I think most gamers have a love AND hate relationship when it comes to Random Number Generators. The entire MMO genre is built upon RNG and I remember the old camping structures in EQ where you could spend hours, days, or weeks waiting for a specific mob and/or specific drop. We are largely playing large Casino style games in the background, with invisible dealers. Instead of leisure suits we dress as elves and orcs and wield swords instead of cigars, and beer glasses instead of shields. (Can you tell I was in Las Vegas two weeks ago?)
The Grumpy Elf talks about his recent spat of terrible luck and I agree with him on a lot of points about WoW. When I was playing WoW I most enjoyed it because I was able to advance my character through dungeon runs and grinds, doing activities that I personally enjoyed. Bad luck and RNG is an outcome for him that is causing a lot of frustration in his goal to advance and improve his in game character.
I have spoken the random nature of our games in the past, even talking about the Star Wars PnP game and how they introduced awesome random elements:
SW was played with all d6 – and on your rolls you always had to had an off colored dice. That dice was the “special” dice. We called it the fate dice. It may have officially have been called the ‘Force’ dice. I’m not sure. Its been 15 years. The crux of it? You rolled real bad on that dice, even if you rolled all 6’s on the others, and crazy things would happen. Crazy bad. It also worked in the reverse, where a good roll – on that one dice – would make amazingly incredible things happen. Out of the ordinary. At least, that is how I remember it
I have always been a fan of randomization for the ‘surprise’ effect it can have. Good or bad – when exceptional things happen is when good stories happen. Nothing truly great would happen if the outcome was always measured and expected. This lead to some awesome gaming and story moments in Blood Bowl – here is the outcome of the story (click on it if you want to read the whole thing):
Without going into too much level of detail, with a lot of luck and some well skilled players I won the game 4-1. At the end of the game, I only had 2 players left on the field that weren’t Injured or KO’d (KO’s happen for temporary out of game injuries. After the ball changes hands they get to roll to see if they come back in or stay down for another drive). He had all 11. Goes to show what you can do against a frustrated player who wasn’t used to the Movement and Dodge ability of the Wood Elf team.
In that article I was against the predictability of raids in WoW where if someone dies it is gameover. That design makes only predictable outcomes fun and leaves no room for unpredictability. Move X, mash Y buttons on sequence, rinse, repeat, win. Nothing unexpected or out of the ordinary can, or will, occur.
Love it or hate it RNG is here to stay and I believe games can be better built around that fact. If the systems are built to be supportive of RNG (and not make RNG an automatic failure state) it can make for great gaming memories. At the end of it all, those memories and experiences are what keeps us all gaming to begin with, right?
Last week I was at a NHL game and decided to support a charity event by buying 50/50 tickets. When I gave over my $20 (for 20 tickets) I didn’t for one moment actually believe I would win – who actually wins those things? What I believed is that I was supporting a Children’s Hospital and that the money would go to good use.
So yeah, that is me (in the middle) and I won. When I was reading the ticket I didn’t actually believe it at first! The girl (on my left) who sold me the ticket told me that after she sold me the tickets she turned to her friend and told her that “that guy was so nice – I really hope he wins for good karma!” and on my right is David Desharnais, #51 from the Montreal Canadiens. He was a really nice guy and I’m a big fan of the team so that was a nice bonus. So thankfully my credit cards will now be gone along with some other household debt. I will treat myself a little as I need a new set of goalie pads (I still play twice a week) which will cost me a couple thousand.
My point here isn’t to gloat in my good fortune, but to instead point out that I wasn’t playing to win – I was playing to support charity. Winning was just a very lucky, very random, very unexpected side effect of participating. If you focus on why you are playing more than the outcome of playing you may just find some happy surprises along the way.
Our games used to mean much the same way when they felt more like virtual worlds instead of the achievement based experiences we are left with today, but that is for another post.
Blizzard loves giving more value to people who have more time. I hate everything about this, from the perspective where I am at as a gamer right now. Yes, this is a bit of a selfish rant (to be up front out of the gate)
Players will be able to purchase a WoW Token through the in-game Shop for real money, and then sell it on the Auction House for gold at the current market price. When a player buys a WoW Token from the Auction House for gold, the Token becomes Soulbound, and the player can then redeem it for 30 days of game time.
This rewards players who have a lot of playing time and who can focus on raising gold. In essence, they get to play for free, while the time starved still pay a sub fee. When I call for action on subscription fees to give a fair relative valuation on player’s time, this is the exact opposite. I’ve given WoW thousands of dollars over two accounts and two sub fees for years – and they want to reward people with extra time to spare with free subscription fees. And in this MMO welfare state it allows Blizzard to double dip. Sure, they are giving up a sub fee but they are gaining a lot of hits on money that goes otherwise to gold sellers (that is the black market to fix the broken WoW economy). Don’t solve the economy issues, profit from them! But all kidding aside, why do this now?
Q: Why are you introducing the WoW Token feature?
A: We’ve heard feedback from players that they’d be interested in a secure, legitimate way to acquire gold that doesn’t involve the use of unauthorized third-party gold-selling services—one of the primary sources of account compromises. We also know players who’ve amassed large amounts of gold through regular play would be interested in the ability to trade some to other players in exchange for game time, helping cover their subscription costs. The WoW Token feature gives players on both sides of the equation a secure and straightforward way to make that exchange. It opens up a new kind of payment option for World of Warcraft players, and we hope that it will also help lead to fewer account compromises and a better game experience overall.
Isn’t this just going to further inflate the economy, with easier access to more gold, and force/encourage more people to buy more tokens, to buy more gold? I’m sure they misread the feedback – it probably went more like “players want the WoW economy to stop getting crazy inflated due to gold sellers and bots”. It makes sense for them to drive more profits, but please don’t try to tell anyone this is from player demand. This is a smart, very profitable initiative. If you really want to give players more payment options and flexibility, try some of these:
- Charitable contribution for game time – this could be via humble bundle or any choice. Make a $10 donation to the Red Cross for 30 days game time
- Game time for new player mentoring or community lead initiatives – this strengthens the community and makes it more likely new players become long term (and subscribing) players
- Limited time / Limited access accounts – players can’t enjoy all WoW has to offer because of busy life and schedules? Here is a WoW-Lite account for half the price. No Mythic raids for you (or other minor access barriers), but still, you can quest, to LFR, talk to friends, etc. If you need access to the top game modes you will have to upgrade though.
- A new, rental server model that I talked about in 2008
There are others too if WoW truly wanted to support different payment types and support players with access to the game.
I always make these arguments and then feel silly in some ways because it’s definitely not about the money. It has a lot to do with principles and I know principles don’t pay bills. I just want MMO companies to recognize that their empires were built by people investing time and money into them, and consider rewarding loyal customers. The value / sub / time proposition has been debated to death but I have tried to stay consistent on how I view it. It needs to feel right to me to make a purchase. I haven’t even done my expansion tour of WoD yet (which I was planning on doing). We’ll see how it all pans out. Clearly they don’t care if I do or I don’t. Someone buying gold through Blizzard will replace what my sub fee and box purchase would have represented in the first place.
I have a sneaky suspicion that the open market value of these tokens will be close to a sub. At the very least they will control this tightly and keep aggregate prices higher than what they are giving away in sub fees. I dislike that WoW is the most successful sub game but that they also add (and continue to add) cash shop elements. Good for them for maximizing the return for shareholder value though. So all of this is pretty funny – the introductory sentence is really misleading because clearly Blizzard values people with more money (than time), they just found another creative way to get more of it from more people, while giving good economy players some free game time. I suspect this is going to screw up the economy even worse because of price fixing by Blizzard and in order to participate on the AH you’ll have to buy gold at some point. This feels like a Zynga-esque move.
I support giving players alternate methods to fund their subscription time but due to the fixed, Blizzard set cost and way this is setup it is really just a revenue bump for Blizzard – not a true alternate method for players. It should be marketed more honestly – that is what disappointed me. I could end up eating crow here at some point if it launches and even casual players can raise enough monthly gold to cover their subscriptions but do we really trust Blizzard to let anything happen that hurts their eroding revenue base? I don’ t think that is realistic. This is more likely proof that Blizzard needs to increase it’s declining revenues from its subscription base. What’s next, true, individual player housing that can only be bought and designed through a cash shop? Players have provided feedback for years that they want this. Don’t confuse player feedback with another excuse to layer a revenue stream on top of the subscription fee. Most player feedback would sensibly want fixes to the economy and enhancements to the game as PART of their subscription fee. If not, what are they paying that for?
I was reading about Gladiator stance over at Tales of the Aggronaut and immediately fell in love with the idea. How awesome is that – a shield wielding DPS class? That is a great addition to World of Warcraft Warriors. Back in an old post My Favourite Classes I chose the Warden from Lotro partly based on that exact theme. You never see a DPS class with a shield – shields are for defence (tanking) or healing classes. I immediately checked if that stance, or a similar option, was available to the Paladin. No dice. Shucks! I have a 80ish warrior that I started leveling up with but didn’t fall in love with her play style – whereas the Paladin tanking rotation just fits me.
I love tanking in dungeons in MMOs. Part of that is because I like to lead groups, and the other part is because of my time constraints getting into an instance group fast is important for me. In WoW I would run with my Paladin tank as my main the past couple of expansions for that reason, as well as my Druid tank. Even though my druid was my first “main” character (as a healer, back before druids made good tanks) one thing I dislike about druids is the lack of armor options. I keep believing someday WoW will build in shifting armor for druids but I understand that is a lot of work for whatever percentage of the player base druids make up these days. Everything about a heavily armored sword and board class speaks to me. Even when I played Dungeons and Dragons as a kid I always went for the Paladin, or Crusader type. I am getting off topic. Tanking is fun.
Silly as it sounds, if the Paladin had this same option I would be more inclined to resub to World of Warcraft faster if just to see it and experience it. That is a pretty arbitrary thing to say, but the idea is that cool to me. It is one of those design choices that speaks directly to my desires and wishes and when that happens, you tend to support.
I have said for many years that Shaman should be tanks – there is so much you can do to make that fit. Part of this desire is due to the fact that Shaman were my be all, end all favourite class for many years. They had such flexibility and flavour when they came over to Alliance. Blizzard has homogenized that all away now but I was a crazy Shaman raid healer in TBC and became an Enhancement main with dual specialization. However, since I love tanking a lot, I had to give up the Shaman in order to do so. I don’t think there is much wrong with the desire of having your favorite flavor class also fill the role you enjoy the most, which is why there are a lot of options. It always seems the “perfect” class is one racial choice away, or one skillset.
This could open up a much broader discussion on how limiting classes can be and some of the solutions that are out there in play solve this issue – but we all know Blizzard isn’t changing to go down those roads. They don’t need to. Still, I am going to dream of the day my Shaman can tank, Druids will get visual armor while transformed, and hope that with enough positive feedback Blizzard will give the Sword and Board DPS option to Paladins.
Before last weekend I was pretty sure I was going to have to give in my gamer card. Life is busy and I have learned to prioritize work/life/gaming balance much better than the past. Family, then work, then gaming. Sadly, the realities of a job that demands a lot and a family that I want to give a lot to leaves gaming as something I wish I could make more time for (but normally can’t). Sometimes it feels as though I spend more time reading about gaming, listening to podcasts about gaming, and blogging about gaming than I actually play games in a week. This has lead me to all sorts of crazy thoughts from stopping blogging (I love it – but is it genuine enough if I am not gaming much?) to allowing myself that hour to two hours a night to enjoy a hobby I am extremely passionate about (when you hit 40, there is so much more in your life you feel like you *should* be doing instead of gaming). We have the NBI, and Blaugust, and Bragtoberfest – do we have gaming blog counselors? Where is our Dr. Phil, I need to talk to him! Good news about all of this is while searching for a “video game character on a couch getting psychiatric advice” I stumbled on a nice new web comic line.
Then, something miraculously happened on Sunday. My son was going to a movie/play date with a friend, my wife wasn’t feeling well and wanted to go lie in bed for the afternoon and I suddenly found myself with free time on a wet and cold day. I didn’t need to exercise because I had played a hockey game the night before, I could do work (as I always could) but I had a pretty good week the week before and felt good about where I was (I have one of those jobs that I am never “done” work. Finishing work just opens up new work.). The dogs were sleeping in a puddle of sun coming through the window which masked the cold and wet outside. The house was peaceful.
I was free. Free to game.
I fired up the gaming laptop and started updating everything – I wasn’t even sure what I was going to play! GW2? Landmark? I have uber fibre internet so literally updating 5 or 6 games at the same time doesn’t make anything chug. At the end of the day, I got in 6 hours – which is more than what I have been getting in a week (not counting phone games). So, what did I play? What were my sessions?
The Secret World
I bought this on a Steam Sale (duh) and while I had played through all three factions to see which resonated I hadn’t played much of the game itself. I ended up messing around with a bunch of weapons and I didn’t really fall in love with any of them – but I took pistols and off to Kingsmouth I went. The good is what was expected (story), the bad is how silly ranged weapons fit into the game (and MMOs in general). Having to empty 40 bullets into a zombie to kill it isn’t right. I am going to stick with it because I want to see how the story progresses but this is one of those examples where the game play gets in the way of the point of the game. In my initial impressions the mission would be better as a first person shooter style (which I know is silly, but really, 30 second kill times on your first main mission in an MMO is a huge disconnect from sensibility. No surprises here though as I have heard that complaint before. The ability wheel is intimidating but you really don’t have that many choices to begin with. I am glad I got to dig in a bit deeper – the setting and mood are top notch and my initial impressions is that the game play may hurt the style more than vice versa.
I won this game (among others) from Contains Moderate Peril who runs a monthly contest. I was always interested in the setting and after playing TSW and thinking it should be a FPS, I figured it would be a nice segue into a proper FPS. The setting didn’t disappoint and the game did a good job of pacing between high intensity and breaks in the action. There was a lot of “fluff” in the opening sequences (NPC’s, families, background chatter) that did a good job of setting the tone of a community stuck underground without much hope for change. I am looking forward to this as my single player game that I can pickup and leave off. The strangest part for me is that this is the first THQ game I have blogged about – I tag categories by producers/developers typically, and that is my first THQ. I wonder if the setting is foreshadowing on the future Russia if they don’t stop screwing around in the Ukraine.
Heroes of the Storm
I don’t know if it is now open Alpha or what is going on, but when I was hovering on the “install” button for World of Warcraft I noticed that there was an option to install HOTS. So I did. I was a big League of Legends fan so I was definitely curious what Blizzard’s offering was going to look like. I ended up playing this game the most! True to Blizzard fashion it is well polished (already – in alpha) and pretty big simplification of the genre when using LoL as the comparative. Truth is though, it is less intimidating so far. I stopped playing LoL because they reset every season and I didn’t want to relearn the items and champions that I had become very familiar with. Items are the great equalizer in LoL and allows for a lot of customization as you can select items to change the balance of power in any match. It also meant you needed to understand the match-ups of 100’s of champions and how to fight against certain item kits and champions. It took a lot of effort to be “in the know”. HOTS takes out items altogether but still leaves a lot of choice in the game for talents. I am only level 6, so a long way to go but will be interesting to see if Blizzard can do to MOBA what it did for MMO. That statement is either beautiful or ominous depending on your view on Blizzard.
I still have barely touched my PS4 and haven’t played a round of Destiny in a month. I miss being “sold” on a title. I miss being “all in!”. You know, that realization that when you do have free time you are spending it in one place and one place only. Right now I am so overwhelmed with choice and options that I actually miss the day that I was dedicated to a single title and it received all my spare time an attention. I think there are so may places I want to play in right now that I just can’t focus on one. At the end of it all, I am just really happy I was able to take some time to myself and enjoy some really satisfying and fun gaming hours. It has been long overdue.
Warlords of Draenor launching is having a bigger than I expected effect on WoW subs – although as TAGN points out, things aren’t really clear where those subs are coming from. Besides, WoW subscriber numbers are like the old McDonald’s signs from back in the day that used to list how many millions were served. Eventually they switched it to “Billions and Billions” before dropping it all together. Seinfeld said it best – we get it, you have sold a lot of burgers. You kill a lot of cows. In Blizzard’s case, Orcs.
Still, 10 Million is that nice big round number we are all used to hearing from Blizzard before their decline from biggest subscription game in the world to less big but still bigger than anyone can imagine big. Even blognation who are often quick to pounce on Blizzard’s “decline” are checking out what our old friend has in store with this expansion. I wonder if there is a MMO subscription-based equivalent to Stockholm Syndrome. After all, what else is there?
Well, there is WildStar for one. And with millions flocking back to Warlords of Draenor, paying the $60 box price and resubscribing, how do we fight the exodus of the player base back to Blizzard? With a newsletter and 7 days free time! Of course no one is fooled on the timing and really it feels like putting a bandaid on a punctured jugular but truth be told we have no clue what impact this is having on WildStar (if at all). My more cynical side said long ago that the business model would have to change if they wanted to increase the regular playerbase and some of us suspected that it would be before Draenor dropped – but W* is doing the right thing – wait to see the impact 1/3/6 months and then decide how hard you hit your business model. For all we know with the layoffs and team exits they may be running profitable with the playerbase they have, and they may be satisfied with that.
Back to the 7 day trial – I had a couple of free trial posts back in 2009 and I still believe that it isn’t enough time or enough incentive to buy or resub to a game. This player says it best as well on the WildStar forum this morning.
To the average player coming back they won’t see the fixes and under the hood stuff – it won’t be that obvious because most have been away from the game. What will be obvious is server population and activity (which should be fixed by the mega servers, no?) even still, to give 7 days during the time where every WoW player is playing WoW (some of which may or may not be W* players) is a weak knee-jerk reaction. 7 days in a MMO is nothing, so expect that kind of result by offering it.
I do want WildStar to succeed and I will give them money (again) soon as they build a business model that I can support – whether that is B2P or F2P or a heavily reduced sub fee (I’d pay and get $5 a month value from the game. If I am paying $15 I’m back in WoW). Still, none of this discussion is anything new to WildStar fans or developers. They have a solid base of a game that needs bug fixes, and they need to decide what kind of game they want to be. The WildStar devs “are listening” to feedback about 40 man raids (hint: everyone but the 2000 people doing them hate them) but everyone who raided 40 mans before knew this would happen.
So my personal suggestion to WildStar is this: figure out who you want to be, and then figure out which business model supports that. While that sounds simple to do it really isn’t and design decisions need to be made with a goal or focus in mind that can’t just be “get more players”. Players are an outcome from the design decisions, not a design decision in itself. This 7 day free trial decision was poor timing, a poor offer, and not really well thought out.
Guess what – Warlords of Draenor has been released! I know this is a shocker to most of you, and my breaking news CNN style segment remains in tact.
The play on the title of this post is to acknowledge yet another failed feature on this blog. I’ve tried a few of them and was good at starting them but not continuing them. That trend is starting to move into my WoW life as well.
Similarly to Pandaria I am not hopping into this one fast. I suspect I will end up playing it at some point but am not entirely enthused about it. Pandaria was the shortest expansion I have played throughout my WoW tenure (and I have played them all). WoW, for all of its shortcomings (explained often here at iHASpc) is still the game I spent the most time (and money) playing. I have more Facebook friends from WoW than any other MMO I have played. I still have the most memorable experiences from WoW. I suppose it is all relative to my first point (the time/cost investment). I still have my most intense memorable experiences in EQ and DAOC but there is still something to be said about volume. Up until Pandaria, I played expansions all the way through raiding (Pandaria’s must-daily-quest to advance system was not a welcome change from the must-dungeon-grind-in-tabard system of WOTLK). When WoW expands I tend to go back, play through to cap, muddle around until bored, and then exit again. I am not quite sure when (or if) that will happen this time around for me.
I’ve heard news that the last server/guild I moved to to follow friends is now all but dead and my main “crew” is back in the same guild on Whisperwind where I was longest tenured and GM’ed. Is GuildMastered a verb? I am Tempted to pop in and say hi, but I think I only have a bank alt left there. No way I would pay to bring a main or two back to the server and it’s tough to put a cost onto being with your friends. When is WoW introducing lobby technology again? Is there even a point to segregated servers anymore? The prospect of going to an empty guild where my mains are or to a server where I have no high levels isn’t that exciting. Sure, I could use my free 90 there I suppose but for what? I love my 90 Paladin, Rogue, Shaman, Druid – do I really need another 90? Sure, free is good! But of course I would want to level the characters who I have been over the years and known as in my WoW life.
The one size fits all Garrison features I have seen aren’t that exciting to me either, I prefer more personalized housing options. Some of it looks ok though and heaps of convenience for players, which is a good thing. At least they are finally doing housing. Can you have your own AH in your Garrison? Is there any life in capitol cities anymore/again?
All of these musings makes the thought of returning to WoW rather lukewarm for me. I have positive thoughts of levelling and running 5 mans there but is it worth it just for that? I have a hard time imagining having to pay a subscription and box price for a game I have already sunk thousands into. What do I hope to get from it? I suppose its fine in that touristy/vacation kinds of thought and expectation. It’s just not drawing me in right now, there isn’t any feeling of pressure or excitement to pick up the content and run with it.
There is a mild curiosity though. Murf already made the jump and is happy at what he has seen.
Perhaps I am really, truly, done with WoW.
Does that really happen?
In the romantic comedy “How to lose a guy in 10 days” A reporter is writing an article with that name – and wants to prove she can lose a guy in 10 days. On the other side, the guy, a big advertising exec takes a bet that he can make a woman fall in love with him in 10 days. The result is genuinely cute (but mediocre) – no matter what she does that would make most guys afraid he sticks it out. Both are trying to win a bet. It’s not high on my recommended list, but a funny thought. If there are two people with exact opposite intentions, how to they get along? Is that the same opposite forces working between MMO developers who are trying to get as much money as possible for their product, and consumers who want as much bang for their buck?
The truth is in real life that doesn’t work that much. Quick on the heels of WildStar’s decline and some other big launches over the years, lets have a look at 10 ways to ensure you can push those gamers and consumers away from your product.
#10 A flawed vision
I don’t disagree with having a vision – that is critical! What surprised me with WildStar was that I don’t know who created the vision or why. Did they consult with players? Did NCsoft buy into it? I ask these things because I get it – I understand if McDonald’s offers the Super Grease and Cardiac Bacon Burger because they are speaking to their customer base. So Gaffney and targetting the 1% vision was the outcome, but who approved and funded that vision? Why would he no longer be running the company when he achieved what he set out to do? With brands I always believe to be who you are. KFC will never attract a healthy eating segment. Be who you are, and be proud of it. In gaming that means design your game for the audience you want – niche or not. I think you see this improving with recent Kickstarter projects – we’ll see if and when they deliver on those.
#9 : Have key people leave the company near/after launch
There are a few WildStar examples of this, but also some bigger ones in the past. I get churn, but nothing signals failure more than people leaving/fired who built it or spent years building the community – no matter what reasons are shared.
#8 Gate content in silly ways
Content needs to be gated, we get it. Do it in a way that isn’t insulting to the intelligence of the player base. I would be playing (and paying for) SWTOR if they didn’t make certain quest rewards contingent on subscriber status. I would be more fond of LOTRO if they didn’t make character classes gated by an expansion that isn’t required for them to play in the first place. This goes beyond cash shops though – if you have a subscription, don’t add a cash shop that gates content. If you aren’t a F2P or B2P title, don’t gate content with needless and obvious grinds. I would have played Mists of Pandaria a LOT longer if progression wasn’t gated behind daily quests.
#7 : Lose your most supportive community members
Games like WoW and EQ lived on as much in the fansites as the games themselves. I still read WoWinsider and I haven’t played the game in a year! Allakhazams was pure gold back in the day, and look at sites like MMO-Champion. You need a community to support and hype your game. WildStar lost it’s busiest podcast (among others) and some community news sites. Companies need to celebrate, support, and nurture those sites. When you lose those who are most enthusiastic about your game it sends a bad signal to the community.
#6 Do not reward loyalty to long time customers
The industry has to mature sooner or later and start treating customers like every other industry – rewarding loyalty, and customers, with things not just to do with who spent the most money the earliest (paid beta, collector editions, etc.) That guy that has paid a subscription to you for 5 years? Give him a title, or perk, or hell – a free month. Do something to recognize the growth that individual has provided you. I know some do this well with early beta access to future titles (etc.) but I strongly believe this is an area developers and publishers can greatly improve on.
#5 Be non-supportive of diversity in gaming
There is a lot of heat on both sides of this argument – I won’t link to the gamer definition discussions, or the Blizzard developer quotes – but it is out there – and companies that aren’t aware, or mindful, of how they represent different views of the gaming community in their games will have a much harder go of it going forward.
#4 : Over market, over hype, under deliver
Warhammer online comes to mind here the most. “We have PVP! PVE! PQs! We have EVERYTHING!” – and they did. Everything except an immersive, reliable, consistent and balanced gaming experience. Too much hype. Less sizzle, more steak. With marketing budgets making up more and more of development costs these days, I am one who firmly believes that money is better spent on development. People will market your game for you if it is actually good.
#3 : Charge a subscription
I know some people like subs. I know some people prefer them and won’t play games without them. The truth is that a large portion won’t even touch a subscription. This is all fine and good (again) if the company doesn’t mind having less users paying more. I believe hybrid solutions are the way to go and that will retain the maximum amount of players. The all or nothing approach of a subscription doesn’t work as well anymore. There need to be stages and varying access levels for it to be accepted by the majority. Yes, it works for EVE and WoW and the jury is still out on ESO – but WildStar will almost be certainly going to F2P – as have everyone else. There is a reason for this.
#2 : Have a bad cash shop
Not ironic behind the previous point and cash shops aren’t inherently bad on their own. #2 and #3 are interchangeable in order. However, a bad cash shop is as much the kiss of death as a bad subscription. Cash shops should be always available, never annoying. Let players know there is a cash shop, let them know the sales, then leave them alone and let them play. Constant reminders and popups are a great way to lose the community by sheer annoyance. I did spend a LOT of money in League of Legends, who never did anything silly with their cash shop. In hindsight, I spend more money per month in LoL than I did with a subscription in WoW – but didn’t regret it once. I had the choice of when and how much to spend.
#1 : Lack of immersion.
This is the number one problem for me personally, so I listed it as #1 although I am sure other people will have other thoughts on that. While reflecting on WildStar the truth is that while I loved the setting, the style, the characters and so many things they did right – the worst thing they did was constantly drag me OUT of the immersion. They had an announcer for so many things – challenges, dings, etc. It took the world away and constantly reminded me that I was playing a game. Sure, the point may be to play a game, but I play these kinds of games to feel like it is more than just a game. I want to get into it and feel like my character is helping solve the poisoned river that is destroying the town. I don’t need the 4th wall to be broken with an announcer voice telling me “f&*cking awesome job, cupcake” when I do get it done. EQ immersed me by the third person view alone that was standard back then. The game was through my eyes. DAOC through my realm’s reliance on my actions. WoW has it’s easter eggs but it really dug down in the lore overall. You felt like you were in Azeroth. Let’s get back to to immersion.
Do you agree? I admit these are very personal to me but I also feel they have merit to what is going on in the marketplace as well. Some are more obvious than others and the rankings could wildly change depending on who is reading them. Overall I think it is a good barometer of some huge issues in our hobby and I’d love to play a game that avoided these 10.
On the heals of 10 questions on WoW, I admit that my favourite pastime in WoW is 5 – man dungeons. It used to be raiding, but I don’t have the luxury of that kind of time anymore. That post got me thinking about which 5 mans in particular stuck out for me – so here we go, starting a 5avourite 5ives and hoping that maybe it catches on – would love to hear other people’s 5avourite 5 mans.
Now, some housekeeping and simple rules of 5ive club – there are no rules. It doesn’t have to be from WoW, or even a 5ive man in that case. Not all games have 5ive mans but try to keep it to introductory grouping (ie: first instances, etc.) I know that 5ive mans can be limiting to open world games (are there any outside of EQ? Vanguard?) and that using 5 instead of F is probably really annoying by now. No matter – I am staying on brand (5-you!). All that being said, if your game doesn’t have a 5ive man but a grouping experience that you would count as that because your favourite game is designed that way, then by all means, share!
Pick one, or several. No matter. Write what you will. Have fun!
My 5avourite 5ive is Black5athom Deeps. (that’s the last misplaced 5, I promise!)
The ‘Deeps’ label always made me laugh. Felt like a spelling error. Shouldn’t it be depths? Were they being funny reminding the peeps to bring the deeps? Anyway – this was my first 5 man ever (sigh: nostalgia? Again?) and I ran it over and over and over. I became a resident expert of the BFD in the 25-27 level range of Whisperwind. The best part is that we stumbled upon the entrance by accident, and already had 5 friends questing – so we went in, no guides, no clue on what to expect – a proper unscripted adventure.
First off, the back story –
Situated along the Zoram Strand of Ashenvale, Blackfathom Deeps was once a glorious temple dedicated to the night elves’ moon-goddess, Elune. However, the great Sundering shattered the temple – sinking it beneath the waves of the Veiled Sea. There it remained untouched – until, drawn by its ancient power – the naga and satyr emerged to plumb its secrets. Legends hold that the ancient beast, Aku’mai, has taken up residence within the temple’s ruins. Aku’mai, a favored pet of the primordial Old Gods, has preyed upon the area ever since. Drawn to Aku’mai’s presence, the cult known as the Twilight’s Hammer has also come to bask in the Old Gods’ evil presence.
I’m not sure if there is more to it than that – nothing I could find.
The entrance is very cool because it is of standard fantasy fare – an old temple that leads below
and that leads into a nice broken staircase, or of course, jump down. You swim under the water and the entrance is into a cave. You don’t spend very long in the temple itself.
From there there are twists and turns, stealthed mobs, and all sorts of glory to be found. You can actually miss parts and find dead ends. It’s a bit convulated and you can miss bosses and other fun areas if you don’t explore the nooks and crannies. There is a very direct route through the end, but the first time we missed 3 full bosses – Lady Sarevess, Old Serra’kis, and Gelihast. Gelihast was a “d’oh” moment but I became quite famous for showing new adventurers where Old Seraa’kis was.
On this Map Lady Sarevess is through an underwater cavern (2) , and we missed Gelihast (3) because we turned right too early. Old Serra’kis (6) is underwater and way off the beaten path so that’s a little more understandable.
I am ahead of myself.
The first boss is Ghamoo-ra. He is a turtle. I tamed him with my hunter. He dropped green armor, I believe it was the first green armor I had seen. Typical tank and spank fight (most were at this level.
Lady Sarevess avoided capture my first run through but never again. Basic fight except she spams forked lightning so required tanks to turn away from the group. She dropped the first blue bow ol Braack ever had. Blue items felt really epic back then.
Gelihast (3) guarded a shrine that gave a buff. He is also the first real test in BFD and if I recall correctly did some serious damage. Murlocs would wipe us in that room as they were fleeing low on health they would chain aggro – and could grab Gelihast as well.
Lorgus Jett (4) was always confusing for us alliance. He never dropped loot. Ever! Why put in a mob that didn’t drop loot? We thought perhaps it was a bug. Turns out, its a horde only quest line. Every time we killed him we prayed that the loot would finally drop. It never did. He also spawns in a few different areas so was also confusing. I’m really curious what he was there for for the Horde quest. He brought an element of mystery!
When I checked WowWiki for a refresher (all pictures here compliments of them!) I found a boss I didn’t even know about – a summonable boss but only for the Horde side. I am skipping out on that one here, because I honestly had never fought him. So much for being an expert! (Boss 5 on the map)
The 6th boss Old Serra’kis dropped an awesome dagger graphic and I came back with my rogue to farm a pair. Drowning while fighting him was always a threat and people would sometimes get turned around in his cave, lost, and drowning. you had to take a long way back after killing him but the swim was always awesome after a boss kill and loot drops.
Twilight Lord Kelris (7) was what we originally thought was the final boss – he is fun and casts mind control and sleep, so those are always interesting to deal with when you are new to a game. (remember, we are talking launch time here, people!) It’s a tricky room with a few LOS pulls (first time we used those too). Overall, like most of the place, a straightforward fight.
We wiped before entering the final room a couple times – every time we brought new people through if we didn’t warn them enough. There are for braziers to light in the room, and each attracts a pack of mobs which are pretty easy to kill on their own. If you hit all four they will overwhelm any rookie group – and new people would often run around clicking on all of them – because they could.
That lead to the final boss, Aku’mai.
Don’t let that grainy picture fool you, he is gigantic and a site to behold as a young instance runner exploring a magical place. Dragon sized. It was my first epic battle, we wiped several times before sorting it out. This was before people tanked at level 25, remember. Before dungeon finder, glyphs, all sorts of modern conveniences. The instance was uphill both ways! After you kill Aku’mai you can get a port to Darnassus. We stood around the giant hall at the end searching every nook and cranny – did we miss something? Is that it? We really didn’t want it to end.
7 bosses (8 if you are Horde – damn you!) in sprawling underground caverns hidden from the world beneath a temple. Not much more exciting than that. Of course the exploration and shiny newness of it all is what made it special to me in particular and it is a place that I’ll remember fondly in my dungeoneering career.
I’m glad that it hasn’t been remade and curious to see if Blizzard ever does – I know they like re-purposing content – and I’d be fine with that. Would be interesting to see if they could recapture what I loved about it and I am actually very curious if the sprawling style and unclear pathways turned other people off from it. As far as time goes, this one took a while to run when it was new to you.
I’m sure someone out in blognation has done this before but if not, I’m really curious what your favourite 5 man dungeons were. (See? I didn’t 5 that one! I did promise!) and if you already posted about this some years ago then just pull a Blizzard and re-purpose that content.
Like many bitter exes (that keep going back) I have done my fair share of beating up WoW on this blog although it always came from a place of “tough love”.
This looks like fun and I decided to do it – for Science! (or something). I am making a blog post about it (although there are plenty of ways to participate – email, Google docs, etc.) so go check it out!
1. Why did you start playing Warcraft?
I had a friend, Lorendous, who was a good friend of mine and guildmate from DAOC. He left DAOC for Wow but I held strong. After the Pendragon community was trashed by Mythic I had enough, and finally followed my friend there. My history of MMOs started with EQ, to DAOC and then to WoW and while I have beta tested, bought, and played everything in between EQ was #1a and WoW was #1b. I could actually reverse that if you count personal impact – they are very similar in shaping my gaming life.
2. What was the first ever character you rolled?
Hunter. Sadly. To be fair though, I only got him to level 20. I recently did a post about his LBRS solo runs but to be more honest my first “main” character was (is?) a Night Elf druid. Couchon. He was the one I found my first guild with, the first I got to max level, raided with, etc. Oh, the stories. My old guildies still call me “Couch” no matter what game, what toon, or what class/name.
I switched mains years later to a Shaman (needed the heals, chain heal was king and we were in SSC) and I LOVED enhancement and the unique nature of totems and what Shaman brought to a raid group. I also have a top level Paladin so I can do 5 mans in LFGs while tanking and a rogue too.
3. Which factors determined your faction choice in game?
Solely my friends. Same with server choice. I was Alliance and did not have a choice in the matter. Later, I did roll Horde but I new everything about the Alliance in and out and had such a comfort level with that side that it made more sense for me to keep rolling there. I did join a Horde guild with some friends once but I only got to level 70(ish) and really, I have so much going on Alliance side I just stayed there.
4. What has been your most memorable moment in Warcraft and why?
Not beating A’lar. It was a roadblock for our guild. We could always get under 5% but never won. A guildie was last man standing when he was at 1% (Greenteabag) and that sticks out. It tested us time and time again but we all showed up and did our best. I did, by myself at level 90, long after the guild was gone. It was still satisfying, but I wish we got him. I think its odd that I chose a failure moment as one of my most memorable but the hours we spent together there was bond-building.
Most other memories are around raiding and progression. We were a family, casual guild (that at one point had 13+ kids BORN into the game..) and we were a top 10 progression guild on our server at one point. That was fun.
5. What is your favourite aspect of the game and has this always been the case?
5 mans. It wasn’t always the case – first it was raiding, but I can’t take the required time to raid anymore (work, life, family, kids) but I love 5 mans. The Dungeons, the lore, the teamwork – it’s how I learned to love tanking because its the fastest way to 5 man glory, progression, and gear to do all of that. It’s actually why I quit Wow in Pandaria – they took away the ability to grind rep through tabards in dungeons and I absolutely HATE dailies – my whole end game was a series of dailies. If I would have been able to grind rep through dungeons I’d probably still be playing.
6. Do you have an area in game that you always return to?
UBRS. It was the first tryout guild run I did with the Grey Rangers, and I was accepted into the guild. That one decision changed my entire gaming career from that point. Druids back then were OK for healing but absolutely essential for Innervate. I was good at Innervating. (yes, its one button. That was tongue in cheek!).
Grey Rangers was a 40 man guild, and it was hard because to field that large of a team we had people in our guild that didn’t really fit. With the announcement of the next expansion going to 25 mans, we broke apart the guild and made our own. Still, in GR I was able to experience all of Molten Core and BlackWing Lair. Our 25 man guild was a blast and some of the most fun I ever had in gaming.
It all started in UBRS.
7. How long have you /played and has that been continuous?
I’d have to resub to pull that. But I’d almost be afraid to. I was a 4x a week raider, 3-4 hours, 6-7 days a week. I also had top level crafters of almost every profession. I roll 4-5 max level characters (Rogue, Paladin, Shaman, Druid, Hunter) so to add it all up would be tough. I’m genuinely curious though, if I ever sub again (or get a 7 day pass…) I’ll check it out!
8. Admit it: do you read quest text or not?
Shit no. Wait – does skimming count as reading?
9. Are there any regrets from your time in game?
When I bailed on the guild I founded. It had changed a lot (I had stepped down from GM) but still a LOT of good people there. My gaming life started changing and a few of my closer friends left to a separate server. I still have a guildbank alt in my old guild and my hunter, and when I sub I go in to see who is still in the guild. I stay pretty quiet though, I bailed on those people. I am still amazed at the number of people still playing in that guild. The commitment is amazing.
10. What effect has Warcraft had on your life outside gaming?
Almost got divorced! A pregnant non-gaming wife will have that effect on your marriage when you are 4+ hours a night, plus constantly on the guild boards, etc. etc. While that is true, it also gave me the confidence and leadership skills. I run a rapidly growing business and it actually helped teach me how to manage people, competing interests, many personalities.
On the whole, WoW added more to my life than it took away – I still have a bunch of Facebook friends from those days and I sneak back in during expansions to poke my head around. It’s not a home anymore for me, more like a cottage – go there for the odd season, evening, or weekend and it’s familiar and fun. The same neighbors are on the same lake and its nice to say hi and rekindle friendships.
And 5 mans. Fun to run those new 5 mans.
This post was inspired by the Keen Gamer’s post – it’s a great read, go enjoy!
This post is about one of my favorite accomplishments in my MMO gaming – and his post reminded me of that. It’s a not a world first, not a particularly heroic moment (finishing off A’lar while the rest of the raid was wiped) and to you it may not seem like anything special at all. But it was to me – and MMOs need more moments like these. I say that while realizing that game designers are working hard to remove anything of the sort. I am talking about solo taming a pet in a 10 person dungeon in World of Warcraft specifically. Generally, about having challenges and uniqueness in games exist at all.
Back before hunters were EZmode in World of Warcraft (did such a time exist?) you had to tame the right pets to get the right skills to train onto them. There were three Bloodaxe Worgs in LBRS that had Bite 8 and Furious Howl 4 – it was the ONLY mob in the game with Bite 8 (at the time). They were deep within LBRS. Originally, the only way to get it was to stable your pet, and do the entire 10 man LBRS run without a pet and when you arrived at the Bloodaxe Worgs make sure no one damages them while you tame. This was problematic (obviously) and entire pet training runs were ruined by AOE happy mages. Always the mages fault. (I tried 3 times in groups, and mages always screwed it up.)
Like most things in MMOs someone found a better way. I don’t know who sorted out that with the use of a couple invisibility potions, smart pathing, patience and gratuitous use of feign death a hunter could do this solo. (I used some speed potions too). The solo hunter Bloodaxe Worg taming became a thing. While there were suggestions and guides it still wasn’t easy. It took me a week to sort out, a lot of failed attempts and tons of fun. When I finally did it the feeling of accomplishment was one of those rare ones that are now given out by the hundreds on everyday playing sessions now. There was no achievement, no narrator slapping me on the back – no bells or whistles, no over-celebration. Just me and my dog with Bite 8. Other hunters hat-tipped me when walking by. They all knew what it took to get that pet. Class respect. Some asked how, and I even ended up taking some other hunters on the same run – it became a thing I did with my hunter. I was good at it. I made friends through the experience.
Now, of course, pets are quite different and you don’t need to do anything like that to get a skill-up – its all homogenized. Bite 8 wasn’t “mandatory” and there were a couple ways to do it if you really wanted it. It’s just one of those great gaming memories where I felt like I earned something and was proud of how I earned it. No quest arrows, no add-ons, a fun and exciting challenge with a reward at the end. The way questing and MMOs should be. In the 100 levels I played in WildStar (tops level 19) there were plenty of rewards while questing but really – I can’t recall a single challenge. No situations in any recent gaming make me think that I had to behave interesting or think outside the box – follow arrow, follow rotation, get praise/loot/xp rinse and repeat. Sure, games may have challenge at end game raiding but the same old argument for years has been made – if the challenge and fun starts with the end game, why not just make the game the end game?
I still appreciated (and did it all the way up through Mists of Pandaria) pickpocketing for epic loot. I actually got the epic throwing knife that way. While less of a challenge of completion and more of grind, it was zen-like. It was also something only rogues could do. That made it special, and a badge of honor if you got one. Not a necessity, or a NPC purchase but a special action that only your class could do and only for people who had the patience to see it through. I never did get my main hand epic via pickpocketing but I spent hours trying – and for me, it didn’t feel like wasted time.
These little “badges” tend to get tweaked out if easily abused or game breaking but I believe game designers should be working harder to add in more challenge and uniqueness for the individual, classes and races. Something they can hang their hat on that may be a little outside the norm. The stealth runs Keen Gamer spoke about is a good example (didn’t they remove these to prevent boss farming with druids and rogues?) and it feels like a lot of fun gaming activities get coded out in order to be “fair and equitable” to the rest of the player base.
Do you have a favorite nuanced event you recall fondly from your MMO gaming past?
My son is visiting Grandma – it’s a 10 day trip in the summer. Grandma and Grandpa have a farm and he gets to do all sorts of things that he doesn’t get to here at home. They also have a lot of acreage and I learned last year he was able to drive a Gator – a motorized vehicle that happens to go really, really fast. At 8. With other kids in it, but under the watchful eye of Grandpa. Thankfully Grandpa is a safety nut when it comes to the kids. (Although, he does operate large chainsaws shoeless…) Does that sound like a safety concern? I’m not too worried. I grew up riding my bike without a helmet. I’m confident he is safe. A couple of his cousins are also visiting the farm so he is on a long term playdate. He is having fun and its a nice chance of scenery and pace for him.
Grandma emailed informed me that the kids have been playing World of Warcraft together and immediately I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. She asked me if it was ok in that email and I felt apprehensive.
Isn’t that silly? First of all, they are playing in a far more social environment than I ever did – all three of them in the same room. I can imagine them all laughing and having fun around a table. Like pen and paper days, but with the laptops out.
Also – I have let him watch me play WoW before (when he was younger) and he has a SWTOR character that we play together (I liked the story style for him, as well as him having to read and make choices with the wheel..) and he has a WildStar character as well – but I am always there by his side playing so I can filter content, see what he is doing, and see how (if) he is interacting with any adults.
Probably just a trial account, anyway.
I haven’t written much about him, but I have two articles where I did – one that was fun when he was in his questioning phase (and 3 years old – so 6 years ago! And another where I questioned my own parenting skills by letting him see Left 4 Dead game play at the age of 5 (jury is still out on that one). What other 5 year olds LARP a zombie apocalypse?
At the end of it all, after much thought, I was fine with it. Weird to think it may be time where we could actually play together, instead of looking over each other’s shoulder and if that is the case – do we get two subs? Is it WoW, or a different game? Maybe we should F2P something together first.. he loves Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit.. damn, he doesn’t even have a gaming computer or laptop. Will Mom let him use hers for his gaming? Will SHE be okay with all of this?
Funny, being a gaming parent of a gaming kid (who is a Minecraft junkie..) is it time to let him take the leap to a MMO player?
Mixed feelings of apprehension and excitement – this could be fun.
After much thought I emailed Grandma back saying it was ok, but I had to ask a very serious, important question that could shape the future and was critical for me to understand and know about my own child.
“What class did he pick?”
Housing is all the craze and I’m loving the options. My first (and best) experience with housing in general was in DAOC. We had this nice, big, shiny Guild House! It had crafting, and portals, and trophies.. and was an awesome place where guildmates would spend downtime or whittle away at their trade skills. While there were limitations, it was something that was very cool, was ours, and it promoted spending time together in between the big battles.
I didn’t do housing in any other game – WoW was my predominant after DAOC and doesn’t have it, but I have heard good things about EQ2 housing, LOTRO, and even Vanguard (through Bhagpuss). I can’t comment on those, but I *can* comment on WildStar housing, and ask some questions about WoW’s upcoming Warlords expansion, and some general quirks and oddities about housing in general.
First off, WildStar housing is amazing. I can’t believe the level of customization available. Everything scales, and a pistol prop can quickly become a couch if turned and sized correctly. Your starter plot of land has enough for 4 FABkits (preset style plugins) and two backdrops (larger slots) and I have used a garden (that you can plant seeds into that find around the world) a relic garden (relic is a tradeskill collection item – so they actually grow there and you can harvest) a kiddie pool (funny) a couple party kits with bbqs and the like, and my favorite so far is the Moonshine Stein. You literally get a challenge to produce booze within a set time frame, and doing so successfully gets you a neon beer sign (that you can then scale, twist, and hang to your delight). Yes, you can even drink the stuff and get drunk. There is a fun line of functionality and coolness to items you can place around your yard and inside your house. The best part is you find housing items just by questing and killing mobs. There is also a whole tradeskill (architecture) dedicated to building housing items, of which I did not get into. I wish I would have taken more pictures of my house before beta ended, and I look forward to building a new one come launch. The more items your house has, the greater the rested XP boost you get. So its form and function.
WoW’s Garrisons look to be similar yet less customizable and more plug and play(ish). I only read the announcements and have not seen videos or followed it too closely, but both WS and WoW’s housing suffers from? Separation of community.
Listen, these housing ideas are cool but all instanced. The fun part of building them are completely awesome I agree – but it just further segments the community. I get it – there isn’t enough land in the world to make the housing – and there are some tools available (you can make your housing plot private, friends on, or public in WS) but its still segmentation. Why not make it easy? It isn’t that hard to do.
First off, have GUILD housing. Guild houses can be far more extravagant than typical homes and all guild members automatically get access.
Secondly, soon as you build your own house it automatically goes in the same instance as the Guild House. Each guild member does.
Voila. Now, instead of housing, you have community. A neighborhood even. A neighborhood tied around a commonality (which is how most communities – digital or otherwise – foster).
If you aren’t guilded you build neighborhoods around “services” – crafting halls, transportation hubs, etc. You put some conveniences in that people want to be around, and draw them to that area and give them the opportunity to build their own communities. For even more fun you could build them around landmarks, statues, wonders of the world (planet) – anything to attract people around a certain area will give them the opportunity to build communities. The boat between continents in EQ, while crappy to wait for and too long of a trip, fostered an awful lot of friendships.
I know I am greatly simplifying a cause and effect but I also don’t think this needs to be complicated. Aligning personal space within community space is just common sense, right?
Does any game that I haven’t played do this better (or worse) than the ones I mentioned? I am genuinely fascinated to hear real experiences instead of feature set sheets!
I am starting to feel that flexibility on my characters is hurting immersion. I am very flip-floppy on this subject so please help!
In movies and high fantasy typically a hero is “good at one thing”. Legolas has short swords/daggers but really, he uses his bow. And he is famous for it.
Luke Skywalker has a lightsaber, and uses that primarily.
There are many examples of this. Characters are identified by the way they look and the weapons they use almost as much as their personality and grander quest they are on.
I loved sword/torch in GW2 for Guardian – but I had to swap out another weapon mid rotation to maximize my DPS rotation. This just felt silly. My Guardian looked awesome with a torch and sword, press 6 buttons, swap to 2 handed sword, swap back. You don’t see that very often in movies. At least, not at the level of repetition required to get from level 6 to level 8 in a MMO.
WildStar, I fear, has the exact opposite problem. Everyone in the same class has the same weapon (essentially). It may look a little different, but Stalkers use claws, Warriors use 2H swords, Spellslingers dual wield pistols (and on). There is no room for customization except the look of the weapon. You can’t be a Warrior that uses claws.
I feel these things challenges role playing and makes other issues harder. I am assuming these are built in to solve animation and other technical issues.
I still like multiple spec options in gaming, but complete changes is just too much in my opinion (right down to skills in between pulls). There is no commitment to any sort of build or play style. My character is master of fire! and ice! and lightning! and earth! and swords and shields and staves and… and.. and.. (you get the picture.) If you are truly the proficient in all, aren’t you also the master of none? Don’t we want to feel heroic? Why can’t I fill a “role” using whatever weapons and/or look that I want? I feel as though the lack of this ruins the story potential. If I want to make myself a tank that has huge armor and a giant shield, I should be able to do that – regardless of if I want to dps or tank.
Specialization was more consistent for character building. I don’t want to go back to the old days where a healer just healed, and a tank just tanked. What I would like to see is the flexibility for us to create our own character and build them the way we want them to look (appearance wise), with the functionality of what we need them to perform. I know both WildStar and GW2 (among others) do this well with costume features, but that typically doesn’t work with weapons (the most defining feature). This does work in World of Warcraft (cross weapon transmog) if the attack animation is the same.
As I say this, I am reminded that perhaps roles are the issue. There are no tanks, healers, or DPS in Lord of The Rings. They just fight.
Then again, perhaps this thought line is just a portion of the lack of fluff that is missing in the engagement of the new MMO crop.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 =)
One of my favorite blogs to visit is The Ancient Gaming Noob (TAGN) and he recently posted an Influential 15 list – started by another blogger and other sites are also playing along. The parts I read indicated not too many rules, but just do not overthink it – only take 15 minutes, and list them out.
This sounds like fun. I am going in chronological order!
Mario Bros (arcade) (1985)
I spent most of my allowance money playing this game with two of my best friends at the local bowling alley. It was close enough to our school that we could run there at lunch breaks, and always went right after school as well – but just for 20 minutes before racing home. This introduced me to the side scrolling platform [honorable mentions: Ghost and Goblins, Castlevania, Bionic Commando]
Hardball (c64) (1987)
Two teams – the red, power hitting team and the blue, speedy team. That was it in this baseball game. My brother and I played for hours at home – nice to not have to be at the arcade. (I always got stuck with the blue team). [Honorable mention: Madden (I still buy it every few years]
Police Quest (PC) (1987)
My first foray into the Sierra games series (King’s quest, Space Quest, etc.) and it was always a weekend event at one of my friend’s houses who had it. I think it took us 6 months to complete, since we only had limited weekend time (we mostly played outside – kids those days!)[honorable mention – Maniac Mansion]
Street Fighter (Arcade, SNES) (1987)
Another arcade favorite the one on one bragging rights was a blast. Learning the combos, fighting friends (and arcade enemies) for the right to stay on the machine for the next challenger… flipping a coin for the left or right hand side. All sorts of home field advantages. [Honorable mention: Mortal Combat]
Star control 2 (PC) (1992)
Exploration, adventure, discovery. Space. Has anyone come close since? I am avoiding throwing my money at Star Citizen yet watching it closely. That is a completely separate blog post. [Honorable Mention: Wing Commander. If only for the space.]
Doom (PC) (1993)
We had huge contests at university with Doom – inter dorm rivalries. My philosophy class suffered fiercely. I made a philosophical argument about augmented reality to the prof and he BFG’d me. University was so cool. [Honorable mention: Half Life]
NHL 94 (SEGA) (1993)
Oh Sega hockey, with the one move that would score 100% of the time.. that was up to you do defend properly. Both ends of the rink, there was that ONE move. Yet it was still awesome. Plus bleeding heads.
X com (PC) (1994)
Turn based mastery. This is on many ‘best of ever” lists, so not going to explain its full awesome-ness. Many have explained it better than I ever could. Xcom is the perfect example of a game you loved but refuse to play it again. I have it through steam. It sucked to relive it – but awesome the first time around. We are not conditioned to accept failing the first X missions before we have a chance. (see what I did there?) [Honorable mention – Civ 1 – bit of a stretch, but very turn based]
Baldur’s Gate (PC) (1998)
I had played a lot of Pen and Paper games and this one reminded me the most of them. I hadn’t played a lot of D&D at the time and this was my first real foray and experience into that. I don’t even remember if I won or what happened in the game – I just remember the hours spent hunched in the darkness… in amazement. Just one more encounter. One more.
Rainbow Six (PC) (1998)
The AI could be buggy as hell when you were planning your rescues, but this was an AMAZING shooter – one shot and you are dead, get caught/spotted and the hostages are dead. Great premise and superbly executed at the time. You could do many missions in many different ways and had the choice of your own path. The planning and thinking part was as exciting for me as the executions. And oh yes, permadeath! [Honorable mention: Counter Strike]
Everquest (PC) (1999)
The MMO game changer that has spawned 100 clones, for better or for worse (often better, jaded vets may argue worse. It doesn’t even matter anymore. It was awesome and really kickstarted the genre.) It has ruined MMOs for me since, but that is also because of the testserver play environment (hint: community). The rose colored glasses often adorned!
Sims (PC) (2000)
Sims the original was the first game that I could get my girlfriends to play. And my non-gaming roommates. It was the first time I realized games could be for everyone. Then I invented the Wii. (or should have, at least). All that being said, I am pretty sure the things my girlfriend at the time did to the Sims (or tried to do) made me realize that maybe she wasn’t the one. Sicko. May have saved my life.
Dark Age of Camelot (PC) (2001)
My second MMO I played the heck out of and my first real PVP experience was also amazing. I also played on the testserver (Pendragon) and the strength of the community there really improved the overall experience. Sadly, game developers have learned that test servers make bad for the quick hitting types of testing they want with enough sample size, and they don’t really exist anymore. The lesson they should have learned is that smaller, more dedicated communities make for stronger ties. Another post. DAOC taught me to embrace PVP and how humans always beat AI on experience – always.
World of Warcraft (PC) (2004)
What to say? The most successful MMO ever made took an inaccessible genre and made it easy for everyone to participate. While I have spent my fair share of time arguing WoW has hurt the MMO space in many ways, you cannot argue against its influence. I still go back every expansion, do the theme park rides, /hug and /hi to my friends still playing, and then out again. I think the next MMO Blizzard makes is going to say a lot about what they have learned from WoW. I’m intrigued.
Battlefield 2142 (PC) (2006)
The multiplayer FPS I judge all other FPSs against. It was great. It was better than great – it was awesome. The kits, the vehicles, everything. COD always felt too twitchy and gamey in comparison (even the DICE successors did) and I started playing more strategic, slower paced shooters afterwards. BF2142 was just the perfect balance for *me*. [Honorable Mention: Project Reality]
There is my list! Crazy, and a *bit* sad that the most recent game launch on my list is 8 years old already, but influence is influence. As I re-read this there were a few I wanted to add (RTS such as Warcraft -or- Command & Conquer) but I decided to keep it pure – the ones that spoke to me first. I’m sure as I read through other’s lists I’ll have many an “aha!” moment. I hope mine brought along some positive smiles and memories!
.. I started having fun in Diablo three.
There are three clear reasons (ironically!)
1) The 50%+ EXP boost. I gained more levels (in one day) then I did in all my prior hours of play sessions when the game first launched. With a game that scales with levels.. who cares how slow you gain? This meant I received new skills faster and had a nice pace to improving (and having fun).
2) Loot is fixed. The 2.01 patch took away what was arguable the worst inventory management system created for a loot piñata style game. My prior playthroughs I had to constantly return to town to see what was worth keeping from the piles of loot I had (and unified storage). I get it- they MADE it that way so you could sell/buy and do real money transactions. We all know that failed and they removed it, but you could tell when it launched they were gating the thing that made Diablo 1 and 2 awesome in the first place. Finding cool loot. I got a legendary on my first day playing (something I didn’t get in a month of playing when it launched)
3) IT feels better. Things are smoother (always on is still on.. *blargh*) but the game just runs better and it makes for a better gaming experience.
I find it amazing that when games are made with the gamers in mind (instead of monetization) how they instantly become better.
This happens to me often with gaming – I hit dry spells.
This occurs when life gets too busy and/or games get a bit dry for me. Thankfully, right now I am in the former – just busy. This, in turn, makes blogging more challenging because if you aren’t playing then there’s not much to talk about. And if you do have time you would rather be playing instead of writing about it.
We call these, “first world problems”.
I’m 25 rubicite away from the final crafting upgrade in EQN:L and its probably a solid 3 hour burn/zengrind. Excitedly, there is a patch on Thursday that promises new biomes – SNOW! I love the outdoors and my favorite backdrop is a lake, but also love winter sports/shenanigans so hey, I’ll take a frozen lake and snow. This raises a couple quick conundrums.
One is that I like my claim, and where I am. There is a ton to do with it and we are only a couple patches away from claim expansions which makes it a whole new world for building. My good friend Mehlan has joined the game and claimed beside me so logging in now I find him there, waddling away, so I can say hi and hang out. So for those two reasons alone, not moving.
The second is hopefully they have meaningful seasons – has any game? I don’t recall. Why can’t I have my lakeside cottage.. and winter wonderland for half the time? Something tells me to add that to the “captain obvious yet awesome” list of what would make the same-old MMO the new-awesome MMO. (See: combat mechanics, leveling mechanics, endgame content, equipment issues . etc.)
Oh, EQN:L tip if you are feeling lonesome, /join general (chat) – people are connecting there and always a stream of chatter. Makes the nights fly by.
I’m starting to wonder if I really am done entirely with World of Warcraft – usually I play out the expansion to the end but the daily grind of the uh, daily grind quests of MoP had me leaving early in the expansion. Now I feel less connected to WoW than ever and I wonder if that slide means the end and no Warlords of Draenor for me. My friends still play and I miss their chatter (and envy their dedication).
I didn’t get far in Diablo III – level 20 I think? Before I realized this game wasn’t as fun as the first two. The potion chugging loot-fest just got boring fast. I heard there have been some nice changes so I may check it out again. I did pay for it, after all. Something tells me I may like the Crusader class but there better be a trial or something – not shelling out more for a game that didn’t capture me in the first place.
Speaking of games I didn’t finish/start, GW2. Level 37 was my breaking point. I read a lot of bloggers who love it but I now feel I am so far behind the story that I missed out on the game. Is that the danger of too many updates?
I was >< that close to becoming a LOTRO blog for a while and even queued up the Warden (after much bitching about it) but alas, right now its EQN:L or bust. And bust it is.
Again, the worries and problems of a modern day adult gamer. Too much to do, not as much time to do it. Somehow manage to blog about it though.
Could EQN:L lead to a full blown platform to make our own games? While I don’t think so, I like to be positive and for a change think “why not”.
Very blue ocean thinking but take Landmark, add in Story Bricks, and an item editor\creator and quest builder and voilà – you have many tools to make custom MMOs. From my understanding not much programming is needed. The world building tools alone in EQN:L have proven that even I could build simple town assets or landscapes that players could traverse. Programmers are making the tools better all the time, lets make them great, add some scripting and unleash the collective MMOspace’s imagination.
The best FPS I have played was community created with Project Reality (by Black Sand Studios) who have literally spent YEARS working for free, in a community across the globe in partnership. Graphics, scripting, game modes – everything!They have produced the best paced, most realistic shooter on a 10 year old engine. Rumor has it this effort will lead to a standalone title – I wish them the best and hope it happens. It has won many modding awards. Imagine if they had even better tools than were available for that old game (Battlefield 2)
Take MMO/World Building tools, and unleash them to the world. You know collectively gamers would come up with something incredible. The landscapes some alpha players have created in EQN:L rival those in published games I have played. Human beings have a desire for art, sharing, and collaboration – all things needed to create a true next gen MMO. Many would share their talents just to get creative license and experience on a project – which could lead to bigger and better things.
We crowdsource funding, why not crowdsource talent? Zooppa does this for companies. Instead of getting one solid idea from an advertising company that has been institutionalized, throw it out to the passionate creators on the planet. Put in an incentive, and watch the magic unleash. The proliferation of cheap HD cameras, computers, and editing software has pushed this renaissance – the tools. Are we really that far off?
Heck, we can build immersive, amazing games on 24 hour contests imagine what we could do with months or years. I believe all of us have a game – or part of a game – to share. Together we could make that a reality – if we only had the tools.
How could a publisher benefit? Many ways. Way back in 2008 I was arguing for different revenue models that could be beneficial for both player and developer. Licensing, % of sales, buying and selling of the creative content itself – EQN:L is building a model to support this already. Picture it on a bigger, grander scale.
Having a glass is half full kind of thought train here. I’ll return to regularly scheduled pessimism shortly.
First, an aside.
When reading Rivs blog on my blogroll this comment stuck out to me:
Which I find is true for a lot of blogs – they want a link to my Facebook, or google plus. There is typically a WordPress option and while my blog is WordPress based I own the URL so I can’t use “open ID”. So often I want to participate on a blog, only to find out I can’t without using either something that identifies me personally in real life, or sign up for something new. When I comment on blogs I want to use my blogging name! Thankfully, most blogs do have ways (name/url) and use programs like Askimet to filter out the spam, and/or have a separate approval process.
I was reminded of this when I read a post here at The Sith Paladin while hunting for new blogs to read and saw he was calling for more 5 mans – and I agree! Unfortunately I couldn’t quite post that there so I am here, and linking it instead.
I tend to try not to link other blogs in my posts unless I am giving them cred for inspiring a post, or reposting a good find (flash games, etc.) because I prefer to be active on other people’s blogs where the thoughts originated. So, with that being said, where I CANT do that, I’ll just post here and link. Best of both worlds (for me)
So, to the 5 mans – I have ALWAYS loved 5 mans. It is time well spent in a small group, doing something other than grinding or dailies. I once posted:
Instances: WoW has ~80 pre-cap instances, (when you count instance wings and heroic modes) and only 22 targeted for max level. Isn’t that split in reverse? Shouldn’t there be 20 instances before the cap, and have 80 instances when you hit the cap – wouldn’t that make it harder for players to “run out of content” fast when the game truly begins?
and still believe it is a good design decision. Simply put, old hardcore players (and raiders) such as myself, we are growing in number. We have often started single (lots of gaming time), got a job (less gaming time) got married (even less gaming time) had kids (super less gaming time) and are settling into a place where we can’t enjoy the games we love in the same way. Sure, I can raid LFR now in WoW, but I can’t be part of a full blown 3x a week raid team – it just doesn’t work for me.
Jumping into a 30 minute 5 man would though. In fact, that would be enough to resubscribe me to WoW. Even when WoW had godawful faction grinds, the fact that I could do them in 5 mans made it manageable for me (and conversely, when they moved to a Daily Quest only format it pushed me away from Mists). In Warlords of Draenor, they have an opportunity to get me back.
Or any MMO for that matter. It could be a good strategy to get a certain type of gamer in a certain point of their life where they want the experience, but can’t make the same commitment they once could. 5 mans could be an avenue to do that.
Curious curiosity – you cannot talk to your opponents in Hearthstone.
I find this very odd.
For a social game and gaming company as Blizzard who once wanted people to be their real selves while online to take away a basic chat function is puzzling. What are they afraid of? Its a head to head game, so there is no chance of cheating. The only possibility I can think of is that they are afraid games will go on too long – but there is a turn timer built in for that already too.
Harassment? Trash talk? Why is Blizzard so afraid to give the opportunity for two people to talk in a card game? Isn’t that the point of a card game – socialization?
They do give you right-click standard options “Greetings”, “Oops”, “Sorry”, “Taunt”, (etc.) and they have carefully designed those in such a way that you can only do so many in a time frame so you can’t ‘spam’ the presets.
And if you do, your opponent can right click on you and ‘Squelch’ you so you can’t Greet, Say Oops, Sorry, or Taunt them. All in all, a TON of effort has been put into limiting player interaction in Hearthstone.
I just can’t understand why.
I don’t mind losing when I play games. Part of this is from the old MMO raiding mentality where we knew we would die several times while “learning” the fight. It was the ultimate proof that if you kept practicing, and learning, and get a bit better everyday, and learn to work as a team better, you win. The more you beat an encounter the easier it becomes. This whole process makes sense to me and is easy to put time into. That example is very PVE centric.
PVP/FPS games you lose a lot but doing so learn about your enemies – what they like to do, how they perform, what they are capable of, what strategies they employ (etc.) This allows you to change your strategies and adjust at the next encounter. You learn and get better.
I am having a hard time even knowing if I am learning in Hearthstone. Yes, it is still in beta but due to the prior discussions I have had on here that decks can easily be stacked with pay to win – I can lose 10 games in a row with a deck/class and then win 10 in a row using the exact same techniques. This doesn’t give me any clarity:
- Did I lose/win because they had a better/worse deck than I did? How can I tell?
- Did I lose/win because they were a better/worse player than I am? How can I tell?
- Did I lose/win because the built in matchmaker gave an insurmountable advantage/disadvantage? How can I tell?
This is the main beef I have with the game so far – I can’t tell if I am getting better (or worse) and there are no clear indications to help me figure that out.
One nice integration with the Hearthstone beta is that my WoW-playing friends still show up on my friends list in Hearthstone. At first, they seemed really excited that I was coming back to WoW… until they realized that “oh, you are playing that card game thing”.
Personally I am surprised at how many of the same people are still playing WoW. Most in the same guild, with a lot of the same people. It isn’t just WoW either I have a lot of gaming friends who are still connected in EQ. In both cases that is a lot of years playing the same games.
With the reoccurring arguments about community erosion in modern day MMO I am starting to doubt if that is entirely true. Sure, it is taking on new forms and shapes (cross-realm, casual raiding, etc. etc.) but you have to give some credit to the longevity that people are playing the same old games, often in the same old way, with much of the same old people.
I am looking forward to Warlord’s of Draenor so I can buy it, play it for 6 weeks and wait for the next one – even picky little me keeps going back. I suppose I’m more of a sprinter while my old friends are long distance runners.
I just don’t have that kind of Stamina for gaming.