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Would you be willing to volunteer your services to keep this game going and make it the game you always wanted to play? Feel free to elaborate by responding to this post.
Yes 81%  81%  [ 145 ]
No 19%  19%  [ 34 ]
Total votes : 179
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2008 3:02 am 
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chucker wrote:
Your analogy doesn't work, nor would any other. Uru is a new kind of thing, and trying to find apt analogies is – no offense – a waste of everyone's time. I get the feeling that you're trying too hard to retrofit Uru into a traditional, linear game, which it cannot be (and, save the ridiculously lacking and poorly-planned single-player releases, never in fact has been).


I was not trying to make a profound statement with it, just to make my post a little more entertaining. I like to think visually. Anything else would have been as good or bad.

You seem to imply that you know what Uru is. I, in fact, have no idea, really. As far as I am concerned Cyan has neither shown nor told either. We saw the patched single-player release, we saw some experimenting in Season One. All to very mixed results. What is it supposed to be? I wish Cyan would finally just come out and tell us, then we could stop bickering over what we think it might be.

When you say I try to retro-fit it into a traditional game, you are only half correct. I wish Uru would be a vehicle to tell me story (along with a social experience), that I could experience while interacting with the world in an entertaining way. The mechanisms of puzzles and journals in the tradional games have worked marvelously well for that. They are mostly absent in Uru, which leads me to not having much fun with it.

You refer to Second Life, and as mszv has pointed out that comparison falls short, unless you see Uru as just another sandbox. Second Life is just an online playground with some tools given to the users. Sure, they have built astonishing things with it. But you couldn't put a story in it, because the users there and their interests are as diverse as the various incarnations of castles, clothes, jetplanes etc they model there every day.

If you think Uru should be a sandbox with a backstory, then yes, I think that could be achieved. If that is Cyan's intentions, fine. That falls far short of what I would hope it would be. And I suspect, at least half of the people here would agree. Probably more.

I for one, would like to be entertained by a professionally crafted, meaningful, emotionally impacting story. Not freeform role-playing with user generated props.

So, you see, neither you nor I can be right or wrong in this discussion, until Cyan finally makes up their mind about what Uru really is. I think it's important that they do, because Sandbox people and story-driven game people don't play well together in the same garden. One or the other will leave out of boredom. Right now, neither is getting what they like and that is even worse.

As far as I am concerned it is foolish to think a toolkit can be retrofitted into Uru. It would take half the effort to build a new game from scratch. For the most part, games featuring toolkits were built using those tools from the ground up. Neverwinter Nights certainly was. Ryzom to an extend as well. That one was a shame to watch go down in flames. Then again, maybe there is a lesson there too, because Ryzom also had way too many visions and ideas in its creation. It was so grande a tapestry that Nevrax (developers) didn't have the time to build in any engaging gameplay into their mostly-sandbox driven design. Uru is ailing from a similar malady.

Incidentally, Ryzom also featured real-life actor driven events, they even had far better toolkit for changing the world on the fly for their actors and their game masters. And while these events were great fun to take part in, they were discontinued for the same reasons they don't work in Uru: Only a fraction of the players get to see them, they are costly to produce, they lead to no repeatable experience.

Your suggestion of a motion-capture tool is nice, and doable, but really, why would I want to watch a recording of a past event in an online game? Especially if it was unedited. And if it was carefully edited, what was the purpose of the recording over making a cutscene in the first place? If I wanted a second-hand experience I'd much rather watch TV.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2008 7:44 am 
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In answer to the poll, yes of course. I want to add as much content to the game as time permits. I hope that this'll help make Uru that much more interesting, and every little bit helps, I believe.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2008 8:38 am 
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mszv wrote:
Ok, every time I use "irregardless", a word I like, someone objects. So, in the spirit of fun, I'm changing it!

Back to an actual comment. Chucker, if you want to turn Uru into a sandbox, that would be fine - I'd like to see what would happen.


Just to be clear: I don't "want to turn it into one"; I am convinced it could only possibly work as one, single-player portions (which never had much to do with the Uru/Mudpie concept) notwithstanding.

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But, the whole idea of a sandbox is that there easy to use tools that come with the thing, and everyone knows it's a sandbox kind of game. Right now, Uru has no tools.


No argument there. Well, let's say it doesn't have particularly good tools, nor remotely enough of them.

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Hey, I don't work for Cyan, so what do I know, but it's hard for me to imagine our Uru suddenly going from no tools (and they weren't part of the design) to a rich set of tools we all can use!


Obviously.

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Again, what do I know, but do you think that you can get thousands and thousands of players to buy into that?


No. To think that there will be a sudden explosion from a few thousand players to several hundreds of thousands from one day would be quite naïve. But just like several social networks have been spreading crazily (Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, etc.), Uru could as well. The chance for that hasn't passed yet.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2008 8:55 am 
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Axel wrote:
You seem to imply that you know what Uru is.


I don't mean to be conceited or arrogant. However:

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What is it supposed to be? I wish Cyan would finally just come out and tell us, then we could stop bickering over what we think it might be.


I have read and listened to dozens of interviews, spoken with several Cyan employees over the years, met Rand Miller twice, played pre-releases and watched old promotion videos. I've seen the project evolve from DIRT in late 1997/early 1998 to Mudpie/Parable around 2000 to Myst Online/Uru starting 2002.

Ever since the Mudpie codename came into play, there has been one core aspect to the vision that hasn't changed since: for Uru not to be a game by itself, but an environment for you to be a part of, for you to devise and help devise, and for you to entertain yourself in – including playing games.

To paraphrase Rand, from the "Evolving the Vision" video series around 2001: "you don't come home and think about what show you're gonna watch. You think about where you want to travel next, and who you want to travel with."

The actual single-player releases heavily diverted from that vision, but as far as I'm concerned if you're going to have an online Uru, it should either be the real deal, or you might as well forget about it.

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When you say I try to retro-fit it into a traditional game, you are only half correct. I wish Uru would be a vehicle to tell me story (along with a social experience), that I could experience while interacting with the world in an entertaining way. The mechanisms of puzzles and journals in the tradional games have worked marvelously well for that. They are mostly absent in Uru, which leads me to not having much fun with it.

You refer to Second Life, and as mszv has pointed out that comparison falls short, unless you see Uru as just another sandbox. Second Life is just an online playground with some tools given to the users. Sure, they have built astonishing things with it. But you couldn't put a story in it, because the users there and their interests are as diverse as the various incarnations of castles, clothes, jetplanes etc they model there every day.


Ryan Miller, just a few weeks ago:
Quote:
"We've been kicking around a lot of plans for season two, like ramping up the guilds and player created content," says Ryan. "It won't be like say, Second Life, where players can just create anything. There will be some quality assurance involved."


I.e., it's Second Life with constraints (laws of the multiverse), with a focus (the D'ni, and related civilizations), and with a point (exploration, rebuilding, etc.). No, there won't be jetplanes. That would be ridiculous.

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If you think Uru should be a sandbox with a backstory, then yes, I think that could be achieved. If that is Cyan's intentions, fine. That falls far short of what I would hope it would be.


How? How does it "fall far short"?

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I for one, would like to be entertained by a professionally crafted, meaningful, emotionally impacting story.


I cannot fathom that working in an MMO context. A multiplayer context, sure, but more than a dozen people, and it'll fail.

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Your suggestion of a motion-capture tool is nice, and doable, but really, why would I want to watch a recording of a past event in an online game? Especially if it was unedited. And if it was carefully edited, what was the purpose of the recording over making a cutscene in the first place? If I wanted a second-hand experience I'd much rather watch TV.


For the same reason people watch the news: to find out about recent, past events.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2008 9:03 am 
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chucker wrote:
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But, the whole idea of a sandbox is that there easy to use tools that come with the thing, and everyone knows it's a sandbox kind of game. Right now, Uru has no tools.


No argument there. Well, let's say it doesn't have particularly good tools, nor remotely enough of them.


(Doing my bit to give the developers the recognition that they deserve for the years of time and effort they have put into making tools for Uru... )

"Particularly good ones" is a hard way to judge tools, especially since we can only speculate on what Cyan tools actually look like. Currently we have developers hard at work adding new features to a plugin for the Blender3D Modeling program, which allows you to export Ages into the offline Uru games.

There are also rumours of other plugins in development for other 3D modeling applications.

I agree that we don't have enough, and that they don't support as much as Cyan's; but they do exist and they do work.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2008 12:53 pm 
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chucker wrote:
I have read and listened to dozens of interviews, spoken with several Cyan employees over the years, met Rand Miller twice, played pre-releases and watched old promotion videos. I've seen the project evolve from DIRT in late 1997/early 1998 to Mudpie/Parable around 2000 to Myst Online/Uru starting 2002.


That's just the thing. You are not alone in having seen, read and heard all these things. And among all these grande sweeping visions, hopes, and dreams there is one fundamental thing lacking. A solid mission statement. Until Cyan can sum up what they want Uru to be in a single sentence, it will remain incoherent, sprawling and almost impossible to develop for, because where are the priorities? What needs to be done to realise the mission?

chucker wrote:
The actual single-player releases heavily diverted from that vision, but as far as I'm concerned if you're going to have an online Uru, it should either be the real deal, or you might as well forget about it.


Obviously, the single-player release diverted from the original vision. However, to what extend and just how bad or good that is no one has ever been able to define because of my above point. I agree with you that the Uru should either be done right, or they should forget about it. It's just too painful for everyone involved. The problem I keep pointing out is that it is not entirely clear to the players, and maybe even not to Cyan just exactly 'doing it right' actually means.

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I.e., it's Second Life with constraints (laws of the multiverse), with a focus (the D'ni, and related civilizations), and with a point (exploration, rebuilding, etc.). No, there won't be jetplanes. That would be ridiculous.


Now you're quoting me out of context. Play nice. My point was that SL couldn't have story because their user's creations and passions are too diverse. SL works because there is little to no moderation. SL also has relatively easy to use tools built right into the game, so that pretty much everyone can participate. If you turn Uru into a sandbox (and it is as far removed from it right now than any single player game), you would need to put heavy Q&A into it. Who is supposed to do all that work? And why is it better use of Cyan's time to test and approve fan creations than actually create content themselves? Only a fraction of the playerbase feasibly could and would engage in fan creation and fan created content. You are proposing making the game even more exclusive than it already is! I don't see that becoming successful at all.

Facebook, Myspace, Bebo etc. are taking off so massively, because they are ridiculously easy to use, and there is no moderation, no boundary to what you can create for it and what you can use it for. As soon as you put your restrictions in, that massive appeal drops out of the picture.

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How? How does it [a sandbox with a backstory] "fall far short"?


A lot of people here aren't interested in a sandbox. They are not here to create their own stories. They are here to be told a story and to play a game. For them, and me, everything else is a nice add-on not the reason d'etre. Like I said, if you turn that on its head, you would make the sandbox people happy, but the story people would leave, and you would lose mass market appeal. If Uru was SL with restrictions on creation and quality it would cater for so narrow a niche of people, that such an undertaking would be better reserved for an amateur enthusiast community project. And maybe it should. You can't have both.

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I cannot fathom that working in an MMO context. A multiplayer context, sure, but more than a dozen people, and it'll fail.


I don't mean this to get personal. However, you obviously have not played any of the latest MMOs. They carry story in a very meaningful, constant and repeatable way, just as single-player games did before.

Again, you seem to have a very clear vision of what you think Uru should be. For you it should be a sandbox, and stories would be re-enacted by a small group of people.

Cyan has never stated that that is what Uru is. If they did, I would lose all interest in such a narrow-appeal, free-form role-playing playground, and so would lots of other current players.

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[Why would a motion capture tool be meaningful?] For the same reason people watch the news: to find out about recent, past events.


And it would be just as entertaining as watching the news. I simply cannot understand what the appeal of second hand experience in a story-telling environment should be. It is boring to watch other people having fun, I would much rather do something where I had fun myself.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2008 2:34 pm 
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As one of the couple dozen who posted the "Motion Capture" idea at about the same time originally I want to toss in my two cents.

Axel you defiantly seem to fall into the "I want to be there" crowd, and I am happy to let you. A lot of people however happen to usually be in the wrong place at the right time, dislike hitting the forums for story updates, and get nailed by Lag in a crowd still.

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And it would be just as entertaining as watching the news. I simply cannot understand what the appeal of second hand experience in a story-telling environment should be. It is boring to watch other people having fun, I would much rather do something where I had fun myself.


In the original idea Explorers would just be kinda "extra", if you wanted to watch it solo you make a selection before hitting play and all you see is the official characters. The idea of holographic playbacks of the official story driving events is a good one to take some of the pressure of the live events. I for one would be happy to have it since I am one of those that is usually in the wrong place at the right time even with all the story crammed into a single week, and am royally tired of chatlogs.

F.Y.I. A feature request I made back around May was for there to be history books in the Library that would allow you to link to a instance of a area that had a story event so you could watch it happen again. I believe the Cyanists called it highly unrealistic to expected any time soon, but they liked the idea.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2008 3:54 pm 
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MustardJeep wrote:
Axel you defiantly seem to fall into the "I want to be there" crowd, and I am happy to let you. A lot of people however happen to usually be in the wrong place at the right time, dislike hitting the forums for story updates, and get nailed by Lag in a crowd still.


Not quite, my point is something else. Just like you, I was only ever lucky enough to be in the right spot for one story event all year. That is deeply frustrating.

Now, to propose building some kind of motion capture feature is really just tinkering around with the symptoms of the problem, not actually solving the problem itself. I believe the very idea of having the continuity of the game rest on real-life story events is deeply flawed That is the real problem for me. Being able to watch these events after the fact, will certainly help a little. But just like watching the news, it's not entertaining. It removes the player from the story. The story should be persistent.

Otherwise, all you create is a highly interactive story for 5% of your players, and force 95% of your players to watch a canned version of your story. If I wanted to do that, I would watch TV, it is far superior in delivering linear drama.

The whole purpose of interactive story-telling is to let the player take part themselves. This can only really work if the story elements are persistent and interactive for EVERYBODY.

If that is not where Cyan is going with the game, they will never have a chance of this not being a mostly frustrating niche experiment. The symptoms can be tinkered with, the fundamental problem will remain.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2008 4:14 pm 
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well i don't seen why we should have to hack it to find out what's been changed every mmolg gives you a list of bugs fixes patches etc doesn't URU do the same?.

I do not think it is "Domed" just needs a bit of structure in place to get thinks moving.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2008 6:55 pm 
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Axel wrote:
I don't mean this to get personal. However, you obviously have not played any of the latest MMOs. They carry story in a very meaningful, constant and repeatable way, just as single-player games did before.

Axel, you've made the above statement multiple times now, to multiple people including myself, but I would like to see some supporting examples. I've read reviews of recent MMOs... games such as Tabula Rasa that have made broad claims of catering to the more casual crowd... and those reviews have been poor. I'm not inclined to accept an argument that the reviews are negative because the reviews are written by "the hardcore crowd" although that seems to be what you've implied in other posts.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2008 7:13 pm 
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Marten wrote:
Axel wrote:
I don't mean this to get personal. However, you obviously have not played any of the latest MMOs. They carry story in a very meaningful, constant and repeatable way, just as single-player games did before.

Axel, you've made the above statement multiple times now, to multiple people including myself, but I would like to see some supporting examples. I've read reviews of recent MMOs... games such as Tabula Rasa that have made broad claims of catering to the more casual crowd... and those reviews have been poor. I'm not inclined to accept an argument that the reviews are negative because the reviews are written by "the hardcore crowd" although that seems to be what you've implied in other posts.


If Tabula Rasa has a storyline besides "run around and shoot stuff" I didn't find it during my try at it. ;)

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2008 9:41 pm 
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I'll let Axel tackle the issue of "stories in current MMOs", because I'm right at the beginnino of Lord of the Rings Online. I will say a little about LOTRO - it is very personal. Everything I do in the game I do for a reason - the quests are very personal. I feel very engaged, and, oddly enough, even though it's a big online game with lots of players, I feel very personally involved. I'm also part of an overreaching story, but I admit I haven't gotten to that much of it yet, since I'm still at the initial stages. There is an issue on whether MMO players like story in a game. From my very anecdotal observations, the Lord of the Ringers players seem to like story a lot (it is after all, Lord of the Rings), while the World of Warcraft people - not so much. Again, this is anecdotal. I don't have the means to do a formal study

On in-game mod tools, I'm thrilled if some mod tools are being developed for Uru. However, the tools we are talking about here don't seem to be what I call in-game mod tools, tools that most people can easily use, tools that come with the game. Don't get me wrong - I happy if any tools are being developed. However, I call the current batch of tools "so you want to be a game developer" tools. They look like open source versions of game developer tools on the market, difficult to use, with a steep learning curve. This makes sense to me, as Uru didn't appear to have been developed with easy to use mod tools, and I don't see how one would retrofit easy to use mod tools.

On what Uru is - instead of looking at what Cyan says about Uru, I like to look at what the game is now. In my opinion, Uru is really two loosely connected games, as follows -

In the first game, there are several kinds of gameplay
- you solve puzzles to advance the story and open up new ages to explore. You get to see a couple of NPC (non player characters) as AI (artificial intelligence), which I like. This is available to all players. Some of the puzzles are multiplayer. Sadly, in the current release, not all puzzle solving seems to advance the story.
- socialization - talking, "socializing", playing mini-games, concerts, parties. All MMOs have this.
- finding and acquiring objects. Customizin your Relto and your appearance.

The second game is the game of live events. Gameplay consists of
- viewing and occasionally participating in an interactive story. You logon onto the game, and try to get to an area where there are official in-game characters. You view what is going on, and sometimes you can interact with the in-game characters.

The two games don't generally appear to be connected. When they are connected it doesn't seem to work very well. In the last live event, you had to race through and solve an age (and we were always told to take an age slowly) so that you could participate in a live event, in something that was not repeated. In my opinion, the live events appear to be "tacked on" to the first game. It's as if there wasn't enough to do in the first game, so live events were added to give people something to talk about - my opinion only.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2008 4:57 am 
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Ryan Miller explained that integrating story into the Ages requires time that they have to manage very carefully, and if I understood him correctly, that means they can't integrate story and Ages as well as they'd like. We know they can do it, they've done it in the past. The question is... how can they juggle their time and resources to give us the best approximation of what they want and what we want within their limits?

Live events are one solution, but obviously not the only solution. And while it's good to look at other MMOs, we have to be careful to consider Cyan's current situation, and also (this is more my opinion) we should remember that Uru is DIFFERENT from other MMOs and not all story delivery methods will translate, nor should they, necessarily. Cyan is fully allowed to try new things. And they should. Uru's uniqueness is a major draw.

We also have to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water. It's not an issue of live events vs. pre-recorded events. What Cyan needs is a mix of storytelling techniques. Live events are great because they allow players to have complex relationships with characters from the game that would be impossible with AIs. Remember when Vormaen chewed Sharper out and then got chewed out by Sharper in Negilahn? That's what live events are about! Do THAT with a pre-recorded avatar. :) Nevertheless, the need to have story experiences outside of live events is truly necessary, and most of the players want it. We may have to read it, we may have to listen to it, we may have to watch recordings, but these things should all happen in-game, and ideally this would all be accessible in a way that doesn't involve weeding through the grapevine.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2008 7:43 pm 
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Yeah, that 8)

Personally, I've always felt that the one thing most lacking in Uru is story through content. I know, different people define "content" different ways, but what I mean is this: In Riven, for example, there was depth and detail everywhere. As you explored the 4 main islands of Riven, you saw how Gehn had weaved his influence throughout that world and throughout Rivenese culture. You also had various people's journals to read, which further gave insight into the world you were exploring. Story was largely told not through "live events" (i.e. cutscenes, of which there were few), but through the visuals. Depth, detail, language, history, culture....those are what made Riven so great for me, and that is what I feel Uru most lacks. Live appearances by Cyan-controlled characters (DRC, etc.) and/or pre-recorded character interactions (Zandi, etc.) can have their place, but Cyan's previous work (in my mind) clearly established visual content as the primary--and most effective--means of storytelling.

Just my 2 diminutive monetary units :)

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2008 8:44 pm 
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Following on [email protected]'s comments....

Honestly, I do not expect the same level of cohesiveness that we saw in Riven to appear in Uru. (Yes, that's a little joke... an Age that was ripping apart was cohesive ;) .) Riven was designed and built over a period of 4 years, during which the vision changed repeatedly. Van der Wende, from accounts I've read, was probably both Riven's savior and albatross simultaneously; he injected a vision into the game that wasn't present at the start, a vision that resulted in the redesign of some significant areas and puzzles well after the game was in development... and in the end it produced a stronger game, though it exhausted a big chunk of Riven's budget and drove the project well past the original expected due date.

Uru does not have the luxury of reworking things again and again until they fit like a glove, once those items are under development. Ideas need to be refined in the planning stage... but I recognize that won't always happen. Sometimes things seem really good on paper and then in practice... not so good.

But agreeing with [email protected], I do want some of that magic. Some little scraps of detail here and there that the careful observer can fit together and say, "This makes sense, these little details form another perspective, another picture that doesn't contradict itself."

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