Thursday, March 31, 2011

Allods Online Official Launch

Word on the street is that Allods Online will hit it's official launch "very soon". Along with that news, comes news that their fourth expansion is also coming out.

Allods Online, further muddling the idea of an MMOG beta.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Heartless_ Gamer's Minecraft Mondays 003: From concept to reality; my minecart station

Welcome to another Minecraft Monday.  In my previous episode, I covered the concept of using water to solve some common issues I've had with past minecart stations.  However, last time I only had a model mocked up to show the potential.  Today, I present my artsy-fartsy fully automated minecart station:

A few quick notes:

1. Yes, I started with this look in mind. I wanted visitors to be able to see the carts being stored and being fed into the departure zone.

2. This design works flawlessly. I have yet to encounter an issue aside from Minecraft crashing and leaving me stranded mid-track (but I'm sure I'm not the only one to experience the black screen of death in Minecraft :P )

3. While I went all artsy-fartsy, there is no reason that this concept can't be integrated into a more formal look.

4. I've had requests to show off my switching station a bit more.

5. With 3 and 4 in mind, I will start a new project to integrate some of my switching technology and water minecart station into my server's main departure station (the brick building outside my base). I plan on using this to possibly shoot some tutorial videos with an aim to show people that minecart and switching stations are NOT hard to set up. Actually, I can set up a full minecart station in less than five minutes now with this new design.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Hey Tobold, Did You Forget About Star Wars Galaxies?

Tobold posted a couple weeks ago about the feeling that the crafting system in Guild Wars 2 was added onto what was an already fleshed out adventuring MMOG. This makes it seem like the crafting system is tacked on and was not present in any of the core design discussions for the game.

Tobold also asked:
I wonder how a MMORPG would look like if the developers *first* designed the crafting system, trade, and the player economy. And *then* designed the adventuring system around that.
I would answer this question very quickly: look at Star Wars: Galaxies (SWG).

For all intents and purposes, SWG was designed with the crafting and player economy in mind first and foremost and the adventuring gameplay added later. Combat was not even added to the alpha or beta phases of SWG until near the end and come release (and all the long years since), the adventure gameplay of SWG was terrible.

The funny thing is; SWG got the crafting and economy right! However, with the combat being so terrible and adventuring being nothing more than running across randomly generated terrain until the game spawned something for the player to interact with, SWG fell apart. Eventually the infamous NGE (aka New Game Experience) hit and SWG sits to this day as a pile of "what ifs". 

Tobold asks the right question, but may have overlooked one of the prime examples that the market has already churned out. With the SWG example in mind, what we need to really ask is: I wonder what a MMOG would look like if the developers designed the crafting system, trade, and the player economy AND the adventuring system at the same time AND with the same goals in mind.

IMHO, it would probably look like Minecraft with a story mode, but that is a completely separate discussion.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Monday Night Combat's Free Weekend on Steam, Missed Opportunity to try some Free 2 Play shenanigans?

One screenshot to sum up the Free Weekend that Monday Night Combat (MNC) just had on Steam:

While the graph shows that there was a lot of interest over the free weekend that quickly died off, it will be interesting to check out in a few weeks whether there is an uptick in sustained playtime to give us an idea of the impact on overall sales.

To me, this is another great example showing that a lot of people are up for free games. I wonder how much MNC could make by monetizing a free weekend spike like the one they just experienced under some of the Free 2 Play models out there?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Heartless_ Gamer's Minecraft Mondays 002: A concept minecart station using water

Didn't get enough Minecraft on my Minecraft Mondays 001?  Well here is 002!

In this episode I quickly cover the concept minecart station I am designing.  This is a tour of my mock up.  While the design appears simple, it took a lot of tweaks to get it right.  Secondly, I had to put a new spin on how to utilize a door booster.  Enjoy the video:

As noted in the video, I had a few goals in mind for this design:

1. Prevent "bumping" of a cart as a player enters or exits
2. Remove the need to "call a cart" by having one always waiting
3. Improve reliability and idiot proof the departure and arrival mechanisms

I solved the first issue by placing the departure cart within a confined 1 x 1 holding area which prevents the cart from being bumped off target.  This holding area is on top of what most Minecrafters may identify as a door booster.  This allows me to use the door booster differently.  In my reversed scheme, the player loads into the booster and is boosted by what would normally be the riding cart.

This is actually beneficial in many ways and helps with reliability.  The number one issue with door boosters is the fact that sometimes the booster cart on top just doesn't make it all the way to the end of the run and when activated it simply falls into the door breaking the entire system.  Since I am feeding the loading area with the flow of water, and flip-flopping which cart is being ridden, I can use a 100% reliable self-resetting booster on the lower track for the main boosting power of the system.

Secondly, the rider does not have to wait for a booster cart to be sent out to come and "pick up" the cart they are riding in.  Once the rider hits GO, they drop into the self-resetting booster which powers them along the track.

Another quick tip: carts can be dropped long distances vertically without the rider taking any damage. 

The arrival "splashdown" area also prevents the bumping of the cart upon exit and the water flow also carries the cart off to be reused in the system.  In my mock up, I did not connect the arrival and departure areas, but in my final build, they will be linked.  Again, there is no need for an additional booster to be called to retrieve the now vacated cart.  The water does all the work!

This design is very good at removing many of the moving parts from traditional minecart stations.  When idle, everything in the station is sitting static.  Nothing moves until a rider is present (and with a tweak, I hope to make it so that an empty cart can't be accidentally launched by using a stone pressure plate next to the loading zone).

The biggest draw back is the speed at which water pushes a minecart.  It can be slow waiting on a cart if they have just been dumped into the holding area.  Fortunately, the holding bay can be rack and stacked with carts and the water will neatly organize and feed them one by one.  However, currently there is no way to manually load a cart at the departure point and all carts must be loaded through the holding tank.

I hope you enjoyed and please feel free to ask questions.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Seriously? Who invited the blog police?

This sits like vomit in my mouth: World of Warcraft bloggers fight back against RIFT.
"Many of us are experiencing tough times in WoW, we have lost friends, guildies, entire guilds have crumbled and fallen. I don't begrudge RIFT the shelf space, but when there are more RIFT posts on a WoW blog than WoW posts... well... I don't like it,"
A true gaming blogger posts about whatever they are playing and doesn't prop their site up by stringing readers along with stuff about games they've lost interest in. This is exactly why I made the conscious decision over 5 years ago never to pigeon-hole this blog into a single game. It is also why I am formulating a plan to better represent my thoughts and opinions on the game(s) I'm currently playing instead of the ones I want to bitch about the most (well that is if I can ever break my addiction to Minecraft).

Blog police say what now?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

March 2010, what I was doing

I was going to do a Minecraft Mondays 002 yesterday, but I have family in town from out of state, so I took them out on the town instead. However, I feel like I need to post to keep people from drop kicking me off their RSS feeds and blog rolls. So I figured I would look back and see what was up on this blog last year during March.

It's a bit ironic that I have an MMOGs blog, yet the majority of my inbound traffic has nothing to do about MMOGs. That's all thanks to my wonderful Punkbuster posts from March of 2010 for Battlefield: Bad Company 2. Anyone that has dealt with Punkbuster errors knows the first place to look is Google and Google will generally direct Punkbuster + BFBC2 queries to this very website.

Battlfield: Bad Company 2 also launched on the PC in March of 2010. I had my initial impressions of singleplayer and I shared a bit of propaganda for the game.

I also got around to talking about Elemental and Lord of Ultima. Both games pretty much disapeared off my radar shortly after my initial postings. Elemental went on to a gloriously epic failure of a launch that I'm unsure Stardock (the game's developer) can ever recover from. Lord of Ultima was pretty much like any other browser strategy game, built and aimed to suck as much money out of teenagers and tweens that somehow got a hold of mommy and daddy's credit card.

We also found out in March that George RR Martin's book, A Game of Thrones, was coming to an HBO mini-series. Since this initial announcement, the pilot episode was completed and the series signed on for full production. The brief glimpses we've seen of the show so far are very promising. I'm really excited about this mini-series!

Lastly, probably the biggest event of the month for me, was my Gmail account getting hacked. Ah, the memories!

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Heartless_ Gamer's Minecraft Mondays 001

So I promised a Minecraft video. Here it is. A bit outdated and I missed Monday, but it's never too late for a Minecraft video!

001 show notes:

This is an older video from the previous beta version 1.2.

This video covers my mountain base, cart station, and track switching station on the SMP player server I play on.

Sorry there isn't any sound in the video. I am working out some technical issues with FRAPS.

If there are any questions about any thing I show in the video, please let me know and I may follow it up with a video response!

Thanks for watching.