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I’ve been told before that once you design the abstract systems of a game, it can be skinned however you wish.  Devil May Cry and God of War are simply two similar games with different skins; the same underlying game systems would have worked just as well in either.

I disagree.

How a game looks is inextricably intertwined with how it feels and plays.  We read things from the pictures, the flow, the sound, and the world, that tell us (as players) what to expect.  How could any designer deserving of the title ignore the power the skin grants them?  We may be meat and bones and brains, but we make all our judgements on each others’ skins.

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Osama died

In case you somehow missed the massed uproar on the American internet.

And no, this isn’t Eve or economics related at all.

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It’s Been a While

And I haven’t much to add.  On the economic front, things have been so turbulent I simply stepped back to watch.  The waters are choppy, the winds difficult to read.  I’m not even entirely certain what all is happening in the world, things seem so misty.

In games, I’ve gone back to walking through classics.  I’m not really able to hit up my PC at the moment, so Shogun 2 is resting.  I’ve instead moved back to the 360 to work on Assassin’s Creed 1 (yep, I’m slow).

I can say that I got Zune Pass and I don’t regret it.  While the subscription portion is good, and I’m happy I got it, it’s really the 10 free, DRM free songs I can download each month that make the cost even out.  Consider it like I’m paying for part of an album monthly, along with the ability to listen to a crap ton of other music all month long.  I think that works out.

Other than that, I’ve got nothing besides killer work hours.

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Just went through this article on the WSJ that talks about new models of economics that are arising in response to the crisis, and focuses on an agent-based modeling mechanism being developed by a physicist.  Don’t get me wrong, I like agent based modeling.  However, you want to predicate the simplified behavior of your agents on empirical evidence of those behaviors, and you want to compare them to observable results.  Ideally, the system your observing is simpler than the world in toto, so you can safely decide on what constitutes noise.  You know, standard scientific method.

Economics has long suffered from an issue of having no good laboratory.  All economists can do is examine data generated in the real world, which is ruled by so many variables as to be nearly useless for providing good data.  Couple that with the difficulty of accurately measuring the variables you want, and it’s no wonder economics is so vague about its models.

However, in the past decade, we’ve had these MMO thingies arise.  Large communities of interacting economic agents, engaged in limited, well documented economic transactions.  Operators have full control over macro constants and can observe with absolute precision the results of changes to them.  We know Eve Online has their in-house economist, but what about the other games?  And why is this veritable trove of applicable data being…completely ignored?

Probably ignorance, when you get down to it.  OH well.

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Since my last post went into economics, this post can talk about fun stuff.

I’ve been playing WoW, levelling an old Warlock of mine.  Thoughts:

Too many spells.  I don’t have enough hotkeys.

I can’t fathom levelling as anything but Demonology now.  Destro uses too much mana.  Affliction may work, but feels…boring.

The new content makes me happy, and levelling is fast.  I reaffirm my admonition to ditch heirloom items; they mess up the flow too badly.

When December 7 hits, I’m gonna try to wait out the hordes and then float in behind on my main.  Hitting 85 is no big deal; most of us will be there by the New Year.  After that, maybe we can do raiding!  Either way, I think people are in for something of a shock when they hit those Cata dungeons.  They take no prisoners.  I healed a warrior wearing 85 heroic raid-ready gear; it was still difficult to keep him up in a normal difficulty 5-man.  Please, stop ignoring your CC and pay attention to the crap on the ground.  Press your buttons correctly.

Otherwise, your healers will run out of mana and you will die.  It’s an issue.

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Quick update: I’m at PAX

I am in Seattle (a lovely city) the eve of PAX. This is gonna rock so hard.

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I disapprove of even the possibility of patenting something like this.  More specifically, it seems as if patents, generally, are now producing precisely the opposite of the intended effect.  So I guess I’m less disapproving and more curious as to whether this is reasonable and why exactly we allow it.

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