We are talking next gen amazingness.
One of my favourite posts is "Greatest Fantasy Movie Ever". In it I describe how a typical boss fight in any MMO would translate into a big budget movie and how ridiculous the whole event is. Sure, arguments of tech limitations and what not on why that is but really - that isn't an excuse anymore.
Check out Batman: Arkham Asylum. Yes it is an old game (thank you humble bundle) and how action sequences play out there is much more enjoyable and sensible. Sure, you would need to slow down the combat just a bit but just watch:
Notice something? Batman doesn't get hit. There are 20+ bad guys around him and he dodges, blocks, and counterattacks his way through the group. When he DOES get hit, you really tell. The screen changes color and there is impact. I got hit with a lead bar once and the screen showed me an interpretation of concussion like symptoms. Even more so, the fighting is really smooth, makes sense, and is somewhat believable.
The result is a ton of industry awards and 2 sequels. This was released in 2009. Don't tell me we don't have the technology.
Now compare to every MMO where bad guys arms and legs would be going through Batman's torso and little -10's would float up from the damage, blocks would show the letters "BLOCK!", and so on.
It's a natural progression. We went from standing in place with 4 buttons, to standing in place with 3 hotbars of buttons, to active dodging/attacking - all while not having the graphic interactions between combatants accurately reflected.
It would be an amazing innovation, and well overdue.
I still don't get LOTRO. It's confusing.
Is it free to play? Why are they selling expansions? I still want to try playing the Warden class past level 10, because it is the only class in that game that interests me (I have tried them all). But I can't, because I have to buy the expansion OR pay for the character class. What if the class sucks by level 20?
I know, I know - companies are supposed to make money but for some reason they don't get me. I paid a lot of money to League of Legends this year because they didn't make me pay up front. They earned my dollars through my enjoyment. I love the Lord of the Rings books, and universe, but I'm not convinced on the game. Let me play the class I want and if the game is any good, I'll give you some money.
Would you rather con $5 up front, or earn $100s over the long term?
I know this is nothing new. Doesn't make it any less frustrating. I could have been paying and playing this game since 2009.
The final comic is the Choppa - the Orc mirror to the Hammerer. Violent, ugly, and viscious - WAR players were angry because the Choppa was an iconic WAR class and having them cut from the launch was not something they were "happy" about.
So, how to write a comic about an evil dummy?
Was fun to tie in a previous comic (love seeing that in the comics I read) and besides that, played on the singing angle again (what would a character do when they were planning to be in a game, after all?)
So that was the series. They are still available in the PRESENTS page, but it's hard to find and full of spam now - I am going to kill that page soon.
WAR was one of the most hyped disappointments ever in the MMO genre and I am shocked that SWTOR didn't learn about the hype machine in full failure - some of my favourite personal posts are about WAR and how PVP games could actually scale and last, but hey, I'm pure armchair.
When WAR classes were dropped they did the mirror classes. The counterpart to the Black Guard was the Knight of the Blazing Sun (KOTBS) quite possibly the longest named class in MMO history. Fact check, anyone? When they released concept art there was so much feathery delight to them that I felt took away the typical tanky archetype edge. Hence the flavour of the comic.
I think this was my favorite one for a few reasons- mostly because I was able to over the top the whole thing and reference some pop-culture. This one makes me think I could have had a future on comics!
Good thing I am a realist. #smirk
The second WAR comic was the Black Guard, a terrifying Dark Elf class of pure evil (originally slated to be a tank). His comic was an easy personality, complete evil that even the producers didn't like dealing with him.
This class was actually one of the ones I was most looking forward to. I had always planned on tanking, but the Swordmaster and the Knight of the Blazing Sun didn't appeal to me (and the KOTBS was also being cut - next comic!). I ended up going Dwarf Ironbreaker and wow were they awesome to play in both PVE and PVP.
They ended up adding them (eventually?) but I never got a chance to play them. I suppose I never will =)
I loved WAR. It was the best BETA ever, and really showed the potential for a pure PVP game (with PVE elements) to shine. I talked about it in the past but the short list of why the BETA was awesome was:
- Every player was funneled into areas - so there was equal representation of each side, and always conflict to be had
- You got to know your enemies really well - to nemesis status! Some on the other side were known as amazing, and you had to change tactics to deal with it
- Everyone was forced into the same power level (tests were focused, +/- 5 levels)
Of course, the game fell apart live because everything above stopped happening (among other reasons go read the posts tagged WAR if you are really interested).
I predicted 1,000,000 active subs and a huge success for WAR. I still stand by that based on the BETA experience. Of course, the LIVE experience sucked in comparison. I was so certain that it was going to be a hit, and that I would be playing it for 10 years, that I started making comics about the game.
To be clear, I have ZERO art skills, so was using rudimentary photo-shop skills. I had planned to carry the comic on for a while, but only got four done. I am re-releasing them in honor of WAR closing down. The first, is Hammerer Ed. I focused my first 4 comics on the "cut" classes and the Hammerer was one of them. Existing in the "nether", and having the makers of the game explain why they weren't making the launch of the game.
(Click on the graphic to see it in full)
If you don't know the game you probably won't get it. Even if you do, you probably won't find it funny =) Either way, it stands as my first (and last) foray into comic-ing and at bare minimum remains a reminder of the enthusiasm I had for this title. Shame it let me (and us) down so badly.
1 of 4! Three more comics to go. Will post them daily.
So, Warlords of Draenor.
I have had a long tenure with World of Warcraft. From hardcore raiding through Vanilla, multiple accounts, multiple licences, to guild leadership in a progression guild through WOTLK. Half way through WOTLK I gave up on WoW and the sub model. It remains the one game I have spent the most money on (historically/total) and I still go back each expansion to say "hi" to my more consistent/stubborn friends (who still play), get to the next level cap, and bid adieu.
I have a lot of emotional experiences in WOW - all positive. So many good gaming friends (that I miss - some still in touch with, but most have gone to non-gaming pastures of "real life") and I would probably play WOW still if there wasn't a subscription. There is a comfort and familiarity there that is still fun, and I find the 5 mans smooth. The 30 minutes in and out is good for my current lifestyle as well. I have invested so much time and cash into it they should probably thank me and give me a lifetime subscription. Customer Service is not the inter-webs strong point.
Couple Random thoughts on what I have learned about the expansion:
Mists of Pandaria lost me because you HAD to do daily quests to advance. In WOTLK you could grind reputation through dungeons, but not in MoP. I can't stand doing dailies - its the WORST part of WoW for my playstyle. They are getting rid of them as a gating mechanism in WoD. Hopefully this is a push towards allowing players to enjoy the game the way they like the most. WoW gates at every step - at least let players choose which gate they have to walk through.
You get a free level 90 (any class) with the expansion. Waiting on specifics here, but EVERY new character should be a free level 90. 1-89 teaches nothing of the game anymore.
The best (and smartest) news I have heard is that they are pushing for ONE gear set regardless of spec - and that when you switch specs, the gear will switch intelligently to reflect the item budget you need.
I called this a good move in 2008.
If Blizzard really liked you (us) they would change itemization - not provide a double-grind to the already solid grind. Easy in some cases, harder in others. I like to use arbitrary numbers, so here goes. ONE raid gear set regardless of spec. Change how your character USES that set.
And my final initial takeaway, to make Wolfshead happy, is that WoW is down to about 7M members. The giant is dying. At the rate of decline, it will still be #1 for the next 5+ years.
I have been gaming all sorts of odd games - and I will be back to share some neat things I have sorted out, including what it is going take to make a MMO that captures the awesomeness that WoW (and MMO's) were.
I went back into SWTOR.
I love the Star Wars Universe. I was in early Beta Tests for SWTOR and like many others, believed if the game was launched as a single player experience it would have done amazing. Really, it is just a better, shinier KOTOR. Dragon Age in the Star Wars Universe. Mass Effect-esque gameplay in a Star Wars backdrop. It could have been a perennial giant seller as a single player game such as the COD series or even Assasin's Creed. I went back knowing that it really isn't an MMO but the storylines I did in beta were pretty well done - and I wanted to see some of them through and maybe experience a couple new ones. I was willing to invest my time (and depending on the experience, money)
Wow, they have really messed it up. During my three hour play experience last night:
1) You can't get certain quest rewards without being a subscriber. Major quest rewards are unattainable. Really? PRE-LEVEL 10? The starter experience?
2) The restrictions on chat make group very, very difficult (and there are heroic quests that require you to have a group as early as level 6-7)
3) XP gains have really been throttled (not surprisingly though)
So after spending a lot of time (and money) in League of Legends, someone who does Free To Play exceptionally well, it was a letdown. I want to spend time in EA's Star Wars Universe, I want to give them my money - but I want to feel like I am rewarding them for good programming and business decisions. If I gave them a dime right now it would be the exact opposite.
And I am just fine with it. Taking the plunge and focus into ranked play, but starting at the bottom of the barrel was a LOT to overcome. The truth is the Solo Queue ranked system seems to rewards games played. Bad streaks, bad luck, whatever - as long as you plow through you'll end up where you want to be.
I just ran out of time.
To test the whole ranking theory I leveled up a second account and it placed me a full league ahead - and didn't force me to trudge through 200 games. So I actually *reached* my goals by not using the established system. It will be interesting to see if they work on improving that at all for season four. They already have a ton to work on with Jungle/Support fixes, items, a stale meta, etc. I did find two new champs I am deeply in love with playing - Lissandra (above) and I'll save the second for my next post. Truthfully, I am even getting 'meh' on League.
I am accepting that I am not really a gamer like I used to be anymore. I used to keep up on the news, be excited for releases, try everything, get into every BETA possible... and now? I think I am just more of a hobbiest. I am coming to terms with that. What I am really excited for isn't any upcoming game or title (well, for one there is another 'memory lane title', and another that won't be out for years). The thing that has me excited again is seeing my old friend Wolfshead posting again. He is covering a bit on the next iteration on the EQ franchise and his initial observations seem to indicate that gamers like he and I should accept which gamers are being targeted now. And hey, even if they finally DID make the game I always wanted, having gone from hardcore to hobbiest, I'm not even sure if I would end up playing it anyway.
Still playing League of Legends and I am nearing my placement matches to move up from Bronze (crap) to Silver (less crap). it has been an arduous climb, but somewhat of a positive experience. My top laners (Wukong, Pantheon) continue to be my bread and butter and I have recently added Rumble - and have an over 75% winrate with him. He has been 'nerfed' as of late but since I have seen him exactly zero times over 100 games what I suspected is true - no one knows how to play against him.
Rumble is that cat like creature (yordle) riding his mechanized contraption and is a fun character conceptually, and plays hella fun. Anyway, hopefully I can ride him to silver.
Back to the title - what I have realized in the untalented, cesspool that is bronze (which I am so fond of being a bronzie myself) is that if you don't suck, that means you have an up to 80% chance of having sucky players on your team. This is a benefit because the other team has an up to 100% chance. So the odds are definitely in your favour. Assuming, of course, you don't suck. (Sometimes I do).
I have hit a neat spot where your League Points get 'clamped'. Whereas before clamping, you could get 20 LP for a win, now its 3 to 6. This means you really have to power through matches to get to your promotion matches. Also a nice way to slow you down to stop and smell the roses. Or at least the other available scents in bronze.