Tag Archives: Tyr

Epic moments

We see some moments as epic, but what makes them epic? You see Epic is subjective, it is constrained and defined by what we have experienced. This is not a negative thing, this is an almost liquid setting, what is epic for one is mundane for the other, this is merely how it is. And for me the setting starts with a daydream. This happened this morning as I was enjoying a cup of coffee. I was sitting on a couch in a shopping mall, enjoying a lovely cuppa. My mind wandered away. So enjoy the story for what it is, a mere story to keep thy bones warm this Christmas winter.

I was in some tech corporate place north of Oslo, no idea why. It was the midsommar weekend and some woman in the firm invited me to experience midsommar in her town of Floro, a town 500 km WNW of Oslo. I accepted the invitation, only learning a few hours later that it was an 8 hour drive, actually it was more like 6, she embraced formula one standards of driving and I gained three years of grey hairs in 6 hours, nature does seem to find a balance. Of course being invited I went shopping that afternoon, as we were off next morning. I got a kilo of smart food (lollies), some ice coffees a few bottles of red wine and white wine for the party and I loaded up the car. Apart for her amazing looks and her amazing thrill of speed limits the trip was pretty uneventful. It was Floro that grabbed me more. It as alike a huge village. Every building pristine, every building outspoken traditional and every street clean, lovely and inviting. It one of the loveliest villages I have ever seen in my life. We got to the house and of course she had relatives. They all surrounded her, hugging her and speaking fast in Norwegian, My Swedish allowed for some parts to pick up and they came to me shaking my hand and then they realised that my Norwegian is almost non-existent, many switched to English, a nice surprise too. It had a thick nordic accent, but it was a lot better then some English you hear in London, so I was good. I introduced myself and I introduced myself to the host and hostess (parents of Lotte). I handed over the two boxes of wine, one white and one red. I saw the loud cheers going on, I reckon that French wine is not something they usually had there and I was greeted like an old fashioned hero. 

We all had some coffee with something called krumkakes and something called school bread. We sat and I listened for most of the times. Some of the men asked me questions and I answered as best as I could. Yet the corner of my mind was screaming and I did not understand why. Everyone was so nice, but it seems that Lotte had the goods on me. She shushed everyone and told me to take a nice walk, she haded me a thin raincoat to wear over my clothes and she gave me a small direction finder. She pushed a button and it pointed to the house. She pointed to the roof, the direction finder would always point to the house, it seems she had seen this before. I took a nice walk, I saw part of Floro, I walked past shops, I noticed people looking at me, but I was at a loss why, perhaps all foreigners and tourists stand out in this place. I walked on, watching the water and seeing the tranquil waters seemed to quiet the screaming in my head. 

As I walked I seem to wonder about the openness of this place and the natural beauty it has. It was about a hour later when I realised I had been walking in one direction, I wanted to turn around when the screaming intensified, I looked up the road, a dirt-road I noticed but it seemed almost invisible. I walked up it only to see a cave. I really did not want to walk into that cave, it screamed bear. And bears are not too uncommon in Norway. I just walked in and with my flashlight I went down the cave. A cave that felt colder with every step I took, it was less then two dozen steps later when the shivering was slightly too uncomfortable for me. I saw the show and the ice and I stopped, but the brakes were suddenly slammed from underfoot, I stepped in ice and slid down a lot further than I was happy with. I slid down a ramp that would make any bobsledder jealous and it was almost two whole minutes until I came to a halt. I saw two men frown in ice. Men, statues, it could be either. The ice was pointing behind them like it was blown over them. Then I noticed two objects. Objects that were covered in ice, I kicked one and it did not break, the ice was tough as steel. I looked around and I saw a stone, a sharp stone, I covered my hands and started hitting the one object, first the ice broke and that took some doing, I continued hitting the object only to see it as some kind of axe, it did not look like a woodcutters axe, it was slightly smaller, more outspoken and a little longer where the cutting part of the axe was. It took almost 5 minutes to get the ice from the axe. Then I looked to the two men, they were still in ice, but I could not tell whether they were men or statues. I used the axe on the other object and ice went flying everywhere with every hit, this axe was nice. That also gave me ideas on how to get out of here. With an axe like that I could chisel steps in the ice in no time, yet that was when I realised that the axe was warming me to some degree. It could have been the exercise, but the cold was gone and a few hits later I saw that the object was a hammer, but not some hammer I had ever seen before. Almost like an oversized blacksmith hammer, actually it was nothing like the hammer of the movie Thor (that maroon man from Queensland) but it resembled those upside down hammers that people wear as jewellery. Like the axe, the hammer felt warm and I decided to hit the ice closest to the man that was next to the hammer. The ice broke like it was nothing. I hit again and ice started to chip from everywhere. Then I saw the ice break off from his arm and the hand looked massively human, very meaty and not a statue at all, was it my imagination? Did the hand move? It seemed to grab towards the hammer and I pushed the hammer into his hand.

The ice broke everywhere. And within a minute he was free. He had a cold demeanour, he looked at me and I looked back, I did not know what to do and then he looked at the axe. I pointed at the other figure, he looked and spoke to me in some nordic language I could not make out. I merely stared. He made a drinking gesture and I pointed at my body and shook my head. It seems he understood me, he was still unable to move too much, but he pointed towards deeper into the cave, he made some reference with his hand that could have been a flask or a bottle. I grabbed the axe and went that way, the ice was all snow covered and not that slippery anymore. I saw a pedestal with a flask, I reckon that this was what he wanted. I looked around and there was nothing else. I cautiously grabbed the flask with my hands covered in jacket. I picked up the flask that as surprisingly heavy and moved back. I handed the flask to the man, he drank a whole heap of it and gestured me to take a sip, I was a little apprehensive but he gestured again, it was seemingly important. I took one small sip and it was like my body was on fire, one sip was like a whole bottle of aquavit (Nordic Gin), I started to sweat. He took a piece of cloth from his top and drenched it, then he put the cloth into the mouth of the other figure. He poured more liquid on the cloth and moved away. H took some leather string, tied the knots around the neck of the bottle and hung the bottle around the neck of the other person. He then gestured me up the hill, I started to cut out the steps. I laughed grabbed my back jumper and coat and before I knew what hit me we went up and a whole lot faster then I originally went down. We were up and at the entrance in less than 30 seconds. He looked at me and I remembered my direction finder. We walked back to the house, even as it seems darker, but with white nights you can never tell, we got back almost 30 minutes later and everyone was staring at me and Lotte looked surprised. The others then noticed the hammer in the man and they all looked star struck, the man stated something in what I can only assumed was some deep Norwegian, he slapped my back and took off, the man walked away. Everyone was cheering and slapping me and I was at a loss what had happened. Lotte merely looked at me like I was an actual alien. It was then that I saw in the distance a chariot with goats? Man, that was some alcohol, let me tell you. So when you get to Floro, be careful what you drink, that stuff they call aquavit is massively hard on the senses.

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Value of original gaming IP

When my mind designed the sequels to a new Elder Scrolls game, Far Cry and Watchdogs I did not care about the revenue, I did not care about the revenue factors in gaming franchise, I was merely one creative mind devising new ways and new stories, because the story is everything, it really is. 

Consider the intro and staging of Far Cry 3 against Far Cry 5, the stage of Assassin’s Creed 2 versus AC Unity, or AC Origins versus AC Odyssey and you might get a glimpse of that setting. In all honesty, I never considered revenue in any of it, but I realise that it is a driving force of the houses that publish them. Lets face it, would Mario exist if we did not consider the value of the $650 million it represents? In that same light Call of Duty, GTA, FIFA and Zelda, they all represent a serious level of coins. As such I see the need to continue some franchises, yet  wonder when we test their push for the storyline, how far will some get?

Consider in all this that the Elder Scrolls represent less than a billion, Skyrim alone represents half a billion dollars and has sold over 20,000,000 copies. And let’s face it, we always want to do better than the previous one, which is what drove me to set the story design of Elder Scrolls: Restoration.

Yet even as we see more versions of a game, Apple and Google are driving the need for original IP, it is the larger drive in gaming, not because it is Apple and google, but because the makers see that the original IP can be the beginning of a massive drive towards a system. There is also the fact that when we get a new system we do not want to play the same game over again on that system. 

Yet there are exceptions and they tend to be System driven. The Last of us on PS3 and PS4. Skyrim xbox360 – Xbox one and PS3 – PS4. Pretty much anything involving Mario, and the list goes on, yet Google and Apple do not have that yet and they need to rely on original IP to get the people in. That part was shown all the way back to the Nintendo 64 and the first PlayStation. 

IP that is owed is easier to evolve and more important, when the first game is a hit, it tends to be easier on revenue expectations as well. However, as we look at Apple, we see the need and the logic to have the subscriptions, yet when we see a game like Pilgrims with a mere 14,000 subscribers, the path for Apple is still less than stellar. Now we can push franchises like No Man’s Sky (Hello Games) there, however if Apple is to make a name for itself, it needs original IP, an original RPG, and original racing game and so on. that will drive sales, that will drive longevity in gaming and in a $120 billion industry last year alone, it makes sense to carve a name for yourself.

Yet there is also the stage where the expected and the non-considered walk. When I started to first design an original IP, was it truly original? It was (for the most) and I even added a new game mode that none had considered. Arcade is the way we consider, yet who has considered ‘historically accurate’ as a game mode? 

In this I wanted a more original RPG were the stage is Scandinavia (Norway and Sweden mapped), where you start in the land and get a choice of three places to start, from there you grow your village, grow your interest on the terrain and grow, after which you need to plunder, need to destroy your neighbours and add to your place (and take it from there), an RPG where you can set the rune tone to one god and receive the back handed prayers in success. Yet how can we link ‘Arcade’ and ‘historically accurate’? Well there we get the test of how good a person can play and basically they play two games. Even as a person buys provisions (with real cash) to get an advantage, they buy more, because the purchase in an arcade also comes with a ‘boon coin’ in the ‘historically accurate’. So if a person buys a load of fish in Arcade, they also get a boon coin with a fish in the historically accurate, which sets the chance to find a fish shoal to 100% there. Get two for the price of one. The same for weapons where a kart is bought for one side and the other side gets the smithing coin, giving them a 100% chance of a quality forged weapon. I even set out the stage that an actual player in one village would influence the growth in the virtual version where another player is a neighbour (like choice of stone, location and direction of growth)

I also wanted to make sure that ‘historically accurate’ was there to show that life is not a game and when we slice and dice like in Viking: Battle for Asgard, yet I thought that the game was too small, it was too easily defeated (except the boss at the end) and even as the game had good points, I wanted to see this game in a much larger setting. I wanted compelling to translate to addictive and I wanted a lot more to stand out, I also wanted to make sure that the choice of a god rune had a much larger impact, so over time as people played the game, they would have a new experience if the village rune stone was not set to Odin, but to Loki, Thor, Balder, Frigg, Vidar, or Tyr. What benefit do you want to see? And when chosen in Arcade it will be the set stone for ‘historically accurate’ as well. As such as the history of your village evolves we see that people realise that the impact one would hope for in Arcade would have a different term in the ‘historically accurate’ (HA), we forget in playing that famine was a real think in those days, as was disease and that could go from village to village. We could push it to Greece on the same premise and see where this leads, yet Scandinavia where the weather would have a much larger impact seems to be a more preferred personal feeling in this. So how many games take that into consideration? 

Yes, games like Fallout have a survival mode and there we see “The only means of physically saving the game is to sleep in a bed, on a mattress or in a sleeping bag. The exit save function is still available, but is a temporary save that is deleted automatically upon loading“, it is almost like hardocre mode in Diablo, how many times did you have to die before you figured out that running into batle is as stupid as it could be? As such the HA mode will give the player a much larger consideration to what he’s doing, it is not intend to drive microtransactions, which is why you can optionally only buy stuff in the arcade mode and only the real gamers and winners will get through the game without ever buying anything, that is why I would add an achievement named ‘no purchase required’, how many games heralded the need to not embrace microtransactions? 

It was a stage that my mind evolved over a few days and that is the easy part of the creative element in a game, I wonder how many creative minds are out there in the gaming industry, because I feel personally that people like Sean Murray and David Braben are as rare as it gets in this industry (no insult to other game makers intended), for me it is a stage where I see where places like Apple Arcade (and Google Stadia) are and where they go, so far I am actually not that impressed, not when it comes to companies this big.

 

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