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SWG – The Master Speaks

I mentioned Raph Koster’s post a few days ago, but as it turns out there are a bunch of them about SWG and I’m still cursing the loss of Google Reader (yes I bloody well hold a grudge, at least in this case). So for my own convenience and that of a couple of other people who keep saying they need to read those posts — and they do, they’re fascinating — here are some links.

Designing a Living Society in SWG – Part 1

Designing a Living Society in SWG – Part 2

SWG-tagged posts

That should be enough to get you started.

It’s weird how often Mr. Koster says they didn’t end up with what they wanted for various systems in SWG (especially crafting!), when I and many others still remember it as the best crafting system ever, bar none. Actually to me it was the only real crafting system ever, bar none. All the others were just… bleh. Even EQ2, and I love EQ2 crafting — but it never even remotely compared to SWG crafting. The difference is one of several orders of magnitude in terms of complexity and depth. EQ2 is fun, but it’s whack-a-mole: once you’ve figured it out, you’ll never get anything but pristine (and yes, that was true even in the days when Death By Forge was a possibility).

And this is why SWG worked for crafters and people who wanted to be part of a society and not just someone who ran a ‘toon’ (apologies to all of you who use it, but I hate that term). It’s also why I doubt anyone will ever design another SWG. More’s the pity, but at least we have the Emulator:

I get asked this question all the time. In fact, now that I do consultancy from time to time, it’s not unusual for a company to come to me and say “can you put in crafting like SWG? Our players say it was the best ever!” Usually, they have actually, you know, designed their game already, or even built it. And I have to tell them, “No. You build your game around it, not the other way around.”

In other more fluffy news, I managed a little bit of playtime in between bouts of being sick and feeling sorry for myself. Here’s a pictorial account:

Coronet by night

Coronet by night

Poor Heidegger, can't hold his liquor

Poor Heidegger, can’t hold his liquor

A gift from a princely Master CH in Coronet. I shall pay it forward.

A gift from a princely Master CH in Coronet. I shall pay it forward.

SWGeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.2

A couple of people asked for pix, here and on FB, so prepare for full-on (mega-newbie) nostalgia.

My first char (can’t make another until tomorrow) is a crafter, which means she’s going to spend the next 3 days sampling till her lekku fall off. Because no resources = no crafty = no money, and you can put those in whichever order you wish. Currently I’m running artisan survey mission in between sampling because those training NPCs must live in gold-plated mansions in Kadaara when they’re not busy fleecing poor saps just off the space-boat.

Theed!

Theed!

Fambaa baby

Fambaa!

Maulers

Eeeek!

 

 

 

SWGeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

That pile I was talking about last month? It just got bigger.

SWGEmu1

One of my favourite games EVAR and one I miss perhaps even more than I miss Asheron’s Call (which was a wonderful MMO-virgin game nevertheless). I miss it like the spousal unit misses UO or hardcore raiders miss EQ. I followed SWGEmu a number of years ago but time, life and the state of the emulator’s progress back then conspired against me and I never got to try it out.

This is about to change. Well, in 2 or 3 days when my pooey internet allows me to update.

I’m not even going to mention the NGE and the CU and if you don’t know those acronyms you’re much better off, trust me.

Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. I’m really excited about this. My workload is pretty heavy right now but I may have to make time (i.e. lose sleep) for this one.

A propos nothing, it’s the game I was playing just before I got caught up in the Warhammer hype and started this blog. That was back in 2007-2008. Man, that was a long time ago, and despite all the changes they’d brought to the game it still had something unique going for it. Can’t wait for that update to finish…

Sims 4 Expansion Goodness

The whole Sims franchise is like a well-oiled juggernaut of simmish addiction, at least for those of us who play. Every new version of the game launches with a very small set of features compared to the mature (and much-expanded) version it’s replacing, and then feeds us expansions and stuff packs several times a year to keep our enthusiasm whetted and our wallets empty.

Or maybe it’s just me. I didn’t play the Sims 1 or 2 very much at all, but 3 hooked me at launch in 2009 and is the single-player game I go back to the most frequently. Or was, since it’s now been replaced by the Sims 4. Which launched its first expansion — Get To Work — this week.

I haven’t had a chance to explore absolutely everything or even a small fraction of everything, and if you want that kind of coverage you’re probably already reading Carl’s site. (I can’t imagine being a Sims player and not knowing that place. It’s like being a WoW player and not knowing WoWHead.) But what I have tried out is surprisingly fun, even if the novelty is likely to wear off in about 6 months… Just in time for the next expansion. Like I said, well-oiled machine.

All I’ve tried so far is the Detective career, which is pretty much like any procedural you’ve ever watched on TV complete with clue analysis, crime map, and good-cop / bad-cop suspect interrogations. It’s fun. It won’t be fun forever, but it beats watching the clock roll round while you wait for your Sims to emerge from their career rabbit-holes. The only thing that worries me a bit is that there appears to be almost no career progress when you don’t accompany your Sim to their ‘active career’, but I guess that’s the downside to what appears to be slightly quicker progression than the standard ‘vanish off to work’ careers.

Working DetectiveGiven that I tried what I thought would be the least fun career first (the new ones are Detective, Doctor and Scientist) I’m hopeful the other two will be quite entertaining and perhaps a little less repetitive. The major problem with the detective career is that it’s not exactly demanding of the little grey cells, at least as far as the player is concerned. But then again, the Sims was never conceived to be demanding in that particular sense.

The other thing I’m trying out is Retail, where you can open (or buy) a store and sell pretty much anything you can think of that’s buyable in the game. Old Sims 2 players apparently really missed that feature, and I can see how it would be fun, but I haven’t been able to do much with it yet. It requires a fairly sizeable cash investment even if you’re building your own store rather than buying an existing one, and if you don’t use cheats (which I could have, I suppose, but it didn’t occur to me in this case) it takes a while to build up that kind of money. And it really makes the expansion earn its title, because one of your Sims has to be in the store to manage it when it’s open, so my current household of two roomies who each have a ‘real’ job have been spending their weekends at the store, wondering what happened to their already-precious free time.

My wannabe retail mogul is Yvana Trumpe, because Yvana Sellyoustuff seemed a bit tacky. There she is eating one of the first meals she ever made, which looks disturbingly like Soylent Green.

Soylent Green is people!

Soylent Green is people!

She’s also an author, but her real aspiration is to have a pool filled with Simoleons that she can bathe in. That’s on hold for a bit (I’d forgotten Sims can change their aspirations whenever they want if you’re not playing under the Legacy rules), but it’ll be back. Someday that store will make money, and Yvana will have an army of children lackeys to run the store for her while she bathes in bills.

(I lie. Yvana is really nice, and her roomie Rebecca is really nice too. I can’t play nasty Sims. I tried locking them in their original basement room by deleting the stairs out but I couldn’t stand their piteous mewling for more than a Sim-hour. I’m weak.)

(I lie twice. They didn’t mewl. They turned on the boom-box and danced, and I still felt bad and let them out. I even let them live above-ground now.)

 

The Daedalus Project, part deux

It isn’t really, but it is Nick Yee from the above-mentioned Daedalus Project. If you’re a gamer, over 20, and haven’t heard of that rather massive study some years ago (in which I and a number of gamers I know took part), you might want to check it out. The data may be a little out of date but there’s still some really interesting stuff there.

Anyway, I got the following email today:

Dear friends and fellow gamers,
I’m happy to announce a new survey project aimed at gamers in general.
Fellow game researcher, Nic Ducheneaut, and I recently started a consulting practice around game analytics. As part of this, we’re gathering new survey data to explore a wide range of topics, such as: genre preference and motivations, hot button issues among gamers, etc. As with the Daedalus Project, we plan to share findings and conduct surveys at regular intervals.
To participate or to find out more about this study, go to:
http://nickyee.com/gaming/
And as always, I’d really appreciate your help in spreading the word about this survey to your fellow gamers!
Cheers,
Nick

I am hereby very happily spreading the word. And I really, really, really won’t even think the word GamerGate and how some people who study gamers (and write about them) have a firmer grasp on ethics and honesty than others.

Sims 4 – Bug Vindication

After getting all shirty with my excessive multiple births in the Sims 4 (here and here among others), across no less than three legacy families (one of which I didn’t even bother blogging about), it turns out that I was right. It warn’t nat’ral. It was a bug. Which has now been fixed.

From the Sims 4 patch notes (a useful link for any Sims 4 player if you don’t have it already):

  • Sim fertility levels had reached an all-time high recently, and twins were popping out all over! Our specialists have examined the issue, and administered a correction to the abundant babies. Sims should no longer find they are having twins (or triplets) at an alarming rate.

That was in the January patch, so I guess I’ve been ignoring the Sims for some time now. And in the February patch, they added genealogy – and about damn time, said every Sims player evar, even the ones who don’t play legacies, because duh.

Also from the patch notes:

  • Genealogy is now available. You’ll be able to look at your Sims’ family history, including brothers and sisters, mothers, fathers, grandparents (and some greats, and great greats, and…), step relationships (like Step-Father), half relationships (like Half Brother), and of course, Spouses.

I shall close with a picture of Parcheesi being followed by creepy-stalker Gordon, because I rediscovered it in my screenshots folder and because I couldn’t find an appropriate celebration-screenie that didn’t involve lots of babies and/or pregnant women. Including this one, as it turns out. But at least I wasn’t Wi-flagged in the Sims 4. I wonder if I saved my Mirage Legacy saves, or whether I deleted them in a fit of pique…

CreepyStalker

 

 

Too much of a good thing

Sometimes, like today, I’m almost nostalgic for the days when I only had one or two games to choose from. I’ve got no work on today and likely none over the weekend either (yay!), and I’m faced with so many games I don’t know which to choose.

There’s World of Warcrack, and the expansion remains highly entertaining. I’ve got 4 level 100 chars with garrisons to manage and stuff to accumulate, which is always fun, even though it sucks up time like a black hole. Eventually I’m sure the luster will pale but nothing beats WoW for simple, mindless levelling joy. I don’t dungeon, so my go-to in WoW tends to be to find (or make) an alt and just quest for a few hours. It’s relaxing — and that’s why I play WoW. It’s also where I hang out on Vent with old WoW and Asheron’s Call friends and get my dose of socialising for the month week day.

Drood hanging out

Then there’s Elite: Dangerous, which is exactly the opposite. I did get it installed and I did get in to play, once, but that was over a week ago and, I’ll admit, I’m super intimidated by the game. No game has ever made me feel quite as noobish and useless as this one does. I don’t even know how to fly the ship. I didn’t expect flying the beginner ship would be quite that difficult (and I’m not the only one*). I actually expected that I’d be able to pick it up in a half hour or so and then start doing the trading and possibly mining thing, which was why I bought the game. Instead I feel like a noob, in a bad way, and I’m not sure I want to try again. But I will, if only because $60 for a half hour of entertainment is not really good value… and because I fully expect that eventually — provided I play enough to feel comfortable with the controls — I will love the game and play it to death, because it’s exactly the sort of thing I enjoy.

I also picked up Civilization: Beyond Earth during one of the (many, thank god, because I suck at catching them) Steam sales for that game. Don’t believe the people who tell you it’s only superficially like Civ — it’s 110% Civ, just Civ in space with aliens instead of barbarians and a revamped tech tree (it’s a wheel now). However, that’s not a bad thing in my book and the new tweaks in the game are a lot of fun. I tend to play this on the non-nightmare modes and I prefer non-military victories, so it’s another relatively mindless exploration and building game.**

Sims 4 is of course still kicking around, though I don’t think I’ve fired it up in most of a month. I think I’m holding a grudge with the bugs that hit my Mirage legacy, not to mention the fact that none of my Sims are able to have children without having twins or triplets. It’s amusing to write about, but it gets real old real fast when you’re trying to play. Less is more in this case. I guess I could go with adoption… I dunno. I’m still a little narked about the whole thing, so I’ll pretend the Sims 4 aren’t in my game case for a few months and then go back to it. As far as single-player games go, the Sims is one of the most enduring for me so it’s a fair bet I won’t ignore it forever.

I also picked up Theme: Hospital by accident on Origin the other day, mostly for nostalgia’s sake and because it was a freebie. Memory served up this image of people chain-vomiting in the halls and that sounded like fun in the middle of flu season, but I haven’t had time to fire it up yet. Still, it should be good for a few hours of remember-when fun.

The Secret World keeps looking at me sadly because I update it and then don’t log in. Again, I think right now I want mindless from my games, and TSW requires a little more attention than I’m willing to give. Which is a shame, because as far as atmosphere goes it’s probably my favourite MMO ever (and the one in which I take the most screenshots).

And then, in no particular order because the post is getting long, the other icons on my desktop include Diablo III (never made it past level 15 or so), Landmark (haven’t logged on in months because it gave my gfx card fits), EQ2 (still haven’t bought the Altar of Malice expansion, though I’m sure I will sooner or later), and Shroud of the Avatar (ditto the not logging on in months, though really I put money into it to support the development, not to have it wtfbbqNAO). Oh, and all 3 Dragon Age games, of course. I barely played DA2 and only spent a couple of hours in DA3 (not even sure I made it out of the first section), and I’m sure DA3 is worth some more intensive play. I can’t be arsed to link all those, so let your fingers do the Googling.

It’s actually a great thing to have a butt-ton of games to play and not know which to pick. I tend to default to WoW at the moment because I can pick it up and put it down easily and it doesn’t have the “just … 5 … more … minutes!” hold on me some of the other games have, which is helpful these days because on the list of useful and/or productive things to be doing with my time, games are not anywhere near the top, nor should they be.

But still, sometimes I kind of wish I only had one or two games to pick from. It would mean less time wasted gazing at my desktop and wondering which flavour I’m in the mood for today. #firstworldwoes and all.


 

* Ermahgerd, a pingback circle jerk! That’s just so wrong.

** You may be sensing a theme here. Yes, I prefer my games to not engage my adrenal glands too much. For one thing, adrenaline and I don’t get along all that well (I am the exact opposite of a thrill-seeker), and for another I play games to unwind, which for me means generally laid-back and not requiring an excessive amount of thought. Oh god, I’ve just branded myself a disgusting casual carebear player. However will I cope with the stigma?

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