Posts archived in demo worthy

I’ve got a large portion of what I already had done converted to XNA at this point. Need to get inertia worked in to finalize the flight model and I’ll be golden. The graphics are much more stable, I don’t experience tearing at all while I’m play testing my current build. There is a lot left to work on, everything from planets, to UI, to weapons, to various other graphics so I’m hardly even scratching the surface at the moment.

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Quest Text

I feel like writing right now, so why stop after that last novel, let’s write another one.

Lead Blizzard Dev Outlines 9 WoW Quest Problems, Admits to Designing Stranglethorn Quest via Cuppytalk

I think Kaplan hit the nail on the head with point two. The effects of this one point radiate out into the entire rest of the talk, whether he means it to or not. Point nine is another example of actually being one way of looking at the very core of the issue. Personally I like good understandable examples, and I’m kind of sad I don’t have a workable prop here for this.

Imagine if you will that I’m standing in front of a white board with ten big A3 (8.5″x11″ for Americans) buttons on it. Behind each of those buttons is one page of Coraline by Neil Gaiman. To the left is a scoreboard with a bunch of zeroes showing on it. So here are the rules, I can press the buttons in any order and get one point per press, per button. Once I press all ten, I get ten bonus points and all the pages move forward so that I have the next ten pages. However, I can’t get back to talking to you, or take any breaks until I reach 100 points. Additionally, if I can’t get back to it tonight, this post never gets written.

Now, I’m kind of tired already, it’s been a long night and any more delays and I’m just going to fall asleep. But I really care about this post. I’ve never gotten to read Coraline so those pages are looking interesting, but I’ve got this point just banging around inside my head waiting to get out. Take a moment, and given all the information, just try to imagine me pressing those buttons as fast as you think I would press them.

Personally, I imagined myself tearing through them with the occasional pause to read something that caught my eye. Why? Because it’s not a book, it’s a button pressing machine and I have something really important to me get to. I don’t think there are many people who view quest text skippers in this light, not ADD thirteen year olds, just someone who’s friends need them at a higher level to play with them, or whose guild needs them at max level, or who can’t wait for the raiding game play that they really like. Just because the button has text does not make the button game a novel.

Fixing this requires us to look at something more basic about quest text, it’s purpose. When I walk up to someone in a starting zone and they ask me to reduce the overpopulation of the bears in the zone, the text is giving me the reason why I’m doing it. To reduce the overpopulation of bears. I kill eight bears, eight more spawn, the population is the same, I walk back to the quest vendor and find out something funny. They lied to me. I did not kill the bears to fix the overpopulation, I killed the bears so they could give me stuff. If I had done it to repair their ecological situation, it would not have been considered complete until the implied task, thinning their actual numbers, was completed. That is not the case, instead it is simply asking me to push a button a certain way, in this case kill x bears, and collect my prize. It is soon discovered that the faster you push buttons, the more reward you get, and the closer you get to whatever goal you yourself have actually set. And so it is never actually explained why you bothered killing x bears, except in the meta sense of “to advance”.

Now imagine that the buttons have been replaced with an adlib sentence. _____(Proper noun) is _____(adverb) _____(verb – present tense) because _____(proper_noun) _____(verb – past tense) the _____(adjective) _____(noun). I press button one, a list of 10 names come up I choose one. I press is and ten choices of possible replacement words come up. And this continues until in short order I’ve formed the sentence, ‘Jay was pretty pissed after Milley lost the good sword.’ The points rack up, it rolls over to a new sentence.

Before anyone even suggests it, I’m not saying we need to make them choose your own adventure. I’m saying you need them to be one word. One big bold visible word that the player interacts with as they play. Rather than sending the player to kill the bear overpopulation, set a trigger the first time they enter the woods for a group of bears to spawn in and attack them. A guard runs over, thanks them for helping with the bears that have been overpopulated lately and gives you the quest reward. What you’ll see here is what isn’t written. No ecological survey in your quest log, no long quest intro. The player instantly understands that the bears are hostile and wonders why, the guard answers why, the player sees the problem is solved, but has a viable reasoning for other people to be having a similar problem in front of him. And they know why they did it, to protect themselves and luckily to assist with the bear population.

Text cannot be your hook. Any number of people will sit down and read the text once they are hooked into a story. However, there is little chance of catching them the first time around if they have to read text to enter the story. On top of that, you want people to enjoy their time spent questing as a non-grind and to get a story with it, if you can encapsulate the story into actions, into showing them what is going on, you will have succeeded. If you try to keep it to telling them, you will fail. I think a truly great novelist or writer-director, if tasked with designing the quest layout for an MMO will probably tell you the same thing. Show your audience, don’t just tell them. Don’t lean on them to write their next great novel in your game, or to fill your game with their brilliant cinematics, work with the strengths of our own medium to not just tell the player the story they’ve helped with, but to show it to them.

The move has largely been made in single player games. There isn’t that much stopping us now from adding this in MMOs other than getting people trained to do it. I firmly believe that TOR will succeed or fail almost solely on how well they grok this principle.

P.S.
I’m pretty sure if you noticed a massive jump in quest quality with phasing, it’s because they can now show, not just tell the outcome of your actions. It’s amazing how powerful this particular jump really is.

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Presentation

Was doing some reading and watching of good presentations. I started storyboarding this, and even though it’s not even close to being done I thought I’d share it anyways.

Brief Translation of a First Year Ventrair Languages Class at Ventrair University’s Mokiin School of Law

For today’s lesson, we’ll delve into a single sentence of Late Isovedian. (Eye-so-ve-D-an) The sentence is the motto that surrounds our city’s official seal.

Matre u tch iiy uch kooam ututnua grio.

Literally translated to, Mother’s eye kind order maintains. Or more fluidly, “A mother’s kind eye maintains order.” This is in reference to the third paragraph of the Articles of Foundation in which Mokiin writes, “It is considered a simple truth that those who govern the children of Matre are not to be their rulers. The wisdom of Matre was to bring us the fundamentals of parenthood, and we hold it to be right to follow these principles in governance as well as daily life. Within the walls we have built, let no child stand as ruler over another, instead let the wisdom of the elders be looked upon as a means of guidance.”

So let’s take this a word at a time.
Matre is a word carried over into our language from Late Isovedian, though only as a proper noun. Nobody knows how it was carried over exactly, but the word seems to have survived primarily in the vocabulary of the Angels. It is in all likely hood from the those first Angel Children that Matre became the proper title that it is today. It’s important to remember though, that in Late Isovedian Matre was neither a proper title, nor a proper noun, making it a more general reference to all parents*.
U means eye. In the writing system of the Isovedians it was symbolized by a low line with a slight downwards tilt. Though it’s debatable whether this was a new invention of Old Isovedian, or left over from an even older ideographic language, the connection is quite clear.
The tch particle is used to assign a word to the before it. In this case it denotes the fact that the eye belongs to a parent. It’s important not to confuse the letter tch with a combination of the letters t, c, and h, though those letters will probably never be used together. Like the letter tre, tch uses a softer tuh sound, made by placing your tongue against your upper teeth rather than the roof your mouth. While tre, nua and gr have been adopted into modern Angel as sound rules, Demon still uses short hand letters for them. TCH and uch however have not survived to either language, as they existed solely in the use of particles which have been either replaced by suffix rules or removed completely.
The adjective iiy means kind and follows the y rule of double i adjectives. The entomology of iiy is still in a great deal of doubt. Unfortunately the section of the library ruins which housed the books on entomology was on the west end, which remained exposed to corrosion for roughly ten thousand years longer than the rest of the library.
The letter uch was used to denote that the word before it was an adjective or adverb. However, with language rules like the i rule, the y rule, for adjectives, it was instead simply wrapped into the u adverb in Angel and the uj suffix in Demon.
Kooam and ututnua can’t really be explained independently of each other. The words are only used in the context of governance and kooam is almost exclusively used with ututnua or atnua. Kooam refers to more than just order in the traditional sense, but order as an ideal of behavior in which the individual contributes to the flourishing of society around them. You can have, atnua, kooam, or maintain, ututnua, kooam, but rarely is it ever used as a stand alone subject. Also note that kooam is not a proper noun, it’s always considered plural and only exists as on the level of a concept. I’d recommend finding a translation of Ngra Amitte’s “Commentaries On Justice and Society” if you can, Oringa’s translation is my personal favorite as he’ll often explain where the Isovedian mind set differs from our own. Also Mokiin’s “Gathered Translations of Isovedian and Onos Philosophy” should have a section entitled “Kooam Atnua es Vern”. If you couldn’t guess from the Middle Onos in the title, the article focuses on differences in fundamental concepts between Isovedian law and Onos law.
I won’t go into kooam ututnua any more here, but as you can tell from it’s inclusion on the seal, it is an important concept to Ventrair law. There is a required course on it in the legal philosophy major even and more than a few of your professors are going to be looking for papers on it. Second year it’s going to be considered basic knowledge, so if your looking to impress one of those hard grade professors, you might want to fully understand it as soon as possible.
The sentence ends in grio, which means the preceding word was a verb. This was a rare word to use in Late Isovedian, and only came up in highly formal, and impersonal communication. Very much in line though with a governmental seal, or during an official governmental edict. If a city official were to write an open letter to the city’s police for instance it might have grio, however, if the empress of Isoved were sending a letter to, say for instance their top general, grio wouldn’t make it. Basically it means that the target audience is more important the level of formality, a relatively known audience wouldn’t have it, but an audience of unknown size or identity would have it.

Any questions? Yes, in the back.
Student: I’ve been interested in Isoved for a while now, I know it was named after one of their mythological heroes, Izoval, but I had heard that the names were once identical, is that true?
Yes, actually, we have found some corroborating sources that prove that the name of the country and the hero were exactly the same at one point. It ruffled some feathers among the fans of the united drift theory, that was a fun few months to be a languages professor, believe me. But back on topic, it has been found that in Old Isovedian the name of the country Isobal, is identical to the name of the hero at that point. It’s likely that towards the end of Old Isovedian, as the rules were beginning the shift as to what particular sounds implied, the ed sound was at some point considered to be a governmental sound. When exactly the s and z changed is unknown, however by the later end of Middle Isovedian we can see from their entertainment literature and plays that is was completely deprecated for fictional characters and iz was almost universally adopted instead, with only a scattered use of ix to compete with it.
Well, it looks like our time is about up now. If you have any further questions, just visit my office, the hours are in the syllabus.

*Translators note: The Ventrair have no concept of gender permanence, to them the words mother, father and parent are all relatively interchangeable. Also to refer to someone using male, female or neutral pronouns is generally more of an observation of how feminine, masculine or androgynous the person looks.

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Mechanic: Prayer

I haven’t sat down and designed a full mechanic in a while. Let’s see if I still have the touch.

Variations:
Blessing
Curse
Sealing
Summoning

Sub-Mechanics:
Alignment
Sacrifice
Lore

Alignment is your relative standing with a particular Spirits. A spirit you have a good alignment with will grant you more power than one with neutral or enemy status. Alignment is a floating scale between 0 and 100.

Sacrifice is the ability to power the prayer yourself by sacrificing something of high enough power/worth to activate the prayer. Levels of sacrifice are item, power item, drop of blood, ounce of blood, digit, appendage, incarnation (you will respawn), soul digit (permanent), soul appendage (permanent), soul (permadeath).

Lore is your ability to decipher the make-up a prayer from it’s effects. The exact source prayer is needed in order to counter it’s effect.

Lash Back happens when the prayer is invalid or the power source does not cover the whole cost of the prayer. Lash Back will begin a countdown, at which point the character must either sacrifice items enough to make up the power, or it will be sacrificed from their body automatically to cast the prayer. A powerful enough Lash Back can consume the supplicant’s soul. If even the soul of the supplicant is not enough to pay for the prayer, the prayer will simply fizzle at end of countdown, and the player will take a 60 second silence effect.

Basic Prayer Mechanic:
A prayer is something the player says in chat. It cannot be a macro, it must be typed directly.

/prayer [prayer type] [aoe var] [power level var] [effect] [duration var] [power source] [target]
/dispell [target] [power source] [duration] [effect] [power level] [aoe] [prayer type] [your power source]

Prayer Words (making it up as I go):
Au – Blessing
Ku – Curse
Lu – Sealing
Hu – Summoning

Oon – Self
Ion – 5 meters
Hoon – 10 meters
Hion – 15 meters
Goon – 20 meters
Gion – 25 meters
Foon – 30 meters
Fion – 35 meters
(r – 4, i – 5, y – 6, j – 7, t – 8, e – 9)
Wano – Target

Ooa – Flea
Ioa – Cantrip
Hoa – Lesser
Foa – Minor
Ioa – Standard
Joa – Higher
Eoa – Greater
Hooa – Greatest
HHoa – Legendary

Ori – Instant
Hri – 1/10 second
Hori – 1 second
Iori – 5 seconds
Hoori – 10 seconds
AriHri – 1 hour
AriGri – 2 hours
EriHri – 1 day
EriGri – 2 days
Era – Permanent

Shutho – Strengthen/Weaken
Whutho – Speed Up/Slow Down
Dhatho – Increase Health/Decrease Health
Hitho – Heal/Damage
Kitho – Cure Blind/Blind
Iatho – Luck Up/Luck Down
Motho – Cure Silence/Silence
(more to come, I’m sure)

Blessings:
Blessings are always buffs. A blessing gains additional power if the spirit powering it is a sympathetic aspect to the effect being used. A blessing may target a player, an object or players/objects in a range around the supplicant.

Curses:
Curses are always debuffs. A curse can only be powered by sacrifice. Items that are naturally sympathetic to the effect will give a bonus in power when sacrificed. Items imbued with power from a god with sympathetic attributes give an additional bonus. A curse can target a player, an object, a place, or players/objects in a range around the supplicant.

Seal:
A seal can be either a buff or a debuff. A seal can be powered by anything, but gains no bonuses from sympathetic power sources, instead sympathetic power sources make it a buff, while antipathetic sources make it a debuff. A Neutral power source will trigger Lash Back. Seals effect everything within target range. A seal may target a player or a place. A soul-seal is a seal that has been powered by sacrificing a portion of the soul, the sacrificed soul material is not destroyed until the seal is destroyed. (Sacrificed soul parts also cannot be used as a power source)

Summons:
A summon calls a player or ally from one location to another. Summons may be powered by anything, and are cheaper if target is sympathetically aligned to power source used. The syntax for a common summon is simpler, requiring only “[prayer type] [power source] [target]“. A summon with full syntax is considered a summoning soul-seal, it can only be powered by sacrificing a portion of the soul and can only target mobs. Summoning Soul-Seals allow the player to summon the target anywhere any time at minimal cost, the summon is then capable of growing more powerful, and gives it’s summoner a natural buff when not summoned. A supplicant must have good alignment with the mob’s patron spirit, or it can cause the seal to fail or a lingering debuff. (When a player is summoned, they have the option of not accepting the summon, this will not cause lash-back with the summoner.)

Imbuements:
An Imbuement is technically a seal, though considered separate for our purposes. Imbuements can only target items, and have no outright effect. An Imbuement places power of the type used as a source into an item, allowing it to be sacrificed for that power at a later date. If it is a weapon, then the player will gain damage benefits related to it’s type. Those benefits are proportionally limited by the players alignment with the source of the power imbued in the object. A weapon Imbuement that involves the sacrifice of a player’s body or soul is instead proportionally limited by time spent holding the weapon and number of times it is used to attack and can only effect damage output. An item can only be imbued once.

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Kedy

Kedy was a teddy bear, a plain brown teddy bear. Her stitching was a little gilded, and her edges were looking worn. She loved a little girl named Karoline, who hugged her every night and told her what a good teddy bear she was. For five long years she kept by Karoline’s side, through laughter, tears, and many hugs.

One day Karoline asked Kedy a question. It was an odd question to be sure, who else would have thought to ask but a young girl who loved her teddy bear. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Kedy thought long and hard, hard and long, before it finally occurred, “I want to be a little girl, and laugh and sing and play with Karoline!”

“But teddy bears can’t grow up to be little girls,” Karoline told her. “But I want to do it anyway!” Kedy replied. “You can’t do it, Kedy!” Karoline scolded. “I just want to be a little girl and laugh and sing and play with you! Don’t you want that too!?”

And Karoline was quiet for a while, then stood and left the room. Kedy could only wait, wondering if she had hurt the best little girl she’d ever known. Karoline came back, with something hidden behind her back, “now Kedy, tell me really, no games, and nothing impossible, what do you want to be when you grow up!?”

“A little girl, is all. It’s all I’ll ever want!” But Kedy’s answer made Karoline angry, and she pulled out what she’d been hiding. With one swift stroke her first stab landed, the knife cutting brown and gold. “I’m sorry” cried the little bear, as her only love attacked. “Sorry!?” Karoline called with manic glee as she ripped the bear to shreds. “How dare you say such awful things to me, stupid bear, stupid useless bear!”

The police arrived the following day, but called others on there way. It wasn’t there’s to take her, despite the gruesome scene. The men in white would come for one who holds her little girl and screams, “What a bad little teddy bear you’ve been! You should have listened to me!”

Testing Ready Build 2

Combat
- The damage model has been changed. Now you have a damage limit, when exceeded in a single hit you go down. When dealt over 75% of your limit in a single blow it counts as a gash. Under that is a glance.
- The d20 roll has been modified slightly. 1-15 are still dodges, and 16-18 are still normal hits. 19 is a 2x damage hit, and 20 or natural 0 as it’s reported deals 2.5x damage on it’s hit.

Character
- Levels! You now have a level, and it has an effect on you. Unfortunately you do not gain experience at this time, instead you can test duels between equal level characters at levels 1, 5, and 10.
- A PC gains 20% increased damage and damage limit per level. A NPC gains 10% damage and 25% damage limit per level.

UI
- The damage reporting segment has been updated to reflect the combat changes.
- Placeholder portraits have been added for the combatants.
- The program now has icon art.

Where to get it:
Please leave a comment in the thread if you are participating in play testing.

Also if testers could send an e-amil to RBeat.Update@gmail.com with the word “Tester” in the subject line. It’ll be very helpful in allowing me to send out surveys and what not. I’ll also try and keep more regular updates going out through it, and see if I can’t fit some goodies of sorts into it somehow.