Blog move

Not that I update that often, but still I moved my blog somewhere that has a bit better control, if you care.

Whup Whup Whup

So yeah, I've been flying model helicopters of late. My dad got me a little foam one for my birthday and that's started into something a bit larger.

First was the Millennium PTU from hobby zone. It's small, fun and flew rather well. It's only 2 channel so all it can really do is go up and down and turn. You get forward flight out of it by setting a weight off balance and letting it just constantly fly forward a little. Still for 20$ it was not a bad deal. I say was because the little guy is now dead, tail boom snapped, and gears seised up. Opening it up to fix it is more like gutting a fish then fixing anything mechanical, there just isn't much to it.

This prompted some others at work to order some other heli's online. Dan, got a tinny little 3 channel Syma with some awesome engrish on the box. Having the third channel to control forward and backwards movement made it a lot more fun. Unfortunately the IR based controll system just sucked. It didn't last long as the upper rotor snapped off and parts for it would cost almost the 20$ cost of the copter.

Jer got a Syma Tandem heli. Also IR. It's a bit larger and puts out a lot more wind. Thankfully it's a bit tougher and it's still flying. It's a bit more squirlly then the smaller one, mostly I think to the fact that it just has more things spinning. It's odd that nether of them have any actual servos, all motion is controlled by changing the speed of various rotors.

Next for me was the E-Flight Blade MCX S 300. It too is a quality machine, that flies rather well . It's a 4 channel co-axial model that has the same movement controls as a "real" RC helicopter. It's given me a good feel for how they are supposed to respond. Thankfully this little guy has some kick-ass Gyro's that make it disturbingly stable for something it's size. Everyone who has tried it can fly it on the first try, even a 6 year old kid. That's gotta say something. The 2.4 ghz control system is far better then the IR ones but with a significant price increase (I got it for $100). I just wish I could fly it outside, as I'm a little sick of puttering around my living room.

So today I took the plunge and ordered up a full 6 channel colective pitch RC heli. A lot of people had suggested the Blade MSR as the next step, and it would have been if I wasn't sick of flying inside. Also I've tried to fly a fixed pitch heli before and it did not end well. I'm sure it's just because it was a cheap model, but still. We'll have to see how this one goes when it gets here. I've been reading a helicopter training guide online and it seems to have a good program for learning how to fly them. No matter what I'm sure I'll be buying lots of extra blades :)

Well I think it looks better

newLego 005
Originally uploaded by jeffm2501
I picked up another MX 11 Astro Fighter and build another ship. I think I like it a lot more then the last one.Feels "larger" to me.

The old ship has been updated too, more along the lines of this one, there are pictures of it in this stream.

They still need names.

Spaceship in need of a name

Originally uploaded by jeffm2501
So I used legos to try and visualize the space fighters in my novel. I like the overall shape that came out but I think it needs a lot of work. I also need a name for the bloody things. Something like how we attach the names of birds of prey to our combat aircraft. I'm not sure what they would use 150 years in the future.

So I'm looking for ideas. Any suggestions? any comments on what I could do to clean this thing up? I know there have to be some kick ass lego modelers out there :)

MMORPG: PCs Jobs and Names

So players should be able to have jobs. Not only do they make great quest hooks, it should be part of who the character is. You want to fight dragons? Well then you start by becoming a grunt in the kings army. It build character. Want to see the world? Get a job as a caravan guard. Want to just run around and kill stuff? mercenary for you then. Unjobed PCs that owned property would be simply "Self employed Adventures". Those that don't would be "Vagrant adventures" ( Will save prince for food ).

With a system like this you can easily build up parties based on job type. It would be very reasonable for a group of the kings men to form a small squad and get group quests for the realm. The important thing is to not make it too binding. If you want to quit your job, you can. You no longer get as many benefits, but you learned a number of good skills. So you do your bit for queen an country, then go off with your band of friends and do some adventures, all in good fun.

This leads me to believe that the tile that you see for someone is not based off some internal class (I'm still a good believer in directed charactered classes, with skill customization ) but by the job(s) they have had. I mean if you see a plumber in full regalia on the street, you know that's a plumber, you don't know that he actually has a masters degree in pharmacology from Stanford and is just trying to make the ends meet. Right then and there, he's a plumber. As you get to know other players more, your character should learn more about them, and be able to inspect them further ( show class, some stats, etc ).

This also leads me to the idea that you should not know everyone's name right off the bat. The names and labels you see in an interface should be pulled from what you know of people, or at least can guess. Your common knowledge will tell you that a guard in uniform is a guard, but until you've interacted with him you won't know his name is Guard Johnson. Enough work with him and you begin to just know him as "Steve". The same should go for players. You should not see a name until you've had some interaction, personal conversation, grouping, etc.. This should build stronger personnel relationships between people, as well as between NPCs. Now on the flip side, for playability all this should be transparent to the end user and automatically computed by the game for them so that as you start to group up, more and more data fills in.

I've been playing with the Everquest Server Emulator. It's rather interesting to see how the back end of the MMO stuff can work. I've pondered trying to see if I could hook some of my ideas into it for testing, but not being able to mod the client sucks. If only there was more in the world for open source MMOs. :\


So a friend of mine drew up a uniform design based on my description of a character named Nancy Perez from a story I'm writing. It takes place 250ish years in the future. I did some color variations for the various branches of the military. There is no "air force", it got rolled into the navy, since pretty much anything with planes or ships happens in space.

So I started writing again.

Southeast loading dock; 00:19 hours local time.

The calm darkness of the hallway was brutally interrupted by a sudden brilliant spark followed by a yelp of pain that blurred into a stream of curses in no less then 3 different languages. “Piece of terran crap”, exclaimed a young male voice.

“Awww.. Did the bravest little trooper burn his finger??” mocked a female voice, obviously enjoying the pain of her companion.

“Come over and I’ll give you one too..” he retorted.

“Can it you two…” came a billowing command from an older man who was waiting slightly further down the hallway. “Report!” He continued.

“Kurtz burned his little finger sir!” replied the female, attempting to stifle a sinker.

“Cut the crap, Lieutenant Stant”. The older officer cut back.

He took two quick boot steps and then a dim light illuminated the group.

Technical Sergeant Dean Kurtz looked up at his superior officer from a seated position near an emergency access panel inset into the wall. “Sir, the access code we have is NFG, so I’m attempting to bypass the interlock system..”.

“How long?” interjected Capitan Peter Moon.

“Not sure sir. This layout isn’t what I expected. There have been a number of recent modifications; none of this is anything like the other CTR installation we’ve seen. And.. I .. um burned my finger.. sir.”, Kurts said, wincing in anticipation of the inevitable retort.

“Just get it open, Sergeant; we’re on the clock here”. Said the Capitan turning on his heel.

The renewed sounds of tools on armored steel was the only acknowledgement Capitan Moon required.

The Capitan had no reason to mistrust his subordinates in any way. Sgt. Kurtz was one of the best security specialists in the battalion. He had been personally hand picked for the squad. It was just that Something wasn’t sitting right about this mission, it had a bad taste.. He knew that it was supposed to be a simple snatch and grab. Get some kind of research data or whatnot, Kurtz was supposed to know it when they found it. The team had completed countless similar missions, on a myriad of worlds.

“No two missions are the same.” He thought, reaching back to his training. The third rule of Officer’s Candidate School had been drilled into him countless times before. He had been trained by the best instructors the Alliance has to offer. Moon was a soldier to his very core. Nearly everything he had learned in life had thought to him by the corps. His father was in the corps, his mother was in the corps, and now Lieutenant General Moon’s little boy is in the corps. Everything drilled, practiced, categorized, and codified, that’s how he liked it. Leave nothing to chance, do it by the book and everyone go home. This mission was beginning to smell like something outside of the book.

This is just the first part of an older thing I did, supposed to be part of the intro to open combat. I' recently went in an cleaned it up and redid some things. Mostly to get in the mood to start a book.

Now I'm on page 40 :/

Cutting back on the BZFlag

So I've done the BZFlag thing for a long while now... and ya know I've gotten a little sick of it. Sure it has some rather cool people in it, but it also has a lot of idiots. And I mean A LOT. They really suck the interest out of it.

So I'm cutting back on what I'm going to do for the project.

  • I'm no longer a project admin
  • I'm no longer a wiki admin.
  • I'm no longer going to keep ops in the IRC channel.
  • I'm no longer going to stay on #bzflag chat.
  • I'm no longer going to do day to day admin of BZBB.
  • I'm no longer going to be approving image submissions.
  • I won't be doing windows builds for the general community.
  • The CAN is dead.
I will still stay on #bzflag, as I consider a number of the developers and people there my friends. I will still keep commit access, and make some changes to the code if the mood strikes me, or if someone needs help with something small. I will be keeping my bzbb admin bit set for now, just in case.

There are enough others with admin perms who can handle the rest of the stuff if needed. I just have better things to do with my time then watch children piss and moan about shit that really doesn't matter.

So hey, I_Died_Once, or whatever your calling yourself now.. throw a party whatever.
CBG, have fun being a complete and total dick.
Mr.Molez I tell you this from the depths of my heart. Fuck you.
DB, grow up.



Characters should age. When you start out, your a young pup ( 15-16) as you level, you age. So the "newbie grounds" that are traditionally treated like daycare or kindergarten, REALY will be like that. It makes sense that older NPCs would be around to watch over the training youths. Special quest lines can be added as apprenticeships for the younglings to get them started in quest trees.

As you level, you age, you get older, you get stronger, faster, smarter, etc.. Up to a point. After a peak level, your physical stats begin a slow depredation. As a trade off you gain additional perks to pick from as compensation for the loss of some stats. These perks would all be based on the experiences learned in a characters adventuring career. Warriors would get increased critical ranges, having fought so many critters, they innately know where to hit them for example. Finesse over brute force. Casters would get access to spell line specializations and advanced research/spell combinations.

At the end of a characters level cycle ( level cap ) they would no longer age, but be given the opportunity to "retire" if they wanted. This would record them in the annals of the world, and allow them to turn over a portion of there worldly goods to there heir, a new character that is now a dependent of the main character. This new character would defectively be twinkled, and if the progenitor's faction was good enough, be able to be put through a "fast track" type of training to get the lower levels out of the way faster.

Death and Resurrections

Characters need to know they should not die.. Many games do this with minor punishment immediately after death. I can see reasons for this. I would prefer a more long term detriment. A characters number of available resurrections is inversely proportional to there level/age. Lower level characters can die lots. Higher level characters have limits. This lets the noobs learn the ropes, even if it kills them. Higher level characters will have to use strategy and skill to maximize there survivability. There should be quests/donations that can give a character additional reses if needed as to not "screw" someone over. It think this would make the end game a lot more fun, as it now becomes very much a team effort to minimize everyone's deaths ( as it should be ), as well as reinforcing the "be responsible for your actions" mentality that is missing from so many games, since they have gone past being a simple "game" for many at the high end levels (i.e. it's almost like second life/social networking at that point ).

If a character does suffer perma-death they should then be able to also define an heir the same as if they had retired ( perhaps at a lesser percentage of loot transfered down ). So that all is not lost and they can continue to enjoy the game, and get some replay value out of it ( maybe try to save more reses this time :) ).


From my experience in MMOs there are a number of different needs and niches that player guilds fill. The range from the simplest needs of managing a group of users who play together socially, to groups that wish to be recognized as large organizations in the game world.

The guild system should scale to support all of these uses.

Any user should be able to start a guild for free, with no minimum player limits. But that guild is basically a glorified friends list. It has no display name ( just name it based on the name of the user who started it ). The founder should be able to invite users, set some basic permisions on others to do the same. The guild can have a chat channel, be notified when users join/leave/level, etc. This is the most basic social group, it doesn't own property, it doesn't have a display name, it doesn't realy affect the world in a big way, it's just a group of friends.

If the guild wants to own property in a city or have a shared bank, then it must be upgraded to a mid level guild. At this point it picks reserves a guild name, and requires a small number of active members. The guild name isn't shown, the guild isn't really considered an important organization. It can just buy a house, and have a couple shared resources.

If the guild wants more status and the ability to do guild quests for large governments, be able to build larger guild halls, with NPC merchants, or own multiple/larger houses then it needs to pay for a larger registration, have a defined leadership and contact hierarchy, and pay upkeep dues. This is the level that your big guilds want. They get a display name, they get a registered crest, they are recognized as an organization, the governments come to them with tasks, etc..

If the guild no longer wants to claim allegiance with a specific city state, it can advance to yet another level, and declare it's independence. It will need sufficient funds in it's treasury to support itself, and sufficient membership to maintain it's status. At this level the guild can go an build a guildhall/town in the wild if it wants. As opposed to leasing land near a city and getting the protection of the city state, this guildhall is up to the guild to maintain. They are responsible for defending and building all aspects of the place, as well as providing the basic resources for the characters that live there.

The additional activity in a place that was once wild will draw all sorts of natives to see. This means raids and/or attacks by hostile forces that the guild must defend against. The guild can hire NPC guards to enforce it's laws, offer quests to other PCs to do the same, or use it's own membership to patrol the grounds. If a Guild Town's laws and outlook is not compatible with any Government or settlements around it, then those misgovernments may take up arms against the guild hall. The risks are great but then so can the rewards. Guilds should be able to form alliances with other groups / governments if they want too.

This highest level of guild becomes responsible for it's own actions, in almost a PVP way. Since we are treating PCs and NPCs the same way. Conflicts can happen between normal non monster NPCs and player guilds, if the situations are right. If your guild hall is next to a kindom your raiding, you better be ready to be raided back.


NPCs should not be just simple scripted blocks in the world. Every aspect of an NPC should be treated as if it was a player. It's simply a player controlled by the server. As the name implies, they are still Characters in the world, not just a quest giving system.

All NPCs should be controlled by AI servers that determine their actions, all the time. They have lives, they move around, they converse. NPCs that have needs should talk about those needs with other NPCs, or even player characters if they trust them enough. This is a great way to learn about quests. PCs can just "ride the crowds" listening to the buzz of the town to get a feel for what is needed. The game client can even help out the players by providing a "rumour tracker" type interface to show them quest starters, and hints.

When it comes down to it, you should not be able to tell the difference between a player and an NPC on the surface. There are technical limitations on conversation engines, and trees that will let you tell. But it should not be obvious as "that guy never moves, he's an NPC". NPCs should respond to in game chat to the best of their ability, as well as scripted quest based conversation trees.

NPCs should also be able to take over the same roles as players if need be. When looking for a group at the adventure's guild, some of the available classes should be bots. They take a split of the coin, their share of the exp, and roll on items they need. If Unreal Tournament can have bots that tell ME what to do and we win.. then my MMO can too. These bots could be used to help teach noobs about tactics and play styles in the low game, as well as fill in missing group slots for those that need them. If a lot of PCs are available for groups, then the number of bots can be lower, or even none, but they should be there. The ultimate goal would be to hear in game chat "I don't know if this guy is a bot, or from china, but he's an AWESOME healer".

On the flip side, if demand for a specific resource is high, but not being fulfilled by PCs, the NPC merchants can hire NPC groups to go out into the world to complete the quests, and compete with the PCs. This offers another way for GMs to balance the game economy using in game actions, preserving the fluidity of the experience. I'd even go so far as to have an NPC group leader look for a group to complete a quest to allow lower level players the experience of a properly led group.


Like all other things, the economy should be dynamic. The laws of supply and demand should be in full effect. Not just in the player buying realm, but also with the NPCs. Players and NPCs use the same money, so why should they not be able to use the same vendor systems. If there is an auction house, then hell yea NPCs should be on it. If an NPC can set up a store, a player can set up a store.

The NPC merchants should set there prices based on the demand for items in the surrounding areas. Not just for player purchases, but for inter NPC purchases as well. Guards need swords and repairs too right.

The biggest problem I see in current crop of MMO enconmies is they have no clean way to deal with the addition new cash into the system by the "on the spot" creation of monsters and NPCs. The spawning of a critter that drops any sort of loot that can be converted into cash, just adds cash to the system. It's a forced inflation pump. Mobs that drop "vendor trash" should just as well drop the cash, cus a player is just going to sell it to a vendor who is going to pay for it out of his infinite bank. This has given rise to the inclusion of money sinks such as item repair, home upkeep, and the like. All these things are designed to pull money out of the system to prevent inflation.

A better solution would be to let the system be dynamic and even itself out. Resourceable items (fur, bone, etc.. ) that drop should only be sellable to people who can effectively use them. You'll get the best prices for a wolf hide if you sell it directly to a leather worker. Sure you can go dump it off at a wholesaler, or a pawn shop, but you won't get it's max worth. If the market is flooded with wolf hides, the prices go down, as the vendors and NPCs aren't willing to part with there cash as easily. Then maybe people will go an hunt something else, or take there load of furs to another city that is need of them.

Vendors use resource items in new item creation, AND in repairs. This takes non cash items out of the global pool as well, and increases demand, unknown to the meat based users. Gems, leather, ores, etc.. are all needed for repairs. The same crafting system that is in place for players is in place for NPCs. All items have a value in resources and cash used in there creation.

Along this lines, the NPC vendors should have dynamic cash stocks based on there sales, and full production model. The NPC leather worker has to buy his first from somewhere, and that affects his cash on hand. If a Vendor starts to have too much product and not enough cash on hand, he lowers his profit margins and has a sale. He also has to pay his rent on the place, and a fee to the city to list at an auction house, same as a player. The money collected from fee's goes to the city, who uses it to pay out quest rewards, and pay guards, etc..

It should be possible to create a simple enough simulation of an entire city system that makes the economy dynamic. Players benefit from knowing the ins and outs of the trade system, just as they do in real life. GMs benefit from being able to track the cash flow in the entire game, and are able to adjust profit rates for NPCs to balance the economy. Large City/Kingdoms can keep a treasury buffer for "hard times" as a way to keep cash of the the players hands when they have too much, or use it as quest rewards to infuse the economy in times of slup.

I would think this would also allow for a simpler tracking and management of "gold farming" players. seeing a large percentage of the total wreath pool into a single player who isn't active in adventuring or is a merchant, can flag that user for investigation. If the account is found to be doing actions against the TOC, then the account can be banned, but not BEFORE the users accounts are liquidated into the server government coffers. This would prevent large scale economic adjustments when users are banned in typical MMOs, the cash isn't gone, it's just distributed by someone else. Heck you could even have world governments offer loans to merchants, with in game houses and resources as collateral.

Use of the supply and demand system can easily tie into the quest system as well. It would be possible for someone to flood the market with a product to drive the price down, and possibly competitors out of house and home. These competitors could commission PC quests to shutdown the sully lines, or distribution networks of the person flooding the market (PC or NPC). When you go into the merchant role, you take on risks, risks that all merchants face, loss of product, supply, theft, etc..

Better Quests Continued...

Dynamic Quests.
Quests should be determined by the needs of the people in a particular area. Merchants should give out quests based on what they need for there industry. Armor smiths should ask for specific leathers, based on demand and his ability to supply. If the supply of leathers outstrips demand, then the rewards and payment for those leathers should drop. If demand is high and his ability to produce the leathers is too low, he should offer quests for crafters to help him make the items using his raw materials ( perhaps teaching them new techniques in the process).

All quests should have a reasonable time limit unless they are standing offers ( such as "kill bandits"). If the leatherworker no longer needs small hides, but needs bones. and some one from a couple weeks ago brings him leather, he should not give the same rewards. Sure he'll take them off his hands but not at what he offered before. The vendor may have a new quest where he needs help guarding the caravan that is going to take his wares to other markets, or he may need the PCs to do deliveries, etc.

This all will go a long way in making the players feel like they really are an active part in the world, as well as providing tools to balance the economy. It is very reasonable for a player to "play the markets" and purchase a large group of X item in area A, transport them to area B and sell them for big profit. They should even be able to hire an NPC caravan to transport a huge number of goods. They would have to deal with the possibilities of bandit raids, or hostile foreign powers, but hey, that's what guild mates and friends are for right? It should even be possible for the PC merchant to offer up in game cash to fun a dynamic quest offered to the adventures guild. This would get groups from outside your social circle to guard your caravan. They would be rewarded with cash and experience. This would be a good money sink to help pull cash out of the system if needed.


So as some people may know I've always had the dream of making my "perfect" MMO (Massively Multi player Online Game). The more I think about it the more I think it would be great, or at least a step in a better direction. Then I see that Tim Bucky of Control+Alt+Delete comics has posted his ideas on the same thing (, and that makes me think that hell I should write up all my ideas too. Everyone I've talked to about them thinks they are great, so hey, why not throw them out there for everyone to see and comment on?

So here goes.

NPCs that Remember:
Most Games have a faction system for large groups. A similar faction system should exist for each NPC a player interacts with. The merchant you sell and buy from all the time, he likes you. Your a good customer, he greets you differently when you come in, he has some special deals that are only for "his best customers". Heck he even trusts you enough now to run some special "errands" he needs. Sure your a Citizen of the city, and they can be at least trusted to not rob him a knife point, but YOU, your his firend. Heck you may even help him put some other merchants out of biz ("if you know what I mean", wink wink, nudge nudge).

The NPCs of the world should have players build trust with them. They should also loose that trust over time, or if a PC fails them or causes harm to there bis in some way. Players should be responsible for there own actions. If you get a quest from the thieves guild to steal from the shopkeeper you visit often, and he finds out, that dude should be pissed. All that faction work out the window.

The current crop of games go to almost insane heights to make the game "fair". Sure I can see that you don't want a user making an uninformed action and screwing themselves over. The fix for that is NOT to make it so that any one action means nothing. The fix is to inform them BEFORE they make the action of what consequences it may have ( assuming it will have some decremental effect on the character ). A dialog ("by completing this mission, you will anger the merchants guild, this will have an effect on your dealings with them"). A faction tracker system should point out not only your current standings with people and groups, but also how your current quests and actions are affecting those. If the guy wants to betray his current loyalties, let him do it, but at least inform them as such ( for that guy, hey positive feedback ). Players that have large scale factions swings should also have a harder time getting faction back once they've lost it. I mean Merchant Bob is just never going to trust you the same, since you killed his dog, even if you have said your sorry.

Dynamic NPCs:
By "dynamic" I don't mean grass and trees blowing in the wind, I mean worlds with dynamic inhabitants. The thing that bugs me the most about the current cookie cutter MMO game is how one goes about getting and completing questing. It's all so very formulaic. Go to spot A, find NPC B, Talk to said NPC, Kill Mobs C thru K, return to spot A to find NPC B STILL STANDING THERE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT, and be rewarded. This can make questing as simple as running down a checklist from a website, and to me that takes all the fun out of a game.

If the NPCs are supposed to be representations of the townsfolk and inhabitants of the world, then they should really inhabit the world. Move them around, give them lives. If it's night time, make them sleep. Turn them into believable real people. Hell the sims and Oblivion can do it, then why can't a MMO. It makes sense that some NPCs would hold regular office hours ( like government offices, or shops ). Players should have to deal with these people as if they were just that, people. Just as players may not be on or awake, NPCs may not be awake. That doesn't mean all quests should happen in the daylight hours. If your supposed to catch and turn in an escaped criminal then the jail will have a guard on 24/7 for sure, it just may not be Bob The Guard that your used to. This can go along with the faction system, it may benefit you to wait until a favored NPC comes along for the final "turn in".

Better Quests:
Quests should be tracked as tasks, not per player items in a list. When a quest is turned in, it's turned in by the group. The rewards for the individual members of said groups should be based on the personal faction between each user and the NPC giving out the rewards, "Hey you guys found my watch.. that's great of you, you've all been great friends, here, have something for your trouble.. well except maybe that dark elf, I don't know him.. he can have a cookie.. don't let him steal anything, ok". This prevents the pain of "do you have the quest", and the stupidity of "sharing quests" by just transferring the item to a list.
More on quests later....


Forgot my password for the old blog, so I guess I get a new one