Canadian Summer

A couple of months ago – back in early June – I was offered a position at Funcom Montreal, in Canada. The position is the exact same as the one I had in the Oslo-office, and the salary is pretty much the same, but with the added benefit of having a lower cost of living in Montreal compared to Oslo.

It took some deliberation and much chin-scratching to decide what to do next; it’s never easy to uproot and move, especially not to a completely different continent, but in the end I concluded that the pros of moving outweighed the cons and accepted the offer. That was two months ago.

Right now I find myself situated in a temporary apartment in Montreal, and my two first weeks on BritishCanadian soil have just passed. Despite all the fake Frenchmen running around, it seems like a decent enough place. At first glance it seems pretty similar to Oslo and Norway. At second glance, though, you start noticing some differences. The metro on bouncy rubber wheels, and the lack of any air-condition in the metro-stations. The hilarious policies that cellphone service providers operate under (I have to pay both when sending and when receiving SMSs/phone calls? wtf). Monthly bandwith limits on Internet. The fact that drugstores seem to outnumber grocery-stores. The absurd amount of water in the toilet-bowls. The lack of Norwegian brown cheese. THE LACK OF NORWEGIAN BROWN CHEESE!

I did find a Norwegian website that can ship me some of this precious cheese (and other Norwegian food-products), though unfortunately the shipping-price for half a kilo of brown cheese from Norway to Canada seems pretty expensive. No luck as of yet finding anyone/anywhere actually selling it in Canada – though there must be some “Norwegian-Canadians” around (432,515 according to Wikipedia) who should have created a market for it. Hm. Unless they’ve abandoned their cultural heritage completely and forgotten all about the brown cheese! Traitors, all of them.

(Edit: Since this blog-post was originally published I have actually found Norwegian brown cheese in Montreal. Currently I know of two places where it can be bought – though I’ve only ever been to one of them. The first (which I’ve been to) is in a cheese-store inside Atwater Market (2nd floor) called La fromagerie Hamel, and the second is a place recommended to me by a random stranger who read my post and sent me an e-mail telling me about La Vieille Europe, which apparently has quite a lot of special/exclusive cheeses (which the Norwegian brown quite clearly is), though I have not yet been there.)

Brown cheese or not, it does seem like I’m going to be staying in Montreal and Canada for a while, and as my current abode is just a temporary thing that I’ll only have access to for another two weeks, I had better get back to my apartment hunting.

Au plaisir de vous revoir!

Offline Character Progression

I haven’t blabbedblogged about anything on this blog for quite some time now. I have, amongst other things, been pre-occupied with working on the Rise of the Godslayer-expansion for Age of Conan, the release-date for which has finally been made public :)

What brings me out of hybernation, though, is the Offline Character Progression-system introduced in Age of Conan with patch 1.07.2 earlier this week. It has spurred some debate in the MMORPG blogging community (communities? do they all belong to one communtiy, or are there several ones?) about whether this is really a good thing or not, with concerns that this is just the first step towards a bleak future for MMORPGs where players play by not playing at all.

Basically the system works like this: Every four days that pass, another “free level” gets added to a pool from which you can hand them out to any of your characters as long as said characters are above level 30 and under level 80 (the level cap).

Offline Character Progression in AoC
Offline Character Progression in AoC

Continue reading “Offline Character Progression”

Computer troubles

So, yeah – I spent maybe 7 hours yesterday trying to install Windows 7 Ultimate (retail version). This, after spending the last two days before that trying to debug and hopefully fix my previous installation of Windows 7 (trial version of release candidate), to no avail.

It happened late on Sunday just as I was about to go to bed; suddenly, completely out of the blue, I was hit with a blue-screen which then started dumping physical memory to disk, before it promptly restarted my computer. During the reboot, and during all subsequent reboots, the computer would reach a certain point in the startup of Windows where it would simply throw its bits and bytes in the air, give up, and reboot. In other words, a never-ending cycle of reboots.

Disconnected everything, reconnected only the essentials. Still rebooted. Tried various repair-tools, both rescue discs from Microsoft and third-party ones. Still rebooted. Tried with selective RAM-chips. Still rebooted. Eventually I started up the computer again using an older hard-drive with Vista installed, and ran every disk-checking and anti-virus/malware tool known to mankind on the crashed drive (an Intel X-25M SSD), every test confirming that the disk was in tip-top shape and clean of any infections. In short, I couldn’t find any faults with the drive itself, nor with the windows installation.

So I backed up whatever files I needed without any trouble, then bought a full-version of Windows 7 Ultimate (no point in re-installing trial which runs out in… March?), downloaded it and started re-installing the OS from scratch. At which point I ran into yet another issue…

Just as the installation-process reached the “Completing installation”-part, it would freeze and never move on to finalizing the setup. Tried numerous tricks and tweaks and changes and prayers that random people on the Net swore had fixed the issue for them, but without luck – until I switched the monitor from my 24″ wide-screen display to an older 19″ screen, connected using a VGA-adapter (GFX card only has DVI-support), as well as switched out the old wireless keyboard I’d had for years with a wired one. – at which point the OS finally installed without giving me any more trouble.

Today will be a “re-install everything” day for me, and I guess I’ll also take this opportunity to thoroughly clean out the computer for dust and enforce some order to the internal cable-mess. Then I’ll tweak this Windows-installation to new heights and widths and breadths performance-wise using Age of Conan as a benchmarking tool!

Woe is me, for I have been hacketh

Well, it has finally happened to me too; My World of Warcraft-account has been compromised!

Woke up this morning to several messages on my cellphone from friends asking if I was currently playing on my WoW-account. Seems I had been seen botting in Storm Peaks for several hours without responding – not only weird because of the botting-part (which I would never had done), but also because the most I have played in the last month is to log in once or twice just to check up on some people.

I immediately went to and changed my password, then started the usual process of scanning for viruses and/or malicious programs lurking in my process list – with no results – system appears to be clean as a whistle. I never share my account-details with anyone, haven’t logged in at anyone else’s computer, found no virus and/or trojans – so I’m pretty much clueless to how my account got hacked.

Anyway, I eventually logged in to my account, and found that my higher-level alts had been cleared out of all sell-able gear and items, both on character and in bank. My main character – a druid – retained most of the feral gear (to be used for botting, apparently!), while all the sell-able parts of the resto gear were gone with the wind, along with my cash. They’d also cleared out the gold from my alts as well as the gold from the guild-bank (a defunct guild with very little cash in the bank, but still – principle of the thing).

I’ve opened a GM ticket, and I’m now waiting (“Wait time currently unavailable”) to see how the rest of this story will unfold.

Not a good day at all

As days go, this one could definitely have been better. As reported here (the details of which have probably been spread all over by now), about 20% of Funcom’s work-force are being laid off or put on forced leave, and most of those being affected are situated in the Oslo-office, where I happen to work.

I was not, thankfully, among those 20%. Unfortunately, plenty of others were, and it’s going to be really hard to get used to not seeing the now familiar faces of those departed friends and colleagues in the hallways, during the morning meeting, in the cantina – or face to face as a part of the development process. Though not quite as hard as being without a job, obviously…

Best of luck to all those who were affected by the layoffs/forced leave; I really hope I get the chance to work alongside with some of you guys again one day, be that at Funcom or elsewhere. You guys all rock several different sorts of awesome.

One-button action-game: Canabalt

I haven’t posted in a while, but the following game has finally brought me out of my current post-drought: Canabalt (WideScreen version)

Found this on Raph Koster’s blog, and it has probably been posted elsewhere as well, but I really need to post about this game myself. It’s to blame for the most fun I’ve had in any game I’ve played in recent months, despite being a 2D sidescrolling platform-game made in only 5 days, with pixel-artwork, requiring only the occasional press of a single button to play.

My entire lunch-break at work went past in a Flash (hoho) while playing this game, where you take on the role of some random dude who starts running from within an office building or some such, jumping over a couple of chairs – and then out through a window and onto the rooftops, where he promptly takes off running again all by himself, leaving it up to you to bring him (with your one-button press) from rooftop to rooftop. Your character will gradually run faster and faster, and if you avoid the various crates (which will slow you down if you hit them, intentionally or not) scattered across the rooftops, eventually he’ll run so fast you’ll have a hard time reacting to what appears on your screen, whether it be a window you need to jump through (into a building and out another window on the other side), debris from a rocket(?) you need to jump over, or buildings collapsing under your feet.

Long story short, I’ll be playing this game all weekend to try to beat my co-worker’s record run of around 11370 m… my own record stands at a puny 6838 m :(

Games like these really bring me back to the good old days, when the gameplay mattered and graphics was something you did as an afterthought… nowadays it seems to be all about presentation, Presentation, PRESENTATION! As long as the graphics are good and the interface fancy enough, it doesn’t matter if the gameplay sucks hairy donkey-ass, as the screenshots will look still look good and sell many boxes.

Last bit of advice – do not under any circumstances play this while at work. It can be hazardous to your productivity. Or so I’ve been told.

About roleplay-servers in MMOs

Two articles that popped up on in recent days both touched on the same subject – roleplay servers in MMOs.

The first one, by Dana Massey, denounce roleplay servers as unenforceable, virtually identical to regular servers and generally a major pain in the ass for those who have to moderate them.

Sanya Weathers wrote a follow-up of sorts, a more interesting (IMO) article concerning the difficulties facing a developer when setting up (and maintaining) roleplay-servers in MMOs.

If you haven’t already, go read both articles, then come back here – I’ll wait.

*hums a tune to himself whilst waiting*

Done? Okay: First off, I’ll say straight out that I think the first article mentioned is too subjective, too extreme and too obviously meant to provoke – roleplayers in particular, I guess. This article doesn’t really give me anything, as I have quite the opposite view when it comes to the continued existence of roleplay-servers. I guess I’m part of the target audience for that specific article!

I find Sanya’s article much more interesting though, as she tries to lay out clearly the problems with roleplay servers from a developers point of view, and ways in which to make those problems less (of a problem). At the end of  Sanya’s article, she lists a number of things which she sees as the minimum required feature-list any MMO-developer should offer for roleplay-specific servers. Having been on multiple sides of that table already, both as a player and as a designer, I started thinking a bit myself, about what features a dedicated roleplay server ought to, well… feature.

Read on for my thoughts on the matter.
Continue reading “About roleplay-servers in MMOs”

Blog maintenance and restaurant criticism

After having just updated to the latest versions of WordPress plus all active plugins for it, I’m experiencing some… funkiness on the admin-side of things. Hopefully it won’t spill out into the actual blog, but with my luck where updates and upgrades are concerned, something bad is almost certain to happen.

Those who wait for pizza have to wait a bloody long time..

Also, I just have to mention this horrible experience a co-worker and I had at Dolly Dimple yesterday. We arrived there at around 8 pm, and the place was all but deserted when it came to other customers. We sat down, peered at the menus, then ordered a best-seller pizza and something to drink. The drinks came, and we drank them while waiting for the food to arrive. Meanwhile, other people had started to show up, though the place could at no point be considered “packed” or even slightly crowded while we were there.

Some amount of time passed. Then, as more time passed and no pizza showed up at our table, we started getting a bit suspicious. Especially considering that the other customers that had arrived after us were getting their food. And finishing it. But we remained calm, collected and patient. At one point we saw something resembling charcoal being taken out of an oven, so we assumed they were just having a hectic day and we’d get the food eventually.

However, sometime after the one-hour mark one of the waitresses comes over and asks whether we’d like something to drink before we go, or maybe some dessert. /facepalm. Actually getting us the main meal first would kinda be a good idea, wouldn’t you think? Turns out they’d forgotten about our order. So they threw some free nacho-chips our way before they went to work on our order. For real this time.

Then, finally, after some more waiting we at last got our pizza. It actually did taste pretty good, and that’s something coming from me who normally doesn’t like pizza all that well… but was it worth 337 NOK ($52,69, split on two people) and nearly 1 1/2 hours of waiting? Not really, no.

About the Laws of Online World Design – Part II

This is the second installment in a series of posts I’ll be making about The Laws of Online World Design, as explained in this introductory post. I will start at the top of the list, and work my way down until I’ve poked and prodded every law in the list, not skipping any unless I really feel like it. In this, Part II of the series, I’ll concentrate on the following law:
Modes of expression

This is the second installment in a series of posts I’ll be making about The Laws of Online World Design, as explained in this introductory post. I will start at the top of the list, and work my way down until I’ve poked and prodded every law in the list, not skipping any unless I really feel like it. In this, Part II of the series, I’ll concentrate on the following law:

  • Modes of expression

Continue reading “About the Laws of Online World Design – Part II”


I haven’t really been giving this blog the attention I should lately, and I beg pardon for that – though I blame life, the universe and everything. I do have some more posts brewing, but not sure when I’ll have time/will to finish them up and hit the publish button. Anyways, enough excuses, have a small update about… stuff.


I was linked this awesome flash-based platform-game by a co-worker yesterday, and even though the game has been live since the middle of April and is probably old news to many, I just have to throw out a link for it here myself:  Scarygirl.

The main character in the game, i.e. Scarygirl, sorta looks like a mix between one of the characters from The Night Before Christmas and Lenore, the Cute Little Dead Girl. Which makes her damn cool. The actual game isn’t too shabby either – it’s as if the developer (Touch My Pixel) took bits and pieces of old classic platform, puzzle-and adventure-games (Treasure Island Dizzy came to mind. So did Mario AND Giana Sisters, and Commander Keen) and then combined them into this awesome, totally new Flash-based experience. From what I’ve seen so far, everything about this game is very well made – be it visuals (by artist Nathan Jurevicius), audio, story or gameplay – it’s all gorgeous. Granted, I’ve only reached level 3 so far (out of something like 14?) but I’m hoping the rest of the game keeps up the standard set in those early levels. Try it out yourself!

Any less real if it’s virtual? has an interesting article about a talk/presentation held by Jon Bing, a prominent Norwegian writer/law professor at the Norwegian Research Center for Computers and Law (NRCCL), at the Norwegian Game Conference on the 23rd of April this year.

He argued that there is no significant difference between virtual and real experiences, that looking into a monitor is no different than looking out a window and that a lot of people are already living in their own fantasy-worlds without the help of technology. He stated examples like an MMO developer being forced by courts to reinstate virtual items for a player who got his account hacked, and how a Chinese Legend of Mir 3-player – Qiu Chengwei – stabbed and killed a real-life friend of his (are virtual friends any less real?) after said friend sold a virtual sword of his on eBay. What happens in those games are already a part of real life, Bing said.

Other topics he discussed were virtual reality, and integrating technology with the human body, for instance through microchips, speakers, microphones, input devices like keyboards etc. which could for instance let us be the cell-phones ourselves and not have to carry around a separate device. Interesting, but a bit scary, especially when thinking about the potential for abuse by Big Brother (TM). You can leave your cellphone behind today (though few people do), but if the cellphone is a part of your body – what can you do?

Read the entire article on for a more detailed summary of his talk (Norwenglish version, courtesy of Google)

The Dresden Files

Forgive me, Rincewind, but you’re no longer my favourite wizard (though you are still my favourite wizzard, mind).

Some time last year, a friend of mine and I were discussing Fantasy authors/series, and he suggested Jim Butcher‘s The Dresden Files to me. It took me a while to actually pick up the first book, but after I started reading it I didn’t put it back down until I reached the last page, and I’ve since then reached book 9 in the series (with two more to go before I catch up to the author and have to start waiting for books… *grumble*).

In short, Harry Dresden is the most awesome wizard ever. And Jim Butcher, buddy; you’ve just climbed to position #2 on my list of favourite fantasy authors (position #1 is still securely held by Pratchett).