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irbrian

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  1. I'm specifically talking about games that run natively in a browser (NOT using a plug-in like Flash). Turn-based games make a lot of sense in such an environment, but with Ajax and javascript real-time games aren't entirely out of the question. Point is I'm referring specifically to games that work off of standard web technologies: XHTML, CSS, javascript, and a back-end server platform (PHP, JSP, ASP, whatever). Strategy, RPG, Adventure -- it doesn't matter, the point is, how would you break out of the cycle of repetitive/addicting gameplay and make a game that's actually interesting in it's own right? Edit: By the way, sunandshadow, I'm pleased to see you're still around after all these years! :)
  2. These days, everyone seems to be playing web games, like FarmVille or Mafia Wars. Games like Evony advertise with ridiculous images of scantily clad females beckoning you to come waste your life away trying to get to the highest level in a particular web kingdom. Of course, most of these games rely on the addiction factor. You play, because you just HAVE to get that next level, or keep from losing your current status, or whatever. I'm going to be involved in the development of a web-based RPG soon, and I'm sick and tired of the same old "get so many experience points to get to the next level" and "you can attack anyone within two levels of you depending on how many 'friends' they have" and so forth. Heck, most of these games don't even really involve any strategy... it's more luck than anything. When it comes to games, I love story, exploration, and adventure. I love good characters, suspense, mystery and intrigue. I love games like I love movies, only I love that I can jump in and BE part of the experience. Consider a modern staple of the RPG landscape: World of Warcraft. It's addicting, sure, and that's why anyone plays beyond the first few levels... mainly. There's also a real exploration and adventure dynamic, the chance to imagine yourself and your friends into actually being on a Great Quest for something or other. WoW is by no means the BEST example, but IMHO, it far outdoes the typical web game. So my question is, what are some ways we can incorporate the more intangible elements of great games into web-based play -- casual and otherwise?
  3. I have "wouldn't-it-be-cool-if" experiences all the time -- can't say I remember most of them, but I will say that a lot of times it happens while I'm doing something rather mundane, like I dunno, walking down the street or in a shopping mall, and I think "wouldn't-it-be-cool-if this were a game world, and I could do just about anything and the consequences didn't really matter?" Unlike the GTA fans in the bunch I'm not keen on wanton murder and such, I'm just talking about, say, exploring areas one normally doesn't have access to or experimenting with different devices I find to see what kind of effect they have on the world around me. Sometimes I have a dream and I think, "that would make a great game". Often I read a book or watch a movie, etc and think "that would make a great game". For me, Story tends to come after-the-fact. For me Setting is the foundation, and the story naturally follows. I think in terms of what kinds of settings would be interesting to explore, to experience, to *affect* by my own actions. Characters tend to evolve naturally based on the setting, and situations tend to evolve naturally based on the Characters and their Environment.
  4. In preparing to begin college as Spring semester 2007 approached, I toured ITT Tech's Salt Lake City campus, with their game design program being my chief interest. It turned out to be pretty heavily graphics-oriented (i.e. Animation, modeling). In the end I opted for a Computer Science program at a local university, primarily due to the cost difference. I've researched a lot of schools, though.. if you aren't too concerned about program cost, my highest recommendation would be Full Sail Institute in Winter Park, Florida. I was actually very interested in the Tempe, Arizona - based University of Advancing Technology (UAT) as well -- their program seems comparable to Full Sail's, and it seems a little more well-rounded (a strong benefit for any college program, in my opinion). But again, for me, cost was the main issue, and in either case I'd have had to leave my home state. I'd check them both out. http://www.fullsail.com http://www.uat.edu
  5. I like the syntax, and I've been impressed with Torque's features and pricetag. Whenever I get around to actually building a "real" game, I'll probably look into Torque..
  6. A suggestion to maybe make this a more exciting concept: consider how to use what you're talking about here, and make it "interesting" and unique -- give players a number of exciting "adventure" options, in terms of careers, etc. Even in fantasy games, most players don't, or aren't intended to, live the lives of "normal" people -- they are adventurers and heroes, living out extraordinary fantasies while the NPCs around them are the ordinary butchers, bakers, fletchers, blacksmiths, innkeepers, guards, etc. These serve a necessary purpose, and one which players enjoy participating in but only for short periods of time; they spend most of their time off killing great epic monsters, fighting epic battles, and leveling epic hordes of assorted mobs. Take this as a hint in your game: You need to give players something unique and special to do. Contrary to some others I think the idea has the potential to be very widely played, despite its emphasis on the "ordinary" or on realism -- look at the success of The Sims -- but you still need to consider, first and foremost, your audience's enjoyment.
  7. At first I didn't think much of the idea, but now I can see the appeal -- a world that actually changes with the affect that your character has upon it. Sure, there are some challenges to overcome, but I think its feasible. As I pondered on it, I began to consider some ways to make this possible. Here's how I envision the proposed concept working. Be warned, it gets a little complicated! Your game would contain -- but not be limited to* -- a number of specific areas containing certain events or plot chapters. When a player enters an area, there would be several quests available there to complete. There are three identical segments to each area -- a pre-quest, quest-active, and post-quest segment. A group of players goes to an area (call it 'A') before they're ready to take on the quests there. They enter the pre-quest segment of that area. [The players might be partied, or independent, or in multiple parties, it doesn't matter, it's a public segment.] Players in this area can explore, hunt, craft, interact with residents and other players. There is no need to restrict them from the area, so they feel free to roam the world. Quest scenarios are visible or expressed by residents, but only in general, "someday this could be a problem, and someday we'd like to fix it" terms. At a certain point their situation changes so that they are now imperceptibly transported to the quest-active segment of area A (which has just been reset after a previous group completed it -- to the current players, these are brand new problems). This segment is for players that are ready for the quests associated with the area and haven't completed the quests yet. When players come here they see real problems that need real solutions, really soon. "Help! My baby has been snatched by the Gnoll King!" or "Please help us wipe out all the goblins before they take over our town!" or what-have-you. When all of the quests there that must be completed in this area are completed, the players are essentially transported (again, without realizing or caring) to the post-quest segment of area 'A' -- where the changes affected will always remain so, the player supposedly having "made his mark" there. At this point the quest-active version of the area is reset for the next group. The post-quest area is a more-or-less happy, "Thank you for solving all our problems, why don't you stay for tea" scenario. Here again, as always, they can hunt, craft, and interact with other players who have also completed the quest. Meanwhile, the quest-active segment of the next area ('B') might be occupied by players completing a quest. So players in the post-quest segment of area 'A' only have access to the pre-quest segment of area 'B' -- until the quest-active segment of area 'B' is reset. Once players in the quest-active segment of area 'B' are switched to that area's post-quest segment, the quest-active segment is reset, and players in the post-quest area of area 'A' now have access to the quest-active segment in area 'B'. Suddenly the player who is waiting around in the post-quest segment of area 'A' discovers that the story in that segment has expanded, but it encourages them to move on to area 'B'. At the same time, players who have moved on to the pre-quest area of area 'B' experience a similar situation -- they are automatically transported to the quest-active segment of that area, and they see the very initial stages of the newly-reset quests for that area (i.e. the goblin horde rushing down from the mountains). Whew if you followed that, congratulations. Now how do we address the problem of different-level players interacting? Well remember, I *suggested that these "chapter" or "event" areas consist of only part of the game. There should still be general areas -- like cities, and open "low-impact quest" areas where players are only asked to do things that needn't have a major world-impact. "Bring me ten loaves of bread" or "go kill me a dire wolf" for instance.
  8. Just a note on all those comments about religion being the cause of war: Generally speaking, I don't believe that Christianity (nor most other religions) has caused war, or has been the root cause of a war. War has most often been initiated out of the same root cause: Pride -- selfish men wanting to gain power over others. Many times throughout history men have used Religion -- Christianity, Islam, whatever -- as an excuse to fight to gain power over another nation or people. The religion itself had little to do with it. There are rare exceptions, some of which we can read of in the Bible, where God commanded His people. But I don't believe the Crusades (the most commonly cited example), nor most other instances, fall under this category. Now there are many instances in which a religious (or other) group has fought to defend themselves, particularly (for this discussion) to defend their beliefs and their rights to worship as they desire. I don't think I'd consider that to be a cause of war, but rather a natural and justifiable response to oppression -- the oppression itself being the root cause of the war. Again, I don't consider religion to be the primary motivator in such cases.
  9. I'm a Christian and take my religion very seriously (though we can all stand to improve!). So, I think we're missing something crucial here. First, I think it's absolutely true that making religion a game mechanic trivializes it; I'm not really that excited about Eternal Forces, first for this reason, and more generally because I think the "game for the sake of religion" concept both trivializes Christianity, AND uses the pretense of game play as a mask. I think what we should be focusing on is how to help people FEEL what it is to be a Christian, and the joy and hope and peace that it brings. How do we do this? Definitely not through clever gameplay mechanics. It is virtually unheard of that gameplay mechanics have ever helped players to FEEL something. What is critical in that department is Story, Character Development, dialogue and character introspection, etc. I've been thumbing through the book "Creating Emotion in Games" by David Freeman, and while my purpose isn't to advocate a particular text (especially as I haven't spent much time with it yet), I do think those are the kinds of principles we need to apply to games in order to accomplish the objective. Oh, and what is the objective? We'd better be darn sure we understand that up front! In my case if I'm going to develop a "Christian" game, what I really mean is I have two objectives: To glorify God, and to invite others to Come unto Christ. There are many good examples in film and literature, but unfortunately I don't know of any in games as of yet. As far as I can think of right now, there are two different ways to approach this. 1) Use Symbolism -- a technique employed heavily not only by Lewis, but also by the Holy Prophets and Apostles -- and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. The idea is to use subtle, yet direct, representation to refer to sacred subjects. That way we're not in as much danger of treading on sacred things, and we don't necessarily have to be 100% precise (Lewis' Aslan wasn't necessarily a PERFECT representation of Christ, but we got the point). We can use some creative license to keep even a unique story cohesive. Also, symbolism has the added beauty of being multi-faceted; a single symbol or combination of symbols can refer to many different principles and aspects. 2) Just tell a story. Make it as real and direct as you like. But be serious about it. Don't put your character in a bogus situation; put him/her in a scenario that we can somehow relate to, even if it's hypothetical. Let the character tell his/her own story. Put him/her in a very difficult situation, perhaps one that tests his morals and his faith. Make it hard for the character, yet easy for the player, to follow the right path. Don't force the player to be the Disciple -- let the player help the character through the physical trials, while the character works out the emotio-spiritual aspects for him/herself as the player observes. Thus the player is free to be drawn into the character and empathize with him/her, without feeling forced into the role.