And now gamer-linguist nerd crossover content that may not be for everyone. You are warned.

A discussion of the word for “nerd” in Chinese included a note about Chinese usage of the term “PK,” which is comparable to English “pwn” or “versus.” (I hope that usage converges, otherwise you need strong context to tell whether the word implies simply opposition or also the result of that opposition.) Excerpt:

5. As so often happens when words cross from one language to another language, it does not mean exactly the same thing in Chinese (“to thoroughly dominate; to beat” [in one-on-one or multiple competition]) that it means in English (“player killer”).

I note that the English usage is also ambiguous. In our MMO context, I am most familiar with “PK” as an abbreviation for any sort of PvP player, but my usage arises from starting MMOs with Asheron’s Call, where characters had a PK flag that indicated whether they were participating in PvP. Victor Mair suggests that Counter-Strike players use “PK” where I would use “TK” (“team killer”) or perhaps “griefer,” someone who intentionally shoots people on his/her own team rather than the enemy. Feel free to contribute from your own idiolect in the comments.

The researchers Victor Mair mentions in his post (Matt Smith and Brendan O’Kane) have graciously forwarded me their notes with permission to use them for posting. They track the term back to MUDs. This is your chance to be on the cutting edge of Chinese gamer linguistics and potentially contribute to research in its advancement. Are you excited? I’m excited.. Continue reading PK

Supply Creates Its Own Demand

The blade itself incites to deeds of violence.
— Homer, The Odyssey, although I cannot find a translation online that uses that exact phrasing.

It is not a slippery slope argument to say, “Developing the capacity to X makes X much more likely.” Beyond the tautology that you cannot do X if you cannot do X, we find that humans are more likely to pursue options that are readily available. Once you have the ability to do something, you start finding occasions for it. This is a driver of progress and source of anguish.

Continue reading Supply Creates Its Own Demand

The Lessons of History

I often cite smaller games because people are unaware of them or vastly underinformed. So if you like Darkfall’s prowess system, you can go play that right now in Asheron’s Call 1. Seriously, that system existed in 1999, although games did not have achievements at the time. You could even be playing the PvP version on Darktide!

To explain from the comments on that post, AC1 never had level adjustments. Levels are (were) estimates of relative power, not like in most MMOs where you must fight within the range of a few levels or there will be massive penalties that mean instant death. Level 30 archers can (could) hunt level 100+ monsters just fine with the right preparation. Levels give you more skill options, but the rest of the xp/skill system work(ed) exactly as described: doing things gets you a pool of xp that you can spend on whichever skills and attributes you like.

AC1 did mix in a bit of use-based skills by giving extra “practice point” xp for skill use. This involved an interesting formula that rewarded you for doing increasingly difficult things (rather than repetition), but it may not even still be in the game, so I am not going to spout algebra just now.

: Zubon

Chris Carter, Joss Whedon, Google, and NCsoft

[Warning: there are some TV Tropes links in here.]

I have confessed to contributing to self-fulfilling prophecies: if you do not commit to something/one because s/he/it may not be around for long, s/he/it probably will not be around for long. So how do you invest yourself in something when the producers have a left a wake of unfinished and canceled projects?

Continue reading Chris Carter, Joss Whedon, Google, and NCsoft

…And Ye Shall Receive

In 2010, Ethic suggested that Tubrine bring back Asheron’s Call 2 under F2P. It’s not there yet, but there is a free beta available to Asheron’s Call 1 subscribers. Questions that spring to mind:

  1. Is any of the old AC2 team going to be on this project? A different set of developers yields a very different game. Granted, given the commercial success of the original, changes might not be a bad business idea.
  2. How do I go about reclaiming an Asheron’s Call account that has been lying fallow for perhaps a decade?

: Zubon
via Ethic via Massively

Interaction Options

Assassin’s Creed 3 lets you pet dogs. Asheron’s Call lets you tip cows (and even added a quest for it). Guild Wars 2 uses some animal and NPC interactions for its hearts, such as feeding cows or watering crops.

Every now and again, it’s nice to have options other than “kill them,” you know? You may not spend much time tipping cows or petting dogs, but just knowing the option is there makes the game a bit less of a murder simulator.

: Zubon

Every time I see the abbreviation for Assassin’s Creed 3, I think, “They’re making Asheron’s Call 3?!?!!”

Newb Boon

You do not need a comparative advantage to be the best at something [FTFY] to enjoy the benefits of trade, nor does your trading partner. Even if you can do absolutely everything better and more efficiently than I can, it will still benefit you to trade with me because you do not have the option of doing everything at once. I may shovel well, but if I am also a pretty good obstetrician, it will probably be more productive for me to pay someone with fewer high-value options to dig.

If you were to start playing World of Warcraft right now, you could make decent money farming copper. The enemies are not gray to you, so you would not be the most efficient farmer, but people who earn lots of gold per hour are happy to give you a bit of it on the auction house. On a non-trade example, when I went back to Asheron’s Call with a fresh account, I financed several dozen levels by hopping a portal to a high-level hunting zone and scavenging a pack of trash loot that players left in their wake. If I had thought of it, I could have made a service of being the town-visiting pet from Torchlight, if anyone would trust a new character with their stuff/money.

The past weekend was Canthan New Year in Guild Wars. This is an amazing source of money for a new player. Offering to sell Lunar Tokens for 200g and Fortunes for 600g, I was deluged with buyers. There were quests that rewarded 25 Tokens, and the established players had run them in previous years; they were effectively level 5 quests that awarded 5 platinum. I financed my first set of prestige armor off those. If you could get your newb to Lion’s Arch, you could convert Tokens to Fortunes profitably (if slowly) playing Rock-Paper-Scissors.

An economy that is orders of magnitude above where you are can be daunting, but if you can get involved in it at all, the profits to be reaped are huge.

: Zubon