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Archive for the ‘Video Games’ Category

How to Fix L4D

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

So recently I started playing Left 4 Dead 2 again.  It’s a fun game, I can hop in and out depending on my schedule, and it’s got zombies.  What’s not to love?

Well for starters the boatload of assholes that sign on for no other purpose than to try and ruin everyone else’s day.

In any sort of online game you get a certain percentage of folks who just want to screw with everyone else, and nearly every one of these games has a mechanism for discouraging that sort of behavior.  One of the most frequently seen of these mechanisms is the vote kick.  And like many other online games L4D has the ability for players to vote an annoying team member out of the game.

The problem is that unlike a lot of these other games, the amount of players is very low.  Only four per team, in fact.  So if you have two assholes who like jerking everybody else around your only choice is to leave the game yourself.  And while I am fine with the theory of “if you don’t like the players you are with, then find some others”  this does not address the long term problem.  Namely: There are no long term consequences for being a d-bag and making the entire game less attractive to customers.

The flip side is any system designed to punish players will probably be abused by the same players that we are worried about.

I think I have a relatively simple and elegant solution to this problem.

More On MMO’s

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

Regular readers may recall that I occasionally write about game mechanics as applied to large online games. I’ve gone into economics a bit, some stuff on crafting systems, and I’ve even gone into some detail on settings.

Well one setting that I think would be a really great for an online game is the universe that the Stargate franchise is set in. It’s got all manner of alien planets, ancient technology, and one of the more popular scifi story lines currently on the market.

And it turns out that I am not alone in this opinion.

Furthermore, the nice folks at Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment seem to think that I have something on the ball when it comes to making games, and have offered me a nice job there to help them finish it.

So posts might get a little sporadic for the next several weeks, as I need to pack up my house, and  move half-way across the country.

New Site Features

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

Ever since I have started writing this blog, I have have started getting an increase in traffic. And the increase in traffic has in turn lead to an increase in questions being emailed to me. I don’t mind, I like the attention and I certainly have no problem sharing any experiences I have in both the military and the game industry. But I do wind up getting similar questions a lot. So to combat that problem, and to help provide a resource for people who might want more information on those subjects, I have created two new pages.

So you want to be a soldier?


So you want to make video games?

From now on, all questions I receive about either subject are going up there, unless the submitter specifically asks me not to.

Also, I’m leaving comments on because as unlikely as it sounds, I don’t necessarily know everything, and sometimes someone else may have other helpful ideas.

Why hasn’t somone else done this yet?

Sunday, April 6th, 2008

Fair warning, this is gonna be geeky.

Seriously, there is a big time world class nerdening happening below. You have been warned.

A few weeks ago me and some friends were discussing settings for MMOs. While weighing the pros and cons of science fiction vs fantasy vs other more unusual settings I was struck by a bolt of inspiration.

Gamma World.

If you are unfamiliar with this property (Likely because you dated in high school, or are under 30) here is a quick primer, courtesy of Io9.

Basically you have the perfect formula for an online game.

First of all, you have a back story that can be explained in seconds.

“WW3 destroyed the entire world. The planet is now a wasteland were survivors and mutants battle over the crumbled remains of civilization.” Done. Now everything the players do will make sense.

Next up, players like to customize their avatars. Many free-MMOs make their profit off of this fact. Most players in Gamma World are mutants. This is an excuse for the kind of player customization that is seen in City of Heroes. Want to play a bunny with a sniper rifle? Done. A turtle with a penchant for oriental weaponry? Not a problem. An offshoot of a flying squirrel that has the ability to generate electrical energy? Why the heck not. Pretty much anything the a player can come up with fits into the game.

All you need to do is come up with a balancing mechanism for the player that, for some reason, choose to make a regular human. Possibly by giving them better technology.

Which brings us to tech. If you are playing in a post-apocalyptic world, where high tech used to be common, you have pretty much the everything that you can think of available. Low level characters would start with primitive weapons, like hatchets, crossbows, and machetes. As they level up they could acquire ceramic body armor, automatic weapons, and explosives. High level players could get science fiction devices such as laser rifles, and force fields. Pretty much everything is fair game.

Low level player could have horses, or even some sort of mutant riding animals. As the players advanced they could get better pet/mounts or trade them in for a dirt bikes, a dune buggy, or even the last of the V-8 interceptors. You could even allow the players to strip the vehicles of defeated enemies for parts to tweak their own rides.

And thanks to the whole “psionics” angle you don’t even have to give up spellcasters, you just have to rename it. Heck if you start the players off privative enough, you don’t even have to rename it. After all one man’s pyrokinetic mutant is another’s fire-spec mage.

I really think this could be developed into something great. Now all I need is an investor with 5 million laying around, my own game development studio, and my trusty razor boomerang and I’m set.

Any of my gaming readers have any comments on this idea? (The game idea, not the ‘Skippy ruins amok with a razor-rang part)