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Designer's DiaryDecember 2000

Wednesday, 13 December 2000: Well, we're really picking up a head of steam here at Quicksilver. It seems that anybody with a pair of free hands and ten minutes to kill is being added to the MOO3 team. :-) For my part, I'm doing "design doc fill-in;" that means fleshing out this beast with all of the additional formulas, tables, more detailed explanations, etc. that the engineers need to make the numbers dance and sing. (You didn't know that MOO3 was going to be a musical, did you? Just kidding!)

Joining me on that Mission: Impossible is our own Tom Hughes, who has shifted from his "fine focus" position on space combat, ship design, and technology, to a more "broad focus" on the game as a whole and how all the pieces interconnect. Poor bugger! He's getting up to speed right now on that most critical of elements, the economic model (money, other resources, and planet-building). It's an awesome challenge as we've given this aspect of the old Maser of Orion games a fresh look. Included in the model are such elements as capacity, efficiency, tax rates, unemployment, the "consumer economy," trade (at the local, system, and interstellar level; not just inter-civilization), government (local, system, sector, and Imperial), and other aspects. Of course, in keeping with our paradigm, at the "highest level" of macro-management, you can whoosh through all this red tape with a few mouse clicks in response to the "summary" numbers presented on the screen. If you look "under the hood," the minutiae is there in all its detail and you can manipulate it all.

The really important news is that we've added a couple more people on the team. The first is Irene Macabante our new artist. (In answer to the usual questions: Yes, she's cute; and no, she's not available). For her story, check out the About & Contact page (we're listed alphabetically). She's been very studious reading the epic design doc and asking questions relevant to the gameplay experience that I'm really pleased.

Image: Cosmic Encounters Box Also added to the "outer circle" of the MOO3 team is Jacob Ossar, who I'm finding to be a kindred spirit in gaming. Although he's in New York (living in the city), Jacob is, like our Dennis Volper, a college teacher (currently teaching philosophy at the Stevens Institute of Technology). He's already done a good job helping flesh out the Religion area of the design document, contributing several new dogmas in the process. (Eventually, we'll update the Religion data dump to reflect that). Jacob is an old-time (well, as "old time" as a 30-something guy can be) gamer, cutting his teeth on Midway, Kingmaker, Cosmic Encounter (pictured here, which Quicksilver is now doing the online version of — a project that I'm also involved in by the way), Ogre, and good old Dungeons & Dragons. On the PC side, he digs Starflight, X-Com, Civilization, Fallout, and the "Master of" games. Best of all, Jacob brews his own beer. I've drafted him onto the team (from the Discussion Boards on Delphi) and plan to put him to work fleshing out a good deal of the "narrative" bits of the design document so that, when you look something up in the game's Encyclopedia Galactica, it actually has something to say about, oh... what a "Police State" or "Recreation" DEA, or a what a "Fleet Train" represents. That sort of thing. Naturally, he'll be contributing his thoughts on the design along the way as well, helping to polish and fill-in bits of its vast architecture.

Image: Twilight Imperium Box Of course, no Designer's Diary would be complete without the mention of an analog game, and this time I've got a doozie for you. One of the games that has inspired Master of Orion III is a boardgame recently released in a new (2nd) edition, Twilight Imperium (the back of the box is pictured here). In addition to playing a lot of Cosmic Encounter these days (my all-time favorite boardgame since its release in 1977), I've got players interested in this new edition of an epic 4X boardgame. If you want to see what Events or the Orion Senate might be like in MOO3, or if you just want a good strategic space game that you can play face-to-face with friends (my wife has become a huge fan of this game, by the way), you might want to investigate Twilight Imperium. Its got different races, random map creation (well, not entirely random, there's a lot of strategy there, too), plastic pieces, an interesting technology "tree," and lots more. Although light of rules weight, it is heavy in engrossing gameplay.

Image: Floyd, Alan, CoryThis you can plainly see as you can see with MOO3 designer Floyd Grubb, left, about to slam me, center, with a "screw you" type of card while our producer, Cory Nelson, right, plots my demise. We managed to get a couple games in between 11am and 6pm (including a lunch break), which is a good day's work at the office "doing research." Now that Cory has played it, he's going to get a six-player game going on Friday nights. (Cory won this game, edging me out at the end in vicious game that blew up into brutal hammer and tongs warfare. Memo to me: Always let your producer win. He's much easier to get along with in the afterglow of a victory.)

Image: Peter Olotka and Bill Eberle Friday, 15 December 2000: My goodness! Apparently more of you read these Designer Diary entries than I thought. Suddenly, I'm getting email about Cosmic Encounter Online just from the above mention. Well, Cosmic Designers Peter Olotka and Bill Eberle visited the office today, so I thought I'd snag a minute with them so they could explain something about CEO for all you MOO3 fans. If you want to hear their crazy (non)explaination, click here. (1.3 MB .mpg file)

On the MOO3 front, Tom Hughes has come up with the initial population growth rate formula and Jacob Ossar is haranguing me for "political bias" in the design. Hehehe. I also finally cobbled all the pieces I had lying around for the Race Bible into a "whole"... bad news, it's still a long way from Prime Time, folks.

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