Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Spooky mysteries of Aberoth

Elcochador is constructing undead golems, which might already be walking among us.

Also, the bottom of the world, also known as the "void", apparently now contains a giant endless lake of a darkness.

Was Gomald sent there by a bug, or an unknown force?...

Shaunxd's vault

This is absolute madness, must be the best in the game.

Christmas day

It's that magic day of the year where we forsake our families to spend entertaining hours trying to block a virtual door with virtual snow. Now with santa hats.


Quakestar is running the most powerful active guild in the game. People accuse him of all sorts of things, from murder to theif, along with being a "steam nub". There are rumors that he meddles in an evil and ancient magic.

Here is his vault, with the trophy room at the back,

And when I invited him, he killed the other guest!

Watch out for Quakestar!

Blue hat added

The blue hat gives 10% casting chance.

Combined with obsidian the game is starting to allow a "squishy wizard" playstyle, which could be fun, as the new group tactics at Skaldor allow for a good degree of control over who is getting attacked (post about that coming up).

Some people appreciate secret updates, whiles other are afraid of missing something.

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Snowman competiton

Style: +10
Creativity: +5
Size: -10

Nilloc ("Snowzilla"):

Style: +1
Creativity: +10
Size: +15
Bonus 10 for good use of 3d depth


Style: +10
Creativity: +5
Size: +10
Bonuses: On roof (+5), Year old photo (-5)


Style: +20
Creativity: +20
Size: +10
Bonuses: Merry tune (+10), Flat (-50)


Creativity: -5
Size: -10

Style: -5
Creativity:+ 5
Size: +5

Total scores:
First place Nilloc with 36 (Wins minotaur axe)
Second place Imserious with 25 (Wins thin spellbook)
Third place Abbas with 10
Forth tied Poche with 5 and Obesepig 5 and -10

Thanks all for entering. And thank you for Zeman who donated the spellbook.

The making of Nilloc Jr

Legendary snowman

While I am not going to enter my own competition, the greatest snowman has been built by me and Nilloc.

My design was inspired by Freezy peaks in Banjo Kazooie. So let us take a few seconds this year to remember the great game devs of our past. Rest in piece Rareware Westwood Lucasarts, and all the others!

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

What makes an MMO "social"?

I know everyone is talking about the "Realm of Protection" at the moment, but I think that deserves observation for a bit before giving feedback. It is very difficult to work out, in abstract, how different rules will effect the incentives and the subsequent behavior of players. I fail at the task regularly despite having time to daydream on it during lectures. Better to experiment.

Instead I want to consider the question of what makes social interaction more fun in some games rather than others. My hypothesis is that it comes down to two simple rules:

1. Arrange things so that players are likely to interact with the same players repeatedly
2. Have them encounter novel situations

Rule (1) is common sense, backed by psychology, and backed by history. Humans historically lived in tribes and small villages. We're good at keeping track of small groups of about 100 people, who we like, who we dislike, who is a fool, who is treacherous, and so on. And we can't do this very well for larger numbers of people. So for a fantasy community to feel "real" above a certain size, it has to start segregating someway. This could be through different towns, guilds, etc; but the main method at the moment is realms. When the orb room came out, it struck me as inconvenient to make it difficult to cross realms, but it now occurs to me that this is a good idea, a great idea, because having some sort of barrier between realms encourages people to stick in a home realm, which increases the chance of meeting the same players. This simultaneously helps the pvp and scamming aspect (since reputation serves to discourage griefing) and the social aspect of the game. Meanwhile, the fact that realms can be crossed helps make the world feel connected, lets friends play together, and gives an escape route if someone is hunted too much on one realm.

Steam realms were merged with the old realm today, and from tavern gossip, it sounds like the theory is working.

I said I would travel to black. And they told me that black contains a group of pkers led by Pyro, but who is not that tough, because she was successfully repelled from Cyan.

Meanwhile, Arcand wanted to hunt some playerkillers, and they suggested he go to red, which has reputation for playerkilling.

And people on the Steam forum have spoke of "realm invasions", where people go to the orb room together and attack a different realm.

This is cool stuff. With realms, it feels like the world is 5 times bigger. And that is even with realms being identical. So we get to have a big a world while still maintaining communities.

As for rule (2), that is inspired by army doctrine. Closely-bonded soldiers tend to be much better at war, so the army has done a lot of research into how to bond its troops together quickly and effectively. In the past decade, it has moved from drilling (though that is still important), towards adventure training - which is when a platoon or section travel somewhere in civilian clothing and do kayaking, mountain climbing, bicycle riding, all sorts of things. According to the manual, this is because people in every-day life put on metaphorical masks in social situations, but in novel situations the mask comes off, revealing their true characters, which leads to connecting with people much quicker.

Aberoth has monsters which, according to various random factors, can act strangely and dangerously, creating novel situations which we have to think about and react to. Likewise for players. I think this is the important feature which builds friendships. If a game feels like it is on a conveyor belt, it doesn't matter how elaborate the features are - people won't really communicate. I can think of a few elaborate chatroom-style virtual worlds in the late 1990s which, despite containing real people, felt pretty dead, and now I understand why.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Werewolf again

Awesome membership bonus

The 800 day membership reward allows players to type a philosophy, which appears whenever someone asks Tavelor about him.

There's something very fun about customizing a character, and the world in general. I remember Simple liking the idea of players writing notes. But ideas like wall graffiti, putting up signposts, making fires - I think anything that lets a player impact the world are good suggestions, even if the effect is small. Even the way items are persistent instead of disappearing makes a big difference in making Aberoth feel like a fantasy real world that we gaze into, rather than a program. Or the way the labyrinth gate stays open or close.

Kelly was shouting in town that he was disappointed and wanted items. Let it be known that he is a based and troublesome character. My tastes are more refined.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

More building at the Minotaur

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Some high level drama

If I followed the story correctly, Kristiaan account-shared with Wolfcon (and several other people), and Wolfcon decided to empty him out, after being afk-killed in the bank or something like that. Millions worth of gold were said to be lost. Wolfcon was then banned. Wolfcon agreed to return what he had, so Simple unbanned him. There was some debate concerning the many characters who looted stuff via Wolfcon, especially since Kristiaan has fought so many people ("I was just taking back what was stolen in the first place...").

There are various side-characters involved and some people were accused of ddosing eachother, which is against the rules and literally illegal, but difficult to prove. The best protection against that is probably to avoid Skype and other things where players can get your ip.

Some other players involved in the Kristiaan vs Random People conflict were accused of lending items to people on one side, funding wars covertly, and therefore getting jumped by the enemies of the guys they were to said to have funded.

But now Kristiaan is now back in the game, with a terror shield. Best of all, he has allowed me to post pictures of his trophy room.

This is literally a trophy room, every object is engraved to a player. This must be the most terrifying room in Aberoth. He gave me vault-trust and allowed me to rummage through (Silverb is his alt).

When the occasional player has the right traits to excel at PvP, he can end up with mad rewards. It makes me wonder if the shift against PvP in various MMOs is partly caused by envy from the peaceful players, who end up unwilling to defend the system that lets the warrior/pirate players - as opposed to the aristocratic ones - get really rich.

I also asked Wolfcon to send me a picture of the ban screen:

MMO bans can be exciting in an Al-Capone way, as they can involve complicated bug exploits, or long-scams to destroy months of work. If you ever get involved in that sort of stuff, consider ethics and stuff, but at least remember to take some screenshots and send them to me.