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PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2010 6:29 pm 
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All of the boxed games - Myst 1-5, Uru ABM, etc - had one thing in common; they were written for a single player who played alone. All of the puzzles and experiences were scaled in that direction.

But when Uru Live opened up something different happened. Many, if not most, of the enthusiastic players got together in the forums and basically played as a team. Combining all their effort, they were able to blast through the game in record time. Cyan would spend a couple of months developing a new age and puzzle, but the Hive community would run through it in less than an hour.

If a Hive Mind is going to be playing MOULagain, then it would be nice if puzzles could be written with that in mind; a puzzle which would require many people thinking about it in order to find the solution. This is not the same as requiring ten players to stand on ten switch plates in order for the door to open. A single player can figure that puzzle out. What is needed are puzzles which would be impossible for a single person to figure out, but which could be solved by hundreds of people each poking at it in different directions.

What would puzzles like this look like? There was actually a game out several years ago which was written specifically for the Hive Mind. It was called Perplex City. You can find my review of it here:

http://www.justadventure.com/reviews/Pe ... xCity.shtm

Go about two thirds down the review to the section titled The Detective Mystery. Forget about it being an Alternate Reality Game and focus on the puzzles.

The beautiful thing about puzzles like this is that they can be used anywhere. Perplex City was an ARG which took place on the Internet. But we could create similar puzzles and place them into D'ni. The key would be to create puzzles which require extreme knowledge of the D'ni world, but which require minimum modification of the game's engine or graphics. We would want to spend no more than two months to create an adventure that would take the Community at least two months to complete.

So, is anyone up for this? I just barely got back in today and have not read all the threads. Is someone already working on something like this? Or would anybody like to jump in with me to start designing some games worthy of The Hive?

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2010 9:09 pm 
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Not everyone playing Uru is playing it for the same reasons, or in the same way. The hard part is trying to design puzzles and other gameplay that please those different groups, not just one of them.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 12, 2010 9:15 am 
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I love perplex City. It was a terrific experience. The intersection of Uru and Perplex City was that they both invited players to discover an alien civilization, developing all sorts of art and culture in a unified space. Where Perplex City was only an ARG (Alternate Reality Game), Uru is an MMOARG (Massively Multiplayer Online Alternate Reality Game). Perplex City was played in slow trickles, whenever updates were posted, and Uru could be logged into and played any time at all.

Making a puzzle set which meets the kind of 24-hour demand which Uru is necessarily capable of would be tricky. I think it would require, as a minimum, a broad range of puzzles, in a wide breadth of skill levels. Perplex City solved this issue handily enough by allowing players 8 different levels of difficulty in puzzle cards, which were released in 4 waves (most of the individual puzzles themselves were solved fFairly quickly).

Taking a look at other systems, games like World of Warcraft tend to be successful because they offer a constant level grind. There is always something an individual may do to raise some level of something. Puzzle building is extremely simple fFor the developers, in this case, because they simply place a start point, and end point, and a set of simple tasks using established game conventions. I mention this not to suggest that Uru should be more like WoW, but because I think the lesson here is that simple, repetitive tasks can be very appealing to some players, and make fFor good progress indicators.

Towards the end of the MOUL life the fFirst time around, there was a very big, herculean task, put to the global community at large. We were asked to help purify the lake. A gauge was placed at the docks, and progress could (theoretically) be measured as more people dropped their fFully baked pellets into the lake, which should purify and start glowing more brightly. This was a terrific example of what Uru can do. The problems here are simple. 1) there was very little incentive to accomplish the task, other than a vague promise that we might see the lake "come to life." 2) no actual progress was ever observed, and the gauge was declared broken and quietly removed. I have not actually had time to involve myself in MOULa, so I don't know if this sort of thing exists now.

I think, what I often fFeel when exploring Uru, is a sense that we should be *exploring,* not simply wandering. The DRC could release new content, but there is no real connection to what the DRC was doing, and what the explorers were able to do. I have come to fFeel like it would be very nice if we, as explorers, could advance the reconstruction process, it would have fFelt less like we were tourists looking at wallpaper, and more like we were involved in uncovering a lost civilization.

I wrote a nice set of ideas over on unfiction, some while ago. Generally, the ideas do not expressly address your question, but I see some relevance, I would say. The point here, I guess, is this: involve the players in new and interesting ways, and we will be delighted to be involved. Allow us to "help uncover the cultural mystery" and -- some of us, anyway -- will be thrilled to take part.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 14, 2010 12:42 pm 
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I was just thinking of something else. Something which maybe approaches your question, in some way. You started by voicing the concern that the explorers solve every problem very rapidly. Which is sensible enough. But the thing is: Not all problems are rapidly solved by all people. Some of them might be, maybe. I suspect it is the case, however, that most people don't hop through every puzzle right away. I was just wandering around the cavern, thinking about how many tasks I need to complete, and how much time it will take, and how I completely don't remember where anything is in the cavern. =) It will take some time to do the existing tasks, and new tasks will take a fFair lob of time on time of that.

I guess I'm saying, don't worry too much about the connection between "one person" solving a puzzle, and "everyone" having the puzzle solved. People like to look at Alternate Reality Games, and the collective detective, and observe that anything can be accomplished. Which is theoretically true. but in reality, what we see is just one or two people who have a broad spectrum of skills, one or two people who have very specific skills, and a lot of other people who stand back and applaud. Group theory says you will always have a small number of active participants, a larger number passive participants, and a vast majority of innocent bystanders. That doesn't mean you're doing it wrong because you see a lot of rapid actions by a dozen people: that's just about what you will always see.

I recall when Minkata was unveiled, and a fFew people had it rapidly worked out, but I stared at the diagrams trying to make sense of it and eventually wound up scraping the "hints" and solving it on my own. That certainly didn't make it not fFun fFor me. Minkata is one of my fFavorite ages, I think. (That and eder delin, which requires a dozen people to solve, and is my actual fFavorite age to hang out in.)


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 14, 2010 5:57 pm 
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Honestly I feel most of the things in URU that could be considered ARG don't come from the game it self, they come from the community. We found ways to put ourselves into the game's fiction, in a big way through the player run counterparts to the D'ni's guilds. That wasn't some requirement for the game to be played it's part of what the players contribute. Considering Uru never had a SOLID and definite start, I imagine it would be hard to plan things around that community interaction, but now that it has been so well formed and seasoned, I cant imagine this would be an idea left idle. Heck, isn't Tweek running some site with a little secret going on? ;)

It's really not any fault on the puzzles, because like someone else here said, they have to be made for EVERYONE to be able to do, not just the ones who want to arg.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 15, 2010 12:45 am 
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People seem to be taking this as an either/or suggestion. It isn't. It's a "Don't leave us out." plea.

Cyan is releasing Uru as open source. So who is going to develop new ages? Who is going to design new story lines? Who is going to design new puzzles? Not Cyan. We are.

Is there a person anointed by Cyan to lead all the future design? I don't think so and I don't this it would matter if there was. Open Source means open to everyone.

Again, forget the ARG bit. That was just the environment Perplex City was set in. It has nothing to do with Uru. It is the class of puzzle complexity that we can learn from.

Is D'ni so limited that there is no room for side stories? Once an Age is completed, is it so limited that no further story can be told from it?

I am not The Anointed Developer. But I do have a bit of creativity hiding in here somewhere. What I am asking is whether there are any others out there would like to develop a higher level adventure to add to the Uru universe. Ideally, it would take place within the current content and would require minimum modifications. It should not take more than a month to implement, but take several months to play. It should not drag the new content creators away from building new ages.

We are now responsible for the future of Uru. Everyone has the choice of contributing to its development or simply enjoying the work of others. There is nothing wrong with that.

I have indicated what I would like to contribute, but I dare not attempt it alone. Anything I came up with by myself would be flat and limited. But working together with others not otherwise occupied could spark something special.

So I ask the question again, "Is anyone else out there interested in brainstorming something like this?" If so, shoot me an email at r c w a s h at v e r i z o n dit n e t.

Be seeing you.

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