Sky Saga First [Alpha] Impressions

I would never have known about Sky Saga if it wasn’t for the rage-induced community support group that the Windborne game’s Steam forums had become. Sky Saga was suggested by one player as an ointment to the afterglow of the production-stilled Windborne. I checked out Sky Saga’s website. Someone on Twitter also mentioned to me it was guided, similar to HQM Minecraft or Windborne’s quests.

The suggestion to try Sky Saga was enough to sign up for the “alpha”, which is fairly open. The servers are open right now for a limited time, and I was able to play around over the weekend to get a feel for the game. Continue reading Sky Saga First [Alpha] Impressions

Bandwidth

In recent months players have been submitting an average of one million questions a day to Trivia Crack’s “Question Factory,” a section within the app, says its 29-year-old founder and chief executive, Maximo Cavazzani. Since each submission must get a positive rating from at least 100 fellow players to make the cut, only about 1,500 new questions are being added to the game each day.
“Can an App Be Too Successful” by Sarah Needleman, Wall Street Journal

I played Ingress for a while last year. I am still getting responses about portals accepted or rejected, and I have at least 50 more in their queue. Back then, the Ingress web site said portals were accepted or rejected in 4-6 weeks (not months); right now it says that due to the backlog they have suspended the achievement related to submitting portals (and also quietly removed a turnaround time).

I have wondered if the time delay is an intentional strategy to reduce exploits. If the average player quits before their submitted portals go live, there is less incentive to submit dodgy “couch portals” (portal you can reach from home/work).

: Zubon

[RR] Werewolf the Forsaken 2e Impressions

I was a weird kid with tabletop roleplaying games (RPG’s) growing up. I played RPG’s with my friends, yes. The weird part was that I did not own a core book until high school (Changeling 2e was my first, but we’ll talk about that later this year). Every RPG I played was kind of cobbled together with no base rules system. I didn’t have enough money to buy a corebook, or rather I never saved up enough. The cheaper and shinier supplement books I did accumulate.

The most supplements I bought for a game line whose corebook I only owned last year was Werewolf the Apocalypse, which is a game about tribal werewolf superheroes fighting with spirit allies against Captain Planet-style enemies of the earth. Ridiculous, 90’s, and over-the-top fun for a game that’s way more fantasy than modern. “When will you Rage?” was the tagline. This system was near and dear to my heart, despite my weirdness, and I bought many supplements.

White Wolf recreated Werewolf in the new World of Darkness line as Werewolf the Forsaken (WtF). No longer did you play world roaming heroes. Now it was all about defending territory and surviving against all odds. The best description I heard for the game was you were playing a hated prison security guard trying to keep all the spirit and werewolf inmates in-line while the townies thought you were a destitute human. It was a good game, but it lacked the feeling of purpose. Entropy and erosion seemed like dominating themes instead of success. Continue reading [RR] Werewolf the Forsaken 2e Impressions

Matchmaking is Hard

At SynCaine’s suggestion, I have been playing Boom Beach. Because most of the guild started playing about the same time, most of us hit the same wall at the same point: the PvP system in the game discourages playing. It is a variant on the problem seen with Marvel Puzzle Quest.

PvP opponents are matched via “victory points.” Victory points are acquired by clearing NPC bases and by successfully attacking in PvP; victory points are lost by being unsuccessfully defending in PvP and for having uncleared NPC or PvP bases on your map. You get more bases on your map (to clear or leave uncleared) by expanding your map. PvP is used to raid other bases for resources; one successful attack, and you clear the base off your map and take some resources. Sometimes clearing an NPC base will award an extra victory point.

Your goal in gaming the system would be to be the highest level player at your victory point level. I intentionally avoided expanding my map for a while to avoid the temptation to clear more enemy bases. For a little while, I was clearing every base and advancing quickly, which is to say I was flying face-first at a wall that matched me against a PvP base 17 levels higher than me. Clearing bases is good for getting small amounts of resources, but when you start getting raided five times per day, your resource situation becomes a bit more perilous. Of course, if everyone games the system, we are back to the same problem just with fewer resources in play.

So for the past week or two, most of the Boom Beach guild has been slowing down. Leave NPC bases on your map when they pop up, avoid PvP, fail at PvP defense and watch your victory point total get knocked back down to “reasonable opponents” level. The daily reward includes an incentive to have more victory points and you want stronger opponents because they’ll have more resources, but the gain per victory point seems small and stronger opponents are only good if they are strong but not stronger than you.

And now back to gaming matchmaking systems in F2P games. It is legitimately difficult to design a good matchmaking system, particularly in an environment with free (and large scale) entry and exit.

: Zubon

Card City Nights

Card City Nights is frequently entertaining but I am not sure I would go so far as “good.” It is an interesting take on collectible card games with simple mechanics and an emphasis on strategic placement of cards. The difficulty is “trivially easy” until the beyond-Psychonauts difficulty spike for the end of the game. I played the PC version, which is an unusually good iWhatever port, a technical gem amidst the many sloppy ports.
Continue reading Card City Nights

[GW2] Desert Borderlands

At Rezzed, the game convention of London, ArenaNet just had a presentation (recorded Twitch link) regarding the Desert Borderlands map. This new map will replace the current Borderlands maps, and then some kind of schedule / rotation will be determined. In usual form the Dulfy Corp provides an excellent swath of notes on the very informative presentation.

There are three “corners” to the map: earth, fire, and wind. Each with a corresponding keep. It seems like in usual form the keep is the golden prize for each of the three teams, but the Desert Borderlands seems to more strongly emphasize that the Keep is resting on a pyramid of support.  Continue reading [GW2] Desert Borderlands

[GW2] Press Demo Feedbacks and Overviews

A lot of press, ‘casters, and a few other media-types were invited to ArenaNet last week to check out a demo of the Heart of Thorns content. Just about everything they played was already revealed through ArenaNet’s Twitch channel, including the Revenant (up to two legends), a slice of the new map, the Verdant Brink, the wyvern boss battle, and the new PvP gamemode Stronghold.

The best aggregate by far is RandomUser’s well maintained megapost on the event at Reddit. There were a few surprises, for me. I didn’t know, for example, that Rock, Paper, Shotgun would attend. They always feel a bit flighty or uncontrollable for press events.  Continue reading [GW2] Press Demo Feedbacks and Overviews

CRGE – Roleplaying Without a GM

I’ve finally released CRGE! It’s a complete, concise system for playing roleplaying games without a GM. CRGE has been worked on for well over two years. Possibly three or four, but I didn’t put true pen to paper until just over two. I have refined it as best I could. Polished it until my eyes bled, and playtested the heck out of it.

It’s tiered as a system, which is a design I am immensely proud of because I’ve found that solo roleplayers are immense tinkerers. For my playstyle I have built what I feel is my personal suite of tools for what I feel is a darn good roleplaying experience.

Back to the tiers. The first tier is a “yes or no” question answerer. Very simple in concept, but my idea was to keep pushing for the unexpected. For example, you could ask “is someone standing outside my window watching me?” and get an answer “No, but…” someone is definitely watching you. Or you could get “Yes, and unexpectedly…” the scene changes. It’s all about shaking things up, the way I feel a GM would.

The second tier is focused on making scenes and story threads mean something. It ties back to getting unexpected answers. So, you might learn that the next scene something big is going to resolved. It won’t be apparent until you land on that, but things are always being pushed towards meaning and resolution. Almost like a system built around Chekhov’s gun.

Finally, I try and put this all together in to a framework where you can play a concise story. I was always frustrated at my early attempts at solo roleplaying because I felt I was meandering in a sandbox. Things became too complex and too realistic (in that Sisyphean-type way). I wanted a story with resolution and meaning. I wanted to play in chapters, not endless tangents. Hopefully I conveyed a way to bring it all together.

Anyway, if you are like “how could this possibly work?”, download it for free, and there is a complete example in the appendices. If you like what you see feel free to leave feedback or throw a tip my way.

–Ravious

[GW2] Reasons to Slow Level my Revenant

I got chided the other day in Guild Wars 2 for using my skill point scrolls in lieu of the upcoming expansion, with new Revenant profession. When used they provide this flashy whirlwind-boom, which lets everybody know I gained a skill point. I politely asked if I should start, “yet another stack of skill points”. The response was a cat-face, my most hated emote ( :3), which makes no sense to me on any level. I could not punch through the internet. Continue reading [GW2] Reasons to Slow Level my Revenant

Crowfall Interview on the Business Model

I contacted ArtCraft Entertainment – who is currently running a Kickstarter for the upcoming Crowfall MMO – to see if they would want to briefly discuss their choice of business model and a few followups. In the midst of the craziness they were more than willing to answer a couple questions.

Crowfall is a “buy once, play forever” game. What made you want to go against the MMO majority of subscription or free-to-play?

It was the right business model for this game and this audience.  There is a lot of fatigue with free-to-play that are actually ‘pay-to-win’ in disguise.  And we were sensitive to the portion of our audience that can’t easily afford a subscription so we made that optional, rather than required.  This allows players with more time than money to be just as competitive as players with more money than time, putting everyone on as even a playing field as possible. Continue reading Crowfall Interview on the Business Model