Tuesday, December 16

31 suggested games for Student game developers

Richard Barrtle reports that Gamasutra's Ask the Experts column has a list of 31 Suggested Games that Students of Game Development Should Play.

he's very happy that MUD (any) is in the middle of the (alphabetical) list ofcourse.
Well, it's something I agree on with Gamasutra.
I'm curious as to how many of the 31 games I played, intended to play and never got around to or plain never heard of.

Tried it
Beyond Good and Evil:
Stood at the brink of trying this a few times.
I think I have a pawn diploma somewhere
Chrono Trigger:
Never heard of it
Coign of Vantage
Eh, what's that?
Tried it. Glad it wasn't a legal copy.
Dungeons & Dragons:
Final Fantasy VII:
Know of. I played 8 instead. With the nice video's, but I wanted to kick my own character in the nuts repeatedly about 1/3 into the game. Gimme Western style RPG's where you have some control over what type of person you are. I don't like playing a jerk.
Heard of, never been interested.
I didn't go as far as buying a board to gather dust as many others did.
Herzog Zwei:
Incan Gold:
Dunno, what platform?
Magic: The Gathering:
Know of. Managed to avoid it. We of the real P&P RPG crowd looked down on it.
Mirror’s Edge:
Seen the commercial on tv recently. Not sure what is so renewing about it?
Missile Command:
multi-user dungeon (MUD) (any):
Of course. Bubble Bobble was better though.
Pocketful of Stars:
I think so. Vaguely remember the title.
Yes, didn't get all that far due to flawed (my opinion) mechanics
Settlers of Catan:
Yes. Some people still aren't talking to me due to the Great Wool Scam :-D
Super Mario 64:
Super Mario Bros:
Start of Ugh!
Super Mario Bros. 3
Three times Ugh!
Texas Hold ’em
Never heard of it
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Sorry, nth installment of a title by another company usually doesn't catch my interest.
Wolfenstien/Doom 1:
Yes, though I claim the Robocop game was a further advanced FPS (looking up) and came out before either.

Some of these games aren't very good, but that's not what studying is about. You often learn as much from how not to do things as from games that did it right but where no-one seems to be able to pin-point all the bits they did right, like with WOW. All this is explained on page 1 of the article, but it wouldn't make sense to do the above excersize after reading that :-)

Wednesday, December 3

Shopping in Anarchy Online

My first and last post so far was about my idea that it would be nicer to have level restricted shops in cities. The idea is to have shops, and auction house accespoints, scattered around a city.
The benefits would be twofold. You'd get a better spread of players, assuming not eveyrone rushes to the end-game within three weeks, across the city-scape which would be better for lag. And, you'd have people with more or less the same interest-range congregate in the same spot.

Well, of late I've been playing a game which does this to an extend.
Over the last two, three weeks Phè and I have been 'trocking' in Anarchy Online. We're actually having a blast with this game and its pretty dated Engine. It helps that Phè remembers a lot of details and best practices as I sometimes get overwhelmed by the sheer number of stats to track.

So it was Phè who came up with the idea to manufacture a brain Implant to boost her Navigational skill so she could read certain Maps. She'd then swap out the implant for one helping her Shoot Stuff which has a more frequent use in MMO's. Especially since the Maps stay read. She was also kind enough to shove the thing into my avatar's brains for a spell so I too could enjoy the benefits of higher Map Reading Skills. She's full of those kind of tricks and gimmicks.

In a Second or Third generation game this probably would be (considered) a bug and highly abused. In Anarchy Online it's abused just as much but it's part and parcel of the gameplay. For you see, Anarchy Online isn't a high action game like its creator's follow up game Age of Conan. In fact if you pick the right class, you don't have anything to do in a fight for stretches of 30 seconds straight. In most current day MMO's you have to press a button every 3-4 seconds. With AO this is a lot less. Atleast for the first 30-60 levels or so. After that I don't know, but I bet Phè does. It's very nice to have her be the more experienced player. I loved it when I could hide behind her coat-tails in CoX and I'm loving it here.

Anyway, to get back to Anarchy Online and its shops. These are 'Consoles' by the way. Kinda like ATM's that spill out anything from Clothes and Armor (A DirectX 7 game and it has Social clothing) to guns and swords, implants and Nano's and lots of tools and Maps as well. Everything is Stat dependent and you'll frequently discover that the implant you just swapped out for something better was actually allowing you to use that Uber Gun you just bought and now can't equip anymore. This is a game where you need spreadsheet skills. No, you don't need those for WOW, WAR or CoX. Unless you're really tweaking the margins of your top-level character. With AO you start dusting off the printer while you're downloading the free to play version of the game or else...

What's nice about AO is that stores are somewhat arranged by tier and you'll find high level characters (200+ even) run around the same area's as lowbie players. This is nearly 8 years into the existance of the game by the way. Even though it's just three servers, these feel more alive in the three main capitals than Age of Conan does in central Hub of the World, Old Tarantia.
This despite there being a single Auction House access point in each city. I haven't really delved into the player market yet. I shudder at the thought what 8 years of Mudflation have done to the prices of rare items for my Tier. Especially as you can shut down your XP gain for as long as you want and just run missions for the money, or Blitz Missions for missions that reward you with that special item you need. So maybe it won't be so bad afteral. Can't drive the price up so far that people prefer to (have a Funcom approved third party application) spend hours finding that correct mission for you.

All in all, Anarchy Online is actually a pretty fun game for all its age and dated engine.
We've got something to look forward to, a revamped DirectX 9 Engine around June 2009, but that was before the big lay-offs at Funcom so who knows.