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PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2007 2:33 am 
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It's funny. I have probably spend more time with Uru after cancelling my account two days ago than I have all year playing it. I am definitely going to stick around as well. I am really enjoying all the discussion here, and following up on what other people have written in other threads. I will also gladly re-subscribe in a heartbeat if I see signs of positive change on the way. For now, I just need a break, since I simply cannot justify supporting the way things are going for Uru any longer.

Simplerfi's post about Defenders of Mediocrity for Disney products has kind of summed up how I have been feeling about Uru for a long time now. Yes, that is a harsh statement, it's even a harsh term for people who just love Uru with a (blind?) passion. I also don't want to call Cyan mediocre. They have done amazing things, and have been a great inspiration, apart from also being positively amazing to their community. The general sentiment is true though. For me, Uru has not turned out to be the satisfying experience that I had hoped it would be. And it's not that I have not given it all the breaks. Several years, and several hundred Euros no less. I bought every box they threw out there and was quick to subscribe. Compared to the maybe 50 Euros I paid for Riven and the amount of fun and satisfaction received from it, Uru is just way out of proportion. I want them to do a great job, and I want them to be successful as reward. If I pretend everything is fine right now, I would do them a great disservice.

I love the original vision. I love the idea of Uru. I also really love some of the content. Some things done for Uru are the best Cyan has ever produced. It is a true achievement. But I don't think just blindly defending it is a healthy thing, just like Simplerfi demonstrated.

What pains me most is that the fundamental problems have been there from the very beginning, they were part of the original design and were criticised even back then, as mszv, myself and many others will remember. Sometimes this community has been a bit overbearing in its defense of what we all love, and so I am really glad we can have this dicussion now in such a constructive manner.

I also emphatically applaud belford's post. It sums up to a large degree what I have been feeling about Uru since I first heard of ancient-history Mudpie. There has just never really been any open discussion about Uru with Cyan. Sometimes it felt like it was a ballastic rocket that once fired would follow its trajectory no matter what. And often that is a necessity of development. Otherwise, scope-creep will postpone a project to its grave. I'm a product manager myself, so I can relate to many of the internal and external pressures they must be experiencing with Uru. And for all that, I think it is important we give them an honest representation of how we feel about the game.

A second season cannot be discussed by them unless its a done deal. No questions asked. I don't agree with semplerette that our discussion is meaningless in the meantime, however. We can present options for positive change to them, that can meaningfully inform their designers when they set out to specifiy the next releases. That will happen weeks, if not months before development even starts and certainly months before anything hits Live. For all we now, they are specifying them right now. Ok, maybe they are making New Year's party plans. I mean next week ;)

I agree with belford that a really healthy step right now would be some more communication. Without any promises, marketing hype or great formality. A dev blog, or a Q&A, or maybe even just a post mortem on the first season, sort of what worked the way they wanted it to, what didn't work, what could be changed, I think you get the idea.

Following up on Marten's suggestion to write a letter, I found a post by RAWA on the DRC forum in one of his posts.

http://forums.drcsite.org/viewtopic.php?t=1881

As always, RAWA presents his point eloquently, calmly and in a way that really helps to soothe at least some of my pains about Uru. Although, he sounds a little more weary, and a whole lot less tongue-in-cheek than I remembered him. I guess many people haven't reacted with much humour in kind. I will just have to petition Colbert to add penguins to the ThreatDown list to prevent further injury.

Nevertheless that post is exactly the kind of communication I think would tremdously further the healing that this community needs in my eyes.

Circling the wagons is not the answer.

Parlay is :)


Last edited by Axel on Mon Dec 31, 2007 2:40 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2007 2:33 am 
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ziidee wrote:
I hope maybe if it does not work out with Gametap, Cyan might try Uru on their own.


That would be really cool, but GameTap is the only reason Uru is back at all -- Cyan doesn't have the resources to run it without funding from someone else.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2007 3:43 am 
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Axel wrote:
A dev blog, or a Q&A, or maybe even just a post mortem on the first season, sort of what worked the way they wanted it to, what didn't work, what could be changed


Ooh, a post mortem from Cyan. Yes. They should do that.

Great idea.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2007 4:35 am 
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belford wrote:

Ooh, a post mortem from Cyan. Yes. They should do that.

Great idea.


Andrew! That is just so weird. A couple of posts up I was wondering whatever happened to you because eblong was down yesterday, and here you are all over this thread. I seems that forum signatures share the same brain space that banner advertising does for me ;)

I was thinking that maybe you had given up and left as well. It is so great to see you around! Your ongoing Uru review has been such a great companion to my own musings about Uru.

[FanboyMode]
I think Cyan should play Spider & Web and re-discover the power of interactve story-telling!
[/FanboyMode]

Ok, so it seems we have at least one concrete, reasonable suggestion for Cyan so far: a Season One Post Mortem

I don't think just sticking that in the Suggestions group is good enough though. Does anyone have ideas how to properly present that to the right people at Uru HQ?


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2007 4:52 am 
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Post mortem? :o :shock: Could you just, er, word that a tiny bit differently? :? :P :wink:


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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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