Tag Archives: Richard Garriott

Networking for game makers

It seems weird, it even might appear dorky. Yet the setting is not to be underestimated. Now I have the advantage of age, so I was there when the very first games were new. One such moment in time was Dungeon Keeper (the very first one). 

Peter Molyneux had both a slam dunk and a home run all at the same time, the world went nuts for the game and those who did still remember the game up to this day. So it was disappointing when EA trashed it in their own shortsighted ways. Now, I am not about to ‘reinvent’ the dungeon keeper game. It has been done and the original is the best. But the setting that we had where certain rooms call for certain characters, that idea has merit, it still has. Consider the Warhammer 40000 game called Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr. They had the right approach, it is for all intent and purposes a new for of Diablo. It has its appeal, it has a few issues, but for the most it is an appealing game with a decent storyline. Now what would happen when we come across one of those giant cathedral ships? We dock and we get into the works. Now, I am very much against a game that is too alike. But the idea of being able to activate rooms, that will call for certain characters to join you has its appeal and the larger station is not getting it all up and running, but to fix things certain order must be found. So at times you will have the high need for engineers, but the next you need electricians, and the number or engineers get in the way. There are all kinds of settings we can go, for example an electrician will not appear unless there is at least one engineer, and so on. There is a stage where we need to set out what we need, what we can get and as the ship gets to be more and more fixed wealth and parts are yours, so you can upgrade your ship which will bring its own rewards and abilities. And as we map out the cathedral ship we will be able to find more, discover more and face more challenges and dangers. The nice part is that this game would have a small ship for the tutorial, get the introduction to other characters, but the larger foundation is that on a streamer, you can always add ships over time. A mere thought that took less than an hour. Yet do not despair, it will not be that easy and the art people will need to bring their A game to make it a true original. But I feel relieved, the idea that Peter Molyneux had will live on, it will entice more people and I feel that it is important to give credit (Like the Behemoth DSS Molyneux). There is a need for gamers to network, to exchange ideas and to keep the gaming community entertained. I played another Lego Star Wars, this one (the new game) is pretty fun, it has a lot of new parts in the game. It is a larger and true better game. It is a game that brings all the boys to the console (girls too). Perhaps in 10 years someone will come up with a new way to let Lego Games shine again. I do hope so because gaming for the mere fun does not happen enough. You see, I remember seeing the very first one 17 years ago. My first thought was “Cool, a game for kids” and I played in the store and it was fun to play. That was until someone from the shop tapped me on the shoulders asking if the other ‘kids’ could have a go. I looked puzzled, but then I realised I had been playing non stop for well over half an hour, I bought the game the next day. It was around easter 2005. Now 17 years later the game still entertains and that is a tough call. So even if we do not know how long this goes on, I do hope that someone in 2035 sees that game and gives it another spin. The old games can bring more joy than anyone remember, and when you see someone go on “Oh, that is so old. Why?” Stomp him (hard) and consider that some of these games only had 38Kb to work with, now we can do more but in gaming (with a f=ew exceptions) we achieve less. Why is that? A cool game does not guarantee a good game. A good game needs a decent story, it needs decent graphics (for its time) and it needs some level of challenge, yet we need to remember that no challenge is a challenge in itself. There is a reason I made the claim that I made yesterday (look it up if you are curious). Game makers are too often looking in the wrong direction, some for valid reasons, but the new ones are all following the wrong people. There is a reason I have what I have and I keep it cleverly locked away on a system nowhere near me, and for now the number of those interested would be increasing from 2 to 4. So what happens when someone figures out what I found out? Networking gets you there (well I personally hope not before I sold my IP) but networking in game makers has become too much like ‘Look how cool we are’ and not enough of discussing good ideas. The ECTS (London 90’s) was great. Talking to Richard Garriott and Peter Molyneux. They ACTUALLY shared good ideas, that time is now mostly gone, but it also means that the quality of gaming is harder to maintain. Until the end of the year we have Gods of War:Ragnarok, Gotham Knights and Hogwarts Legacy to look forward to. And after Horizon:Forbidden west that is slim pickings. Now there are more good games, not that many great games and that is a shame. Consider that HFW scored 4.6/5 at Amazon 9/10 at IGN and 5/5 at JB HiFi. Valhalla (Assassins Creed) scored a mere 8/10 at IGN and one critic gave it a mere 65%. One thing that stood out was “It’s a lot buggier than it should be but also impressive on multiple levels.” That is a multimillion project by a firm that is (overvalued) at multibillions and has a little over 20,000 people. They could not get close to a Dutch firm with only 360 people and they have nowhere near the resources Ubisoft had. That is the state of gaming and it is not getting better, but there is hope. The streamers could open more doors and make more gaming an option. And there is also the new player (Tencent) coming soon, so the streamers need to upgrade their gameplay by a fair bit. I still think that Amazon could take the larger lead with its Luna, but I reckon that they will lose ground if they go the way they presently (as fr as I can tell). They need their own games, they need to accept different settings and they might just pull ahead, I put enough gaming IP on my blog site for them to get active on, one I did today (see the beginning of this story). Whatever they do, they have less than 2 years. After that Tencent will be in play and it will not play nice. I wonder how US Congress reacts when Tencent gets over 4% of the US market, ban it like Huawei? We will see, there is time to watch it happen.

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The new IP, the old stage

Yes, that is the station I found myself in this morning. It was not completely new to me, I did write about it in the past (too tired to find the exact article as I have written in excess of 2250 articles at present), but the stage is a little different now. Consider war (see the TV for specifics), we know it and it is now closer to many homes than it was months ago. But we nearly always played an EA or Ubisoft version with respawning NPC soldiers. What if the setting is staged finite and no spawning all over the place? What if the stage is London, Munich, Amsterdam or Paris? A stage where you get inserted into a random location and your war-zone is a 10 block radius from there. Google Maps has nearly every detail, so do other mapping solutions. And you could be defending, escorting local civilians and giving aid. You get no choice until you get to a certain rank. How long would YOU last? It is time to teach the gaming soldiers a little realism. And when you face that you think different on Call of Duty Beachhead with high realism. That is nothing! I think some people are catching on what it is like, somehow they take more notice on events in the Ukraine than they ever did in Yemen or Syria. I like games that have NEVER be done before. A lot of my IP is set to stages never done before and that is where we optionally see a side of gaming that is totally new and innovative. Others were there before you with other games (several examples in this year alone) and I believe that this is the way to go, whether it is a console or streaming system, innovation beats iteration EVERY. Time. 

And as these systems are more powerful, we get a setting where we can launch a game like that (or kart) in our own streets, redefining gaming realism acceptance on a few levels. I remember seeing Red Dawn, the Chris Hemsworth edition (I saw both editions) and when we see one of the kids state “We are living Call of duty and it sucks”, I heard someone giggle behind me stating that this would be cool. Yes, the response of a wannabe soldier. I however was in the Middle East, I saw what Hamas did, I saw the bodies. That wakes you up real fast and perhaps a game is not the worst setting to educate people. It has been done before and perhaps it is time to unite these elements. I don’t know, is it wisdom or folly to go that way? I honestly do not. On one side I am merely creating new IP, but I want something deeper in gaming IP, and amazing story (Horizons Forbidden West) is one way to go, when it goes to stories the game Portal (by Rob Swigart) is another direction and that can be equally fulfilling. Still there is a call, not one of duty, but one of fulfilment. We all have it, we want to plant our flag, set our footprint and leave some kind of legacy. When you are a dedicated gamer, we all want to be a Sid Meier, a Peter Molyneux or a Richard Garriott. Not everyone are driven to release mutant camels and that is fair, but where we will be going (streaming systems) and what is possible is almost at the touch and I personally think it is important to push Microsoft out of this market before there way remains the only gaming-less option.  The problem is that it would have been easier if Google had taken up some form of game creation department and with the fact that gaming revenue is predicted to be $138,000,000,000 by 2023 is something that seems overwhelmingly attractive, but that is me and for now my idea to sell 50,000,000+ systems remain under lock and key (on a cloud location far far from home). But it is merely one direction and there are plenty of other directions, the revenue speculation opens those doors and even as a large chunk is set to microtransactions, the people are seemingly fed up with the EA and Ubisoft stage of microtransactions. I also gave a few other options (go look for them) and they are largely set to streaming systems. So is there an upside to THIS IP I now mentioned? No, it is merely another road one could wander, and it is here because I cannot wander them all and I am handing my ideas for free use to Amazon and Sony developers. It is a choice I made as Google decided not to create games. The old stage is seemingly fading, or at least I think it is fading, and what is around the corner is almost within reach and it will be bright and exciting, that is what I think, you might think different and rely on great franchises (like Gran Turismo) to set your beaker of desire. That is fair, gaming is what YOU want it to be, I merely want there to be alternatives for you to consider trying.

That’s how I roll.

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The gaming mandate

We all seem to know what is best for all, we talk about policies, protocols and even mandates. Yet are they valid? I looked at a game based in the Walking dead on iOS, I looked at it for 5 minutes, saw how it played and deleted it. In my view it was not a game. It looked awesome, the graphics were amazing, but the game play is set to short term events that will get increasingly harder, not challenging, merely harder, and soon there after too hard. The game draws you in and after that it will be about pay to play through microtransactions. Their actions are not invalid, they are not illegal. I merely see it as this being no longer a game, but a mere cash cow. The problem is that these games also attract people who do not really know what gaming is, or sometimes even what games are. That is a shame.

You see, I am not trying to set out some mandate, but there is the joy of gaming and that needs to be protected. As I saw this game of short term bursts of gaming, the idea of gaming tends to be larger, should be larger and often on non-micro-transaction foundations will be more joy. So I started to think, what if the premise of that game is altered?

A different stage of play, a much larger map, even at the same foundation, consider what you know of the Walking dead and now have a Dungeon keeper approach. A map that is set, but in that map we can create a small protected place, we can place a garden (hatchery) that offers sustenance and calls a type of player, we sleeping quarters (lair) that does the same, but lets people rest. And we can see how we can add a workshop, a gym, a guard post and so on. As the game goes from level to level the players gets attacked, walker after walker with a wave or two and  the player can figure out hat to build where, how to get resources and so on, a stage NOT build on micro transactions, but a game build for joy and the consoles are doing their jobs, but soon it will be to the streamers, if they cannot break the cycle of pay-to-play, a whole generation will optionally lose the joy to play at all. Consider that Activision Blizzard generated 5.74 billion U.S. dollars in 2020. That is ONE company. Now we get it, Blizzard is big, and we cannot compete with that size, but there are dozens of smaller ones competing for revenue. Candy Crush generated revenue exceeding a billion dollars in 2019. Now consider that they did nothing wrong, but their game is set on algorithms that are set on you almost making it, and yes for $1 in special candy you could make it, it is ego versus mathematics and the ego will ALWAYS lose. Yet what happens when we invest into that $5 a month Amazon Luna solution? What if we enjoy long term gaming? You see, Amazon Luna (Google Stadia too) have a much lower threshold than consoles do and that is the barrier that is easily broken, to set players into a field where they can explore, enjoy and have fun. You see when we crush short term achievement drives and we get people on the bandwagon of fun we can change a lot and hopefully create a few people to take over the sceptre from people like Peter Molyneux, Richard Garriott, and Sid Meier. We have some really good game makers, but t present there is ALWAYS room for more, especially when their dreams, ideas and perseverance brings us new and original gaming IP. That is what we need on pretty much all systems. When the wish becomes the mandate it can be a force for good, but it is not a given, I merely hope it will turn out that way.

Yet in all earnest, and even as I am ripping old IP apart to use what is good, we need the stage of what is good to hopefully create something new and better. Even now I still think of a game released 24 years ago. It was GoldenEye 007. It changed things and even now it still holds a candle up to what is created today. Some of it is found in TimeSplitters: Future Perfect, almost 17 years ago. Games that enticed whole scores of gamers. So what happens when we look back and consider the IP we cast aside? We ignore Populous II: Trials of the Olympian Gods, a game 30 years old, but even now it still has appeal. Even as graphics need improvement, the makers then had really nice ideas and we forgot just how much fun we had for weeks. Even now, a 23 year old game like Sentinel Returns could still generate a whole score of fans and they are not alone. There have been makers like Peter Cooke who created Tower of Babel well over 30 years ago. Even as it requires an upgrade (graphics), the foundation of these games was good and engaging and we need them, we need to break the cycle of micro transactions. This sounds a little wrong, because there is nothing with microtransactions, yet I see everyone hammering against loot boxes and EA, all whilst the problem of microtransactions is well over 1000% worse. And the issue is not that they exist, or that they are not illegal, because they are not, but the foundation of the kind of gamers we create is. And I am not including the stupid people who go crying to some lame journo on how they wasted $12,000 on loot boxes, all whilst that journo is ignoring the stupidity of the person, but the draw of gaming is partially to blame. By setting the stage to ego (like a puzzle with a diminishing IQ counter), instead of a joy that has no time pressure, we change the foundation of our playing habit, and it needs to change. The old systems were harbouring dozens of games that could be added to any gaming arsenal and bring joy to the gamer Not all of them are RPG, some are shooters, some are platforms and some are a combination. We all have different needs, but we all have an overwhelming need to have fun, and too many games in todays android and iOS environment are driven to make it an ego driven event. If I were wrong there would never be a lego game, but I am not. There are well over 80 games based on the lego concept and they are (for the most) all fun. They are not alone but they are out there and their presence sticks out, they are not alone.

To call for a gaming mandate is wrong, because gaming is different for us all, I get that and some like the match three games, but they are hidden traps and that has never been made clear, The Conversation linked to this in 2014, There we get “During a recent radio talkback discussion, on which I was a guest, parents rang in with extraordinary tales of their children’s accidental and expensive online spending. One parent divulged that his six-year-old had spent A$700 in 15 minutes upgrading to new levels using in-app purchases.”, we still see news on loot boxes and the need to tax it all, yet none of them are looking into micro-transactions and match 3 games, are they? And they are not alone, a source gives us “The mobile games industry shows no signs of slowing down with consumer spending reaching $44.7 billion for the first half of 2021, an 18 per cent increase year-over-year.” And how does that add up compared to loot boxes? I think certain political players are unwilling to look into the directions that they have no hold over, and micro-transactions are not illegal, neither are loot boxes, but their legal status is wrongfully being changed. The stakeholders have a little too much power, so I need to make sure that we can change the premise of gaming before it is too late and in this the streaming solutions are the easiest to tackle, they are the station where the independent programmers could make the larger impact and with disregarded IP on a dozen systems there are additional options. I believe we need to press for this change before people forget that gaming has always been about fun, not ego.

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The evolution of god

Yup that was more than a mouthful. Peter Molyneux was ahead of his time, and in all this he was not limited by imagination, he was limited by hardware, as was Sid Meier, as was Richard Garriott, as was David Braben. They made gaming great and their ideas live on, even though in at least one stage it was corrupted by a greed driven corporation hoping that micro transactions would safe them. But what if the next generation consoles and cloud generation gaming is the foundation of new games, what happens when we take the original concept and make it into something serious in a sandbox environment? If we think back to the ‘original’ gods, what happens when we can revisit the age of Hades, Poseidon and Zeus? What if we have the ability to become a god? What if it starts small? What if the game evolves through us, not that WE evolve in a set game?

Consider that energy grows, so consider that we start with accumulating via a bees, wasps, hornets, ants, or termite colony? We get one choice and we still have to find the right colony. Now we can spend time trying to find that colony or we can take a gamble, and as one colony grows the power within us and we row by directing the colony, we get a larger stage, because the colony is merely a first step. From the colony we can grow towards larger herds, towards singular animals and they too provide energy, they provide power and optionally evolve us in other ways too. You see in the old games it was about one person, one setting you and your antagonist, but in this day and age it is outdated, computers have grown more powerful, have grown towards multi creatures, and in all this we merely think of the old god the three, then we get Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Apollo, Artemis. But what if these templates are merely that, mere templates and you get to decide what kind of a god you become? We think back to (the good old days and) a game like Black and White, which was awesome but what happens when our power is depending on how we grow the initial power base? We can rely on the biggest termite foundation ever, but life is a setting of checks, balances and equilibrium, because without  stage of equilibrium you always end up with nothing. So far no game ever went there. We might consider that before the PS4 it as not possible and you might be right, but now in the PS5 era, we see that games like Elite Dangerous become larger than the original creator thought was possible on a BBC Micro B. That is no longer the case and even as I would love to play Populous 2 again, time moves on and we need to push games forward too. As far as I can tell, no one has made a clear push forward in setting a new stage of the god games and in light of the options within cloud gaming that is slightly weird. Cloud gaming is by default the stage where these games can evolve, so what I stopping game developers from going there? A lack of creativity maybe? It took me a moment to pause nd a little of pondering to set a new stage, and if I can do it, those wannabe great software houses should be ahead of me by a lot, so why aren’t they?

And all this is before you consider Neil Gaiman with American Gods, where the new gods get their energy and power from a very different stage, so what is keeping game makers from evolving as well? 

And all this is set to a stage of western gods, I haven’t even considered what a place like India could add to the mix. And I got this far on only one coffee.

Have a great weekend

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Alternative income

It seems that I hate Bethesda, I do not, I am not happy that they are part of Microsoft now, but that was their right. It is Microsoft I do not trust. So as I was playing (yet again) Fallout Shelter, we need to see how close to perfect that game is and it is a free game. The optionally dropped the ball on two issues, maybe three if they played their cards right, but that was their choice, gamer ended up with a near perfect version of gaming and that is what we all wanted (even though I would have paid $5-$15 for the game). Yet the game is not new, it is innovative adjusted, the origins of this setting goes back to Dungeon Keeper (1997), we tend to forget these little details. And when I say ‘innovate’ Bethesda truly did that to the game and their game rocks. 

It did however made me consider the stage and how it could be adapted. There was a Westworld edition, I had only heard about it, I never played it. The game was too much of a copy. Yet the setting of Dungeon keeper is one I tend to circle back to. It is the origin of that game that drives my thoughts. There is no advantage setting this to a larger Bethesda stage, Bethesda already owns it, but perhaps there are options in the Ultima stage (Richard Garriott), there could be a drive  through Battlestar Galactica, Babylon 5, there are plenty of options, but it is the drive of creation, with a little grasp of pragmatism (perhaps 1-3 optional micro transactions) that would make it work. The first thing is not the game, it is understanding the drive of the gamer, from that point we can move on to see what optional franchise has the larger cluster. We can chose any game, but if it has only 20 fans, the drive to a population large enough to make it work is one that we have to surpass and greed driven people always want revenue now (not me though). There are the protected franchises (Star Trek, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings) that had its own barriers. There are less known franchises (Ultima) that has dedicated protectors, so we can align ourselves with a protector, or find IP that is no longer protected (which tends to take time). I stated it before and will do so again, on the Amiga Millennium 2.2 had close to all we need, so how to make that a success? To do that you need to understand the mechanics of the game. We can work with clocks, the free game only allows a clock speed of 4 and 5 skip days per day, when you buy anything, even once you get the option of clock speed 8 and that can be avoided by a one time payment of $4 giving you direct access to 16 times the speed and unlimited skips, considering that it takes up 235 days to fly to Uranus (I had to allow for that pun), we see a game that could show us optional revenue. Then there is the stage of the arcade, change your mobile into an arcade machine, play the old games for $0.99 and it will keep a track of up to 3 games, for $4 you can add 10 slots and every month another game is released, another of the classic games that can be played, the amounts of fathers that spend a fortune in quarters can now play their favourite game (optionally) for a mere $0.99, how is that not a guaranteed drive? And the nice part is that dozens of these games were never IP protected, it was not an issue in those days. 

There is a whole world out there ready for the visionary programmer to dig into, covid be damned. 

And when we see that some older games are almost forgotten (Paradroid, Boulder Dash, Spy vs Spy,  Joust, and not to forget Theme Hospital), we tend to think as what is old is useless, but there are real diamonds there. I still believe that a proper set Magic Carpet could do really well on consoles (no micro transactions), optionally mobiles could people forget their destinations when they get sucked into Populous, as such I wonder why the people at Electronic Arts are not awake. Another larger player used to be Epyx, and I cannot fathom why a game like Chip-bits, never was rereleased when the systems grew up, there are other players like Laser Squad, that might have gotten right what a legendary game like X-Com missed when they relaunched. And when the Rock (Dwayne Johnson) relaunched the game as a movie, no one considered that Arcade classic was fun to play and relaunching it might have been an option? I am not sure if there were IP’s in place and who owned it, but it seems that the owners did not move on the IP, as such I merely wonder why. 

As for the number one question you all have, why am I not doing it? The answer is simple. I am not a programmer and I am ready with my IP, but those with the $$$ (or £££) haven’t reacted yet, but that does not stop my mind of remaining creative and if it is a win for the gamers, it is a win for all of us. Life at times is that simple. I know my strengths, I also know my weaknesses and limitations, the latter two you tend to avoid for obvious reasons. Well, it is time to fee the inner person with a shepherds pie, I am feeling peckish!

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Your field of dreams

We are all in a field of dreams, a field where we see the initial turn of the cards in our favour, some of these dreams are a little selfish, it does not make us selfish, but we are at times in a setting where the game needs to go over way. In my case it is Google buying my IP with the start payment of $25,000,000 post taxation, in the second offering it is Huawei buying it (for the same setting). Amazon is allowed to buy it, but I reckon that 5G technology is something that Amazon is not yet ready for, in the 4th is Elon Musk and he is only there because he makes things happen, he pushes boundaries and that works in my favour in this case. Is it silly (read: stupid) to sell $2,000,000,000 (in its least positive setting) for a mere $25 million? No, because the second payment is that I still hold on to 40% of the registered IP, they get 60%, this is not throwing away money, the I setting a page where I get 40% of something instead of 100% of nothing. We need to realise what we can do and what is outside our reach. We need to push for the field of dreams to get towards reality, not to make the golden dream more and more golden and never a reality.

In gaming, I am not a coder, not a programmer, I never was. But I could think ion a whole range of games, of improvements almost at the drop of a hat (any hat). Yet the stage was never there and I was never a Peter Molyneux or a Richard Garriott (real visionaries). Yet that is the one part I shared with Steve Jobs, he was not really a visionary either, but he recognised the people with vision around him and he could relate to that. It sets a different stage. There was a reason I came up with Watchdogs IV, Elder Scrolls VII: Restoration and so on, I saw what was possible, I could think out the stories. In the same way that I am now working on my second short story (with a wink towards Rendezvous with Rama), and my minds keeps on creating, even when I need it to stop (sleep is a pesky thing we need). Two 5G devices, several adjusted solutions towards 5G and optionally a new setting towards 5G mobiles making them extremely private. All settings I came up with in less than a day each. Then there is the Gordian One weapon systems and a solution towards reactors the I (with my sense of humour) called S.N.O.W., it even comes with two new valves, a wasp valve and a piranha valve (different applications), the device needs testing, and it has a positive side and a negative side. The upside is that if I get it to work, Iran can take its reactor and sell it for scrap and concrete chunks, the downside is one I will not discuss here, because I will be honest, it is scary and I do not really combine scary and NBC solutions, it tends to be real crazy stuff. 

In all this, we still feed the field of dreams, I am no exception, in my mind I end up with a nice cushy job until I retire and a really really nice house to live in when I retire and before that. Some dreams are simple in nature, we tend to not need a lot in that setting. I like the quote in the dark Knight the best in that regard, because the application is larger “I’m like a dog chasing cars, I wouldn’t know what to do if I caught one, you know, I just do…things”, we all tend to chase cars, whether it is that large fee, that gorgeous partner (who we tend to hope is still a virgin), that super large slice of Tiramisu, in the end, things are like cars, when we have it we look for the next thing, the house, the cushy job, the dream partner, they are essential needs, they link to our souls, we all want a version of that. And there is the danger and the blessing of the field of dreams. Phil Alden Robinson was right, faith and family have a larger imprint, yet the issue is not merely to have faith, but to have faith in self, that is the trigger, we can all have faith in someone else, but when that person has a larger faith in what I regard to be delusional politics (Paula White), how does your field of dreams evolve into a nightmare? That is the setting the some face, not me, even though I am a Republican at heart, someone like Donald Trump should not be allowed to continue, he damaged the Republican Party more than anyone realises, John McCain or Mitt Romney, either are 50 times the man the Donald Trump could ever be and he is looking towards a $400,000,000 court case involving taxes if I am not mistaken. We can invite into our field whomever we want, but we must take care that this field is about valuing self, not others, that dream partner is about the extension of you, your dream, your field. 

The problem for a lot of us I what we take into the field, for me it is my workaholic self, I know this, it is how I have always been, and in the past there was trust to former bosses, but that is now gone, I accept the choices I made and I made a few by trusting those who shouldn’t have received trust, but it was me, I merely blame myself. I walked in there with my eyes open. 

I now am in the final stretch and it is not a final score, but it is close to one and if I pull it off the balance goes deep into the green, if not I stay in the red, I accept that, I made choices and I accept that. Yet when you set up your field of dreams to propel you to the next idea, the next option or the next choice, be aware of what you took into the field, as long it is just those things and thoughts that are yours, you are fine.

If that does not scare you, consider the political implications that the Galvin report brought “A report, named after Robert Galvin, head auditor, and whose name appears on its front cover, was initially written at the end of 2006 as an audit of the expenses and allowances claimed by a sample of more than 160 MEPs. The existence of the report was kept secret until an updated version in February saw the fact of its existence made public by Chris Davies MEP. Even then, its contents remained secret”, and it is not that this happened, it is the small little part the we see with ‘its contents remained secret’, so in what universe does any government keep the wheelings and dealing of MEP’s a secret, especially when there are a lot of questions that need answering? 

When we see “Two MEPs were found to be paying out full assistance allowance, but neither had any assistant actually accredited or registered with the Parliament”, which I tend to see as some form of fraud, are these two MEPs still in office? We might concern ourselves with our own field of Dreams, and when we see what happens in the real world, we see no other way to live, unless we set a stage where these tools make a lot of money (at your expense), and should you wonder why I have a trust issue, consider that you can only make money if 50% or better goes towards greasing the gears, the is what the politics of most nations tend to fall towards. These people will only act when there is something in it for them. Ae the thoughts I am having so outlandish? 

Part of it is seen with “Huge end of year bonuses are being paid, often simply to use up as much of the allowance as is left over, between 3 and 19.5 times the recipient’s monthly salary”, and we wonder why we cannot get the budgets to fit? I reckon that this is a form that would apply and the governments stay silent, our field is all that remains, it is close to pure and it is seemingly clean, as long as no-one enters we are unaware of.

Philosophy teaches us that trust is risky, the question of when it is warranted is of particular and increasing importance. In case of our own field of dreams, we warrant very little risk, because for some that field contains a life of ambitions, and who would you trust with your lifetime of ambitions? You partner perhaps, your parents perhaps, but it tends to end there, for most that is all there is and the dream is about to shatter, when your field of dreams shatters, will you be safe?

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Rule of thumb

It started with me wondering what else I could do. I have been involved with gaming since 1984, I started testing and reviewing games in 1986, so I have been around for a while. I met the giants in gaming. Sid Meier, Richard Garriott, Peter Molyneux and a few others. They and the games they made formed the views I have on gaming, there are of course more others too. 

My normal job was in technical support and teaching, as such I had a firm grasp on technology. I learned to teach, teach software and technology and as such, my life was a decently happy one. 

Still, I wonder what else is possible, you see only the delusional ones think they can do everything. I agree that any person can do anything and if they are given, committed and enthusiastic, they become good at it. I believe that to be true for everyone, no matter gender, race, religion or age. 

It kind of intertwines with the elections in the US, after 4 years we see a shift and now I wonder if anyone in the media has the balls to set an image of Donald Trump tomorrow on page one, with the text “You’re fired!”, providing Joe Biden gets the 270 he needs. I wonder when that stage will be reached, and if it will be reached. They all claim that Biden will win, yet there is a decent. Chance that Pennsylvania will remain in camp Trump, with 89% counted and 20 votes, the advantage of 2.6% there is no given that Biden will win and even if he does, the difference is too small, so a recount is inevitable. In Arizona the roles are reversed, yet here only 11 votes are up for grabs, giving us the optional score of 254 for Biden and 234 for Trump, it is a setting weirdly close and like the old series the West Wing, two states might set the end and at this point President Trump has the lead. Those three sites are Georgia and North Carolin with 16 and 15 votes. I am careful not to set the stage of what might be, I am Republican minded, but I am definitely no President Trump fan. So as I take notice of ‘Stop the count!’: Angry Trump supporters amass at counting centres’, I wonder just how stupid Trump fans are to call for an end to democracy. A vote is a vote and they should all be counted, that is how democracy works. And this is where the brain started to twist. Whenever we are in any RPG, it is about our actions, it is about what WE decide should happen. It matters not what the RPG is, that is how the game is set.

But what happens when we change that, what happens when we sign up for a game with a political stage? What happens when our actions becomes pro or counter RPG government? You see, when I initially designed the idea of Elder Scrolls VII: Restoration (before they gave their soul to Microsoft), I had not considered it, yet in MEA 1+2 and optionally Citadel: Incursion (I had to give it. Name), that stage becomes a larger issue. Politics is at the fibre of any stage and we ignored it in RPG to a larger extent mainly because of system limitations. The new systems will have computing power in abundance, so it becomes less of a hindrance and setting that stage to a proper foundation, especially in a game like Mass Effect Andromeda is has an influence, because as we unlock more and more pods to wake up, the political stage on a station like the nexus will also alter, it sets a larger stage, a larger application of what we need to do. Even as the stage is not always on what we need to achieve, the general direction will alter and so fr no game took this into account (as the systems weren’t powerful enough). 

This changes what gaming provides, yes we like to make decisions in our RPG and that does not change, but there is the greater good and the larger picture to consider, it becomes even more interesting if that picture is not available to the player, the story could take a few interesting twists along the way. To illustrate that, we can look at a TV-series called Babylon 5. When we were in season 1, we see the Narn, Centauri, Minbari, Humans, Vorlon and others. Yet the Narn and Centauri are arch enemies, so working for one makes the other off limits and that is a mere extreme example. If we decide to act alone, we might side with one group and optionally piss off another, it is the nature of the game and gaming will become less black and white and more grey tones. It is also a lot harder to program. For example it is not like in the old The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, you could only buy certain houses when certain fame levels are reached.   Yet what happens when fame and infamy are more fluidic? What happens when missions are only offered to the infamous (or famous) and above certain ranks? It will not change the game, but it will colour the stage to some degree, that same stage will be influenced when we colour a governmental stage, like the US, Blue, Red and Green. We see a larger stage where working for the ‘other’ party is allowed, but at that stage, we gain infamy a well as political points. See it as a new complexity level in RPG gaming. There is no doubt in my mind that this is where we are heading, mainly because it os now possible to do just that, and as we see the need for games with a larger value to replay a game, the setting of another level of complexity is pretty much a guarantee. We might want to lean back and reach back to the original D&D rules of thumb rulings, but I reckon that console gaming has surpassed it a few times over. Even as Ubisoft stated in a game ‘Cull the herd’, that stage is one we seemingly walked away from. We do not oppose the eradication of the horde (it’s an Orc thing), but it also leaves us open to eradication as well. And as such we need to set the stage to a larger frame, because that is what we do.

Extremes are nice to colour the stage, but it is the blending of values that give a larger appreciation of any story, there is plenty of evidence out there and as I see it, there is a much larger stage to fill it up, how it is done is up to the gaming visionaries.

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The house of RPG

Yup, the news only just hit the walls of the internet and a new stage is already underway. This is not about slamming Bethesda, they made a decision and I reckon that 7 billion plus is a nice looking bandaid, but now the house is falling over, because the stage of gaming is set into another realm. Do you think that Sony will like the age of dependancy of Microsoft? So as Bethesda becomes a Microsoft institution, Sony will have to look in other directions. Yes there are good RPG’s out there. There is the Witcher and Cyberpunk is about to arrive, yet the stage is largely untapped and now we see that there is a larger need for an exclusive option for Sony. Lucky for them there might be an option. Richard Garriott created the Ultima series in the early 80’s, yet it was in 1985 that Ultima IV: Quest of the avatar was born. It would take RPG’s to new heights, heights that would not be equalled for well over a decade. Now consider a first person RPG (like Skyrim) with its own rules, its own places, and a storyline that can surpass most RPG games out there. On a map that would be close to 6,000% larger than Skyrim. The map of Britannia (Ultima 1-9) was almost completely designed by the time Ultima 4 was there and the game only got better. The stage would add new dimensions to RPG gaming, something that could be done again in a 1st person setting. It would add new directions in gaming from the original setting, something that had not been done for some time. And then there is the story. Even now I see new stages in shrines and stones that the original never allowed for. There is the stage to combine Ultima 4 and 5 in a much larger setting in sequence in one game. It implies a gaming size that surpasses most RPG’s in hours and way the game is played. The Ultima series set a larger stage with the use of ships and that could remain, so there would be more in the game and more challenges. The largest is to stay original to the Ultima formula and not be swayed towards more of the same. A game that becomes a journey, a journey that we have not seen before and in this Bethesda opened the door by becoming part of Microsoft. I hope that they will remain on the Sony systems, but there is every indication that Microsoft will take a time advantage and use Bethesda games to push people towards their console. That move makes sense because there are plenty of Elder Scrolls and Fallout fans, but that also means that Sony now has the task to protect its core gamers by offering an exclusive brand of their own and that is where we see the value of Richard Garriott optionally go through the roof. I believe that for Richard Microsoft buying Bethesda might seem like the opportunity of a lifetime. No matter how Bethesda phrases it, they are quoted to have stated “all future Bethesda games will release on both Xbox and PC, but their appearance on other consoles will be determined on a “game by game basis”” this is what I would call a dicey setting for Sony, but not all is lost, they could look towards what was and redesign it to the new. Ultima is one of the most likely franchises and the stage is much larger than you think. Microsoft has paid over $7 billion for Bethesda (actually they bought Zenimax Media, the parent of Bethesda), it is a clever move, but if Sony counters it with new RPG, that price might be a little sour, especially if the RPG marketshare brittles away from Bethesda. Microsoft ends up in a stage where the overpaid for a brand that is well worth it, but as Sony counters what was not set to value, the value of Zenimax media will take a bit of a dive. So not only is there an alternative, my mind has already seen the optional design for an adjusted RPG game that would be every bit as satisfying as the original, more so when you consider that the original was never first person, but in my mind I added a stage that the Elder Scrolls never possessed. It is not merely good news for Richard Garriott, it would also be great news for Iolo, Jaana, Julia, Dupre, Geoffrey, Mariah, Katrina and Shamino. They can dust off the weapons they hung up in 1992. And the world would optionally see them back into action as early as 2022 if Sony gets a deal with Richard Garriott sober rather than later, because Microsoft was sly in getting the deal, but was it a clever move? I am not so sure about that. If we are to believe some market research results, only one in three opted for Microsoft, the rest went the way of Sony. I had issues with the results as it was against two systems and Nintendo was left outside the choice, I believe that the Microsoft numbers are not that great to begin with, but that is pure speculation from my side. Will I be proven correctly? 

I actually do not know, but the Bethesda move has set a level of shock on me, that is true enough, yet I have made up my mind, I will not get the Xbox, and if that leaves me without future fallout and elder scrolls games, so be it, yet it took me no more than an hour to set an optional new stage of Ultima, so there is always an option, there will always be RPG, the question becomes will Bethesda be part of that? I actually do not know, there is too much unknown at present.

 

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Project One Fiver

We all have the setting in our heads, we have an idea and we partially roll with it. It is there where we get the problem, some see problems, some do not. I am the one in category two, yet I also have flaws and they show themselves rather quickly. I am the entire opposite of those, I am one who quits as the challenge is gone. It is a basic law, it is stupid, but in 1989 there was a different stage, the BS artists were in charge, I was new, I knew nothing, but I had my 

Nantucket clipper compiler and a book on how to program and within weeks I was ahead of a lot of people.  I was asking container programs, admin programs and I loved it. But it came with an inner flaw. Someone in the cinema world asked me for a solution, I was not thinking like a consultant, because I was self trained, I rejected the offer, not because it was hard, but because it was easy. I had in my mind set the stage and developed the solution in an hour, I saw what was needed and my mind set the stage in minutes. The shows, the cinema’s the date’s, it was the simplest application of Clipper and dBase 3, as such I saw the premise that I was doing all the work and getting almost nothing for it, because people would state that it was too easy, and in those days the rent was due. I leaned a lot over time and I went in a different direction, but the ability to see solutions remained in me. 

So as I am watching the Battlestar Galactica series (again) an idea came to mind, what if the premise of the RPG is changed? What if the game is not one game, but 15? All linked into one massive game, into one large game that is in part driven by the parameters of other gamers? Not just that, but your achievements will be an added parameter for them? Over time your stage will be the overbearing one, but you are not one voice, you are one of a choir and over time you are the choir. As far as I can tell, that has never been done before and even as my idea grasps some idea’s from others, the stage of philosophical drives, the stage of a limited stage is not new. Other games programmed around it, I am considering it to be part of the game. And over that stage we see the ability where we intersect in a much larger stage. Yes, it sounds confusing, me talking about stages, about parameters and about requirements, yet games are like that and we fill in the blanks in stages, the stage of where we play, the stage of where a character is and we have the ability to set a much larger field of play in a  game that could set a new record in gaming in the next console war. 

A stage that has several planets, a stage that is set where we have a formula that creates 15 planets, and you have no idea where you are. This is not for the weak of mind, or those walking around in Minecraft, this is Elder Scrolls Oblivion on a scale that is 15 planets big and we do not set out to gain a flag or to kill a monster, we set out to create a dynasty and that is never a clear sailing premise. I see the solutions that other greats did before this, There was the Ultima series an RPG by Richard Garriott that is something that still drives me and why it was never refurbished in a new coat with new graphics still puzzles me. But they were not alone, there were others, to some perhaps forgotten, but with gems in its coding. Hopefully we will see a remade System Shock soon, yet it was not alone. Whist Ubisoft is all about triggers and respawning enemies, the stage is out there for a different kind of RPG, I believe that the PS5 will open up more options and different sets of games. The problems is not the game, the issue will become where is the IP, who owns it and how can it be staged in different ways. We see series like Westworld and we wonder how it can become a game. There was someone with the Westworld Shelter approach, I never saw it, I would have liked to have seen it, but it was removed before I could see it. This is not a random phrase, the question becomes that in the age we face, sources are limited, so how can we make a game enjoyable, repayable and original without it becoming a mesh of Minecraft and Animal Crossing? Whilst Ubisoft showed us how not to do it, w still need to do it and we need to do it right. It needs a hand that looks outside of what coders look at. We need to consider the creation of a strategy guide before there is a game, so that we can ensure the long term existence of the created game. And to be there for the long term you need to look with different eyes, to see in a different scope. I saw the option of scope when I created the foundation for Elder Scrolls VIII: Restoration, I saw the option of views when I considered Watch Dogs IV: Refugee, it also gave me the idea to set different dimensionalities (there was was an example in System Shock), yet the combining of elements is a much larger stage and it is a different stage. It is not like we go to the theatre, it is the entire block around the building that houses the theatre as well. That is the stage we work from, because when the surroundings are there, that is when we give size to the stage in that theatre. It has always been that way, yet in the past the computers could not deal with that stage, computers are finally catching on and even as the remade Pirates (Sid Meier) was betrayed into a diminished stage and labeled Assassins Creed: Black Flag, does not mean that it was so, we had no reason to give up on a time honoured classic, yet that stage was burned before it flourished. I wonder what we can get done when that is ignored in a future project, what happens, when we have a planet making program like we see in No Mans Sky and we prepare 15 codes, 15 places with enhanced detailing, 15 stages where the plant is the stage, where we are a person in a much larger field and we get to set up the stage of history, I reckon that it has never been done before, not to this degree and not to this reference of options, a stage much larger than ever before and to the degree where we at the end of 200-600 hours want to play it again, so far only Bethesda and CD Project Red have come anywhere near that stage, there is off course GTA5, no one denies that, so out of 2300 game developers, only 3 only got that near, would it not be the right challenge to be one of 10 ever to get that near? It is not a hard question to answer. 

I’ll let you simmer on the question and the questions that will be in your mind at this time.

 

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Premise towards boredom

Yesterday’s article in the Guardian by Alex Hern is a bit of a wakeup call. When I re-read the article I start to agree with him more and more. As a gamer, RPG’s have been my life. This started in the old days with the Ultima series by Richard Garriott on CBM-64. The first full game experience was the third installment. On the CBM-64, the quality was a little less then you see now, but the entire experience was amazing. This game made me addicted to RPG’s for life and Ultima 4 made matters worse for me. I was lucky; some RPG’s will never have the amazing depth that the Ultima series offered, not for at least a decade.

Yet Alex asks the important question: ‘are role-playing games getting too predictable?‘ When I sat down I did exactly that, try to avoid predictability. In my version of TESVI I was at all times considering replayability. As such the creation required sidesteps, not to be reflectively repetitive, but to set the stage of 100 missions at least twice over, so you did not play two versions of a mission, but two very different missions. It allowed for the market value of a game to remain high, whilst at the same time give other players something to think about. I had been there. I must have played Oblivion 3-4 times all the way through the end. Yet at heart it remained repetitive, so my design was the thwart that nuisance. Skyrim was a little the same in many ways, and Skyrim even as it outperformed Oblivion by a large amount had a few issues, some slightly terminal, but with a game that large it is almost unavoidable (I did say almost). So if we open The Elder Scrolls to number 6 a lot more was required, and as I set the model in play (not the one Bethesda is releasing) I remained dedicated to what Bethesda will offer, because so far they have not disappointed me (this is NOT about Fallout 76). So as we see the push towards the outer Worlds, we are given: “In this world, where mega corporations are starting to take over alien planets, you can act like a hero, an opportunistic mercenary, or a total idiot. The writing is sharp, snappy and funny, the world exciting and vibrant, and there’s a classic New Vegas interplay between factions of characters, any of whom the player can help or hinder“, I am not questioning, not judging, and not placing a verdict. I await the final result that is open for review and purchase. The writer (at https://www.theguardian.com/games/2019/aug/20/from-cyberpunk-2077-to-the-outer-worlds-are-role-playing-games-getting-too-predictable) is giving us a lot more. So when the article ends with: “But their genre needs its Breath of the Wild moment: an outsider to toss out the conventions, and build something beautiful from what is left. Surely choosing between shooting, stealthing or sweet talking can’t be the only options that the next generation of virtual worlds have to offer“, I find myself agreeing with him to the part that games (at times) need more. Yet is that in part the limitation of an RPG? What if we take another look at the Ultima range? Ultima 7, the Black Gate is one of the few games that EVER received a 100% rating from me (on PC). In that time (1992) that game surpassed anything else, and others never came close to what The Black Gate offered. So when we see the part ‘shooting, stealthing or sweet talking‘, we need to consider alternatives. There was the option of getting a job (so not shooting and killing), stealing (stealthily not working), and Retail industry (not sweet talking). In part we saw the retail on Skyrim by selling (just like in Oblivion), in Fable 2 and 3 we see the option of doing jobs and gaining money that way, even buying the place and getting the revenue, so we have seen it (almost) all. Yet what happens, when the world is truly a lot larger? What happens when your impact is seen as one of thousands creating commerce and in that way create price fluctuations? What if the game needs to be set to the larger premise? To get one part right, and through the linked limitations create a new system of balances to get the whole environment correct? Make the game impact seen through the changes that not just you create. As a member of the thieves guild you can never be a companion, or with the fighter guild or the Mages guild. So what happens when we take a much larger bite out of the apple of gaming and actually set the apple to be an actual much larger play of impact? The apple of knowledge (Eden), the golden apple (Olympus) and the apple of immortality (Asgard), set the stage where you can merely choose one of them, creating a tripod where one leg is rigid and the other two vary to create some form of balance.

What if one choice demolishes the others and through that path offer 300% more? There is still the challenge of making all missions decently unique and challenging, and if you realise that the Skyrim guide is over 1100 pages, we are facing a serious clambake, not a mere picnic. It was the largest stage setting, so whatever I considered to be the design of TESVI, needed to be able to surpass that, and I mean by no less than 20%.

Now, this does not mean that boredom will not set in, the biggest issue with any RPG is the danger of grinding, and preventing that is a first. Most games have become decently adept in minimising that risk, yet it is not zero, even my version would not have zero grinding, so the need to remain long term appealing is essential. The game does not stop there. Now that the gamers soon get Google and Apple with streaming gaming, the game changes even more and finding original content in any RPG game is the essential search for every gaming junk (I am proudly part of that family), so basically the ante is upped by a fair bit. It becomes even more impressing as I look to more challenge and the Skyrim guide has 350 quests, which implies that in my book, I will need close to 800 missions to keep head of the curve and in all this, anyone getting the range of 800 quests is less interactive in what we see and the mountain of work we look up to. It also requires very different IP to continue on a higher level of gaming.
The second level of grinding is often the places where things are found. In many situations we needed to get to the same places (shouts) and we needed to find essential hardware, however if the word wall did not contain Kyne’s Peace, but a random shout? In addition, what happens when you influence the entire game by making another choice as to where the Fighters Guild, the Thieves Guild, the Dark Brotherhood and the clan of Minimarco is placed (Necromancers), more important when you shape the game as you play and the impact is seen on a larger scale. A stage where the trade route from Skingrad, via Arenthia, to Riverhold, Orcrest, Rimmen and Bravil takes another step as the Fighters guild is placed in Riverhold and not in Rimmen, these are all choices that shape a world you live in. Consider the real (non-virtual) world if not Brussels, but Paris had become the centre of the EU, it would massively impact Belgium economy negatively and France’s economy positively, the direct aftermath is that living in Paris would be almost impossible, cause and effect in play. That same setting might be applied to gaming. Where the aggregation of the lowest and highest 1,000 gamers sets the parameters of your RPG game. a game not set in stone, but in motion as 2,000 players are not set to the average, but on the outliers of the high and the low players, a game that is shaped by all as the economic footprint changes. Yet to prevent deal seekers, we make time a much more definite in any RPG game.

As the measure evolves over time, other players become part of the low and the lower high end. A game now in flux, no longer rigid and confined. Add to that that they all might have issues on some of the resurrection choices and we get an entirely new path towards gaming. Boredom can only start to set in when the game is fixed, so we start by setting change to the game itself. A second choice is to add a management part, not just overall, but a specific super large quest, where you cannot complete the quest, but you provide the options for the quest. I can no longer sneak in like William Tell grasping apples, now we create a workforce working the field and still we are involved to maximise what is possible. Yes, we need virtual worlds that have more and differences to offer, but the best option is allowing evolution in ways that we cannot set, we might be able to influence them towards 6%, impacting but not overwhelming. That too allows for a game to be enjoyed again and again. That is the kind of RPG all RPG players want and yet up to now, no one delivered that option, it is surprising and perhaps it will be the cornerstone of any RPG, the amount that cannot be predicted, for all those coming from the very bottom of the maze and interesting challenge to face.

For now we await The Outer Worlds and Cyberpunk 2077 to make it into the family of RPG fanatics, yet we too await the next Elder Scrolls, and who know, perhaps my idea makes it into The Elder Scrolls VII, as a gamer I can only hope to be given the chance to change the game for thousands of RPG lovers in a new never seen before direction. Even as I accept that this is almost not possible and I would settle for a ‘novel’ place in new original gaming, we need to see that it all has been done before, well, it almost all has been done before. Yet so far, the idea’s I had have not popped up anywhere, so I am sitting pretty for now.

I actually do not care whether someone else finds them and implements them; it means new and original gaming, the ultimate rush for an RPG gamer, preferably additions done to a game that the gamer loves. So Alex Hern is correct and the first step in avoiding all this is to make sure that we take a non Ubisoft approach to gaming, I have faith that Bethesda can do that, they might have missed the ball with Fallout 76, but still, they took it in a direction that had not been done before. Let’s not forget that before Nintendo gave us the Switch, we were given the WiiU. Everyone gets to have a bad day and when we realise that Bethesda have given us winners from 2002 onwards, over a dozen clear winners in 16 years, the existence of one less popular title (Fallout 76) with so many winners is not an issue at all, in Bethesda we trust, the rest can take a number and await their turn with the global RPG population.

 

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