Archive for April, 2008

To illustrate how badly I digress while writing… this entry started off with the title “I hate social networks”. Go figure.

In some ways I am mildly obsessive-compulsive about organizing stuff. Which means that I’ve sorted things in boxes, categories, hierarchies, systems. It always breaks.

I buy paperback books because then I know they all fit in the same shelves (maybe also because they are cheaper), and I try to get all books in a series from the same printing (or at least the same publisher) so the cover art/bookends fit nicely. I can sort and pack stuff effectively – until I end up with all the small, irregular stuff that can’t be stacked, doesn’t have enough similar items to be packed together.

When moving I spend 90% of the time on the last 10% of stuff. Excluding cleaning… that too takes 90% of the time… procrastinating away from. Perhaps I spend so much time sorting and packing the last 10% of stuff so I can avoid the cleaning for a bit more?

Back to digital sorting and stacking.

I’ve tried partitioning hard disks, building hierarchies of folders, naming systems on documents, lists and whatnot. For blogs I’ve tried hierarchical categorizing (until multiple root folders contains like named leaves), no categorizing (teh horror) and lots of categories (tags without the actual usability).

Anyway, with the advancement of tags I feel I am getting closer to something usable. Broad categories where each item is part of one, and lots of tags attached to each item. Only three problems remain.

  1. The categories are always wrong
  2. There are always tags missing on the items
  3. Tags ends up nearly duplicated, so that they doesn’t tie together like items

Now, the last gripe might be fixed by regularly maintaining the tags, and having a system for defining synonyms. (a bit of work, easier with the right “tool”).

Missing tags are fixed by regularly maintaining tags and items, and can easily evolve into a monster. It can be handled if older items grow towards a suitable set of tags over (a not too long) time. One action that have started to be included in solutions for the Internet, is the ability for the community to help you tag your items. This lets items (images, blog entries, links) mature in their descriptions faster if your community is involved. If you let them. I.e.Google lets you play a game and help them tag images.

The first problem listed above is fixed by the impossibly hard problem: Few and general (broad) categories. Yes, that easy – and still hard to do.

I really want to look into Topic Maps. But that seems like too much work to maintain. Although the possibilities are alluring.

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Once again I dare to put words to the thoughts provoked by Corvus’ monthly round table. The red thread for April 2008 is Variations on a Theme, what is your favorite, or least favorite games, and what do they have in common that might be the reason for this?

Now, side-quests are usually disliked by gamers. They are also by me. I spent a long time getting to the feature that will make or break many games for me. It will be easier going away from it and look at what side-quests tick for me.

Why do I like side-quests? I guess it may be because they let me roam a bit more in the world I am occupying at the time. I like a game with more space to move in than needed for running from point A to point B in order to get the plot.

Why do I like side-quests? Well, they tell me more about the world and it’s inhabitants. I can get to know more of the world without reading up on it.

Why do I like side-quests? I can get more story out of the game, when I want. If I want.

I love reading books, mostly fantasy and science fiction. I love story, worlds that make sense. Well, makes sense according to it’s own rules. Hyperdrives and magic is fine. Games have a story world, and they use and portray them with varying degrees of success. Some games rely on the world being made popular and known to the player outside of the game, before the player sits down and starts up the game.

This is a good thing. I want to have a world that is detailed, fleshed out. For worlds other than our own our knowledge vary. Star Wars’ world is one I am fairly acquainted with, both through the movies and through books and games. The story world of Planescape was less known to me; it still is. But it was a world filled with optional side-quests, it told me of Sigil, of the planes and a little about the Nameless One.

Coming to think of it; in open worlds it is not so much the quest part that counts. The quest is usually there for the player to take notice and bother. For my part some of those quests that take you out and about could be left out. What encourages me is the ability to wander about and discover something unique. The random encounters in Fallout were like this. No quest tied them in, just persistence and luck. I enjoyed Oblivion for a while too – wandering about encountering dungeons, ruins and caves. Sadly, they weren’t that unique, and they didn’t tell a story.

Betrayal at Krondor was the first game I played that let me roam the world, doing what I wanted to before moving on. It is still one of my favorites. When I come think of it; the roaming an looking for stories and side-quests is what I like. Looking for something that is hidden, meant only for gamers who care. Those who explore. Who flee into the game world.

Side-quests usually offer a reward that increase your power in the game. Magical items or experience in RPGs, More troops or items in strategy games. Bonus levels, more points, money, fame. Stuff that makes the game easier. For someone like me who are bad at powergaming; I make wrong character builds, do thing because it fits with the role I’m playing. For someone like me, these optional quests are not that optional. I need better equipment and magic and stuff to get through the plot. I don’t like those optional side-quests at all.

When it comes down to it, what I like in games are freedom, choice, richness of story… I want a story world I can lose myself in, one that makes me feel joy, frustration, happiness, hate. Take your quests, I’ll look at them and discard them. If they intrigue me or offer me something I like, I’ll take them.

Perhaps I should have gone with the original title for this post? Free will, or the illusion thereof. Side-quests really are something that destroys a game for me.

Please visit the Round Table’s Main Hall for links to all entries.

It then comes to this; I’ve got two drafts waiting, and it is a long time since I wrote my last post. It all comes down to me not being able to focus on one topic at a time. I’m digressing (is that even a verb?) all over the place, and then end up writing something other than what I started writing.

Sometimes I wonder if I should blog with a mindmap or a wiki. I wrote myself a WordPress digression plugin at one time, but it doesn’t work with newer wordpresses. I don’t think I ever used it. The whole idea was having digressions hidden; allowing the reader to pop them up if they wanted. There are probably loads, and I know there is at least one good, plugins providing like functionality. Usually by name of asides or something like them. Now I’ve gone and done it again.

I want to write something for this month’s Round Table, hosted by Corvus at Man bytes blog. It is in production, though it tends to run overboard. I’ve changed the title thrice already, but I think I have settled on what I want to write about.

The major problem is that my spare time has been invaded by me playing Ultima Underworld. I found out it was long since I played it last time, and that I actually had forgot a few things. It also seems as if I’m trying to break a few things this time around. I’ve met and talked to the Humans and Mountain men, but not yet the Goblins. I also want to play a tiny bit in an all time favorite of mine; Betrayal at Krondor. I really should just sit down and write the post.