Ophelea, "Out There"

Category: MMO


Permalink 16:04:20, by Ophelea
Categories: Press, MMO, Children

The Media Annoy Me

I'm at the hospital with one of my headaches. Some just don't react to medication and the stuff at the hospital works much better. My son is with me - the older boy: 12 going on 40. He stays to watch over me.

The nurse who is giving me medication asks what I do; I tell her; she asks about it because she has a son who would be interested (they always have a son that would be interested!) and I give her my card. Then it begins...

"But I won't let him play online at all. He can play whatever game he likes just not online." Hrm, ok, I'll let the "whatever" comment go for the moment.

I steel myself and reply. "Do you mean Xbox Live or PC games? What don't you let him play online?" I ask. My son is sitting next to me listening but bored. He's heard this conversation a few times.

"Oh, I won't let him play online at all. Especially those MOMO games. I'm too afraid of predators and he's only 13." *sigh* Yeah for the media.

I'm getting loopy because she's been pumping meds into my IV this entire time and I feel like I'm talking through cotton.

"Well... I wouldn't let him use voice on Xbox Live but you could let him play. Voice though - it's just too profane. But I can't think of any reason he couldn't play most MMOs online. He's just typing."

"Don't you worry about whether someone will ask to meet him at the park or something!!" It could be the meds or she could be shrill, I can't tell at this point. The room is spinning.

"Well, no. It's rather like being at the park, isn't it? I mean, you teach him if he befriends someone at the park and they ask him to come home with them he should say no or ask you first. It's the same online - teach him the skills he needs. Say no, or I have to ask my mom or report it to abuse or hit ignore... It's just like the park or school or anywhere, really."

She's looking at me sideways. I know I'm loopy and all but she is looking at me sideways. I don't know if I've gotten through to her.

Damn media blows everything out of proportion.

She starts to ask my son about his online experiences just as I pass out. At least I have nothing to worry about there.


Permalink 23:35:01, by Ophelea
Categories: Musings, MMO, Children, Online

Why is it games are bad again?

I'm sitting in the car on the way to the movies this evening when my younger son says to me, "Mom, why do we charge more for millions of dollars?" I love non-sequiturs that wouldn't make sense ever. I ask to what he is referring.

"You know how when you make a little money we charge a little bit and when you make more we charge more?" Yeah, I wasn't getting it either. After teasing some specificity out of my boy, I come to realize he's asking about a Progressive Tax. Ok, fair'nuff. I explain the idea behind it - those with more carry more of the burden because those with less simply can't. I tell him that it's a way of forcing people to help their neighbors because people aren't particularly good about helping their neighbors.

I think we're done. Nope.

"So, your money at the bank, do you get paid for that?" Huh. More specificity, please! Some more discussion and it's obvious he asking me if I earn interest at the bank. Then he wants to know about yearly interest, daily compounded interest and I'm wondering what the heck is going on? I mean, he's 9 - he's in the fourth grade.

"Have you been studying this at school?" I ask.

"No. I've been playing Neopets."

Why exactly aren't games good for kids again?


Permalink 17:10:30, by Ophelea
Categories: MMO

I'm Considering Divorcing My MMOG

My son is 11-years old and has discovered Pen & Paper RPGs. He’s even started with D&D. I suppose I should be proud. I remember, in 1976, drawing dungeons on graph paper for the boy next door. I graduated to MMOGs with Asheron’s Call in 1999. He started with Asheron’s Call in 2000 – earning his first 2 Cub Scout belt loops for Computers and Chess. He played Chess in Asheron’s Call. It is a story I tell often. Like mother like son?

I have, in some way or another, been involved in RPGs all of my life. When I gave up rolling characters I provided beer and pizza and a comfortable place for the guys whose girlfriends “didn’t get it”. Sometimes, I’d sit in and run a character if someone was missing. I liked MUDs, but simply didn’t have the time to devote to the experience. I knew early on that once I started down that virtual path, I would be forever lost.

We, of this “grande” community are not as large as one might suppose. Same said 11-year old wants to be DM for the first time. Mom wants to be a kleptomaniac bard. (He so hates me *grins*.) When discussing all of the really wonderful ways to mess with a DM that exist, a friend - in England, over Skype – said it was “just like Eric and the Dread Gazebo.” Apparently, I’d missed this one.

Apocryphal, I know. I didn’t know an internet legend of a story. That is, until he started reading it to me...

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Permalink 00:00:18, by Ophelea
Categories: MMO

From Big Countries Come Fragile Dragons

Considering the amount of time I spend playing games, reading about games, researching games, talking about games and discussing game design and the industry I find it disconcerting that I write so little about the actual games! I do a fair amount of previews and interviews, and when all of the planets align just right on the third Tuesday of the fifth month of the Gregorian Calendar, I get to write a review...but most of my work is behind the scenes and verbal. I like my job. I learn a lot. I teach others and through teaching learn even more.

Recently, my work and personal life have collided rather suddenly and I find myself comparing the culture of the US with every other culture of the world rather frequently. This can be difficult as the only other culture I have first-hand knowledge of is British; I have first-hand knowledge of immigrated Latinos and a litany of Asians and - regardless of Homer Simpson’s proclamation that Canada is “America Jr.” - I am keenly aware that it is very different indeed.

Games are expensive. It doesn’t take a PhD in mathematics to see that an online component extends the monetary value of a game: episodic content = additional dollars. Unless you’ve browsed to this site and blog from a cave you know this and have probably experienced it through the now ubiquitous downloadable content on Xbox Live.

When designed with downloadable content in mind, I like what this does for my gaming experience. In theory, my game should become cleaner, more polished and less expensive. If a game is received well and earns enough to cover its initial design cost, the player is rewarded with more game. In theory again, those games that do best should offset the cost of downloadable content for marginal games – those games for which downloadable content would turn a barely profitable game into a very profitable game.

Design is key. Until very recently, the sector of the industry with the most experience in this area was massively multiplayer games. And this is where the design and culture begin to show glaring differences.

Better get a cup of coffee and prepare for a long one...

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Permalink 05:14:46, by Ophelea
Categories: Musings, MMO, Behavior

More Letter Soup: MMOEG or Sex in Games or Sex Games!

There’s nothing like sex to get people talking. Even the ones who “hate” it like it. Everyone reading this, who likes it, raise your hand.

That pause was me raising mine. It made it hard to type.

This weekend, I spoke about Community Management at the IMGDC. I wasn’t speaking about managing “sexual” communities; though, if you want to get technical, we are all sexual animals. (I looked for the original citation on this – good luck!)

Kelly Rued, of Black Love Interactive, wants to make MMOEGs – Massively Multiplayer Online Erotic Games. Letter Soup. Sex games online. She’s very passionate about her subject, no pun intended. It’s an important subject. And while I don’t necessarily agree with the direction she’s taking to get there, I think she’s got the right idea.

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Permalink 20:55:03, by Ophelea
Categories: Musings, PC, MMO

Stargate Worlds: Looking into the Wormhole

Two, maybe three E3s ago I wrote an article on a then upcoming title called Stargate SG-1: The Alliance. The game was cancelled shortly thereafter yet even now, years later, it remains our third most popular article. I opened it with the following words:

Sometimes it seems as if it's the flip of a coin as to whether a title based upon a film/TV show will succeed (more often than not, it's actually quality of the game), but science fiction as a whole has generally survived the translation. Perhaps it's the fantastical storylines, the often beautiful backdrops or, it could be that only those that are truly successful get made into games.

For political/budgetary reasons what appeared to be a promising action title wasn’t made. Yet, the continued popularity of the article would seem to indicate that Stargate holds a certain fascination with gamers – or at least with the readers of this site.

Stargate Worlds (SGW) has been in pre-production for two years and recently entered the production phase. As I write this, the first “playables” should have been delivered. A few miles down the road from my apartment the developers at Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment (CME) are stepping through the Gate into what is to be the first translation of a television show into a massively multiplayer game.

Because I live so close to CME, I’ve been privy to the knowledge there was going to be a Stargate MMO long before it was announced to the public. I am, well…I revel in all things Stargate to the point of being a complete nerd. That being said, as much as I look forward to my favorite television universe entering the online realm, I’m wary. I know how difficult it is to translate a movie/book/TV to game and vice versa.

Originally, this article was to be a preview of Stargate Worlds after the Game Developer's Conference. I was holding off because I wanted to place it along with a review of Sony’s Stargate Online: The Trading Card Game and Skyzone Mobile’s title, Stargate SG-1: Entropy. I thought they’d make a nice trilogy for the day. After returning home, pouring over my notes, following up with Cheyenne, playing the other games I realized – I can’t actually preview something I haven’t seen! Ok, that’s a new rule here at GamersInfo.

But, there was also this niggling voice in the back of my head. You see, I’m not “there” yet on the design of the game. I want to be. This is Stargate! And as a gamer and a member of the industry the last thing I want is to see an MMO not meet expectations – every one that doesn’t quite make it hurts the industry as a whole. I grappled with this for a while. A long while.

First, I thought it might be the fanboi issue. But, I do more than write for this site and I’m pretty good about keeping those two parts of me separate. So, I chewed on it; I talked to people who know me and asked if they thought it could be me; I talked to people who know design and (without mentioning the title) asked about the elements that concerned me. Then I chewed some more. What to say?

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  • Thinking is more interesting than knowing, but less interesting than looking. - Goethe
  • He who can take no great interest in what is small will take false interest in what is great. - Ruskin
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