Age of Conan Is So Dreamy

As per this developer interview, it looks like the upcoming Age of Conan MMO game will actually have some of the gameplay features that I’ve always dreamed about in an massively multiplayer game (particularly those that focus on more larger community involvement and cooperation).

Is there a system in place to hire mercenaries?

Yeah, in the Siegeing. Other players. So you can be a mercenary in the game. If it’s a siege battle going down, and you see you’re about to lose, or if you wanna take someone out, you can actually send out a call for mercenaries, and give them in-game credits to join the battle and they will be teleported into the siege battle. Those are other players, and there are five mercenary levels as well.

In my dream MMO, the idea is that there are community goals for your realm that allows solo players to participate in the larger battles and wars as well. With Age of Conan, being a mercenary allows you to do this. Others can hire you out to be a part of their battles and you’re profession as a mercenary develops depending on how well you do. Not exactly what I had in a mind but a step in the right direction.

So you can build, say, a barracks or something …

Let’s say you build a stable, which will boost how fast you can travel, but if you build all stables, you lose the benefit of an armory. And you can upgrade some of them, and of course, you need resources to gather to build them, four base resources, and that’s where the crafters come in, for those who like to play that part of the game, and obviously the killers would defend it. So this is the beauty of the MMO, I think, you can find your role in it.

This is almost exactly what I had in mind. Basically the idea is taking the old Warcraft II RTS game and make each unit a real player. Therefore if you want to improve your guild or realm, you’d build a barracks for soldiers which improves your soldiers armor and so forth. Definitely looking forward to this. Sounds incredibly as it lets each player help out as they want to do so (i.e. warrior, builder, craftsman, etc).

Sister Interviews Daryl Hannah & Sean Connery

My sister, Robbin, who lives in the Bahamas, got the opportunity to interview Daryl Hannah and Sir Sean Connery recently at a career tribute ceremony for Daryl Hannah. You can find the full details over at The Bahamas Weekly, an online community news site that my sister works on.

BTW I thought Sean Connery was awesome in that he’s still not afraid to speak his mind, indicating how he’d like to see the Bahamian government get more involved in contributing to the film industry. This is something that a lot of the local people have been pushing for a very long time, especially as it’s becoming more and more noticed as a great place for film shooting (i.e. Pirates of the Caribbean 2 & 3 were recently filmed there).

Designing A Real, Genuine, And Alive Site

Sibyllae posted up some very interesting insights into design recently that definitely hit home with me.

I have now viewed over 782 “best of the best” (as they are titled) website and blog designs for CSS. They are all remarkable and well done. Since I am not a designer, I felt lost and out of place trying to meet the demands of the constantly evolving array of web standards. I felt frustrated. Then I looked closer and I asked myself the SAME question every time I saw something I liked at first sight, but knew I could not imitate in any way for lack of skills to do it; and the question was: “Let’s just assume you could build something like “this snazzy thing over here”. Can you look at this regularly or daily and work with it? Does it suit your purposes?”

Surprisingly, my answer was NO every time.

This echoes my recent revelations on how I want to be real. Simply put, no matter what cool design layouts I saw out there, none of them connected or resonated with me. Thus in trying to emulate them, I was only putting a mask on myself and not really representing who I really am which in turn resonated this “wrongness” within me. Therefore, I knew that I had to stop trying to emulate others and instead just be myself. Easier said than done. For now, I’ve gone back to my Working Late design that I made for Squarespace (but with a few adjustments to it). I like it but it still really isn’t me, as it’s a little too clean. I definitely liking Sibyllae’s new header image though, as it has a real grittiness and texture to it, something I’d like to add to my own site to give it more of a ‘down to earth’ feeling to it.

And from this I learned that one of the most important things about using the web as a medium for any form of expression is: IDENTIFYING YOUR PURPOSE. So through trial and error I identified the following: I am not selling anything, I am not Apple or Microsoft, and I am not a professional designer seeking work. So what does that mean? That means that I can create and re-create my own personal space as the whim suits me. It is OK if it it’s not perfect and doesn’t validate W3C every page, it is OK that it is not pixel perfect. It is ok to violate (which I probably do and I am sorry), every design principle. WOOHOO! 🙂 Maybe the concept here is not just relevant to creating a personal “space; ie: feeling good about your own means of expression… words to live by in other areas of life?

Totally agree. Even more so, I believe this is applicable to professional designers as well. For example, sure follow the rules for layout and functionality, so that your site is usable and accessible but go crazy with your creative juices and do something different, something risky. That’s my current problem. I keep looking at all of these designs elsewhere and while they are nice, some even beautiful, there is no emotion or feeling to a lot of them. They just feel perfect, polished, and empty. Again as noted above, I want this grittiness and texture to my site (in certain areas) and yet also this defused softness as well (in other areas). So I guess a kind of tao ying yang sort of thing.

Anyways, Sibyllae in researching bad design eventually stumbled across Lings Cars and Ling’s WebSite Advice. I won’t go over the various website advice of Ling (as you can read it yourself) but I will say that I was definitely surprised by a lot of what she said. Not in the sense that I thought it was wacky but in the sense of how much I connected with a lot of what she said at a deeper level. In a nutshell, it’s about stop trying to be perfect and start being yourself. When you do this, people will see you as someone who is genuine and thus can truly connect and trust you. Again a lot of it has to do about the feeling you emanate or resonate to others (i.e. “Talk normally, express emotions.”).

One final thing that I really found interesting is Ling’s advice about creating a site that is “alive”, as I’ve been thinking about this for a while actually. For example, so often people get upset about their sites because their designs are so static and never changing (which is why people, like myself, change them so often). This is nuts because it doesn’t truly represent who we are as individuals. Yes, I can create different moods for different sections of my site but it doesn’t really go as far as I want. Instead the idea is to create a living design that is able to change with your moods, seasons, or even holidays. Two great examples of this would be the various alternating designs within Vox as shown below (Autumn Kyoto Moonlight, Midnight, Setting Sun) as well as Hybridworks (with it’s little ever changing pixel world that you have to see to believe).

So for a Squarespace site, imagine your site design is your layout which has specific visual elements within it that are static. Now within that layout though are a multitude of styles that are applied to these visual elements to resonate a different aspect, emotion, or cycle of your life. So one style could be a happy one, another a sad or reflective one, another could be for Xmas, another for Halloween, and so on. I mean if you really wanted to get crazy, you could even make it seem alive by automating a lot of this via javascript, in that at certain times of the year, your design would change automatically. However in all of these different styles the same visual elements would still be there but just displayed different (i.e. if the static visual element was a house scene, it would show snow outside when using the Xmas style or a night sky with moon and a pumpkin on a window if using the Halloween style).

To be honest though, I’d love to push this down to even the post level. So if I was writing a post at night, in a certain mood, that feeling could be conveyed and carried across when you read the post on my website. Don’t really think this is possible yet though, as you’d have to include those variables within each post somehow. I mean I could encode the CSS within each post but that’d be pretty messy, especially for the longevity and sustainability of the site.

Anyways time to stop, as I’m starting to ramble. All said and done, I’m glad Sibyllae posted her thoughts and discoveries on design because it has definitely given me a lot to think about and potential directions to take with my own site design. Thanks Sibyllae!

Gogol Bordello

If you’ve ever seen the wonderful movie Everything is Illuminated then you’ve seen and heard the band Gogol Bordello. That’s because the character Alex in the movie is actually played by Eugene Hütz, the lead vocals for the band. And if you listened to the closing credits, you would have heard Eugene sing Start Wearing Purple, one of the bands more popular songs which can be listened to on their Gogol Bordello MySpace website.

Now while their "gypsy-punk" music is incredibly exhilarating to listen to, their performances are even more incredible to watch as seen by this footage taken from their appearance on David Letterman back in July, where they sang one of their new songs Wanderlust King. I guess it’s no wonder so many people comment on their site about their "amazing" concerts, as their live performances almost seem to be a celebration of life.

Deciding to read some of the bands background on their MySpace site (written by Eugene himself), I was surprised and delighted to discover that celebrating life is exactly what the band is all about. Check out the quote below which is just a small part of what he had to say, as he’s obviously put a lot of thought and energy into his music. 

Often you will hear people talking about a concert theyve experienced for years! Why? In Gypsy mythology they say it is memorable because the devil visited that room, others say the other guy was there But one way or another they all link it to supernatural

Considering its power, it is not impossible to think of music making as a sacred art discipline and, for example, in anthropological tribal studies the medicine man functions are not really differentiated from musicians But lets not get too anthropological on your ass These are just elementary streamline reminders of musics rocking good and what it could do.

But instead, saturated with garbage, airways discredit this art and separate people from the power and meaning of music Rivers of meaningless puke are poured into ours ears on daily basis and many forgot to even think about music as of a major source of energy, joy and inspiration and fucking heat too!..

BTW if you live here in Vancouver and want to get a taste for this sort of gypsy music yourself (although not as punkish), definitely check out the band the Creaking Planks. However don’t be fooled by the song samples on their site, as the recorded sound quality is pretty bad. This band totally rocks live and is full of energy, especially with their full ensemble of musicians (as they sometimes play in a smaller group).