Thursday, September 27, 2012

Mahatma Wild Rice: You've returned to me!

I've been looking around every single grocery store locally for the past five years or so for this awesome flavored bagged wild rice that I used to love eating as a kid/teenager/what have you, but most stores around here stopped selling it.

I finally turned to online grocery shopping to try to hunt this stuff down, and I don't think I'm ever going back. I bought 30 cases of it. Hey, Albertsons, no wonder you're going out of business! You should probably listen to my suggestions on what to sell. You too, Staters.

/end rant. No, actually /end rant and satisfied buyer. (Finally.)


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Selatria - Chapter 2 Progress

I've been pretty busy the last few weeks juggling development on this game and another. Everyone wants experience, so I've been doing my best in using my free time from work to continue development on Chapter 2 of Selatria and programming the Hell's Kitty mobile game.

Here's some preview shots, I've only shared them with the Development Team up until this point.

Also be sure to check out our open spots in the development team if you're interested!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Game Design Philosophy: Pay-To-Play Versus Free-To-Play Options -- "Sitcom Model"

Another installment of ideas swirling around in my head.

I was having a talk with one of the people in my Final Fantasy XIV guild, and discussing the negative stigma that comes with a play-to-play MMORPG becoming free-to-play. From the gamer standpoint, going to a free-to-play model is the message from the company or the developers that they've given up on the game or that their subscriber count is too low.

They make it free-to-play in order for additional people to come along and keep the numbers high while spending money on special items, gear, dungeon-access, additional levels, or what have you.


Sitcom Model

Sitcoms usually have a first-run on a highly advertised network, and then get syndicated in reruns or lesser known stations on a one year-ish delay. I kind of used that model for an inspiration.


A dual pay-to-play (P2P) and free-to-play (F2P) model.

How it works:

Active subscribers on the P2P model have their own server. They get new in-game content on a regular basis, and are the first servers to get the new content to tackle and deal with. This includes new raiding dungeons, new monsters, new quests, new classes/races, PvP battlegrounds, and the like.

If a subscription expires and is not renewed (or a subscription is never ordered), characters and accounts are defaulted to a free-to-play server.

Free-to-play players will have their levels/characters intact, but get new content at a one-year delay from the active subscribers. They can participate in instanced content with friends that are subscribers, as long as both have access to the raid. Open-world content will be separate.


In most games, those that adopt a free-to-play model usually get revenue from items purchased with real money. In this model, the main revenue for the game will still rely on paid subscriptions. A year-delay on new content will motivate those to buy the subscription, and those who cannot afford or do not wish to pay can also enjoy the game as well.

Possible Holes in the Sitcom Model:

-Expansion Packs(?)
-In-game open world events

If anyone has any other comments or suggestions, send 'em my way.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Faith in humanity went up quite a bit today.

I lost my wallet the other day, thinking it was left somewhere in my house or my car.

Not only did it fall out of my pocket when I was out and about in San Bernardino a few days ago, someone mailed it back to me with all of my stuff intact, and sent a letter hoping that I wasn't stressing myself out over it.

I'm currently writing this person a thank you letter and sending a gift for their trouble. There are some really good-natured people out there. That makes me really happy.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Regarding people who try and flirt to get anything they want.

Maybe it is one of the things that makes me angry.

I do not like it when people act fake or flirtatious to me to get what they want. I will be more than happy to help out anyone without all the suggestive attitudes, the hugs, and blown kisses. I'm just saying.

I won't explain the actual situation for which this blog post is directed at, but it makes me angry. Well, no, actually it doesn't make me angry. It's kind of sad for the sake of humanity for people to go to so low blows.

Sometimes I find myself a bit lonely at times, but moments like these make me glad that I am. In the case of this particular scenario, I feel sorry for this particular lady's boyfriend. Most guys will try and go for the lady at the cost of anything or get the wrong signal from it all, but here's my logic. If she'll do it to him to get to you, she'll do it to the next guy. Maybe they like that kind of power and thrill, I suppose.

But it won't work with me. I'm not a doormat that can be walked all over. That's the end of that.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Grover's Guide to playing Black Mage (XIV)

Grover’s Guide to playing BLM:
Credit to Clayers Ray of Aegis Server where appropriate. 


Cross-Class Abilities you should have for BLM:
Pugilist: Second Wind/Featherfoot
Archer: Quelling Strike/Chameleon
Conjurer (Optional): Sacred Prism


Things you should shoot for stat wise:
INT: 325-ish+
Magic Accuracy: 471+ (For Garuda this should be in 490+ range)
Attack Magic Potency: 460+
Note from Clayers Ray: You can never have too much INT (literally as it doesn't cap, yet) for Garuda it's possible to do 100% acc. with 480+, so you can use that extra ten points on something else, and if you're in a party with a half decent tank the enmity - gear should never be worn (I don't even have them anymore)


Good Gear Guide:
Most of the BLM AF as it is right now is useless. Dump everything in your storage container in your inn except the AF Body and Feet, that’s all you’ll want out of that.

Head: Felt Hat of Intelligence (Meld Magic Accuracy or INT)

Weapon: Lightning Brand or Electrum Scepter (Meld Magic Accuracy or INT)

Body: AF Body or Militia Body.

Note from Clayers Ray on Body Gear: If you're Uldah, get the officer coat for your BLM AF replacement. and for feet (if you can't afford by all means keep the feet) get Mahogany or Spruce pattens with AMP or Lightning potency materia.

Shield:  Depends on if you’re Twin Adder or not:
Twin Adder:  Gridanian Square Shield
Not Twin Adder: Aubriest Allegory

Hands: Mage’s Halfgloves

Legs: Felt Trousers (Meld INT/MND Materia)

Feet: AF Feet or Spruce/Mahogany Pattens with double Attack Potency meld.

Note from Clayers Ray on Feet Gear: Mahogany or Spruce pattens with AMP or Lightning potency materia.

Neck: Mage’s Choker (for Magic Accuracy) or Spinel Choker (For Attack Magic Potency)

Bracelet: Black Pearl Bracelet (Enmity-) or Zircon Bracelet (INT)

Belt: Raptorskin Satchel Belt (Meld Enmity – Materia), Raptorskin Satchel Belt (Meld MND) or Mage's Rope Belt (If deficient on Magic Accuracy)

Rings: Either Magic Accuracy or Intelligence Rings. It depends on what your numbers are and where you’re lacking. 


Thunder/Thundara/Thundaga – The basic nuking combo for single target spike damage.  If Thundara is used without a combo, it has an additional stun effect. Not efficient for damage, but good for stunning a mob if it’s planning something deadly.

Thunder/Excruciate/Thundara/Resonance+ Quelling Strike/Dark Seal/Thundaga:  Great for spike damage. Good for Zergs. Good for Garuda if she teleports mid-combo. I use this to get off Thundaga if Garuda teleports. Most of the time because of Resonance, Thundaga will land.

Thunder/Thundara/Convert/Burst: Only good if low on MP and do not have hate. Use Thunder and Thundara to get low on MP, Convert, and then combo with Burst. Burst does more damage if combo’d with low HP. You can easily get a 1200+ spike damage. Warn your White Mage to cure you after you do the combo! Great for Garuda.

Fire/Fira/Firaga – Good for area nuking. If mobs are resistant against Thunder, like Golems or Thunder/Earth Elementals, use Fire combos.

Resonance+Flare/Blizzara – I use this for Aurum Vale and Skirmish. It’s great if you have these two abilities near each other on your bar or in a macro. Resonance enhances spell range, and Flare is … well Flare. Aurum Vale it’s good for mowing down a wide volley of mobs and anything that might be grabbed on the side. For Skirmish, it is good for the Golem or Tree, since it resets hate and runs over the place, with Resonance on, you can get a good DoT and the wide range helps Flare landing. Use Blizzara after to do any damage if mobs are left.

Sanguine Rite – Do not forget this spell. It’s good for saving your ass if you have hate.

Freeze - Hate Reduce. Nuke until you get Red. Pop this in lieu or with Chameleon to reduce hate.


Monday, September 10, 2012

Game Design Philosophy: TimeOut Mode

I've started a new section for rants, mostly involving game design ideas that are going around in my head. I'm not going to keep them to myself, because I feel that by sharing or throwing around the ideas, it might get some traction or people can expand on the ideas.

Unless, some company is paying me to keep my mouth shut, and that hasn't happened yet.

My method is mainly applied to PvE raids in MMOs. I would like to start a discussion on PvP and large scale battles in online games. What would be a fair way to handle disconnections? Also, I would like some input from the Xbox community. I don't play/have Xbox Live and I would like to know how they handle disconnections in their community.


Handling Disconnections:

I've been playing MMOs and online games for a while, and most games seem to have a terrible way of handling disconnections.

In Wii/Nintendo Wi-Fi connection games, most communication with other players are highly restricted due to the overall younger nature of the players that are playing their games. Most people (as in Mario Kart Wii or Super Smash Bros. Brawl) tend to rage-quit if they are on the losing side to avoid having score penalties or losses on their record. There's not much punishment or recourse for this because you can't really tell (no one can really tell) if it's a legitimate disconnection or someone is actually butt-hurt and doesn't want to play anymore. Pokemon Black and White is starting to give harsh penalties for disconnecting in their Wi-Fi tournaments, and I believe forcing disconnections is marked on your trainer card, but I don't remember exactly.

Age of Empires and Age of Mythology have a timeout/wait period where the players can vote on whether to keep or drop the player. However, this could be abused, given that the opponents could try and unanimously vote to drop the player in order to get a competitive edge. This is the closest form to the method I am proposing, but unfortunately this is only used for disconnections and does not reflect the vision for strategy that I want to use.

Most MMOs just have the disconnected player drop the party and they will return once they log back in. This too can cause problems because if an integral member of the party drops out, it can spell certain death for the remaining party members, especially if it were a healer or tank.


TimeOut Method:

This came up while I was angry about my disconnection last night. The whole party delved into chaos in the two or so minutes I was not online.

I was thinking about this method/feature called TimeOut. I got inspiration for the name because sports games usually have a set amount of Time Outs for each team, and they tend to start calling them like crazy at the very end of the game to do last minute strategy changes to try and win against the opposing team.

I also took into account that players take time to plan strategies for an upcoming battle, and TimeOut can be used for that as well.

How it works:

The party leader/guildmaster/person in charge would be given free use of TimeOut.

When TimeOut is initiated, all gameplay is frozen, the area is zoomed out and shown an overhead view with all of the people/enemies in place. The chat box is enabled and markers can be placed on the map in order to set a strategy for the party. This would be a good place to explain where people should stand, where they run to, and how the battle works. If there are multiple stages in the fight, TimeOut could be repeatedly used in order to adjust for dynamic strategy changes.

To handle disconnections in the group, the server should recognize the amount of people in the group when they enter the instance and when the group falls below this amount of people, TimeOut is automatically initiated. The party can then discuss whether or not they should wait for the dropped player to come back to resume gameplay or continue with the member dropped. 

To avoid abuse by players or making the content too potentially easy, there should be a limit on either the number of times TimeOut can be initiated OR a cumulative timer that counts down everytime TimeOut is used.

It's a simple method, and I know there's probably flaws in this design, but if you guys have suggestions or comments on it, it would be greatly appreciated. 

I would also like to work on a method for how TimeOut would work in other situations or games. Player vs Player or other situations.


Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Last Story

Happy September! 

I've been playing a lot of "The Last Story" lately. I'm a huge fan of Hironobu Sakaguchi and the game series he's been involved with developing, and ever since this game was announced I had my eye on it. I pre-ordered the game on Amazon and got all this nice stuff.

Soundtrack, a book that contains concept art, and the game itself!


I really enjoy the original take on the battle system and game-play. It feels like it has the cut-scenes and storyline quality reminiscent of older Final Fantasy games, yet has an entirely original battle system. It's real-time, yet has turn-based elements of old RPGs, so it feels like a mix of an old-school RPG with standard commands and an action-RPG that's always free flowing.

Here's some footage of the battle system:

What I like about it (and apparently can be changed to how you feel) is that you can hit the control stick in the direction of the enemy, and it attacks that enemy.

There is  no targeting involved except for the use of spells, and even then it freezes the real-time gameplay in order for you to cast the spell and where it will land. It seems hack and slash, but there is some influence on where you attack the mob and what spell you use. It's not like Kingdom Hearts where one would simply spam the attack button, there is a good amount of strategy involved to still differentiate it from that kind of RPG.


The story itself so far is a little cliche...

Revolves around a group of mercenaries headed by a man named Dagran and the player is in control of one of the mercenaries, named Zael. They get caught up with the princess of Lazulis Castle named Calista, and the story revolves around their adventures with the conflicts in and about Lazulis including the internal affairs of the Lazulis family and the external affairs against the Gurak Empire.

However, I think it's told very well. There are a lot of freedom of choices and the quirky humor and voices are well done. Since the game was localized in Britain, some of the spelling threw me off a little. But it's a well done game and definitely worth playing.


Also, the music is done by Nobuo Uematsu, that in itself...

Doesn't the song on the top remind you of Final Fantasy IX's Hunter's Chance? I surely got that feeling.