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 Post subject: Open Source Fears
PostPosted: Sun Feb 28, 2010 8:22 pm 
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I have been reading up all I can on the open source project, looking at fan created ages, as well as the plans Cyan had for URU as the story progressed and I have come up with some massive worries we as players and creators could experience once the program moves to open source.

1. Quality - People are very excited about the idea of writing their own ages and put them up online for people to play in a massively accessible forum such as URU. My worry stems from what checks and balances will be entered into the game world to keep the billions of test ages, garden ages and the like that lack any polish or shine from flooding the masses? I feel that the guild of writers would have to make it their duty to be able to work on centralized projects. Teams working together instead of individually in order to craft higher quality ages for people in the open source world.

2. Story - One of the major reasons URU had such great charm was it's story. The DRC and their goals for recreating the great D'ni city, the Bahro and Yeesha's purpose. How can story still be a pertinant and important facet of the open source community? I feel that self limitation is the key for allowing players the ability to enjoy the world in a proper manner. Pipeline ideas such as Writing ages into the world by doing things like, making players have to create the ink and pages required for writing. This will give the Guild of Wrtiers a great way to make the ages more interactive, and add a more story oriented approach to Writing Ages in a more massive world, without breaking the illusion that they can do so simply because the open source tools are their for them.

Also I would love to see the city of D'ni open up, progress and change. Story can be done to help clear rubble away. The Kahlo Pub is a great example of this. Cyan was working on the Kahlo Age, a world where people would enter races, which could be viewed and bet on in the Kahlo pub later on. Would this be an assumption that at some point the Kahlo pub would be cleared out and remade into a functioning place? This would be great to see in the future, as well as add accesibility to the city proper, instead of simply the island.

These are two of my major fears, that both the quality and interactivity of the original URU just will not be there with open source. Will we see more things that will affect or change the surrounding D'ni city? Let me know your thoughts. I know that the closer we get to open source, the more these fears will subside, I am sure, but still, that is always a constant worry for me.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 28, 2010 9:53 pm 
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I'm more concerned with #1 than #2. I think we've seen in the past that players are more than willing to make their own stories.

I think #1 is a very valid concern. I don't want to offend anybody, but in playing around with some fan-created content, I've seen some fantastic stuff, and some rather poor stuff. However, I think the GoW and GoM will be fully capable of making sure that only high-quality ages make it into the game.

I woundn't want to limit Age submissions to groups though. I think there are some very talented individuals, and I would had to have somebody say 'Sorry, but you have to work in a group if you want your Age submitted'.

I think the Age creation process could be used to add to the storyline in the Cavern. The writing of Ages was very important to the D'Ni. They didn't allow just anybody to write an age. It was very carefully monitored by the Guilds. We can replicate that. They also recognized exception Ages. I think you could build a whole storyline around deciding whether or not a particular explorer should be given a Kor'fa V'ja. (I apologize for my spelling, but in the Myst novels, this was a ceremony given to a writer to recognize their first 'Masterpiece' Age)

What I think is going to be essential though is an easy way for Age creators to test their Ages. Either a stand-alone client, or a special slot on their Relto shelf that could be loaded with an Age-in-progress. I'd actually prefer the second, so that writers could invite people in to view the Age, but it still would not be publicly available. I think this would mirror actual Age writing closely...you experiment on your own, then when you feel your work is complete, you submit it to the Guilds for approval.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 28, 2010 10:59 pm 
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b-guy wrote:
I think #1 is a very valid concern. I don't want to offend anybody, but in playing around with some fan-created content, I've seen some fantastic stuff, and some rather poor stuff. However, I think the GoW and GoM will be fully capable of making sure that only high-quality ages make it into the game.

Which game? If the client and server are open-source, you may end up with multiple servers with differing policies.

Trying to exclude sub-standard ages entirely is probably the wrong approach. It might be better to restrict where the linking books can appear. One option would be for Cyan (or a delegate such as the GoW) to decide which linking books appear in public instances and/or in Cyan's game ages, while individual players could control what appears in their Relto, and hood members could control which books appear in their Bevin instance.

A lot depends upon how much control Cyan want to maintain. They probably don't want to be associated with anything which would garner negative publicity, so I'd expect them to entirely prohibit such content from their servers and from using their assets. For ages which are merely poor quality, it may be enough to keep them behind a curtain, so to speak.

b-guy wrote:
What I think is going to be essential though is an easy way for Age creators to test their Ages. Either a stand-alone client, or a special slot on their Relto shelf that could be loaded with an Age-in-progress.

Either the client needs to be able to operate off-line, or you need to be able to run a private server. Public servers probably aren't going to want to host in-development ages. Either way, it would be useful to be able to reload ages without having to restart the client.

An "age viewer" would be useful. One of Blender's big drawbacks is that its real-time display doesn't even approximate how Blender will render something, let alone how it will appear in Uru.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 01, 2010 1:05 pm 
I'm more concerned with 2 than 1. Quality will vary, as it would if all this were real. We learn by doing. I'm far more worried that in focussing on the mechanics of making Ages we'll end up with lots and lots and lots of Ages where you link there, look around, admire the technique and then leave. You can only go "oh look, pretty" so often before you start to get bored. I notice this with the fan Ages people are making offline--there's some truly wonderful world-building there, some breathtaking scenery, but few of those Ages have any hint of a purpose to their creation or a goal to be achieved.

What brought me to Myst and then to Uru was the story, and the potential for story. I don't say that every Age should be crammed with history and things to do; there is a place for the Delins and the Tsogals. At the same time, there are very few places in the real world that don't have some kind of history behind them, something to intrigue and provoke thought. One of the problems with Minkata, Jalak and the pod Ages was that there were hints of something like this, but nothing that ever became clear, nothing to reward enquiry. Why does this do that? What's the story behind such and such? Why do these buttons make animal calls and why those in particular, and what were they for?

A garden is a lovesome thing, Yahvo wot, but if Uru had just been a gallery of beautiful places I don't think it would have garnered the support that it did. I think it's worth overemphasising the need for stories at this stage, to keep the balance between the different kinds of creativity.

I also think the story of how we learn the Art is important. In the course of the Gametap MOUL there was a tendency for things to get dumped on us fully formed--"Oh, this and this and this has happened, no, you can't do anything about it, just wait for the next infodump." If explorers suddenly start presenting fully formed Ages that they've created out of game, and the only explanation is "oh, I learned the Art from a secret book I found and never told anyone about" I shall feel cheated. I would like the discovery and the first faltering steps to happen as much in-game as possible, and ideally as a co-operative effort between explorers. And to that end I will happily go and look at any number of less than perfect Ages.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 01, 2010 1:24 pm 
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I will add a #3: Security. For obvious reasons I won't go into details, but it is currently a very real issue, Open-sourcing the game will just make it all the more of a problem. Hopefully Cyan can address current issues before throwing a whole set of new ones into the mix.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 01, 2010 4:25 pm 
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zander_nyrond wrote:
I also think the story of how we learn the Art is important. In the course of the Gametap MOUL there was a tendency for things to get dumped on us fully formed--"Oh, this and this and this has happened, no, you can't do anything about it, just wait for the next infodump." If explorers suddenly start presenting fully formed Ages that they've created out of game, and the only explanation is "oh, I learned the Art from a secret book I found and never told anyone about" I shall feel cheated. I would like the discovery and the first faltering steps to happen as much in-game as possible, and ideally as a co-operative effort between explorers. And to that end I will happily go and look at any number of less than perfect Ages.


These are my sentiments exactly. One of the key things that has to be done with open source is to have clear goal driven activities that can be achieved as a group, or as a single person. I would love to see ages that would appear that required more than one person to accomplish them. Of course there would be some that could be done solo, but the aspect of having a team of explorers accomplishing goals is more ambitous and entertaining than one.

I would love to see a goal to open up a path in K'veer and explore the mansino more thoroughly. I would love to see the Er'cana silo opened up more and see more of the district in the city there. I do not just want them to be mysteriously opened or given to us, but to give us goals and puzzles that we can use to access them. That is the key to making a successful open source. Taking the time to use proper level and puzzle design, implementing the massive aspect of the game to include multi-player puzzles and to engage the player to the social experience that URU is meant to be, instead of it being a visual tour.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 01, 2010 5:50 pm 
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Quality… If you have been reading up on open source in the forums then you know we have fan ages available for viewing now. Check them out. They spread the range from beginner made ages to highly polished, near Cyan, if not equal, quality ages. Trying to limit ages to just the Cyan quality ages fans builds is not very inclusive. Part of running the game and being responsible for it is encouraging new age developers to write and learn. To only consider what you would like to see in the game for the sake of your personal enjoyment seems a bit narrow and self centered.

Story… I think we know less of what stories are available as many ages are NOT published in their final form. The stories have not often been put in final form. It is a bit early to form opinions on the quality of fan made story. However the point of game play in Uru was being U-R-U and participating with your own story as an explorer. So, lots of armature story telling is to be expected as is the RP story lines. Also, the same points of encouraging new writers applies to story authors.

Changes in the City, Ae’gura… at this time we suspect we will not be able to change the City because of how Cyan has said they will license their content. We don’t know what parts of the Cyan content we may be allowed to modify. The Relto and Nexus seem prime candidates.

What will make it into the game… If Cyan continues to run a game server after open source is available then they may limit what they add to their server. As others open shards (setup servers) they will decide what they add to theirs. To think there will only be one instance of the game ignores the point of open source.

To think that GoW and GoMa can limit what one puts in their Uru game servers misses the discussion ongoing in the community. GoW and GoMa are limiting forces. They are service groups of fans helping people write ages. They are generally avoiding being an ‘authority’ that attempts to control the game. Even if they chose to try to control it, there are others that will go around them, which is what open source is about, diversity and freedom.

Security is being considered. Until we see the source code most of that is up in the air. You can see examples and solutions to security issues being handled in the Second Life open source development. I suspect we will go through something similar.

Keikoku wrote:
Trying to exclude sub-standard ages entirely is probably the wrong approach. It might be better to restrict where the linking books can appear. One option would be for Cyan (or a delegate such as the GoW) to decide which linking books appear in public instances and/or in Cyan's game ages, while individual players could control what appears in their Relto, and hood members could control which books appear in their Bevin instance.


Keikoku’s idea on public area links and private area links is interesting. Considering how the game works and ages download that may be a bit of a problem, but may be possible.

zander_nyrond’s thought on how we learn The Art has come up in other places. I share an interest in that story developing. We can always fine lost linking books and have new ages to explore. Whether someone will do a good IC story on learning to write ages… it’s a creative community someone will write one.

One can be afraid things will change in ways they won’t like… or they can learn how to improve the situation and do something. Trying to talk others into doing something for you… trying to limit what others can do… is just unworkable in this community. You want something or you see something you think needs to be done… figure out how to take care of it and get it done.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 01, 2010 10:39 pm 
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zander_nyrond wrote:
I'm more concerned with 2 than 1. Quality will vary, as it would if all this were real. We learn by doing. I'm far more worried that in focussing on the mechanics of making Ages we'll end up with lots and lots and lots of Ages where you link there, look around, admire the technique and then leave. You can only go "oh look, pretty" so often before you start to get bored. I notice this with the fan Ages people are making offline--there's some truly wonderful world-building there, some breathtaking scenery, but few of those Ages have any hint of a purpose to their creation or a goal to be achieved.

What brought me to Myst and then to Uru was the story, and the potential for story. I don't say that every Age should be crammed with history and things to do; there is a place for the Delins and the Tsogals. At the same time, there are very few places in the real world that don't have some kind of history behind them, something to intrigue and provoke thought. One of the problems with Minkata, Jalak and the pod Ages was that there were hints of something like this, but nothing that ever became clear, nothing to reward enquiry. Why does this do that? What's the story behind such and such? Why do these buttons make animal calls and why those in particular, and what were they for?

A garden is a lovesome thing, Yahvo wot, but if Uru had just been a gallery of beautiful places I don't think it would have garnered the support that it did. I think it's worth overemphasising the need for stories at this stage, to keep the balance between the different kinds of creativity.

I also think the story of how we learn the Art is important. In the course of the Gametap MOUL there was a tendency for things to get dumped on us fully formed--"Oh, this and this and this has happened, no, you can't do anything about it, just wait for the next infodump." If explorers suddenly start presenting fully formed Ages that they've created out of game, and the only explanation is "oh, I learned the Art from a secret book I found and never told anyone about" I shall feel cheated. I would like the discovery and the first faltering steps to happen as much in-game as possible, and ideally as a co-operative effort between explorers. And to that end I will happily go and look at any number of less than perfect Ages.


Agree 100% with everything that was said, particularly this:

Quote:
I would like the discovery and the first faltering steps to happen as much in-game as possible, and ideally as a co-operative effort between explorers. And to that end I will happily go and look at any number of less than perfect Ages.


I think that if the "first faltering steps" are incorporated into the game as part of the story, I for one would be much more tolerant of "low-quality" beginner Ages because even though they tend to be frustratingly plain, in a way that, too, becomes In Character. In the same way that the DRC uses IC-code to explain that an Age isn't finished working, so we should approach newbie Ages with an attitude of "well, this is a new Writer, and therefore their Age isn't going to reflect the experience of a veteran Writer."

Now, this isn't going to excuse the people who just make giant baby-pooped-textured cube Ages because they want to say they made an Age, but it will certainly help explain the people who are genuinely trying to make interesting, playable Ages.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2010 10:56 pm 
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Even if we get the open source thing, and that includes different servers (hoping!) - my assumption is that there will be one server where it's only Cyan stuff or perhaps selected fan stuff. If that''s the case, people won't have to go to where it's more "open".

Anyway -- the Cyan stories always felt tacked on to me. Look, Cyan wrote some stuff and had what I would call interactive plays in game, which a small number of people saw. It's not as if the story was reflected in the game. Sometimes we got new ages, but that didn't seem to have anything to do with those live events.

Here's the cool part -- no one is talking about the live events of the old days. It's as if those live events never happened. In the Massively or TenTonHammer or other articles or interviews -- you don't see anyone talking about the live events. What is being talked about is what you find in the game -- that's what's being talked about.. And there's not a lot there about Bahro or the DRC or Wheely. It's as if it never happened. Nice ages - but not a whole lot there in terms of story.

The whole point about story in a game is that it's supposed to be part of gameplay. Something is supposed to change in the game for us, as the story progresses. You solve puzzles, you unlock ages, you learn more story, something in age changes, all that. Right now we can't do that. All we can do is dramas where everything stays exactly the same as before. Maybe one day with fan content we'll be able to do story where we interact with something in the game and something changes.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 10:56 am 
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Personally, I'd prefer to link only to "good quality" fan Ages, completely avoiding the bad (story-wise or graphics-wise) ones.

But there are (many?) people that feel strongly against excluding any fan-created content from Uru, even though it could still appear on servers not run by Cyan.

The best compromise is probably what Keikoku proposed (which is similar to something I wrote elsewhere on the board), i.e. to have at least two "Libraries", if not Bevin- or Relto-specific bookshelves where fan-created content can be "chosen" by groups or individuals, or be made available without any filter. But then we have already started arguments about who gets to decide which book goes where...

P.S. Wow, its great to see that the discussion about fan-created content can be less heated than in the "Paranoia" thread! ;-)

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 10, 2010 11:36 pm 
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I was thinking a bit more on the topic of fan made ages and had considered a rating system via the nexus. allowing players to rate the fan created ages and also view ages of a certain quality....just an idea that would allow all types of content


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 10, 2010 11:48 pm 
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If the Guilds are made official, then the GoM could inspect the code of an Age and give it the Maintainers' stamp to allow it to be public. If an Age doesn't have this stamp, then it can't be placed in any Bevin, and a warning should appear if it is attempted to use on someone's Relto bookshelf.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 1:52 am 
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Problem I have with this is I don't want to be forced to go through the Guild of Maintainers, not to mention not all Ages should have a Maintainers stamp from a story point of view.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 3:16 am 
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The issue with number one, that I've found in my dealings with Ages, is limitations.

Age builders, on a general scale (key word here) do not have access to A) extensive and thorough practice of Age-creation tools like Blender, B) high-detail tested textures which will mirror the feel of "official" ones and C) the benefit of general experience in all fields concerning game-development.

Considering what some people have to work with, most of the Ages I've seen rank somewhere between "fair" to "good" out of my personal exploits.

Some Ages, like Ahra Pahts, are a great step in the right direction: A community-wide effort towards making a very dynamic and expansive Age that all people can enjoy.

Yet even Ahra Pahts has its faults, and I can't say I blame anyone for not finding anything. What I've seen generally though is that size does not always mean success. A condensed space that is meant to be practical needs to be heavily and almost meticulously detailed to fit the "mood" of the D'ni culture (if that's what's being aimed for) and it takes time to make even a small Age hold a light up to some of the content Cyan can put out there in terms of "realism." On the flipside, a very large Age, even one such as Ahra Pahts, cannot be overly so. A large Age needs direction, or else it is often met with confusion or distaste by most who don't understand it's purpose (a la Minkata, anyone remember?).

Let me give a small example (constructive criticism for Ahra Pahts). An Age that is large, yet condensed into small spaces can be good. However, AP is almost so large that it becomes impossible to know where you are, where you should go, or what there is to really do other than explore specific shells. The shells themselves are based off of community effort, so again, you get a range of quality based on that sliding scale I mentioned earlier. The Nexus in the Age is a step in the right direction, but again, you'll likely have everyone flocking to two or three shells if this goes Live, with so much extra space that either isn't used or goes to waste in an overly-expansive Age.

Back on Ages in general, even worse is when people do not explore their own Ages to the extent where they can predict user behavior. I found myself in many an Age attempting to short-cut my way around a large open field or overly-complicated small space, only to find myself perpetually stuck, unable to get back to where I was, or falling through a missing texture or clip with no "panic-link" spot below me.

To just sum things up and keep to the topic title: MY fear is that people will end up sacrificing quality which can, most likely, be solved in even the most minor cases by simple exploration. Explorer Ages aren't meant to be perfect, but I fear I've been spoiled by Cyan. I'd like user-made Ages to have purpose and detail. Not "detail" to the extent of using high-detail graphics or using Cyan-graphics for Cavern Areas to make flat walls look "authentic." No, I mean detail of immersion. I've seen people call things "realistic" which I wouldn't even call "cardboard." And I don't mean to be nasty when I say this, but I think that pushing each other to succeed and make better Ages by being honest is going to be the best way to move forward.

Test things yourself. Look at what other people say and work on improving it. Go into your Ages and look at what people have noticed and what you can notice yourself. Improve by improving yourself, and in turn, help others to improve themselves.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 4:33 am 
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It's funny to read threads like this over worries about a topic which is a non-issue from my perspective. I don't know if many people simply don't understand what's going on, or if these fears really have some basis.

I think the first thing that needs to be realized is that you're not going to be forced to see any fan ages. There is no way anyone, even Cyan can force this upon you. Fan ages will always be voluntary. I couldn't imagine any other way it could work.

Second of all, fan ages are going to run the gamut of brilliant to poor. There is just no way around that, and I find it odd that this is a big concern to some. Perhaps someone who has this concern could explain to me why this bothers them so much, cause to this posting, I have not read one good justification of it. Basically those kind of posts read like this to me, "OMG! Some fan ages will not be even close to Cyan quality!! I don't want them, NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!"

This kind of reaction is silly. If you see an age that looks to be in poor quality, don't use it. Don't look at it, just pretend it doesn't exist. If you think poor quality ages will be thrust on you somehow, read my second paragraph again.

I think many people here would feel better if they looked at some of the fan ages that have already been produced. Then think that these people designed these ages with NO help from Cyan, with no or little experience, and using software that is incredibly limited (getting less limited by the minute!).

So my point is that if these people can create things that well with the severe limitations they have now, imagine how great their ages will be when Cyan IS helping, they have easy to use tools, and they use all of this *experience* they are gaining now in their future projects.

I think the future looks bright. 8)

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