Monday, August 30, 2010

Part le deuxieme

14:56 - [O7]Garth: I was typing, about that Thorim 2.0 fight
14:56 - [O7]Garth: It's like Twin Valkyrs meets 4 horseman in 1 boss
14:56 - Alexis: Hmm, yeah
14:57 - Alexis: I loved tanking 4H as a tree and I loved mage tanking in the HKMaulgar fight
14:58 - [O7]Garth: You could make it with a teleport to start of gauntlet kind of thing
14:58 - Alexis: I liked the Solarian fight where any DPS can kill you
14:58 - Alexis: It seems a good thing for raid flavour when the DPS have real responsibility, besides their rotation
14:58 - [O7]Garth: Group 1 fighting boss G2 fighting the adds. When you start fighting Thorim 2.0 You have a +150% damage buff. And it slowly diminishes
14:59 - Alexis: Yup that also occurred to me
14:59 - Alexis: I was thinking of ways you could make people want to do 4/6 or 3/7 setups as they got good
14:59 - [O7]Garth: G2 has to battle through the arena to Take over and start with 150% buff again. Once they enter G1 gets teleported out to the start of a gauntlet and it starts over
14:59 - [O7]Garth: So if the gauntlet is slacking, damage will be low (too low/enrage)
14:59 - Alexis: Ahh I see, not what I was thinking at all
15:00 - Alexis: I like it though
15:00 - [O7]Garth: Yeah, the latter just popped in :) didn't read your part yet :D
15:00 - Alexis: I loved the Thorim 1.0 beginning part too, where the arena team are embattled and slowly getting more desperate for their friends to charge to the rescue
15:00 - Alexis: really cool social engineering
15:00 - [O7]Garth: Yeah
15:01 - Alexis: Hmm - an extension to the raid-only idea. You could charge per boss. So at any time you can go "F2P" by no longer buying bosses. Package old "tiers" into cheap bundles and eventually just give them away basic
15:01 - [O7]Garth: The arena/gauntlet part was the "epic" part though, Thorim was cake, unfortunatly
15:01 - Alexis: It sounds expensive but if you made each boss say £3-4, it'd be hard to resist
15:01 - [O7]Garth: F2P?
15:01 - Alexis: and, it'd cost less than a wow sub!
15:02 - Alexis: Yeah. F2P is good because lots of gamers are poor
15:02 - [O7]Garth: what is it?
15:02 - Alexis: Oh, free to play
15:03 - Alexis: The game company wins because on average people spend more than they would on a sub
15:03 - Alexis: The people win because they get the flexibility to keep playing at no cost if they're broke one month
15:03 - [O7]Garth: Ah, I like F2P:D
15:04 - Alexis: A wow sub is £9/month btw. You could probably charge £5 / boss, with a base rate of 2 / month + bonuses now and then
15:04 - Alexis: That model would really inspire you to create bosses people want to buy as well :)
15:04 - [O7]Garth: only "problem" I see, is if it's with guilds, you need to buy it, you can't do boss X when 9 out of 10 people have it. Peer pressure?
15:05 - Alexis: Peer pressure? Did I build peer pressure into my pricing model? Oh dear. That was naughty.
15:05 - Alexis: *snicker*
15:05 - [O7]Garth: O_o
15:06 - Alexis: No guild runs 10mans with only 10 people. Holidays happen, poor periods happen
15:06 - [O7]Garth: the F2P also lets players make their own bosses
15:06 - Alexis: Huh?
15:06 - [O7]Garth: I mean
15:06 - [O7]Garth: They'll suggest bosses you can use, so the development team can be small
15:07 - [O7]Garth: I'm drifting off now :)
15:07 - [O7]Garth: Back on topic!
15:07 - [O7]Garth: Would the fee be needed in the first place?
15:07 - Alexis: Yeah encouraging suggestions would be a good idea... providing you don't make foolish promises ofc
15:08 - [O7]Garth: I know nothing about gaming and development, and games need people to keep it updated etc. But The less people have to pay the more will play. Alien swarm is a games almost everybody in my steamlist has downloaded and played
15:08 - [O7]Garth: And still do
15:08 - [O7]Garth: well not daily, but sometimes :d
15:09 - Alexis: You could give away 10 bosses free, probably. Kind of an "infinite trial"
15:09 - Alexis: I don't like the box cost of wow at all
15:10 - Alexis: As I see it, getting people to install your game is the hard part because you have very little influence over their behaviour at that point - just marketing
15:10 - Alexis: Once you're in, it becomes about the quality of your product + your ongoing pricing strategy
15:12 - Alexis: So yeah free trial because everyone likes something for nothing. Once they've sampled the candy and got over the initial learning curve, buying the latest boss for £4-5 so you can play with non-noobs is a natural
15:12 - Alexis: By that point they know how to play, have hopefully had a great time they want more of and have already spent money
15:13 - [O7]Garth: True
15:13 - Alexis: Spending the next amount of money is easier, because they have already decided your product is worthwhile and they want to validate that decision
15:13 - Alexis: Plus hopefully they have started to make social connections
15:13 - [O7]Garth: They'll be hooked, hopefully
15:13 - Alexis: That is more or less what I am saying, yes :D
15:14 - [O7]Garth: And then the moneymaking can commence *evil laughter*
15:14 - Alexis: I'm no sales guru but I know putting big barriers to entry is poison
15:14 - [O7]Garth: One of the reasons I'm not buying SC2
15:15 - Alexis: Hmm... SC2 for me is a terrible business. Then, they didn't make it for me
15:15 - Alexis: It has a massive sticker cost and immense learning curve... you have to REALLY want to play it
15:16 - [O7]Garth: Yeah
15:16 - [O7]Garth: And once you bought it, you kinda want the Zerg and Protoss part as well
15:16 - Alexis: Hmm - that didn't really work on me
15:16 - Alexis: You can play all 3 races in MP with the first box
15:17 - Alexis: I assume they'll be introducing new MP units for all races in each expansion; the SP terran is much richer than the MP
15:18 - [O7]Garth: Oh, only played a couple of Terran SP levels
15:18 - [O7]Garth: New units.... perhaps
15:18 - [O7]Garth: I think just story mode's
15:18 - Alexis: My impression is that most of the playerbase want to play MP
15:19 - [O7]Garth: Yeah, probably
15:19 - Alexis: The SP is to hook in people who don't realise they want to play MP yet
15:19 - Alexis: On that basis, they have to enrich the MP every time or MP-ers just won't buy the expansion - while consuming infrastructure
15:20 - [O7]Garth: But Story is important as well for (blizzards player base, I think) So having done the SP will be fun/interesting/ good to learn it (new things?)
15:20 - [O7]Garth: Well, SC1 is still being played (prior to SC2 release that is)
15:20 - Alexis: Oh sure story is important, everyone will play the SP
15:21 - Alexis: but MP is the lasting appeal and if people are making a buy/nobuy decision, zero MP extension is going to weight that decision heavily
15:22 - [O7]Garth: For a MP?
15:22 - Alexis: huh?
15:23 - [O7]Garth: WEll
15:23 - [O7]Garth: I mean, single players need to be extended to keep players interested
15:23 - [O7]Garth: But afaik, MP's have that problem far less
15:23 - [O7]Garth: Everytime you play it's different
15:24 - Alexis: MPers will keep playing no matter what
15:24 - [O7]Garth: Making the need for new content less
15:24 - [O7]Garth: Yeah
15:24 - Alexis: but the question here is, how do you make them buy the next box?
15:24 - Alexis: it has to have SP in it, but if that's all there is, I think a lot of MPers will keep playing but not buy the box
15:24 - [O7]Garth: Ah
15:24 - [O7]Garth: Right
15:25 - [O7]Garth: But if you have 1-2 extra units in the box
15:26 - Alexis: then anyone who doesn't buy it is at a handicap
15:26 - [O7]Garth: There will be a problem when people play with or without box. It'll be unfair/
15:26 - [O7]Garth: Yeah
15:26 - Alexis: which is UNTHINKABLE to any pro gamer
15:26 - [O7]Garth: Or make different "ladders" worlds" for them?
15:26 - Alexis: Why would Blizz do that?
15:27 - Alexis: I mean unless they don't like making ridiculous mountains of money
15:27 - Alexis: History appears to show to the contrary...
15:27 - Alexis: Some players might complain, but - screw them, cheapass gits
15:27 - Alexis: I think it's pretty well understood that if you don't buy the product you get an inferior service
15:28 - [O7]Garth: Heh
15:28 - Alexis: You can choose not to buy TBC/LK, but Blizz don't go out of their way to help make that a sensible option
15:28 - [O7]Garth: If you do buy it: more monies, if you don't buy it, stop playing and still have money from that first box you mean?
15:29 - [O7]Garth: Yeah true
15:29 - Alexis: Well - you buy the first box, get a certain amount, are happy. Yay
15:29 - Alexis: You either buy the 2nd box and get more content, simple.
15:30 - Alexis: Or you don't buy the 2nd box and keep the same amount of content. You're probably less happy than before because now relatively, you have less to everyone else; and most people have moved on
15:30 - Alexis: That's really not Blizz' fault though, keeping up with the crowd always entails a cost
15:31 - Alexis: If you have some very good friends they might agree not to buy the box either and that's your decision
15:32 - [O7]Garth: Hmm, I guess :/
15:32 - [O7]Garth: Hard to argue against that
15:32 - Alexis: I have to post something - see you soon

MMO ideas

13:36 - [O7]Garth:
13:37 - [O7]Garth: Wrong one
14:12 - Alexis: that was pretty impressive
14:12 - [O7]Garth: Yeah
14:13 - [O7]Garth: And the speedrun achievement for that one is 4.5 minutes, so they beat it by more than 90 seconds
14:13 - Alexis: heh
14:15 - Alexis: there's gotta be a way to mix up achievements + ladders. And a way to present it so knowing you're the 5,382,786th best player doesn't feel quite so crushing
14:16 - Alexis: like "You are in the top 19.82% of players"
14:17 - [O7]Garth: Uh-huh
14:17 - [O7]Garth: Top 20 sounds good enough
14:17 - [O7]Garth: Are there ladders?
14:17 - Alexis: Say the LK kill
14:18 - Alexis: Allocate a certain amount of points overall; you get a %age of them compared to how fast you do it between the best and worst scoring times
14:19 - Alexis: So Paragon get the whole 1000 points since presumably they've done it so many times they have the fastest time
14:19 - Alexis: We get like 400 points for doing it slowly
14:20 - Alexis: Maybe a bonus for doing it with lower buffs
14:20 - [O7]Garth: And I presume Blizz has set a standard then. Killtime: 13 minutes average dps 8K average hps 5K etc
14:21 - Alexis: I assume they do, but I'm figuring Blizz just says 1k points available and the fastest time gets 1k points
14:21 - Alexis: Everyone slower gets some amount less
14:21 - Alexis: Until the slowest run that is someone's fastest, who gets say 100 points
14:23 - Alexis: There's a certain mindset that "progression" guilds have that "friendly" guilds don't, allowing gradations of achievement might
14:23 - Alexis: help make people think of efficiency
14:23 - Alexis: maybe 500-800 points as a min would be better
14:23 - [O7]Garth: How to calculate gear though? better gear is faster, or is it all about speed?
14:23 - Alexis: Gear is ignored
14:24 - [O7]Garth: I best isn't fastest. Or are we just talking about speed now?
14:24 - Alexis: The fastest time will go down over time, as the top guild practices + gears up
14:24 - Alexis: Hmm - I'm equating best + fastest, since you need to a kill to even rank
14:24 - [O7]Garth: I mean, the Timor station speedrun was done with grenade launchers (level 27) what if you can do it without, at alower level
14:24 - Alexis: Oh and I'm talking WoW :)
14:25 - [O7]Garth: Yeah, I know, but I couldn't finda way to make it explain with wow :d
14:25 - Alexis: That's because gear in AS = spells, qualitative differences. Gear in wow = more of the same, quantitive differences.
14:26 - Alexis: So gear in wow can be neglected for speed ranking purposes, but not so much in AS... for AS I'd assume everyone is max stars + level :p
14:27 - [O7]Garth: Those guys? I guess :D
14:27 - [O7]Garth: but yeah, everybody will have the same gear etc
14:27 - Alexis: Yeah
14:27 - Alexis: It gives me another thought
14:28 - Alexis: What if you could take WoW, strip the raids out and stand that up as a game?
14:28 - Alexis: So like in the lobby you pick a class, gear build, talent build etc. Then you just pick a 'map' and boom
14:28 - [O7]Garth: A co-op boss killing game?
14:28 - Alexis: Yeah
14:29 - Alexis: Like SC2 MP has no open world, no research, you just pick a race and go
14:29 - Alexis: What if in WoW you could just pick a build and go?
14:29 - [O7]Garth: hmm I don't know, If we keep the same difficulty in boss fights etc, and keep loot/progression in the game.
14:29 - [O7]Garth: I can think of a problem
14:30 - [O7]Garth: If you make it that simple, the game becomes fast
14:30 - [O7]Garth: And WoW/Raids isn't about speed, you need coordination, time, communication etc
14:30 - Alexis: Nah no loot - you pick your ilvl as difficulty level
14:30 - Alexis: People do all that for SC too
14:30 - [O7]Garth: Speedy games don't like it cause people join/leave when they want
14:31 - Alexis: PUGs would be pretty horrendous I grant you :)
14:31 - [O7]Garth: I mean, if you want to do the LK you need to play with friends to learn it slow
14:31 - [O7]Garth: Or it will be crapfest
14:31 - Alexis: Well - that's just like joining a PUG
14:31 - [O7]Garth: Yeah
14:31 - Alexis: yeah, anyone half decent will join a guild
14:32 - [O7]Garth: But then it doesn't become a loose game like AS or Borderlands or something else that's fast and guildless
14:32 - Alexis: THat's not the idea
14:32 - [O7]Garth: Aha
14:32 - Alexis: You can't play coop SC2 at a high level without friends either
14:33 - [O7]Garth: SC2 is starcraft right?
14:33 - Alexis: THe idea is to get rid of flying around, having to enchant gear, having to level up etc etc
14:33 - Alexis: yeah
14:34 - Alexis: If a games company didn't have to make quests, open world etc they could do so much more raid content
14:34 - [O7]Garth: Hmm, it does sound interesting, but I do see some "problems"
14:34 - [O7]Garth: That's true
14:34 - [O7]Garth: Did'nt calculate that in yet
14:34 - Alexis: Basically WoW is 3-5 games all in one
14:34 - Alexis: which is nice because it gives you a change, but causes friction too - like I will never get the pvp achieves
14:35 - [O7]Garth: but people who play a game need to be entertained by new content or challenges or different mode's, achievements etc.
14:35 - Alexis: If they could split the games out, I could play Leveling when I feel like it, Raiding when I feel like that
14:35 - [O7]Garth: Or the hunt for loot
14:35 - [O7]Garth: I mean Ignis can be so dull etc, but it's being done cause of the loot and when you get it, you're happy.
14:35 - Alexis: Achievements
14:36 - [O7]Garth: With no loot, no journey to/from, you will be bored with it after a couple of raids, so new content need to be out fast
14:36 - Alexis: I mean you could throw some unlocks etc in to give extra motivation for initial tries, but the ultimate goal is speed
14:37 - Alexis: What if instead of releasing 14 bosses at once, they released 1 boss / 2 weeks?
14:37 - Alexis: I think that might even be slower than Blizz
14:38 - [O7]Garth: 1 boss in 2 weeks.
14:38 - [O7]Garth: Hmm not enough I think
14:38 - Alexis: You would focus hard on each boss, pushing your time down, but never get totally bored with the game because in average 1 week, there's a new boss
14:38 - [O7]Garth: Does the old one disappear?
14:38 - Alexis: and you can always go back and work on old ones a bit more if you're hardcore and want to push your score
14:38 - [O7]Garth: Ah right
14:38 - Alexis: That's another beautiful thing
14:39 - Alexis: Because of the gear/level treadmill, bosses go out of date in wow
14:39 - Alexis: if you tie all that to a difficulty level instead, your content never dies
14:39 - Alexis: I mean... some of it will start looking pretty gash... but people don't have to do it
14:39 - [O7]Garth: I like that
14:40 - Alexis: 1/2wks could be the 'base rate', with bonus boss weekends
14:40 - [O7]Garth: but, maybe build a difficulty level in it as well?
14:40 - [O7]Garth: Like you cant go to boss X without level Y
14:40 - Alexis: Yeah the biggest issue I see is teaching people to play
14:40 - [O7]Garth: Oh wait, you mentioned unlocks already :D
14:41 - Alexis: :D
14:41 - [O7]Garth: Training rooms?
14:41 - Alexis: Yeah. Simple bosses with restricted skill sets
14:41 - [O7]Garth: Wow Is ofcourse a big trainingroom to rest skills and spells and other stuff
14:41 - [O7]Garth: Choosing your talent from scrap is hard
14:42 - Alexis: Yet, a very poor one. You can't really learn to tank while levelling
14:42 - Alexis: and healing is nonrepresentative, most of the fun/difficulty comes from multiple targets
14:42 - [O7]Garth: Could make it more mobile though, Not all of them require a tank, more of a berserker(borderlands) kind of class?
14:43 - Alexis: Well... I like the tank-cooldown model
14:43 - [O7]Garth: Less complicated, more with synergy
14:43 - Alexis: Imagine if every DPS class had an Evasion equivalent, and a taunt
14:44 - Alexis: the evasions wouldn't have to be identical... some could be selfhealing, some absorbs, some magic-resist, some armor - etc
14:44 - [O7]Garth: That will be chaos
14:44 - Alexis: Until you learn to control it :)
14:44 - [O7]Garth: people will taunt from eachother etc
14:44 - Alexis: that's the idea
14:44 - [O7]Garth: How many people?
14:45 - Alexis: 5-10
14:45 - Alexis: We're mixing up two ideas now
14:45 - [O7]Garth: Cause, it's hard enough, at times to get a good 3 man interuption rotation going, let alone a 5-10 man taunt rotation
14:45 - [O7]Garth: I'm not negative on all it, I just someone who thinks about negative sides of stuff before the positive side btw :)
14:46 - Alexis: I imagine most encounters would be multiple boss, so you'd break into 2-3 teams and have some people sit out of taunt rotation
14:46 - Alexis: It's easy to get excited about game ideas, much harder to defend them
14:46 - Alexis: There's so much cool stuff Blizz have tried, that the playerbase just broke, lol
14:47 - Alexis: For a tough fight - imagine twin emperors
14:47 - Alexis: You have 3 people tanking one; 3 the other; 4 handling adds
14:47 - Alexis: at set points, the 3 teams swap because they've been debuffed
14:48 - Alexis: or you could have a thorim like map - 5 people at the bottom, 3 on thorim, 2 on adds
14:48 - Alexis: 5 people up top just DPSing like nuts
14:48 - Alexis: at a given point, the top 5 have to click an orb and jump down, in time to let the bottom 5 escape
14:49 - [O7]Garth: Escape?
14:50 - Alexis: Up to the top :)
14:50 - Alexis: Say the boss has an evil damage aura and the orb gives you a limited time resist buff
14:50 - Alexis: with a cooldown period which forces you to use 2 teams, so as to get 110% time coverage

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Acid skull

There's this really cute skull splat I keep seeing everywhere; I think it's some clothing company icon or whatever.

Anyway here is my imitation! I got ArtRage with my tablet which is actually pretty cool, it complements the GIMP nicely. It has different brush textures and when you use the paintbrush, the default option is for it to mix with the paint already present. I imagine for Real Artists Who Can Paint it's super good, for me it's still fun! You can turn anything into a stencil so I have this skull as a stencil now, that's how I made the dropshadow. All the green was added in the GIMP.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Tinky Weatherwhistle

Appearance: Your average double-pink-bunched gnome. She has a fondness for check print and leather.

Power: Humming her discordant yet beautiful songs makes mechanicals fall into line and the laws of physics bend to fit her can-do attitude to engineering.

Quote: "I need more MATERIALS!" "Make way for PROGRESS!"

Combat: She spends most of combat in the bubble of her Macrognomic Shell. This is usually humanoid, but no bets on what sneaky payloads the limbs might be carrying! The acoustics give Tinky a peculiarly deep voice.

Travel: It takes a while to put together, but with a rucksack full of material Tinky can transform the Macrognomic Shell into the Inevitable Sphere of Destruction. It looks a bit like a sea urchin and uses steam power to propel the spines. Acceleration and handling aren't all that, but the top speed isn't bad! So far it has killed one hedgehog.

Engineering: accomplished with the aid of five little autognomatons. Occasionally they wander off but usually they're safely packaged in Tinky's rucksack or compartments in the back of the Macrognomic Shell.

Balance: Tinky's inventions are extremely flexible, but they do take a while to put together and occasionally some special components or additional power sources may have to be improvised.

Secret, the first: Tinky has a real, real tiny, Sphere of Annihilation. The vacuum it generates powers the extremely gradual collapse of a many-layered metal sphere, which in turn powers many of Tinky's inventions. Every few months she returns to HQ and plugs it in to recharge. It has never escaped.

Secret, the second: Tinky has an evil twin called Tonks. Tonks has a fondness for stripes and impractical vagaries of silk.

Secret, the third: Tinky is deathly afraid of air travel. She does not know this yet.

Credit: Yes, this is principally a ripoff of Girl Genius, but with a drop of WoW. The Inevitable Sphere was all me, and the Macrognomic Shell is more of a species in GG than a suit. The D+D Arabian Nights had a clockwork wizard, Tinky is adapted for a more action-oriented, narrativist game.

Why, oh god why? So I can illustrate it! She should be fun to draw.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Random blarghing, now with pictures!

HB+0.5 has made me want to post random shit again.

Today I reread all my mortgage documentation (mature and responsible) then spent half the night on that blog (irrational funclinging). On the plus side I don't feel guilty or like I've let myself down, just rather puzzled over wtf I'm trying to accomplish. I have faith in me. Me has a great plan, I'm sure and any time me would like to let me in on it that'd be cool.

I spent most of yesterday night reading incredibly positive life-affirming blog posts from positive life-coachy people. The old barf reflex has not entirely subsided but I figure maybe I can drown it with sunshine. The Cartoonival of Wisdom is well worth Googling. Amy Hoy's Slash7 got me onto the whole thing, I enjoyed copylicious as well as some others.

My drawing tablet is languishing. I feel guilt towards my drawing tablet. Dilbert, XKCD and HB+0.5 have clearly proven bad art is funnier than good art and way funnier than no art. Therefore I am potentially fully equipped to enter the world of illustrated blogging. I'm not 100% where unrecognisable art comes in. I did rip off some image I found on Google to make a weather sign which I was idly musing about tattooing on my chest. The idea is "sometimes there are clouds but the sun is always there", which is stilton but might genuinely help me stay this side of murderous.

On that note, I've really been diving into Buddhism again and I hope it isn't just a freakish little phoenix effect thing. So much shit has happened in the last few years I've kind of given up any expectations of the future. On the other hand I'm still working, that's getting easier and I'm buying a freaking house. I have no idea how long I'll be able to maintain any of this but maybe it's okay. No matter how bad it seems I'm unlikely to suffer spontaneous organ failure or seismovoracity. I may not be Stephen Hawking but people much dumberer get along just fine.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Clinging to the skandhas

I have written this as an exam for myself. I had thought of the skandhas as a mental model and not applied them to ethics, ie the study of saving oneself (autosoteriology?!). Learning that attachment to them causes suffering, I set out to explore how. My answers are not necessarily as useful as they could be.

The five skandhas are (my choice of terms):
  • Substance, what is

  • Sensation, attraction or repulsion

  • Conception, the modelling as objects

  • Mental formation, our habits of thought

  • Consciousness, that which observes

Substance in the presence of Consciousness leads to Sensation, Conception and Mental Formation. They cause us suffering in correlation to our attachment to them, that is our participation in them. We can be free of this suffering by:
  • Recognising the impermanent, relative and composed nature of all substance (for Substance and Conception).

  • Recognising there is no inherent good or evil, appeal or repulsion, and appreciating all things for their roles.

  • Freeing ourselves from our preconceptions and seeing each moment anew.

  • Observing the full contingency of our consciousness on our experience.

Mostly this feels like a reflection on the three marks of existence as applied to our own minds. We free ourselves from attachment to the skandhas by fully internalising our appreciation of the marks, so that as the skandhas arise we appreciate them and let them go.

The last one is tricky for me. Consciousness-as-observer is impermanent (we sleep and die) but it feels unchanging. My best formulation of the emptiness of consciousness is that it is contingent on the other skandhas, it is an illusion conjured by their illusory existence. There is no observer, the sensation conception and formations simply arise. When they do not, when we are asleep, the observer appears to disappear - it was never there.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Couple of things for Mike

Double brace initializers:

The JSON technique is really simple... use a handrolled or library JSONBuilder on the server to spit JSON onto the client, include some JS which on DOM-load replaces some div's innerhtml with HTML rendered from the JSON. Hang observers off it (remembering not to actually observe until you've set the innerhtml, so the tags exist) and regenerate the whole shaboodle any time the data changes. Never manipulate the generated HTML.

It's great for complex widgets (a smart table) and equally good for making simple widgets smart. For example, restricting the options available in a select according to a mapping from some other select's current value.