Virtual Property

The original ending of Neon Genesis: Evangelion featured Shinji in a void of infinite potential. His first act was to restrict himself, because he needed ground to stand upon and a sense of “up” and “down” to orient himself.

Players enter a virtual world of infinite potential, and their first question is “how do I kill things?” The second is “how do I get stuff?” MMOs are in a feedback loop with those impulses, designing around an endless cycle of killing things to get stuff to help you kill things.

Second Life and MineCraft are more open-ended than Yet Another Fantasy Theme Park MMORPG, but people exhibit the same behavior. Given a realm of potentially infinite space, we immediately want homes, buildings, a farm. Virtual glory comes from your castle, when you could be free of all that. We have left terrestrial space but brought a hunger for the dirt with us.

Everything you own in-game is a database entry, with only the significance we assign to it. One of the most fundamental violations of the game would be to edit that database directly. It would be against the rules, immoral, a trivialization of all the work everyone has done to get their legitimate database entries.

Because virtue lies in accummulating database entries that translate into virtual property through the execution of virtual violence.

: Zubon

Family Sickness Fun Time

Well, it sucks I’ve been out of touch. We’re on round two of sickness in our family. Now everybody is on antibiotics. Hopefully that’ll do it. I still game. Have to be bedridden not to, practically.

Shadow of Mordor

I sold my friend on the game this weekend with the help of another one. He was interested to begin with, but it became apparent how great the game was when neither me nor my another friend seemed to agree on the best way to play. He liked doing the whole ninja thing, which I found cowardly, and I liked using the zipline shadow strike where you basically use an orc’s head to hookshot wherever you need to go. My friend said it was a waste of two arrows.

I am nearing the end of the game. My bars of progress are getting fuller, but it has never felt grindy like Assassin’s Creed often does. Less is more Ubisoft. I don’t need 20 gorram sparklies per map unless they mean something.  Continue reading Family Sickness Fun Time

Cashing In

If the rumored deal goes through, I’m happy for Notch and Mojang. I’m told there is some sort of internet controversy about selling out, but “and someone on the internet complained about it” is true for all values of X, and the only counterarguments I’m really interested in entertaining are variants on “he could get more money.” Penny Arcade is on point.

No real insight or commentary. I just saw the “$2 billion” headline this week and thought, “Good for them!” and, “Congrats!” and, “one of us won!”

: Zubon

Windborne and the Soul of Games

Early access is often hit or miss on Steam, Kickstarter, and elsewhere. It’s not just about setting expectations, but about communication. I find that the best thing is to head for the forums. If the customers are clamoring for communication, it will probably be bad. That’s why I haven’t funded Godus or Castle Story even though conceptually they are a must-see. Communication is why I funded Windborne, and thus far I’ve been pleasantly surprised.

What the Wooly is Windborne?

There will never be a Tweet-length review that won’t compare Windborne to Minecraft, at least right now. Hyperbole, perhaps… in concept Windborne is going to attempt to be much more. For now though the $30 will get players a build-a-block sandbox with three biomes and a bit more.

There are already many critical differences that sets Windborne apart from Minecraft clone. The first is that blocks can be shaped. Their corners can be sheared so that there are rolling hills or rounded pillars. This small feature is a huge change for anybody used to forcing square blocks to be used as round pegs in Minecraft. It goes a lot further too with arches, windows, beds, lights, flower pots, and all sorts of architectural goodies that simply blow Minecraft’s options away. Continue reading Windborne and the Soul of Games

Thoughts Throughout a Rainy Week

These are a simple man’s thoughts that didn’t make it to full posts:

Warframe is a really nice third-person shooter with some ninja-magic effects. The Canadian team seems to have a very good grasp of everything from updates to the cash shop to their technology. Things can get a little grindy, but it pretty much equates to playing anyway. I dislike grinding/buying classes, but for players unwilling to pay the cash shop for classes, the grind seems very reasonable.

I’ve slowed down a lot with Minecraft Feed-the-Beast. I feel like the tech game is mostly over, and now I’m thinking of shedding everything and heading in to the Twilight Forest. The highly anticipated Aether 2 mod seems like it might get released this weekend too. It is an amazing dimension mod in its own right, but the mod team added dungeon instances to the mod. Continue reading Thoughts Throughout a Rainy Week


The last half of April felt different. Something in the air had changed. Maybe it was that Spring was bringing hints of outside time and Summer. Things were different now.

Guild Wars 2 took a backseat to other games, of which were there many. I still have plenty of goals and playtime left in the game, but Guild Wars 2 became part of the rotation instead of owning it. This was ironic because my wife became full blown addicted to Guild Wars 2. Most of my time in Guild Wars 2 was spent with her or my guild doing focused activities like completing the dailies, doing guild missions, and helping Mrs. Ravious with a tricky skill point or vista. The weekend felt nice though since I completed Super Adventure Box and the monthly. I am prepared for tomorrow’s patch, but not frenetic. Continue reading Distillation

Minecraft, The Return

I am not sure how I got sucked back in to Minecraft. I think it was hearing somewhere along the lines about Mystcraft. Mystcraft is one of many fine mods where players can write in books to create ages, warp to those ages, and profit or die. One simple mod completely changes how the game is played.

I got seriously, seriously sucked in. Modding has come a long way since I really played Minecraft. The big pre-official mod API seems to be Minecraft Forge because it allows mods to be used on multiplayer servers quite well. I think everybody is hoping for an official mod API for Minecraft 1.6, but Mojang seems to be tight-lipped about when it could be ready. Either way having Forge raised the water level quite a bit, in my opinion because mods didn’t have to be coded differently to handle multiplayer.

The other thing that raised the water level (again, in my opinion) was Feed the Beast (FTB). Feed the Beast is one of the best modpacks just overflowing with toys. Modpacks are still tricky-ish to make because all the mods don’t necessarily talk nice to one another. FTB made sure a huge swath of excellent mods could talk to one another. This meant that Mystcraft could run with Buildcraft and automated mines could be created in the Age of Diamond Tendrils. Dark thaumaturgic rituals in Thaumcraft could modify how bees pollinate trees in Forestry. This was a whole new game, and I sometimes find it hard to go back to vanilla in lieu of FTB.

I felt like I was graduating from Basic Lego to Technic Pirate Ninjago City with Mindstorms attachment. Continue reading Minecraft, The Return

2012 Predictions

I will now get the highest score of any MMO pundit making predictions. Ready? “It will not go live in 2012.” Whatever we’re talking about, I’m predicting that it will slip into 2013, or later, or just never ship. The game, the expansion, whatever: not in 2012. I’m going to lose a few points, since something will ship in 2012, but I don’t see how anyone can beat my accuracy rate here.

: Zubon

Minecraft and Warcraft

I am out of town today, so let me refer you to Tesh’s post about playing online with his daughter, “How Minecraft Ruined World of Warcraft“:

She then asked if we could go catch fish in the canals, and when she made my Dwarf jump into the canal, she saw the crabs and naturally wanted to go grab them. Since we didn’t have the fishing skill or a quest to gather crabs, again, we couldn’t do much more than swim around and wish.

She lost interest in the town until she happened to notice an apple tree.

Ah, to see things come full circle. She got excited and wanted to pick the apples. She is truly her father’s daughter, a quirk which is quite heartwarming. When I told her she couldn’t pick the apples, she got quiet for a while. She then announced that she wanted to play Minecraft.

: Zubon


I had enough positive recommendations for Minecraft to buy it with little more research than “it is Lego on crack with zombies that try to eat you at night.” Digging has been surprisingly entertaining, although I was excessively distracted by marking my tunnel entrance with a landmark that became a sky-shattering obelisk.

I will soon be comfortable enough to go visit others. Do y’all recommend any servers, communities, etc.? I am unfamiliar with the customs of this corner of the online world, so I would hate to find my play considered defacement of someone’s world. (I am still debating emigrating from my home TF2 server.)

: Zubon