The Meat of the Article

I believe I've mentioned Magic: the Gathering before. If not, well, there's always the Wikipedia entry to bring you up to speed. Wait - before you go look - it's not really necessary. It's just background.

Magic was designed mostly by Richard Garfield. For the most part, he's moved on to other pursuits, but this week he revisited the company that he helped to found so that he could write this article.

Don't worry - you don't have to read that either, if you don't want to.

It is a nice article, though. Of particular interest to us, the players and programmers of World of Warcraft, was this paragraph:

The gaming form that can most learn from this is computer gaming – specifically, but not limited to, roleplaying games. From the early days of MMRPGS I have longed to see the “busywork” removed – the travel time, the boring combats, the tedious inventory management. [...] Entrenched players often respond that they like these elements, and somehow can keep a straight face saying that while holding the move button down for ages as they lumber around an artificial world. They claim that getting rid of the travel would hurt their feeling of immersion. They say this as their character dies and they respawn and go out to search for the corpse."

Boy, did he hit the nail on the head! Now, although I don't see corpse-running as a huge problem in an RPG, I do think he's emphasized one aspect that our community knows well. Us gamers are looking to improve our play by removing busywork.

We can therefore salute those authors that innovate the tools that get us back in the game. I'm thinking of stuff like ItemRack here, which takes the tedium out of set management - but there are already countless examples. You'll continue to see improvements in your roleplaying experience in the coming months. Viva World of Warcraft!
On Thursday, November 9th, through the great generosity of WoWInterface and Blizzard Entertainment, I was invited to attend the Burning Crusade Beta. The sole condition was that I use the time to bring my AddOns into the new age.

One week later, I am pleased to announce that the vast majority of the work is complete! I picked 4 AddOns from my blueprints, based on what I thought was either irreplaceable or popular: Debugger, Slash Commander, Abacus, and Cooldown Pulse. These have been upgraded to keep most of their functionality. In some cases, improvements have been made.

What's really got me excited is that I think I beat the bug that kept Cooldown Pulse from working for a significant portion of the gaming audience. I won't know for sure until I spread it around a bit. Towards that end, I'm going to see about uploading packages for you lucky folk that made it to the Beta as well, and with luck a few testers will make their results known.

Get ready for some cool stuff! The expansion is coming!
Hello again, folks. Long time, no see, eh?

My main character is finally getting into end-game content, which has permitted me to appreciate some of the finer points of the game, and see how you folk are using my AddOns in more intense situations. It also distracts me from working on said AddOns ... With luck my Gnomish Gadgetzan Teleporter will misfire and make a copy of me so I can start getting housework done.

The topic for obsession today is Excellence in Creativity. This has been brought on by a number of things around the internet, some quite old news by now, but new to me. Perhaps two weeks ago I was introduced to Spore, which is The Sims' next big thing - same creator, better concept. If you've not seen it, prepare to be amazed by this video.

At the same time that I'm learning about Will Wright's vision, I'm reading an article series by Mark Rosewater, a collectable card game designer. While the article would be hard for non-fans to relate to, Mark's anecdote about design came down to something very creative: People were misunderstanding a new game concept, so the concept was changed to match their understanding.

Now the funny thing about these examples is that the smart people are listening to their audience, and letting those folk steer the project. Is that creativity? How creative are you, if you just observe what people are doing and help them do more of that? Apparently very! I'd love to be in that camp whenever possible.

Therefore, I am earnestly trying to develop with your convenience in mind these days. Expect to see stuff like:

- E-mails and other follow-ups to your Feature Requests and Bug Reports.
- Default configurations that result in less 'hidden' features.
- Creative, natural use of design space. (I feel that Abacus has been a great success this way, with its flyout menus and drag-to-hide procedures.)

I'll be taking my time getting to these things, but with your help, JIM's AddOns reach for that elusive excellence in creativity.
If there are JIM fans still in existence, they've probably noticed how rare updates to my AddOns has been recently. Truth be told, I've not been programming much. Just adventuring and having a good time of it.

Blizzard really has executed this entire game, World of Warcraft, with incredible flair. Do you recall how it was when you completed each of the quests for the first time? I've been revisiting Stranglethorn Vale, and I recall the intimidating power of the Mosh'Oggs and the rush that accompanied the confrontation with Mokk the Savage. They're pushovers at level 60, but there is a progression of difficulty threaded through with wonder in all the quests.

Guiding guild members through dungeons helps one relive the magic too. I love it when in ZF, any person is heard to remark, "That is a LOT of trolls."

All that mushy stuff aside, I'll assure everyone that I've been working on all the items I mentioned before - Slash Commander, Abacus, and Chaperone - and am commited to keep working on them, 'cause I really love how the system works.
JIM the Inventor's Avatar
04-08-06 02:59 AM by: JIM the Inventor
It is said that there is a fine line between genius and madness. I'm too busy to watch for it. If I step over, then perhaps someone will let me know.

Continuing with the long-overdue upgrades to existing JIM products, I've been hitting Slash Commander pretty hard in an effort to develop a failsafe link between slash commands and the AddOns that provide them.

I think you'll like the result, though it's highly unconventional.

Indeed, the solution involved systematic destruction of half of the program variables. Pretty wild, huh? That means, for a (hopefully) brief instant, I unhook all of Warcraft's UI, dump all Saved Variables in a plastic bin, and then proceed to generate errors ...

No joke! It works!

Of course, I'm going to put warning signs up all around this feature, but I imagine that it'll lead to my general discredit, and perhaps lynching. *sigh* Science is such an unforgiving mistress.


Concurrent with /Commander development, I'm moving ahead with two other projects: Chaperone and Abacus. See the Future Concepts section for more details.