Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Movin' on up

I've moved to http://blog.jeffool.com/.

If you're seeing this, someone fucked up. Probably me, but I'm still hoping to blame you. I've moved the blog and this place is officially dead. If you got this in your feed aggregator, then you subscribed to my Blogspot RSS feed instead of my Feedburner RSS feed. Here, let me help you. The one you want to subscribe to is here:


So, if you'll be so kind as to change your subscription over to that one, you'll notice that I've finally moved into new digs over at the webspace I bought many months ago and never used. But in the process I've seemingly broke my sidebar. Ah well. One step at a time. Of course, this could also be a great jumping-off point to remove a blog from what is no doubt the 'well over one hundred' that you already subscribe too.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Amazing Legendary Frank

Is this technically fanfic? I don't know. But I'm writing some fiction now, and plan to stay in the habit. What have I chosen as my 'enabler' to keep me going? Oblivion. In anticipation of the game, I decided to play through it not as just some virtual representation of myself, but as a character I've created named Frank. No it won't be a fanmade novelization of the game, imagine it more along the lines of 8-bit Theatre minus Final Fantasy, plus Oblivion, with a twist of The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy. Wow, I'm the Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper of gaming fanfic! (Ugh.)

You can follow Frank Smith's journey from Seyda Neen shopkeep to savior of Tamriel at TheAmazingLegendaryFrank.com

Some time tonight/tomorrow Frank should wake up in Oblivion.

Trust is a Tricky Thing

So, Raph Koster asked people about what they wanted in MMOs. Well, I hate MMOs, so I decided to think up an idea for one.

So, Trust is a Tricky Thing.
(AKA, "The Sound of A Link Unclicked.")
(BKA, Crazy game idea by someone unimportant, so you can ignore this post. I just got bored a few days ago and felt like thinking.)

My game is about trust. And the name of my game is 'The TRUST'. Catchy, huh? Let me give you the narrative set up: It's set in 2020, a bit of a nod to the Roaring '20s, full of nice suits and lavish style. The near-future is an extension of our current day paranoia, and in a world where security promises win elections, many larger cities have continued to change their police forces into military-esque organizations complete with surveillance cameras on every street corner. With these rigid social lines drawn has come a ban on private ownership of guns, and just recently, even a rebirth of prohibition in a political attempt to stop causes of violence. Crime is at an all time low, and what we call organized crime syndicates have been been labeled terrorist organizations. And to combat the last remaining vestiges of crime, the Police Force has began a new campaign, T.R.U.S.T., Tactics to Remove Urban Societal Terrorists. Using undercover agents, they hope to infiltrate and gain control of top crime organizations to get information on all involved.

Seeing as I'm designing this for fun rather than actual production, I have the luxury of being able to do things like say "This game is AO," and not have to worry about the fact that it wouldn't sell gangbusters. And even crazier than that, I can say "The player must use their own credit card to pay, and their real name will be used in-game." Yes, as you no doubt assumed by the title alone, this game will deal with the sharing of your avatar's (and to a small degree, your) private information in the course of gameplay. Like I said, bless the luxury of not having to be realistic. You also get a nickname, a fake address, a semi-fake email/chat address, and a voice chat contact. Why? So people can listen in, tap your email/chat, and plan hits on your house. Oh yes, this will get dirty.

If I'm playing I'd go by the same name I use all over the net, Jeffool. So I'm Jeff “Jeffool” Bridges, living at 119 3rd Avenue, Apt A. My cousin would be Thomas “HotDogCart” Warren, (don't ask,) and be my neighbor at 119 3rd Avenue, Apt B.

As Jeff Bridges I am part of the TRUST Task Force, a guild if you will. But as Jeffool, I've joined the Wallace Crime Syndicate. I'm an undercover agent. My cousin? As Thomas Warren he's with the Schibetta Crime Family, and as HotDogCart he's a cop. This makes him a crooked cop. Our missions are the same. To work our way up the ladder of enemy 'guilds' and as one of the 'second-in-command', you try to be voted in as leader. As the leader of a guild, a player has new options open to him such as changing the ranks of other members, or over the period of a few weeks, disbanding the guild.

Most MMOs show players names above their head as if you were omniscient or recognized every single player as a personal pal of yours. I propose that you never see a players name over them unless they properly introduce themselves, at which point you see their name and their 'secondary alliance'. In WoW-terms, introducing yourself would be akin to highlighting a player that you want to introduce yourself to, and clicking on an 'introduce' button. So now I, Jeffool, and my cousin, HotDogCart, see the others nickname above their head any time we see each other. We recognize each other. Everyone you have introduced yourself to recognizes you by your nickname until you die. And if you change your nickname (which you can do on a whim,) friends still see the old one unless you re-'introduce' yourself. And, you can also share contacts (one at a time,) to see others nicknames (like you're telling someone “That guy? He's HotDogCart, with the Wallace Syndicate.”) And if you know someones real name, you can also point that out. Of course, knowledge like that is information.

While in a guild, PvE is as you'd imagine. Cops fight AI crooks, go on PvE sting missions, report to gang fights, and generally try to arrest these people. Crooks rob NPCs, intimidate people into giving them 'protection money', and do break-ins. PvP comes in when when a player finds out the real identity of an enemy, and reports them up to the proper level of their guild. That mid-level guild member can then put a 'hit' on the real identity of the enemy. And if you give that information you get major money, or perform the hit, you get major skill points (assuming they're a higher level than you. Otherwise you're just wiping out noobs and that's no challenge.)

If anyone's read this far, I realize that this is a lot of info, and may be impossible to comprehend in one reading. (Assuming I've written it in a manner that is readable. Here's hoping.) But the idea is to make people have to expect their fellow guildies of being enemies, and at the same time be reluctant to prove that they are not. Would you follow a guild leader who could rat you out and have you bumped off (completely losing all skill points you had built up,) if you didn't trust them?

And why do it? As guilds are disbanded, the final guild “wins.” That server is over. A new one opens up, but each server has a different city name. Everyone on that server in the winning guild for a period longer than X months gets a free novelization of their server from opening to end-state. No matter if the cops or robbers win, the story should be told using the real players names and actions. And the head of the guild should get to open a new guild on any server they choose.

So, you get to actually affect the world in which you're playing. And to remember it, a novel chronicling the history that you lived, of which you may even be a part. I think that's a pretty cool bonus for beating a game. No to mention that the only way to win is to find trustworthy people and 'game the system' together.

Well, at least I like the idea.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Voting power!

Hi. Yes something's different. Can you notice it? No, I haven't lost weight. Yes I cut my hair but that was months ago...

A button! A brand new button! I found some a while back that I thought fun, but with the advent of the Video Game Voters Network I decided that I needed a button for it, and I offer it to you all to download, steal, and share at will, slightly smaller than the one Jeff Freeman offered (here.) I put it out there to help, even though these guys really should've had all this stuff ready. Let's hope this isn't a half-assed effort. We as gamers really need this.

(Provided by my pals at TG Productions. They'll get a site up eventually.)

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Where is YOUR in-game home?

This month for Corvus' Blogs of the Roundtable (here,) he asked about "home," and where, in what game, did we actually feel like we are at home. Ahhhh home. Remember home? I had a little trouble picking out my video game home. I almost blogged about the first time a pal of mine got a house in Ultima Online. That was amazing, and something that simply can't be done in World of Warcraft (as it would serve no purpose.) But the more I thought about it, my in-game home wasn't even in a game that was 'amazing', but just 'pretty good'. Why? Because I felt comfy there, damn it. And that's what home should be; the place where you always feel comfy. My video game home? Seyda Neen. Here, let me sell you on it.

Are you tired of people dropping in unannounced? Would you like privacy and seclusion while still being only one quick trip from major cities? Is variety in the homeplace important to you? Do you like ocean swimming and/or luxuriating in mudbaths? If you answered yes on one or more of these questions, then boy have I got the place for you!

Come visit Seyda Neen! Most recently known as 'the first town' in the excellent game Morrowind by Bethesda, Seyda Neen is one of few port cities in the land of Vvardenfell that is able to retaining that quaint small-town charm! Yes that's right, this 'out of the way' gem has both a ship port AND a silt-strider port allowing for easy access to both Balmora and Vivec. Given proper instruments (a hefty graphics card,) the serene oceanside view is a great sight to behold, particularly coupled with a forest on the other side, and can be yours for the low low price of massacring a village!

That's right, there's no escrow to worry about with this baby. The only thing standing between you and complete ownership of the entire town is a little massmurder, and really, what's so bad about that? Let's compare the up and downsides to owning your own Seyda Neen. The upsides?

1. Ports. With both a silt-strider and a ship port, Seyda Neen is in a prime location for trading being so close to Vivec and just a silt-strider away from Balmora.
2. Luxury. There's no need to confine yourself to the bad things in life. With just a little work some of these fixer-uppers can be first rate!
3. Grit. If you've watched too many episodes of Les Stroud's Survivorman, go spend the week camping in a shanty in the swampy side of town.
4. Double Decker. Formerly an item store, once you take it, it's yours to remodel as you please! Perfect welcoming area for guests and a spacious upstairs.
5. Fake treestump/safe. Everyone looks behind paintings for the safe, but who looks in tree stumps in the middle of bogs?!
6. A Keep. That's right, a tower, just in case you ever need to store illicit materials or extra supplies.
7. Lighthouse. Seriously. A friggin' light house!
And now let's look at the downsides to taking Seyda Neen into your possession.
1. Residents. You will have to evict some tenants from their homes, but with a little force they soon learn that they would be better not only departing this town, but this plane completely as they shuffle off this mortal coil and head for bright lights in tunnels.
Now, I'm just a real estate agent, not a mathematician, but I don't have to tell you that seven is a lot more than one. And even being a real estate agent, I don't think of myself as selling land. No, I like to think of it as selling 'dreams'. And to tell you the truth, I'm not even making enough commission off of this deal to make it worth my time; I'm just looking out for you, the consumer. I want to make your dream come true by helping you get this little slice of Heaven. Now if you like the hustle and bustle of the big city there may be other spots in Vvardenfell that you'd like, so steer clear of this one.

But if you're looking for a place to call home, and actually fell like you're at home, then this is the place for you. After all, something earned through your blood, sweat, and tears is always more meaningful to you than something given with no effort. So claim what's yours today!

Feel free to visit some of the kickass participants in this month's Roundtable:

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Odds, Ends

Oh this is crazy, this tumultuous world of blogs we live parts of our lives in.

David Jaffe? I previously posted about how he quit blogging, and restarted blogging, on the same night. Well, he's on an indefinite moratorium again, citing his drive to be known for what he creates rather than what he says. (Here.) That's damn admirable. Of course I still like my conspiracy (here,) but that's cool. :D Besides, I'm sure we'll have a post from him when he wins a Game Developers Choice Award, having been nominated in five of the eight categories. (Here.) What can I say? David, his team, and his game kick ass. Good luck, you've got stiff competition.

And Jeff Freeman, who quit and deleted his blog recently, has answered an important question. "What happens when a good blog stops running?" As it turns out, it goes into reruns. He seemingly has no interest in blogging new topics but has decided to reprint old posts that, I must say, are as spiffy the second time as they were the first. Though he has quite a few up, the first reprinted post is the most interesting to me. It tells a story based around the idea of a MMO minigame that's an abstract simulation of sex, and why players would/could use it. (Here.) It even rewards monogamy.

Raph Koster recently asked people what they wanted in an MMO. (Here.) Well, more accurately, what was the spirit of what they wanted? My answer to Raph was:
I want an MMO where:
(a)any single player can effect meaningful change in the world around him,
(b)player skill (items/effects excepted) is what matters and not time spent in the world doing any repetitive task.
(c)a world that would be interesting even with no players. If Days of Our Lives can go for this long and still have viewers interested, I fail to see why an MMO can’t change the story a tad bit every week/month in a player-participatory fashion. (Not just a static story with additional events tagged on with larger events happening in expansions.)
So, I want a system that's fair to everyone, where everyone can completely change things, and where the world lives. Gee, that's not too much, is it? (Note the sarcasm. I realize what I'm saying, but hey, he asked. I guess I could've asked for a better grasp of grammar as well.)

Reading Jeff's reposts and seeing Raph's 'lessons of MMOs' (Here.) has really got me thinking about what kind of MMO I would play. See, I'm not really an MMO kinda guy. So I think I owe it to myself to spend a post or two talking about 'my' dream MMO. (Do you know what yours is? I'm torn between a 1920s setting and feudal Japan.) And a few posts after that, I'll get around to ending and restarting this blog.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Jeff Freeman: A Free Man

(Well, at least so far as in he isn't tethered to his blog any more.)

I've been getting lots of people searching for Jeff Freeman due to an old post I made with his name in the title, so I thought I'd sum it up here.

Jeff Freeman packed up shop on February 9th at about 1:30pm. He tossed up an image that mimics a World of Warcraft informational item pop-up:

Apparently he wasn't happy with the amount of blogging he was doing, though it's a shame he deleted it completely. Sometimes people like to read older posts. But hey, it's his blog and I'm not going to tell him how to do it. Well, not too much anyway. The very next day on February 10th, at about 5am, he deleted his blog from blogspot/blogger.

I don't know Jeff Freeman. I don't know much about his past, aside from what he put in a post about his entrance into the video game industry that ended with mentioning the recent changes to SWG. Of course it turned into a SWG-player bitchfest, and was promptly deleted, which is a shame. It seemed like a pretty good insight to him and his style. And I think that Jeff Freeman has some good ideas for MMOs. Wanna read some of them? Here, read this.

That's an old blog posting by Ole Bald Angus, (a pal of Freemans.) Worth noting is that back in the day used to go by "Dundee." So when you see "Dundee," think "Jeff Freeman." Of course, on February 5th, at 1pm, Ole Bald Angus quit his blog too. Admittedly I know nothing of Angus aside from reading him on Freemans and others blogs, but he seemed quite a nice fellow. And the two gelled rather well. So, who knows, maybe one day we'll see a new community blog between them.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Visiting a Carnival.

I never really post links saying things like "The Carnival of Gamers is up, you can peruse the possibilities at Game.Slashdot this time around. (Though it is, here.) The reason why being that if you're reading my blog, then you likely either got here from the CoG or Corvus' Roundtable (here), or at the very least are aware of them. That said, some slashdotters have apparently talked some shit about gamebloggers, one in particular that raised the ire of Corvus (Man Bytes Blog), Josh (Cathode Tan), and Tony (Button Mashing, the CoG creator.) Personally, I could give a damn about the guy. Few people read what I write and I'm perfectly fine with that. And I usually only post when I've got something to say anyway, so it's not very taxing on those who do. But some others took it slightly more personal. Me? I thought it'd be interesting as I more or less am blogging alone over here. :D The original post can be found on Slashdot (here.)

Gaming blogs are for people that don't actually play the games, and would rather write about them than fire them up and play them.

I get my gaming in with much Animals Crossing: WW and Civ IV, and Guitar Hero should be coming in the mail next week. And next paycheck I'm fixing (and modding) my Xbox. (Though if anyone is rounding up a good group for CivIV, count me in. The one I was with has fallen apart.) Does this meet your standards or should I be playing more Counter-Strike?

I'm sure that there are incentives to being a gaming journalist, but I don't know any "journalist" that has stayed up 3 days straight camping for an Everquest drop (just to get spawn jumped) or bought 14 different mice before returning 13 just to see which gets you the most headshots. You know, attributes of real gamers.
I'm no journalist. I'm just some guy who's curious. Have I played Everquest for three days straight? No. MMOs bore me because the player has no impact on the world around them. Now, I don't even call myself "hardcore" any more, but a 'real' gamer? I wonder if you've ever spent a weekend in an apartment with nineteen other people for games of Mario Kart, Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles, wrestling games, Halo, Soldier of Fortune, Settlers of Catan, Munchkin, Risk, and then Monday morning you all work your asses off because you didn't do any of your programming homework? (Occassionally interrupted by trips to Denny's, of course.)

And fourteen mice? Dude, have you ever bought a 'real' gaming mouse? Who the fuck are you to be able to afford fourteen at once? Christ, my credit cards don't even go that high...

People that play World of Therycraft[sic] instead of actually raiding. Message board campers that brag about thier[sic] FPS skills. They all share commonalities with people that write about games and game design; they arent real.
Yeah, bloggers are a bunch of assholes because they theorize on gameplay. Go tell that to Raph Koster, Brett Douville, Jamie Fristrom, or any of the game developers listed on the right.

Now, non-dev bloggers? People like me? Sure we talk about what we'd think we like. If you've never started a sentence with "Wouldn't it be cool," then I guess you have a point. I've already said that I no longer consider myself 'hardcore', but 'real'? Man, fuck you. People like you are why Slashdot has become like Fark. Everyone does their best to troll like it's a good thing, and that any attention is good attention.

But this persons complaint boils down to (what I think) the idea of the Carnival is. It's a good way to find new blogs that may interest you. If you like my little corner of the internet, then great! Glad to have you reading! I hope you comment some time if the feeling strikes you. But if you don't the look of a ride at the Carnival, don't get on it. You don't have to click a link just because it's there.