Spudmonkey’s take on: Forgetfulness

Over this fine Thanksgiving break of ours, I played a fair amount of video games. I effectively had to, as I was the only one of my friends who was home from college for a solid three days. What did I play, you might ask? Well, for a while I cracked open a few of the new games from this jam-packed holiday season, notably Call of Duty 4 and Mass Effect (which are both plain amazing, for anyone who’s wondering). However, I also decided to go back and try to beat a few of the games that I lost interest in through the past year or so. As I started to do this, though, I realized a major flaw in some of the games’ designs – I had absolutely no idea what I was supposed to do next in order to advance the story. There was no place to find a reminder, no journal, no handy quest-tracker like in WoW or LotRO, and I was absolutely lost.

I feel like far too many video games these days don’t take into account the fact that people might take a more casual approach to playing and take break and forget about what they’re supposed to do.  It’s something that I’ve never really noticed it before because, generally, I play a game from start to finish usually within a one week period.  And I’m sure that most of the casual gamers out there aren’t able or willing to play a game day to day like that.  These breaks they take cause a loss of memory of what’s supposed to happen next.  In fact, breaks of all kinds tend to make people forget about their usual responsibilities – like Thanksgiving breaks with blogs.  If Neverwinter Nights 2 didn’t already have a nifty quest-tracker type of design element, I would suggest for us to somehow create prompts throughout our own game, through dialog with the NPC’s or something, to remind people what they’re supposed to do next so that they don’t end up running around the Malecasta’s castle aimlessly after having dispatched the six guards some weeks ago.


Let’s Make a Game of It

by Mtrain


You can probably understand my surprise when I found out I would be helping to make a video game this semester.  Let’s be honest, I’m an 18 year old kid with no prior experience in the field of MMO’s, let alone the field of designing them.  I’m not even that good at most of the video games that I did play prior to this class, barring a few exceptions.


Once I got used to the idea, however, it began to intrigue me.  Taking a story, even one as frustrating to get through as Spenser’s Faerie Queene, and making it into an interactive game world with all the design decisions on us, the class, is a pretty cool idea.  The fact that people elsewhere in the world (state of Tennessee, I’m not sure how far reaching the game will be) will play the game is even more exciting.  It kind of makes me wonder how the makers of games such as Fifa, Halo, Guitar Hero, or a favorite series of mine Need For Speed feel when they get the numbers on how many people have purchased and are currently playing a game they designed.  It must be pretty empowering to know that their product brings people so much enjoyment.


It’s a huge stretch to even hope our game will have the impact of the titles mentioned above or any other popular game, but it’s still pretty cool all the same.  Besides, its not like we had a multi million dollar budget to work with here…

The Allegory of Chastity Continues…

If only I had leveled Toopac up to 30, I could be designing the forester from Faerie Queene. I guess it could be worse; I probably would’ve been assigned a chair in Castle Joyous if I were a really low level. Being a level, twenty-one, I got to pick the six knights of unchastity.

While not my first choice, I’m excited about the task ahead of designing the six knights of Malacaste. Since Malacaste is an allegory of unchastity, it would follow that her six knights would stand for unchaste qualities. The first of them, Gardante, is described as a “jolly” person, and of “comely view”. The second was bold Parlante, then Jocante, and Basciente. The last two are Bacchante and Noctante. These six nights of unchastity represent looking lustfully, talking of love, flirting, kissing, partying, and sex.

The benefit of not having to design a prominent character, such as Timias, Arthur, or Malacasta is that there is not a lot of narrative describing them. This leaves a good part of the designing up to my group, and gives us more freedom. I plan to incorporate the unchaste elements that each knight represents into designing them; after all, unchastity is the theme and overarching allegory of Book III. I want to do this by exaggerating specific features on each avatar. For example, Parlante, signifying talking of love, would have a large mouth; Gardante, representing looking lustfully, would have exaggerated eyes. The effect of this would be similar to that of Spenser alluding through allegory to the faults of being unchaste, and therefore would carry not only the theme of the book, but also the allegory of unchastity, into the remediated game version of Faerie Queene.


Mixing of the Gaming Genres

As we enter the final stage of this class (and no doubt my favorite), I started thinking about designing other games. I’ve been a big gamer my whole life, and no matter what game I played I always felt like I could make it better. There were always a couple minor details that were always forgotten, and my ideal “most fun game of all time” hadn’t been designed yet. Unfortunately, I lacked the programming experience and the large funds to start up a gaming company. However, since I want to see this game created so badly, I’m about to show any game developers the formula for the perfect game and give them full license for it. Read on…

The first aspect of the game is that it must be massive multiplayer online (MMO). I feel this is really important, because how many single player games would NOT be better by adding a couple of your best buds? Of course PvP will be included, and excluded, depending on the server. The “tribes” will be split up into three different ones, with distinct advantages and disadvantages for each. The economy should also depend entirely on the players. Non-player character (NPC) merchants should only sell the absolute base items. Players must then craft the items and harvest their own resources and sell them on an auction house similar to WoW and LOTRO.

The second aspect of the game will be real-time combat. It is much more fun when the player is involved in the game moving around, dodging, shooting than if he or she is just sitting there mashing buttons 1-9. Even though combat is real-time, it should also be an RPG. It’s always better to give players something to work for that has a tangible reward rather than just having them become better at a game. Plus, it’s really no fun to have some n00b who has only been playing the game three seconds to come up and kill you in 1 hit because you weren’t paying attention. However, players won’t be forced into combat if they don’t want. There will be numerous crafting professions and even games (games unique to the world like Blitzball for Final Fantasy) that players can make quite a profit off of.

Third, insane amounts of customization. This includes everything from weapons and armor, to character creation, to vehicle creation, to house decorating. A large amount of customizable items will be included at launch, with extras added over time through patches. More importantly, the option for players to import their own content such as graphics for their armor should also be included. As for the setting of the game, it doesn’t really matter that much. Though if I had to pick with the games currently out right now, I’d go with the Roman era since a lot of people are still hyped about 300 and it hasn’t been done (or done well) thus far.

The final part, and possibly the most difficult to implement, is there should be a commander for each town/city in the game. This commander has an overhead view like many real-time strategy (RTS) games and is tasked with resource management, security, vendors, etc. for the town. He or she is also tasked with expanding the town and ensuring players actually want to live there. These commanders will also give players “suggested” orders when the time to battle comes.

This is my ideal game. It’s kind of a mix between City of Heroes/Villains, World of Warcraft, Spore, and Warzone 2100. That’s why I’ve decided to affectionately call it City of 2100 Warcraft Spores (name subject to change)

-Chris P

Our Journey

I have learned quite the lot from this class: How we derive meaning from games, and how we can consider games as a respectable source of literature. How does technology play a role in the whole scheme and in our classroom? The link between games, literature, and technology that we have been uncovering all semester, is finally materializing as we near the course’s end.

In our most recent class discussion, it came to my attention that we, for the first time as a group, were expected to come together as a team. So began our journey to create what all of our studies had accumulated to, and were meant for. By first interpreting the Lord of the Rings, comparing the novel with the movie, then to the game, we learned to think about the true meaning of multimedia in today’s world. We were able to explore narrative across all forms of media, and to look at the future of literature and possible new media’s. Our exploration of immediation and remediation tought us about the possiblity of virtual reality. By knowing the trends of the gamming market of today we can predict what will be attractive to gamers in the future.

We have brought upon ourselves, the task to create our own gamspace. Studying Spenser’s The Faerie Queene, analyzing the characters within, and constructing a mental picture of the story’s setting, we have now begun to discuss the beginnings of the creation of Faerie Queene Online. Our most crucial discussion, our first, was deciding the general form of gameplay in our game. How will we allow the narrative to progress within the game. Because we are starting the game in book three of the story, there is already a developed narrative which we must unfold for the audience. Our biggest obstacle is to decide how unfold the narrative without retelling the entire story. We also had to think about what the questline would be within our game. For the first time in our class’s history, I felt that we had formed a unity when discussing our own game. We had taken all of the knowledge we had accumulated throughout the semester and put our thoughts together to form what I believe to be the foundation of something incredible. My hats off to professor Clayton and Hall for making it possible to instill what its like to think like a game producer in us as a group. In the three short months we have been together, we have gone from being the gamer, to being the interpreter, to the writer, to now the producer. Knowing all aspects of the game and its narrative, we can consider it from all of these aspects. This applies not only to the class but to life as a whole. By looking at a specific topic from all aspects, and considering different approaches to thinking, we will be able to uncover more than we will have ever dreamed.
-Ted G

Sometimes I Don’t Think Of These Things During Class

There was a time in class when we were all discussing how exactly to remediate Spenser’s Faerie Queene, and afterwards a realization hit me…ah, I remember it like it was yesterday…

I realized that we could be going about this whole remediation thing completely the wrong way, and I believe the answer lies with LOTRO. The difference between LOTRO and what we’re doing is that LOTRO does not tell the story of the fellowship of the ring, but rather the story of Middle Earth. That is, in class we discussed how we should portray the forester and his encounter with Britomart, Guyon, and Arthur, how to get some action while seeing the Recrosse knight and Britomart tear up the six nights, and how we should experience the lusty assault of the lady Malecasta.

In LOTRO, how often do you see Frodo, Aragorn, Gandalf, or Legolas? You do find Strider at the Prancing Pony, and you do find Frodo in Rivendell, but they serve less than plot central roles. They give you quests and experience; they don’t take you along for their ride.

It seems to me that the way we were designing the Faerie Queene online is almost like a movie, or at least like a pick-your-adventure story. There are various areas to explore and dialogue’s to navigate through, but it isn’t the player’s story, it’s simply a retelling of Faerie Queene.

I think we need to take a step back and look at Faerie Land. I think this game should be a way for reader’s of Faerie Queene to interact with Spenser’s narrative, and I also think this game should help to interest players in perhaps maybe a little bit glancing at Faerie Queene, but I don’t think that what we make should be Spenser’s words as close as we can make it.

How do we do that? I think one way to do it would be to make the module, at least as we are creating it, at one specific time. Let’s say that specific time is Britomart at Malecasta’s castle. How would you meet Guyon and Arthur without any jousting scene (they have already gone chasing after the forester)? I would say that could be a quest arch. The player finds someone connected to Florimell (friend, family member, whatever) is upset over her loss, and you have to track down Florimell (perhaps killing various woodland critters along the way) as a multi-part quest. This quest could lead you to Guyon and Arthur where dialogue could possibly allude to the joust (to connect the readers to the story), but the dialogue would pertain mainly to the quest at hand.

As for Britomart in the castle, could first meet her at dinner and perhaps play through the small plot line of Malecasta getting in Britomart’s bed. This could involve quests of various sorts in the castle. This part would pertain a lot to Britomart and sort of railroad the character, but it is only a piece of the game and not a the whole thing.

The six knights? They’ll do what they always do. When you approach the castle you have to either choose to serve the lady Malecasta (and forsake your love!) or fight them to gain entrance.

Then again, Britomart is such a main character that you can’t just abandon her with such a small part of the game. This could be done with different parts of the game (just as there are different books in the epic quest). You could again meet Britomart at the wall of fire perhaps, at another “book” in the plot line. I would say that’d be a job for a future class.

Basically, I think the game needs to be more about the characters exploring the land, and less about the characters that have already explored the land.

Take my ideas with a grain of salt or disregard them in their entirety; all I’m saying is: this is our creation! Let’s make it something more than a lame summary.

-PChis (Melocotones)

Timias FTW


I’m really excited about this final phase of the course.  Game design will be a challenge, but also one that teaches me a lot.  As of now, I don’t know the first thing about game design; I look at games like World of Warcraft or Lord of the Rings Online and I’m awed; I simply cannot fathom how they were created.  Obviously three weeks will not be sufficient time to create a game as magnificent or even as fun as LOTRO, but nonetheless is going to require a rigorous schedule of work.  And due to a relatively lower level LOTRO character, I did not have much control in selecting which character to work on, but in the end I was assigned Timias.

Although not the most prominent character in the book, Timias definitely sounds interesting.  In Canto I, in particular, he doesn’t do much, but in other Cantos in Book III and even Book II, he plays a few significant roles in the plot.  In short, he chases the forester, gets wounded by villains with spears, gets revenge by laying the smackdown on all three crooks, and even falls in love with the chaste Belphoebe.  It may be necessary to somehow integrate those events or ideas from those events into our final game design, as they are what create Timias’ true identity.

Since Timias is Arthur’s squire, his NPC should usually be found standing next to or near Arthur until he goes off in his separate direction in search of Florimell.  After skimming through Book III and parts of Book II, I was unable to find an explicit description as to Timias’ physical appearance.  I guess my partner and I are going to have to be imaginative in designing his avatar.  My premature thoughts tell me that he should be a young lad, since most squires at that time were relatively much younger than their knight.  Squires weren’t necessarily puny little things, as Timias proves in later Cantos; they aspired to become knights themselves, remember? 

However, in terms of the actual creation of the game and characters, after tinkering and experimenting with the toolset in Neverwinter Nights 2, I see a lot of potential, except there’s one significant problem – there aren’t any horses!  It would be tough to emulate Faerie Land without horses.  Are the knights supposed to joust on foot? That would be an obstacle to overcome, but someone from class discovered a MOD for horses somewhere online, which would be extremely helpful once I gain access to it.

The quest story line, especially with regards to Timias, is going to be a real issue that we consider while planning the creation of our game.  There’s a split along the way; Timias goes in one direction and Arthur goes in another.  How would my partner and I integrate this dichotomy into the quest story line? Should we give people the option to choose to go in the “wrong” direction (“wrong” meaning the direction that avoids the more important scenes of the Faerie Queen’s plot sequence)? As of right now, after some self-debate, I’m leaning towards allowing players to view both options, but only permitting them to choose the proper path.  This way, players will experience the main plot, even if they forget some facts in the story line.  The same exact problem arises near the beginning of Canto I when Arthur and Guyon split paths with Britomart, embarking on their own quests.

Contrary to what most would believe, Timias should be a thrilling character to design.  He gets his fair share of the action and violence; after being wounded in the thigh by spears in his search of the forester, he crosses the river and gets revenge, killing all three villains.  Pretty tough for a squire, huh?