Hollow Earth

Cyan’s Best Route to New Content: An Outline


How can Cyan get the most from OS Uru? I think the single online multi-player world isn’t going to work. It’s too costly and too fast-paced for Cyan to make good content. It needs to be decentralized and personal. Decentralized so groups can be left alone without interference, harassment, and intimidation. Personal so people can find areas that appeal to or add to their interests. How does Cyan get there?

Let people help open the source.

The people who are knowledgeable in the game need to help open the source. The fact is, Cyan is no longer those people. You can make excuses of time, money, personnel, etc. and they’re all pretty much valid. That doesn’t solve the problem. “Cyan doesn’t have money” is not going to solve the problem. We need to focus on solutions. When the memorial imager was hacked, when Sharper’s journal was empty (and likely other things I’m not aware of) it was the fans who supplied Cyan with the fixes to the game. The problem is that too many people are persuaded by the idea that, because they don’t know how something works, they should avoid mentioning it. RAWA outlined (much better/detailed than previous attempts, I’ll say) the reasons why they cannot (which boil down to the project taking away from Cyan’s time). There are problems with that (several fans have suggested fixes that don’t take time or energy to implement, such as sending fans the server executables to set up their own servers to help run MOULa) but let’s accept that for the moment. The question that next comes up is: why are people trying to let this stall progress? Patience is being prescribed like it was the new penicillin, that if we just wait everything will be fine. I say now is the time when we need more ground-shakers, people like OHB who will work to make the game fun again. We need people to work without serious regard to Cyan’s calls for delay because, in the end, Cyan would seem to want the same thing.

Open and support the source.

Obviously the next step. Maintaining a space belonging to Cyan or a neutral person who won’t eliminate proposed changes because they don’t match their ideology. Providing and maintaining the source should be a task that falls to people who know what they are doing. If this is something Cyan needs done, they need to appoint someone. Appoint, not “have elected.” The Liaisons (despite some people trying to get the community to ignore that issue because ignoring it benefits them) were a massive problem for the simple reason that Cyan asked for five people, letting the community decide everything. The problem with that being that the community fractures along ideological lines. Ordinarily, those fractures are small. When potential power, real or perceived, comes into play, those fractures widen. The goal, in all of this, is to get Cyan away from having to maintain the game and focus on letting the fans do that work.

Develop expansion packs for online content.

There’s a big difference between “new content every month” and “here’s a new expansion pack.” That difference being timetables. Look back at what we got in 2007 from the former model: two Ages half the size of the Age they were copies of (Delin/Tsogahl), Pod Ages which were (essentially) the same, a flat plane (Minkata), a sandbox (Jalak), a smaller Spyroom than in To D’ni, two areas from To D’ni (Phil’s Relto, Kirel), five smaller re-textures of the Watcher’s Sanctuary, the Watcher’s Sanctuary, three Ages we had already seen in Path of the shell (Er’cana, Ahnonay, Myst), and one D’ni location we’d seen in End of Ages (K’veer).

A long list, yes. But what content from there was original? The pod Ages, Minkata, and Jalak. Most of the Ages were re-releases or re-textures of existing Ages. Contrast that with the content developed initially for online Uru and continued for release in Uru: Ages Beyond Myst, To D’ni, Path of the Shell, and Myst V (in other words, every Age).

The evidence seems overwhelmingly on the side of slow development, a format that lends itself to releasing content as “packs” with variable breaks in between. What would this content look like? A pack would reasonably contain 2-3 Ages of a complexity equal to those found in the original Journey, 3-4 simpler Ages (Pod Ages, Delin-like rest ages, etc.), and 1-2 D’ni locations of Neighborhood size. Cyan would develop a storyline for this content and beta test through NDA’d playtesting.

Here’s the crux of all this, though: The content would be for an offline version of MOUL. Cyan would make their money by first selling the content to individuals (owning the content would be a pre-requisite for linking to the Ages in play both on and off-line and Ages/areas updated in the pack would display a message informing players they were missing some content without the purchase of this pack), then by selling the content to shard owners to use on their shard.

Players could play in a purely offline environment if they chose and purchase these expansion packs OR they could join a shard and enjoy community play (this would eliminate the multiplayer puzzles of Delin, Tsogahl, and Ahnonay, but most people would not miss those much).

One immediate concern is that this effectively kills the spontaneous content idea that Rand had. The problems being 1: Many would argue Cyan never achieved this. 2: Cyan could still partially achieve this with randomly appearing content like the Descent, Kadish temple, and Teledahn dock Bahro stones and the islands page.

Online Uru wouldn’t vanish, it would be the “co-op mode” you see in games like Left 4 Dead (and Portal 2), Cyan would make content which could be accessed “alone or together” without pressure which has obviously (to me) diminished the quality of that work, and people would still be free to make new Ages.

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All posts are my opinion only and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of others.
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