EA

How Not to Blog

Sorry, Peter Moore, your “blog” is a pretty big embarrassment.

I was surfing EA sites to find anyplace to complain that they stopped their major sports title development for the PC. Yes, I have complained about it a couple times already. I really want to play some football.

1) Most of the comments on that blog post I redirected you to is spam. I mean, Askimet is free. It blocks hundreds to my site a week. Even if your blogging software doesn’t have a spam checker, hire someone for minimum wage to keep an eye on it.

2) The posts that aren’t spam, are your customers who seem infuriated that you suggested the game you are blogging about is a big hit – their impression is complete trash. While that may not be the case you should probably address their issues.

There is no excuse for that level of an executive to not keep the blog clean. If you don’t want to manage it, turn off commenting. If you want it to be a place where you can connect and engage your customers, do so. If you want to start selling Gucci, Coach, and Ed Hardy knockoffs just leave it as is.

There is so much lazy and so much wrong with it. I am embarrassed for Mr. Moore and the EA brand. And I already don’t support your products anymore. (25 days and counting!)

Bioware’s New Game is Shattered Steel (probably).

A lot of speculation out there, but here’s a visual cue on why it is probably a remake of Shattered Steel.

Capture from the video

That’s not a building, its a cockpit

See those two, round black bulb things above his head (and to the left?) He’s not shooting out of a window, he’s shooting out of a cockpit.

Oh look at this high rez screen from ages ago.

Either a complete coincidence, or nifty stuff.

EA probably heard I have banned myself from their products, and this is their clever way to get me back. I love giant robots.

Straws, Backs, and Camels

Ok. I’m going to see how long I can NOT buy an EA product. I’m disconnecting my cash from the company.

I’ve never had a major issue with the company, either. Their support (for me) has been just awesome. I’ve been buying their titles for as long as I have been gaming.

Sometimes, you just have to take a stand. I know that sounds like I’m making some huge gesture over a major event, but it’s not. It’s actually a bit silly.

I was first disappointed with EA when they struck PC development with their sports titles. I was a perennial purchaser. Madden and Hockey every year. Baseball when they had the rights. We are going back a decade or
more here on those titles alone.

The layoff notices are well documented at brokentoys.org each time they happen. I’m not even ‘taking a stand’ because of this, although their announcements are always framed as a good thing – and that annoys me. It’s the attitude moreso then the job losses. I don’t say that unsympathetically either – but losses happen in every industry, every day. Normally they just aren’t celebrated as a championed initiative to stock holders.

The proverbial straw here is the promotional email received from them this morning for a game I don’t even play.

I did say it was silly.

For a mere $10 you can buy their first multiplayer map pack for Medal of Honor. It also includes all the multiplayer unlocks (which are normally earned in game).

MoH has been out for all of two weeks. So, new smart business design is release your blockbuster with limited maps for full price, then hit your players with a charge 2 weeks later.

You know the maps were done, and could have been released for free with the game.

Heck, if they waited a year, I’d understand a dlc pack.

This blatant f*** you just put me over the edge. A lot of respect is gone for EA, and in the blogosphere I was one of the few that still had it.

(1. I’m posting this on my iPhone stuck in a waiting room, so I haven’t linked anything. Will update that over the weekend

2. I beta tested MoH and it was average at best

3. I say ‘trying’ not to buy as they have a bunch of upcoming titles I am really interested in. I will need help resisting the temptation. I need a support group!

4. Anyone else with me?)

What I Don’t Get About the Gaming Industry

“As you know, seasonal roll-offs that follow game launches are common and vital to maintaining a healthy business” – EA Spokesperson Jeff Brown

Why is it that this statement seems only true for the gaming industry? I’m probably missing a few other industries that do this so nonchalantly in tone. It seems impossible to maintain a stable, motivated workforce in the gaming industry.

“We had a solid first quarter, exceeding expectations both top and bottom line,” said John Riccitiello, CEO (from Q1 2011 earnings report at investor.ea.com, dated August 3)

“EA is well-positioned for the year ahead and reaffirms its FY11 non-GAAP guidance,” said Eric Brown, Chief Financial Officer. “Digital revenue is expected to grow approximately 30% year over year, to $750 million in the fiscal year.”

Good thing EA doesn’t need staff to hit that growth. I suppose we have a better understanding of who straddles that ‘bottom line’. As a guy in business, I value my staff, their families, and their contribution as paramount to my personal and professional success. Talk to the Guru business leaders and you get the same story – it is all about motivating, empowering, and giving ownership to your team.

Not going to wax poetically here I do not know the way the gaming industry ticks – only that it sounds like a time bomb.

Oh, for giggles, the ending quote of Mr. Brown in the same article over at Gamasutra.com

“Because so many of our games ship in the holiday quarter, the team size adjustments tend to follow in the same timeframe. However, EA is growing and several of our studios are looking to hire talented people.”

Maybe you should move those talented, experienced people you just fired over to the new studios? Just a thought.

Steam Sale Stings! (also – my Baseball Game is now a RPG)

I picked up MLB 2k10 from 2k sports over the weekend. I enjoyed 2k9, and the $20 price tag is a nice entry level. Today I check out steam, and that same title is now on sale for $1.99. 90% off! While that is indeed impressive, now my valued purchase makes me feel like I was bent over the virtual counter. I emailed them to see if I can get credit (which I’ll promptly turn around and buy a different title with anyway).

I’ve always been a proponent of the Steam sales strategy and this is the first time it has bitten me in the bottom. I’ll update you if they do the right thing. If not, of course, then I suppose I’ll never buy anything off Steam again that ISN’T on sale. Should be a no brainer that due to the proximity of the sale I should get credit. We’ll see.

MLB 2k10 has ‘My Player’ mode, and it is a nice marriage of sports and rpg. You make a player, customize looks, etc and then go into the MLB draft. You can choose the team you want to play for or randomize it. I was drafted by the Giants.

What happens next is hella fun. You only play your role. I picked a starting pitcher, so I just pitch. That’s it. The games go by quickly (well, except for that nasty game where I earned a 7.45 ERA) and the pitcher/hitter interface is really well done.

The interesting part is how you improve your player. There are mini goals in real time (ie: do not allow baserunner to advance into scoring position, do not walk batter, strike out the side, etc) and successfully achieving them gives you points, which you can then spend to upgrade your abilities. You also get points for baseball worthy things (strikeouts, flyouts, groundouts, inning with no runs, innings with no hits, etc). Pitching, fielding, and batting all have separate point pools you earn for achieving things in game. Bonus idea is that you get 2x the points if it’s a key matchup – either a division/geographical rival (this happened when I got the start against the Oakland A’s) or if it’s a key positional matchup (this happened when I pitched against a star pitcher as a rookie). It’s pretty well thought out.

I’m playing above Pro level and getting a feel for how the game plays – spent the whole first season in the minors, midway year two called up to the bigs. Added a pitch type (Screwball) and working on my stats along the way. Winning and losing, but having fun. Supposedly you can also get traded to other teams if the GM deems it necessary.

Nice to see the RPG elements introduced into the PC sports game genre, although I suppose there aren’t a ton of players who swap their playtime between Fallout : NV and Sports.

(PS – I still hate you EA sports for stopping game development for the PC! I miss you football!!)

Star Wars The Old Republic : Hopes and Dreams

I have writers block. I have 7 drafts written on various topics but am having a hard time piecing them together. Some of them are related, and I think, can I combine them? Do they make sense? I have lost my groove, and working to find it.

My time off blogging was spent playing 3 games. WoW, Dragon Age, and Mass Effect. Having just finished Mass Effect 2 this week it gives me cautious optimism for Bioware’s SWTOR, even though I made fun of them on at least one occasion. In typical naive internet fashion, I am basing my personal hopes and dreams not from the devs, or things I have read about the upcoming title, but because of the type of game I want (dammit!).

Review of what lead me to my hopes and dreams, and how I would like to see SWTOR end up, after the break.

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A Survey request from EA/Bioware

I know a lot of people hate EA. I am in the small minority who have really enjoyed their products, and haven’t been dissappointed when purchasing their games. Of course I do a lot of research before buying games, and never buy a game by who it is from – but rather on the merits of the game itself.  I received an online survey request from them through Massive Effect, so figured I would oblige. Survey after the break!

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Skills Baby

Suzina over at KTR posts about a couple recent gaming experiences in LOTRO. It’s a good read for several reasons, but mostly because it captures the essence of what is great about MMO’s – success and failure. I shared a snazzy yet true golf analogy in the comments section about “hooks”. MMO’s live on hooks. 

Psychochild made a comment in the thread about the beauty of Suz’s post (we are tight like that where I can nickname her unashamedly.) and that those are experiences you can’t have in single player games – and my first reaction was that he was right, followed up with a “wait, is he?” The answer is yes and no. Suspense suspended after the cut.

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Cwofee Twolk

I feel so verklempt.

“Let’s go for a coffee” is part of our society. Typically you pick either a greasy spoon, or some fancy overpriced brand variety, and go, sit, drink coffee, and chit chat with a friend (or friends) for a few hours. It could be a date, or just a catch up session with an old pal. Most people do this, most people enjoy this, and the details are in the simplicity of the activity. Hot drinks, good people, and an open ended conversation. It is as American as apple pie, and as Canadian as hockey. It is probably also as French as smoking. More Coffee Talk after the break.

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Why WAR, Why?

I have an assignment and had to resub to Warhammer. I do a little freelance writing on the side for MMO magazines, and have done some prior levelling guides for the game. Another one came accross my desk, and with the desire to check out what has changed in the game here was the perfect excuse to resubscribe. Getting “paid” to play games is always good. (“Paid” in quotations – freelance 1200-2400 word single article writers don’t really get paid much. Thankfully for me, it’s more of a hobby than putting food on the table for my family! It does, however, cover my gaming costs, and it’s fun to do to boot). With my prior post being upset about having to put in a CC to get access to the 10 day trial, now I don’t have that excuse anymore. So back to WAR I go.

I have a slew of WAR characters, and thankfully I had a character just in the perfect levelling range for this project. I patched, booted up, reorganized my UI, and began my journey back into Warhammer Online.

1) Lands are still dead: The T2 levelling area is sadly devoid of company for PVE – although chat seems to be a lot more active. I can’t do any PQ’s, because in prime time I am lucky to SEE 3-4 other people, let alone get them altogether in one spot. It is a shame because I love PQ. The PQ and I are tight. Oh PQ, why have you forsaken me?

2) The UI feels less responsive than before: I thought this was supposed to be fixed. To be fair, I am running on High Quality (needed for fancy screenshots) – but I am also running on a rig that can play Crysis on high settings. I also have a beefed up internet connection as I work from home (and hotels) but send large data files all over the world. So, with my PC in good shape, and my internet connection all beefed up, it was sad to see delays when I pressed buttons, and bad timings on attack animations. It broke my heart. Especially because there was usually just me – and one mob – on the screen at a time.

3) WAR has, quite possible, the worst spawning system I can remember. Many quests push you into PQ areas. You can kill a mob, and sometimes it instantly respawns (and aggros)  you. Nothing worse than fighting through two mobs, one “named”, and survive by the skin of your teeth – only to have the named mob instantly respawn on top of you and finish you off. Very frustrating. I understand they up spawn times around PQ areas in case there are a lot of people mowing through the mobs, but really, can’t you check somehow to see if there are people there? If you can’t through code, then at least don’t push quest chains into the PQ’s that will (most likely) be done solo, in a barren environment. Sometimes you will have 3-4 quests all in the middle of a fast spawning, mob pathing area (which is impossible to “clear” to get to your objectives due to the spawn rate.)

I am looking forward to getting back into the oRvR and ran a fun scenario last night, but first impressions were a bit of a let down. I had (have) high hopes to see what other things they have fixed.

Six Shooter Screenshots are Serious Business

Tagged by good friend Tesh over at Tish Tosh Tesh, us periphery folks are now part of the fun. Like Tesh, I’m not going to follow the format as directly. Unlike Tesh, I don’t keep a lot of my screenshots so finding any was quite the effort. I have two problems with screenshots – I uninstall a lot of games when I am done (despite having enough storage capacity) to keep things tidy and organized on my PC (something I am sure my wife would appreciate me doing in real life org skills, you should see my desk) and usually when I take a screenshot it is quite by accident. This would have made for some great screenshots if only I had saved them. So, after digging through old files, here is what I managed to find.

Pics after the break.

 

This was my old WoW Raid UI as a shaman. I *think* it is clean compared to many I have seen out there, but of course I haven’t seen any new ones in a long, long time. Healing is serious business in raids, as we all know.

Ah, DAOC! Waiting for some stinking Albs to leave the comfort of their little Emain Macha fort to taste my giant 2 hander. Of course, I could just be “scouting” for my team, relaying enemy troop movements and such, because of course that is serious business.

I must have taken this out to flex my almighty serious business ePeen – yes, I’, #1! I’m #1! I may blow that up and frame it and hang it above my desk.

Ah, Eve. I have never subbed to it but have done many trials. It is such a sweet looking game! Pity I never had the chance to screw anybody over in it. I guess that’s where the real fun is in that one. Conversely, I have never been screwed either. In Eve.

This is what happens when you try to Revive an enemy in BF2142. Notice the lifeless body, limbs limp to the sides. That isn’t just from poor animation or graphics techniques either. Tip: use a gun. Much easier than a first aid device.

My first real raiding main in WoW, the resto druid. This was taken recently after I did a nostalgic tour of WoW on my old favorite character. This is the entrance to UBRS (no longer locked) which was the first “guild run” I did while looking to join the guild I ended up being a GM of for BC (we were Grey Rangers in Vanilla WoW). I am amazed at how WoW, for all of it’s simplicity and low requirements, still has such great environments.

Sadly, that’s IT. That is basically all of the screenshots I have on my new PC after 10 years of hardcore MMO gaming. I have thousands of pictures of family and friends (due to my wife) – I have never been a big picture person to begin with. In keeping with the spirit of screenshots I am going to tag Pope and GTB since both haven’t updated their blogs in a while, and I am especially curious what Pope’s Law School friends will say if he follows through and makes a gaming post. Besides, everyone else I read has already no doubtedly been tagged.

Thanks for the push Tesh!

 

Missed Marketing Opportunity – Take 2

I had a birthday over the weekend. Actually scaled back working a bit to enjoy it, and what was planned as a nice quiet dinner out with my wife, followed by some quality couch time (with our little one spending the night at Nana’s) turned out to be a full blown surprise party. It was a ton of fun and I have no clue how my wife managed to organize the party without me finding out! Thanks to everyone who attended (both in person, and in spirit).

On my birthday my peripheral email address started pumping out some neat emails. I use an old email address for all my forums and MMO access to keep my other email addresses spam free. I am not sure how new of a thing this is, but I was pleasantly surprised to see several “happy birthday” notices from forums I am a member of. Warhammer Online, Pirates of the Burning Sea, and the 2K9 forums especially – as they are all people I wasn’t always the “nicest” to – both on the forums and here. Also, I don’t support WAR or POTBS through subscriptions, to be clear.

So it was nice to get the form email from them regardless. Birthday’s get a special emotional response from people. I thought about those emails, and immediately concluded how cool it would have been if they had given me a little present to boot. Hence the title of this post. More after the break.

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WAR Population Stats

Wow, just WOW! (About WAR though, not WoW.)

Just found this post about Warhammer Online’s faction population balance. The crux of it?

 Average of All North American Servers 

 

 

Active Accounts Per Faction: 49% / 51%
Relative Average Exp. Earning Rate per Time Unit: 50% / 50%
Relative Average RP Earning Rate per Time Unit: 50% / 50%
Average Exp. Per Character: 50% / 50%
Average RP Per Character: 50% / 50%

Monolith

 

Active Accounts Per Faction: 44% / 56%
Relative Average Exp. Earning Rate per Time Unit: 50% / 50%
Relative Average RP Earning Rate per Time Unit: 50% / 50%
Average Exp. Per Character: 51% / 49%
Average RP Per Character: 51% / 49%
 
The servers are perfectly balanced. That is AMAZING. What are the chances?

SWKOTORO – On the Defensive?

When I first read the Bioware’s Star Wars MMO based in the KOTOR universe (my apologies for making up yet another acronym for it) was going to be micro-transaction based – I rejoiced. I am still in rejoice mode. Doing the math, I spent about $1000 on WoW, between two accounts, two expansions, sub fees, etc. In fact that is probably higher than that. $1000 is a nice round number though.

For the life of me, I can’t think how I can possibly spend the same amount on a micro-transaction based MMO. Even one in the Star Wars Universe. Unless, of course, $1000 lets me be Darth Vadar.

I mentioned before how playing an MMO’s is much like entering into a marriage – it is a full commitment. If the time sinks don’t get you, the subscription fee does – heck, I am paying for it, better get good value from it! A Micro transaction MMO will allow me to enter into a much more mutually beneficial arrangement – I can date the MMO. Not only that, but if the dates get boring I can go on less dates. If I fall behind my friends in the dating scene, I can pay a little out of pocket to catch up. It really is a fantastic idea – one that will push developers to put out a high quality of product to entice people to play. One that will focus on fun, instead of focusing on sucking as much time out of you as possible to lengthen the almighty sub fee. One that will force you to pay $5 to get a cool outfit. I know that last line just sounded wrong – and of course it all depends on what you will be paying for – and then I had an ancillary thought. What if EA learned from their Warhammer mistake?

More after the break.

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Customer Support 2K9 – Updated

*I noticed some Google searches pushing people to this blog post. I DID find a solution (all on my own) and I posted it in my 2k9 forums thread – linked in the article below. GOOD LUCK if you are having the same problems!*

Customers suck, right?

We bitch and moan about EVERYTHING! Go read technical support forums. Whine whine whine. Threats – both against the company, and the people who are trying to help. Customers are impossible to please – so it is understandable that companies have varying degrees of how they do – and don’t – attempt to. I consider myself an “ideal” customer. I know things take time to remedy, and besides essential living services I give that time to be fair. I don’t make unrealistic or false threats. I know the people who are helping me are paid poorly, and have a specific job to do, in a manner that is typically scripted and must be followed. (“Is it plugged in?” = le sigh). I am also competent enough with a PC that I generally just find my own fixes on the internet and make it work. I rarely contact customer support unless it is the last beacon of hope for me. The past three months I have contacted four different companies regarding software/hardware questions and problems and I am going to share my results with you – ranked from worst to best. There is a bit of a surprise here. After the break.

The absolute worst ranking company isn’t one company but a handfull, all lumped together. Boutique laptop companies. I talked about my search for a kickass portable gaming rig here. I still haven’t received contact from any of them after I even wrote FOLLOW up emails. The crux was this: I have $3000 burning a hole in my pocket and I want to give it to you. I want to give it to you BADLY. You have competitors with the same product, so I am going to choose the company that gives me the best time frame to build in. Just send me an email with an expected ship date and my money is yours. ALL yours. Zero replies. Astonishing, really. If I sent YOU an email, saying here, take $3000 just tell me how long it will take you to deliver on your chosen profession on my chosen product, I am pretty sure you would hit “reply” to that email. If not the first one, than the second. Sad. Good news is I learned an online friend of mine builds laptops with similar specs and can get wholesale prices on parts, so now he gets my business. Shocking though, right? Lumps of Coal.

Equally as bad is 2K games. My first (and possibly last) 2K games title was Bioshock off of steam. I didn’t check beforehand, but there are major, major problems with Bioshock and their audio system (FMOD) in Vista 64. One thread alone with Vista troubleshooting has 3000 replies. That is just one thread, dating back to 2007. There are hundreds of others. I made my own thread 6 days ago. I still haven’t received a reply from anyone there, except for one other person with the same problem as mine saying “good luck getting a response”. My first post listed my specs, my issues, and all the workarounds I have tried (none work). I made it half joking but I had already spent ~15 hours at that point trying their “fixes”. 15 hours is a lot of self customer service, so figured it was time to ask the pros. I made the post a bit funny to show I wasn’t angry but really needed help. The following day from that post, I realized I forgot to add other pertinent information, so I made a second post. I had also learned at the FMOD boards they had a fix done – but it had to be coded into the game for a patch – and of course the FMOD folks encouraged everyone to speak to the developer as it couldn’t be fixed on their end. I added that tidbit in. I also added in at this point that there is no way I am buying Bioshock 2 if they can’t get Bioshock 1 to work after being out a full year, and FULLY AWARE of the problems. That is not a “threat”, it is an honest observation. After spending 24 realtime hours at this point to get their product working on a completely up to date, great gaming rig, the cracks in the quality of programming at 2K games is really showing. The fact they hadn’t solved this problem (a year later) shows they don’t care for their own titles – or customers. 3 full days later I realized I hadn’t received a response yet, so I asked a fair question – whether or not Bioshock has been abandoned by 2K games (they are working on the sequel) and whether they planned on patching or fixing the code. It is a fair question. Yesterday I found out there may be a problem (*I* found it out – no one told me from 2K games. I had to keep searching and working on it by myself) with my audio drivers (which I had previously thought fully updated) so I patched them – and got brand new errors. So I posted those errors and also asked if the 2K technical support forums were the correct avenue for me to be searching for my answers to my technical problems with a 2K product (should be a rhetorical question, I know, but I just wanted to make sure). So, after almost a full week, ZERO responses. Sad, right? Dead kittens in a sack.

Now we tip the scales on the good. I had an issue with a Steam purchased game so I set up a ticket (it was Bioshock, btw. HAHA!) I immediately received a response saying my email would be read within 24 hours. Thank you. A response – I don’t care that it was automatically generated, but I received a response nonetheless. Three days later I had my answer. Three days isn’t perfect of course, but Three days for a definitive answer to my question is very well acceptable by me, and fair for a company that probably receives 1000’s of inquiries. Silver star to you, Steam!

Gold Star? You will never guess it, because they are the most evilest and terrible gaming company on the planet – EA games. I had two tickets with them this year, one for BF2142, and a second for Warhammer Online. I get the immediate auto-generated response – again, I am fine with this as at least I know my submission got through. My BF2142 issue was responded to, and solved, within 24 hours. My Warhammer Online problem was responded to the SAME DAY. So, all evil aside (I am pretty sure reading blogs and whatnot they actually hate their customers – right?) at least I know that they support their products and respond to me as a customer.

As an online customer living in an online world I do not have the time to sit on hold on a phone line. It has to be far cheaper and more effective for them to hire a person to read forums and emails anyway. That is why I give ample time, knowing other customers were there before me. I can see it. As a customer, all I really want is a fair and honest response so I can meter my expectations. “Yes, we are working on a fix, but it is 2 months away” would actually satsify me – I have a lot of other games I can play in the meantime, and I can quit trying to juryrig the title and wait for the definitive fix. “No, we are not going to patch that title anymore, we have all of our resources focused on new and exciting titles to make sure the same problems do not occur in our future games” – I would accept that too – and MAYBE would even try Bioshock 2. I will just return BS (haha, funny acronym considering the circumstances) and put those funds towards their newer, better, actually functioning title. “Thank you for taking the time to contact 2K games. We have a high volume of customer service requests at this time, and will get to yours as soon as possible.” I may even still like 2K games with that response. Why? Because it is a response. Any response shows they actually have an inkling of care for their customers.

Do you know of a company that has great customer service? What companies do you know of that have terrible CS? Are the companies consistent, or does it vary from person to person? I would like to make a list of companies I know who are servicing their customers and stick to them to avoid future bad experiences.

I’ll Take an Effexor Cocktail to Go Please.

Sheesh, where did the week go? It CAN’T be Friday already. I haven’t even started my week yet. I barely gamed all week, dabbling a bit in WoW, spent some good time in L4D, and attempted to workaround my Bioshock/Vista issue. Bioshock 2 – you will not be purchased. There are over 3000 replies on various threads on the 2K forums regarding the same problems I am having. You can blame FMOD, you can blame Vista, but I bought *your* product and it can’t be fixed without a patch. You are still selling the game, still support it. It was my first ever 2K game, and it will be my last if you don’t fix it (hell, at least tell me you are working on a fix instead of leaving my specific thread unanswered on your official Tech support boards for a week.) Just tell me you care. That is what customer support is.

Le Sigh. More depression after the break.

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Monday Mourning – Nov 17, 2008

To be honest I don’t get what most people hate about Monday mornings. I tend to work weekends, so there is definitely no rest for the wicked at ihaspc. My to-do list on Mondays is as long as any other day but I tend to ease into everyone else’s typical work week – check blogs, prioritize tasks (I know, the irony, considering that comes second) and catch up on emails. Usually Multitasked. I decided Mondays will be my little themed post where I ramble off a bunch of randoms. What better way to “start” the week?

RIP – Burning Crusade: Much how mauve is the new pink, Burning Crusade is the new Azeroth. Empty. Of every class except Death Knights. If you play by your tune and have a healer alt in the 60’s now is the optimum time to level that toon up – there are hundreds of Death Knights begging – and paying – for healers to work with them through instances. One group offered 100 gold for a basic Ramparts run. Of course, his name was Chucknorus so you might hold out for 200 gold. With everyone in the mad dash to be the first 80 (most classes/races have already hit that mark on server firsts on Whisperwind) I wonder if destroying old content areas such as Azeroth and BC gives Blizzard cost savings on server loads, etc. – that resources normally held to hold high populations in those zones. Perhaps abandoning that content is as much a business as a stupid move? On a side note, how in the hell is the Wow Armory service STILL in beta?

More after the break.

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Models Needed!

I have a dirty little secret – I freelance some articles for a PC magazine (nothing cutting edge like, uhm, this blog or anything, but class and levelling guides and the like). I will write a different post about that experience as it has been fun and interesting at the same time. But for now, in typical freelance writer fashion, I am pushing a couple deadlines (that are pushing back) and I need some models. No previous experience necessary.

I am out of town on business and this laptop doesn’t allow me to play anything half decent. Which means, while my articles are pretty much all spiffed out and done, I can’t get the necessary pictures to accompany them. Which is why I am calling out for a little assistance.

I need in game pictures of Ironbreakers, Engineers, Runepriests, and Magus – (which one of these kids is doing their own thing?) In action, standing around, in compromising positions – whatever! High resolution preferred. Cleaner the better – no UI’s/Names etc where possible, but at this point I’ll take a good look at anything. I bet you are wondering what you will get out of it, besides helping such a great person such as myself <pause for laughter> and the definite global karma bonus – I will caption your character’s name in (everyone wants to be famous!) unless you want to remain anonymous. Please email action shots to founts@gmail.com.

Since I just published my gmail account I am sure I will end up on a bunch of spam-lists too – hey, with great responsibility comes great sacrifice.

And, no Tesh, Puzzle Pirates characters don’t count. Not for this month anyway.

Familiarity Breeds Contempt

I am enjoying WAR. It hasn’t quite turned out the way I had supposed originally (or even beta tested) but it has enough good to stick around for a while to see how it all turns out. This little piece is going to comment on where I think WAR went wrong, but not in any micro or specific ways. More of the general attitude and design decisions from the top down which has put the game in a precarious position. A position they put themselves in but am glad to see they are making the move. MMO developers have a giant elephant in the room that they ‘don’t want to compete with’, but rather expand on the space that WoW has made mainstream. The MMO development cycle isn’t much of a mystery – see who is in the market, see what they do, and build from both their successes and mistakes. The mistake that WAR made was confusing what made WoW a success and what makes WoW a failure. They got it all backwards. They developed WAR with the good of WoW for the players, and the good of WoW for the company. These two things are competing resources and a delicate balance is much needed. What is often good for the company isn’t always good for the players – players want change with their new MMO’s. Let me further explain, after the break.

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I Am Losing My Head.

Part of it, literally.

At first I thought that was my dwarf’s brain. Turn out it is a mouth. I guess if it was a brain it would be much smaller. The point of this picture is – this is what I am staring at while gaming right now. I busted my little dwarven butt on a solo inf grind PQ to get a new hat. I was extatic. Finally, a shiny new helm! I get it, vendor my old one, and this is the graphic for it. Good news is I can turn off my helm graphic right? Well, yes and no. I can turn it off, but it seems it is only temporary. Anytime I zone, enter/leave a scenario, take a flight path – anything that puts a loading book up on my screen makes me look at this, and yes, I have to click it on and off to fix it.

Not an earth shattering graphic bug by any means, but this one is the one I am most angry about. I know that is silly, with all the major issues, but I have to stare at this character long-time, and having to open up my character screen and hide the inside of my head every 5-10 minutes is completely annoying. Wait, fix that, aggravating. I want to choke someone (volunteer?). See, we all have our choking point (haha) and among the major bugs just today I have encountered two minor ones that have me rant-bloggish – although I know they are both non game breaking in the bigger picture, they ruin MY experience. So frustration abounds. What is the other one? It’s a lot bigger, and an even bigger dissappointment. In the spirit of vote-off reality TV, it will be revealed after the break.

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Talk to Me, Baby.

Due to the aforementioned level block I too decided to enjoy the good part of WAR by leveling an alt through T1 and T2. My Ironbreaker (quite possibly the worst kept secret on order – holy cow durability batman!) just started in T2, my second time around the circuit. The first time it was with preorder people and the scenarios were less painful than this time around.

I already covered the most basic strategies here, here, and yes, here.  Conclusion? People still need to do more research.

T2 scenarios are dead quiet, . Even for PUGS. Shameful, really, as the most basic of strategy and communication can make a big difference. TIP: Yes, BW, you can get a lot of Renown and XP fighting midfield and racking up big damage numbers all scenario. Guess what, you get double the bonus Renown and XP for winning. I know, I know, you want the big numbers to take a screenshot and post it at WHA to show how cool you are, but if you really want to min/max your time investment, AND grow that Epeen, here are the real winners in WAR scenarios.  Last 5 rounds I snuck in today, I felt like I was playing a single player game. I longed for attack/defend squad leader commands from BF2142 because I think chat is completely broken. Luckily, in ONE scenario, someone actually replied and tried to rally the troops on objective based, winning strategies to make the scenario even more fun. Yes scenarios are fun. Winning and having the same amount of fun is more fun. Try it sometime, you just might like being a winner. I know a lot of you (us) are not used to being called that.

Quick Scenario specific points:

Mourkain Temple: You don’t need the ball to win, true. You do need the ball to control WHERE the fight happens. When you don’t have the artifact, you fight beside your enemy’s spawn, meaning you will lose the war of attrition. When you have the artifact you fight by your own spawn meaning you win that war. At bare, bare minimum, fight in the middle so you aren’t forcing your team a 30 second runback on death (awarding your enemy the 5 second runback at the same time).

Stonetroll Crossing: You absoultely need to cap objectives to win. If you aren’t, the other team absolutely is, because they are smarter than you. If you stop to fight someone midfield allowing the pacifier-holder to run away you are an idiot are objective disadvantaged. You don’t have to kill the holder to reset the pacifier, just keep interrupting him from clicking – for one minute. Total. That includes travel time. If you can interrupt the holder for one minute you have effectively “won” the encounter – now get the pacifier first and cap something already.

Phoenix Gate: If an enemy is near your flag, damage them. They cannot pick up the flag if you do. Who cares if is almost dead. If you let them pick up your flag, you put your team at a disadvantage. Don’t let them. Hell, autoattack for all I care.

Quick Global points:

Communicate: If you have a flag/artifact/pacifier, tell your team where you are heading to so they can defend you.

Communicate: Outline a basic strategy before the start of the round. Even if only 3 people out of 12 listen, you still have a 40% higher chance of winning (official statistics, I promise you.)

Communicate: A lot of people have no clue what they are doing (obviously) and giving a quick rundown may actually teach them something and make them a better realm mate. They will thank you after for it so THEY don’t feel dumb for not knowing.

Communicate: Again, for those of you who missed it, it is /sc <text>

Quick Google search responses (I actually had google point a lot of people my way about the scenarios):

1) To cap a flag in Phoenix Gate, you do not run it over your own flag. Up the steps, behind your flag, is a big urn thing. Click on it while you have the flag.

2) The objective in Stonetroll Crossing is to get the pacifier, then click all three objectives near three groups of trolls (NW, NE, and S). You have 1 minute each time you activate one or they all reset. You DO get points for just clicking one, or two, of the three. If you get all three you get a LOT of points. The match will typically end if one side gets all 3 pacified 3 times.

3) The Mourkain Artifact gives bonus points if you actually kill stuff while holding it, yes. It also does an increasing DOT to the holder the longer they hold it. That means yes, you do have to heal them even when enemies aren’t around them.

4) Destruction does win Phoenix Gate. Read the Quick points above

5) No, I will not fear you.

The scenarios are so basic, and at their core level, very much fun. I am not a scenario expert but I do know that when people listen, and follow/execute the basic strategies I have listed both here and in previous posts – we win. In MMO’s my fun is based off of other players contributions and vice versa – that is why I always try to perform my class-specified role when I play scenarios so other people can have more fun too.

Quick last point:

If you see any player in a group all by themselves, when there is room in other groups, do not heal or help out that person – at all. They are taking away your RP’s and EXP for their own gain, a known exploit. Let them die a boring horrible death, and remember that person’s name and spread it throughout the land as a jerkoff. Anytime you put yourself ahead of everyone else participating in the same objective, I am sorry, but you are simply that. Note of caution: sometimes a person is left in their own group because of reserved spots and/or you actually get 13 people in a scenario instead of 12. Don’t blacklist or berate them for that. If there is a spot open in group, kindly let them know. If they refuse, refuse to acknowledge their existance in the scenario and let everyone in your server know they are a bastard leech.

Keeping Levelling on the Level

Please note these are all assumptions on the math based on my experiences.  I am even going to use handout materials.

This is what the leveling curve in WAR seems to be. Each level gets incremently longer. While you breeze through the first 10 levels, the levels as you push higher feel rediculously long. While it might take you 2 hours to get from level 22-23, it takes 4 to get from 23-24, and 7 to get from 24-25. Add to this, the issue that there is not enough content to push through those levels and many hit the leveling brick wall in WAR. I am sure a lot of players love the challenge – maybe I would too if the content kept up.

WAR leveling

This is what the leveling curve felt like in WoW. Yes, it was more hours per each level, but nothing major or as rediculous as in WAR. The increments were manageable and the difference from 20 to 21, and 21 to 22 flowed logically – more time, but not an exorbent amount of more time. It had a natural, fun feel to it. Not the painful, punishing feel from WAR.

This is how I would like to see leveling done. Equal increments for each level. You would definitely have to change the way your character starts (not just with 2 skills, start them with a fair handful of handy tools – picture level 8-10 skillset to start). While this is a major change to the landscape of how we level in MMO’s I believe it would make the leveling game more fun for everyone, and remove the brick wall and seemingly endless grinds we are all forced to deal with.

If MMO company wants a player to spend 8 days played to level their character to max rank, and have designed their game to be meaningful from level 1 to 40, why NOT have 4 hours per level of good old fashioned fun? I would trade that in a heartbeat for the 10 minutes to level the first 5 levels, then 20 hours to level 1 level later on. It rewards consistent play and the player will always know they have a new level waiting for them around the corner, instead of waiting for them around 2143 corners (all left turns too, at that). WoW took away the pain of leveling from EQ, WAR has put it back in – only it is cleverly disguised in the much later levels. In this day and age of MMO’s catering to the casual, why put the grind back in? A level leveling system would keep both camps happy – the hardcore get their levels the same way, but the casual can enjoy the ride as well.