The Drawing Board

At rank 18, I’m still probably well ahead of the casual players.   However, I surprised myself by playing absolutely no Warhammer Online this Saturday, probably very little on Friday or Thursday.  Maybe the game is starting to wear on a bit… I’m starting to notice things that need improvement.

For example, the grind decelerates a little too sharply by my current rank, leading to my least favorite thing in MMORPGs: monotony.   As an apothecary/cultivator, my inventory restrictions are murderous, giving me another reason to believe I should already by rank 20 (where, among other things, I get another bag to hold my inventory).  Finally, it’s just a tad counterintuitive to lock players out of earlier PvP tiers as they level past them.  (I apply this mostly to RvR, but this applies to the scenarios as well.) I could understand dropping them in potency as to not bully the lower rank players, but turning them into chickens that can’t fight just isolates players from their fellow guild members.  (My brother has been afraid to take his Ironbreaker over 20 for days.)

At this point, I'm mostly looking forward to Fallout 3.

At this point, I'm mostly looking forward to Fallout 3. End of October, baby.

That said, the game is still fun.  Though my ever-erratic inner muse is ever hard to gauge the motivations of, I anticipate that I’m far from canceling my account.  If anything, I’m likely to start some alts now that the grind on my Archmage is beginning to wear.  I’ve already noticed a lack of Order Tanks (or else capably played Order Tanks), and have a fledgling Swordsmaster in development for when the Archmages seem to be running overly thick.  I think all my harping about the power of a capable tank when I created the PvP guide has twisted my mind towards this end.

Better news is that I’ve redirected much of my leisure time back into my BYOND game development.  Generally speaking, this is a good idea. I’m learning a craft (albeit one that I’d be pleasantly delighted if I’ll ever get paid for) and producing genuine tangible artifacts of toil as opposed to the usual intangible pissing away of time.  BYOND hobbism is actually very good mental exercise – as arrogant as it might sound to you to say it, I believe that taking a little time to program makes me genuinely smarter in a noticeable way.  All that patient discussion of real-world logic to a stupid adding machine is the mental muscle building equivalent of refrigerator moving.

For the rest of this entry, that’s pretty much what’s on the menu: talk about what I’ve been up to in BYOND, and a little talk about the virtues of the drawing board.

I’m happy to report that having taken a week or two off from the BYOND Dream Maker has not weakened my coding endeavors much.  There was a little initial uncertainty, and I probably don’t have all the details I did originally, but my overall form in coding remains in tact.  In fact, it may have even strengthened a bit in incubation – I feel that I’m better at planning ahead when coding now.  Better than ever, I can look at my old code and cringe at how sloppy my early endeavors were.

In fact, I was so ashamed of my old code that I burnt down most of it and started over again.

No, I didn’t delete the old code entirely – I actually make regular backups – but I pretty much started another BYOND project and imported perhaps only 10%-15% of the old code.  This wasn’t too much of a setback for two good reasons:

First, BYOND already provides a basic platform in which to run a game, so I was really only deleting a bunch of extra code I threw on top.

Second, what I essentially “burnt down” was actually a previous (unannounced) game that I decided was a little too abstract in concept to be genuinely fun, so I’m actually coding in an entirely different direction now and that old code would only get in the way.

My new game design (detailed in very abstract details at the end of the last entry) is essentially, “going back to the drawing board.”

So lets talk about what I’ve learned about the drawing board.  This is essentially taking the time to design what you’re going to do before you actually set out in doing it.

  • The drawing board is a good place to be.

Especially once you’ve had some previous experience and have a better idea where you want to go.  A large reason why I’m working as hard in BYOND as I am now is because what I’m actually excited with on the drawing board is a game concept several times better than what I originally had.  It potentially has flow and emergence well-realized — better realized perhaps than most of the games I’ve ever played, well.  (I say “potentially” only because that all-inclusive bitch, the implementation phase of what I drew up, has yet to be settled.)

  • Stepping away completely from the drawing board comes at the cost of a loss of creative flow.

What one is excited about today they won’t necessary be excited about tomorrow.   However, if you continue to improve things in your mind, that sense of creative flow is re-established, and you’re once again excited enough to continue on your work.

  • If you’re staying at the drawing board, never forget your goals.

I did this for a bit, and it was a bit of wasted time.  I started with Flow and Emergence, and designed an interesting system that is capable of both.  Then I started tweaking that system from a gameplay and implementation standpoint.  I eventually realized that the result of what I tweaked was no longer conductive to emergence (the emergent qualities were lost) and neither was it conductive to flow (it was streamlined to take all effort off the player).  So, having remembered my goals, I backpedaled and wasted quite a bit of time.

And so the fan development of an indy platform title game continues…

I wish could say more about my BYOND game, but (much like the unannounced game I shitcanned) I don’t want to announce things I am not completely confident I’ll produce.  I’m writing this now primarily to stave off a bit of Spanish homework, but after I get that out of the way I’ll likely turn right back to my BYOND grinding.

At this stage, I’m putting together some core mechanics that are coming together extremely nicely, and I plan to simply finish adding the planned mechanics, polish, and release.  Between my erratic motivation and not having done this before, it’s impossible to say how long this will take.  I will say, however, that developing on the BYOND platform definately accelerates things a bit – it’s why you’ll see some community members who have released dozens of games.

4 Responses

  1. “it’s just a tad counterintuitive to lock players out of earlier PvP tiers as they level past them”

    Is this in scenarios or in the RvR areas?

  2. Good point: A little of both. The previous Scenarios you’re locked out of too, and I forgot about that when I was writing that. I was specifically referring to the RvR areas because those are the ones that have such a major dynamic influence on the game world, and ones your guildies are most likely going to be looking for your help in. (Also, that’s where turning into a chicken happens.)

    I might just do an edit to clarify.

  3. I believe its to circumvent lvl 40 guys camping the lower-level RvR realms. I remember a healthy amount of quests when I was in the rank 8 range, asking to go into the RvR areas. It’s to provide “equal opportunity” to players who are starting out.

    This reminds me of EQ2 when a group of guildies and I rolled a very balanced PK team and stopped leveling at 24 (24 was a huge level that gave you a solid balance of skills and the like). We focused on obtaining the best gear avaialble at that level and were essentially unstoppable. In any case, these rules may just lead to people having alts spread across the board if they so choose to participate in the “lower level” pvp / rvr zones.

  4. I like that they’re leveling the playfield by preventing level 40s from ganking everybody in a level 10 zone – that part I don’t mind. I’m just thinking there’s means other than forcing them not to participate to handle that. Level adjustment mechanics and whatnot, you can see those in use in other games such as City of Heroes and they work just fine. Instead, Mythic turns you into a chicken – literally – you can do nothing but observe those lower level fights.

    On an unrelated note, there’ll be no lingering at level 24 and being unstoppable in this game, seeing how you get xp from PvP now. I guess the level 40 game is where they anticipate the majority of PvP to take place.

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