Archive for March, 2008

In a brilliant roundtable at the IMGDC over the weekend, Richard Bartle lead a conversation regarding government interference in online games, specifically from the point of view of a game development studio.  The strong underlying question which was raised again and again throughout the session was “how far is too far” in regards to various areas of typical government regulation of various aspects of game design.

As part of the conversation, the subject of virtual property in online games was inevitably raised.  True to the theme of the session, the question was asked regarding how far was too far regarding potential government requirements referencing players owning their own property in online games.

Before I get into describing the actual responses from various game developers (which could truly be its own article in its own right), I’d be interested in finding out how (and why) players feel on the subject.

So, the Clockwork Question of the Week for March 31st is this: Do you “own” your character?  How so?  Why do you feel that way?


Ten Clockwork Battlerats

Posted: March 28, 2008 by Kendricke in Community Scribes, IMGDC, Out of Character

Cameron from Random-Battle just called to let me know he’ll be around the downtown Minneapolis area tonight after he finishes an interview with one of the attendees of tomorrow’s IMGDC (no, I won’t tell you – it’s HIS interview).

Cameron and I both live in Minneapolis, and occasionally we speak to each other, but we rarely get to meet up and just go hang out. Oddly enough, it takes a national developer’s conference to bring the stars into alignment long enough for both of us to come into proximity with one another.

I’m going to try to get in touch with the various entities from Kill Ten Rats (whom are also in town) to see if we can’t make a shindig out of the whole thing.

The only downside to all of this is I have to call in sick to my guild’s raid tonight for the second Friday in a row. (That means they’ll likely accomplish more with less hassle than if I were there actually leading them).

If you’re in town for the IMGDC (or you’re just a local and you’re starstruck by all the concentrated awesome you’re reading about here) and you’d like to get together tonight, drop a line to me at kendricke at and we’ll see if we can get you involved as well.

Inactivity in the Ranks: What Should You Do?

Posted: March 27, 2008 by Kendricke in Everquest 2, Guilds

Play in a guild in any MMO for long enough and chances are good that you’ll have to deal with an inactive member at some point.

For many guild leaders, inactivity can be a constant source of aggravation. For a variety of reasons, members just stop logging in, typically with little to no warning. One day, the member is winning the roll on a nice piece of loot and then, many times without so much as a “taking a break for a while” post, the member just stops logging in.

How do you deal with it? What can you do?

I really believe there’s only one real answer: removal.

In Town for IMGDC?

Posted: March 26, 2008 by Kendricke in IMGDC, Out of Character

It’s no secret that I call the Twin Cities home, so if you’re in town this week for the IMGDC, there’s a better than even chance that I can be convinced to come out for a jaunt around town.

For those of you new to the area, here are some tips:

I can tell you that from the convention center, you’re literally within walking distance of some of the best (and priciest) restaurants in all of the Twin Cities, including some pretty famous steak houses (Manny’s, Murray’s, The Capital Grille, M&S Grill). If you’d prefer just some good hot sandwiches, I highly recommend Lyon’s Pub, 8th Street Grill, or Gluek’s Pub. I’ve spent a lot of time a little farther down Nicollet at Xeno’s (get the Linguini Nero) and Brit’s Pub (Scotch Eggs, Cod and Chips, and a nice tall ale, if you please).
I actually work in downtown, near City Center right now, practically next door to the IDS, if anyone is up to getting together for lunch any of the days you’re here.  (The IDS Center is the tallest building in Minneapolis, and actually the tallest structure aside from Chicago’s Sears Tower in the midwest U.S..)

A couple of things to know about Minneapolis and surrounding areas. We’re having a fairly typical Minnesota spring, which means that the high was 45 degrees today, but it’s expected to plunge back into the 30’s tomorrow and Saturday, with snow and even possible rain showers likely for the next few days.

If you come from a warmer clime, I’ll warn you now that just because you see locals walking around in light sweaters or hoodies (or even T-shirts and sandals when we the mercury heads north of 40), doesn’t mean you should.  If you’re not used to cold weather this time of year and you intend to go outside, you should probably dress warmly and wear some good shoes (needs to stand up to slush/ice/wet).

The good news is you don’t have to walk outside if you don’t want to. Every building downtown is connected through an elaborate “skyway” system. You can walk from one end of downtown the other and never leave 70 degrees if you don’t want to. If you get lost in the skyways (it’s easier than you might think), just ask anyone you see for help.

If you’re a smoker, prepare to be out in the cold, though. There’s a statewide ban on smoking in any public building – including bars and restaurants.Minnesota State Sales Tax is 6.5%. The downtown zone in Minneapolis tacks on another 0.5%. Everything is taxed except for unprepared groceries (snack foods and restaurant dishes are still taxed) and clothing. That’s right – clothing is free from tax in Minnesota…

…and for those of you who like to shop, you might want to consider jumping in that rental car or hopping one of the LRT’s from downtown and taking off to see the Mall of America. Over 500 stores within the largest mall in America, including an indoor amusement park and underground aquarium. Most stores are open till 10 PM throughout the holidays.

By the way, you’ll see all sorts of posters showing a giant spoon with a cherry on it (and it’s one of the most photographed locations in the city). It’s the “Spoonbridge and Cherry” in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, attached to the newly redesigned Walker Art Museum. It’s a short 10 minute bus ride out of downtown, just on the edge of the Kenwood neighborhood in the artistic Uptown area of Minneapolis (which is actually where I live).

And speaking of Uptown, if you thought the collection of resturaunts and bars in downtown isn’t enough for you, Uptown is chock full of all sorts of places to wet your whistle or eat your fill.

…but that’s a whole other post of its own.

Blaming the Milkman

Posted: March 26, 2008 by Kendricke in Everquest 2, Fallacies, SOE, The Gaming Industry

There once was a man who ordered milk each week.  Every week, the man felt there was something wrong with his milk delivery – either the bottle wasn’t full enough, or the delivery was late, or the new bottles weren’t clean enough, or the milk wasn’t fresh enough.  Every week, the man complained loudly to the milkman.  Every week, the milkman said he’d try to do better.  This went on for years.

One day, after hearing the man loudly complain to the milkman once again about the quality of the latest batch of milk, the man’s neighbor walked over.  He asked the man why he kept buying milk from that company every week if he didn’t like the milk.

The man replied indignantly, “What!?  And let them get away with bad service?”

I thought up this story this morning while reading several comments on the official EQ2 forums regarding angry and upset players who were complaining that “they keep taking our money and only give us crap in return”.

However, if we flip the comment on its logical head, aren’t we really saying “I keep giving them money for service I’m unhappy with.”

Think about it.

Questing as Intended?

Posted: March 25, 2008 by Kendricke in Pirates Online

Recently, I’ve been playing a bit more of Pirates of the Burning Sea from time to time (Brit on Rackham, for you stalkers out there) and I’ve been noticing that some of the quests there, though often well written, are just as ridiculous as the quests in most MMO’s these days.

Case in point:  This weekend I was running a quest line from a gent in Bartica, Guyana.  Seems he accidentally gave some quicksilver (mercury) to some settlers nearby after promising them a cure-all remedy.  The villagers in question apparently began rubbing themselves with the “miracle cure” thinking it was a salve…and they’ve gone stark raving mad.

The good doctor’s request?  He wants me to fix his problem for him by dumping a couple of bales of herbs into the village well.  Up to this point, it’s an interesting story line.  Of course, I should have known what was coming next…

What would you do if you had private information about a public person in the gaming industry that you thought should be public because it might potentially expose “moral corruption”. Would you release the information and justify if after the fact by claiming it was important for the public to know…or would you sit tight on the information?

How far is too far? What lines shouldn’t be crossed?