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2003-03-14 16:37:31.858247+00 by Dan Lyke 4 comments

For a while Todd and I were working on a game, but we've both gotten distracted with other things, and after a while I realized that working on games was the wrong approach because there wasn't any game I wanted to play. I know a couple of you got hooked on The Game Neverending, and Columbine routinely talks about MMOGs, so a few poached links.

Mars Saxman had a link to Golublog's Mars and Mansions which captures some reasons that might explain why I find the idea of computer games less compelling.

Greg Costikyan has a weblog that I've checked in on occasionally, but Rafe recently pointed to an exchange with Warren Spector following a speech at the recent Game Developer's Conference. You can read three parts of the exchange in reverse chronology starting with Specter vs. Spector.

[ related topics: Games Todd Gemmell ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment made: 2003-03-14 19:05:32.973067+00 by: Diane Reese

WARNING: a GNE enthusiast is about to expound.

There was a discussion on Golublog's article recently (beginning 2/18) on the GNE (Game Neverending) cooperative weblog (Paper Lane, named after a hub in the game which contained nothing but regularly-producing paper trees, where newbies could hang out, harvest plain paper, and busily turn it into colored paper, earning skill points so they could make more intricate objects and creating currency for purchases and other adventures). Since he mentions stopping in to GNE and basically Not Getting It, and then goes on to disparage those who hang out in such worlds, we regulars were understandably interested in his viewpoints. One of the regulars posted this (reprinted without her permission, but I doubt she'll mind):

GNE gave our imaginations play. It gave us a place to go with our creativity and ideas. It was an outlet, not a replacement for the real world. That article categorizes it with all the other "MMOGs". It being the only one I have ever enjoyed, my experience is limited. But I've always thought the GNE belongs in a category all its own.

In the real game (due out this summer), there will be many methods, tools, and opportunities (and encouragements!) to create your own objects, actions, locations, and sub-worlds. (See the discussions on "APIs" and "Technology" in the GNE discussion area for more details.)

Ludicorp recently reopened the prototype to an invited set of players for 24 hours. (We believe they were showing it off to soem potential investors, so we hope we made a good impression.) We flooded back in droves: I visited my old house, interacted with my old buddies, and felt an amazing positive glow and outlet for my creativity for part a day. I found I had been granted 2.5 billion shekels in some lottery windfall, and spent my time there providing purple paper (the highest currency in the prototype) to struggling newer players and buying enough (expensive) potions of skill to enable those newer players to make the most challenging items, then buying sets of developers for them (very expensive) so they could make their very own GNE before the game was closed again. I made at least 5 players really, really happy, and I had a BLAST being a philanthropist for a day! (And STILL had 850 million shekels when the game closed down again: sure is hard to give millions away!)

I'm sure that sounds pretty lame to many of you, but guess what? I have a life, too, and it's really busy. And yet I made time to visit GNE, because I crave the creativity, the personalities of the players, the interactions, the whimsy and joy and wit that abounded. I can barely imagine the complexities in the real game to come, but will be there with bells on. As yet another Paper Lane contributor noted:

GNE encapsulates the best attributes of all the games I have ever played, and mixes them with fresh and fun features. I don't think it will ever get boring, because by nature the game is ever changing, encouraging imagination and exploration. Right now, there appears to be no outer limit. I know I'm not alone in being convinced this one is a winner. Yay, devs!

#Comment made: 2003-03-14 22:15:12.860054+00 by: TC

Whoa I know I've stepped into it when I start seeing my name linked to flutterby[Wiki] post. I was just going to take some much needed rest and spend some time with my current affairs push down stack(half a meter high pile of unread magazines,hard copy letters and articles people sent) but alas I'll start paying attention to the Flutterby CMS as I've been bugging Dan for sometime about getting it to this point. Hmm it seems I started a reply on an unrelated tangent(must be a friday).

I read Golublog's article and though he backs off in places the subtext reads "MMOGs are evil" and beware of the soma or soilentgreen or whatever. I'd like to write a rebuttal but I'm going to wrangle Dan's CMS instead so Here is the punchline. Don't anthropomorphize tools! Knives cause so much woe and suffering in the world but they themselves are NOT evil! or perhaps books would be a better analogy because I am sure there were quite a few Greeks complaining about those foolish poets and philosophers escaping into book when they should be building temples or baking bread or something tangible. Doh! ranting again! must go play with (intangible) software.

#Comment made: 2003-03-15 02:27:18.486076+00 by: Dan Lyke

As I've read the comments here, and thought about this a little bit, I think I want to extrapolate a bit. What if we took the attitudes expressed in Mars and Mansions and applied them to other hobbies. Do people knit because their lives are crap? No.

So it'd be easy to discount the attitude, except that...

My ephiphany with games came when I realized that I wasn't doing anything that'd make my life more rewarding. Sure, I'd just unlocked all the levels and the secrets in Rush 2048[Wiki], and Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2[Wiki], and in the process I'd gained some skills which were transferrable; my ability to use controllers to manipulate virtual worlds was immensely better, and I was no longer a total laughingstock when challenged by teenagers in the games. So I don't regret the time spent on them, but at some point it went from feeling challenging to feeling like I was developing skills that were only applicable to a certain place.

I'd much rather be a generalist.

So that's probably where some of my recent aversion to gaming comes from.

But I also have a huge portion of my life that occurs online. Flutterby. The blog scene in general. Assorted mailing lists and newsgroups.

I don't want to put words in Todd's mouth, but Todd and I wanted our game to be a framework for interaction, a reason for people to come together and communicate. What I've found in my own life is that I have way more than enough of those reasons already. And I have the structure and the "credit" in several of these communities to be able to administer benificence.

Anyway, no well formed thoughts yet, and Charlene is here to do stuff, so I'll leave this half-finished.

#Comment made: 2003-03-17 13:01:10.329636+00 by: meuon

"I'd much rather be a generalist" - Amen Brother Dan, Amen. In fact, I'm finding myself seeking out experts in other things to hang with. It's nice not being the 'Alpha Geek'.. And I find the more things I know a significant amount about, the more I can apply that knowledge elsewhere, synthesizing. Still, when I can't find an expert when I need one, having a broad general knowledge often makes it easier for me to become enough of an expert to get the job done. Picking and choosing those times is important use of the time and resources available.