Monthly Archives: June 2012

Cutting down on the chores (Wurm Online)

O let me make this crystal clear:

We shouldn’t have to. It’s a game. Its purpose on this earth is to entertain.

We shouldn’t have to do these things to cut down chores: disband deeds that we find we don’t need because we have abandoned projects that we find we have no time for. We shouldn’t have to: log in with a groan because all that awaits that day is yet another maintenance round. We shouldn’t have to: fret about the olive season (NEW!) because we have lamps we would (gasp) like to keep lit. We shouldn’t have to: log in to groom a load of horses we don’t really want but its the only time efficient way to get good breeding stock and ah skills. We shouldn’t have to: stripe fields to cut down on farming time on fields that we have to grow to feed said horses. We shouldn’t do without mine doors because they fall off so often that keeping them on is like painting the Forth Bridge. The chore list and little ways to avoid them does go on from there – add your own!

I can’t help thinking that as a mechanism to keep people clicking…errr playing, adding empty chore upon empty chore is something of a fail. I get totally fed up on a regular basis and my knee-jerk response is to get rid of something, not become more involved. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed setting up my deed in Celebration, so income to Wurm from there. But in order to free the time up to do that I have discarded just about everything else. Even the skilling deed, I’m thinking now, can probably go at some point. One tiny deed, no guards, no barang? Not very profitable, but much more comfortable for me.

On a side note, health and safety. Repetitive strain injury, and carpal tunnel syndrome and arthritis sufferers  – Wurm is not for you. Mind you, if you have a spider phobia, you’re more in luck. The phobia button – what a good idea that is. And I don’t know another game that has one. And now back to to the iron fence railings with my small wooden sign tied to my generic back:

Deeds themselves seem to be devalued now and again, which also makes them less tempting. Nobody can plunder your resources and the walls stay up. Other players cant steal your stuff but decay will and that –  is about it. When you realise this is actually a sub, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for there to be fewer and fewer benefits to paying to upkeep a deed.

Decay I’m pretty sure cranks up steadily (even if its my imagination, the effect is the same – I won’t pay for it when its this irritating –  won’t pay for time spent paddling to stand still, sorry, not going to happen.)  What needs to be addressed on that front is obviously a way to remove the constantly accumulating items from the game databases. And the obvious solution is to get people to remove their excess stuff themselves by making it attractive to do so, which really, honestly, truly shouldn’t be all that hard. Some small reward for trashing things in some form will increase the health and happiness of froobs looters and perimeter freeloaders no end and encourage deed owners to a less cluttered lifestyle. Have a special domestic mob for it even – a verminous one. A hell-rat. Eats anything and produces drake scale when killed (runnnnns for the hills as the drake armour dealers all pick up pitchforks – hahahaha – its like playing with scorpions)(ok enough fun).

To get a sub out of me I’m afraid nothing but decay immunity (total) ondeed will really hit the spot. And no I won’t be adding extra guards to do it either. A deed needs to have value in itself to be worth an ongoing and steady expenditure. Til the day, yep, small deeds, and few of them makes more sense for the playerbase. And roving premiums scouring the servers for stuff to take back to their unlit homes where it is stored rotting and being fixed unless sold,  to pile up serverload – that makes sense for players too. Deary me, what a future we are headed for as people opt out of the endless and increasing maintenance chores, eh.

Let the games begin!

Categories: Game Design and Creation, Life On Wurm, Uncategorized

Perimeters! (Wurm Online)

I’ve been saving this one up but it will be short compared to the depth of the subject, in the interests of clarity.

The threads on this subject on the Wurm Online forums go on for pages – or did – not sure how much of it was saved. The rulemakers of Wurm have not quite grasped how intent relates to rules (and laws), except for one shining example and here it is:

Intent: nobody can steal from a deed.
Implementation: mechanics do not allow you to pick things up from a deed you do not own unless you have the express permission(s) required.
Result: Theft from deeds is near non-existent.

The mechanics fully enforce the intent and that is the vital part.

Also of note:
The only effective way to steal is to become a villager & run off with stuff, gaining yourself a bad rep and kos at that deed, that deed’s friends, that deed’s allies, other people who find out about it… This rule is elegant in that the de-facto consequences of going against the intent  reinforce the rule without need of added subclauses and exceptions. the intent is no theft and if, however achieved, someone has stolen something from a deed, community can and do act on that. Clarity of intent really is important.

(There are probably one or two other loopholes, this being Wurm, but I’ve not come across them.)

The above is a functioning and effective game rule. It is simple and elegant and easy to follow.  The relationships between intent, implementation and result are uncluttered. And best of all = It works!

With regards to perimeters we dont even get as far as clear intent. There are various statements from high-ups with various degrees of enforcement and multiple subrules and clauses. Every time I think of it I want to put the whole lot in a black bin bag and take it to the skip. Which is what I’ve effectively done. My deed stops at the deed border, and even if I play on my perimeter now and again, I don’t really care what happens to whatever I made or mined there. My ignore muscles are pretty strong. They need to be.

1) The basic problem with perimeters is that they try to do too many things.

At various times and at various place I’ve seen (intent):

* perimeter is a wilderness
* perimeter is for space betwen neighbours,
* perimeter is for roads and highways,
* perimeter is for new players to get resources,
* perimeter is a buffer
(*) There is also additional bought perimeter, which adds to the confusion, but I won’t tackle it just now. (You pay for people to have an even larger area to devastate, but at least they cannot deed over this area or build on it. This area is reserved for you to expand your deed into which confuses people. The “free” area is not reserved for expansion. Or is it other people can build on it but not repair. We could be here all day if I try and include this function too.)

In order: It’s not wilderness – you can take any resource you wish from it and put a road on it. It can be fenced and the deed owner can build on it. It is space between neighbours, whether you want that or not. People try to get around this and it causes problems. It is used for roads and highways. People hate having roads and highways imposed on their perimeter and most of the clauses and subclauses stem from this part. Reserving perimeters for highways causes as many problems as it solves. It is used by other players to harvest resources. It is not an effective buffer and it is a buffer. It buffers some things and not others with no particular internal logic.

So the intentions are (apart from being too many)  extremely fuzzy and dreamy, open to interpretation and argument, not related to eachother in a logical way, positively despised by some people (which means they don’t get behind the rule and support it) and divisive at a lower level in that they heavily benefit a skilled, mobile, non-deeded playstyle – right down to the highway to cart your perimeter harvests away on for sale at some trade hub. No need to deed.

Implementation: Is about as annoying as it can be. Deed owners are compelled to have this buffer and it is touted as “free”. Well you don’t pay for it, but then you don’t pay for the rest of the server, or the sun or the water either so it’s that kind of “free”. It is compulsory not “free”. Basically you’re tied down in the middle of it like a sitting duck.

People can then come along, mine out any resources, cut all the trees, remove all the earth and generally have a party. There is almost a case for that. It’s ugly and unpleasant for the deed owner, but new players can struggle to find stuff at times. However, and of course, what is provided for the weak and young is often appropriated by the older and more avaricious, in bulk. The case would be that if the server is too crowded, perimeter resources are needed for new players. Server density should be addressed in iteself however, not via perimeter rules.

I could write a book about highways and roads, honest, I just dont have the time. Some people have figured out they can pave tiles they don’t own or even live near in the name of the community by paving everything in sight, so they do. And get nice skills for it I am sure. So your lovely bald perimeter is very likely to be paved over or roaded if you aren’t careful. Umm some stuff about if you were there before the road you can rip it up – but you should see the arguments.

I do not attempt to maintain the wildness or pleasantness of the land surrounding my deed. That way madness lies.

I ignore people stripping out the perimeter and the ugly mess they leave behind.
I ignore anything thats paved/packed/gravelled/slabbed towards my deed, on my perimeter, or in my area. On perimeter I might rip it up if I can be bothered. Usually just ignore.
I do not attempt to make private access for favoured neighbours – nor fence off my perimeter so that people cannot get by. But then I wouldn’t do that anyway. One tile is enough for access (that means two where deeds adjoin), the five-tile spread we currently have (ten tiles if deeds adjoin) is pure overkill.

* Intent: wilderness
: Tackling this one first because it’s the biggest load of codswallop – lets get it out of the way. Deeds are surrounded by an unregulated mess of mine openings, huge holes and craters, half-made fences and falling down sheds to a lesser or greater extent. And roads. Intent wilderness – failed.

* Intent: roads and highways: Wurm has more small roads than people, or to put it bluntly in this respect it’s like a cityscape. No idea if this is intended. Highways (as opposed to smaller roads)  are a subject on their own and need to be sorted out well before any thinking how they fit with perimeters. I’m pretty sure every single deed does not really need it’s perimeter to be a possible avenue for one of these. Individual access does not require a superhighway. Without knowing what they are for though, its impossible to fix it. A very few Highways to connect large areas to eachother would seem sensible, but who knows.

* Intent: new player resources – succeeded and redundant. I have never once planted a deed without perimeter bunnies popping out of nowhere to strip out the perimeter or aim a road or three at the deed. Even in the middle of nowhere. People read their tokens to see what new deeds have been planted and hey presto they arrive – and no the bunnies aren’t so “new”.  You can tell fine when a player knows how to locate an ore vein, create an enclosure, and has the body control to operate a large cart. It must be added that new and old players also have all the unperimetered and undeeded resources on the server to harvest. They don’t need what is on perimeter to survive, the reservation of these resources for them is redundant. No idea if this is intended.

* Intent: Space between neighbours – people simply make adjoining enclosures. Unless a GM is called in and happens to rule that there is an access problem, this is fine. Failed.

* Perimeter is a buffer – yes, just like this daft general statement it is a daft general semi-permeable confused annoying barrier to some things both for the person inside the compulsory tiles, and the people outside of them and on them. Mixed, varying, unsatisfactory.

2) And there you have it. In a nutshell, you can learn to live with the mess and nonsense on your perimeter and live to a peaceful and tranquil old age, or it will drive you quite mad. The game allows no other choices.

Oh wait I forgot. Get yourself a large cart, read the tokens and go and strip perimeters yourself – or tile them. And dig holes. Etc. That’s your other option.

3) Griefing. Anything as complicated and ineffective as this is going to be a haven for griefers. I think most of the griefing I’ve seen though is people with a nervous disposition and a compulsion to keep their surroundings nice being harrassed by holes, craters, tree stumps, swiss cheese, large carts, roads, canals, walkways, fords, fences, ruins….piles, woad, 20 corpses of xIgriefyooanIgiefyoupainx or equivalent plus dead bear……ramps, nails, highways!!….boats, ships, fur…

4) Stripping it out. To fix perimeters you’d need to tighten up the various functions they are trying to perform, and separate them. Wilderness? ok – five tiles of  that which nobody can plunder, pave or terraform. Access? One tile of it with roads paved there by deed owner only (meaning that adjoining deeds could have a 2 tile road if they agreed on it). That kind of thing. Some functions perhaps you could even lose entirely. Does every single deed need or want highway access? Reserved land for expansion- this is a paid service – what has that got to do with compulsory perimeter and should it share the same restrictions?

Hahaha! I learned the ignore trick long ago. Nowadays I watch the bunnies with something like amusement and mine down to water level at some of the deed edges so that any real new player that falls down a drop shaft some bunny made has a fighting chance of escaping the mine.


Categories: Game Design and Creation, Uncategorized

May fruit salad

May was more about real life than gaming and June, have to say, is shaping up the same way. I did very much enjoy the opening of the Celebration server on Wurm Online though. And treated our household to the Legend of Grimrock instead of a fish and chip supper. It was really nice to see younger players trying it out, finding it strange and constricted …and then getting hooked. So the house resounds to the sounds of arg, as people fall into traps, miss getting through gates and are defeated by giant snails – oh wait that last was me. I started it off for the rest, got killed by a snail and had to go and do something else. Somehow everyone is fed, warm, clothed and in reasonably hygaenic surroundings as I sit here on a Sunday evening thinking – phew! What a month.

Just about everyone passing through here gets suborned into trying a game if they don’t escape fast enough. Research! I like watching their reactions to ones I already know, and frankly I don’t have time to try half the things on my hard drive, so settling a guest in with an unknown title is pretty helpful. Nothing that doesn’t run stays on the drive. I download, install, check it works and leave it until I have time or a guinea pig… err guest, to check it out. The comments are fascinating – I have to tell you, whatever is pushed at us, nobody has ever once said “oh goodie we have to join a guild to get x, I can’t wait!”. Or “I like not being able to personalise my avatar.” Just watching people’s reactions to some of the current staples makes me wonder what planet devs live on. Perhaps they just never watch and listen to real players starting out in their games?

Actually tonight I feel pretty brain dead and will have to revive myself with a wonderful hot cup of tea, a hot water bottle, a fluffy blanket, anything warm !! – yep I have just been seeing someone off on a bus, standing out in the cold for near an hour. For some reason summer hasn’t made an appearance here this year and yeah wait I’ll get that cup of tea and try to remember what I played in spare moments during the blur that was last month.

Not much. Botanicula, but I barely played. Everquest in a mad moment – never played it before. Main memory of this attempt is enjoying moving the windows about – don’t think I even started the tutorial. I think I was pretty tired.

I did manage to spend quite a lot of time here and there going through Blender tutorials on Youtube while doing other things. There is a terrific amount to learn and small doses of learning here and there provide a great deal of food for thought and inspiration. Our ideas file is bulging nicely. It’s a nice phase this, experimenting, trying things, learning. I think we’ll not hurry Blender really is perfect for prototyping and for figuring out how things might work. Expanding the prototype, well, I’m not sure. We’ll take it as far as it goes, feel the edges so to speak, and keep our options open.  For example when I googled “create an ingame  mouse pointer” (and variations on that query)  I was presented with a lot of frustrated users, some dead ends, the usual pratts talking down to people who dared to ask – a general mishmash. One or two possible solutions requiring python were there. I shall explore those eventually. And of course I’m not running the very latest version right now, so this very basic functionality might actually have been included in the game engine by now. Maybe it’s there but not documented. As far as I can tell though, player interaction is very limited. Keypresses or mouseclick equivalent.

However things certainly move fast in the Blender world and I remain deeply impressed.

And that’s about it for May. Yay bedtime!

Categories: ...Thingie, Blender Game Engine, Fruit Salad, Game Design and Creation, Things In General, Uncategorized

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