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PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2007 5:58 am 
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Sophia wrote:
Post mortem? :o :shock: Could you just, er, word that a tiny bit differently? :? :P :wink:


That's what they call it when they do a detailed analysis of a game and what went wrong with it after release. Uru DEFINITELY needs a post mortem. ;)

Game Post Mortems

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2007 7:57 am 
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We could call it a Season One Retrospective instead...

:)

That being said, I believe the Uru Live development team should be forced to read through this entire discussion four times and then take a written test on it.

:idea:

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2007 9:38 am 
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You should listen to the TCT podcast with Ryan Miller. There is also a little bit of what you call "post mortem". For instance, he explains that the move to episodes was a solution, because many were missing the story and seemed to prefer this over the daily updates.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2007 11:22 am 
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This very civilized and thoughtful thread has been like a breath of fresh air into my worry about the future of Uru.

I essentially agree with the very well written and thought out posts than have been put up here in the last few days.

I think what has frustrated me most about the content I've experienced in this latest incarnation of Uru is how amazing the original content *was*. The day I finally first played Uru (back when it was first released in the singe player verson), I was beyond blown away. Cyan had put together spectacular, huge, fascinating Ages, full of not only absorbing puzzles but an integrated and interesting backstory. The Ages, the puzzles, the exploration, the story (remember when Yeesha actually *spoke* in those Bahro caves?), and the journals--it drew me in like a vacuum. It couldn't believe how good this game was! Teledahn, especially, blew me away. That age has always, to me, embodied everything Uru should have been, and should be. The puzzles in the age were integrated and interesting, the way Riven was. It had an interesting D'ni backstory, lots of neat details (the maps, the glyphs on the pipe walls), and most especially--Sharper. Finding Sharper's Teledahn office was probably the most exciting part of the game for me. Here we had a character to learn about, a vector through which to view both the DRC and the new explorers coming into the game. Finding Sharper's D'ni office was even better. Sharper's journal was a monumental effort. It boggles my mind why Cyan doesn't continue to use this fantastic resource to advance content or at least to recap all the content people may have missed.

The expansion packs were equally great--which is what originally buoyed up my hopes. Ercana was lots of fun to solve, and Ahnonay was just brilliant. The Tree and the Watcher and the Grower tied those two puzzles together, AND we actually got an exciting resolution/reward for solving Ercana and Ahnonay--finding the path of the shell, entering three, finding Myst, and a nice summation and spectacular fireworks from Yeesha. It felt like it meant something. And that something even bigger and more exciting would happen next.

I'm not sure what I was looking for when I finally was able to join the latest incarnation of Uru. I was ecstatic to learn that Cyan had found funding and was able to resurrect this marvelous game. But it all came out ... rather flat. Others have expressed the why's and wherefore's about that better than I, so I won't get into it, but I will offer one concrete suggestion.

Journals! If we can't have Ages (and I understand the resources just aren't there to give them to us), what about backstory? Why not pepper DRC member's personal journals (like Watson's, like Phils, especially like Sharpers) around the cavern and the ages? They could contain such interesting backstory, an insight into the DRC's thoughts, and an excellent way to give new explorers the chance to read up on what has been happening in the cavern. They could even move them around to different spots to that hunting for them (or coming across them in a happy accident) could give us something to do. They could actually have Sharper update his journal.

Okay, I'm done :) Please keep on with this thread--I'm finding it fascinating and extremely informative to read.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2007 1:41 pm 
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I think creative wise they should ask Robyn Miller or Richard Vander Wende to come back.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2007 3:59 pm 
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I love game post mortems, and that is the technical term, for any development project, not just a game project. If you get Game Developer magazine, the post mortems are really fun to read. Wow, I see that you can also read them online!

I don't have any answers, though, in my humble opinion, I don't think bringing back Robyn Miller or Richard van der Wende (of Riven fame) is the answer. Much as I love Myst (not crazy about Riven, yes, yes, I know, heresy for long time avid fans), those are games that occured in a particular time and a particular game landscape. The gameworld is different now - a great looking game with lots of interactivity is the norm. Myst will always have a place in my heart, but I think that Uru needs to be, well, different. I could just use shorthand and say "what Axel said"!

All for now.

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Last edited by mszv on Mon Dec 31, 2007 5:06 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2007 4:53 pm 
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A post mortem is a term for a review meeting or document you can (should!) do at the end of any project. It's not reserved to games. The term literally means 'after death' and traditionally refers to an autopsy. Now, all that morbid stuff aside, it by no means has to focus only the negative, so 'after death' should really read 'after completion' in our case.

Here's a bit of a summary and several links to some of the most well-known game post-mortems (although sadly, those are really after death for some companies):

http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/archives/000736.html

It helps to bring closure to the project (often lost in the rush of development) and helps to draw some lessons from what has gone before that can help old and new team members alike to cherish the triumphs and learn from the mistakes.

Since I doubt the community is interested in a technical post mortem (which I suspect Cyan did or will do for their own benefit), I would like to propose to them to do a design post mortem for us. Specifically, it would be good to see what the team hoped to achieve, what challenges they encountered along the way, what ultimately worked great and what in the end failed. Any furhter outlook would be appreciated but we should not expect that for the reasons already explained above.

Why do I think this will help? One, it allows Cyan to put their thoughts on this together, and it will provide the community with some insight and perspective on game design, I suspect many do not possess. Finally, I think it will soothe some ongoing pains, and hopefully will help to manage expectations of what is to come.

Regarding Robyn Miller & Richard van der Wende, I think mszv hit the nail on the head here. For me Riven was the ultimate achievement in in-depth world creation. It wasn't so much a game, as it was an interactive piece of art. There is just so much attention to minute detail and care in this work it seems almost obsessive (and it probably ways listening to the accounts from people involved). However, that was over 10 years ago! The technology and the market has fundemantally changed since then.

While both Richard and Robyn are tremendously talented people, I doubt they could have any impact on the game we have before us today, in addition to the fact that it would also be very hard to motivate someone to work on something already so broadly established.

In the end, re-engineering something is always extremely painful, and most often a wasted effort compared to starting something new from scratch.

If you look at games today, and especially online games, you will see the industry embracing a growing casual player-base. Gone are the designs catering to only the hard-core enthusiasts. There is both good and bad in that. Mostly, the games mechanics and gameplay has been severely simplified (displeasing the old guard) and opened up to gameplay catering to the 30 minutes a day players with short bursts of entertainment.

On the positive side, MMOs especially have now found ways to deliver meaningful and evolving story-lines, something almost entirely unheard of before. In a way, their basic design had always been favourable to it, it just took a lot of learning and refinement of what had gone before. Notable examples in this category are Lord of the Rings Online, Tabula Rasa and GuildWars (and probably others I don't know about).

Uru has not evolved with the market. In fact, it entered the market with the hindrance of an entirely different content creation model. Then again, it tried to achieve its goals in a completely different way, so it is not quite fair to compare it on those grounds.

One thing is sadly obvious, however. Uru will never be able to cater to the 30 minutes a day crowd, that all the other titles are recruiting their players from and specifically designing their content for these days. That is really quite ironic, because it was Cyan who opened up computer game entertainment to a casual and largely untapped market segment with Myst. As much as I would hope it wasn't so, Uru has systemic, basic design problems that no Robyn, Richard or other notable designer could easily fix.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2007 4:59 pm 
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@Mererid

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Sharper's journal was a monumental effort. It boggles my mind why Cyan doesn't continue to use this fantastic resource to advance content or at least to recap all the content people may have missed.


Because it was Sharper's IC journal, and someone asked Sharper to write more in it so they could read more about what's going on. :lol:

What would you do if someone asked you to your face to write in your own private journal more, and was up front about reading it as a major source of news in the Cavern.... :ROTFL:

P.S. Here's to hoping someone finds his other journal that was "misplaced" at the time of his return.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2007 5:22 pm 
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Axel wrote:
A post mortem is a term for a review meeting or document you can (should!) do at the end of any project. It's not reserved to games. The term literally means 'after death' and traditionally refers to an autopsy. Now, all that morbid stuff aside, it by no means has to focus only the negative, so 'after death' should really read 'after completion' in our case.

Here's a bit of a summary and several links to some of the most well-known game post-mortems (although sadly, those are really after death for some companies):

http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/archives/000736.html

It helps to bring closure to the project (often lost in the rush of development) and helps to draw some lessons from what has gone before that can help old and new team members alike to cherish the triumphs and learn from the mistakes.

Since I doubt the community is interested in a technical post mortem (which I suspect Cyan did or will do for their own benefit), I would like to propose to them to do a design post mortem for us. Specifically, it would be good to see what the team hoped to achieve, what challenges they encountered along the way, what ultimately worked great and what in the end failed. Any furhter outlook would be appreciated but we should not expect that for the reasons already explained above.

Why do I think this will help? One, it allows Cyan to put their thoughts on this together, and it will provide the community with some insight and perspective on game design, I suspect many do not possess. Finally, I think it will soothe some ongoing pains, and hopefully will help to manage expectations of what is to come.

Regarding Robyn Miller & Richard van der Wende, I think mszv hit the nail on the head here. For me Riven was the ultimate achievement in in-depth world creation. It wasn't so much a game, as it was an interactive piece of art. There is just so much attention to minute detail and care in this work it seems almost obsessive (and it probably ways listening to the accounts from people involved). However, that was over 10 years ago! The technology and the market has fundemantally changed since then.

While both Richard and Robyn are tremendously talented people, I doubt they could have any impact on the game we have before us today, in addition to the fact that it would also be very hard to motivate someone to work on something already so broadly established.

In the end, re-engineering something is always extremely painful, and most often a wasted effort compared to starting something new from scratch.

If you look at games today, and especially online games, you will see the industry embracing a growing casual player-base. Gone are the designs catering to only the hard-core enthusiasts. There is both good and bad in that. Mostly, the games mechanics and gameplay has been severely simplified (displeasing the old guard) and opened up to gameplay catering to the 30 minutes a day players with short bursts of entertainment.

On the positive side, MMOs especially have now found ways to deliver meaningful and evolving story-lines, something almost entirely unheard of before. In a way, their basic design had always been favourable to it, it just took a lot of learning and refinement of what had gone before. Notable examples in this category are Lord of the Rings Online, Tabula Rasa and GuildWars (and probably others I don't know about).

Uru has not evolved with the market. In fact, it entered the market with the hindrance of an entirely different content creation model. Then again, it tried to achieve its goals in a completely different way, so it is not quite fair to compare it on those grounds.

One thing is sadly obvious, however. Uru will never be able to cater to the 30 minutes a day crowd, that all the other titles are recruiting their players from and specifically designing their content for these days. That is really quite ironic, because it was Cyan who opened up computer game entertainment to a casual and largely untapped market segment with Myst. As much as I would hope it wasn't so, Uru has systemic, basic design problems that no Robyn, Richard or other notable designer could easily fix.


Oh Dear. I hope Cyan can be inspired by this fan made creation:
http://www.mystonline.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=14141


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2007 5:25 pm 
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Thank you enlightening me, I just imagined dead bodies being carved up to see what they died from... something you might wish to do in the Kadish Vault lol.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2007 5:48 pm 
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I do think that the online game world, and the game world in general, has changed. Whether the change is for good or bad - I'll leave it up to you. I don't think that most gamers today are comfortable wandering around for hours and hours trying to figure out what is going on, also having nothing to do. I'm not saying a little bit of mystery isn't good (I like the mysteriousness of Uru!) but, in my humble opinion, many people have only a limited amount of time to get to the good stuff, and they want to maximize their playing experience.

Over at mmorpg veteran players are constantly complaining that new players want it too easy and only play in little short bursts - they don't devote the time to mastering the game, all that. What can I say, some of us have busy lives! I know that I can't devote the months it took to solve the puzzles in Myst. OK, I'm bad with puzzles but to give myself credit, I didn't play all the time! Now I need to be able to get into a game and have a positive experience in a short amount of time. We can decry how players have short attention spans nowadays, but I think it's helpful to note that if that's how your player base is, then you have to adjust your game to accomodate your player's attention spans and time in game. MMO games are all about the numbers. If people don't subscribe to your game and don't login to the game, then, well, you don't have a game.

On story - I think players of MMOs (and players of games in general) vary in their appreciation of story. I like story myself, but some players are not into it. I have a friend who plays World of Warcraft and she told me that she never reads the quests anymore, she just does them. Me - I read all the details of the quests in Lord of the Rings Online - I really like that stuff, and I want to know why I'm doing something. This is also how Uru could succeed, in my opinion - it's got a rich backstory. It's also got a bit of a "front story" - the Yeesha thing (I like Yeesha) and the bahro stuff. A little more emphasis on story, available to all players, would have been a good thing. I don't think that we should have solved a single puzzle without having some sort of story reward, and make it interactive please! Journals are good, and you can reread them, but I realy want animations and videos! I also think that the story has to be right in front of you. I tell people that games, including online games, are "all about me". Sure, it's fun to read about character sightings elsewhere, but the good stuff has to be right in front of me for me to like it, even in an online game. I'm fine with an online persistent world, with stuff going on when I'm not there, but enough good stuff has to go on right in front of me for me to get into it. I was fine with missing the other character interactions, but it did bother me that I didn't get to see Yeehsa. I really wanted to see Yeesha and I think that all players should be able to see Yeesha, irregardless of when they login to the game.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2007 6:13 pm 
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MustardJeep wrote:
@Mererid

Quote:
Sharper's journal was a monumental effort. It boggles my mind why Cyan doesn't continue to use this fantastic resource to advance content or at least to recap all the content people may have missed.


Because it was Sharper's IC journal, and someone asked Sharper to write more in it so they could read more about what's going on. :lol:

What would you do if someone asked you to your face to write in your own private journal more, and was up front about reading it as a major source of news in the Cavern.... :ROTFL:

I find it ludicrous that an IC Cyan character responded to an OOC response in this way. Historically and traditionally IC Cyan characters have not acknowledged OOC responses in the past. What changed? Considering the game has NEW in-experienced Explorers (as young as 10 years old) as well as long time experienced Explorers and considering this journal was a primary source of In-Game information, I see this as a cop-out on Cyan’s part. Just another breach of those un-written rules. What better way to deflect responsibility away from Cyan that to blame an Explorer. Kinda like the connectivity issues going on now.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2007 6:36 pm 
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Axel wrote:
One thing is sadly obvious, however. Uru will never be able to cater to the 30 minutes a day crowd, that all the other titles are recruiting their players from and specifically designing their content for these days. That is really quite ironic, because it was Cyan who opened up computer game entertainment to a casual and largely untapped market segment with Myst. As much as I would hope it wasn't so, Uru has systemic, basic design problems that no Robyn, Richard or other notable designer could easily fix.


Alright, now you've finally given me something to dig into... that is, a point with which I completely disagree. 8)

A major factor in Uru's appeal to me has been that I don't have to be there daily; I do not have to worry that my friends will pressure me because they "need" me to be in the game with them at the same time. In my experience, teaming up in other MMOs is critical. Whereas everyone is the same in Uru, in other MMOs different characters have different abilities, and you have to build a team to be truly effective. You have to balance your abilities against everyone else's. The deeper into the game you go, the more your teamwork begins to matter, and "solo" players begin to find advancement increasingly difficult or downright impossible. While the team aspect may sound cool at first (I'll admit, it is really fun when it works out), and may even have some potential lessons for getting along in your Real Life, the co-ordination requirement quickly becomes a liability when part of your regular team is missing. So there's a big peer pressure element involved that I don't like.

I don't have to schedule any part of my life around Uru! In other games, I have gone on vacation, returned, and felt hopelessly left behind. Other players that I had teamed with would have proceeded into areas beyond my ability... and they'd have no interest in helping me catch up. My own fault for not being there and contributing to the team, they'd tell me.

Let me contrast that with Uru. In a few spots now, you'll need assistance. For Ahnonay, you'll need to find one person willing to help. There's almost always someone in the Guild of Greeters willing to assist; I have stood there for hours, idling while busy with other tasks, and watched player after player arrive and ask for help, and receive it. The "worst" situation anywhere in Uru seems to be the Delin and Tsogal gardens, and I see few complaints about those, and every few days I hear that someone is organizing a door run. In Uru, people don't seem to mind re-running the same content to help others complete it. There's an entirely different community mindset that I haven't seen elsewhere.

The only incident thus far where Uru has broken my expectations, where some players were "left out" because they didn't "advance quickly enough," has been Yeesha's appearance in K'veer; and as I previously mentioned, I don't think that was intentional or planned to be that way.

So there you go; per my experiences, there is no other game that caters MORE to the casual crowd than Uru.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2007 6:54 pm 
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Double post, because I missed this... whoops.

semplerfi wrote:
I find it ludicrous that an IC Cyan character responded to an OOC response in this way. Historically and traditionally IC Cyan characters have not acknowledged OOC responses in the past.

Are you talking about this?
Quote:
(03/12 17:50:03) Justin: do u mind u s reading your Journal?
(03/12 17:50:18) Douglas Sharper: I'm not sure I've ever been asked such a question.
(03/12 17:50:27) Douglas Sharper: Do you mind if someone steals your car?

Exactly how is that an OOC question? Please explain.

Or maybe you were talking about Vormaen's private conversation with Douglas Sharper two days later?
http://forums.drcsite.org/viewtopic.php?t=1895

Was any part of that OOC?

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2007 7:45 pm 
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Marten wrote:
Exactly how is that an OOC question? Please explain.

No I am not referring to Vormaen’s conversation.

Marten, since your are the resident expert here and I am obviously not, so how is it not OOC?

From day one we have been able to read Sharper’s journal. This is a game of exploration. Was the Sharper character so lame he did not know his journal was being read? This is just another example of the IC vs OOC clash not being handled by Cyan very well. Where is it written by Cyan that in-appropriate questions by any one explorer will be dealt with by the removal of in-game information sources for the whole community of explorers? Rather ‘Boot Camp’ if you ask me.


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