Monday, 27 February 2017

Geeky expressions only my friends understand (and now you will, too)

For most these will just be some random words, 
but members of Asylum will recognize them immediately

The latest 5 Fandom Friday was about "geeky expressions that only my friends understand". I suggested the topic myself, so I definitely wanted to participate, even if the flu kept me from writing anything on the appropriate day (last Friday). 

I don't really talk "geeky" in everyday life, but when I'm at my gaming laptop, I definitely do. Not only am I fluent in "MMO language" (read: Lost in translation: Why my friends don't understand me when I talk about MMOs), I also use specific phrases that don't make a lot of sense to anyone (not even other MMO players) but my friends. 

Monday, 20 February 2017

The power of memories: a quest for the essence of MMOs

 Last week, I was chatting to my friend Rakuno. He was reminiscing why he was going through this "long, weird streak of burning out on MMOs": "after playing MMOs for a while it kind of feels like the road is the same no matter the game", he said. And he has a point. Other than artistic, visual differences and varying lore settings, all MMOs boil down to the same formula: gather experience (level up), gather gear, gather currency... maybe fight some challenging bosses, craft stuff, dress up or decorate your house. There is no definite end goal, no satisfying "You WIN!" button at the end; in fact, there is no end, there are seemingly always more things to do. Indeed, MMOs would be shitty, grindy RPGs, if not for that single defining element: the other people with whom you share this virtual world.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Drawing diary: January

After finally having finished my new year's card design I didn't have to think about what my next drawing project would be, because Kay of My Open Sketchbook had it all covered. Kay namely came up with a 30 Day botanical drawing challenge, and because I love plants, the decision to participate was easily made.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Artificial versus designed difficulty: a critique on SWTOR's master mode story design

I'm usually not your typical "armchair game designer", as some bloggers jokingly call themselves: I like (or don't like) games as they are and don't have any pretensions of coming up with an original design of my own. However, a discussion I had the other day with Conrad about the newly released master mode (in addition to the available story and veteran mode) for the Knights of the Fallen Empire and Knights of the Eternal Throne story in Star Wars: the Old Republic made me think about difficulty design in MMOs.

If you've been listening to Corellian Run Radio last Saturday (and if you're a SWTOR player who is interested in the latest content, I totally recommend the show), you have already heard some critique on the way the difficulty of story chapters is increased between veteran and master mode.* Let me be clear: I'm not saying that master mode is too difficult; what I'm saying is that it's a shame the difficulty is not increased by adding new mechanics, but by simply increasing stats. In other words: by increasing the artificial difficulty.

I didn't have much time to explore this game design term much in CRR's podcast episode, so I am taking the opportunity to do so here, as well as sharing some ideas to improve the experience of master mode chapters. I will try to do so in a way that makes this article relevant for MMO gamers that don't play SWTOR as well, but feel free to ask me anything in the comment section if things aren't clear. Disclaimer: the amount of nerd is strong with this one, so I won't blame you if you happen to fall asleep halfway (though I appreciate it if you wouldn't snore in the comment section).

Friday, 3 February 2017

My to be read pile

This week's Five Fandom Friday topic is - once more - not about gaming: it is about reading. I used to fill my hours reading anything I could get my hands on as a child. At school, we had weekly tasks, and each week I finished them as fast as I could, so I could spend half of Thursday and the whole of Friday reading. Unfortunately, it doesn't work like that at university and since I now need to read so much professionally, I don't feel like reading for fun so much anymore. And now there is gaming, too, to distract me. 

Fandom Friday seemed like a good opportunity to look at what books I have laying around that I want to read this year. Turns out it's a very diverse company! I love reading in my native language (Dutch) as well, but somehow I don't have any Dutch books waiting for me at the moment.