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PostPosted: Sat Jul 29, 2006 9:43 pm 
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There is a big thread over yonder titled "NO CUSTOM AGES PLEASE". It's gone on a while. I've posted to it. Now I want to back up and talk about what I think needs to happen and not happen for fan-created Ages to work.

(What do I mean by "work"? There's no point to arguing about what should happen, if you don't have a clear goal. In this post, I am presuming this goal: to make Uru Live attract more players, and make those players happier. That's what fan-created Ages must do. That's presumably Cyan's goal, and -- insofar as I'm going to be a player -- I want it too.)

If you are reading this thinking "Oh, lord, why do you have to rehash this argument *again*" then I sympathize. I know what it's like to be on a forum where the same topics come up over and over. But I think different questions are getting confused in these discussions, and I want to try to separate them out.

(I'm dividing this up into three messages, because it got awfully long in the writing.)

First question: will it help? Will it hurt?

I guess most people agree on the advantage of fan-made Ages. (At least, when I posted this notion in the other thread, nobody disagreed with me.) Cyan can only produce so many Ages per year; Cyan plus fans can produce more Ages per year. Exploration of new worlds may not be the only draw of Uru Live, but it is a major draw. So the more worlds, the happier players will be. That's the goal.

The disadvantage? I can imagine a game model in which poorly-made Ages detract from the Uru Live experience. I can also imagine a game model in which they *don't* -- any more than a poorly-made web page detracts from the quality of all the good web pages out there. How that pans out depends largely on how Cyan presents the experience. So that will be the next section of this post.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 29, 2006 9:46 pm 
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(I have no connection to Cyan. But I'm going to be phrasing these ideas in the form "Cyan must do this; Cyan must not do that." Don't get the idea that I'm being arrogant! (In fact I *am* arrogant, but that's not the point. :) There are problems that could make fan-created Ages, or indeed Uru Live, unplayable. If the game is unplayable, Uru will not make players happy. See goal above. That's all I'm saying.)

CYAN MUST make it impossible for Ages to corrupt your character, or the vault database. That's fundamental. There will always be programming mistakes. *Cyan* will make programming mistakes -- anyone who played Prologue remembers that! So it's certain that fans will too.

If one Age goes off-kilter, or even crashes your client, that's one thing. Players will tolerate that. But if a new Age corrupts existing ones, that breaks the game. If one player's actions corrupt other people's play, that breaks the game. If an Age error corrupts core game mechanics (losing a Nexus link, uncompletable marker mission), that breaks the game.

I am hoping (hard!) that Cyan has solved these problems. For fan-made Ages to work, the solution must cover those Ages. Cyan cannot allow anything into Uru Live that might necessitate a general vault wipe.

(Is this achievable? I have no idea. It's a technical problem, and Cyan will or won't solve it.)

CYAN SHOULD keep a clear separation between Cyan Uru Ages and fan-made Ages. I think that's necessarily simply from business principles. Some Uru players are not interested in fan-made content. They're paying their $10/month, or whatever, for Cyan's work. They don't want a substitute product.

Other people (e.g., me) *are* interested in fan-made work. But we don't want to attribute fan mistakes to Cyan -- or, for that matter, Cyan's mistakes to fans. If I link into an Age and instantly fall through the floor, I'd better know who to blame. Or praise! Attribution is a basic requirement of creative work: that's how you give feedback, that's how you know whose work to seek out or avoid next time.

CYAN MUST NOT try to review or debug all fan-made Ages. (Much less upgrade them to company standards, as I've seen suggested!) Seriously: they can't possibly have time for that. If Cyan isn't crunching out their own Ages 110% of the week, Uru Live is in big trouble.

I could imagine some Cyan person having the job of logging into every Age once, just so that the company has an eye on things. But serious bug-finding can't be on their menu. That's a multi-person, multi-week effort -- look at their descriptions of their development pipeline.

(Does this mean fan-made Ages will never be QA'd? Certainly not. See next post.)

CYAN SHOULD NOT worry about about keeping fan Ages in line with Uru and Myst backstory.

Many of the arguments in this forum have run along the line: "The D'ni did something this way, so Uru Live should do it that way too." I have never found this convincing. Cyan, like any creators, have the sacred right to *change their minds*. (They've done it before, right? With the Trap-Books.) They should do whatever they have to do to make Uru Live a fun experience. Consistency is a tool to make the game work -- *not* an imperial master.

So only a few D'ni learned Age-Writing, and it took decades of work? Great. Cyan can say that something new has been discovered. Or that Yeesha faxed everybody the Dummy's Guide to Age Creation. Or Cyan can say *nothing*, and let fan-created Ages exist outside the world-story of Uru. The explanation exists to support the gameplay.

CYAN SHOULD have some kind of disclaimer for fan-made content. (Or guidelines?)

There's always going to be some joker who makes an Age plastered with nekkid wimmin (or the goatse guy). Or just put them in a hidden corner, as an Easter egg. As I said, Cyan can't possibly have time to search every fan Age for that stuff. (Finding an Easter egg, or a puzzle solution, can require unbounded amounts of time.)

Cyan doesn't want to be sued, so they'll certainly put up a disclaimer like the ones on Livejournal or Youtube: "We are not responsible for user-submitted content. View at your own risk."

It's possible they'll go beyond this, and have guidelines for acceptable Age content. It's possible they'll have some kind of abuse/complaints mechanism, and a way to yank Ages. Or maybe not. I don't want to speculate here, because I'm not a lawyer or a Cyan employee. There are various ways they could run it.

Everything I've said so far are things that Cyan will or will not have to do. Which makes them pretty speculative, because I don't give Cyan orders. I'm not even claiming to give Cyan suggestions; I'm just listing concerns that, by my logic, Cyan will have to pay attention to.

But there are also concerns that we, the fans, must attend to. That's the next post.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 29, 2006 9:47 pm 
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Our side:

WE MUST DO the work. If we don't make some Ages, this is all for nothing.

WE MUST SUPPORT the work. That means a whole lot of things.

- Writing tutorials and documentation about Age creation. (I doubt Cyan will have time to write much.)

- Create examples of various kinds of Ages.

- Find or create libraries of textures to use.

- Test each other's Ages, find bugs, give feedback. Encourage creators to fix the bugs.

- Run forums. Create web sites. Discuss fan-made Ages. Recommend good ones to the newcomers. Have contests. Collaborate. Argue. Criticize. Write reviews. Flame (in moderation). Start tiny projects and big projects and insanely ambitious projects. Have some of them collapse and some of them succeed. Start over.

People are already doing all these things -- they started long before I showed up with my rambling. I see the Agebuilder web site, Uru Obsession, many others. What I'm saying is, that stuff is *crucial*.

WE MUST EXPERIMENT.

The Uru (and Myst 5) Ages that Cyan have created are, in my view, flawed successes. I've had a lot of the same complaints as other people: waiting puzzles, jumping puzzles, basket-kicking puzzles. *However,* I respect that Cyan was willing to stretch the boundaries of the Myst experience. They (and we) can learn from those experiments, and build the next Age better.

We, even more than Cyan, have the duty to experiment. They have a certain sort of standard to maintain. We can try any crazy idea we want! An Age where you're constantly falling? An Age which looks more like the Matrix than Myst? An Age where you can play real-time Pong? That's just random stabs.

I intend, when I get the time and tools to work on Age creation, to start with tiny little Ages. An experimental idea works better in a small setting -- that way, if the idea doesn't work out, you haven't wasted as much time.


And let me tack on one postscript:

I doubt fan-made Ages will be possible right away. Cyan says they're interested in fan-made Ages; they haven't said it'll happen any time soon. It *does* cost them a certain amount of work: distributing tools, verifying that the vault isn't crashable, writing disclaimers. They have to prioritize that work versus everything else Uru Live needs. Much as I like the idea of writing Ages, I can't insist that it's *the most important thing* for the goal. (Remember the goal?)

I also -- to repeat myself from the other thread -- believe that fan-made Ages *could*, in the long run, be the biggest attraction of Uru Live. Uru Live could be the turning point of MMO games, from corporate creativity to community creativity. Does that make sense? On-line writing hit that turning point with Livejournal and blogging: anybody could write and draw an instant audience. Flash did that with animation; Youtube is doing it with video. Second Life is trying to do it with online virtual worlds, and maybe that's the way that will go. But maybe, after a couple of rounds of tool improvement, it will go Uru's way.

Call me nuts.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 29, 2006 10:20 pm 
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Very nice - well thought out, well organized. Let me somewhat disagree with one of your CYAN SHOULD NOTs:
belford wrote:
CYAN SHOULD NOT worry about about keeping fan Ages in line with Uru and Myst backstory.

Many of the arguments in this forum have run along the line: "The D'ni did something this way, so Uru Live should do it that way too." I have never found this convincing. Cyan, like any creators, have the sacred right to *change their minds*. (They've done it before, right? With the Trap-Books.) They should do whatever they have to do to make Uru Live a fun experience. Consistency is a tool to make the game work -- *not* an imperial master.

So only a few D'ni learned Age-Writing, and it took decades of work? Great. Cyan can say that something new has been discovered. Or that Yeesha faxed everybody the Dummy's Guide to Age Creation. Or Cyan can say *nothing*, and let fan-created Ages exist outside the world-story of Uru. The explanation exists to support the gameplay.

I don't mind the idea of explorers learning to Write, either IC or OOC. I do have a problem with Uru Live becoming Uru Wiki. And so I can see two possibilities, both of which can co-exist but not in the same place:

1) Fan-made Ages accessible in game. By this, I mean there might be a few linking books lying around, which the DRC could then discover and declare them unstable, asking explorers to sign a release form before exploring them, etc. If fans want to integrate their Ages into the story, however, then I believe they need to make them compatible with the official story (this is essentially what the Third Part Work legal guidelines say anyways). What's the easiest way to do this at least cost to Cyan? They should have nothing whatsoever to do with the official story. What is so hard about creating an Age that has little if any D'ni content? Make the Age itself the story, not the link to the D'ni civilization. Make your Age a Skull Island, and tell us the story of how that civilization rose and fell, and of the great beast that now roams the island, etc. There's nothing that prevents explorers discovering an Age that the D'ni ignored. Very easy to integrate such a story into the official one if it's only a side show.

2) Fan-made Ages accesible out of game. Put them on a different shard, or whatever it takes to separate them physically, and then take an anything-goes attitude (within the PG or so limits). Don't allow the use of the official DRC avatars, but allow for "alternate universe" stories, where anything can happen. Make a giant disclosure screen popup before loading, do whatever it takes to keep it separate but then let fan creativity rule the day.

The rest of your arguments look pretty good.


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 29, 2006 10:25 pm 
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Great ideas!

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 30, 2006 10:21 pm 
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"And so I can see two possibilities, both of which can co-exist but not in the same place: ..." [in-game or out-of-game access to fan Ages]

Good point, and I don't have a clear idea which Cyan would go for. I recall that Cyan wants to have a single shard for Uru Live this time (as opposed to the multiple shards that appeared in Prologue). But that may not extend to fan Ages, particularly if there are lingering vault-corruption issues.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 30, 2006 11:15 pm 
I doubt Cyan would seperate the fan ages onto their own shard server. That would in part defeat what they have said that they intend to put fan ages in Uru Live.

Fan ages on a seperate shard server is not Uru Live. It is Fan Age Live.

Now fan ages will possibly have their own dataserver. Moke said this. But this is not the shard server.

Next Everyone who has release approval already for their fan ages has it under a unique license that was sent out from Cyan by Tony Fryman himself. So we already have legalities to a minor extent worked out.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2006 12:08 am 
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:mrgreen:
Quote:
I guess most people agree on the advantage of fan-made Ages. (At least, when I posted this notion in the other thread, nobody disagreed with me.)


The best laid schemes for mice and men are surely not governed by a handful of members with a bee in their bonnet about creating their own Ages.

I respect your post and only hope you give me the same respect in opposition. We are of a Democracy – aren’t we?

Not all Myst / Uru enthusiasts contribute to this board – some are shy, some may lack confidence putting pen to paper so to speak. There are a host of members who peruse these forums with no inclination to write – never the less they are members who hope to participate in Uru Live.

Please don’t assume that you have an overall majority vote on Fan Created Ages because of the favorable posts from a miniscule of Pro’s that write in this forum.

That said... I like your post. There is no better way to give readers an insight into what could be - if ‘Fan Created Ages’ ever come to fruition.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2006 12:16 am 
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If I wanted my ages on a different server, I'd write my own game ;)

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2006 12:26 am 
Same here, Mincetro. Shoot I have had one or two people over at Age Builders say that if Cyan were to ever to do away with fan ages that they would continue to make fan ages for Uru Prime instead.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2006 12:57 am 
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Mincetro wrote:
If I wanted my ages on a different server, I'd write my own game ;)

Yes and no. I know I'm doing Ages for the love of the game. Not simply for the love of creating worlds in games. Else I'd indeed do that in other games. There are many games out there with tools (much more advanced and far easier to use). But I don't want to do a map for Quake, a theme park for There, or a war zone for Warcraft; I've done these. I want to do Ages for Uru (and I guess that's the case for many people).
And I'm ready to cope with whatever limitations we have. If Cyan thinks it's better to put those on a separate game server, well, so be it. :)


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2006 3:12 am 
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aloys wrote:
Yes and no. I know I'm doing Ages for the love of the game. Not simply for the love of creating worlds in games. Else I'd indeed do that in other games. . . . I want to do Ages for Uru (and I guess that's the case for many people).

So here's the 64,000 Euro question, metals: Would you still do Ages for Uru if they had nothing (or as little as possible) to do with the D'ni storyline? To get to an in-game fan Age, you need some connection to D'ni, as that is the only way (in-game) to get a linking book, etc. (Explorers writing Ages might be a long run alternative, but that's way out there.) But would you be willing to make that connection inconsequential? That is, would you be willing to create an Age that stood on its own? And whatever explorers found in your Age completely independent of the D'ni/Cyan-based storyline, even independent of the entire D'ni history?


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2006 4:43 am 
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Fact is there were alot of Dni people that were not mention in all the journals that we've seen so far. There might be certain people that might of been a key person in say the builders guild or whichever guild.

Think about all great people that were not named in the history books. some were excluded because of thier status or thier indirect or direct actions.

I've had a story for 2 ages for some time now, but I really don't have the writing skills to accually get it down on paper so to speak. It's just floating around in me head.

I also have a age layout that I'm working on. its not great, but its work in progress. It also doesnt help that I can't draw a straight line to save me life.

So when and if Cyan accually creates the age making tools I will have things ready.

this is just one of my ideas. I have atleast 2 that I'm think about that a certain family is involved with. To me I do this work for something to do since I no longer play any games. online or offline. New jobs are a pain.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2006 5:26 am 
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Zardoz wrote:
aloys wrote:
Yes and no. I know I'm doing Ages for the love of the game. Not simply for the love of creating worlds in games. Else I'd indeed do that in other games. . . . I want to do Ages for Uru (and I guess that's the case for many people).

So here's the 64,000 Euro question, metals: Would you still do Ages for Uru if they had nothing (or as little as possible) to do with the D'ni storyline? To get to an in-game fan Age, you need some connection to D'ni, as that is the only way (in-game) to get a linking book, etc. (Explorers writing Ages might be a long run alternative, but that's way out there.) But would you be willing to make that connection inconsequential? That is, would you be willing to create an Age that stood on its own? And whatever explorers found in your Age completely independent of the D'ni/Cyan-based storyline, even independent of the entire D'ni history?


I want some clarity of your position Z-man.

When you speak of fan ages being completely independant of the story line, are you saying you want no references to the D'ni at all in the ages people outside of Cyan make?

If so I should point out to you that Cyan issues licenses for fan stories. these stories could not only relate to the D'ni peoples and their history, but also add to the complete story Cyan is crafting.

The only stipulation legally is that if your fan story is found to contradict with Cyans main story in any way, your fan story must be altered to compensate. Anything written outside of that legal agreement is void.

That said, I don't understand why you seem to not want fan content to have anything to do with the D'ni. The whole idea of age writting has everything to do with them, and it would be next to immpossible to explain how you learned (if you were claiming to write the book) how to write ages without some kind of connection to the D'ni, or their writtings.

I also think the rogue discovery (outside of the DRC) of books written by D'ni hands as an explaination is more than viable. Perhaps this book was found when someone *went off the grid* so to speak. Perhaps in a collapsed building they snuck into. No one had said all the ages made by the D'ni were perfect or beautifull. Maybe there were some ages made for very specific purposes, and everything else was ignored, making the age more simplified.

Either way I don't think it is fair or neccessary to try to limit fan stories just because you are afraid they will detract from the main storyline Cyan has crafted. As you know Cyan has always kept a very close eye on their IP, and I highly doubt they would allow any story element added to Live that would detract from it.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2006 5:52 am 
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BAD wrote:
I want some clarity of your position Z-man.

When you speak of fan ages being completely independant of the story line, are you saying you want no references to the D'ni at all in the ages people outside of Cyan make?

I am pessimistic about stories written by committee. And I am saddened by the thought that the creativity exhibited by so many in this community is somehow predicated on being D'ni-centric. Fine, have a few remnants of D'ni visitation be present, but to have the D'ni aspect be central to fan stories demands coordination with the "official" storyline. That requires huge amounts of effort, as well as limiting Cyan's own ability to tell their own story (unless they completely disregard the chaos and confusion sown by fan Ages constantly revamping their stories to bring them in line with Cyan's).

All of this is in Cyan's hands, of course. We're all just shooting the breeze until Uru lives again. And so my pessimism may give way to pleasant surprise. But still, tell me why it's so hard to write one's own Ages, facilitated but not dependent on the D'ni storyline. My goodness - the whole point of linking is to create a bridge between D'ni and other worlds. What wonderful stories must lie at the other end.


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