Friday, May 29, 2009

SWTOR - Me the fanboy but...

How are they able to put that much content online.

Either they have a big marketing team (well, it's Bioware after all) or they are not that far from release...

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Learning from Eve Online


That made me thought of a new "unexploited market segment" for Golemizer: The only game you can play at work if your boss has cut Flash from your PC!

So if you're stuck in a cubicle with nothing to do, Golemizer is for you!

Seriously though (hmm, but I was serious!), it shows that if you believe in what you do and put a lot of work that there's some chances you'll be able to reach your goal.

There's no point cloning things you can't do as an indie developer. Instead, you should stop for a minute and think why you decided to go indie in the first place. You might found out that you decided to make games because you didn't find any game that was fitting what you were looking for.

Well guess what, you're not alone and not everyone will start to develop their own game! So there's a market for us. It's up to us to grab it.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009


I spent some time reading the comments about that article on about RMT.

The first thing I remembered is the reason why I don't spend much time on these forums... And then I remembered over 10 years ago playing Magic: The Gathering... Some were able to buy very expensive (and overpowered) cards while I was playing with an elf deck and still had fun.

Not sure there's more to say beside that Magic has probably been a true gold mine for Wizards of the Coast since 1993...

I played SWG for about 2 years. At $15 per months, that makes $360 (and at some point I had 2 accounts so let's say a bit over $400). I have never spent that much money on Magic cards, even when the online version came out, and always had fun playing it. And then I know of more than 1 player that paid way more than $400 for a jedi account (and even non-jedi accounts).

So I'm not quite sure why some are thinking RMT is so new and that "the majority of players are against it". Seems like some thousands and thousands of players didn't mind spending way too much money into a cards game. What would make MMOs any different?

Surely there's better ways to handle this than others, very much like anything in life...

edit: One funny fact about my experience in SWG. I never could get the best weapons because I wasn't spending enough time going after the big loot and was always counting the few credits I had until a friend of mine quit the game and gave me all his stuff and money.

That day I bought some very powerful weapons that I was never able to buy before. So you could say that I gained "an unfair advantage that I didn't worked for" yet nobody complained about it.

If SWG would have been a free game with RMT, I could have spent the $400 I spent on subscription to buy directly these big guns and the results would have been the same in the end.

Anyway, I was still bad at combat with my big guns so I guess that's why people didn't bother about me getting free stuff.

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

World building - Avoid loose coupling

I'm currently working on a system that will be able to get directions from point A to point B wherever you are in Golemizer. Well, almost...

When I first started building the MMO framework, I had no real idea of what game I would build with it so I made some decisions that would give me more freedom. An example is that at first, zones reached through a "portal" had no idea to which portal they were attached.

I figured that I'd have many types of non-open-world zones like buildings, mines, dungeons but had no clear idea (maybe besides buildings). I wanted to keep my system as generic as possible to be able to create different type of zones without having to do specific coding for each. It all went well at first.

Then came the question what if I want to specify access rights to a building. I have no way to link the zones to the building.

Then dungeons came in. I had multiple zones with the same coordinates and no way to tell which one was the zone on the same current "level" when players were expanding their dungeons (because I need to detect if a zone already exists in X direction to link zones together).

So my initial plan wasn't that smart. I had to add a notion of link between zones and buildings and the same for zones and levels of dungeons. I guess that if I would have been even smarter, I would have built some generic system to track that so I wouldn't had to code 2 different things that do in the end quite the same thing...

One thing I haven't covered is mines... There's 3 mines in Golemizer and they were built before the dungeon system so they are just an item in the world leading to a zone linked to other zones. I can't tell which zones are part of a given mine.

Now of course I'll be able to fix that later as I still know the entrance zone so from there I can walk in each zones and link them back to the mine but that just create extra work. That shows that loose coupling was really a bad idea to begin with.

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Steampunk MMO

If you're intested in steampunk MMOs (beside Golemizer of course...), Gatheryn is now accepting beta registration here:

It seems Steampunk is getting more love from MMOs recently. Of course, it's all coming from Golemizer... ;)

The one that is the most freaking me out is Neo Steam from... Atlus Online. Atlus... Dr. Altus... Of course, when you mess with the latin dictionary, there's some chances you come up with similar names... And I swear, when I decided of the name Dr. Altus for Golemizer I wasn't aware of Atlus Online.

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Lonely friday night = Star Trek movie

Girlfriend being out of town friday, I went to see Star Trek. I'm not a fan of Star Trek. Not because I don't like it but because I never really cared about it. The little I know is what I read on wikipedia. My verdict? Great movie!

Ok, nothing to blow your mind away but I didn't mind to pay way to much to see it anyway. I guess it was easier for me to like it exactly because I didn't cared about Star Trek. I'm sure the fans have a different opinion (haven't actually checked what is the feedback yet).

First, I loved how the "continuity problem" of a "reboot" is thrown out the window. I won't spoil anything but from someone like me, it kinda gives me the right to like Star Trek (or what it may become). Surely I'm not the only one in this situation so that allows me to enjoy the movie for what it is currently, a single movie.

Sure, there's weak points, like a lot of movies, but I wasn't expecting more. The problem often comes from expectations. At one point, fans are not expecting to see a movie but THE movie they thought it would be. For example, Lucas didn't raped my childhood with Jar Jar... I wasn't expecting to see the story I thought it would be, just the story Lucas made up. I won't touch with a ten foot pole the whole matter of "but it's the fan that gave him his success".

So what did I like? The actors behind Kirk and Spock were really good IMHO. The actors but also what the characters are. For a sci-fi movie, I actually cared about these characters. The way they are handled made me feel like I could know them without having really seen anything else about Star Trek. And if they are different from what they were, I don't care. What was done here was well done.

From the trailers, Kirk looked to me as the next teenagers' star. After having see the movie I must admit I feel different. I believed in the character the small flashbacks at the beginning gave me a nice picture of the character without needing to say more.

Another thing I'm sure fans will say is that characters are caricatures of themselves. To some degree I'll agree with them but I feel it was needed. J. J. Abrams made this movie from the point of view of someone that wasn't a fan so he nailed it. I didn't know the characters and in a 2 hours movie, you don't have the time to go really deep when you have that much characters (those expecting more should read books instead, those are made for this...). Chekov was hilarious but still believable. Honestly, we all know some nerd of that type.

So, will I become a fan of Star Trek? No. If a sequel is done I'll go see it for sure but I won't watch the series or the other movies. I'm a fan of THIS movie but I still don't care of the Star Trek universe.

J. J. Abrams made a good movie IMO and I take it for what it is: A good movie.

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Saturday, May 9, 2009

Golems V2

I'll spare you the "boy, it's been a long time I haven't updated this blog..." and jump straight to the interesting part.

Building an MMO was a big task. Enormous task. There's good reasons why everyone is telling don't do this as a first project. I did it anyway because that was honestly the only thing I was interested to build.

The downside is that when you try to do a lot of systems at the same time, you obviously won't be able to make everything as deep as you wanted (unless you're ready to delay release like Duke Nukem Never... eh... Forever...

The golems in Golemizer were never quite what I had in mind in the first place. Well, yes and no. My initial plan was to go with something simple. Make something simple, easy to handle, update. I wanted my own small project to play with. At first I was aiming for something like Urban Dead. But I wasn't satisfied enough to build something too simple.

So I started going in various directions and ended up with systems not as complete as I wanted like the golems. It's kinda ironic because the game is named Golemizer but I could as well have named it something like "Sandboxer" since it was first a sandbox game in my mind.

So golems ended up like "fire and forget" weapons. Not all golems were of the same power so players ended up building the same golems over and over. I don't blame them, the game was pushing them in that direction. In a game where players are mad scientists experimenting on various devices, golems were pretty much just static beings. They all looked the same (on a stats level) with some differences on HP and bonus damages for golems such as rougarous and zombie horrors.

Building interesting combat content was becoming really hard because I the content was too hard to beat, it was pretty much like saying "build that one golem that can beat it and forget about everything else". So it was a simple system yes, but not a system I was satisfied with.

Another reason why players weren't interested to build other type of golems is that there was no reward for doing so. The only "reward" or way to measure success were the global points gained from combat (and now quests). Why bother having a hard time by doing the same content with a mechanical bull as you know the player with the zombie horror will always be ahead of you...

So that brings me to the golems update. In this update, players can customize the stats of their golems. Some golems can update X stats while others can update Y stats but in the end, golems of the same "level" of power can beat each other according you switch you strategy correctly. So while in the past a rock cleaner was useless, now it's able to fight a zombie which is of the same level of power.

So what's the point of having golems of equal powers? Aren't they basically the same golem with a different skin? They key is in progression and rewards. Before, there wasn't any way to improve your golems. You were stuck with the same stats until you got rid of your golem. The crafting process is also different to make it more interesting.

Mechanical golems like rock cleaners and mechanical bulls come with a number of experimentation points based on the quality of the parts used to craft them. With these experimentation points, you're able to customize them to your liking. Do you want a damage dealer? A tank? Do you want to customize it to fight a specific type of opponent? You now have the choice.

Bio golems like zombies and rougarous don't have any experimentation points at first. But their stats are set by the stats of the parts used in the crafting process. Will you use this arm with +5 damages or this other arm with +8 HP? Your choice.

So both type of golems can be customized, it only depends on which way fits more your playstyle. Some will hunt for hours to find the parfect arm, leg, flower... While others are ready to take a chance and go with mechanical golems (experimentation success is based on the number of points used for each experiment).

Of course, it doesn't stop there. When your golem defeats an opponent, it works its way to get more experimentation points. If you fight weak targets, it will take a long time to customize your golem. If you take more risk, you'll get experimentation points faster.

Ok, so why would I build a clockwork gnome while I could build a zombie horror? Well, rankings by global points are now "removed". The chart is still there because I know some players are interested to still check it but things like special titles on login and rewards are now monthly and per golem type based. So your clockwork gnome is the best gnome there is? That means you'll be at the top of the rankings for gnomes. At the end of the month the rankings are set back to 0, trophies are awarded to the best player for each golem type and we go for another round. The global rankings are now rankings by trophies.

Trophies can be earn if you are the best master for a golem type, if your city is the most active city (only for mayor), if you attend an event and the GM rewards you with a trophy, if you are helping new players and a GM notice you, if you have builded something amazing like a very pretty house, if you are the most popular quest builder and so on.

The trick here is to have various ways to be recognize. With the previous system of prestige points only, you basically had to be into combat to be top ranked. For a game claiming to be sandbox, that wasn't quite interesting. The point is that whatever you are doing well, this might make you a top player in the rankings. Plus you get trophies you can brag about and show in your houses or cities.

With this update, I'm getting a little bit closer to something I'm completely satisfied with. Of course, the question is can I ever be satisfied? ;) There's still another level of customization I want to add to golems. Players have suggested the possibility to add weapons/new attack to golems and Maple suggested some module system. I think that's where I'll be heading next for golems. Not just give the possibility to players to add new attack modules but also things for players less interested in combat like a "greeting" module (golem would say hello to people it's meeting), or other behaviors that would give more personality to golems and make each one a little bit more unique.

So much to do yet so little time! There's no lack of ideas here (and I won't even talk about the numerous other ideas I'd like to turn into MMO one day...).

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