“It’s Just A Game”, Sandbox Constriction, and more

It’s been a busy couple of days for the blogosphere! As a result, we’re going to break with our normal sequence of events today, and start with a few great posts from the last day or so that you might have missed!

  • Adam at The Noisy Rogue points to a great comment from the Pathfinder developers, explaining that just because you’re playing a sandbox game, there’s no reason you’ll be able to play whatever you want“You can’t play your character “any way you want”. You have to play a character that is constrained by the internal logic of the game world.”
  • Lewis at Stynlan’s Musings comes up with a particularly powerful comparison point against the old “it’s just a game” argument“I am also fairly willing to bet that many EVE players who are part of the Alliance Tournament teams – not all to be sure, but many – probably spend a not dis-similar number of hours practicing their craft as any professional sportsman or woman.”
  • Spinks at Spinksville writes a fascinating discussion of the ways in which we learn whilst playing MMORPGs“Learning in groups. You join a group, watch what they do and copy it. This is also known as social learning. Now, human beings will tend to learn all sorts of things in groups as well as boss strategies, such as how to behave towards other players.”
  • And Klepsacovic of Troll Racials Are Overpowered leaps into the “realism” argument, pointing out that most of the time, arguments about “realism” are actually discussing plausibility instead“Given the fantasy setting, fire may simply have different rules, so that it can be easily dissipated or the armor itself may have a very high specific heat, meaning that it takes a great deal of energy to raise the temperature of it. There are many possible reasons.”

Got a second? If you could tell us what you think of the Melting Pot we’d be much obliged!

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Should your Legendary Staff get Epic Woodworm?

Realism. It’s a thorny issue in games these days. From motion-based interfaces that feel like they’re killing you to uber-realistic shooters where you might as well set up a sleeping bag behind your cover de jour, to MMOs running all the way from WoW to A Tale In The Desert, how real is fun, and how fun is real?

Today Eric at Elder Game is writing about one such issue – decay. Stuff breaking, wearing out, falling apart. It sucks when your iPod mysteriously refuses to work – should that happen to your [Epic Sword of Epeen] too?

Well, yes, no and maybe. It turns out that item decay is a really complex issue:

I don’t know about you, but when I get a “Potion of Being Amazing For 3 Minutes”, I hoard that sucker forever. In most games, I won’t even use it to save myself from dying, because the death penalty is less painful than losing the item! … But this isn’t a big deal — who cares if people hoard their one-use quest rewards? I don’t. It gets to be a bigger deal when all items in your game can decay. Suddenly you never want to use any high-quality item ever!

It’s a rare opportunity to read something like Eric’s musings on Gorgon, his new MMO – a real insight into the complex decisions developers make. (It also helps that I love the sound of Gorgon so far – something a bit more grounded, a bit more simulationist, than WoW, but still fun). And like all his posts, this one’s detailed, lengthy, and easy for even non-developers to understand.

Do you WANT the realism of having to maintain and replace items? Or do you want your Legendary Sword to last forever?

_Quote taken directly from Eric’s post.

Find Elder Game’s homepage at http://www.eldergame.com/_

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