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Mankind is doomed!
April 26th 2000, 17:11 CEST by morn

Imagine this: a massive multiplayer game gets released and is available in the stores and isn't even playable. Imagine the same game remains in the same state for a couple of months, with barely any of the customers who paid for the game even being able to connect to the game's servers. Imagine the game still barely resembles anything that has been advertised by the developer and the publisher almost one and a half years after its release. A gamer's worst nightmare? No. It's happened, and the game's title is Mankind.



Space. The final frontier. These are voyages of French developer Vibes, on its continuing mission to discover new ideas and develop new games, to explore strange new genres, and to boldly go where no man, no one, has ever gone before: creating a massive multiplayer space conquest game in a persistant universe spanning over nine million planets. Thus was born the premise of Mankind.

"What a great idea!" thought little Morn and ordered a copy of his game in early 1999. Big tears did he cry when he installed the game only to realize that the account creation section on the Mankind's webpage was unavailable, with only a message from the Vibes (the developer), telling him to wait a couple of days while they were fixing the game. At least they promised that his 12 month license that came with the boxed game wouldn't start until they had fixed all the bugs -- so all was good. Or wasn't it?

A couple of months later little Morn received word from Vibes that the highly anticipated patch had been released on Mankind's website, that the game was now in full operation and that the 12 month license would now commence. So he quickly reinstalled the game, fired up his browser, and downloaded the patch, giddy like a schoolboy in anticipation.

And yes, his heart started bumping a little faster when the game actually -- for the first time ever since Morn had bought it -- connected to its server! It greeted him with a wonderful intro screen and some powerful welcome fanfares, making him get all excited about his nearing career as the ruthless leader of a mighty space empire, leaving a trail of death and destruction behind him on the planets of his enemies.

Until he saw the graphics. Tried to use the interface. Heard the sound (the little of it that was there). Realized that most of the screen text was still in French (a language as unknown to him as Lisp or Swaheli). Was suddenly, and with no warning, returned to Windows. Went back to the web site to read that the game was still not completely done, and for now all players would have unlimited money, and all units equal power.

"What a crock", thought Morn, and played some more SiN.

As it seems, almost anything that can go wrong with a computer game did go wrong with Mankind. So many weirdnesses have happened that I find it difficult to write a funny and entertaining text around them, so I'll just present them as a simple list. Here goes:

  • The game was released in France in December 1998; shortly after that a German version was also released. There has apparently been a UK release, too, but no US release from what I've seen. Up until Summer 99 the game simply didn't work. Players could not connect to the servers or experienced severe difficulties keeping their connection up. Even today there are severe problems with the availability and stability of the servers.

  • Cryo, Mankind's publishers, had the balls to release and advertise a "Special Version 1.5 Enhanced" edition of the game. With the arrival of patch 1.5 in mid-99 the game got only marginally more playable (read: you could connect).

  • I recently got hold of one of those "1.5 enhanced" copies of the game and have been, er, trying to play it since. The CD box contains a little "scratch me free" field that covers the unlock code I need to activate my account, with the somehow oddly composed words "Warning: please read carefully the MANKIND licence before scratching the code." The license is a very interesting read indeed, as it contains the following phrases (the most interesting bits highlighted in bold):

    "3. LINKED SITES. Vibes is not necessarily affiliated with sites which may be linked to this site, is not responsible for their content, and does not endorse them. You access any such linked sites at your own risk." - Uh-huh. I thought I was reading the manual, not a web site.

    "4. GRANT OF LICENSE. a) VIBES grants you ("Recipient") a limited, non-exclusive, nontransferable, royalty-free license to install and use one (1) copy of the software accompanying this Agreement ("Product") on a single computer located on Recipient's premises, solely to test the compatibility of Recipient's application or other product(s) which operate in conjunction with the Product and to evaluate the Product for the purpose of providing feedback thereon to VIBES. All other rights are resevered to VIBES. Recipient shall not rent, lease, sell, sublicense, assign, or otherwise transfer the Product, including any accompanying printed materials. Recipient shall not reverse engineer, decompile or disassemble the Product except to the extent that this restriction is expressly prohibited by applicable law. Recipient may not disclose the results of any benchmark testing of the Product to any third party without VIBES's prior written permission. VIBES and its suppliers shall retain title and all ownership rights to the Product. (b) Any bug reports, test results and other feedback made by Recipient to VIBES shall be the property of VIBES and may be used by VIBES for any purpose. Due to the nature of the development work, VIBES is not certain as to when or if errors or discrepancies in the Product may be corrected. (c) Recipient's use of the Product is not subject to confidentiality restrictions. Recipient is free to discuss features of the Product or details with respect to Recipient's use or intended use of the Product, provided that use of the Product shall take place solely at Recipient's site. Notwithstanding the foregoing, Recipient may not demonstrate or show the Product to third parties without the express written permission of VIBES."

    I think all this speaks for itself. But there's more:

    "5. TERMS OF AGREEMENT. a) beta test: The term of this Agreement shall commence on the date Recipient receives the Product and shall continue until terminated upon the earlier of (a) VIBES's written notice to Recipient, (b) the commercial release of the Product by VIBES, or (c) a maximum of 12 months starting from the date the Recipient receives the Product. Upon the termination of this Agreement, Recipient shall cease use of the Product software. b) Commercial release: The term of this Agreement shall commence on the date Recipient receives the Product and shall continue until terminated upon the earlier of (a) VIBES's written notice to Recipient, (b) a maximum of 12 months starting from the date the Recipient receives the Product. Upon the termination of this Agreement, Recipient shall cease use of the Product software."

    Particularly interesting in this section is the bit about the agreement being terminated 12 months after the purchase of the game. When you buy Mankind, you are supposed to buy a license to play it for 12 months. Shouldn't those 12 months start when you actually start playing the game, instead of when you buy it? Especially considering that you can't even create an account right now (see next point)?

    Here are some other funny bits:

    "7. PRODUCT MAINTENANCE. VIBES is not obligated to provide maintenance or updates to Recipient for the Product. However, any maintenance or updates provided by VIBES shall be covered by this Agreement. Servers on which operates the Product are subject to maintenance operations whereas scheduled or not and such operations, no matter how long they last shall not be considered as an alteration of the use of the Product."

    As I understand this, it basically means: if the servers are down, I don't have the right to complain, no matter if they're down for an hour or for half a year. Shhyeah, right.

    Last but not least:

    "8. DISCLAIMERS AND LIMITATIONS ON LIABILITY. ALL MATERIALS ON THIS SITE ARE PROVIDED "AS IS". [...]" -- uhm, okay. Website. Alright.

  • Luckily I didn't need to scratch the code free (and thereby accept the license agreement), since Mankind's web-based account creation is (and reportedly has been for a couple of weeks) unavailable. In other words: if you buy the game today, you can't even start playing. (Paired with the "12 months" bit from the license agreement mentioned above, it basically means that you'd be instantly paying for online play time which you can't actually use.)

    They even had the balls to put up a notice saying, and I quote: "- ON GOING UPGRADE - New players registration is temporarly unavailable. The registration service will reopen later this evening. Sorry for the delay and see you soon in the Mankind Universe." Days seem to be very, very long in France.

  • Not being able to play the game myself, I went to a Mankind IRC channel and talked to some french mankind players. One of the things they told me was that even today, there are still many bugs and missing features in the game. Up until a couple of days ago, there had been a bug which allowed you to simply steal money from all other players. By fixing that bug, Vibes reportedly introduced new bugs.

  • The same people also told me that Vibes are already working on Mankind 2. I wasn't able to confirm it, so take it with a grain of salt, but if it's true, I seriously wonder if I'll get a free copy of Mankind 2 for my unused copy of Mankind 1. I have the feeling that I won't.

  • In late 99, some clever programmer hacked his way through the Mankind protocol and used the information he gathered to build a Mankind client emulator, which basically enabled him to cheat in a multitude of ways. The simpler cheats involved scanning any section of space for enemy players, but the spectrum reached to nastier cheats like cloning your own starships or making them jump to any position within the exisiting universe. Vibes/Cryo reacted with a lawsuit, and probably rightfully so, but the real lesson learned from this was that the protocol Vibes designed for the communications between server and client must have been, well, utter crap.

  • Last but not least (and this is merely my own, personal opinion): Even when it works, the game is a horrible piece of crap. The graphics are mediocre (although the website and intro artwork is pretty nice), the interface is worse than Star Wars Force Commander's on a bad day, and the controls are so horrible I'd rather play Quake with a three button keyboard.

Now, there is a Mankind community out there, and a pretty strong one at that. But from what I've been told, most Mankind players have simply decided to accept their fate and see Mankind as a huge "role playing game", with clan wars taking place rather on their webpages than within the game. When asked for the things Vibes did right with Mankind, one of the players I talked to simply stated (after thinking about the answer for a moment): "The communication system. It's like a mini ICQ, and you can give money and units to someone."

Mankind is so broken, PC Gamer UK recently gave the game their first (and only) "N/A" rating, saying it was so utterly terrible and incomplete that it wasn't really a game.

I want my DM 70 back.

C O M M E N T S
Home » Topic: Mankind is doomed!

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#24 by "Brandon 'GreenMarine' Reinhart"
2000-04-26 20:19:21
brandon@epicgames.com http://unreal.epicgames.com
One problem with Method 3 that I see is the "I attack you while you are offline, then I scuttle my fleet so you can't attack back."

These are problems that need a deep discussion and time before they can be resolved.  As opposed to Ultima Online, where it seems they just implement whatever sounds like it will pacify public opinion.
#25 by "Rantage"
2000-04-26 20:29:26
rantage@hotmail.com http://www.steelmaelstrom.org
<B>GreenMarine:</B> Good points.  I also like Method 1; it would certainly provide a haven for newbies.

As for Method 2: hmm, I dunno.  I'd allow free combat on homeworlds, otherwise soon enough you can't deal with your annoying neighbors or neutralize the clan that's making raids on everybody in another area.

And Method 3: well, I wouldn't make it <I>impossible</I> to attack a lower-ranking player.  If I'm minding my own business and keep being pestered by a llama who <I>just won't go away</I>, I should be able to resort to less-polite means to get him to leave.  Without this, you'll see troublemakers create newbie characters for the sole purpose of annoying others.   Can you imagine having to wade your way through these, unable to do anything about it?

I agree that these are issues that need to be discussed.  Like a few others in this thread, I'm looking forward to <B>Dark Sector</B> (I'm not a big RPG/fantasy guy) and these are the sorts of problems my clan and I are going to run into.
#26 by "Valeyard"
2000-04-26 21:02:57
valeyard@ck3.net http://www.ck3.net
What about life spans and aging effects?  I realize that you don't want to punish a player who has invested a lot of time into building a strong character, but certainly there are things you can do to limit the effectiveness of the "grandfathers".

Personally, I'd WANT to start over from time to time.  The game is in the challenge.

While this might not work for ALL MMORPG's, why not try something like a tier based system:

Build a kick ass Tier 1 character, retire them and you can now start building a Tier 2 character.  The tier 2 characters have different classes, items, quests...whatever.  It wouldn't take much imagination to make this plausable...reach a certain level and you can transfer your "soul" to another land with another character.

Frankly, I think this could be a good solution to network issues as well.  Shift your Tier 2/3/4 people off to another "world"...and another server.  What better way to constantly make the experience new for players?  What better way to provide constantly changing goals and a much more level playing field?  You could also use the time it takes a player to "graduate" to the next level...to BUILD the next level.

Granted I don't play EQ or any of the other MMORPGs...but I might, if there was something like this included.

-Valeyard
#27 by "Aquila"
2000-04-26 21:25:27
dah@gmx.net http://en.mkit.net/wishlist
i administrate a wishlist for mankind. (see link to the right, it's in english) 'aging effects' and such are in there.

how about solving the grandfather phenomena by just telling the newbies that they can easily join an established guild first until they feel strong enough? combined with the 'safe homeworld' idea this would solve the prob without much more programming work, right? or did i miss a point?

(the wishlist project is an effort to put a list of things in front of vibes' nose of what they do wrong and what the players want. i consider this a better idea by far than writing a 'this is such a bad world - planetcrap text' ... just my opinion. not meant to take personaly.)
#28 by "Rantage"
2000-04-26 21:25:36
rantage@hotmail.com http://www.steelmaelstrom.org
Lifespans....hmm, now <I>that's</I> interesting.

I don't think a lot of players will go for it: they're likely to become attached to their character, and would be mighty pissed to lose it due to old age.

But for <I>organizations</I>....now <B>that</B> could be interesting.

The clan that GreenMarine cited earlier sounded like a real problem.  What if there were a slight penalty applied to large organizations as time wore on?  For instance, say a large clan sets up shop on Planet A, the site of their headquarters.  After a certain time, and the planet becomes more populated, the old-timers have to pay a certain fee or tax?  This may encourage them to pull up the stakes and move elsewhere to avoid the tax (for a while).  This doesn't necessarily mean the death (using the lifespan idea) of the clan, but the forced restructuring.  During this time the clan would be vulnerable and preoccupied with moving.

Another option would be to remove any "no-fighting zone" around an established team's headquarters after a certain period.  <I>That</I> could possibly make things a bit hairier for the "grandfathers".
#29 by "enyak"
2000-04-26 21:27:32
enyak@numonium.de
In 1995 I actually made the mistake of buying a Cryo Game. Up until now, I can still feel the pain. Excuse me while I headbang the desk.

-enyak
#30 by "Morn"
2000-04-26 21:40:41
morn@planetcrap.com http://www.planetcrap.com
Aquila: <i>'cryo offered player to get their money back. some did take this offer, most didn't. guess why?'</i>

Because they didn't hear about it? Like myself? Cryo never informed me about anything like that. And yes, my copy is registered (it's a MMPOG after all).

<i>'sites like www.planetcrap.com take all fun out of me i ever had in a computergame. trying to find all the funny mistakes one can find and write about so everybody laughs about.
(i'm sorry i can't express this any better. i'm german)'</i>

PlanetCrap is not a humour site. It's the kind of site that picks up topics all the happy puppy gaming sites out there don't want to touch, and then people discuss them. It might be time I finally wrote the "What the...?" section linked to at the top. Oh, and I'm German too, by the way. :)  Keep reading -- it might still take all the fun out of games for you, but for different reasons. :-)

Also, from the sound of your comment it feels like you've misunderstood the entire article as a rant about the Mankind community. I was not complaining about the Mankind community, I was complaining about Mankind itself, and its makers.

And regarding defending them on these issues: I paid the full price for not even half of a game. If you don't think that this is something to get upset about, I'll just need to ask you: Do you buy new cars without engines, too?

Take it easy.

- Morn
#31 by "Aquila"
2000-04-26 21:40:57
dah@gmx.net http://en.mkit.net/wishlist
'slight penalty applied to large organizations' (rantage)

would not help - at least in mankind. organisations are *rich*. they don't mind paying a tax.
all day live for grandfathers is to build a small base where they need it and then forget it (until it decays ... what does not happen :)
so this idea would not help to solve the problem.


enyak: 'dune I' was cool ... don't you remember? *g*
 must be years ago ..
#32 by "Rantage"
2000-04-26 21:45:36
rantage@hotmail.com http://www.steelmaelstrom.org
<B>Aquila:</B> Well, I can't speak for the game 'Mankind'...other than it sounds like something we here in the States would stuff into a flaming paper bag and place on somebody's doorstep.

In other games, it may be an effective method of "culling the herd".   I wonder if any <B>Digital Extremes</B> people are reading this thread?
#33 by "Morn"
2000-04-26 21:46:43
morn@planetcrap.com http://www.planetcrap.com
Aquila, wish lists are cool as long as they don't need to include "fix the damn game up until it's playable as advertised."

Geez, are you even aware that you're in breach of the license agreement if you show Mankind to a friend? That Vibes could take the servers down forever and you couldn't do anything about it? That it's totally up to Vibes to make the game work as advertised or not? Yup, that's exactly what it says. What? Most people don't read their license agreement? Oh.

Gee, that's just really stupid, is it. :-)

- Morn
#34 by "Aquila"
2000-04-26 21:49:35
dah@gmx.net http://en.mkit.net/wishlist
morn: you're right. sure, i might be too idealistic. but knowing this still doesn't make me actually like this kind of site ... we'll but please don't take this personaly. just my humble opinion.

"Do you buy new cars without engines, too? "
i think it's a difference if i buy a practical thing like a car to use it daily or if i buy a game for having fun making it easy to wait and even to support those vibes guys a little.
i bought the game (perhaps you too?) because this was what i was dreaming of. vibes had the same dream and i won't blame them for being unprofessionel because i can wait. there is no game like mankind anywhere (although other projects have started).

Vibes does have money now. Vibes has more programmers now. Vibes has signed a contract with cryo but doesn't need them anymore. vibes is about to change it's 'information politic' and slowly learns how to keep a fandom alive.

i think this is enough to keep my idealistic hope alive. :)
#35 by "Lumberjack"
2000-04-26 21:50:52
noone@nowhere.com
I think that the reason these games have the unequality and the "grandfathering" as they do, is that it is a simple reflection of our own human society.  There is an established, strong, group that have a lot of the power and control, and there are the masses of the weak that can barely eek out an existance.  As much as I would like equity in these games, it simply won't work just as Communist Socialism just doesn't work....I know that this is a stretch of an analogy, but I think that it does somewhat hold true.
#36 by "spyke"
2000-04-26 21:53:16
spyke@planetquake.com http://www.planetquake.com
Geez, you'd think that people would have heard about this before they bought the game, especially in North America. If I remember correctly, I heard about this entire fiasco at least 9 months ago, and had a good chuckle over it.

But it's still pretty scary to think that people waited through the entire clusterfuck at the beginning to actually play it. Lord knows I don't have that kind of patience.
#37 by "Ryan Greene"
2000-04-26 21:53:20
not@themoment.com
Raw Ideas, discuss how to implement them:

1) Do not reward more experienced players for killing less experienced ones, unless they are attacked first.

2) Tax more powerful characters, giving them a reason keep adventuring/generating income.

3) Reward more powerful characters for taking less powerful ones under their wing.

4)Encourage newbies to band together, either through a common threat, or a puzzle/adventure that can only be solved by a group who works together.

5) Give more experienced players a reason to be elsewhere, away from the newbies, be it the land tax described below, a reputation system that keeps them out of certain areas, or an incredibly low reward for killing people who are less pwerful than they are

(exp=1/x base, where x=level of killer plus -(y) y = exp level/points of killed)

I hope that made sense...
#38 by "Desiato"
2000-04-26 21:53:24
desiato_hotblack@hotmail.com
Here's one effect that may or may not be viable. How about gradual inefficiency(sp?)creeping into the system. Your turrets start to degrade over time, maintenance is required. Or inflation eats up the value of the money that you've built up. These effects could be scaled so that they are minimal when you start out, somewhat average when you are a "mature" player, and highly corrosive when you are a "grandpa". Perhaps other systems are more effective, but this was the first thing I thought of. Mobs or simply strong players would have to eventually replace a large looming infrastructure, so they would be hard pressed to maintain a large empire.

Oh well...whatcha think?

Desiato...
#39 by "Aquila"
2000-04-26 21:54:49
dah@gmx.net http://en.mkit.net/wishlist
morn:

you get this thing with the license in a strange view.
i'm pretty sure vibes does not have the slightest idea of what is written in there in english. it's just a rumor, but translations are not one of vibes' hobbies. most of them don't speak more languages than 'french and english sounding french'.

the german translation was done by a player (feivel, who now works for them). the chinese translation ... well, i one of them has a chinese girl-friend.

i'd like to read the _french_ version of that license agreement _before_ cryo put it into a box. there is no such license agreement on the website (vibes' work) ... right?
#40 by "Ryan Greene"
2000-04-26 21:56:27
not@themoment.com
I like the idea of having to maitain your empire... assuming that the infrastructure exists. Also, you could introduce newer and better tech as time goes on, so that amazing gatling gun is no longer an effective deterrent to the plasma gun weilding 50' walking tank that approaches...
#41 by "Rantage"
2000-04-26 22:00:44
rantage@hotmail.com http://www.steelmaelstrom.org
<B>Desiato:</B> I like it.  I don't know about a gradually increasing amount of entropy/corrosion/crap-don't-work-no-more though: I think having it be a constant would be enough to place a burden on large empires.

Large groups could serve a purpose, after all.  Sure, you're going to have your evil PKing clans, but you'll also have those who will try to assist the newbies.  No sense in trying to drive <I>them</I> into the ground....
#42 by "Aquila"
2000-04-26 22:02:22
dah@gmx.net http://en.mkit.net/wishlist
ryan:
1).. unless they are attacked first.

a system of 'rewards' would have to be implemented from the beginning. i'm afraid this would mean too much work.

2) Tax more powerful characters, giving them a reason keep adventuring/generating income.

there are taxes. the mega-rich don't even notice them because they make more money than they can control. they won't even notice there's something missing.
if you introduced taxes that really hurt, veterans would stop playing after they reached that point. the game looses every fun. it starts to become unfair. no balanding this out would ever help :(

3) Reward more powerful characters for taking less powerful ones under their wing.

this is nearly implemented. empires get special techs.

4)Encourage newbies to band together, either through a common threat, or a puzzle/adventure that can only be solved by a group who works together.

... well, if vibes would have twice as much programmers.

5) Give more experienced players a reason to be elsewhere, away from the newbies, be it the

... how exactly do you think this should work? grandpas can be everywhere they want, right now. this might be a raw solution ... but it's very vague, i'm afraid.
#43 by "Morn"
2000-04-26 22:05:57
morn@planetcrap.com http://www.planetcrap.com
Aquila: <i>'but knowing this still doesn't make me actually like this kind of site ... we'll but please don't take this personaly. just my humble opinion.'</i>

Don't worry, PlanetCrap will grow on you, since you seem to be a discussion type of person. Lots of smart people here, more than the site's name might suggest. :)

I think everybody is allowed to do whatever he wants to do. If people want to buy cars without engines, sure thing, I'm not gonna stop them. Personally, I would hate to buy a new car only to find out that the engine is missing and that the contract says that I don't have the right for one.

Having said that, I don't know where the difference between those two (the car and the game) is. I paid money for a product and didn't get it. In the old days, Vibes (or/and Cryo) would have already clubbed to death by a pack of pissed off cavemen and cavewomen.

If you claim that an incomplete car and an incomplete computer game are different, I'd like to know where you draw the line? When does it start being <i>important</i> enough to complain?

Also, you need to realize that there is a far bigger problem than me (and some others) having lost those DM 70/whatever it costs in other countries: If other companies see that Vibes/Cryo get through with this, they'll start to imitate it. As long as people are arond who defend that kind of behaviour, I'll be able to simply put a fake 20 MB installer in a box, print a manual that states that all the docs will actually be on the web site (as they did with Mankind) and sell it. I'd not put any servers up, and once John Doe complains about not being able to connect, I'll just refer him to the passage in the license agreement that says that I don't <b>have</b> to make sure the server is up, no matter how long it's down. Of course John Doe will still defend me because he digs my vision and stuff. Cool!

Whoever wants to see this gaming future happen simply doesn't deserve better.

- Morn
#44 by "Aquila"
2000-04-26 22:09:00
dah@gmx.net http://en.mkit.net/wishlist
about this idea of 'decaying ships' (at least 'growing ineffetiveness' :)

internet access is horrible expensive in most countries.
this lead to the fact that most player prefer 'fast gaming'. they build a fleet when there is a war and they build a base near their enemies shortly before they want to attack them.

afterwards the whole fleet is destroyed (and they don't care) and the temporary base is of no more importance.

this leads to the fact that a great part of the players just don't care about decaying ships.

'fast gaming' is an effect in UO, EQ and AC as well. these players don't want to care about all such things like 'decaying ships and maintenance cost' ... they want a two hour fun because one hour online means one dollar less for them.
#45 by "Morn"
2000-04-26 22:17:11
morn@planetcrap.com http://www.planetcrap.com
Aquila: <i>'you get this thing with the license in a strange view. i'm pretty sure vibes does not have the slightest idea of what is written in there in english. it's just a rumor, but translations are not one of vibes' hobbies. most of them don't speak more languages than 'french and english sounding french'.'</i>

*shrug* Not the customer's problem. I know a couple of good language schools in the UK though. Dunno if that could help. =)

<i>'i'd like to read the _french_ version of that license agreement _before_ cryo put it into a box. there is no such license agreement on the website (vibes' work) ... right?'</i>

The manual (don't have it here at home) includes at least a German and a French version next to the English version. If you really want it, I'll type it down in here.

The English version, by the way, does sound like it was written by a lawyer to me. A lawyer who's probably sipping cocktails somewhere in Mexico by now. ;-)

Please don't get this wrong, I'm not out to complain about anything and everything simply for the sake of bitching around, and I'm not replying to your comments only because I hate you or anything. I'm just <i>really</i> concerned about how people on the net (or 'people' in general) simply seem to have stopped <i>caring</i> about these issues. The result will be an industry which will sell us <b>NOTHING BUT CRAP</b>, because they know nobody cares.

You know why console games (from a purely 'code' point of view of course) are so much better than PC games? Because all games for the major consoles go through very, very strict quality testing and need to be approved by the console manufacturer before they can be released. Sometimes I really wish we'd have that kind of quality control for PC games.

- Morn
#46 by "Aquila"
2000-04-26 22:25:38
dah@gmx.net http://en.mkit.net/wishlist
morn, yes, you are a discussion type of person, too.

this progress of unfinished games being published has indeed started a few years ago and lead to ultima IX and mankind.

but please accept my point of view that not every firm does this because they just hate their customers and only want their money. as far as i know, vibes did not get a pfennig of your 70DM (cryo did, yannis said this once). vibes only takes the registration fee ... oops, the registration servers are down. well, it will once start to make money with the net-distributed version of the game.

where i do draw the line? merlin and feivel visited vibes and convinced me that vibes loves this game (and does not code any other games or projects). this makes me sure that they will definitly not shut down the servers (although i had much more fun than i ever got for 70DM and most money went to the telekom).

i do make a difference between a group of idealistic programmers that do their best (and sign a wrong contract) to realize a dream ... and a firm that brings out such a license agreement because it intends to fuck the players after enough money cumulated.

this is indeed the point that i like least on your 'humor' report ... for readers that don't know anything about MK it defintly leads to the oppinion that vibes is a group of bad guys that only started this project because ... well, i don't have the slightest idea how to express this :(

somehow i feel like morn just consideres my opinions less worth a debate. must be my strange grammar or something.
#47 by "Aquila"
2000-04-26 22:31:05
dah@gmx.net http://en.mkit.net/wishlist
well, quite two completely different points of view we have.

i think that if this strict quality control would apply to computer games, the net would be dead today. there would be no more idealistic 'just for the fun' programmers.
you can't control everything this way. if you do, you get static.
you would take the consumers right to decide if they want to support this product and it's idea anyway (although it's far from perfect, but they accept it)
or if not, if you don't let all those frustrating, small, imperfect ideas slip through your quality control.
i (personaly) want to decide this.
#48 by "Ryan Greene"
2000-04-26 22:31:24
not@themoment.com
Aquila- What is the benefit of attacking a newbie? Do you get their gear when they die, loot their ship. or get to drag the carcass back to a port and fix it up? Just the pure joy of killing another player?  Basically, why would you want to attack a newbie?
#49 by "deadboat"
2000-04-26 22:32:05
crush@0wn3d.net http://0wn3d.net
What I've noticed about MMRPG players is that the powergamers and mega-rich players torture newbies simply because they are bored and have run through the game's quests and challenges.  While this may have a seemingly obvious solution (just rename a quest and say it's new) it all boils down to the fact that running around and slashing things just gets old after a while.

Say Origin were to introduce an arena only for those at GM level.  You could have a programmer assigned to maintain it.  Maybe a UO capture-the-flag game, or everyone randomly morphs into a different monster every five minutes, or a giant paintball game.  Who knows.  But if Origin just sits back and says "HERE IS OUR GAME!" and let the powergamers run through it in two weeks, then the newbie torture will begin.

-db
#50 by "Darkseid-[D!]"
2000-04-26 22:33:27
Darkseid@captured.com http://www.captured.com/boomstick
www.planetarion.com

online game like you suggest above :)


Now if you took damage in combat properly and had to service your ships, and rearm them, then the game would become more strategic. Instead of (at the present), send fleet out, fight, return fleet, add more ships, send out ....

You can never be totally out of the game in PA, because while you get your materiel from mined asteroids, which can be stolen, your home planet also has surface mines which although pitiful in amounts, would give you enough components to build a few new asteroid stealers over time.

Ds
#51 by "Rantage"
2000-04-26 22:35:52
rantage@hotmail.com http://www.steelmaelstrom.org
Ryan Greene: <I>"Basically, why would you want to attack a newbie?"</I>

I can only think of two situations: first, in self-defense.  Second, if the newbie is thinking <I>way</I> too highly of himself and is attempting to steal something which is yours.

Either way, the veteran shouldn't initiate an encounter.
#52 by "Ryan Greene"
2000-04-26 22:40:01
not@themoment.com
deadboat-

This is an issue of making worthwhile for the grandpas to be elsewhere, one way is more powerful enemies that are actually a challenge for them, but are too dangerous for the newbies.

In order to do this, you need to plan out a way of having different areas that cater to different levels of character.

This is an important part of game design that apparently does not get tested out enough in MMORPG's... Powergamers and their effect on game balance. It's also the most fun part of playtesting, making a ridiculously powerful character and having them run through a few fights just to see what happens.

Another wya to balance a game is to have  uniquness. Only one of something gives the more powerful characters a reason to go after each other instead of newbies. If there are five components to Hagbard's mystical Armor, and having all five incurs serious bonuses on the player, you can bet that  the Grandpas are going to be cutting each others throats to get/keep it.
#53 by "Garett"
2000-04-26 22:40:55
garett@gte.net
I have read this entire thread with interest.  I remember the good old days of Trade Wars 2002, where if you had a good or evil rating, and attacking people of your own kind, good or evil, would lower you rating.  Also, if you were good and killed an evil person, you got more experience, and a better good rating.  That game could get pretty one-sided, but it was usually a result of the game running forever with only a few players.  I speak from relative idiocy on this matter, as I havent played any of the internet multi-player games out there, like UO or Everquest, etc - I am not really into fantasy stuff.   Mankind sounds like a great idea, if a version comes out that works.
#54 by "duded"
2000-04-26 22:45:53
duded http://duded
dude!
#55 by "Morn"
2000-04-26 22:50:59
morn@planetcrap.com http://www.planetcrap.com
Aquila: <i>'somehow i feel like morn just consideres my opinions less worth a debate. must be my strange grammar or something.'</i>

If that was the case, I'd not reply to you.

Well, as I said, everybody can do whatever they wants, and I'm not gonna stop them. If you say that Vibes are a honest bunch of people who simply signed the wrong contract, I believe you (in fact, if you read one of my first comments, you'll see that I did in fact consider Cryo to be blamed insteas of Vibes, as I've heard enough stories of publishers bringing terror and destruction to ambitious projects. And particularly in this case I would have been surprised if Vibes had been the baddies; after all, how can someone who barely speaks any English rip off gamers? :b).

But in the end it is my money that I traded in for the game, and as a <b>customer</b>, I don't give a french fuck as to who received it, I just want the damn game. As an <b>old-school gamer</b> I am not the least surprised that this kind of stuff is happening today, and I'm not counting on ever seeing neither my money nor the game.

<i>'this is indeed the point that i like least on your 'humor' report ... for readers that don't know anything about MK it defintly leads to the oppinion that vibes is a group of bad guys that only started this project because ... well, i don't have the slightest idea how to express this :('</i>

There, you just found out one of the purposes of this site: to shed some new light on how things really are in the ongoing discussion of the published stories. In the end, we'll all come out of it as smarter people, as we've learned about the mistakes we've made and bitched about those others have made. Welcome to PlanetCrap. You are addicted now. :-)

- Morn
#56 by "Aquila"
2000-04-26 22:53:51
dah@gmx.net http://en.mkit.net/wishlist
ryan and ... well, everybody :)

as stated above and perhaps unnoticed:

the main reason for a player to become PK or for a grandpa to kill newbies is in fact because the game get's boring.

there was a french mankind guild sweeping systems from newbies. there are about a dozen PKs killing everybody just because they can do it. and there are a few players that declared war to everybody and actually let other players leave mankind because they don't stand the slightest chance against them.

i'm not talking about pirates which are neccessarey for the gameplay. i mean pure PKing. this happened to diablo on the battle.net first, if i don't forget anything. this was a paradise for PKs just because you reached the end of the game too fast.

therefore (imho) the only solution to this is (also as stated above) keeping the game of ongoing interest.

but this would mean a programming staff of hundreds.
#57 by "Morn"
2000-04-26 22:54:40
morn@planetcrap.com http://www.planetcrap.com
Actually, I'd <b>love</b> to have some of the Vibes guys themselves comment on this thread, as it'll most likely enlighten us all about what has really been going on.

Or maybe Cryo. Heh. Hey Cryo, this site is "Version 3.0 Enhanced". It's been up for four days! Okay, I'm not being very funny, am I.

Seriously. Vibes? Where are you?

- Morn
#58 by "Aquila"
2000-04-26 22:56:17
dah@gmx.net http://en.mkit.net/wishlist
morn, you're right on every single point. *g*
#59 by "Aquila"
2000-04-26 22:57:50
dah@gmx.net http://en.mkit.net/wishlist
Seriously. i will ask feivel. he will sure love to comment this thread.
aquila, addicted
#60 by "Aquila"
2000-04-26 23:02:49
dah@gmx.net http://en.mkit.net/wishlist
a dream (actually not more than just a dream):

a few pc-games-programming guys meet and decide to put their energy together in one single game that keeps everybodies attention and never comes to an end (therefore there are never grandpas).

vibes, egosoft, the imperium galactica guys merge to one single firm and merge: mankind, X and IG 2 to one game. after a half your of code-synch there would remain a team of programmers big enough to keep the game running forever ...

well, let me keep at least my illusions :|
any millionaires in here?
#61 by "Morn"
2000-04-26 23:02:53
morn@planetcrap.com http://www.planetcrap.com
I said myself (err): <i>'In the end, we'll all come out of it as smarter people, as we've learned about the mistakes we've made and bitched about those others have made. Welcome to PlanetCrap.'</i>

That gives me a very funky, Jerry Springer inspired idea. :-)

- Morn
#62 by "deadboat"
2000-04-26 23:12:29
crush@0wn3d.net http://0wn3d.net
This whole situation reminds me of Netrek.  A flood of incompetent newbies came onto the scene, causing veterans to have absolute hatrid for them.  It led to new versions of the server software having "clue" checks, asking those who connect intermediate gameplay mechanics questions.

Stupid newbies tend to stay newbies.  Smart newbies tend to turn into grandpas very fast... :D

-db
#63 by "Morn"
2000-04-26 23:12:39
morn@planetcrap.com http://www.planetcrap.com
Aquila, that sounds very sexy indeed. Too bad it's not gonna happen... :(  The real problem with the gaming community of today is that 99% of it don't want what 1% would like to see. It's easier to sell, say, Tomb Raider 13, than making a game that would actually please <i>us</i> harcore types.

Personally, something deep inside me is waiting for the messiah (haha) to descend from the heavens of source code to bring us the mother of all games: a consistent "anything goes" online world with a staff of hundreds acting as NPCs (or rather replacing them), not split up into different shards, enabling me to build my own areas and implement them into the "big world"; where playing a single player adventure means going to a "single player area" that was built by the developers or a dedicated fan; and everything would be available as open source, with the project still being lead by experienced developers who actually know what they're doing (I think <i>this</i> is where it gets utopic :b).

But it's easier to make Lara's titties bigger and sell it as a sequel. :/

- Morn, who will never find peace.
#64 by "crash"
2000-04-26 23:18:42
http://www.gamecenter.com
Ryan Green (#37) says:
<i>1) Do not reward more experienced players for killing less experienced ones, unless they are attacked first.</i>

easy enough. compare time played on each char. if (TimePlayedAttacker)  (TimePlayedDefender) then (Gain = 0). if (TimePlayedAttacker) 2) Tax more powerful characters, giving them a reason keep adventuring/generating income.</i>

or give them a reason to macro self-induced monetary gain to offset the taxes. or exploit various economic loopholes to do same. no in-game economy can ever match real-life economies, which is why--imho--taxation isn't a viable option.

<i>3) Reward more powerful characters for taking less powerful ones under their wing.</i>

e.g. allegiance system, Asheron's Call.

<i>4)Encourage newbies to band together, either through a common threat, or a puzzle/adventure that can only be solved by a group who works together.</i>

interesting, and has been tried many, many times, but it's nearly unworkable. and what about the solo player? oh, sorry, Charlie, your ten bucks a month isn't enough to let you play the full game?

<i>5) Give more experienced players a reason to be elsewhere, away from the newbies, be it the land tax described below, a reputation system that keeps them out of certain areas, or an incredibly low reward for killing people who are less pwerful than they are.</i>

doesn't matter. grief players will still exist, and giving them encouragement isn't enough. you must drive them out.

sup Desiato. welcome back. :) you (#38) said:
<i>Here's one effect that may or may not be viable. How about gradual inefficiency(sp?)creeping into the system. Your turrets start to degrade over time, maintenance is required. Or inflation eats up the value of the money that you've built up.</i>

macros will solve this problem. no one plays games to do tedious, repetitive stuff over and over and over. set up a client-side script to feed these keystrokes to the server--or download one off the web--and this becomes a non-issue. to get the money? see #2 above.

Aquila (#44) says (and welcome :)
<i>'fast gaming' is an effect in UO, EQ and AC as well. these players don't want to care about all such things like 'decaying ships and maintenance cost' ... they want a two hour fun because one hour online means one dollar less for them.</i>

that, and who wants to log into a game to have to work? casual players have an hour, maybe two, to play--and when they're on, they want to <b>play</b>. worrying about maintenance and upkeep and scheduling and shit ain't fun; that's work. :)

Aquila again (#56) says:
<i>therefore (imho) the only solution to this is (also as stated above) keeping the game of ongoing interest.  but this would mean a programming staff of hundreds.</i>

not really. Asheron's Call is doing it every month with a total staff of about 15 people. what it takes isn't programmers necessarily--it takes a good solid modular foundation that can be adapted and expanded by non-coders. just depends on how, and how <i>well</i>, you designed the game in the first place. :)
#65 by "crash"
2000-04-26 23:19:13
http://www.gamecenter.com
uh. not sure what happened there. must not have closed a tag. gah.
#66 by "Desiato"
2000-04-26 23:21:31
desiato_hotblack@hotmail.com
Upon reflection -- yes, the gradual decay idea may not impact players who are in it for the quick kill, but the whole idea really is to apply this principle to a large persistent universe where the players intend to stay around a while, not just engage in short-lived skirmishes.

Also -- on the whole concept of "decay"...what I mean is that the overall effectiveness diminishes in light of either the MTBF (Mean Time Between Failure) or some other linear factor. I realize that computing overhead scaling multiple arrays for many players would be prohibitive, so I'm not sure about the practicality aspect.

Another idea -- my friend and I always wanted to see a general correlation to powerful weapons/units and the likelyhood that they would fail and possibly harm the person using it.

Call it a small percentage. You own the "MEGA ZAP RAY" ? Cool -- but there is an inherent chance, say 10%, that everytime you use it, you risk it going off in your face and nuking a small area.

That could make things interesting....heh.

Or -- the more units you control, the possibility that your orders to those units may become misunderstood...(think the "telephone game" where "hello" becomes "purple monkey dishwasher").....perhaps you would call it "Command Chain Bias"...the longer the chain of command (or larger the aggregate units under your control) the larger the likelyhood that your orders may be misconstrued. Heh.

Okay -- I'm done rambling.

Desiato..
#67 by "Morn"
2000-04-26 23:22:42
morn@planetcrap.com http://www.planetcrap.com
Can you people stay on topic please?

...

Haha, I'm just kidding I guess. This <i>is</i> PlanetCrap, after all. =)

- Morn
#68 by "deadboat"
2000-04-26 23:26:10
crush@0wn3d.net http://0wn3d.net
Desiato writes in #66:
<I>"Call it a small percentage. You own the "MEGA ZAP RAY" ? Cool -- but there is an inherent chance, say 10%, that everytime you use it, you risk it going off in your face and nuking a small area."</I>

Ugh.  I play a game to have fun, not to be realistic.  Things like these would destroy a game's economy - if there was a 10 percent chance that the item I spent weeks questing/fighting for blew up in my face and took me with it, there's no way I, nor anyone else, would go anywhere near it.  I'd rather settle for my MP5 in CounterStrike instead :)

-db
#69 by "Rantage"
2000-04-26 23:34:44
rantage@hotmail.com http://www.steelmaelstrom.org
Desiato, #66: <I>"the more units you control, the possibility that your orders to those units may become misunderstood..."</I>

Oh, God <B>no</B>.  Communication between players is enough of a problem as it is.  No need to make it <I>worse</I>.  

I like the "possibility of failure" idea....but <I>only</I> for <B>extremely</B> powerful weapons (nukes, BFGs, Morph Ovum... *g*).
#70 by "Ryan Greene"
2000-04-26 23:43:36
not@themoment.com
Crash- a part of the problem of the economies not matchis is that there is no taxation, need to feed and clothe, or need to pay for gas, as it were in many of these gmes. while they are not fun, they help keep cash flowing in the economy, and allow a a means of getting cash away from those who would horde it. maintence costs on equipment is another means of a tax, as the more gear you have, the more your upkeep costs to keep the empire running.

Real economies are not fun, and that's why they don't get implemented. "You mean that I have to pay XXX creds to maintain my mega-hyper-gee-gaw? I'll sell it first!" Again, by limiting the production of items, allowing for bidding wars, etc, grandpas can still stay on top, but it forces them to work to maintain their lead.
#71 by "deadboat"
2000-04-26 23:45:06
crush@0wn3d.net http://0wn3d.net
Rantage (hm that sounds familiar...), #69: "Oh, God no. Communication between players is enough of a problem as it is. No need to make it worse."

No kidding.  Communication and AI seem to be the spottiest parts of most games going out the door these days - whether it be unresponsive RTS units, horrible unit pathfinding, or communication problems between other players.

Besides, you'll always have the lamers/newbies who don't feel like communicating with their allies, enemies, or anyone else, for that matter.  Ugh.

-db
#72 by "Aquila"
2000-04-26 23:49:05
dah@gmx.net http://www.nucleon.de/aquila
believe it or not: as soon as i got my first five millions, i will make you guys the head of staff for the ultimate game, telling those programmers guys where to set priorities and making a discussing group for all balancing problems.
you would lead a perfect life and this would lead to the perfect dream.
i really enjoyed this thread and ... well, mort: we all get out a little smarter ;)
thx guys.
#73 by "deadboat"
2000-04-26 23:51:49
crush@0wn3d.net http://0wn3d.net
My solution to any type of upkeep system is what's currently in some MMRPGs: maintenance.  You need to pay XXX amount of money to get an NPC to repair your armor and weapons, otherwise they'll fall apart.

To maintain a large house or vehicle, you should have to pay a <I>substantial</I> upkeep fee - if you don't have the funds set aside when the repo man comes, your precious new dragon boat ends up at the lot and you have to pay big bucks to spring it.

I think that would keep the game interesting - having a large upkeep fee on substantial game objects would keep the game's designers from having to put arbitrary limits on the amount of, say, star destroyers, that you could have.  And if a big clan made of the top players wants to have ten, they can pay the upkeep costs for ten.

-db
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