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PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2010 12:32 pm 
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Zander_the_Heretic wrote:
<snip>
One thing that would immediately have wrecked one of the core concepts of the game was if we'd all been given, right at the start, a whizzy gadget that did email and Web access in Relto and the Cavern and all the Ages, which is what it seems people are crying out for. <snip>


I might just make a note here, regarding internet access via KI. The DRC has, canonically, posted to the DRC forums via KI. =) As vid once said: "Its too late, its canon now"


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2010 1:07 pm 
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Good point, I'd forgotten that. So, story-wise, the KI is now web-capable (presumably a refinement of Laxman's only available to DRC members' KIs at the moment), but reality-wise, it isn't yet. Does that indicate that Cyan were planning to make it so, or that they just weren't thinking? Pick the answer you prefer.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2010 1:11 pm 
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Good question. They probably never intended to make it so, but, storywise, its definitely capable of doing so.

Note, however, there are other KI models, canonically, too. So a KI interface improvement might be explainable that way.

For example, I /believe/ this model of the KI is canon, but (obviously) its not the model we're all using. =)

http://guildofartisans.org/dnistuff/lon.bigKI1.jpg

EDIT: Even if this specific model isn't canon, other models do exist, canonically, mentioned on the old site, and archived around the place. =) (and maybe mentioned elsewhere)


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2010 2:10 pm 
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kaelisebonrai wrote:
For example, I /believe/ this model of the KI is canon, but (obviously) its not the model we're all using. =)

http://guildofartisans.org/dnistuff/lon.bigKI1.jpg


Hold on, is that how the Ki hologram is meant to look, small and straight off the unit? I always envisaged it as as big as a computer screen, a bigass projection that floats in front of you.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2010 2:58 pm 
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It might make the conversation more interesting and less challenging, Zander, if you would become more aware of the inner, bitter, darkness that you sometimes allow yourself to project onto the comments and subsequent meaning of others in the conversation. I don't think that many here (myself included) are attempting to assign either malice or stupidity to Cyan.

Relative to communications within the game, (and directly related to the transmission of canon being discussed) the best word I can think of at the moment to describe Cyan during development would be inexperienced. That word does not have to be informed by any pejorative perspective. I think I made the observation a long time ago that Cyan's experience and expertise evolved as a function of their development of single player environments. That perspective did not require any interpersonal communications and so that aspect of game design was beyond the threshold of their development experience.

The transition to a multi-player environment that allows individuals to collaboratively interact places an enormous amount of responsibility on the developers to understand how people collaborate, and the nature of the communications that takes place between them while they do so. The majority of out-world interpersonal communications all over the planet up until recently has been via a verbal tradition while individuals are together in the same physical location. Coordinating complex tasks in-world between individuals that are not in the same physical space and who do not have a reliable means of voice communications, places enormous importance on keyboard input in circumstances where a majority of people have much less experience putting thoughts into written form. At the same time many have little patience for the discipline required for the precise transmission of meaning in writing.

When one add to this, the rudimentary keyboard input features in URU that force an individual to struggle to create complex and meaningful typed statements, or edit them for mistakes once they have typed them, it becomes clear that not enough attention was budgeted to study and develop a knowledge of how people communicate, interact, and collaborate and how to facilitate that in the design of the in-world experience.

I've said this before, but it bears repeating. Cyan's game development experience prior to beginning work on URU evolved as a function of one way communications only. Cyan created content, pointed the content at the player, and the player manipulated it in a solitary manner. The success in this paradigm created a specific market conditioned to this type of behavior.

Moving from that paradigm to an interactive environment would indicate an attempt to expand the market base to include those not conditioned to solitary exploration. That would seem to mandate the need for a vast change in budget allocation with as much as 30-50 percent of it dedicated to understanding communication concepts and developing the tools that would facilitate complex in-game collaboration and historical development that would not be limited almost entirely to rudimentary chat. Isn't it ironic that we have access to a big-ass, beautiful library, but no way to contribute to it, since Cyan initially reserved that privilege for their own canonic purposes?

The creation of the world that emerged 8 years ago, appears to have had a disproportionate amount of its budget allocated to anything but the study and development of in-world communications. Cyan's worlds are, almost by definition, mysterious, complex, and puzzling. Bringing people together in such a location and not providing anything beyond stone knives and bear skins for them to use to facilitate interaction could have been either intentional or not. In either case, inexperience and/or ignorance are most likely at the root of it, and not either malice or stupidity. In any event, it was a stupendous miscalculation.

If the Age of OS URU ever becomes more than an intention, I would hope that a team would come together to create an entirely new communications interface to supplement the KI, since I'm reasonably confident that changes to the primary KI functions will be prohibited by Cyan's desire to control its own canon. I doubt it will happen since it might not be a glamorous project, but hope springs eternal and it might just entice me to download the game again. I haven't been in there since late in the Age of GT. It would also be interesting to see a team build an in-world repository for historical media of all types.

If an Age of OS URU emerges, it will, by definition, be an age in which Cyan and it's canon are no longer the masters of the universe, but only one voice in a single choir performing next door to a Monster Truck Rally (among other things).


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2010 3:06 pm 
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Zander, people do less than optimal designs all the time! No one is perfect. It looks like they had some idea on how they wanted the KI to look, and could not accomodate something easier to use. All design is a compromise. They also want a very minimal UI (user interface) on the screen. I think that the focused too much on the look and not as much on ease of use, personal opinion. All design is a compromise.

I still can't see how they could have deliberately made a device that was a challenge to use, by design. I can support that you needed a quest to find it, but a communication device is supposed to make it easy to communicate. Do you really think that, in a multiplayer game, they'd deliberately design an interface that was a fight to use? Remember, this was supposed to be a big time game, with many, many players --- not a little niche game. Sure, once you learn something, you learn it -- but does it have to be so very hard to learn and use?

I'm also not talking email and web access. I'm talking about a design where it's easier to do things -- send messages, find people in game, send messages to groups, send pictures, find people, all that. And once you open it -- it would be swell to have a small interface at the bottom of the screen (across) where you can do more stuff. Geez, I remember the invites to your ages -- what a nightmare, shudder.
----------------

Other things we could do in the game, for another post.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2010 3:07 pm 
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Regnad Kcin01 wrote:
I'm reasonably confident that changes to the primary KI functions will be prohibited by Cyan's desire to control its own canon.

Why do you believe this? On the contrary, at the moment the only piece of code that has been released (ok, without a license etc.) is exactly the KI python file.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2010 3:29 pm 
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Simone wrote:
Regnad Kcin01 wrote:
I'm reasonably confident that changes to the primary KI functions will be prohibited by Cyan's desire to control its own canon.

Why do you believe this? On the contrary, at the moment the only piece of code that has been released (ok, without a license etc.) is exactly the KI python file.


Perhaps if you take a little longer to consider the broader context of meaning in my post you might see the idea that while bug fixes in the KI might be allowed, the type of communications changes necessary to support significant new development and expanded fan interest in URU will likely require fundamental changes to the in-world communications paradigm.

It seems unlikely that the significant changes necessary could be added to the KI without violating Cyan's D'ni canon. Interestingly, the development effort of a new communications infrastructure could provide the basis for rich, fresh, and invigorating in-world story development as well.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2010 3:39 pm 
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As indicated previously, one can change the KI interface quite easily without breaking canon. It would merely be a different model of KI. =)


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2010 3:44 pm 
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RK01: I'm comfy with my darkness, thank you, and I'm confident that I've read the language of your earlier posts correctly, but I'm willing to accept that it was just imprecision and what you mean is what you said in the last post.

mszv: let me see if I can make it clearer. In a fantasy RPG, like Baldur's Gate say (yes, I do have a lot of old games), the main activity is fighting. Characters start at a low level, where fighting is very very difficult. As they go along through the game, they learn, and it gets easier, but at the beginning it's a challenge.

In Uru, apart from exploring the Ages (which had to be made single-player capable because Ubi wanted it that way), the main activity is communication. The theory I'm trying to express here, and it is only a theory, is that the intention behind making the KI difficult was to present a challenge to communication the same way a low level and a cheap weapon presents a challenge to a fighter. The expectation, if I'm right, was that we would find our own ways to communicate, and as we got better then maybe, as Kaelis said, more advanced KI models would be made available as development time allowed.

Of course I could be wrong, and you and RK could be right, and the reason could just be inexperience and ignorance. I'm just not sure I can reconcile "ignorance" with what I know of Cyan, their level of general computing experience (not just game design) and the time they took working on this idea. I certainly don't believe they didn't think this aspect worthy of close attention. And as Simone says, the release of the Python file may indicate that so far from looking to prohibit anyone working on the KI, they have in fact taken on board the grievances that have been aired about the current facility and could well be looking to the community to suggest improvements. I certainly hope so.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2010 3:47 pm 
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Regnad Kcin01 wrote:
It seems unlikely that the significant changes necessary could be added to the KI without violating Cyan's D'ni canon. Interestingly, the development effort of a new communications infrastructure could provide the basis for rich, fresh, and invigorating in-world story development as well.

Until we determine what are the "significant changes necessary", I would not worry about canon. I mean, Laxman and friends already managed to change the alphabet used by the KI etc.; adding new features as a collective technical effort in an IC sense requires just the same suspension of disbelief.

A very radical redesign in terms of, e.g., interfacing the KI with the web or social networks could be a bit more troublesome... not so much in terms of Cyan canon, but in terms of how much of the Surface world we allow to enter/enrich/contaminate the Cavern. However, that's a problem of the specific features implemented, and not of the extent of the redesign effort; honestly, if Cyan allows us IC to be able to learn the Art, I don't see what canon problems would be raised by tweaking the KI interface.

I agree abut the story hook provided by KI modifications, that would be cool.

EDIT: just saw what kaelis and Zander posted, I'd say that my post is redundant now but I'll leave it here anyway. :-)

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2010 4:23 pm 
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Simone, if you expand your consciousness to absorb the many subtly resonating levels of semantic thickness in my post you'll see that yours isn't redundant at all. :lol: I think you've misunderstood RK, though--I believe he was talking about the story hook possibilities of developing a completely new communications system, since he doesn't think Cyan will let anyone else alter the KI. I think you're right, though: the rich and invigorating possibilities are there whichever option we end up exploring.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2010 4:28 pm 
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Consider that to effect the kinds of changes people like (e.g. Second Life's communications design), it could require windows independent of the game view - what the eye sees - whether inside or outside the camera frame (the game window). It's always been apparent to me that Uru was designed so that everything you see in the game view (a single window or full screen) is what you could see if you were really there. U-R-U. You don't see windows popping up everywhere in real life, and if they did, Uru would have to render that - a humorous thought. In other words, to give people what they want could violate immersion, and immersion was paramount for the game, even if it meant inferior communications. Everything on the screen had to be real. I wonder how much of an artistic compromise it was to install even on-screen chat text. As with some well-known film directors, the vision - the immersion or story - seems to have held more sway than what people wanted. Few artists enjoy compromising their work for the masses. And representing complex societal communication structures and media on one screen - without windows - to retain immersion can get enormously complex and expensive.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2010 6:11 pm 
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Yes. I think, though, the compromise is going to have to happen. Immersion is not as important for some (possibly most) as it is for, say, me. (I never actually managed to work out how to use SL's communications interface properly...) In EVE they get away with it because you're flying a spaceship, so odd windows could simply be part of the display.

As I recall, you have some good ideas KI-wise, though...


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2010 8:03 pm 
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No matter what you do, we aren't in the cavern. I can't feel the wind on my face. It doesn't take me years to explore an area. I can't get hurt. I can't use my arms. I can't pick up things. I can't see a person far away, run up and touch them. I can't have someone help me over a cliff. I can hear and speak with my vocal chords (some people can't), so when I want to communicate with someone "in person" I usually use my voice and talk to them, and they talk back. I don't generally type on a keyboard,

All games, all virtual worlds have these issues, not just Cyan games. Sorry, Zander, you don't get a free pass. Immersion is important for everyone. The people who design games want you to feel like you are there. Design is all about compromise and making it work for the player because, as hard as you may wish, you aren't there.

Cyan apparently wanted the game to be visually arresting, with a limited user interface. I'm guessing that they thought the masses (remember, this game was designed to be played by many people, not a niche market) would soldier on because the game was so darn beautiful, and so what if it was hard to communicate, or hook up with people. Perhaps they thought the interface was not as hard as it really is (my opinion). I don't think they were evil or malicious, not in the slighest. As Regnad said, Cyan had no experience designing a multiplayer game (though perhaps they hired people with said experience, don't know). I do think that they made less than optimal design choices. It happens. The game interface, in my opinion, didn't work well.

You also don't have "reinvent the wheel", every single time. Other games/virtual worlds are beautiful, though one could argue not as beautiful as Uru. You press a key, the interface is there. You press it again, the interface goes away. You get to enjoy the beauty of the world on the screen, like a movie come to life. Then, when you want to do something, you press a key and your interface comes back. This works well. I still hold to the belief that the puzzles and the history of D'ni, that's the puzzle, that's what's deep and mysterious, not, for heaven's sake, how to invite someone into your age! The more time you spend getting frustrated figuring out how to communite in Uru, the less time you have to marvel at the beauty of the ages, solve the puzzles, or uncover the story and history of the world.

The pity is that, for the forseeable future, Cyan won't get to fix it. Think how wonderful it would be if they could do another MMO. I can imagine the Cyan designers (who may not be there anymore, remember Cyan had a huge staff) -- saying to themselves, "what were we thinking, this time we can make is so, so wonderful!"

Getting back to live events -- I think that Cyan thought we'd be happy with live events we didn't see, because other people could tell us about them, so second hand was ok, because that's how the world worked. Maybe this would have worked if, each and every time you logged on, you got to experience your own live story driven event, no matter what time zone you were in, and wherever you were, in a public age. Sadly, it didn't work like that. From my experience, people don't generally get into a virtual worlds for a second hand experience.

Events like festivals seem to work well in other games because they go on for some time (often a week) and they happen in all time zones. Festivals happen for a limited amount of time, but if you logon that week, and get to a public area, you get to experience the fun. This is because they are supported programatically, with NPCs, and gameplay built into the game. A human doesn't have to run around and do things.

The desire for a world changing things that players get to experience, things that make the world different -- people designing other games want that too. I don't think, though I could be wrong, that in 2002 the technology was great for that sort of thing. I'm now seeing two upcoming MMOs (possibly three, don't know for sure about Star Wars the Old Republic) where you get a personal story (akin to solving the puzzles in Uru) and world changing events you can participate in -- Guild Wars 2, and Rift: Planes of Telera. In both GW2 and Rift you have a personal story and public events/quests you can participate in, which change the world. GW2 seems a bit stronger on the personal story than Rift. For Star Wars the Old Republic, I know you have a personal story, but I don't know if they have world changing events. The trick to these events, as far as I can see, is that they are done programmatically (procedurally? some game developer here tell me the right word) -- built into the game, not based on humans running around and doing things. Because if you are running story things in Uru, story things that change the world (areas open up, things happen, all that) -- I just don't think you can do it. Image how wonderful if would have been if Cyan could have done that sort of thing!

Enough of that -- I can live without events that change the world, in Uru. Just please, give me a better KI. And make the instancing a little clearer, OK? I've played this game for so many years that I simply can't remember, in this version of Uru, where those instances in the neighborhoods take you.

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