December 2005

It’s gone, Jim.

Well, it looks like about a year’s worth or so of randomly aimless mutterings and silly links has been lost to the Intarweb mist.

Ah well, maybe this’ll motivate me to write more and fill in the void!

(Edit: After reading Caya’s post I quickly snarfed up some posts from Google and’s archives. They’re not complete – had nothing after March 05, and Google started to break down somewhere around September, but it beats big empty space! I only grabbed the things *I* thought were important. Sorry if this means my collection of silly links and tales of fetish models that used to be board moderators are lost to the ages.)

Never before has this blog’s title been so apt.

Some New Year’s Resolutions I’n currently considering:

1) When presented with a shiny new blog upgrade? Don’t.
2) When upgrading said shiny new blog? Don’t try to do it over a laggy web connection.
3) When upgrading said shiny new blog over a laggy web connection? Don’t try to be clever and batch up SQL commands when restoring data from a backup.
4) When doing all of the above? Don’t, in a sleepy fit at 4:00 AM, hit the Submit button twice when doing a “DROP TABLE X; ALTER TABLE Y RENAME TO X;”

I guess if I’m going to lose a few month’s work to slippery fingers and net lag, better it not be something someone else is paying for!

(goes off to check and see if Dreamhost does SQL backups…)

Dude, play your own game.

Darniaq, whom I really should have added to my link list long ago, has a cry of pain up about developers not playing\’e2\’80\’a6 not only their own games, but any game.

Richard Bartle, in his book stated much the same thing, only in his own experience. Having spent most of his time working on MUDS, MMOs and their associated theory, he finds the joy of actually playing them to be jarred by a cognitive dissonance. It\’e2\’80\’99s too easy to take the game apart while playing it to enjoy it.

Meanwhile, I\’e2\’80\’99m not finding this to be true. I still enjoy MMOs. Heck, although I\’e2\’80\’99m taking a brief break from it right now (first for CoV, then to possibly get a WoW character to the point where my wife and I can be on the same continent), I\’e2\’80\’99ve played the one I work on since its beta. Even after working 8 hours or more that day on the game systems code, I\’e2\’80\’99m still as incompetent at playing it that night as anyone else!

I suspect the reason for this is illustrative. I play MMOs to be social, even in a solitary environment; although I prefer being in a guild and having witty banter (or the appearance thereof) scroll combat messages off screen, I can derive just as much enjoyment from throwing random interjections into general spam chat.

See, at their heart MMOs are really just large overgrown poker games. Sure, some people really know how to play poker and spend hours discussing arcane strategies on their blogs or whatever. But that\’e2\’80\’99s not why people play poker. People play poker because people enjoy social activities. And MMOs are currently the most social multiplayer games out there. It\’e2\’80\’99s what they do best.

The arcana that we get so worked up about? It\’e2\’80\’99s marginalia. We really do play these games to dance. Speaking as someone whose career now involves fixing the marginalia, actually following this line of logic to its conclusion is somewhat humbling. What I do isn\’e2\’80\’99t really that important, unless it somehow works to dissolve those social bonds. The first rule of MMO live teams should be that of medicine: First, do no harm.

And if you look at people who are furious at MMO Screwup X, I\’e2\’80\’99d wager a bet that it comes down to, when reduced to its components, \’e2\’80\’9cthe game is keeping me from being with my friends\’e2\’80\’9d. In most current combat-oriented games, this comes down to a reduction in effectiveness. I\’e2\’80\’99m less effective, so I\’e2\’80\’99m less likely to be asked along in raids, or I\’e2\’80\’99m an imposition on my friends when they do, or I\’e2\’80\’99m less likely to make new ones, or I contribute less to the group/tribe/whatever.

Ignore this lesson at your peril.

The new phone books are here! The new phone books are here!

Or rather, MY new book. It\’e2\’80\’99s sitting on my desk right now. I\’e2\’80\’99m pretty sure I\’e2\’80\’99m the first person in Fairfax to get it, because I stopped by Barnes and Noble on the way home and asked them if it had come out yet.

\’e2\’80\’9cAh, it arrived today. It\’e2\’80\’99s still in the back. Hold on.\’e2\’80\’9d

So I got to watch it literally hit the shelves. Now how cool is that!

According to Amazon it\’e2\’80\’99s arrived late enough that you won\’e2\’80\’99t get it in time if you wanted to give it as a gag Christmas gift for the MMO player in your life, and as I keep saying, it\’e2\’80\’99s aimed more at the person confused by the whole MMO concept anyway. (Edit: well. now Amazon is saying they\’e2\’80\’99re shipping it now. Wacky.) If you\’e2\’80\’99re reading this site, you probably know how to control aggro in a group already, I\’e2\’80\’99d bet. If you\’e2\’80\’99re curious, the publisher has a few bits of it, including the first chapter, available online here. I got a surreal kick out of the index, myself.