Welcome to 'Blogged Out', the news report that looks at the world of developer blogging and the conversations being had with the community at large. This week: stalking, reading, thinking, consoling.
Firstly, I just want to point out that I haven’t so far seen any developers blogging about Ukrainian survival-FPS Stalker
. Does this mean no one has played it? Have you played it and not expressed an opinion on it? have you stopped playing FPS games entirely?
This is one of those games that I think the development community should be playing, even if just to see how the Ukrainian team got it wrong. It’s broken in all kinds of ways, but also ways that immediately provoke thoughts and opinions, and subsequently much discussion. If you’re a developer who has blogged about this game, then let me know about it. You know you can take a couple of days off from WoW
Rob “Xemu” Fermier makes a post on one of the key challenges of software development of any kind: reading code
“Understanding the pros and cons of an externally provided piece of software is virtually nothing but reading code. You typically can't ask the person who wrote it for help in any meaningful fashion, but instead must go the full "archaeological" route, divining secrets by poring over the papyrus scrolls that contain the source. Even if you're lucky enough to have good documentation, it is only occasionally relevant to helping you correct errors that are inevitable in using such code.”
Xemu’s musings remind that programmers really are the magicians of our time.
Think ‘Em Up
While it’s not strictly blogging, this discussion of MMO AI
on the QuarterToThree forums is a wholesome read. The discussion talks a lot about why AI in such games needs to be dumb, and how World Of Warcraft
is the most inventive of the current MMOs in this area.
Over on Tide’s Horizon (home of much MMO commentary) Adam MacDonald comments on the topic on his blog
, saying “it's fine to propose interesting or somewhat novel AI whereby the models "act" differently (and this was brought up in the thread with [Star Wars Galaxies
For my part, I feel like I want atmosphere more than I want clever monster AI. The number of NPCs standing silently on street corners, or waiting motionless to dispense quests has always been far more of a game-killer for me than dumb, non-retreating goblins. I would rather these areas had animated, interacting characters, and that this spilled over into AI in the general world. I can forgive basic combat AI if the world around them is believable enough.
Moreover, am I the only person who wants MMOs to look increasingly to person-to-person interaction and combat, over the mob-grinding antics of yore? If you want better intelligence in opponents, who better to supply it than other people?
Finally, I was pleased to see a healthy dose of reality-checking over on Magical Wasteland, whose latest column asks why we’re so eager to debate the comparative merits of consoles, when we should just be talking about how to make better games.
“For as smart as we all think we are, it strikes me as odd that some of us are so willing to come out swinging, all screaming and bluster, for what are essentially embodiments of corporate strategy, devised by committee. Simply because we, the knowledgeable industry insiders, perceive oceans of difference between the three boxes does not change the fact that they are, in the grand scheme of things, much more similar than not. It must seem strange, quaint or maybe even frightening to people who don’t follow our little corner of the world– like children squabbling over marbles of slightly different shape and color.”
[Jim Rossignol is a freelance journalist based in the UK – his game journalism has appeared in PC Gamer UK, Edge and The London Times.]