Psychochild's Blog

A developer's musings on game development and writing.

4 August, 2018

How MMOs can do stories better
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 11:30 PM

The past two days I’ve talked about how MMOs do stories wrong, and why they do stories wrong. And there have been some great comments I’ll reply to soon.

So, let’s talk some solutions to the problems I’ve brought up the last few days. How can we go from stories that feel like more of a chore or a diversion to stories that are a meaningful to the player?
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3 August, 2018

Why MMOs get story wrong
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 11:21 PM

Yesterday we talked about how they get story wrong, but why do they get it wrong? Although the favorite answer may be “because developers are stupid”, there are actually some very good reasons why developers create the type of stories I pointed out yesterday.

Let’s take a look at some development realities when creating stories for MMOs.
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2 August, 2018

How MMOs get story wrong
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 11:25 PM

Most of the recent MMOs have had a strong story component, a central narrative told by the developers. FFXVI has it’s Main Scenario Quests (MSQ) that gate progress through the game as a quite obvious example. WoW has story told through quests, environment, and dungeons. GW2 has story that is the main focus of your progression through the world as well.

But these games tend to get the stories wrong. Let’s take a look at how these go wrong.
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14 June, 2017

Overflow stats, or what to do about Accuracy
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 10:52 AM

The big Stormblood expansion for FFXIV is almost upon us. Lots of changes in store, which is interesting and scary both as a developer and a player. Will my favorite class still be my favorite class afterward? Will everyone just be playing the new classes? Will this be a turning point, where the game gets streamlined and the game no longer appeals to me like WoW did?

One mechanic that is going away is Accuracy. This was a secondary stat that increased your chance to hit monsters, particularly important for raid bosses. In fact, it was vitally important to be “accuracy capped” if you wanted to do the hardest raids in FFXIV.

But, the stat had some problems. Let’s take a look at those problems and the problems with other stats like it, as well as some solutions.
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1 April, 2017

Introducing: MMO dating!
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 10:37 AM

Tired of logging on to eHarmony only to find out the people you message can’t pull the minimum DPS to clear A12S? Sick of posting yet another Craiglist ad looking for the love of your life to fund the lifestyle you want in game?

Do I have a deal for you! Introducing: MMO dating!
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10 March, 2017

Series on online anonymity and privacy, part 4
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 8:13 AM

Last time on this blog, I talked about why it’s futile to try to remove online privacy and anonymity, and why enforcement is nigh impossible in reality. This time, let’s take a look at what we designers can do to address some of the issues that are caused by privacy and anonymity since they are generally worth keeping.

I strongly recommend you go read the previous posts before this one to get the necessary background. Although, it may not be strictly necessary if you’re already a fan of anonymity and privacy.
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9 March, 2017

Series on online anonymity and privacy, part 3
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 9:32 AM

In my last post, I talked a bit about the harm in removing anonymity and privacy. This post, let’s take a look at why it’s futile to try to remove it, and why enforcement is nigh impossible in reality.

The previous posts provide a lot of context and background for this one, so I recommend you read those first.
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8 March, 2017

Series on online anonymity and privacy, part 2
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 8:14 AM

In my previous post, I took a closer look at what anonymity is and posed a few questions to think about as we discuss this topic further. In this post, I want to talk a bit about U.S. cultural assumptions about privacy and anonymity. Then look at what general harm is done when we remove it from online spaces.
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7 March, 2017

Series on online anonymity and privacy, part 1
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 7:56 AM

Harassment, bullying, abuse. Unfortunately, we didn’t escape these horrible things as we created online spaces. Some people simply aren’t very considerate of others. And because the internet is a communication medium, we see these vile behaviors more frequently since many messages are broadcast to a wide audience.

It makes sense that designers would look for answers to this problem. Since issues like harassment, bullying, and abuse seem to be less frequent in the offline world, people look for ways to make online more like offline One frequent proposal is to remove online anonymity, since this is a feature easily available online but much harder to do offline. The reasoning is that if people can’t hide behind anonymity, they would behave better.

I’m going to take the controversial perspective that anonymity, and it’s related cousin privacy, are too valuable to give up in the futile pursuit of eliminating bad behavior online. This is a series of blog posts that will look into anonymity and privacy in online spaces.
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16 February, 2017

The complicated nature of friendships in MMO
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 3:00 PM

I’m a big believer in the social fabric of MMOs. The internet was a tremendous communication platform; I was a geeky introverted kid in the Midwest U.S. on a computer talking to people half way around the world when I was in university. As someone who barely traveled, this was mind-expanding. To think I could talk to people all across the world was simply astounding.

MMOs built upon that. People we’d never meet can become close friends. This includes people who might not have a lot of social opportunities offline: people who suffer from anxiety and depression, people who are just massive introverts who can’t handle a lot of in-person interaction, or people who are physically ill can make connections that would have been impossible a few decades ago.

Yet, online designers often overlook this element. In the rush to cater to the established Achiever crowd, or the rush to optimize key performance indicators, we can lose sight that there are people behind the names and dollars we collect. We ignore their emotional well-being and consider relationships as a side-effect of our design. But, let’s take a closer look.
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