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The "Pass the Crack, Please" Dept.:
MailBag for Issue #8

Comments by Stephanie "Bobbi" Bergman


Every week our associate editor takes on the big ol' pile of mail for your reading enjoyment...got something to say? Send it in. You just might win a swanky loonygames t-shirt. Letters are presented exactly as they are recieved.

More feedback on the Summit:

Subject: The Community Summit

Hi,
i run a fairly new gaming site, only 8 months old. Game Post at http://www.gamepost.com I like alot of the stuff discussed in the The Community Summit feature. Alot of things discussed about smaller sites like myself. I mean all the news is done by me only, so it alot harder for me to run the site, but i been dedicated. I also make nothing of advertisng. I run the site for the fun of it, and to help provide people with information about the latest in gaming.

But still after 8 months, i have not broken into the community, not to big of a following of daily visitors. Even though i provide as much news as some of the larger sites. So coming from a small site, it is very hard to break into the gaming community. Even though we have had several exclusives, such as interviews and screenshots.

But i got to thanks alot of the big sites, like PQ, Blues, Stomped for all posting news about Game Post at one time. Just i dont think there is a real following, i'm always emailing the sites with the news of article we post. But i tend to focus on gaming news as of now, hope to be getting more articles, like reviews in the future.

---------------------------------
Rajiv Doshi "LordBiO"
Webmaster of Game Post
http://www.gamepost.com

I do think that it is the smaller sites that keep this community going...not everyone can be part of the mammoth sites like those included in the summit. I wish you luck, as I do anybody trying to start a website, we here at loonygames certainly know first hand how hard that can be. :)

Subject: Webmaster Roundtable

Jason,

I loved the Roundtable type deal. It was a good read. I liked reading all the different opinions, even though I probably have a different view than most people. These issues are ones that I deal with every week. Even though I kind of 'sold out' to get a real job because I just couldn't afford my video-game lifestyle anymore (I like Cake, heh) I still post some news whenever I can. I hope to get back into doing reviews and such in a big way as soon as I can, and my site just opened an online store. This roundtable was great. I think it would be really great to do one at E3 or something though. I loved E3. I'd even be willing to show up a day or so early to attend or even participate in something like it. I don't think I have met you, or even sent you email before... but that's cool. I hope to meet ya someday. I still haven't met ol' Brad Wernicke. I've known him for 3 years, and he only lives an hour or so away... never met him in person. Heh, but that's the way it goes. I took the route that Lithium and others before him did. And I miss the community, but the absence has let me see what I was missing before. Games are fun. If you love games, and love to share, and love to find out more about them, then this is where you should be. If not, make way for the new guy.

Ok, I've rambled enough. I gotta get up for work in the morning. Take care, and keep up the good work.

Later,
Brady Cox
http://www.negativezero.com

I'm not Jason, but hey, I don't think I met you at E3 either, so...how's that! :) Work and games...it's a tough balance, but hey, we all have to do it.

On Rich's editorial....

Subject: CRPG's

Rich has got exactly the right idea! Computer role playing games of nowadays are way too pre-scripted to consider to be even near normal, real RPG's. Diablo may as well have been an adventure game ala kings quest but with a combat sub game rather... and most "role playing games" of today are glorified versions of the old genre we'd call "adventure games" anyway.

A very important part of role playing games is the ability to do things as you think them up. The 'What if...' factor. What if I attacked the shopkeeper? What if I tried to pick his pocket? What if I snuck up behind him? What if called him a name? What if I tried to strike a deal with him? What if I could bluff him into thinking this item is worth more than it realy is? The more options the more immersive and the more the player feels he IS that person, instead of just controlling him from an external source.

Of course, there ARE games which come frighteningly close to RPG's where improvisation is actually part of the game. PARANOIA was mentioned, for example. I am very surprised that the game ADOM wasn't mentioned! It resides over at www.adom.de and is about the closest I've seen any game get to a nice full fleged episode of RPG's. The kind of game that one plays for years and still finds new things each time he plays. It does have a large amount of quests involved ala diablo where the quests remain the same each game, but of course, the methods of completing them are entirely up to the player.

In this game, you CAN in fact join the good side, the bad side, and be inbetween. There are multiple ways to win the game and hundereds and hundereds of ways to die. It's a brain game where the player is expected to improvise or die, think on his feet and generaly, out think not only the monsters but the weather elements and levels (which change each time you play). Another good thing that makes it even more like a pen and paper rpg is that when you die, you die. End of character, dead. Saving a game quits the program and loading a game deletes the save, so you grow attached to your player. It was based on a pen and paper RPG. It's freeware, in final beta stage, and too addictive to handle.

The creator of ADOM, Thomas Biskup, agrees that the imagination is the most powerful tool when venturing into the genre of CRPG's and RPG's alike. The developer of a CRPG should use their imagination to give the player more choices to use HIS imagination on. Bring the "What if..." factor in and nothing can stop a CRPG.

Nicholas 'ProMagnoN' Lawson
http://members.home.net/promagnon/
More thoughts and articles available THERE.

I have to admit, I've never seen ADOM, but I know completely what you mean...I'm a gal raised on MUD's, so I always end up doing things 'not so typical' in games...jump on players heads ("Stop fooling around, Gordon!"), see if I can hand the NPC my money (and I'll be damned if they do take it sometimes!), do silly things just to see if I can. Pre scripted stuff is dandy, but unpredictibility in both the games and in player's movements are wonderful.

Subject: response to Rich Wyckoff's 'Nothing New Under the Sun'

First off let me say that I have never made a video game or have been part of making a video game. . . But I will say it seems game designers must create truths for the player. What does this mean? A truth for Mario in his 64 bit incarnation would be, "Hey, I can grab onto ledges now." The designer creates environments where grabbing onto ledges proves to be useful or desirable. "I can hop in a cannon and fire myself pretty high and then glide/fly back to the ground, but I can't shoot fireballs anymore." What the designer decides to to with these truths ends up being a video game and a great one at that. What happens when the designer doesn't know all the truths, when truths start interacting with eachother to create something else, something original on its own, like some abount of behavioral AI mixed with some amount of real physics. Maybe the designer had no idea something would happen, but it does and they say something like, "Dude, that freaked me out. Did you just see that?" Is this, maybe where game design should be heading? Thanks for reading,

Andrew Aumann

I think so. To draw an example to, what else, Quake...look at rocket jumping. It was not something PLANNED for players to be able to do in Quake I, but look how classic it's become, if you want to be a good player, god help you if you don't know how to do it. As a developer, I think you have to leave the possibility open for a player to take your game in a direction you could not have foreseen.

And the winner of the loonygames t-shirt for this week (just because it's "so darn ceeeute!")

Proof loonygames is a FAMILY website...

Subject: paul steed

I would just like to comment on the outstanding artistic and computer abilaty of Paul Steed as being outstanding!,Especially since he taught himself!Congratulations BIG BROTHER!!!!!

All I can do is say....awww. (Or maybe I shouldn't, when you consider who my brother is...)

Editor's note: yeesh. Anyone out there want to take over the mailbag? I think Bobbi here has outstayed her welcome. :)

Kidding! Joking! Really! Ow!

Single player dead?

Why can't they keep their mouths shut?!

More on Duke...

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Credits: MailBag logo illustrated and is © 1998 Dan Zalkus. The MailBag is © 1998 Stephanie Bergman. All other content is © 1998 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited and not nice.