequately describe the genius involved in this production.  Not only is this video a technical/engineering success, but the artistic design behind some of the contraptions is simply brilliant.  The umbrella-sun and pop-up-flowers is artistically wondrous, the television on the trapeze is an unexpected surprise, and the last thirty seconds are just delightfully overwhelming.  And the camera work is just perfect, as is the choreography and the timing.

    I can't stop watching this video.  Sometimes I just love the internet.

    02 March 2010

    Musings: Open Source Quests

    I have been considering compiling a list of syntax for some quests and releasing this information to helpers.

    I have been approached by some helpers who wish to help develop content and who have had some great ideas for quests.  The problem has been that personal spare time has been dwindling for me, so some of these quests have been languishing "on the list."  However, if I were to give some instructions to the helpers on how to create a quest, then they could do the majority of the labor.

    And so that I am clear: I would not be releasing the actual scripts, but just the basic options for the quest.  For example, one quest that I have been using as an introduction to quest writing is the package delivery quest found within the Puddleby Post Office.  It's a simple quest with simple options.  Just fill in the blanks and we have a quest!

    The hard part is finding time to debug the submissions.  If the submission has spelling errors or requires a little more polishing, then I can always send it back to the submitter and request a fix.  Assuming that the quest passes muster, then it would be my responsibility to assign rewards and any other back-end script support to the quest.  I can't just release quest information without owning responsibility to handling subsequent questions and organizing submissions.  And that's the part that requires more thought.  How am I going to manage time that I don't have?

    01 March 2010

    Hack Attack!

    I spoke with the author of the reward script with which I have been struggling.  His response (and I am paraphrasing) was "hack it."  The script won't quite do what I want it to do: if I want rewards doled in a specific fashion, then I will personally need to change the script to make it so.

    This is partially a relief to hear: I was convinced that I was misusing the script, but in fact it just won't do what I want it to do.  And RewardGM has his script laid out in a very easy-to-read format, so adding hooks to it should be a breeze.

    Now all I have to do is find time to do this!  Real Life will keep me busy all through next Monday, which is the beginning of another update week.  Will I be able to find the time to make a passing hack attack on the reward script and complete another ongoing quest?

    I'm panicking just thinking about it.  Oy vey.