I HAS PC Life and Interwebs

16Apr/141

MMO Information / Stats

I love information and believe that all MMOs should be regularly publishing information that is only available to them. This would get rid of the "what ifs" and curiosities of the general population. It would also get rid of the mis-information. Is 50% of the "tanks" a paladin in the end game? Why *not* share that information? It seems most companies are overprotective of their population, class, race and spec mix - for fear that it would somehow influence the population base. The truth is, in the absence of true information players will just guess, hypothesize, and collect as accurate as they can - and still make their own conclusions regardless.

Just give it to them. Give it to us.

One of my favorite sites (now WRIP) was a WoW datamining site. This site wrote scripts to pull information from Blizzard's armory site. Why make someone sort that out? Provide it! Worst case scenario is that players will jump to the same conclusions they would without the right information (anyway) - best case scenario, we have the opportunity to have a conversation based on facts. That site provided so much perspective that Blizzard refused to - why give the kudos to the individual? Let the company provide the 100% accurate information, AND get the respect and accuracy out there.

This site is interesting, thanks to it! And based off of this conversation, I definitely wanted to share!

http://watchwildstar.com/census

Obviously the information isn't accurate as the game isn't even launched, but interesting to see people's intentions. ALSO it will be very interesting to see 6months in if that is a nice cross section of accuracy. I am thankful that Wildstar devs have previously shared beta weekend population stats and hopefully this is a trend that continues. I will respect Carbine that much more for it.

9Apr/142

WildStar Pre-Order Sales Slump?

Not sure if this is a bad sign, or if they are just trying to pump up box sales. I always thought launch time was the best time to get a full pop of box price? I only have a free CURSE account (used to help manage my WoW addons back in the day) and I received this email today.

My big question is: How does this make people feel who already paid full price? As an FYI, curse had 300,000 keys to give away, so this email probably went out to 300,000 people.

Did you enjoy exploring Nexus during the Wildstar Weekend Beta Test? You're in luck! Click here and use the code below to recieve 22% off your purchase of Wildstar from Green Man Gaming! Act now to redeem this offer and get to Nexus before it's too late!*

XXXX-XXXXXXX-XXXXXX

Already registered at Green Man Gaming? Simply log into your account and use the code to activate your Wildstar discount!

Not registered? Click here to register!

*This voucher is valid until 1600 UTC April 16th, 2014. Valid against Wildstar ONLY on PC Download from Green Man Gaming. Cannot be used in conjunction with another voucher. Offer may be subject to change.

The 22% works out to a $15ish discount before taxes, so you get a second month of sub fee technically free. This might be enough for me to justify the purchase, so kudos to good marketing. Still, my main concern is why they are discounting a HUGE launch, with big visibility - arguably one of the biggest launches of the year! Why discount that?

9Apr/143

Ying to the Yang (Yo)

I have been playing EQ a lot. It's a fun comparative after just playing WildStar for the weekend. I have recently spent time being nostalgic about starter zones in EQ, and decided it would be neat to try out EQ from a new player's perspective. And that means starting off in Gloomingdeep Mines.

I rolled an Enchanter (one of my favorites) and was ready to experience the 'new' EQ.  Some of this is going to be WildStar comparative. EQ arguably does a better hand holding job through the early levels, with a methodical explanation of the systems available from hotbars to questing. Wildstar threw you in with a "oh, you know MMOs" mentality - whereas EQ treats you like you aren't that smart. As they should! (no offence). I also found EQ is less chaotic, more focused. Do one thing at a time. As mentioned in my WildStar impressions - you need Ritalin. Too much going on too fast. EQ starting zone is much better paced. Challenge! What? I actually died a couple times pre level 5. You have to be careful. Even with a Merc. No such worry in WildStar, where you can play eating a sandwich while watching Doctor Who episodes and still move the levels along. One thing that gets harder to overlook is the graphics are so ugly in EQ. We all know this, but after driving around in the graphics equivalent of being in a Pixar movie, it's hard to go to Hercules.

Think

Versus

And that might even be too kind. More like c64 era graphics. Anyway. Ugly. All that being said, I can't recommend EQ to a new person entering the MMO genre, and I LOVE how slick WildStar weekend was.

I  hope some of the old vets still check EQ out. There are always people on (and I am really curious what kind of income it still generates).  The biggest takeaway I have from playing EQ again? EQ has more "flavor". As a level 3 enchanter I can illusion into all sorts of things, from rocks, to other races.. there are a LOT of spells that are mostly useless you would think - but that adds so much flavor and immersion. I bolded that section because I read a great write up over at Murf's (who also links to the original thought starter) about WoW class homogenization - and that is what WildStar, among a lot of other games, is missing.

Fluff.

Bear with me on that thought. I have read some tales that Elder Scrolls Online rewards people for going off of the beaten path, and those are the types of things that can make an average MMO great. Are the 14 spells my level 4 enchanter can memorize all used for "optimal" rotations? No. Do they provide opportunities for fun, engagement, roleplaying and gameplay? Yes. From my experience, those are the things missing out in today's MMO offerings - they are so optimized there isn't discovery or room for adventure. It's kind of like taking art class out of elementary school curriculums because it doesn't pay off in the end. But what is the world really like without art? What is any world without it?

While that is a very broad and sweeping generalization (admittedly!) I am disappointed in Blizzard's decision to take innervate away from druids. Nerf it to hell if you like, but that has been one of the class defining abilities since launch in WoW (and I know, because I had a raid spot waiting for me because I was one of those rare druids in vanilla wow). Hunter's mark? Oh, that hunter ability that also is part and parcel with what hunters are. Let's get rid of that too.  There is nothing wrong with a little bloat - those things don't have to be on hotbars, but leave them in the spell books - that way players can still play with them when (and if) they want to. Are they getting rid of that Eye of Kilrogg from Warlocks too? I am not trying to live in the past - I don't even remember the last time I hit innervate when I played WoW. I just dislike the thought that anything unique (see: Shaman Totems in WoW, buffs, etc.) gets homogenized out.

Hell, what if McDonald's got rid of the Big Mac?

Innovate like crazy. Move ahead. Just don't forget the things that got you here (there) in the first place.

Here is a good example of how to do it right. Announced, and in testing, is moving Rogue and Feral Druid combo points to the player (instead of the target). This might address why rogues are the least played class in WoW these days (beating a dead horse - but they were once kings of single target DPS, homogenized out of it..) This is a good example of keeping the class core with combo points and fixing around it. It would probably just be a lot easier to drop combo points and give them mana, or rage, or focus - things they have already built systems around. But that would suck, right? Bland and blah is not the answer.

8Apr/140

Draft Necro – Hearthstone Classes

Like many bloggers I have a whole suite of post "drafts" - ones that I start and never finish. Periodically I am going to revive these posts, and finish them (or parts of them) even if they aren't entirely relevant. Why? Why not! Sometimes I fire off a single thought (or several paragraphs) and then get pulled in separate directions, sometimes I just forget. These posts deserve to be finished (dammit!) - The dammit was for some sort of emphasis. Visually, I hand-fisted my desk when I said that (for relevancy). I will call these "Draft Necro" posts, in honor of when a forum Thread Necromancer does their thing.

I may even editorialize my own posts. Why did I write it? What was I thinking? Why didn't I finish it?

This post, Hearthstone Classes, came to me during the Hearthstone Beta Test.  This post started getting written January 3, 2014.

The main crux of the post was this:

I am shocked you can't personalize in Hearthstone. Not a lot of effort is in the character art (portraits) and I'd like to choose my favorite shaman when playing a shaman, favorite warrior, (etc.). I know they chose iconic classes but I just felt there was an opportunity here to make it more personal and interesting for players.

Hearthstone is a fun card game, and the complaint above (while minor) still rings true to me. The best part is that there isn't even that much costs associated with it - just static artwork! At the end of the day, the minor complaint didn't feel like it was a whole post in its own or really that worthwhile to discuss in the first place - not a lot of people are talking about Hearthstone in my circle of blogs, and admittedly its a pretty minor issue.

Anyway, I cleaned this one out of my drafts box without the delete box for a change - and now trying to sort out whether or not I should have just deleted it after all =)

7Apr/140

Girls Gone WildStar

Well, my first WildStar "Beta" weekend behind me! I don't do reviews but I love chatting about games so I am going to do a pretty simple format and some random thoughts below. What did I learn? Let's run some rankings/meters! These meters are not in any specific order or weighting.

  • Slick Rick Meter - 9.5/10. The game runs smooth. Animations are good and responsive. Barely any noticeable lag - which will make or kill this game with the telegraphs. Things have to run right.
  • Zoolander Meter - "Its hard to be ridiculously good looking" - 15/10. Everyone has the ideal body - the rock lobsters, space zombies, Alvin and the chipmunks - everyone except the psycho chincillas. They took badonkadonk to a whole new level (and there is no way to de-badonkadonk your character - the only thing you can change is facial features and colors. Your lady-characters are going to shake what your momma made you no matter what. Male characters are always pointing towards the beach.
  • Magazine Meter (subscription) - 3/10. There is nothing new here that would warrant paying a subscription in a sea of non-subscription games. The Secret World, Guildwars 2, etc. etc. etc. I am a bit puzzled here for all the good in the game what the motivation is. Does a dev team finally think having less people paying more monthly is a good model (which it is - if you don't want millions of players for marketing fodder). Do the devs believe that the subscription will make the community stronger by keeping out tourists? Do the accountants realize that you still make more money getting 6 months of that sweet, sweet sub nectar before going F2P? We'll learn all this (and more) - I am really quite interested in seeing how it plays out. Has NcSoft ever shipped a successful subscription title?
  • Cheers Meter (where everybody knows your name) 5/10. No community builders here, with cross realm LFGs for PVP and Dungeons in at launch. They do have the option to only group you with your server (for a longer queue time) so will be neat to see if that is ever used. They do have group quests when levelling so you see the familiar (LF1M - Sloppy Jehosa) which is a nice touch. We'll see how long that lasts before starter areas empty and quests can't get completed. (For the record, I like quests that require people to talk. Even just for 20 seconds.)
  • Dennis Rodman Meter (unique classes) 6/10. One weapon for classes. That's it! If you are an Engineer you get a rifle. Forever. That's it. Spellslinger? Two pistols. That's it. And everyone your level will have the exact same ones. I didn't really notice this (through the first 10 levels of all the classes...) but I am curious if that EVER gets old. They do look different. (different sizes of rifles, colors, etc.) Six different classes feels light, but may be a good play. The good news is (next bullet point). Even worse is I saw the end game raid sets (you tube it) and they all look like Macross Saga. Mechs!
  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Meter (depth) - 9/10. There is a LOT going under the hood. At first, I felt that the game was actually perfect for consoles. As you level and grow you see  AMPs, abilities, and ability points - there is huge customization options (again, UNDER the hood). Everyone will be looking like they are driving a Tesla - but how it drives is entirely up to you (left hand side of the road, hovercraft, 6 wheels, you name it.)
  • Bartle Meter 8/10. They actually have you choose a secondary levelling path (Settler, Explorer, Soldier, Scientist) and I really enjoyed each of them (except the scientist. Scanning isn't my thing). It adds a bit of flavor and side missions, with some perks!
  • Ritalin Meter (ADD) 12/10. Wildstar should come with at least one bottle. There is so much going on, so quickly, all around you - challenges popping up, secrets, excitement - danger - its a lot and mentally exhausting. This game is perfect to keep the attention of the Millenials, that is for sure. Screw strategy and tactics, strafe, disco, strafe, rave, circle strafe. Even when you don't have to. Jumping should just be automatically on all the time. If you get lost, just click on the quest for arrows and distance. Who needs addons? (or quest text, for that matter).

There you go. Total random-not-important IHASPC score? 67.5/80 or 85%. a solid B- in terms of grade school. This is not a recommendation to buy (or not buy). I am not even certain if I am going to buy. I am interested in another beta weekend for sure. Good news is, the weekend with WildStar will spawn a few other posts this week as well.

Did you play? What do you think?

4Apr/140

Interwebs Issues

Just a short service announcement - I have been having server issues. My site has been down intermittently. This has caused the Nasdaq to plummet and world oil prices to rise.

My apologies.

Don't give up on me! Seems to happen randomly and I'm looking for answers.

On a side note - I got access to WILDSTAR beta! For free! I didn't even have to pre-order. Should be a fun weekend. I'm rolling the troll type guy, for sure.

Have a great Friday, and afterwards, amazing weekend.

2Apr/142

Trolling EQ

Fisdib is almost ready to start farming the Minotaur Caves in Steamfont, and for fun I decided to check out all my existing characters on the Testserver. Its been hard to hop back in mid stride having missed a lot of things over the past, oh, 12 years (hence my fresh start with Fisdib). My two main EQ characters on my main account before leaving were Zraka Chakakhan and Braack Baccarat - both trolls. Looking back this surprised me and I am not sure why I chose trolls. I am not a fan of the new

models but perhaps the cartoonish nature of the old ones was fun. Regardless, for reasons unknown, trolls it was. I spent a lot of gaming time as them in EQ (and picked troll in DAOC as well) before moving on to Alliance-y type races and avatars in WoW and beyond. I may examine that decision in a future post. I had a main enchanter on a second account but I leant that account to a guildmate a long, long time ago and don't even remember the login. No worries, free 85 and all that.

I decided to roll a new troll to see what the experience is like. Would it be as familiar as the Steamfont Mountain experience? Only one way to find out! I rolled up a Shadow Knight (so few Troll choices... Shaman, Warrior, Beastlord, SK) and boy, Innothule Swamp is a LOT busier these days. You can't step out into the water without aggroing mobs and several pile in on the fray. This makes it a difficult start (haven't found the troll mercenary giver-person) so I logged into my main Warrior to see what items I had to hand down. I had a lot! [Side note: this reminded me of how much I hate current BOE/restrictions on loot.]

I decided to finally move Braack out of the Great Divide and make the trek to Grobb to twink out my SK. This led to my next cool new EQ discovery - the mapping function. Pick a start zone, pick an end zone, and follow the glowing trail to there. Thank god - would have been hell for me to sort out the journey. I still expected a LONG run, but thankfully there are world portals to quickly zoom you between zones and planes and zones - so the other prodigal son returned to the swamp. I almost zoned into Guk for fun.

Twinking made things easy and I quickly leveled up. Getting the feel for it and now I am torn on whether to preserve the leveling experience and learn as I go, or to just do more reading and research and jump into my fee 85. Right now I don't have a *purpose* in EQ - I have just been doing it for nostalgia, so that makes it a tougher decision. It isn't like I am rushing to level to raid, or have a regular group of friends to grind/level with. Questing is a pain in the ass in EQ (keep getting no drop items that I don't know what to do with..) and EQ was never one for story. I'll sort it out. I think I may put a new character through the new-new character experience and see if that provides better next step clarity. The experience so far of the old-new character experience has been consistent with what I remember, and I think that is great.

The next chapter is up to me. Which is a fun, open thought in a MMO universe wrought with hand-holding.

31Mar/140

I *Have* Been Living Under a Rock [Wildstar]

If you look at my "About ME" section you will see I have spent a lot of time in a lot of games testing prior to release - from genre changers (EQ) to huge flops (Earth and Beyond, Horizons) and so on. A couple of years ago I stopped focusing on trying to get in on the 'next best thing' when my experience with 'the next best thing' was pretty generalized uninspired more of the same below average(ness) thing. Yes I just wrote that sentence in all of its run-on glory.

This has been good for my metered expectations - I try not to get up or excited about a game and it's development because really, why? Pretty much it is a recipe for disappointment. And I'm not trying to be cynical about that, it is just kind of the truth. Marketing and Producers layer impossible expectations of what their game will include solidly bullet-listed but never realized in the way gamers envision them. This is ok and part of the sales/purchase cycle. How many people were let down with City of Steam, for example?

The wait and see approach works well. Let a game launch, with all the headaches, let the MMO tourists come and go, read some reviews from trusted blogging sources and fully and truly understand the value proposition - what the game does and doesn't offer - and if I am looking to experience what it does have to offer - I am in. If not, I don't play. I am not even being negative here - it's just matter of fact stuff (that is actually partially funny).

I don't know a lot about Elder Scrolls Online, except Syncaine (Hardcore Casual in the blog links) is actually positive about a theme-parky MMO and it is supposedly not all that Skyrim-y after all (which will disappoint some fans). I know there is a lot of mixed reviews on Wildstar being cartoony and WoW 2.0 which is either the best thing ever, or the sign of the apocalypse - depending on your WoW view.

In the interest of research and good "journalism", I went and did some research and watch some Wildstar marketing videos.  OK - loving two classes in Wildstar. Not nearly excited enough to pre-order or anything, but definitely paying attention now. The Esper- (EQ Enchanter + GW2 Mesmer?) looks like fun, but really, the Medic looks the most interesting to me. I cut my teeth on being a healer, and the giant paddle-thingamajiggers looks like a blast to play. The targeting style seems unique and while the rest is WoW-Cowboys-In-Space (to take the easiest, most boring common conception of the game) is more of the same. It looks slick, polished, and positively familiar. That is also OK - we aren't going for a revolution here (clearly).

As I researched I really started thinking that it didn't feel like a traditional MMORPG. Since there is no targeting the old-fashioned way the gameplay looked more like an over the shoulder shooter with RPG elements. Twitchy is the name of the game here which could be fun like it is fun to jump into CoD. Just doesn't feel strategic or RP friendly. The other shocker for me was the monthly subscription. My published position on subscriptions is that they make absolutely no sense - not that I don't mind paying for an all you can eat style of experience, but $15 a month isn't rooted in any sensibility. Why not $5? Why not $30? Because server space is so scalable (and cheap) there is no pricing model that a subscription has X input cost, so we charge Y to cover our expenses and profit. After a certain point, it's all profit. Which is fine for those who game a lot, it's a bargain. Everyone else subsidizes.

Anyway, predicting here of a swift move to F2P about as fast as SWTOR. There are too many options out there and I think the market is going to tire quickly at the thought of two subs (if they are still WoW players, the obvious target for this game) or people who left the sub model in the first place (ex WoW players, the other obvious target for this game). This isn't disastrous and I am guessing that they already have a cash shop ready to go. They have a strange CREDD system (not unlike PLEX from EVE online)

But we'll see. Perhaps for once NOT being on the cutting edge of what is new and coming can provide a winner for me. I don't mind a quest-story based game with some levels attached as long as the characters are interesting, and Wildstar looks chock full of interesting.

30Mar/142

Dead Space is Free

In what looks like an effort to increase Origin downloads/logins, EA is giving away Dead Space and it's either out of the goodness of their hearts or just an incentive to give up your soul to the Origin platform.

I never played Dead Space and it received a lot of accolades so I am doing it. Free is a good price. I have a love/hate relationship with EA (43 posts tagged EA) and while many of my favorite games have come from EA, the way they run their company and the way they treat their employees makes it near impossible to support them. Heck, I even hate the way they blog.

But I do support free. For now. If I start getting EA only ads once Origin is in I will change my mind.

27Mar/142

1000 Comments

In current MMO land I am certain I'd get an achievement DING and maybe a blogging battle pet (or something). Personally I'm not one for making big deals out of milestones (especially when it comes to blogging) but when checking my dashboard noticed I had crossed that threshold, and for a fleeting moment thought it was kind of cool =)

The 1000th comment was bhagpuss talking about EQ which is pretty fitting I think, considering my MMO lineage, in partial glory below:

"I think that’s a specific change just to those specific Kobold camps in Steamfont, not a generic change to difficulty at that level. They’ve been the way you describe for a very long time, many, many years. Possibly it happened when the zone was revamped with the new art.

In fact I’m going to log in now and whack an orc in one of the Commonlands camps to see how many come…

There is the epic-ness of my 1000 comment on this site. Bhagpuss should probably win something... does my eternal gratitude count as anything? =)

Regardless, it will go down in IHASPC history!

Filed under: IHASPC 2 Comments

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