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PostPosted: Fri Aug 25, 2006 2:56 am 
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As most of us know, Age Creation integration into the new Uru Live has been a hot topic lately. I think it's time we step back and really examine this from an unbiased viewpoint. Of course, we'd all like to have our own customized Ages with a flavor that is distinctly our own, but it would be foolish to think that this should be a feature simply because we want it, without knowing what such an option's impact would be on a game's realism. :wink:

There are pros and cons on the whole subject. I'm not advocating it one way or the other, I'm simply stating what would be good and what would be bad about fan-made Ages in Uru, and what would be required to make a working, fisable system of Age management:

What We'd Need

Age Policing: While this harkens back to the whole 'Guild' argument, there are no two ways about this one; with the option for fans to make an Age virtually however they want, there would have to be some form of policing or monitoring of each Age before it is released to ensure that not only is an Age not buggy or obscene in some way, but that Ages aren't copied, or an unecessary strain on the physics engine or load times, etc.

This burden would have to be shouldered by a party other than Cyan, seeing as they're going to be spending most of their time making their own Ages, and hiring a group of moderators to maintain other people's Ages is going to mean money and time away from game creation. :?

Who would take up the responsibility? Age liasons perhaps? A Guild of Maintainers? That's for Cyan to figure out, but either way, they'd need a pretty tight system of Age management to make sure nothing slips through the cracks. :P

User-friendly Creation Engine: The biggest and most important thing as far as Age creation is concerned would be the demand for an easy-to-use, flexible creator engine to make the Ages. This is where I see most of the problems stemming from; it would be a fine balance between a very usable engine that is easy to learn and well integrated into the game, (such as some sort of pre-set 3D modeling program, perhaps click and drop) without making it so 'user-friendly' to the point where options are so limited that you simply have Uru's version of Sim City within a game, thus giving you a host of boring, cookie-cutter Ages with easily recognized pre-rendered objects scattered around bland terrain.

At the same time, it can't be so complex or adaptable as to make it a system that allows for incredibly realistic and original Ages, but sacrifices the ability of the average computer user to use it without taking a 3D modeling class. Again, making an engine like this would take a very, very big chunk of time and funding out of Cyan's already busy schedule/budget.

Accessibility: Like the Nexus is used for City and Island locations, so there would be a need for a game-integrated 'library' or access center where each and every one of the hundreds of thousands of Ages can be stored and accessed by the general public. This 'library' would have to not only be a fairly large place in and of itself, but it's going to be storing a heck of a lot of links, which means slower and slower load times.

The second option would be instead of a public-access system, have an exclusive invite scenario where the only way to reach another explorer's private Age would be through an invite in the Nexus, or perhaps a limited number of books stored in the player's Relto.

In the next post regarding Fan-Made Ages, I'll examine the pros and cons of integrating the engine as well as making it operable and accessible.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 25, 2006 1:53 pm 
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User-friendly Creation Engine

I never have understood this idea that a creation engine is going to just stamp out cookie cutter ages for all or complex ages for the few. I have a pretty nice llitle piece of software for 3d rendering buildings and such.. I think I even posted a shot of my house that I drew up. This program has a very baisc front page for ppl like me to use. I can make some pretty unique stuff with the draw floor, draw wall, draw ceiling, draw stairs, draw door, ect and the pre-made objects. But there is another part to the program that allows you to make your own textures and 3d objects which becomes much more complex. Notice, I do cookie cutters, I've seen others with only this program do masterpeices.

Cyan could even make this age creation machine for the simple cookie cutter age first. Then as time provided another machine would start working that allowed ppl to make there own objects that could be imported into the age creation machine. Then another machine that allowed a person to create textures and import them into the creation machine.

Plus anyone that wanted to use blender or whatever rendering program could find a machine that would import that creation.

Now we have ages from the cookie cutter to the complex.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 25, 2006 3:47 pm 
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Age creation is far from simple, having a simply GUI builder seems unlikely


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 25, 2006 4:10 pm 
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This burden would have to be shouldered by a party other than Cyan
My response to this every time is no, it has to be Cyan's final authority as to what gets into their universe or not.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 25, 2006 5:05 pm 
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Final authority, yes. But not the ONLY one. Or even the one who does a majority of the work. They won't have time to look over the Ages all the time.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 25, 2006 5:50 pm 
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Apologies in advance if the following seems like I'm tossing a wet blanket on a good thread -- it's truly not my intent.

But I'm wondering, in all the discussion of what we want Cyan to give us...

Who's going to pay for it? What's the source of funding for Cyan to develop the easy-to-use Age creation tools, provide tech support, server space, creative oversight, legal, overhead, and so on?


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 25, 2006 7:47 pm 
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Good point, tkwiggins. I wouldn't want to see cyan invest in this kind of thing if it didn't look like it was going to have a return. For example if more ppl would join or stay members if they could make their own ages. If enough ppl would join to cover the costs then it would be worth it. Creating an age is only something most would do if they were getting bored with the speed of added content. If that doesn't happen for the majority than there would be no need for the tools just to make a very small percentage happy.

In that case if ppl really wanted to make an age they could use the methods that are currently used by the writers now, alternative 3d rendering software with a few tools added. That would only leave checking the age for stability and copyright issues. Which could be costly to Cyan. So maybe have ppl outside of cyan check the age first, then have Cyan do a final check before release.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 25, 2006 9:44 pm 
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Peer review

Cyan have said they are looking to release some of the tools they use for Age creation, which means 3d Max tools. Currently the people who are making ages all tend to be linked to the Guild of Age crafters or Age Builders. If you create a simple review body, call them the Guild of Maintainers or Guild or writers. But have them as a review body, say I make an age and would like to see it in Live. I send the files to the Guild of Writers/Maintainers they look it over and check it for bugs, weaknesses maybe even offer solutions. They can reject or accept it. If they accept and age they forward it to Cyan who can then make thier own decision.

I'm not saying you have to be linked to a guild, nor be a part of a guild, but if you want to see your age in Live then you need to get a peer assement first. This way Cyan might have to deal with one maybe two fan ages a month and at the same time the whole community still gets to0 see all of the ages.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 26, 2006 4:14 pm 
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We could even vote on what we send to Cyan for inclusion. :twisted:


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 26, 2006 10:49 pm 
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Just a slight objection here: I'm not sure whether it should be very easy to create our own ages. I mean, (talking in character) not every D'ni could write ages. Unless I'm mistaken, the Art of Writing was quite hard to learn and master. I somehow feel that maybe we should respect that aspect of the story, and having an easy to use age creation tool would spoil that in a way.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 27, 2006 12:28 am 
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nikolas wrote:
Just a slight objection here: I'm not sure whether it should be very easy to create our own ages. I mean, (talking in character) not every D'ni could write ages. Unless I'm mistaken, the Art of Writing was quite hard to learn and master. I somehow feel that maybe we should respect that aspect of the story, and having an easy to use age creation tool would spoil that in a way.


Yes, the Art of Writing is very difficult and time consuming to learn(and even then, only some of the elite mastered it), but that doesn't mean it takes away from that fact is we make ages.

The reason is simple: making ages for Uru isn't a walk in the park either. Each age will take time and dedication before the Art of age making is "mastered." If anyone thinks that they're going to be able to make an age over a dull weekend, they should think again(unless they're making the Nexus :D ) Even Cyan (who is very experienced in age-making for Uru) cannot churn out new ages in a few days, they usually take a month or more.

So if we also were to acquire the Art, it would be equally difficult and time-consuming to master the Art. But those who perserveered and learned all the tricks of the Art would be able to create beautiful ages.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 27, 2006 1:54 am 
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Exactly. No matter how good the tools are, they will still be very hard.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 27, 2006 3:08 am 
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Remember, I tried to keep a pretty unbiased view in the entry. My own personal belief is that the capability to create Ages will completely change the dynamics of Uru. It's going to go from an adventure game to a game-building program if Age Creation is implemented within the game.

What I think would be ideal is to have an authentic, Cyan-built Age Creator that is a completely seperate program from Uru, perhaps to be purchased individually. This way, those that want to use it may, and those that want nothing to do with it don't have to.

Also, in the Age Creator download could come the package of the 'library' I referred to earlier- not only would this free up lag time in the game in general, but only those who are participating in the Age Creation program will be using the Library, thus limiting traffic and making it easier for the other players to stay away from it if they wish. (I know there are some who want absolutely nothing to do with Age Creation, so why not give them the options to avoid it?) :wink:

I honestly believe that if the Age Creation is done right and implemented properly, it can be a fantastic feature without totally consuming Uru. But such a task would take a very long time to perfect, as far as Cyan building it is concerned- it might as well be a completely different project altogether. And that's the danger; when it becomes its own 'thing', Age Creation is going to eat the immersiveness of Uru whole.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 27, 2006 11:47 am 
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Calam wrote:
My own personal belief is that the capability to create Ages will completely change the dynamics of Uru. It's going to go from an adventure game to a game-building program if Age Creation is implemented within the game.

I honestly believe that if the Age Creation is done right and implemented properly, it can be a fantastic feature without totally consuming Uru. But such a task would take a very long time to perfect, as far as Cyan building it is concerned- it might as well be a completely different project altogether. And that's the danger; when it becomes its own 'thing', Age Creation is going to eat the immersiveness of Uru whole.


I agree, but Age creation is not what Uru is about. Uru is about ever-evolving story and associated ever-growing content. There are games out there built solely around player created content ('2nd Life' and 'There' come to mind) but Uru is not one of them and never was. It is only very recently that Cyan started changing their mind about it.
The way I see it Age Creation is a great thing but (whenever it actualy starts) it should only be an added bonus. Something small and unsupported by Cyan, ie: the bare minimum to keep going untìl circumstances are favorable (muh like UU..). And that could be done at or around launch day. (or even before.. *nudge*nudge*)
As has been said already going the whole way to early will only result in monopolyzing Cyan's ressources and possibly dividing the community. Later if things go well, it might evolve to be a core component of the game (after all Uru by definition is meant to evolve). But then we are talking about something much farther away down the road.

As much as I would love to see Age creation evolve into something big I certainly don't want to see that to the detriment of the game or the community.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 28, 2006 2:06 am 
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:::GROAN:::

Rehash after rehash.

I call "Wait and see."

(I am sure it will go unheeded again)

:P


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