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Blogged Out: Solid Systems, Perfect MMO, Koster vs. Crawford

Blogged Out: Solid Systems, Perfect MMO, Koster vs. Crawford

July 22, 2005 | By Jim Rossignol

July 22, 2005 | By Jim Rossignol
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'Blogged Out' looks at the world of professional game developers' weblogs, charting the conversations happening between bloggers and the community at large. This week’s column includes systems in business with Jon Jones, MMO design and the meaning of fun.

- First up this week is the ever fluent Jon Jones, a game artist at Ready At Dawn Studios with a penchant for words. This week Jones recommended Michael E Gerber’s book 'The E-Myth Revisited' to anyone with a career in games, and in a business as diverse as videogames, Gerber's message has some important implications. Basically, Jones contends, if we’re ever to be truly efficient, then more and more systems for creating games will have to be streamlined and set in stone. “I've been doing this long enough that I've pounded every technique, every concept, every mechanical action associated with 3D art into my brain that I can hammer out what I need to with the minimum of brainpower,” says Jones, saving himself for the creative problems that really require thought and attention. “Design work still requires creativity and careful thought, but if you can get all that out of the way as early as possible, the rest of the job is smooth sailing.”

- Another blogger telling developers how to do things this week is’s Jeremy Starley, who makes a few fair points in his editorial talking about the ‘ultimate’ MMORPG. He covers character customization, crafting and quest systems, making many points that have been echoed across the community. In addition, Starley focuses notably on Star Wars Galaxies as an example of a great crafting system, but a title where the actual gameplay didn't work out so well. Perhaps, instead of focusing on such wide-ranging topics, someone should investigate why SWG engendered the 'no fun to play' flag for so many...

- Over on 3D Realms CEO Scott Miller’s blog, this week there has been some lively discussion of the accuracy and impact of Star Wars Galaxies supremo Raph Koster’s book, A Theory of Fun. Opinion seems to be on the side of Koster and against Chris Crawford’s book on game design. Koster, it seems, is a little more flexible and readable for the average gaming comprehension. The discussion on Miller’s blog touches on a number of points from the book, including the status of learning from a game. Interesting stuff, but discussions such as these do seem to downgrade the status of pure sensation in games. Perhaps this is because, as one poster points out, older gamers tend to ‘tune out’ of sensation-based games, and they’re also the ones having these discussions? It’s all a matter of perspective, and whether you liked Doom 3.

- Finally, those of you who were at the Casual Games Conference in Seattle this week may have encountered something of a grumpy perspective, as the Grumpy Gamer, ex-LucasArts, Cavedog and Humongous alumnus Ron Gilbert, headed up there to talk about ‘adventure games with pirates’. Perhaps you saw him up there - if you did, we hope you told him to cheer up, and mentioned that nihilistic statements like: "This industry is just damn depressing unless you're into Boy-mass games" just aren't true. Maybe.

[Jim Rossignol is a freelance journalist based in the UK – his progressive games journalism has appeared in PC Gamer UK, Edge and The London Times, to name but a few.]

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