Archive for July, 2008

The Brick Walls are There for a Reason

Posted: July 25, 2008 by Kendricke in The Gaming Industry
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“But remember, the brick walls are there for a reason. Alright? The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.” – Randy Pausch, “Achieving Your Childhood Dreams”, Carnegie Mellon University

Per CNN: ‘Last Lecture’ professor dies at 47

Send me in, Coach!

Posted: July 23, 2008 by Kendricke in Everquest 2
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I love raid nights.

We only raid three nights a week and even then, only for three hours at go, so I get really excited on the nights we do get to raid.  I love watching members start to log in about 45 minutes before the raid.  I love hearing the chatter in Voicechat as we get closer to our “On The Move” time.  I spend some time making sure I’m mended and stocked up before I head over to our meet-up spot in-game.

As raid leader, it’s also my job to start sending out the group invitations.  We’ve been doing this a while now and I prefer not to micromanage too much, so once my group leaders are in the raid, they do most of the work for me.  I invite the same people to “Group 1” 90% of the time, and once I do that, I go grab a tasty beverage and make myself a quick meal (or the future Mrs. Kendricke and I decide to order out).

In fact, about the only thing I really dislike on raid nights is when I have to tell some members who show up to raid that they can’t raid.

I hate raid nights.
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A few years ago, Matt Harding worked for Activision making video games. Eventually, he figured out that wasn’t quite what he wanted to, so he up and quit and started wandering Asia.

Fast-forward a few years, and he managed to convince the folks at Stride gum to finance a trip around the world, where Matt proceeded to visit no less than 42 different countries where he would then dance like an idiot…and invite locals to join in with him!

Commentary aside, this is perhaps one of the best videos I’ve seen online ever. There’s a great story to go with it if you’re interested. Otherwise, just watch and enjoy.

How Much for that Coder in the Window?

Posted: July 18, 2008 by Kendricke in The Gaming Industry
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How much are SOE programmers making?

Well, if they’re brought into the U.S. on a work visa, then according to the data gleaned by Christer Ericson (Director of Tools and Technology, Sony Santa Monica), then, “the average programmer salary across all applications was $87K. The average for senior programmers was $103K, and for lead programmers $109K.”

It’s actually terribly interesting how he managed to glean this information (perhaps more interesting than the information itself), and I advise taking a peek at his “Real Time Collision Detection” blog if you’re interested in learning his source or methods. 

A hat tip to Brenda Brathwaite at the Applied Game Design blog for bringing this subject to our attention.

Regardless of which MMO you’re currently spending your free time within, there’s a good chance you’re likely to have to discuss the concept of a “hate list” at some point.

It’s possible you hold this discussion during a nice, civilized chat about general game mechanics whilst also enjoying a cup of hot Earl Grey and a biscuit or two, but more than likely, you’ve held this “chat” during a heated exchange with a group member or two after a particularly nasty wipe deep in some ridiculous dungeon where someone managed to grab hate at the wrong moment.  Chances are that someone blamed the player responsible for holding said hate, and that person probably reciprocated with a similar levy of blame pointed firmly at the person who managed to grab said hate in the first place.

Who’s fault was it, though?  Who’s “job” is it to keep hate?  The real answer?  It’s everyone’s fault, because it’s everyone’s job.
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It seems like these days, you can’t turn on a TV or fire up a website that isn’t talking about our “shrinking dollar”. Either prices are rising or you simply get less of what you used to for the same price.

Walk into your local grocery store and you’ll find that the cereal box costs the same as it did a year ago, but the amount of cereal IN the box is now less. That bad of premade salad you used to buy for $1.99 is still the same price, but now there’s 25% less salad in the bag.

It’s not just food producers who are trying to sell us a smaller bill of goods for the same price – if you’re still paying SOE for access to their EQ2Players site, you’re paying the same as ever, for less of what you used to get.
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A little over a month ago, I was starting to grow concerned over some issues I was seeing regarding my guild.  Activity levels were starting to drop, raid attendance was starting to flag a bit, and I was starting to hear a bit more grumbling than I’m used to in our guild’s chat channels.  When we did raid, we often had to start late due to critical classes being absent, and even then our performance would often be much lower than expected.

None of these issues were particularly troublesome individually, but together, I was starting to see the patterns between the problems, and started to identify the problems I felt were the root causes.

I knew part of the problem was due to the standard summer “doldrums”.  I knew some members were trying out Age of Conan.  I knew other members were probably just tired of hitting the same content over and over.  I had to find ways to overcome these issues and put the guild back on track, or I knew I’d have to deal with the repurcussions all the way up till the next expansion.

It’s now six weeks later, and looking at my guild now, you’d hardly realize that the picture I painted above was ever an accurate depiction of my guild.  Activity levels are soaring.  Raid attendance is at record highs.  We’re taking down new targets frequently.  We’re receiving several new applications to join us per day, which enabled us to pick and choose 8 new members so far.

In less than two months, we’ve gone from a guild which was having issues just getting members to log in to a guild which is the envy of much of our server.

How did we do this?  More importantly, how can YOU do this?

I can’t speak for every guildmaster’s situation, but I can tell you the issues I identified and what I did about it.

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