A blog about the many neat things in life, along with the many other things that are lying around. Categories include: political things, philosophy things, design things, template things, garage things, music things, and lots and lots of other things!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Building a better RPG: How Persona 3 will save us all

Building a better RPG: How Persona 3 will save us all:
"I concurred with a lot of the community’s expression of preference for the “silent protagonist”—a nameless, voiceless construct on whom we could suggest our own selves, our own impulses and wishes."
I disagree with this notion. I think American gamers and PC-based RPG players love this sort of thing - look how many people ate up Oblivion. I haven't played Fable or Knights of the Old Republic, but I get the impression they're the same kind of game. You get to define your own character by the actions you take in-game, and the story evolves from there.

Only, in my opinion, it usually doesn't. When I played Morrowind, I didn't get into the story at all. Same with Baldur's Gate and most other PC-based RPG's I've played. The story, when allowed to 'evolve' from your character's growth, becomes unimportant. It's all about grinding through levels at that point, becoming more powerful.

In my experience, when you cut out the main character, you lose the ability to tell a compelling story. And the silent protagonist generally does exactly that - Oblivion had no main character. You got to define it down to the wire. I find it very difficult to be drawn into a story when there is nothing there to attract me - when I have to do all the work of creating the story.

RPG's have typically been split into two genres - PC RPG's, which prize nonlinearity, have highly advanced stat management systems, and typically more content in explorable areas than in the main storyline. Oblivion, Fable, KOTOR fit these to a T. The other genre, the Japanese RPG, typically has one linear storyline, simpler (though still complex) stat management, and very long core playtime. There are more subgenres - tactics RPG's, pet collector quests, and others, but generally it boils down to one of those two. In this article, Leigh seems to ignore this split, and talks only about the stagnation of THE RPG genre.

Now I agree that RPG's are facing stagnation, and I'm probably not involved enough in the argument to understand the reasons behind that. Game companies want to play it safe and make a profit, there are too many games released each year for all of them to be innovative, indy game producers are shut out in the cold by the big companies... There are lots of potential explanations.

I too would like to see more innovation, and I'm perfectly happy to see games like Persona 3 and Bioshock come out - I plan on picking up the latter myself on release day. But I don't want to lost the joys brought by wonderful linear games like Chrono Trigger, FF7, and Kingdom Hearts. Even with their emo moments.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Free Hugs Things

The meme spreads - free hugs are now listed on the Facebook Marketplace. We should make it a movement.

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

Keeping on Task with Tracks

So, I finally found it: my dream todo list manager. Tracks is a Ruby on Rails implementation of David Allen's Getting Things Done task management methodology. Though not sung in hymns like it was a year or two ago, GTD is still a highly practical way of organizing upcoming tasks by next actions.

There are a couple reasons to love Tracks. First off, it's open source, so you can set it up on your own server. I don't have to worry about the company's revenue model and sustainability factor when I set it up - as long as I have web space, it's there. Second, it has a very useful home page, with links to all your current next actions, sorted by context, and a handy-dandy AJAX action form. Quick and simple addition and completion of items make it a breeze to keep your system up to date.

Finally, the one feature I've wanted forever in a todo list app - it archives completed items and puts them out of the way. This way, even if my todo list isn't shrinking, I can tell I am actually accomplishing things. And I can look back and see when and how I was accomplishing things - very handy when I consider changes like cutting caffeine or exercising more.

If you've set up a RoR application before, Tracks is a pretty quick install, but I will warn folks that Ruby applications are more complicated to setup than simple PHP stuff. Once I got mine setup on Dreamhost, however, I've been tasking away for three weeks now. And I don't see myself turning back any time soon.

Now if only it would sync to my palm or ical...

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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Updating Developer Profile

So, I've joined Guru.com, which is probably the largest source of connections between those looking to solve computer problems and freelancers capable of doing so. I have to say, their revenue model seems excessive (developers have to pay for registration, businesses have to pay to post classifieds, all payments are run through their costly escrow service), but maybe that's why they're in such big business. Hopefully, this will lead to more people checking out the site and a little more work for me.

In related news, I've finally retired my previous portfolio site, Archmagus.us. It now redirects to my new professional page, atevans.com. I'm going to work on getting some more professional projects to post up there, too.

So, if anyone is in need of a freelancer, don't hesitate to drop me a line.

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