Thursday, November 27, 2008

I has a hunger

Let's be honest. For a long time now, I've been scraping by on other people's consoles, nibbling at new video games as a good-natured jackal might nibble bites of other kills, and have been happy doing so. I've sustained myself as such since, well, since Halo, I suppose, and fun times on the XBox back at Rhodes 2 in undergrad. There have been a smattering of purchases here and there, but for the most part I've been scavenging. It's been frugal living, and for a long time it's been quite an acceptable means for me to absorb enough gaming to keep myself going. However, things have been changing. I've grown hungry to own my own games again, and to feed off of my own consoles. With the recent wave of November releases, I become restless and jealous every time I read a twitter or a status update about some such game that some such person has been enjoying. It makes me twitchy and antsy and fuels a desperate hunger to play and learn and consume and shove games into my brain as I do so often with books. Can I hold out against this craving? Should I? I haven't felt this way, really, since back when I purchased my Playstation 1 in high school, which is pretty much when I began sustaining my gaming crave with my own money. It began in a similar way...I remember scraping by on the consoles of friends, playing what I could on visits, and slowly growing hungrier. Then Spyro the Dragon came and I was like "okay, that's it," and I happily devoted the meager income of a high school student to support my gaming hobby in full with a fresh new console. I suppose, if I'm going to be a game designer, I could write off the investment cost as research and not worry about it. Still, it's so much money! Even if I became a devoted GameFly user, I still have to get the consoles and a TV to play them on. I think the best happy medium would be to take advantage of the ETC library and lounge in the time I have left, but students on co-op can't borrow games from the library, so I'd have to have someone else get them for me. It is not quite the same, I know, but it might help sate my appetite for a bit longer. We shall see!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Poll

Internets, I need your help! I require input for decision-making. Do I... 1) Go to Gamestop tonight to pick up my pre-ordered copy of WotLK and see all the fun costumed people and bask in the camaraderie of nerd-ism and have fun and a party. or 2) Go to freakin bed and pick up WotLK tomorrow because I'm tired as hell and I won't install it tonight anyway. Discuss! Edit: After handing over my decision to the coin of fate, I went along. It was quite well organized and they gave us free pizza! No one dressed up in crazy costumes though. I still haven't installed it, as I went to bed immediately upon my return.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Why Highlander the MMO will be AWESOME

So here's another thought tangent that came out of Horseshoe, even though it was not directly connected to a workgroup. Back in Bandology, we often joked about how we were going to make Highlander the MMO, and how it was going to be AWESOME. It was entirely a joke, as the "there can be only one" nature of Highlander doesn't really mesh with the concept of a massively multiplayer game. OR DOES IT? Yes, Highlander the MMO would be a fun game, and this is how... It would involve a couple pieces of trickery: 1) The game would reset frequently, and the run of the game (essentially, the race to become the only one left) would be short. I'm thinkin, like, a week. Not only this, but the time frames would be staggered. Thus, you could easily join again when it's at the beginning of its run, somewhere in the middle, or towards the end. It wouldn't always begin on Monday and reset on Sunday, the shards would be staggered. If the players got down to the One before the end of the week, it would reset early and be swapped out with another shard that was scheduled to start at the new time. If the run reaches the end of the week before only One is left, the world ends. There are no leaderboards or second or third place or whatever. ONLY ONE. 2) We would plug the game onto another existing MMO. The Highlander players could move about the world and interact with the other players, but their game objectives would be separate. The purpose of this parasite model would be such that the Highlander players could exist in an active, populated world where the normal citizens had different objectives than their own. That would solve the problem of the ONLY inhabitants of the world being immortals, which would kind of kill the luster of the role. Plus, this would make it feel like it'd make sense for the world to be as big as it needs to be for all the immortals to go hunt each other down. Jesse says I should make it a Second Life mod. Those are the tricks, next comes hashing out how the gameplay would work. What happens when you behead another character? Do you absorb all of that person's powers? If so, we'd have to think of a way to make it possible for a "new" player could behead someone who'd been playing for a couple of days. PLUS, we'd have to make that feel fair to the "older" player. It would need a great many more verbs than "behead." Then you'd have to figure out combat or whatever. Anyway, I'm intrigued, and maybe I'll try and come up with something. I'd want to see if I could find a way to playtest those big ideas first. Is the parasite model even possible?? Highlander the MMO, here we come!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Poker Game

First off, Project Horseshoe was an AMAZING and insightful experience and I'm so glad I came. But I'll write about all that later. First, a story....

When I came to Project Horseshoe, I was delighted to find that James Ernest (creator of Tuesday Night Basketball favorite, Give Me the Brain) was also an attendee. He'd visited the ETC recently and seemed like a cool guy, and when a student at the ETC seminar had posed the question "What is your favorite card game?" he answered "Poker" without hesitation. When talk of the game came up the first night of Horseshoe, I lamented that I was terrible at Poker, because I can never remember what beats what and I have a horrible Poker face. James' eyes went alight, and he exclaimed that this was a perfect Poker combination and that I would probably do quite well at the game.

Needless to say, I was dragged into the first night's game of Texas Hold'em, which was not for money since it was a training game for me. The other players included a smattering of designers who were, more or less, serious Poker players, but they were happy to help me learn the ways of the trade. With James on one side of me and Scott Brodie on the other, they coached me along as I bumbled through the rounds. The whole table was apparently trying desperately to let me win (so that I would be fond of the game and want to play again), but it was a trying effort on their part.

After the game, James continued to coach me by dealing out hands and having me analyze the cards and figure out which hand would win and asking me mysterious questions with Poker lingo that I didn't quite get. The subsequent days, the other players assured me that once I learned the game, I could play professionally and pay off my student loans. I was mystified by this show of faith, and observed games and tried very hard to learn.

By the last night, I felt like I still couldn't remember what beat what and still had a horrible Poker face.

Still, I sat down to observe their tournament (not daring to join, not when money was on the table). I watched closely to try and guess what cards would make a winning hand, and trying to figure out why whoever won a hand won. As the night waned on, Victor Jimenez grew very sleepy, and kept making ridiculous bets hoping to go out so he could go to bed. Unfortunately, he kept winning the hands.

I joked that I would happily sit in for him and would quickly lose all his chips, and after a pause, he agreed. I bumbled and back-tracked but he insisted I join, and the other players were fine with the swap, so I nervously took his place at the table, not too thrilled about losing another person's money.

I played as best I could, always checking regardless of my hand because raising involved math and I didn't want to fool with it (math is hard!). I folded more often than not, nervous since it was a real game, but I was brave enough to play a few meager hands.

The game finally came down to 4 people (the payoff was going to be for the first three places, so just one more person had to go out for the game to end). At one hand, James put everything in, one person called, I was next. I looked at my hand.I had a 6 of hearts and 7 of diamonds. On the table were 3 other diamonds, one of which was an ace, and some hearts or something. "Let's see, I have a diamond," I thought, "and there are some diamonds on the table, maybe the next flop will be a diamond! Who knows!"I called. I learned later that this was a very poor decision, especially when someone was going all in with an Ace on the table. But, I was merely excited that I remembered that flushes existed! (I always forget about the flush, and I always forget whether it beats a straight or not) So, I was proud to show that I had learned something and was acting on it. The last person folded for an easy guaranteed 2nd or 3rd place.

The last flop was a diamond and we showed our cards. After a moment of stunned silence, it became clear that I won the pot, thus winning the entire game. Something about a "flush on the river." James lost altogether and I won first place, and there was a riot of laughter and disbelief, while I looked around hesitantly and said "Did...did I win? Was that a good decision?"

Dustin Clingman informed me that no, it had been a terrible decision, but I had been damned lucky (he said this with a grin, having won second place). James was silent, and I think his eye twitched once or twice. Everyone else was laughing.

I trotted over to find Victor with the winnings, and he guffawed in disbelief, running back to the table to heckle the others that I'd actually won. He took his initial buy-in and then let me keep the winnings, which I was embarrassed about but thankful.

James told me that I had to use the winnings to buy a book about Poker so I could continue my training, and I agreed (though I'll likely spend it on food, don't tell). In spite of my having beat him out of the winnings, we are still friends.

So, shall I start my trade on the professional Poker circuit, using the winnings to pay off my student loans?? Probably not. I still can't remember what beats what and I still have a horrible Poker face (though confusion is apparently as good as any bluff).

Monday, November 3, 2008

Things are good

I am in a startlingly good mood today, and I am unsure of exactly why.

Part of it, I think, is that I am so excited about going to Project Horseshoe this weekend that I can barely stay in my seat nor stay focused on any one thing for too long of a time. I have a feeling that it will be something like a Game Design retreat, and I am oh-so-excited to see Insomniac Drew again. I was also delighted to see that James Ernest and Nick Fortungo will be attending, both of whom recently visited the ETC. Plus, I'll hopefully get to visit with Bryan Cash while in Austin!

My good mood could also be attributed to the fact that Resistance 2 is coming out, and though it probably marks me as an excitable young whelp in the industry, the launch of my first credited title does have me dancing and skipping and giggling in anticipation. First steps!

It could ALSO be attributed that my WoW friends have finally managed to do a full all-guild Karazhan run (with the addition of one helper), and will hopefully do another one this week. Granted, this was enabled partly from the nerfage, but it fills me with joy and love to be able to play the big instances with friends. I think I've given up on the notion that I am a casual WoW player, and will move it over into the "hobby" category. It is just such a fantastic means for me to nurture my friendships with those people I love who are far away from me!

Perhaps it is the weather. Who can say!