Psychochild's Blog

A developer's musings on game development and writing.

6 August, 2018

Looking at RP in MMOs
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 10:46 PM

Role-playing in MMOs is an interesting thing. Despite the “RP” in MMORPG standing or role-playing, the origin of this comes from computer RPGs where the focus was more on mechanics than collaborative storytelling. MMOs adopted this, taking the mechanics and world building but not leaving much room for structure storytelling between players.

But this has been tried before. UO was notorious for expecting players to clean up and bring justice to those who broke social norms. Eventually the developers realized this wasn’t going to work, because the cost to create mischief was much lower than the cost to enforce social norms. And some players exploited the system to take advantage of mechanics to let them create mischief while remaining untouchable by the enforcers.

So, let’s take a look at RP options in MMOs, with an eye to how a designer could improve the experience.
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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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1 August, 2018

It’s Blaugust
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 8:27 PM

Okay, so… it’s Blaugust. And I’ve neglected this poor site quite severely. So, here’s an excuse for a flurry of posts for the month!

Let’s catch up a bit, shall we? It’s been… let’s ignore that stat for now, shall we?

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3 January, 2018

Old year bad, new year good
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 1:58 PM

I guess it’s time to look at the old year in review and the new year in anticipation since I remembered I have a blog!

The spirit moves me to write a little bit to keep some of you who check this site interested!
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1 November, 2017

Another trip around the sun survived!
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 2:38 PM

Today’s my birthday, and I’ll celebrate with a blog post!

I’ve been quiet lately. Part of it is just general negativity the last few years about many things. Some of it is disappointment in MMOs in general. Some of it is not really feeling like I have much to say that people are interested in.

But, let me go over a little bit of what’s happening in my life for those of you still reading.
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17 October, 2017

An article about Meridian 59
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 12:49 PM

I’ve been a bit remiss in posting on here. A few months ago my friend Samuel Axon interviewed me to write an article about Meridian 59.

Go read it. A few more thoughts below.
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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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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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