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comment How to deal with “level design creep?”
+1 for #3. Having your first level be the least appealing one could indeed be catastrophic.
comment How to make some monsters appear more dangerous than others?
+1: Depending on the type of game, this may make the game much more fun to play. In some types of games (and for some types of players) it might be considered irritating not knowing everything about the monster beforehand though.
comment How can I find an optimum set of colors for 10 players?
You might want to check out which has several lists of colors that takes color blindness into account.
comment Handling player logoff and logon in a persistent world without breaking immersion
@Alex: I don't really know how to explain it tersely enough, but Stephenson makes it seem like a quite plausible way of doing it. In short, playing costs money, especially if you want a character that is fun to play (fighter as opposed to miner/farmer). You can solve this by either paying or also having a few mining/farming characters who will earn money for you. Having uncontrolled miners around gives the fighters someone to raid, and server load is justified by the earnings the company gets from the cash flow generated by the farmers (the game currency being exchangeable for real money).
comment Handling player logoff and logon in a persistent world without breaking immersion
@Alex: You should read the book, its well worth a read. Like you said, there is nothing to stop you from creating as many characters as you are allowed/pay for and setting them to auto-pilot and logging in once a week. But like I said, they will not be working as efficiently as if you logged in and controlled them yourself. Think of the characters on auto-pilot as NPCs and it makes more sense. (In the book, the company actually encourages people to do this since they have integrated farming into the game concept, a bit like mining in EVE.)
comment Most efficient language for rewriting a tile-based board game as a video game?
Python can definitely be useful for a lot of tasks. If you want to distribute, PyInstaller is an alternative to py2exe and has always worked perfectly for me.
comment How do you cope mentally with one very long piece of work
+1, you HAVE to split a big refactorization into small chunks. I completely agree that it is the only way to complete a massive refactorization. Ideally, change the code chunk by chunk, making sure each change leaves the system working (this will reduce the number of bugs a lot). If this is impossible for the full functionality, at least do it for some core functionality. Changing everything at once is a sure way of creating tons of hard to find bugs.
comment Is Java viable for serious game development?
As some people have already mentioned, only using one language will probably be quite cumbersome. Quite a lot of games use a low-level engine written in C/C++ and use some kind of scripting language for creating content (WoW uses Lua scripts IIRC).