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February 27, 2009

WoW, Finally!

Some years ago...2003 or so...  The lead designer on Ultima Online at the time (Tom Chilton) left to go to work at Blizzard.  Meanwhile, I was working on getting an unannounced project prototyped at EA.  Once he left, I took over the design documentation for the project and did design, server programming, and art for the project.  It was crazy to have so much responsibility and exhilarating at the same time.

I knew friends and family beta opened up for WoW that next summer, but I refused to ask Tom for entrance into it.  I wanted to be pleasantly surprised by the game, as Blizzard had never let me down (and still hasn't) with a game.  I finally caved in and joined beta later on towards the end of the summer.

I've played in a couple guilds, did 40 man raiding, and so forth.  I've been playing and making MMO's for so long, but WoW really has a good bit of what I like in a game.  My last geared character was some years ago, though.  I didn't bother with heroics in Burning Crusade due to my newborn son, at the time.

Now that I have some time, I've been raiding three times a week with my guild.  I know my character is not where I want it and that my build is not the top DPS for PvE, but I like the build I have.  I finally got a lil sword that I've been drooling over for my character's appearance (not to mention its stats).  Just have to say "thanks" to Scalebane for putting up with my shit for so long.  I'll have more shit to sling in the future.


February 24, 2009

Current Games I'm Playing

The duel list: Character: Notes: 
Street Fighter 4BlankaSF4 got a 95 metacritic for the PS3 version!  It can't be wrong, can it?  I've been playing to see if I can get back in my Blanka groove.  Strangely enough, I can now throw fireballs and dragon punches on this version.  Maybe the controls were harder on previous versions....
Everquest 2DrissI switched to a server with a lot of SOE friends.  I had to tweak the game to get antialiasing functional, since it doesn't have video options for it.  Once I got AA working, it's looking a lot better.  Although, I'm so used to stylized textures that the game's art direction annoys me.
Left4Dead Francis Francis hates everything. Especially zombies. I giggle a lot when I hear the erie music harbinging a zombie rush. My favorite moment was watching Brunhylda's body fly by (Scalebane guildie from WoW) after getting punched by a tank off the roof of the hospital. 
Fallout 3 Vault Dweller Excellent graphics. Excellent world. Interesting targeting system. A nice duality of good and evil paths you can take. I might try to finish the storyline someday after I finish the oodles of hours finding stuff in the world. 
Dwarf Fortress Dwarves Dwarf Fortress is an ASCII based game that is constantly being developed by one programmer. It has a large fanbase and can be modded to have graphics. I play this game to try out different RTS strategies that no other game can provide. If you can stand the horrible interface, you'll realise that this game is a gem. 
Stronghold Crusader: Extreme A crusader This game really is extreme and niche. It's only for the hardcore RTS player. Its graphics are dated, but if you think you're hardcore - think again after trying the first map. 
World of Warcraft Ruy PvP'ing it up... 
Civilization 4: Beyond the Sword Julius Ceasar I've been playing Civilization for as long as long as the series has been out. There's no need to put it on the dead list, because I never get tired of it. 
Supreme Commander and Supreme Commander: Fragile Alliance Any side While Company of Heroes is micromanaged and small, Supreme Commander is massive. It is definitely an evolution of real time strategy, with its many interface improvements. It ranks as one of my favorite games of 2007, so far. The expansion is riddled with bugs, though. 
Half-Life Counterstrike: Source Engine & Team Fortress 2 Hanse I play on random servers. Mostly, tfc_2fort for TF2 and dust maps for CS. 

February 21, 2009

All those old designer blogs...

I am not sure where a lot of them have gone.  I'm slowly gathering together and posting them in my old designer posts section.  I've noticed that many of the SWG and UO blogs that were posted for players to read are gone (deleted, archived and not posted, etc).  I'll do my best to track them down and put them on my blog.  Posting them here is mainly for nostalgic reasons, of course.  Some of it is interesting reading and some of it is simple communication to players.

I'll post some serious MMO topics for system designers on this blog.  I have been mulling my first topic for some time.  I just want to get the outline and rough draft down.

I've sketched out a graph for it, but for some reason the newest version of Excel doesn't have the graphing feature to modify axis labels (probably does, but it's hidden or something).


Other than that, I finished up my system designs this past week for SWG and I'll be starting up brainstorming on the next set of sprints (guess everyone is being trendy using the scrum system for game development these days) this week.


And now... a childhood pondering of what happens below Qbert...


February 14, 2009

Ewok Festival of Love

The Ewok Festival of Love was yesterday at work.  We had to make cards, so I whipped up one ten minutes before the contest started.  Most of the women at work hated it and most of the guys chuckled at it.  I wonder why...



February 12, 2009

Dungeon Master is My Childhood Favorite

Of course, the winner of the top ten PC games of my childhood is Dungeon Master.


Dungeon Master had a ton of firsts.  3D realtime combat, 3D realtime movement, 3D audio, falling damage, dynamic spell system, and on and on...  I could gush about this game for hours.

When I think of spell systems that are fun, I think of Dungeon Master.  Its spell system allowed you to combine symbols to make spells.  Symbols represented different things such as amount of power, elemental, types, etc.  You could spend hours trying to find spells in their system.  You could find scrolls that had complete spells in the dungeon, as well.  Skills trained up through usage, so if you discovered a fireball spell early on (before you found the scroll) and used it over and over down a hallway, you would train up the relevant skill (and be able to cast better fireballs).

Items falling onto the ground had been done before.  I don't remember a game that would let you throw items down a hallway and have them hit a target (psuedo-3D), then fall to the ground for you to collect.  Throwing stones down a hallway for them to land on a pressure plate to cause something to happen (doors open/close, pits open/close) was a mechanic they used in their puzzles.


Death in the game made you haul your friend's bones to a resurrection altar.  The sight of seeing a party member die and all their stuff fall to the ground with their bones on top of it I don't remember seeing before, either.  Those bones were heavy to carry and you had to dump all sorts of stuff to haul some dead schlub back to the altar (if there was an altar nearby).

Combat had cooldowns on actions.  I'm not sure which RPG had combat actions with cooldowns first (Final Fantasy and Dungeon Master shipped in the same year - 1987).

I played this game with many friends looking over my shoulder.  We coined the phrase "left is best" for navigating mazes.  We'd chant our maze phrase whenever we came to a branch in a hallway (I found that I did that in Fallout 3 last month, so it's stuck with me).


A free java version of the game is available at:


February 09, 2009

Top 10 PC Games from my Childhood

Top 10 Games From My Childhood Notes: 
Zork I played my first computer game on a TRS-80.  I might have played Adventure before this one, but Zork stood out above Adventure.  The movement controls captivated me and were the central part of games I programmed in the 80's (n e s w).  I was nine years old, when I played this game at a friend's house.  I had my first computer course for my merit badge soon afterwards from a computer science teacher, who happened to be his mother.
Wizlair //e This game was coded by an electronic engineering and computer science double-major at Rice University and evolved over a couple years from 1986 to 1987.  His alias was Wizard //e and his BBS was coded on an Apple //e in Houston, Tx.  The game was roughly ten megabytes (huge, at the time).  It was the first RPG PvP I participated in.  Of course, my assassin character was the #1 character against over 100 participants in 1987.  Hayes Smartmodems ruled back then, btw.
Kyrandia Multiplayer In 1988, a friend of mine ran a Galacticomm Major BBS system.  The system was 32 lines and by this time I had two 2400bps modems to connect to it.  Kyrandia was the first real-time multiplayer RPG I played.  Its system consisted of simple levelling through quests.  It had permadeath and the rock/paper/scissors spell system meant that there was no random ranges of damage for spells.  Exhausting your mana at maximum level did maximum damage always.  We found many loopholes in this game that many people would now call exploits.  I wrote many muds afterwards in the 90's because this game realized my dream of multiplayer RPG's.
Ultima 3 My favorite RPG for all the old tile-based systems.  I played this game for days and days.  I was 12 years old and played it on my Apple //e.  I hated whirlpools eating my ships with a passion.  So, I had a parkinglot of ships hidden behind the silver serpent.
Wizardry 1 This is the first game ever bought for me on my Apple //e.  It's also the first game I ever played that had graphics on a PC.  It's the first game I ever farmed mobs for loot in and used directional arrows to navigate the dungeon.
Bard's Tale The first RPG 3D (psuedo) that did not use lines for walls I ever played.  I played this game so much!  I think the summoners and their summoned creatures were farmed by my hands thousands and thousands of times.
Dungeon Master This game was the first real-time graphical 3D simulated video game I ever played.  It also was the first game that I experienced 3D simulated sound (I can hear those skeletal knights getting closer!).  Aside from those firsts, it was extremely fun.  Very few RPG's use such a huge quantity of puzzles, tricks, traps, and mazes packed together as this game did.  I would not be surprised if many people consider this the best RPG made in the 1980's for personal computers.
Trade Wars This BBS game was not the first futuristic game I played, but it was the most popular and it was very addictive.  I manually drew maps for the random generator until I gave up.  I think I played on over five different BBS's, at one time, due to the login time limitations.  I later played Yankee Trader and then the multiplayer chat system version.  This game taught me about randomly generated star maps and warp lanes.  I like random maps, but hate warp lanes in space games due to this game (gank at the exit point anyone?).
Pinball Construction Set This game was so customizable.  You could even draw your own picture that represented your pinball's backboard.  I played this game endlessly as a junior high student.  It wasn't until Archon came along to knock it out of my hands.  1983 was the first time I played a game that allowed user generated content.

February 06, 2009

Deathduel is converting...

I'm currently in the process of converting over to a blog system.  I'll try to get my layout, plugins, etc all sorted out this weekend.

Until then, you can find me doing my usual thing through mail, AIM, guild chat lines, etc...