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Designer's DiaryAugust 2000

Wednesday, 23 August 2000: Been a while since I checked in here. Basically, that's because I'm swamped. Essentially, my job description is to continue flesh out the design doc (there are many references to tables and formulae, for example, which are yet to be written) and keep the design doc updated. I call this "forestry work," and when I add a new table or formula, that's called "planting a tree." These days, "tree planting" is very high on my to do list, but it's kind of frustrating. For the past several weeks, I've been trying to nail down the planetary specials, but haven't been able to string together the time to do it. While taking a week's vacation (and spending the week after catching up on everything that piled up while I was gone) didn't help, this is still primarily due to the second part of my job description, which is "being there for everyone else."

That is, to get people the information they need to start coding data structures and such like. Also, because new people are being added to the project all the time, I've got to help spin them up on the design and help illuminate "the big picture" to MOO3. Worse, because I'm the "keeper of the design doc," whenever anyone wants to know something from it, I get pinged as often as not to provide them a swift answer (rather than making them pour over that huge tome). I'm sort of the "living design doc" and am often referenced by the visits, phone calls, and emails throughout the day. In fact, I've become a much desired person at MOO3 meetings (and we all know what meetings do for personal productivity [grin]).

Anyway, a lot has gotten done (mostly by others, but with me in support). The one thing that leaps to mind is all the work that Stormhound and Harel have done on various spreadsheets in the game. Also, Stormhound's "DiploMatic" message generation system for diplomacy is a prize plum. I can't wait to see that in action! But between now and then, I'll try to get the planetary specials done and posted up on a data dump. After all, you guys helped write it. Oh, but Hasbro is coming tomorrow for the rest of the week. Well, there's always next week... ;-)

Image: Tim, Constantine, JenniferThursday and Friday, 24 and 25 August 2000: They're baaaaaack! Hasbro once again returns to brighten the Quicksilver offices and, better still, pick up the check at the ritual breakfast meeting. To the left, you see Tim Hume, the most recent addition to the Quicksilver MOO3 Team (doing AI), our Hasbro Producer Constantine, and our Hasbro Designer, Jennifer. We had long, excruciating discussions on the AI systems for the game (not surprisingly, there's a lot of different ones -- one for each "game within the game," really) followed by a lengthy dissertation by Tom Hughes on the intricate details of ship combat. It amazes me that these guys can jet into town and stay awake for all that (presumably boring) minutiae, but they do. That's why they earn the Big Bucks, I guess.

Image: Caron WeidnerAlso, we got a visit from Caron Weidner of Eight Ball Sound. She popped in from their Santa Monica offices to chime in on what she envisioned for the sounds of MOO3. Basically, Eight Ball will be doing all the sound except for the game's music (well, they'll process the music, but not write it). More on this, I can't say but I'm sure we'll be hearing a lot from Caron (if you'll forgive the pun).

So, what's been going on besides meetings? Well, there's been an exciting new design wrinkle added to the game: Government Agendas. That is, whenever you get a new government or it has elections or it changes somehow, the new leadership "rolls" to see what its agenda is. So, not only can you have one of over two-dozen types of governments (Herd, Hive, Parliamentary, Despotic, etc.), but each time there is a change of leadership, a new agenda might ensue (Survival, "Common Good," Utopia, Pursuit of Wealth, etc.). So, the effects of "government" on a player's civilization will be the combinatory aspects of their government type, the current government's agenda, and The Leader's personal agenda/traits (a la the previous MOO titles). This governmental "influence" (read: "bunch of die roll modifiers") will affect a good many things within that civilization such that it will feel like it's being steered by that kind of political philosophy. Pretty cool, huh?

Image: Constantine and FloydOf course, life is not one huge meet-a-thon, even when Hasbro comes out to visit and inspect our progress. Here, on a break between meetings, we see Constantine and Quicksilver Designer Floyd Grubb slapping cards on the table in a terribly fun and addicting little game called Battle Line. This tiny gem from GMT Games is the best 20-some dollars I've spent in quite a while. Everyone loves it (ladies included). With few rules and a 30-minute playing time, it rocks.

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