Until we meet again

This is a copy of the “farewell to the community” letter I wrote to the City of Heroes players on the forums. If you wish to respond, please do so there: http://boards.cityofheroes.com/showthread.php?t=296458 as I have to manually approve every comment on this website.

This is the hardest thing I have ever had to write.

Just over nine years ago, the best man from my wedding, Sean Fish said they studio he was working at was looking for designers and wanted me to interview for the position.

Wait, let me back up. Read the rest of this entry »

The Life and Death of Lego Universe

So I have been peripherally following the MMO Lego Universe mostly because my household is a VERY Lego house. My 9 year-old son has an entire chest-of-drawers filled with Lego from dozens and dozens of sets we’ve bought him over the years. When Lego Universe launched my wife showed keen interest in it, so I ended up buying three copies so we could play together as a family.

It’s sad to see today as the final day of this MMO. They went Free-to-play last year, and that didn’t bring in the money that they needed to stay afloat, so they decided late last year to shut it down forever on January 30th, 2012. The game had a lot of promise, but in the end, I think I can pinpoint things that contributed to its failure. Read the rest of this entry »

Extra Life

Charity is a weird thing. Organizations and hospitals depend on charitable donations to operate and do what they do, and meanwhile most of us just go on with our lives and assume someone “else” is doing it. A rich philanthropist must be keeping these organizations running, right? Well, yesterday I participated in something that proved that everyone can make a difference, we all just need to be prompted. The Extra Life day yesterday challenged gamers to play games for 24 hours, while asking for sponsorships. Gamers could organize into teams and choose which children’s hospital in the Children’s Miracle Network received their donations.

My work, Paragon Studios, put together a team and spent the day playing City of Heroes, D&D, League of Legends, Rock Band and Starcraft II among other games, all in the name of charity. At the end of the day Paragon raised over $7,000 (I said if we got over $5k I’d shave my beard, which I promptly did), and all of Extra Life raised over $1.1 million dollars! This was not simply a rich philanthropist but thousands and thousands of gamers and ordinary folk simply chipping in what they could. $5, $25, $100, $200, it all adds up people. You CAN make a difference in this world, my only wish is that we didn’t need to do “events” to call attention to these things.

If this message strikes a cord with you, then I am here to inform you that it’s not too late to donate. Simply click the “support me” button on this link. 100% of the funds raised go to the hospitals chosen by the teams, in this case, the Children’s Hospital & Research Center of Oakland.

Telling Stories

Ha! And you all probably thought I forgot about this site!

Honestly, I have been super busy for practically a year. My son joined Cub Scouts and I got roped into being his Den Leader. This involved me doing a lot of stuff I normally wouldn’t have been caught dead doing (spending a night on the aircraft carrier USS Hornet for one). In addition, at work we were working on something SUPER secret and I didn’t want to risk giving out any inadvertent hints to what we were working on in my blog. I like my job.

DC "legitimized" years of contradictory stories told by their writers in one fell swoop.

What I wanted to discuss today was the story lines of an MMO, and how things work as your game grows older. For City of Heroes, much of the background was crafted by two gentlemen, and we, the mission writers, would mine the enemy groups’ background stories for interesting stories to tell, figure out with Production what the major beats were, and what level to reveal secrets about the group or the game world to the player (this is level-based story advancement, where the world grows and changes  as your character levels up).

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One thing that frustrates some players in MMOs is the use of multiple forms of currency in the game. A lot of players just want one simple form of currency to use for everything, just like they do in real life. And the problems associated with real life currencies are just as valid in an MMO as they are in a country’s economy.

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