Fingers Crossed

January 28, 2007

MG has developed quite a nice shopping list of features that would be great to have. Of the ones that don’t require a complete redesign, there have been promises of this and that from the Admin quarter and Mr. Mobycode himself, Brian. I hope that’s underway right now. Not only because I’m getting dizzy awaiting some improvements… but also because I’ve been generating a lot of errors on the website over the past few days. I’m hoping all these “technical difficulties” are a sign of work behind the scenes and not… say, a sign of the web server releasing black smoke.

Not much else to say… I picked up a lot of full season TV DVDs and they are distracting me from the project.

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Trying to make sense out of groups.

January 19, 2007

Over the years, we’ve accumulated several groups for linking games together. Some of these are properly labeled such as “Super Mario Bros series”, others are open to dispute such as “”. Basically what we need for a lot of these are standard definitions that are listed in the FAQ/Help for these items. For instance, what’s the difference between a “clone” and a “variant”? I’m not sure there is one, but some groups are named “Breakout Variants” and another is named “Donkey Kong clones”.

I would like to see a separation of the group listings we have. Right now I’m thinking there needs to be some base standardization. The following seem obvious to me

  • Direct Sequels (or Sequels or Series)… every game that’s in a series should be part of this . One question is, can a series just be a bunch of games under the same label (Final Fantasy) or does it need to be a continuing story that references earlier events and characters (Wing Commander)?
  • Indirect Sequels (or Universe)… games part of a larger universe such as Metaltech or Super Mario. This would basically include games and all their spinoffs in cases where gameplay and setting is drastically different (for instance Suikoden’s main RPGs and it’s side stories)
  • Common Themes. Such as Westerns or Alice in Wonderland or World War II. Depending on the exact context of the theme, some of these might be eligible to promotion to genre anyway.
  • All other groups

Looking over dozens and dozens of these game entries easy day, I’m also tempted to switch them all to the format “Series: Tekken” or “Universe: Battletech” or “Theme: Alice in Wonderland”

In any case, what’s most important is we need better definitions of the requirements for a game to be a series, a variant, etc. There are altogether to many groups labeled such as “Aerobiz Games” or “Merchant Prince Games”, and while that’s not confusing on it’s own… when it’s placed in a big databases along with the aforementioned suffixes, it’s a bit hard to tell what’s what and why. I think several of these choices are unfortunately based on the preferences of the submitter and approver. Luckily it’s all just text and labelling… in the grand scheme of things, this is easy to fix. We just need a standard.

Sometimes I read what I wrote and think I sound like a bad librarian. Without the training of course :). The problem is the game group linking is complicated and messy. The relief from that statement is that they’re also very useful and allow people to find out about all kinds of major linkages (“Oh, The Sting! is the sequel to The clue!, I never would have known that myself”). Which is why I’d like to improve the presentation and comprehensibility of some of this stuff.

Of course as usual, any truely creative achievement seeks to avoid the constraints of categorization.


Pile of games

January 18, 2007

If you ask me, Multimedia Mike is doing the right thing on his blog. He’s trying a new game every day from his collection and making a writeup on it. I’m amazed by the large write ups he has going for most of the games he’s playing through however. Despite my reputation for typing up lots of words, I can’t imagine doing content to the length he’s getting on some of these games. Heck, I’ve already got a folder filled with half-written (and often times much less) reviews to different games. Even if he had nothing to do with the MG website, I think the blog is valuable all on it’s own and certainly entertains me when I read it.

I only mention this because, well… I might not have put if this blog if I wasn’t thinking “neat” at his stuff (even though the focus is very different). But more importantly, because I have a stack of 9 PC games sitting off to the left of my monitor (thank CDs aren’t magnetic like floppies :P) that I haven’t played enough and several dozen more in the other room which have either never been installed or haven’t had the effort of enjoyment put in. And that doesn’t even include a couple of console games. And yet for all this stuff in boxes, I’m neglecting it to play *other* games I haven’t played before. For awhile now, I’ve had a friend or two pointing my attention towards some of the more indie games… giving them a shot. For instance, I recently got my hands on Escape Velocity: Nova and have been foolishly trying to play a bit of that, even though I keep ended up destroyed. I have a whole bunch of games downloaded from the Divo Games Website…. of which I’m slowly going through and submitting to Mobygames. For the most part they all seem to be action titles which isn’t a bad thing. They seem to have spaceship explosions well done anyway. It’s strange though that I’d be actively heading on the Internet to get MORE games, when I already have dozens that I own and haven’t played… and more importantly, want to play.

Of course at the same time, there’s these Ubisoft Prince of Persia games… and I have to say, I’m really having a blast. I’ve finished the first 2 of the trilogy and am enjoying them quite a lot. And as such, any time I’m thinking of sitting on the couch to play something, that’s what I’m reaching for. Or a DVD Video.


A console by any other name, would still button mash…

January 18, 2007

I need somebody smart to come up with a new word. I dislike “video game”. Sure it’s the industry term, but while it’s true that graphics are still the deciding factor behind a lot of gaming choices… not everything is about “video” any more… or ever was. “Electronic Games” is another popular term… but there’s something in the connotation where it sounds like we’re talking about TIGER Electronics hand-helds and the Board Game, Operation (the one where you reach in with tweezers to grab the funny bone and then ZAP! Electricity!). Of course I’m not a fan of the “game” portion of either of these terms either… but “Entertainment” is too generic to use in everyday conversation.

Smart people reading this, please coin me a new term for my lexicon :). I’m only trying to reinvent the dictionary. Why should it be so hard?

Interactive Entertainment… (*visions of early CD-ROM titles*)


Now for a longer rant… :) As I’ve mentioned bef…

January 16, 2007

Now for a longer rant… 🙂

As I’ve mentioned before, I’d love to have mods featured in the database (or in some subsection of Mobygames), there are some VERY talented designers out there. However it’s a logistics nightmare and isn’t very high on the list of priorities compared to other features that we want to add to Mobygames. We are aware of dozens of games supporting “mods” over the entire history of gaming. To put it in perspective, a game like DOOM has easily several thousand maps, on top of that there are much more full conversions which feature new enemies, new weapons and sometimes even new abilities.

Other mods might feature completely different gameplay options (for instance turn based strategy in an FPS) or new physics hacks (I’ve flown around in jetpacks and seen “squares” of water hovering in the air) or allow the player to bypass limitations (in Elder Scrolls, I’ve tamed a Guar to carry my stuff and owned a house to store it in). They really are as diverse as the games that they make modifications to. And because of this, it’s almost to the task of building a new database system to handle them.

Those are my personal thoughts anyway.


Dewey Decimal’s Revenge

January 15, 2007

There was a post on the MG message boards about how difficult credits classifications currently were. Following the thread, one person brought up the example of how public libraries are organized and how librarians must assign categories to everything on the shelf. This is a pretty apt analogy, and one can already see where Mobygames (and other websites) have the advantage by not having to physically place an item in one category or another. Through the awe-inspiring process of database, games belong to several categories which can be searched individually (and actually, now that I think about it… over the past 10 years, the computer catalogs provided by my library have begun to move this way as well. Apply that to classification roles, and we’re back to the original topic.

Okay, I’m rambling away from my main point: Librarians… people who sat down and studied (presumably) and decided what were the base topics to assign things to. In some ways, Mobygames hasn’t done this, and it can be explained by the fact that we were approaching it from the videogame side of things, rather than as a proper library. Having said that, Trixter and others supposedly did sit down and think long and hard about what the initial genres are in any game. One of the random thoughts of the day says something along the lines of: “All games can be traced back to Rogue, Elite or [some other game]” (unfortunately the random thoughts spawn daily and aren’t searchable for me now… when I’m blogging :), which I don’t necessarily agree with… though I can see the intention of that statement. So we’ve done a good job with some things… but I wonder if Mobygames wouldn’t benefit from having someone with an actual Library Sciences (or whatever it’s called) degree on board.

To put things back in perspective though, it could be worse: Kingdom. Phylum. Class. Order. Family. Genus. Species.


First Post

January 4, 2007

Okay, I’ve gone and registered this thing. This is the first post to show that everything’s working and etc.

I am WildKard from http://www.mobygames.com/ and I plan to start ranting about whatever’s on my mind regarding the site, videogames or other stuff. I don’t plan on getting too off topic.

Of course I’m setting this up just as dinner is ringing for my attention so more later.