Player Versus Player

Player Versus Player

The main thrust of Mystic Riders is a story driven single player versus environment experience. However, we aren’t against having Player Versus Player mechanics in our game as long as they don’t interfere or impede the story. Players can always experience the story together in groups.

But, we’re also willing to consider actual competitive style gameplay. This would be completely optional and wouldn’t tie to player leveling in any way. Player versus player in a mounted MMO is restricted to different types of racing.

Player versus player game play brings out some of the most competitive players and the players who are more apt to grief other players. These are the players who are more apt to try and break the game in order to gain a slight advantage and win a digital “prize” in order to be number one on the board. This type of play would have to be taken into account in the game mechanics so all players who can participate in PvP have a solid chance of winning if they have the right equipment and gear.

This is a game where you have to earn your way by playing story quests. Races, championships, skills and good gear are unlocked by playing quests and earning levels. A player can’t just play through the demo, buy the game, and go buy the ‘best horse’ in the game and the ‘best gear.’ That’s not going to work. There just won’t be one ‘best horse’ because different horses are better at different things. They won’t be just a fastest horse, there will be the most disciplined horse, the most agile horse. There may be an ‘all around’ horse but that horse won’t be the one that is the ‘fastest.’ Players must play quests in order to unlock districts, unlock horses, unlock races and championships and higher level of gear. They have to earn their way through the game. In order to run a championship race, they have to be a ‘champion’ of the competition in that district.

The players can form groups and participate in races together in competition races. This can give the player practice. Neither the player nor the horse gain experience for these races and they are purely for fun and placement on the leader boards. Competition races can be run as many times as the player and group likes.

Once the players have gone through the story racing section of their district and earned the title of “champion,” they can compete in Champion events.

Championship races are PvP races that can only be raced by those who have completed the story racing track that leads them to winning the district’s top prize. Thus, these are extremely difficult races that are for higher level players that have at least completed one district’s story. Every time a player completes another district’s racing story line, they gain another championship to compete in. All championships would be sorted out by player level. That way a low level 5 player wouldn’t be put up against a higher level 20 player with no chance of winning.

If a player wins the Championship and beats their own best score, they’ll receive a small monetary prize.

Or the players can form more formal groups called Clubs.

In order for the Clubs to have a purpose in the game, the Clubs could be divided into different categories or “divisions” by size. Division 4 could be 2 to 5 member clubs, Division 3, 6 to 10, Division 2, 11 to 20, Division 1, 21 to 30 or something like that. (I am not sure of the top membership number of clubs, it’s going to depend on player counts and the ability for the servers to handle them.) Where if anyone in the club participates (and there should be a minimum number of people who are required to participate per show) they get a point to put towards the Club “pot” worth of points. And if anyone in their Club places in the events of the show, they get a LOT of points to go towards the pot, the higher you place, the more points, and the Club with the biggest “pot” of points wins a cup to display in their clubhouse.

There would be several different events, leading your horse in a circle, show jumping, dressage, very formal things. Only one person can participate in one event. Each event has to have a new person so you have to strategize on who participates on who is the ‘best’ at each event or has the best gear. The more people the club has, the events the clubs have. Events of Clubs that only have 2 to 5 people, have 2 events, but a club with say 50 people, would have 10 events to participate in. Events are individual competitions.

Depending on how many divisions there are, and the upper limit of Club membership, will depend on how often these Club Shows Championships would be run, daily, hourly or weekly.

Leaderboards for all championships and races would be reset on a regular basis. Hopefully these limitations and restrictions will keep the PvP fair for all players and still make it fun and enjoyable to socialize.

Breed Spotlight: Persano

Breed Spotlight: Persano

Persano

Another cousin to the Andalusians and Arabians, the Persano is a tricky horse to find information on! This Italian horse is considered critical in terms of how many are still in existence, which helps that make at least a little sense. (The rest is pure laziness by people going, “It’s effectively an Anglo-Arabian.”) This is an extra breed, so you will have to pay real-world funds in order to add it to your stable.

Because most compare it to the Anglo-Arabian, that’s the best knowledge we have for build. The bases of the breed were Andalusians, Arabians, Turkomans, and Mecklenburgers, which makes the Akhal-Teke another (though distant) cousin. They would be described as a less refined version of an Arabian, with a less dishy-look to the face. They would also be a bit taller, since most Anglo-Arabians are English Thoroughbred crosses. A cavalry horse even to this day, the Persano is noted as one of the few breeds able to survive the conditions of the Russian steppe, suggesting the breed is touch and capable of handling different climates.

Persano 2

The Persano was the primary mount used for the last successful cavalry charge in history, between Italy and Russia in 1942. After the second world war, only fifty horses remained within the government, though others remained with private owners. They are still utilized as cavalry horses within Italy, and an association is maintained for the breed. Its military history makes it well suited for the dressage ring while the breed’s endurance means it can handle the differing climates of Emerald with ease.

Persano 1

Breed Characteristics:
Persano are found in limited solid colors, such as bay, grey, chestnut (red coat with red mane), black, brown, and sorrel (red coat with blonde mane, again for our purposes, see above). No markings are prohibited.

Starting Stats: *
Speed:                    3                                              Discipline:        4
Endurance:         4                                               Agility:              3
Strength:             3

* Note, these numbers aren’t set in stone. They are Becca’s way of trying to reduce her knowledge/research of breeds and their particular skills and traits into numbers so when animators and programmers have to look at these horses, they can go, “Oh, this horse can’t turn worth beans but this one can on a dime, noted!”

Next week, we’ll take a small break from horse breeds and focus on our other furry friends. (Well, sometimes furry, some have feathers, you get the gist.)

Platformer Mechanics

Platformer Mechanics

Some of what we do as we think about Mystic Riders is try to answer the question, what does an MMO look like in 2025? What is the next step in the MMORPG experience? Games such as World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy XIV, and Elder Scrolls Online started the “mount” system for MMOs that is becoming more and more standard.

So, where do we go next?

In Mystic Riders, we want to use a more three dimensional level platformer gaming type of experience that Guild Wars 2 is flirting with in their jump puzzles and huge battle arenas. Make the map of an MMO a more dynamic exploratory experience and use magic and mini-games to enhance the experience.

Games like Sly Cooper, Ratchet and Clank, and Okami allowed the player in a single player mode to explore the map and reach places in varying ways. Sly Cooper can climb ladders and pipes, and sneak along ledges. While Ratchet and Clank gave the character the ability to swim and gadgets to fly, walk on magnetic surfaces, and even change the state of liquids to solids (and back.) In Okami, the player used magic to cause the wind to blow up banners, become small, or even slow down time so they could make that tricky jump.

A platformer by definition has the game set up as a series of ‘platforms.’ So, I’m not going to say that we aren’t going to crib from these games in places, because why mess with what works.

The easiest use of a platform mechanic is to provide places for players to jump between. Whether this is across rivers or up in the mountains or in the marshes.

The next step is because we have a dedicated mount system is to merge these platformer style mechanics with the different racing mini games. Instead of the races being on flat ground, they maybe be more three-dimensional. Having the player doing a dressage routine, but that routine as they turn takes them up a hill or down into a pit.

They don’t want to mess up the routine, because that means they fall and falling is going to hurt.

Or maybe they’re in the mountains on a pony and there is a very thin gully that they have to get through in a set amount of time. This gully could be set up as a clover leaf pattern going up or down or it could be a pole bending pattern where the player has to move quickly in a zig-zag shape.

Or, they’re in a marsh on their draft horses and parts of the marsh are too deep even for their drafts to traverse and instead there is a show jumping race in the middle of the marsh to get them from point A to point B.

There are also other standard platformer game options, like rebuilding bridges. (We have a puzzle game for that.) Unlocking different doors in various ways. Or you might have to own a specific type of horse in order to move the tree that blocking the path. (That is if you don’t have rot/disease magic.)

Using platformer mechanics in the environment will give the player something to puzzle out and more places to explore once they gain more magic and unlock districts than simply riding from point A to point B and hope for some hills or mountain paths.

Now how can we utilize magic in our platformer mechanics? For this, we need to look to Okami and Ratchet and Clank. You can lower and raise water. Turn water from liquid to a solid. Use the wind to turn a windmill and move bridges. Summon lightning to power a door or a dam. You can use magic to grow plants and make a ‘natural bridge.’ You can use magic to lift and lower rocks. Or to grow big and small. Or even to tame a pegasus and glide between extra long platforms.

The possibilities of how to make a map more dynamic with magic and mini-games really in only limited to the imagination of the game devs. Having different areas of the map only accessible if the player has mastered certain types of magic will hopefully encourage the player to explore the map multiple times.

They never know what they might discover and the secrets they could unearth.

Even if that means they have to become tiny like a bug or tame a pegasus.

The Games Within the Game

The Games Within the Game

Mini-Games. I have touched a lot on mini-games while talking about every other mechanic thus far in the game! Part of our vision for the next stage of MMOs is incorporated mini-games inside the game itself. The biggest examples I can think of is the different hacking style mini games in Sly Cooper and Ratchet & Clank. The biggest mini- games that most MMOs have are their fishing mini-games. (Almost every MMO I know about has a fishing mini-game in it one way or the other. The original Guild Wars being the weird exception to this.)

Our target demographic, being female, really enjoy smaller style app games like bubble shooter, connect three, and puzzle style mini games. Women love hidden object games as well. When a single player game is made for little girls like oh, Tangled, or Disney Princess Adventures, a huge part of the gameplay is integrated mini-games and puzzles. We want to take this out of the single player game and put it into the MMO style game.

MMO games don’t have to be 100% fetch and escort quests, and drag and drop items into glowing sparkling fields. Because, that gets tedious. We know it does. We’ve all been there playing a game for the story or hoping to get to the end game for the PvP battles and been stuck endless grinding in fetch quests in order to level our characters and get new gear. And even in a combat MMO where there are NPCs around that want to hurt you, this gets mind numbing. (And so does the combat depending on the mechanics.)

And horse games, well, the type of horse games there usually are include mini-games such as currying your horse, cleaning the hooves, mucking the stables, and sometimes you get washing your horse and styling your horse with different mane and tail styles and fancy gear.

Feeding and watering your horse usually isn’t involved enough to be turned into a mini-game. With many of those horse games, that’s actually all there is to the game at all! (Which is so disappointing.)

So, here are some mini-games we’re thinking about for Mystic Riders.

Trace the Pattern/Connect the Dots

On your screen would be a pattern, or a set of dots. The player uses their mouse to trace the pattern or to select the dots in the right order to complete the pattern. Examples where this can be used: casting magic, doing hair in the hair salon, sewing a garment. Magic is the biggest place where we expect to use the trace the pattern mini game.

Bubble Shooter

The player has to shoot groups of bubbles in the right order to clear the screen. Mostly for magically locked places, such as the Mirror World.

Puzzles

Find the pieces in the area and fit them together. Good for making bridges, restoring artwork, or putting furniture and musical instruments together.

Pattern Match Mini-Game

The player is given rows and columns of items. There is a pattern, set number of items they have to match in each row. They need to move the items around before they’re put together at the bottom of the screen. Good for cooking and brewing, possibly cloth making, and so on.

The Slide Bar Mini-Game

The player watches a bar on the screen with a slider that goes back and forth. When the slider is in a specific spot of the bar (often a different color) the player clicks the screen to stop it. Useful for anytime that timing and accuracy is important. Could be used for forging, archery, and fishing.

Light Pattern Mini-Game

Sometimes, things just need to be a certain color. Whether or not it’s a set of lamps keeping a gate closed, or a group of Christmas Spirits that got caught up in the fun of Halloween, they need to be changed. Make the lights the right color, doors may unlock, secret places may reveal themselves, and Christmas can be saved.

Falling Objects

The sky is falling! Oh my. Oh, it’s just fruit and nuts you say. Well, carry on then. In the falling object game, the player runs around the screen to catch items before they hit the ground or direct falling items to specific spots. (These games should be easy. Easy I say!) Usually there is some sort of catastrophe going on. Or maybe the farmer needs your help to catch their apples before they hit the ground.

Pet Puzzles

The player guides their pet to go through mazes, push levers, press buttons, and sit on different pressure points in order to unlock certain gates and doors. Pets don’t do that you say? Well, this is Astranar and there’s magic. Mostly for having a good time with your pet, or Mirror World people don’t think the same we do about locks.

Clean the Screen

The player has to clean the screen with their mouse to reveal what’s under the dirt and grime. Mostly for archaeology.

This isn’t an exhaustive list of the mini game options that are available to us as game devs. These are the ones that we think would be the most entertaining and make the most sense. For mini games such as horse brushing and hoof picking, I’d want to consult with experts to make them more “realistic” and also make them completely optional.

Without a combat system, it is imperative that we give the players a variety of ways to advance the game, so they don’t become bored with what they are expected to do to continue the story. Thus, our answer is mini-games.

Professions, the Game Mechanic!

Professions, the Game Mechanic!

In Mystic Riders, we have to include professions as part of the game. They’re fairly standard in MMOs. In most combat MMOs, professions are the system that determines what weapons you can wield and what spells you can cast. They are things like Knight, Ranger, Mage, Monk and every type of variation of there-of you can think of. (My favorites tend to be the ones where I can populate the battle field by summoning up dead things or ghosts!) However, Mystic Riders isn’t a combat game. So, why should we have professions at all?

Because story.

The story and the focus of Mystic Riders is about the player’s journey through their teen years and growing up. Part of growing up is the ability to put on different styles and personalities like they’re hats and, yes, trying out different jobs to see if they are something that fits your talents to make into a career.

horse-262280_960_720

So, obviously, our professions in Mystic Riders are a little different. Outside of not being combat oriented, they work together with the different crafting and farming skills the player can learn in the game. We went over them in general in this post. The professions are jockey, farmer/gardener, archaeologist, fashion stylist, interior decorator, entertainer, chef, and spa owner.

Each of these professions will give the player the ability to customize their game, earn some in game cash, and give them access to items, gear, and equipment that are exclusive to that profession either in stores or making them by hand. (You want the really good cooking tools, become a chef.) These professions can also give them outlets for creating fan content for their social media like Instagram and YouTube. (I foresee interior designer, spa owner, entertainer, and fashion stylist being big social media hits.) And there are professions for those who simply want to get through the story as fast as possible (farmer, jockey) or on the other extreme have to know every bit of lore (archaeologist).

During the story of the Diamond District when the player arrives at the Royal Riding Academy, they will be prompted to start thinking about their future and be able to learn about the different professions from their original district’s mentor. From there, they’ll be directed to the appropriate mentor of that profession who will send them on quests to meet experts who will send them on more quests to teach them the skills and give them the tools to hone their crafting abilities.

freestocks-org-187367-unsplash

Like in the training week tutorial, the player should be allowed to try a basic quest of each profession offered once before they decide on what they want to be for this specific play through.

Remember, the more you craft, the better and faster you get at it and the more difficult things you can make.

This may, or may not, encourage the player to play through the district story of their profession’s mentor. Each district they unlock allows the player to learn different crafting and professional skills. (Until they’ve unlocked them all.) If they haven’t learned the core skills to the profession that they want to pursue, the mentor can gently suggest they take up a certain skill or craft. The professions allow the player to go beyond basic skills and earn those elite items.

Professions help us have a use for all those crafting and farming items we’re putting in the game too. And more chances for the players to use our proposed and hopefully fun mini-games.

emmanuel-bior-580273-unsplash

With having professions in the game, we can add prestige professions later that can expand gameplay and build upon the mechanics of the mini-Games already in place and provide a more real life story progression as they go from apprentice to master of their craft.

Professions are one of the mechanics that makes the most use out of every level of the game’s design. From races, to areas of the map that only archaeologists can unlock, to mini-games and set pieces that are designed to appeal to social media and story subplots that give the players yet again another way to choose their own adventure. Professions are part of the way of making the game a rich, dynamic, and replayable experience.

Why Representation (Still) Matters

Why Representation (Still) Matters

A couple of weeks ago, a member of my DnD group made comments about video game characters. I’m paraphrasing to cut the cussing, but he basically said that he doesn’t care and it doesn’t matter what sexuality characters are or gender identity. He just wants solid, fun characters to play with and play against. I’m not going to explain any more of the situation, but I will leave the thoughts that his comment stirred up for me, because I feel like they are important thoughts for our future audience to know about our mindset for creating this game.

We all want solid, fun characters to play as and play off of in our game. No arguments there. The problem is, anyone who is part of the LGBTQA+ community, or even someone who isn’t but is a girl, has to fight for equal representation. Not just representation–because then you can argue that we are there. There’s female options in Overwatch, in World of Warcraft, in Pokemon. The problem is, they aren’t equal to the male characters. It’s why arguments that we don’t still need to push representation drives me nuts. Yes, it’s better–I can play as a girl when I make a Pokemon run. No, I’m still not satisfied because where is my Zelda equivalent of Link? Why are there still more than 75% of the fleshed out characters being male and most of the remaining females don’t have as much dialogue or action?

Most women don’t pass what I call the 50/66 rule. What’s the 50/66 rule? It means that 50% of the dialogue and actions in the game–not bios, not in guides, but in the actual game–belong to a female character. The 66 part of the rule is 66% of the character’s skin has to be covered, minimum, and they have to still be dressed practical for what they are. For example, I don’t expect bards to be dressed from head to toe in armor, but I don’t want them to be naked or effectively dressed in underwear and scarves (if that) either. I do expect my knight to wear real armor, not chain mail bikini’s by any other name or literal breast plates. True fact, there isn’t a single GOOD dollmaker out there that lets you create a female knight that doesn’t ruin the armor to do it. NOT ONE. (I’ve looked. If you have one, feel free to share!!!) And those are simple flash dollmakers, much less a more serious game.

Aside from a few exceptions, LGBTQA+ content is over fetishized or just not there. If it is there, it’s mentioned in a character bio and that’s about it. A lot of the reason why the Dragon Age games and the new Fire Emblem game are being cheered as hard as they are is because they reach to so many normally ignored demographics, and while other games are picking up on this trend, it’s an uphill battle. (I will say that this is getting better faster than the issue with female characters, but again, we still have a long way to go, so I don’t want either to stop or get more focus than the others.)

The only thing this person didn’t bring up is race, but even there, I wish there was more variety to the characters. I don’t want to see American interpretations of Eastern cultures, I want to see people authentic to those cultures create those characters, to actually show us what they see. I want the ratios to be closer to what they actually are in the world. I want exposure to the real culture, the real way things are done, not the way that is portrayed in cartoons or the occasional art film.

So how is Mystic Riders any different? We do try to include a wide variety of countries for background, with a heavier focus on Europe only because that is the country we start with. Why? Because that’s where Ginny and I have the background. Will we stay there? Ohhh no. We have plans. But we want the people to have joined us who have the real, in-depth knowledge we can never have before we carry out those plans. Do we make representation the center most core of the game? No, because then it does what I was rallying against earlier–it makes it done just for representation’s sake, meaning it’s superficial and frequently not as enriching and engaging as I want.

But what I really want people to take away from this post is representation still matters. We still need to fight for those good, solid characters who are female, who are gay, who are trans, who are from another culture than American, and every combination in between. Trying to deride a game for working on that as well as bolstering the strong story hooks isn’t being an activist, it’s you actually trying to erase the small steps have been taken, when we need to be working on taking bigger ones.

A Single Player MMORPG

A Single Player MMORPG

Game Dev Becca and I want Mystic Riders to be a Single Player MMORPG. Bear with me, this isn’t an oxymoron. It comes from both of our experience playing games and the type of games we enjoy, plus, some game marketing research I discovered about solo players.

The common thought around MMO player games is that they are designed to be social games that are played cooperatively where players form groups to complete tasks that are usually “defeat this mega boss.” Personally, I think this is a rather limiting way to view the MMO experience. And my desire for a MMO game that I can finish by myself drives this opinion. Especially since I play for story!

GDClonervideo48

MMO means massive multiplayer online, and that doesn’t mean that players should be forced to be social and form groups to cooperatively figure things out. It simply means that there are a lot of players online in the game at the same time. The idea of standard cooperative play comes from the popularity of one of the first MMOs, World of Warcraft. Everyone (sans a couple of games) has jumped onto that cooperative MMO play model because WoW did it and was so successful.

However, even in the original MMO gaming experience, there were 8 types of players. (Some even defined 16 players.) They were labeled free spirits and consumers. They were looking to get the most out of the game on their own with as little interaction as possible. And as MMOs and Games as Services have taken over the gaming community as each MMO tries to grab as much of the fanbase as possible. There has been a backlash over it. Remember this Meme?

e32018meme

People want single player games. (But I doubt the industry is going to give up on MMO Games as Services any time soon.)

Girls prefer narrative play. In an MMO geared towards girls, it simply makes sense to have the narrative story option of the story be single player. They can still form groups and play and experience the story together, but that is optional. A game that has done this quite successfully is Star Stable Online. (Though there are some players that want cooperative play and the day they do that, is the day I stop playing SSO at all.)

GDClonervideo30

But there are other reasons why having a story line that a player can finish by themselves without help from others is better than a cooperative story function. And this deals with those free spirit and consumer type gamers. Since, in an MMO, a person who wants to be a social gamer will be able to be a social gamer no matter if the story is “single player” or not.

GDClonervideo8a

1. People have less time.

Kids. Adults. We’re all over scheduled. We don’t have time to sit down and coordinate with our “friends” all over the world when we’re going to get together and run a dungeon. Mystic Riders is geared towards teenagers. Teenagers have school work, after school activities, and hopefully friends they’re hanging out with face to face. Having a single player story mode lets them start and stop the story whenever they need to get off and have dinner without worrying that their leaving is going to inconvenience someone else. If you have to schedule your gaming time, it becomes work. And no one really likes their fun becoming work!

GDClonervideo4

2. Communities are Toxic.

MMO communities in games that force grouping also come with the huge downside of people simply being cruel and mean to one another. There is a lot of gate keeping. People who aren’t as good at the mechanics of the game get bullied. When you’re going into a game to relax and have fun and find the community hateful, it’s not fun. It’s not relaxing. Forced socialization turns people off. With a single player story mode, players can figure the mechanics out on the their own. They can take the story at their own pace. See everything they want to see. And they can shut out the community if they want to for their own peace of mind.

GDClonervideo46b1

3. People Have Anxiety/Don’t like Strangers.

Some folks aren’t extroverts. Somewhere along the line, society has determined that being an extrovert is “normal.” Well, no, it’s not. Being an introvert isn’t a bad thing. Being an introvert is normal too! Socializing is stressful for some gamers. When they play a game, they don’t want to socialize. They want to have fun! So, in a game designed for a younger audience, having the ability to monitor your child and see who they are playing with or even turning chat off so they don’t have to interact with strangers if they don’t want to interact with strangers. (Or you don’t want them interacting with strangers.) Is simply another tool to have peace of mind that you’re going to have a fun, safe experience in a game.

GDClonervideo6a

4. It’s more immersive.

Playing by yourself allows you to take the story at your own pace, to explore the world and discover the lore at your own leisure. There is no pressure to get through someplace quickly or have more mastery of the game mechanics than you do. If you want to craft, you can craft. If you want to decorate your house, or change your avatars clothes, you can. It makes the world more alive.

GDClonervideo25

Players who are loners in the game often play because they want to really be in the game’s world and MMOs offer a variety of activities (questing, crafting, farming) and customization options that single players simply don’t, everything from avatars, to clothes, to housing. Forcing players into groups is restrictive and really limits the amount of players that will play your game long term.

GDClonervideo47

Social players will always find a way to group. Solo players will give your game a pass if forced to group up.

All pictured comments in this post are from a GDC Video about Loner Players in MMOs. The video was nonsense, the comments were enlightening, including that 70% of Black Desert Online’s player base (an MMO known for it’s grind and endgame PvP) were Solo players and didn’t care about grouping or end game PvP content. It’s time to stop catering to the 30% who get to the end and cater to the 70% that make up the core of the game’s players. Let’s make video games better!

MMOs a (Female) Gamer’s Perspective Pt. 2

MMOs a (Female) Gamer’s Perspective Pt. 2

(This post was originally post on Ginny O’s blog on March 22, 2018. All thoughts in this post are Ginny’s opinion.)

tumblr_pm2fzvRXrc1uokf2mo1_1280Last week, I discussed four of my priorities as a female gamer. And there ended up being eight of them and the post got out of hand. So, I handily was able to cut it in the middle. Last week I said that when it came to MMOrpg style games, my first four priorities were story, world building, customization (oh pretty!) and a simple user interface. The rest of these don’t have a weighted importance and are more considerations that I take into my gaming experience equally.

Read more

MMOs a (Female) Player’s Perspective Pt. 1

MMOs a (Female) Player’s Perspective Pt. 1

(This post was originally posted on Ginny O.’s blog on March 15, 2018. All thoughts in this post are Ginny’s opinion.)

kurtzperson1One of my favorite game genres to play is the Massive Multiplayer Online preferably RPG or Role Playing Game. There is something about being able to run about in a huge (aka massive) world as a three dimensional character effecting the outcome of the story. (And flinging about magic, I won’t deny it.) It’s probably the same reason why my other favorite genre is the platformer. Games like Ratchet and Clank, Sly Cooper, Jak and Daxter and I-Ninja put the main character as the focus of the game. Their hero journey is as important as the game’s overall story.

And apparently so do a lot of other people, as games such as World of Warcraft, Guild Wars 2 and Wizards 101 have large player populations all over the world. There is something about completing quests, learning new skills and defeating bad guys that is extremely satisfying to many people. There is a science behind this and to an extent that science is why so many people get addicted to these types of games.

So, what keeps the players of these games playing (beyond the scientific feelings of validation as tasks are completed and numbers go up?) What makes up a good MMOrpg? The following reasons are my own opinion. Others opinions may vary, but these are the opinions that keep paying for and playing a game.

Read more

Character Spotlight: Rose Neptuna

Character Spotlight: Rose Neptuna

Rose Neptuna (Single)
Artwork courtesy of Ashante Johnson (@earthsong9405)

Name: Rose Neptuna                                                              Nickname: Rose
Age: Appears 17                                                                       Country of Origin: France
Birthday: Unknown                                                                 Pet: Unknown

Rose Neptuna is the biggest pop star in all of Astranar, and is quickly spreading to the other countries in Argentum too. Originally a rising star in France, she moved to Astranar last year after taking a summer sabbatical in Diamond District, and has been the biggest thing since then. Not only because of her catchy tunes, but also because of her sweet personality. She is a lady of the highest order, though her image seems to also hold a deep sadness, something that is echoed in her lyrics.

In addition to singing, Rose is well-known for playing the violin, even while she’s dancing! She says she looked to Lindsey Stirling as inspiration, and added that she is also classical trained in both violin and ballet. There’s also elements of Indila to her sound, perhaps because Rose is also a deeper toned soprano than most pop stars. She composes her own music, and this makes her widely sought after to work with–she can blend her sound with other music stars, even if they are different styles like country.

If you see her in parades and not on floats or around the city, she can sometimes be seen with her horse, a white Percheron stallion named Papillon Blanc. He’s a giant push over, though watch out if you are eating anything sweet by him. He has a reputation for stealing candy apples from those who come up for a photo op. While not the fastest horse, he’s trained in dressage and show jumping and is very careful with his feet, so he’s an excellent mount for the city streets and for a rider who deals with the public like Rose.

Her agent is Yvenne DuNoir, who came with her from France and often is your first point of contact with Rose before an event. A haughty blonde, it’s…hard to miss her. Otherwise, not a lot is known about Rose, such as who her family is, or even what her natural hair color is! She lives in the penthouse suite of the largest hotel in Diamond District, but good luck making it past security to see her there. There are also rumors of her attending AEFPA, but the administration is very hush-hush about it. But all that mystery just adds to her charm. The only one who seems to be upset about her being here is the hip-hop star, Hi-Fidelity.

Her summer tour is an anniversary special for her first year in Astranar! She’s touring all over Astranar, leading up to the big summer blow out with every big musical act in Argentum joining her. There’s also a competition to sing a song with her on stage that has some of the locals eager to impress her. Maybe the player will have to give one or two a helping hand…

Favorite Color: Rose pink
Favorite Horse: Percheron
Favorite Camp Activity: Dancing
Favorite Gemstone: Topaz, pink or blue
Favorite Race: Show Jumping