Grand Theft Roleplay

Grand Theft Roleplay

A good portion of the years 2017 to 2020 were consumed by a deep addiction to what I now view as the natural evolution of open persistent multiplayer worlds for emergent gameplay. (In short, virtual worlds where developers create systems built around driving random social interactions between players). I had dabbled in “roleplaying” in PC multiplayer games going back to the mid-90s, starting with BBS Door Games and peaking (for me) with Ultima Online and the roleplaying community there. My teenage self even somehow found the focus to create a website/IRC community around the roleplaying scene on Ultima Online’s Pacific shard (server) with a good friend of mine, Dan. Roleplaying in the late 90s on Ultima Online’s Pacific Shard That is a completely different story however, and not one that I am sure those of you who will read this came here for. ¬†Early in 2017 I found myself sitting in my living room in Newport Beach – having just come home late from working on a (now shelved) VR open world design project at inXile Entertainment. My eyes were glued to the screen of my TV as I watched my roommate and coworker upstairs (Lou), appearing on the livestream...Read more
Perception

Perception

I’m a terrible Producer. To be more specific, I’m a terrible example of a Producer. Which is amusing, as I currently find myself in the role of an Executive Producer.I’ve spent the last seven and a half years working exclusively on open world survival games, the last six of which continuously in the Creative Director/Design Director role. Early Whiteboard Designs for Initial DayZ Base Building I find myself back in a producer role, likely entirely based on my friend and coworkers perception of me – obviously influenced by what he knows me to be, what he has seen the most positive success working directly with me from. From my joining the DayZ team in 2013 through to early 2014 when he left to begin work on his next project, this is what his experiences with me were colored by. Which isn’t to say this perception of me is false by any means. The decisions I make in a production role are entirely influenced by amazing Producers I have worked with in the past, those of which who specialize in Production and have years and in some cases decades of experience. Their names, and the actions they took on projects I...Read more

DayZ and the mastery problem

Disclaimer: It should be noted that these are my personal musings and reflections, and do not reflect the official stance on design for any project I am associated with, nor the official position of my employer. So last time I wrote I started to poke into the core game loop of DayZ, and some of the implications when looked at things through a more traditional game design perspective. One of the things we ended up touching on very briefly was the mastery problem. Now, while obviously there is a direct connection to the economy of DayZ and mastery – there are larger points here. Some of the oldest design struggles DayZ has had since the mod days were directly related to experienced players who “mastered” the progression path and essentially ran up against an issue with agency. As I had mentioned earlier, player to player interaction (of any degree honestly) is the great motivator – the main attraction when dealing with open world gameplay that leans heavily toward supporting emergent gameplay. The original economy within DayZ mod was significantly smaller in scope. While the world size was effectively the same, the majority of the space was more or less unused/open/dead...Read more

DayZ and the core gameplay loop

Disclaimer: It should be noted that these are my personal musings and reflections, and do not reflect the official stance on design for any project I am associated with, nor the official position of my employer. Over the last week or so I’ve been re-reading through one of my favorite books on game design (A Theory of Fun for Game Design by Raph Koster) and thinking over how DayZ as a game looks through the lens of the systems and lessons within it. For a book written well over ten years ago, it still holds up incredibly well when applied to the modern video game industry, a testament to how spot on Raph was with a lot of his musings within. There are several areas of DayZ as a whole I’d like to cover – but initially I’d like to take a look at how the core game loop for DayZ is both brilliant, and in some cases very lazy. (Yes, I said it – but you’ll understand why later on) DayZ’s core gameplay loop is pretty simple straight out of the box – it is effectively unchanged from the DayZ Mod, or the launch of the Early Access build...Read more