student 20 Productions

Random Thoughts of a Game Developer

Archive for the month “January, 2011”

Champions goes Free to Play: This is how it should be


Champions Online

Image via Wikipedia

So, follow this link and check out the difference between Free to Play Champions Online (a Super Hero MMORPG) and their Paid service, which is available in Monthly ($14.99 USD per) and Lifetime ($299 USD) membership rates:

Champions Free To Play Feature Matrix


World of Warcraft
Image via Wikipedia

In my less than humble opinion, this is how all MMORPGS should do things. Let’s take World of Warcraft as an example, shall we?

Blizzard could allow the base game as Free to Play; in order to use any content from expansions (the recent Cataclysm, just as an example), you would need to buy a subscription service, in addition to the expansions themselves. All the limitations you see on a “Silver” account could be applied to a WoW account – except I would go a step further and require subscription for access to PVP servers.

(For some reason I cannot fathom, a lot of people seem to like non-voluntary PvP in their MMORPGs; personally, I can’t stand it. In addition to perfectly reasonable players, it seems to attract other players who could charitably be described as “Asshats“. These people like to wander open PvP zones, kill characters 30 levels beneath them, and then dance on their character’s corpses until they try to re-spawn and kill them again. I quit playing on a PvP server because of this behavior, but for some reason, folks seem to enjoy this sort of thing; as far as I can tell, it’s the whole point of Warhammer Online – which also has a free to play mode, in case you’re interested).

Now, WoW already has something like 11 million players, so there’s really no reason for them to change their business model. But still, I can’t help but think that they (and every other pay to play MMORPG out there) might not do better by offering the Free to Play option in a non-limited, non-completely-crippled way.

I mean, it’s done wonders for Dungeons & Dragons Online


Dungeons & Dragons Online

Image via Wikipedia

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And On With Elements

So, with 16 Bit Heroes in the playtest stage, I find myself looking longingly at my Elements notes thinking You know, Eric ol’ bean, you really ought to be working on that. And, yes, I actually thought ol’ bean. In my head. Goodness only knows why.

Elements is my primary project, after all. You know, theoretically. Sure it’s been on the back burner for quite a while… and 16 Bit Heroes was only meant to be a short distraction. As if I don’t have enough of those… Things like Quick Play and the entirely too many hours I’ve spent playing   Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas are constant distractions. Not bad distractions, mind you, but distractions none the less.

Polyhedral dice
Image via Wikipedia

In any case, while working on 16 Bit Heroes, Elements kept on simmering in the background. I’ve come up with a few things that are going into it, and worked out a few kinks and so on. I’ve some up with a much simpler and more unified dice mechanic that removes many layers of complexity for instance. I loved the dice mechanic I had for Elements, but it was a bit inconsistent and difficult to balance. part of it (elements, you might say) are preserved for Elements, but the new dice mechanics make things much more consistent. Moreover, they make it much easier to evaluate how good someone is at something with a glance, and allow gamers to decide which type and how many they want to use. I’ll post it – along with the math as I see it – in the not too distant future.

Other things have become more clear to me as well. One of the original ideas I had for Elements was to allow Players (and GMs, of course) to design their own Ability Scores as they saw fit. How to do this has also become clear to me, although it’s not in the way I expected. I had to come at things from a completely different angle, and it was a fun bit of inspiration when it happened.

I suppose, in the end, the point of this post was to show that I am in fact still working on things. Elements is coming slowly along, and it’s satisfying to be working on it again. Yes – it has changed a lot, but mostly the changes came about through my experience putting 16 Bit Heroes together. Experience is a good thing. I figure I get distracted by making five or six more games, and Elements will actually, finally see the light of day.

And speaking of making five or six more games, I had an idea this morning for a PvP combat game. The concept is essentially a simplified version of all the miniature combat games out there (Heroclix, the Dungeons & Dragons Miniature skirmishes battle game, and so on). I won’t go into details, but you can look forward to seeing it here eventually.

And that’s it for now. Hope everyone who has DLed 16 Bit Heroes is having fun with it. If you are, let me know!

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Fallout 3 Musings

While eagerly awaiting feedback and playtest results for 16 Bit Heroes, I have been indulging in a little video game playing. Specifically, I’ve been playing a little more Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas a bit more than can be considered strictly healthy. Having just finished a tabletop RPG design project, I couldn’t help but notice the striking resemblance between the Fallout SPECIAL stat system and most Tabletop RPGs. In fact, it wouldn’t be difficult – at all – to convert the system more or less directly to a tabletop game.

The SPECIAL stats themselves are on a simple 1 to 10 scale, making direct Stat checks a simple matter of a 1d10 roll. The skills, by contrast, are on a 1 to 100 scale, making skill checks a simple d%. There would be a few things that would need ironing out (how fast folks are, that sort of things).

The real point of this post is to display that, at this point, everything has become a tabletop game to me. I caught myself statting out one of our dining room chairs the other day.

It amazes me that women will even talk to me, to say nothing of the fact that I have a beautiful girlfriend who loves me. Take that, Geek stereotypes!

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2010 in review

Apparently, WordPress thinks the first year of the Student 20 Productions blog was a rousing success. I don’t know if I completely agree, but it made me feel good to read the stats, and I thought I’d share them. Why “16 Bit Character Sheets”, posted on 30 October 2010, should be my most read page, I have no idea… but, otherwise, I find this stuff interesting, so I thought you might, too.

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A helper monkey made this abstract painting, inspired by your stats.

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,300 times in 2010. That’s about 3 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 40 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 21 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 11mb. That’s about 2 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was October 30th with 104 views. The most popular post that day was 16 Bit Character Sheets.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for 16 bit character creator, effects of being out of status students, 16 bit characters sheets, “combaty”, and student 20 productions.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


16 Bit Character Sheets October 2010


16 Bit Heroes – Two Sample Classes August 2010


Years of Brand Loyalty Down the Drain October 2010


Could I possibly be more off topic? June 2010


Of Sudden Changes and Late Posts May 2010

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