The cheat code of the day is TURK

Via “Chinese Gold Farmers: Work or Fun?“:

“This relationship is an amazing tangle of play and work. The gold farmer works playing a game, so he can earn money which he spends playing the same game. The customer finds part of the game too much like work, so he works at another job to earn money to pay a gold farmer to play for him, so the customer can have more fun when he plays. Got it?”

The crux of the issue is poor design. Game designers are designing games that slow players down in order to get more subscription money, which from a player perspective is just lots of boring grind. So, the players are gaming the game design. For multiplayer games, cheat codes are not available, the players have found they can use throw a turk at the game to enable a kind of cheat for themselves.

This is Globalization’s version of, “Here, let me get you past this level and then I’ll give the controller back.”

But, it’s all about how the game design sucks in every MMORPG. World of Warcraft did change the recipe a bit, but there’s just too much grind still. I know that I quit Everquest because the idea of having to build another character from nothing made me sick and angry. I felt cheated, and when people feel cheated they start to feel entitled. When people feel entitled they take back for themselves.

So, if game companies keep designing boring grind, then they will simply re-create a market for turks. Frankly, when it comes down to it, every MMORPG these days is an economic simulation more than it is a game, so players will end up coming up with economic solutions.

If I’m going to play an RPG, then I want it to be a role simulation, about relationships and factions and not about collecting currency, whether that currency is gold or number of monster kills.

Wake me up when there’s an MMORPG that actually is about roleplaying. There’s just not enough fun in these games to make it worth the time.

Game developer gets gamed by players

So there’s a recent kerfuffle involving accusations of corruption in EVE Online, the game not the ecofeminism. There were some accusations of the developer colluding with favored players that created a stir. Then, after a delay, the game company responds that they’ve been framed; via Slashdot:

“The objective of this scheme was to permanently paint CCP as a biased and corrupt company that favors a select group of players over the rest of our community. In this particular case, instead of receiving notification of a possible problem and sufficient time to examine and address it, we faced a coordinated and hostile attack executed on our forums, Digg, Wikipedia, Slashdot, and other outlets at the beginning of a three-day weekend.”

Now, to pull in a thread: this was that game that got press back in 2005 for having a wildly deep in-game conspiracy that took 12 months to arrange. There were scanned magazine pages that are online describing the caper. [cache, also]

Back to the present, there’s a conspiracy involving a group of players that embroils the game developers of the game in which complex capers are enacted in a real life caper. Now, that’s ironic and deeply interesting.

I was pretty impressed by the 12 month quest that the players created for themselves back in 2005, but today I find myself reflecting that this is a game where the players have forced the developers to play a part in a game-related quest designed by the players. The players gamed the developers and nerfed the game and the developers in real life.

mmorpg, eve online, quests, conspiracy, irony, petard

Firefly will virtually rise again

Via Slashdot, Wired News: Firefly Reborn as Online Universe says:

“Like Capt. Mal Reynolds stumbling in after a bar fight, the short-lived but much beloved sci-fi series Firefly will soon make an unexpected return, not as a TV show, but as a massively multiplayer online game.”

Okay, but the FAQ for the Multiverse demo client says Windows only, meh. No Linux or Mac.

And, they’ve only licensed it so they can get someone to develop it using their tools. So, it’s pretty far from being anything.

Risus, the “Anything” RPG

I was browsing around, thinking about fan fiction writing within the Firefly / Serenity universe, and ended up on a website with an adaptation of Firefly to an very interesting roleplaying system called Risus: The Anything RPG by S. John Ross, who has an e-mail address at the old illuminati domain … which is the kind of thing that not many people would think is as cool as I do. (Then again, I did score 47.14004% on a Geek Test.)

Risus is a very nice, quick and, in a good way, simple system. It reminds me of the feeling I had when reading the materials for Toon or Amber diceless game. One of the most compelling things about Toon is a built-in rule that if a player can manage to rationalize something in an entertaining way, that they should be allowed control outcomes. For Amber, the diceless aspect of the game allows for a straight-forward ranking of the characters based on their stats, such that a character might be the strongest, and therefore able to win in all contests of strenghth, another character might be smarter and therefore be able to outwit the first. No dice, just self-evident outcomes based on rankings.

The system in Risus is worth a look. The premise is that characters are built around clichés, which can be simple or complex. These clichés are give scores which are used to, essentially make “save” rolls for any kind of activity. In addition, these clichés are also used to record damage from conflicts, which is another surprisingly good way to simplify.

The beauty of the systems I’ve mentioned, including Risus, is that they are minimal frameworks to help contain a collective storytelling experience. I find myself thinking that Risus might be a great way for an author to keep track of characters in their work, whatever kind of work that might be. It could be a nice shorthand for keeping character notes.

Additionally, there’s a whole, amusing intentional culture around the Risus system, with a special “Order” to which fans and customers of the Risus Companion can sign-up. The writing is humorous and the extensive use of stick figure illustrations add to the overall effect.

The simplicity of Risus reminds me of Andy Looney’s Fluxx or Peter Suber’s Nomic, especially in the primary rule, articulated by the author Ross, that “there is no wrong way to play.” A completely minimal set of Nomic rules consists of the rule that “All players must agree to the rules.” And the initial rule card of Fluxx is the entire rule set at the beginning of the game: start with three cards, and draw 1, play 1.

I guess the only thing left is to wonder if, somehow, Risus could be used to finally make a variation of Tafl that makes it fun to play and whether there’s a way to combine Risus and Icehouse Pyramids in a fun way.

As I’m reading the Risus Companion, I’m realizing that this is as fun as reading the old West End Paranoia books which has apparently been re-released by Mongoose Publishing.