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RaMtiGA - Raising a Middleworld to its Golden Age
RaMtiGA - Raising a Middleworld to its Golden Age: Blog
Apr 30

Written by: Jashan Chittesh

I just wanted to note that yesterday, I finished reading a rather significant book. But it turns out there's more to tell... Things concering the mysterious uber-project RaMtiGA...

The whole process of creating my first game, and involving myself in this "really big project" called RaMtiGA - Raising a Middleworld to its Golden Age - has very interesting aspects to it. Since I'm currently going to bed early (I try to make it around 10pm), because I'm getting up early, too (always at 5am or before), and it's already 9pm (even though this blog probably still shows the wrong times)... and since there's many things I wanted to write about during the last few days... I guess I'll need to combine it all into this single posting.

Ok... first of all, you may have noticed that development of TRaceOn did slow down a bit. That's true. At the same time, it's not true. Let me explain: I currently do invest a little less time to development of this whole thing in general. But more important, I did a lot of things not directly "on schedule". The current version, V0.88 has quite an improved visual appearance. That's nice, but originally my intention was to focus on the networking aspects - which is difficult and requires enough work in itself. Also, I came up with the new Website and prepared the bug tracker. One perspective is that these are all things that also have to be done.

Another perspective, however, is that whenever I tried to work on the current "core issues" (the networking), I slipped away into some other things. Some of these could be considered "just wasting time". I will not comment much more on this, but I will mention that this may have to do more with RaMtiGA than what many people will ever realize. However, if they read this particular blog-posting (which will be years old by the time RaMtiGA will be a virtual world that's open to the public), they may or may not have a hint that's almost too obvious.

Yesterday, I finished reading a very nice and interesting book from a guy that's been involved in virtual worlds from Day One: Richard Bartle. He has been one of the two guys developing MUD1. MUD is an acronym for Multi User Dunge[o]n. That's where this whole virtual world thing started. The book is called "Designing Virtual Worlds", and it's a real gold-mine for anyone who wants to involve themselves in any way with virtual worlds. In particular, of course, it's useful for people like myself who want to design and create a virtual world and who want to avoid traps that others fell into - and open themselves up to possibilities others may not have seen. It provides a solid theory and understanding of what one is doing, including a "critical aesthetics" as well as "ethical considerations". The whole book, while written in a somewhat casual style (with many opportunities to laugh out loud), resembles scientific work in terms of footnotes and references. Well, I guess it is scientific work, after all. I'm mentioning that because many of the references were already familiar to me, even though they are not obviously related to virtual world design of massively multiplayer games. That gave me this lovely feeling of circles coming around and closing. Once again, it all made so much sense.

Reading 705 pages is kind of a project in itself. And I read every single page, and every single footnote - but I only followed one reference given in the footnotes... so far... Well, I better get back to focus so I can go to bed soon ;-)

Today, I've started reading Massively Multiplayer Game Development. Basically a collection of articles concerning the subject matter, edited by Thor Alexander. Due to some of the daytime and nighttime experiences I'm currently going through, a few days ago I was inspired to write something down. A few more days ago, it became clear to me how I would set up the draft-schedule for releasing the three games, or let me say "the game, the place-with-a-game and the virtual world". That was during a conversation with a friend, and I plan to release TRaceOn in late summer / early autumn 2008. Then, late summer / early autumn 2009, I plan to release Pill Cruncher. That's one year later, which I think is good because there will be some additions to TRaceON after it's released, and I'd rather take my time to create premium quality than rushing things for unrealistic deadlines. After that, I'm planning for a 3-year development phase of RaMtiGA, so the release should be in 2012. Magical year, isn't it? Beta-Testing of RaMtiGA will probably start much earlier, so a few chosen hundreds will see the earliest playable implementations probably as "early" as 2010.

This, of course, is just a draft. I'm not gonna commit myself to this timeframe because I know things take their time, and forcing schedules on software-projects is something I don't consider particularly wise. Especially with projects that you have never done before. Even more so with projects that no one has ever done before and that should probably considered more a work of a art than a mere piece of software-engineering.

In a very nice conversation with another friend, actually someone I had just met for the first time, and that I was explaining to everything I know about computer games so far, I realized a very significant "skeleton" for RaMtiGA. Just a few words: Middleworld. Upper worlds. Lower worlds. Helpers. Troublemakers. The everlasting conflict arising from polarity. Influences. I'll tell no more, at least for now. I wrote that down. Into the design document that currently has 44 pages, me being right in the middle, on page 22. At this very moment.

Today, inspired by the article from "Massively Multiplayer Game Development" that I read while having lunch at a very nice Italian restaurant very close to where I live, sitting outside in the sun, I started conceiving - in my mind - the core roles or archetypes for players within the virtual world of RaMtiGA. So, today, I have designed the first draft of the primary roles within RaMtiGA, including the skills that go with these roles. The abstract core is drafted and written down (around page 22 ;-) ), and I will - when time permits - write up stories for each role. These stories will be the blueprint for the first few missions players playing the different roles will be able to complete to develop their initial skill-set. I say "when time permits" because there are several roles, and writing stories for those will probably take a few days.

So, what I now have are two major core components for RaMtiGA. This is quite significant for me because I recently realized that while I did have a fairly large collection of very interesting ideas that I wish to implement in RaMtiGA, what I lacked was a core that glues it all together. That core is now there - and from here, I can conceptually work my way from the "inside" to the more remote aspects of RaMtiGA. While before, all it was - to be very honest - was just a scattered collection of ideas, it's now starting to become a foundation to build a consistent and solid design upon.

I like this process. And I can tell: I'm filled with Joy! :-) ... 9:55pm ;-)

PS: Before saving this Blog entry, I made a copy. That was very wise, because the portal system forced me to log in again - thus "forgetting" the whole Blog. Thank God I seem to have learned that lesson ;-)


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