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Random Post

Haven’t been updating as much this week as I have been doing crazy other stuff. Playing games. I have been moonlighting in Fallout 3, the L4D demo was released for preorder customers yesterday, and I have still been trying to re-find a comfort level with WoW. Some general thoughts about the three in this random post.

Fallout 3 : I am having a hard time getting used to it. I can’t find a mob respawn point anywhere. It’s so strange to kill something and have it stay dead, it’s body still there 4 hours after I return to the same spot. Strange. I spent the first four hours being a goody two shoes, and I believe the constant exposure to radiation caused me to ‘snap’ and in a fit of rage I killed everyone in Megaton (except my trusty robot butler). My goodie-two shoe-ness prevented me from doing it the easy way, by blowing up the atom bomb in the center of town (I disarmed it previously for the town Sherrif) so I had to shoot/hack everyone to death. I actually felt bad doing it, almost sick to my stomach. These were the people I was just helping moments ago, and now I am shuffling through their pockets and homes for anything of sale value. I am going to go wander in the wastelands a bit and see if I can find a new home base, hopefully I won’t slaughter them all this time. Wait.. what? People are hunting ME for being so evil? Since when do my actions in games have any meaning at all? Better work on getting that Karma back up. Here, poor thirsty guy sitting on the ground, take a bottle of non-radiated water. Taste good? Good. [head shot] – let’s see if you have anything of value on you, now that you are dead and don’t need it anymore. DAMN YOU RADIATION!

F3 has really reminded me how awesome it is in a game where your choices have an impact on the world. Being good opens different quests, so does being bad. So does staying in between. It is refreshing to have to think about my actions before I perform them. I have finally seen through the lies in the claims that MMO’s are persistant worlds. F3 is, literally. Now if google would make a plugin so I can chat with my friends while I play without having to alt-tab, we have a superb 2008 MMO here.

More after the break.

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Calling on Copernicus

I made a bold prediction to a friend at the end of the Warhammer Beta that by the end of the first year they would have 1,000,000 subscriptions. I still have a level of confidence in that if they make some moves and continue to improve the game. Notice I said ‘a level’. Now that the dust has settled on yet another majorly hyped launch that went ‘well’, people are settled in. We have our new (and quality) Warhammer bloggers. Those of us that take the gaming generalization route always have a lot to talk about. And I want to talk about whats next.

Their aren’t too many major releases on the horizon in the MMO-scape but two have grabbed my attention. Bioware and the Star Wars KOTOR MMO, and the secret title by 38 studios, codenamed ‘Copernicus’. WAR done good if you like more of the same, but surely there is a company out there who wants to do better than just more of the same? Perhaps I AM living in a dream world. While my excitement level is tempered for Bioware and their MMO with their odd announcements of how it will play out as a single player game in a multiplayer space, I have decided to get excited about Copernicus. It is definitely a bit silly because we know nothing of the game, a lot about the founder of the studio, but even less of their intended design. What is the source of my excitement? Hope. After the break.

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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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Apple Screwup?

 

 People love their Macs. Obviously I love my PC. I do have one Apple product I absolutely adore, and that is my iPhone. I used to have a Blackberry but find the full web functionality just superb in comparison. I drive a lot for work (for example, yesterday I drove 3 hours to have a 2 hour business meeting, than drove 3 hours home) and I did the arduous task of ripping all of my purchased CD’s and loading out a cool 1000 songs on my iPhone to make those long drives more enjoyable. I recently relocated my home office from spare room to basement, and going through my random box of computer junk and I came along a couple of beacons of shining light – not one – but TWO iTunes gift cards! I received them at a wedding a long time ago (one for myself, one for my wife) and was pumped. I haven’t updated my playlist in quite some time so here is the chance to download some new tunes before my big drive.

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Scroll of Blasphemous Conundrum

Damn you, YOU, who sent me the Blizzard scroll of Resurrection. Did you do it because you missed me? Did you do it to get phat xp rewards? (they still giving those out?) because I am a cynical blogger now, surely, it must be to taunt me. Taunt me after reading my last near brush with WoW death (erm.. life?) and sure enough in my inbox, sitting right now, is 10 free days waiting for me. No Paypal fiasco, no hobo-sleep-interrupting wallet retrieval, just 10, free, painful/glorious days of WoW return. When I first  received it in my inbox I smiled, then groaned, then smirked, then hrmpf? followwed by a mmmhmmmmm. I wish I had the video of it to share with you. I haven’t cashed in that chip yet but it did remind me of the other few times I tried to “go home again”. I wouldn’t classify them as successful.

When free trials pop up (as they often do) with the promise of all the new and shiny fixes to various titles I had left for various reasons, no matter how skeptical, I typically do them. Ah, to put on my troll costume and roam the EQ lands as Braack Baacarat. To enter my stealthly Emain Macha gate camping with Bleyzn Saddle. The joys. The memories! The dissapointment? Around this time last year (or the year before, it is all a blur in MMO land) I got one for EQ. Password retrieval was simple, and I downloaded the new shiny EQ skins (yes, it has been that long. I loved being a big boxy troll. The new graphics? notsomuch.) I had apparently logged out in the Great Divide Zone. I was still guilded!

[/gu] Erm.. anybody home?

..crickets..

Good thing there are zone channels.

[/1] Hey! Uh, I used to play on this server a couple years ago and just checking to see if anyone I know is still around

Small pause, then a chorus of replies. “HEY BRAACK!”, “Braack! YOU LOSER!”, “Hey B! come find us, we are grinding Giants!”

It was fun for the reception, albeit midly surprising that so many people were still here – this was a couple years after I had left.

So, I met up, and they were grinding giants. To work on something called “AA”. (Wow! they have expanded the game! Aircraft now? and you can grind skills to counteract that? SWEET!). We ground (grinded?) Giants for 4 hours. Yep, the same old EQ. The conversations I had during downtimes were fun, and it was a beautiful night overall. I had one other place to go – the dreaded Tower of Frozen Shadow. I ran my (now) little troll butt to the tower, sat, and just thought about things as the day/night cycle went through a couple times. The TOFS was a pinncle of memory for me. No, it wasn’t that great, but I still to this day remember how I stumbled upon it with my pocket Cleric (Candarie Stryper) and Druid pal (Deidre Whereami) when the expansion first came out. No walkthroughs, no maps. We tackled that place, the three of us, lost a quarter level of XP and had some of the most fun ever in gaming. The unknown is powerful. We ended up going back at a later date with a full group and beat the thing. That tower, for me represented everything good about gaming online at the time – still does to a degree. It is a beacon a hope – an old relic of a place, poorly designed, yet magical nonetheless. I look back at that as the “past” of MMO gaming, and how far we have come, and dare to dream that future iterations of the MMO scape can recapture that magic. I logged out that night from EQ for my last time. Didn’t have the heart to kill ol’ Braack off, but at least I know that if I ever get a free trial to that place again I will have a beautiful sight to behold when I log in. Even if just metaphorically.

So, 10 days, huh? I probably will take it and mess around with specs, and of course, check in on my motley crew of characters lying around do see if any harm/good has come of them. As of right now I have no plans to buy WOTLK, but hey, who knows – maybe 2 years from now when everyone in WoW is running around at level 110 I can login and learn that Shattrath is my new Tower of Frozen Shadow.

Knee Slapper (Updated!)

Going to write a BIG fat disclaimer here as it involves the current American Presidential campaign. I have American friends who are the staunchiest Rebpublicans and diehard Democrats alike – and I have been a part of how any sort of political discussion can anger one or both camps. Bless you for your beliefs, and I just found this extradordinarily funny and wanted to share. Group hug and good luck on the election.

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How WoW Can Milk My Cow

By “cow”, I mean “wallet”. I know, I know, it was very obvious to you all from the get go but I have at least 2.2 readers that wouldn’t have understood it so clarification was necessary.

I have rambled a lot about WoW lately and what I dislike about it and how I don’t want to give them my money. Like a two bit crack whore I almost broke down yesterday and resubscribed. I mean, my characters have been dormant for months and I had thousands of gold on my bank alt – what if my account was hacked? What alts DID I have when I left? So many important things crossed my mind and I actually went into my account page, hit the gigantic neon flashing “resubscribe NOW! NOW DAMN YOU!! “banner at the top of the page, and as fate would have it – my wallet was outside in my car. (I can leave it there. With my keys in the ignition. And the windows down. I live in Canada). Wow, that was a CLOSE one! OOOH wait, whats this? PAYPAL option? I have a PAYPAL account! Certainly my Paypal account is much easier for me to access RIGHT NOW instead of walking up the stairs out of my basement office, putting on my slippers, walking out to my car, disturbing the poor homeless guy who lives there (nights only, and he pees on my front lawn out of respect instead of the back seat), retrieve my wallet, and walk ALL THE WAY back inside. Wait – then I have to punch in 16 digits AND an expiry date. Pay Pal it is.

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PC – The Subscription Platform

There is an urban legend in the restaurant industry that often quotes a study with the following conclusion:

“Over 90% of Employees surveyed said they would steal if they were guaranteed they wouldn’t get caught”

I don’t know of the study, and can’t google-find it, and if you know if it is true or a lie please chime in. Regardless of the factuality of that statement it seems reasonable in its truthfulness. While we all pretend to be good little people (and many of us wouldn’t do it) if you picture the poor little employee who hates his job and his employer who makes bajillions of dollars, I can see how it would be hard for a lot of people not to under those circumstances.

This analogy easily transposes into the gamer and the big bad developer relationship. Gamers don’t want to spend money to support million dollar developers, because they are evil. Because they are evil it is okay to pirate their games. You can pirate, easily, and you won’t get caught. If you do somehow get caught nothing bad will happen to you. So why not pirate? Rhetorical question, before the morality arguments ensue. Developers use piracy as an excuse for lost revenues and the validaty of those arguments range from rediculous to maybe-somewhat-truthful. The counter arguments have been hashed, rehashed, re-rehashed, and re-re-re-rehashed that it isn’t even worth discussing anymore. We are at a stalemate as consumers with our entertainment partners. They want more, stronger DRM, to which (vocally, at least)  we tell them legitimate consumers won’t play. Developers are in a no win situation. Develop a game with DRM and lose consumers. Develop a game without it and lose sales. I discussed the possibility of a new purchase model that would only work on PC games sometime ago, somewhere, and want to discuss it again. Maybe we can design a program that will save PC gaming. If it really needs it.

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WoW Needs More Revenue Streams

I haven’t written much on WoW here because I don’t play the game anymore. I recently patched it again after chatting with a WoW friend on ghat, who helps me out with this site, and another who is hiding anonymously in gchat from an internet stalker (true story. Yay interwebs.) I broke up with WoW about 6 months ago (hey, its ME, not YOU) and to be honest, I horribly miss the people there. Wait, let me clarify, I miss my guild and my friends there. The rest can go (and are on their way) to hell. I don’t mean that in the literal sense of eternal damnation – I wouldn’t wish that on anyone – but the community is, to put it nicely, garbage – except for the select group of good people we choose to build walls with around our guild (via the guild application process) and make WoW as little of a MMO as possible (which it already is), and more of a SFMO (Select Few Multiplayer Online). I have had these upcoming thoughts for awhile, and when I was directed to this post through a link it all but secured my thinking of yet another revenue stream for Blizzard. One I would happily pay.

Let me rent my own WoW server. Charge me $300 a month, I don’t care. I can collect donations (a la Battlefield 2142 servers) from my clan and group mates. Friends of mine that can’t afford to donate, I’ll cover the $5 a month for you. I would rather game with my friends who are down on their luck than say goodbye to them online until they can find a good job again. Right now, I won’t pay Blizzard $15 a month because of the things I dislike about their game. If I could have my own WoW server, and make it a happy, positive place for those who I care to game with, you can take my money.

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This Just In! (actually already old news)

Yay?

Something else to get overly excited about and (hopefully) not dissappointed in the end. Can’t wait to see what they do with it. I was a bit skeptical with Bioware at first, as a first time MMO developer, until I read the below in their FAQ

“Another member of the Community is harassing me on the website, what can I do?”
Simply contact the Community Team and give us specific details on what’s going on. A member of the Community Team will contact you as soon as possible.

Seems they totally understand the MMO community already, so I feel much better about it all.

I Has Comics (Fully Updated with 4th)

I always wanted to do an internet comic. Only two things held me back.

  1. Artistic Talent
  2. Sense of Humour

I know, those sound big, but really, this is the internet where anybody can almost fake anything.

I was waiting for a WAR model viewer to be done similiar to the WoW one to cover the ‘Artistic Talent’ issue. I sketched out my first 12 comics, which dealt with the cut classes, and waiting for the tech to make this hobby dream of mine a reality. With the announcement that the cut classes are coming back in (which I do have comics planned for as well) I don’t have time to do it the way I wanted, so I am releasing them – “as is”.

To see the first two and read about how much I make fun of myself for doing them, click here.

  • Hammerer Up
  • Black Guard Up
  • KOTBS Up
  • Choppa Up!

Take My Money.. PLEASE.

I am in the market for a new gaming laptop. I travel for work, not crazy amounts (about 7 days per month) and after I have tucked in my three year old over the phone and assured my wife I love her, I sit in a hotel room twiddling thumbs. A lot of the time I just do more work. I don’t really watch TV, except for sports and a few non-cable shows. Away from family and in strange towns I just want to be able to game in my jammy-jams and forget about work for awhile. I could passably play WoW on my old laptop but it finally died. MMO’s don’t work on my iPhone. So I am in the market.

The laptop I will still need to use for work so I can’t have flames, or skulls, or aliens all over it. Clean and nice is what I want. I also want one with significant gaming power – my last 2 laptops combined lasted me about 10 years, so I figure if I spend and get good components hopefully this one will too. I try to avoid paying for brand names. I have a budged of $3500. Research ensues.

I learn that CLEVO is a pretty good guts and bolts company for laptops and find a rediculously powerful one tricked out well within my budget. Here are the ‘stats’.

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Love/Hate

Is it the new balance?

For years I have had a love/hate relationship with MMO’s. I don’t have them with ANY other type of game. Just online persistent ones. On one-off games you read the review, buy, it stays the same (for the most part) you play it until it is over, and shelve it. The fact that MMO’s DO change is where the Love/hate comes in. I love the persistent world and perpetual non ending to the game. I hate some of the changes they make that impact my game. I love the community aspects of the MMOsphere. I hate the jerkoff community members of that same sphere (hate is a bad word, but for every 1 person that typically makes a community great, there are two that detract from it). I love that the games forces people of all walks of live to objective based goals. I hate that for the most part I have to rely on those same people I can’t stand to enjoy the game. Love/Hate. Wheeee.

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Libertarian

I am away from home for work which means no gaming for me (need laptop upgrade, stat) and as such am going to touch upon everyone’s favorite topic. Politics. Even more exciting, CANADIAN politics. Canada had it’s federal election and had an interesting outcome – the same as the last federal government – a minority government. For my American friends, Canada has more than 2 political parties and as such during an election there is a very good possibility that one party doesn’t achieve a full mandate. This basically means that they cannot do anything without the support of at least one other political party to get anything passed. For the record, this is good government in theory. In the USA there is such a polarization – you are a Democrat or a Republican, and one party wins and that agenda is pushed forward for 4 years. The problem when looking at the American system is that I am sure the citizens of the USA aren’t just Dems or Pubs but rather a wide range of ideals and personalities. Being forced to accept one or the other as a government every four years is consequential. Since we have a minority government again in Canada, that means the “ruling” party can’t pass anything unless they get the other parties to buy into it – meaning a wider range of Canadians, in essence, need to agree to it. The bad part of a minority government is that stalemates can often occur where nothing gets passed. I’ll take a larger pool of opinion needed in my government over an agenda shoved down my throat anyday.

Tuesday was the official election day, and I was asked by a friend last minute to be a scrutineer for the candidate he was officially representing. Again, not quite sure how it works in the USA but a person running for political office is allowwed one scrutineer per polling station. This person, after the votes have all been casted, gets to review all the votes (with the other scrutineers from other candidates) and agree on official ballots, spoiled ballots, etc to make sure the count is fair and accurate. After the polls closed I sat dilligently through the vote reviews, added my two cents, and watched the candidate I was helping out with get blown away.

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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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Happy Thanksgiving

Didn’t write much over the weekend, we Canucks have our thanksgiving early. Spent the time with friends and family, and had a great time.  I have a ton of things to “complain” about with gaming and MMO’s but heck, it’s a holiday here so instead figured I would send thanks out to my online friends, past and present.

Thank you to developers who have created a great entertainment space, and given reason for us armchair bloggerbacks to comment (ie: bitch and moan) about your products. Remember, it’s only because we like them that we try (urge) to get you to improve.

Thank you to all the bloggers out there who have inspired me to take the time to enjoy blogging myself. I read a solid 10 different bloggers a day, and always try to add my comments and support where possible. I’ll get to updating my Blogroll soon, I promise!

Thank you to people who lead the guilds I play in – these games really are all about community and a good guild does indeed change the entire gaming experience regardless of bugs, oversights, and general annoyances.

Thank you Joe, for setting up the nuts and bolts of this blog for me. I am sure you regret it now, but hey, if that is your worst regret you have other issues. Heck, you have other issues regardless.

Thank you, to the lady that paid for my coffee this morning. It was a long lineup in the drive through and I saw 5 other cars not let you in the line even though you waited patiently. Who knew that a friendly wave through to a complete stranger would result in free coffee. I am going to try that at the lineup at the bar next time.

And a general happy thought to everyone who reads this – we can’t change the world over night. Not the gaming nor the real one. Treat strangers with respect and courtesy. Hold a door open for someone, help someone carry something heavy. Cut your senior neighbor’s lawn for the heck of it. Help that poor tank get through the final stage of the PQ even though you have max influence. Don’t vendor that nice shiny blue item, give it out randomly to someone who can use it. The world(s) is/are a strange place, and I find that every little thing you do unselfishly both online and in the real one makes both a better place for those who are a part of it. While you can do nice things, and rarely receive a thank you for it, someone out there will take notice someday, and buy you a coffee.

Gobble Gobble.

The 6 Wheeled Car

There is a six wheeled car – it is a sedan, four door. What if I told you it gets better gas mileage, is much safer to drive,  hell, it’s even cheaper than a boring old regular 4 wheeled car. Would you buy it? Probably not. Nobody wants to be the first, and 4 wheels have done just fine for the past 100 years. We are comfortable with our 4 wheels, it is socially acceptable to drive a ‘regular’ car, and everybody else makes their cars that way. Okay, you got me, there isn’t really a 6 wheel mass produced car on the market but I used the example to illustrate part of what sucks with MMO’s. MMO’s design what is comfortable – what we are used to – when a few simple changes could improve the whole process. The $14.99 subscription fee? It has nothing to do with recovering expenses, it is just what people are used to paying, so that is what they charge. The leveling curve standard – lots of little levels fast, some mid levels medium-slow, end levels stupidly slow – there is not really a good reason for it except that is what players are accustomed to.

I touched upon my dream leveling curve here and wanted to expand how using a flat hours per level system could innovate a part of the market. I use the term ‘innovate’ loosely – perhaps a better word is make your entire MMO world useful. Let me explain. Again, I will use WAR as my backdrop because it has the potential to take advantage of this type of system pretty much as is.

The power of a character is indicative of levels. For illustration purposes we are going to assume that ‘x’ level is representative of the power level of a character to one another – being a level 40 is 40x more powerful than a level 1 character. (In reality it is probably more, but let’s assume that 40 level 1’s could kill 1 level 40, 2 level 20’s can kill one level 40, etc. Again, that is a bit skewed towards the lower levels but that is the power curve I am looking for. Players want to level to become more powerful, it is the proverbial cheese to our little rat race, and that aspect is important to keep pure in any MMO. Although I complained about how the leveling curve escalates to rediculous levels in WAR I don’t care so much about the total time – just the time it takes between levels. If you want me to play 8 days to get to max level, fine, just give me the content and regular pieces of cheese along the way to keep me trucking.

As a PVP game that encourages varying levels to compete/participate with one another the ‘power’ of levels is a big difference maker. It is somewhat balanced with the bolster mechanic but this still doesn’t solve another beef of mine with MMO’s – wasted content. I have been working on my dwarf alt a lot lately and by god, the RVR lakes area in T1 of DvG are absolutely beautiful. Incredible design and I can imagine the fun and engaging battles that could happen on the mountainsides with great cover and backdrop for the perfect bloody battle – problem is, no one does it. Throughout beta, and now leveling a third character through, no one open RVR’s in this pairing. No clue why. Such a waste of a beautiful arena for gaming, and no doubt a lot of time and development costs as well. All MMO’s do this to some degree – they make their own content a big waste of time and money – something that is exasberated even more when expansions come out. The by-product of this is that they actually shorten the life of their games by extending the top power levels as it creates an extra layer of inaccessibility for the new player. Yes, it does make the long term player stick around a bit longer, but the new player finds himself either alone, or hopelessly outpowered, and in the end there is a low retention rate for new subs once a game has expanded it’s power content. (Go join EQ now, and see how much fun you have!)

I know I am dancing around a slew of different angles right now, but it all leads me to the same conclusion: The relative power curve between players needs to change. Make that adjustment, along with a flat leveling system, and all of a sudden the entire game world is a playground for EVERY player. Instead of having a level 40 40x more powerful than a level 1 character, change it to the power of 10 – meaning a level 40 character is only 4x more powerful than a level 1. If my level 40 Ironbreaker decides to go back into the T1 lakes, a good group of 4-5 destruction players can take you down. Want to try old quests you never got to finish? Sure, it is worth 1/4 of the XP, but there is still value. When the MMO decides to up the max level, the disparity is minor at best and new players coming into the game can still enjoy every aspect of it from day one, instead of day 124. Please note I am not saying take away the 40 levels – still have them, and the ability/gear curve to go along with it. Each player will still get their 40 ‘dings’.

Now we have adjusted to a flat leveling system, and a player-relative power curve, a few minor adjustments and the entire game world is now the playground for every player. No longer are you limited to a certain section for a limited amount of time. Scenarios – Open up all to everyone, but instead of player bodies as the per side cap, use levels. For example, have 280 levels per side. Your side might only have 10 players against 20 enemies – but the relative power is equal meaning it can still be a good fight. World objectives – Have them all, starting from T1, have more meaning. The bigger rewards and xp/renown gains are still in the upper tiers (relative to player level) but put an absolute importance on those T1 objectives – so lower level players are really contributing to the effort. One side may send a higher level strike team down to make sure they are captured, but a lower level rally can still, with numbers and skill, have a chance (instead of getting one shotted).

While this may seem like a major change I think it would be well accepted by the majority of the playerbase. There is nothing wrong with maximizing the enjoyment of a game from the outset of the game instead of worrying about how much time you need to spend to be “effective” in that game. This solves the outdated content issue all MMO’s face, maximizes development dollars, and if you do an expansion in lower level tiers everyone can enjoy it, regardless of what level you are. Of course, WAR will never go this way and I only used it as my backdrop (because of how it is designed) to illustrate how a flat leveling curve, and relative power adjustment, could make that next 6 wheeled car the thing of the future.

I was going to rehash these comments on Syncaine’s blog here, and Melf’s blog here, and Openedge’s blog here – the portion about relative power curves but keeping lots of levels – but instead took the lazy (er) route of just adding  pingback (s).

HELP ME, HELP uh ME? (Update #1/#2)

It seems my blog pages ‘formatting’ is taking on a life of it’s own. I am not sure where/how I borked it, but it seems to be a streaming and stemming problem that is getting worse. Anyone out there suggest a good, clean theme (that I can’t possibly break?)

Update: Going to be messing around with a few preset layouts from WP. The black background is starting to hurt my own eyes when I type/read articles/comments. I guess their is a reason most use white space – go figure! (I use black paper at home with a white marker, I promise).

Update #2: Found a nice simple layout, white backdrop, and set width. With the old layout I really liked the flexibile width, but it made formatting posts a bit of a pain in the buttocks. Would look good when I did it on my 22″ widescreen monitor, but look like garbage on a smaller square one. So now, sticking with the set width. I am replacing the graphic above (it was the default) although I rather like it so I will just be incorporating the site name into it. Let me know if you like this one better than the black background one, curious if it is nicer to read on for you too.

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.