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PostPosted: Fri Sep 05, 2008 7:15 am 
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Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 10:38 pm
Posts: 109
Location: Reston, VA, USA
There are so many good juicy sub-topics that it is easy to ramble, so I settled on bullet points, and yet I still write all of this!
I wouldn’t do it if wasn’t important to me:

1) In pre-episodic MO:UL, things moved too slowly.

2) Episodes tried to meet Cyan’s vision of constantly new content, at least for one week a month, so kudos for that.

3) But as said, episodes were too dependent on live character events which are too costly to orchestrate and execute, and are not repeatable for newcomers. You need some of it, just not that much.

4) Also, episode “action” took place “off-stage”, was reveal second-hand by DRC characters, and read third-hand in chat logs or recap reports. Reading about it can be good (I LOVE the forums, The Archiver, The Cavern Today podcasts, The Story of the Great Tree videos and more - all great examples of creative writings and journalistic reports), but being there is better, and doing it yourself is best.

5) The story was too soap-opera-ish for my tastes. I had to say it.

6) Even if you were lucky enough to be in the right age at the right time of day, episode "participation" was too passive; just witnessing or Q&A, and your actions could not directly affect the plot. Early on, the “Yeesha summoning” was a glaring example where player actions created a tangible result, but that was rare. Even getting the Great-Zero to spin was, in the end, used as a story element, and really was independent of user actions. The same could be said for Ercana pellets and the eventual lighting of the lake.

7) Which leads to the sentiment; “If I can’t change the unfolding events, and can read all about it outside of the game, then why pay for it?”, which is not good for business.

On to the good stuff – my suggestions :-D and lessons learned (i hope):

1) Now D’ni back story is also off-stage and third-hand, but moves beyond passively witnessing events unfold, because it takes your actions of exploration to reveal it. So if you want to add story affectively for this crowd, add it to the age and let the explorer uncover it. Don’t read it to them in a live event or chat log. It's really "more discovery" that is needed versus "more mystery".

2) Rewards should only be a result of individual or collective actions: Your Great-Zero instance should only spin if you have completed your calibrations in a certain timeframe. The lake in your city instance should only light up (one day!) if you’ve achieved a certain number of pellet points. And your neighborhood lake should only light up if you have collectively achieved a point/owner total. It may have issues with continuity, with some lit and others not, but again, that moves you beyond witness to participant, and allows newcomers to share in the exploration/experience of past “episodes”. It would be best if the prime(?) instances of the GZ and Ae’gura would depend on all user participation, although there are better things to code and fix.

3) The prime ages work for many reasons, but in part because of the reward system: Yeesha recordings reveal back story as a cookie at the end. Relto pages and Bahro stones enrich your Relto and library for having explored. And clothing shows others that you've been there and done that. WE NEED THIS IN MORE!

4) Get a female Cyan employee or explorer volunteer to become the voice of Yeesha, so that we can more easily incorporate her back story revelations. Re-record the older monologues if need be. I know; sacrilege! But it will free us from the tyranny of consistency and is cheaper than paying Rengin Altay for voice acting.

5) Instead of just having a DRC/GoW(?) member show up one-time to “start the quest”. Have a copy of the neighborhood amphitheater pedestal with a recording installed that gives the message for people who weren’t there. If not in the city, put it at the link-in point for your new age, to give everyone a good repeatable start. A little museum-ish I know, but don’t rely on live performances. Or if technically feasible down the road, add a hologram NPC as Kero suggests. I'm just no sure if it can be done on a shoe-string budget.

A couple of other random thoughts:

1) Put a pedestal or two in the Beginner’s Bevin for orientation. It’s not as fun as ResEng, but then what is?!?!

2) If the pedestals could also “type” the message text, versus just an audio recording, then we take care of deaf/hard-of-hearing community as well.

3) Repeatable content, such as game ages, are good to add to the mix as well, since they fill the gaps between new content.

Of course, just my opinions … and on a final note, Happy Birthday to Me!

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MikeFitz - URU Action News
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