Living in another world, not far away

This column appeared in The Herald-Sun in February 2014:

I live less than three miles up the Durham Freeway from where police say a man accidentally shot a baby with a gun stashed in the pocket of his hooded sweatshirt on Wednesday morning.

The only thing that’s liable to go off in one of my pockets is my phone, pinging as yet another Words with Friends challenge arrives.

That usually doesn’t hurt anything but my ego.

So why in the world would Arin Tavon Futrell pack a gun in his pocket while standing on the porch of his girlfriend’s house on Macon Street?

What was he thinking? Continue reading Living in another world, not far away

Making my own headaches – and curing them

As the discussion about empire management in Dominion has evolved in the past few days, one thing has become abundantly clear to me:

I don’t have time, energy or patience to wrangle rules for PCs vs. NPCs in the empire system.

Dominion wasn’t meant to pit players against NPC-controlled empires – although that has, on occasion, happened in the earlier days of the system. Actually, it has occurred twice, both with the same player.

And, as I’ll explain a little later, it never should’ve happened and it’s my fault that it did.

In the first instance, Narai’s Dominion from the Bright Cluster attacked the NPC world of Aukam. His fleet destroyed the Aukami warships, but the jungle consumed the city of Multvaros before the invaders could claim the capital. In the second, Narai chose to attack the NPC world of Hekayt Prime and crashed against the virtual rocks.

The first instance led to some grumbling among players (who were not even remotely involved) that I’d stolen Narai’s thunder by destroying Multvaros. This, despite the fact that the lore about the city has always been that the Aukami have used their psionic abilities to keep back the jungle – a jungle that has swallowed every other ancient city – all these years. So, when the Aukami fleet was thwarted, the Aukami in Multvaros let the jungle in.

The second instance occurred because no player empires stepped up to challenge Narai, so the Hekayti made noises about defending the Ancient Expanse and, after some behind-the-scene discussions with me, he decided to stage a direct assault on Hekayt Prime. His defeat by the Hekayti led to some grumbling (again, by people not even remotely involved) that the Hekayti were too overpowered, their war fleet too massive and I had made it impossible for him to win.

In both these instances, between ourselves, Narai and I thought it went pretty well and we had fun.

But the fact that an NPC empire had to step up to stop a PC empire is, ultimately, problematic.

Since Dominion began in 2010, I made it a rule that NPC empires wouldn’t attack PC empires without provocation – as noted in this old blog post. In fact, I even spelled out that PC empires shouldn’t attack the canonical NPC empires, either. Here’s the cogent paragraph:

Canonical worlds such as Hekayt Prime, B’hira, Kamsho, and Aukam are restricted from launching attacks on player-built empires. Any and all conflicts involving player-built empires should come from players. However, player-built empires are restricted from launching attacks against those worlds, for similar reasons.

So, I brought this headache on myself by letting Aukam and Hekayt Prime take those attacks. Going forward, no NPC empires attacking PC empires and no PC empires attacking NPC empires. The original rule will be the rule.

To avoid confusing entanglements, I am considering closing off major NPC-controlled worlds, such as Pyracan, B’hira, Hekayt Prime, Earth, Tomin Kora, etc. No landing pads. No shuttles. Only player-controlled worlds would be accessible, to eliminate concerns about diplomatic mishaps or crimes on an NPC world leading to consequences for a PC empire.

I’m not absolutely sold on the NPC world shutdown idea, so if you’ve got good arguments against it, let me know.

The way home…

A one-way exit has been added to Comorro leading to the Galaxy Galleria, for idle players who show up eventually and need a way off the dead Yaralu. Thanks to Xanya and Mikage for the suggestion!

Gig changes ahead

Here’s the plan for gigs as part of the upcoming crafting revamp: Rather than a broad assortment of specialty-based gigs with varying requirements, components and payouts, we’re going to shift to skill-based gigs that require 150 SP and payout a uniform amount of 1,650 credits per gig.

We’re continuing to hash out changes for item crafting, but it’s safe to say changes here will lean toward eliminating the long-chain approach to crafting and the necessity for crafting basic gear. We’ll more than likely be looking at crafting improved or modified gear. We’ll also explore what more can be done on the organization and empire levels with crafting.