Monday, March 22, 2010

and we're already too late if we arrive at all

Richard Aihoshi is usually fairly cogent, but this week's column wanders around the edges of conventional game wisdom a bit. Still, it serves to remind me how Runes of Magic launched from beta to a live game. The level 50 cap was conveniently--and conventionally--in place, but that wasn't what bothered us. What bothered us, especially those of us who'd fought hard to level up before the launch, was the spell level cap, which was 30.

Players could get all the way up to level 50, sure. They could even level up with armor along the way. But their spells stopped advancing at level 30. And the bag of loot that is, some say over-traditionally, handed out by a random NPC upon reaching the next five-level mark, stopped at 35.

For months we knew that we'd hit 35 and that would be it, no more toys in a bag. Then it was raised to forty--after half the game was at level 30 or higher. There was rejoicing, but it was muted, because we knew we'd hit the wall, and fast.

Then the elves came along, and we saw the same wall--new characters we created could only level to 20, before hitting level and spell caps. I understand, designers need time to work out the details, but really and truly--I'd rather delay on getting the cool new classes until everything's in place. Maybe it's just me, but having a chance at something cool, then sitting around and grinding for points and stuff even though I can't advance past a certain point? Not as fun as it sounds.

And to me, it doesn't sound fun.

Welcome to the Mechanical Kingdom? Apparently there are plans for steampunk Disney product tie-ins. The first two, a mad scientist and Victorian diver are either soon to be released, or already are. And apparently more is planned.

Justin Webb covers CuddleCon and really makes me long for a time machine, $40 and a Buffy convention...Oh, Mr. Marsters? Yes, right over here. Thankseverso.

MMORPG also is excited about a cloth and hair movement simulation video making the rounds, but not for the reason you might think. They're pondering if the character seen in the teaser is a hint of a World of Darkness MMO coming soon.

I have to give it to them, I see it too. Starting out with the blonde Toreador, and ending with that amazing stair sequence that makes me embrace the future of virtual graphics. Her heels actually kicked the skirt up instead of clipping through them! And she took each step, instead of walking up an invisible ramp! Things are looking good.

Finally, this is why I love A Softer World:

If it sparkles, we can kill it.

YES. Damn straight. (Also available slightly bigger by clicking the Softer World link, where you can also buy book collections of their work and prints of your favorite panels--like this one--or just click the strip for the larger version I'm hosting. But really, you want to go read them.

(Or maybe not--their concepts have been known to ever so slightly mangle brain cells. Hey, you don't need all those brain cells anyway. Besides, they might recover.)


Sphynx Soleil said...

That demo video is awesome - pair that up with some of the mo-cap animations like we see in SL, and that would seriously kick ass. The animations in the demo are bugging me because I can see they're not realistic. I guess I'm getting picky in my old age? :)

Emilly Orr said...

No, I don't think that's it, but I do think that's interesting--combination of being technologically interested, and living in Second Life, we're both picking out what works and what doesn't.

The stairway trick WORKS. But the fidgeting, it's too close a set of repetitions. Her walk away from the staircase is grand, but there was a move the lady in red had, walking, that looked odd.

Sometimes, I choose my AO poses because they are seamless, natural things; sometimes I choose them because they are oddly stilted. (Well, that, and you pay more for motion-capture work, to be fair.) But I still run into people on the grid who never seem to breathe, IF they bother with animations beyond the basic duck-walk to begin with. I always wonder--if I didn't customize, if I didn't have an AO so my brain gave more weight and a sense of reality to my attached would I be to the game?

The closer to reality, the more commitment, I think. Up to the edge of the uncanny valley, where too much sense of realism, and not enough subconscious cues that we are, somehow, looking at another real being, will throw us out and send us running away. Up until that point, though, more natural, 'real' movements, only helps.

Magdalena Kamenev said...

I find it strange that the author of the Cuddle Con post never compares or contrasts that with the outright slavering that goes on between male congoers and "booth babes" ... not to mention the actresses who cross the sci-fi/horror/soft-pr0n boundaries (and whose signing lines can take up a convention center aisle).

I admit getting my fangirl squee on but last celebrity that kissed my typist did it spontaneously, bless his twisted, lovely, freakish heart (I LOVE YOU, JOE FRANK!).

Emilly Orr said...

To my practical mind, this makes sense--for most male congoers, 'booth babes' are pretty much decorations with boobs: they're visual niceties, but dismissable.

I am curious as to why he didn't investigate female sf/fantasy actresses and their male fans, as much as he emphasized female fans' interactions.

Maybe it's like the strip club phenomenon--men who watch strippers are very well behaved, because most strip clubs come with rules. Conversely, the doors close on a male strip revue, and the women watching have kissed, licked, bitten, scratched and bruised the male dancers.

Women are more rapacious with the objects of their adoration?

Magdalena Kamenev said...

Women are more rapacious with the objects of their adoration?

Interesting you frame it that way ... the first thing that jumped to mind were "Maenads." Then again, it IS my frame of mind, as I've been teasing out recently that I'm much less excited about being able to go to Wonder Con this year because it falls on Easter weekend. From what I've been able to tease out of my confused noggin, it's not that I devote the entire weekend to figurative breast-beating and lamentations and prayers (though perhaps I should). But cons are probably wear I get to indulge my id the most -- my milieu of "Dionysian excess", and that sort of indulgence does seem to mix well contemplations of sacrifice and redemption.

Then again, sometimes, I'm just odd ...

Emilly Orr said...

Which is amusing, because my perspective--being, you know, not Christian--is that Easter is the fervid, fervent time. Spring has sprung, and now every living thing is sending out tendrils, blossoms, buds, uncurling fronds...seeking attention and light and unfolding growth.

Doesn't help, I suppose, that occasionally I have picked up a chocolate cross just to giggle when I bite the head off. :D

Sphynx Soleil said...

*snerk* Same reason we like getting Chocolate Santas...and Easter bunnies...and a few other things. Biting the heads off things can be downright FUN!

And yes, we all know I have strange ideas of fun... *grins*

Emilly Orr said...

I guess I do too, then.

NOM nom nom...