There is plenty of healthy debate about WildStar bringing back 40 man raids. This is also connected to a broader raid difficulty discussion. I will share my raiding experience and opinion. (Since you asked)
EQ - I was on the testserver and as such, raids were a server wide event for the most part - there was a third party board where people would ask for participants, and "hold" raids. Such a friendly environment! Someone would post they were doing a certain raid, at a certain time, and the rest of the server would respect and leave that raid/mob alone - or ask to tag along. There was no instancing. I only participated in a few here Naggy, Giants, and Plane of Sky. Raiding wasn't the game back then - it was just part of the journey. Because there were no raid limits everyone was welcome - even if you weren't max level (although appropriate level still).
DAOC - Does killing stinkin' Hibs and Albs counts as raids? We did do Relic raids, and a lot of them (also on the testserver - Pendragon) but there weren't really any PVE raids per se that I participated in.
WoW - 40 man raids of Molten Core and Blackrock Spire. I LOVED 40 man raids. Yes, it was a nightmare to schedule. Yes, you carried 10+% of your raid team sometimes. That level of teamwork, organization and persistence was an experience on its own. Notice I said "loveD". After working on those for a lengthy time it was refreshing to learn they were moving to a more guild-friendly 25 team. At this point, our guild split up and we formed our own 25 man raid team and went a raiding.
Except Karazahn got in the way. A 10 man raid gating gear for 25 man raids? whhaaaaaaat?
And this is the point where I say - can we ALL at least agree, that to be sensible, all dungeons and raids should be a derivative of the base of grouping?
5 mans to start
10 mans to gear up
20 mans to raid
40 mans to heroic raid
80 mans to - well, no thank you!
Or at least a smart derivative to not break up teams. I hated 10 man entry raiding because the next step was 25 man raiding. This meant you couldn't have two separate teams work towards that equal goal, and meet at it. You would have to run 3 teams (and sit 1/6 of your team on raid night) or run 2 teams with 25% subs - slowing the progression of gearing and practicing. This never made sense to me.
This can be done off of your base decision. If you want 4 man dungeons, have the next step 8 (or 12) and then 16 (or 24). This allows teams within teams to prepare and not be left out. I never understood what sense went beside WoW's decision to do 25 instead of 20. Perhaps they felt it would be more "epic", (which, I would argue is a shadow of epic comparison to 40 mans, and not really much different than a 20 man). Perhaps they had technical limitations that leant towards 25 (which also doesn't make a ton of sense) or sinisterly, perhaps they wanted to slow the progression and make guilds and individuals make hard choices. Either way, that was the only option. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when that decision was made. Among many other decisions.
WildStar is on the example path I have above (without the 10 man step) , and I like that. 5 man teams can run and improve into a 4 unit 20 man raid team, who can join up with another internal/external 20 man raid team to tackle the top content. No one is left out.
I appreciate the re-insertion of challenge into the group content (pre-release claims) and I am content knowing this game for me is about the journey - I don't expect to raid, although I hope to prepare myself to fill in on a night where I may be needed. I love group content and mastering 5 mans and the like - that will still be a big part of my playing experience. I am one of the few who absolutely loved WoW Cataclysm (the 5s and 10s and yes, 25s (that should have been 20s)) and it will be very interesting to see how a WoW-trained world will respond in the face of actual challenge and adversity. I expect the backlash to be pretty large, and we'll see if Carbine changes their course.
I like zombies. When I checked my tags I was sad to see that I actually only have 4 posts that talk about Zombies. And while I have a Zombie category, I typically only categorize by design house. Of course, I did change my tag system to a series of misguided, oft-not-funny, sarcastic remarks since tags are rarely used (on here, anyway). The search is all powerful!
Zombies have made for great gaming, and they provide ample fodder for gamers and guns and survival. Some are getting sick of Zombies and the glut of existing and upcoming titles surrounding them - the more the merrier I say! That is odd to say as Zombies are never merry, and yes, all mention of Zombies deserve capitalization. I digress. Anyway - my dream, self designed MMO is a fresh take on the genre and while it has only been built daydreaming about the possibilities Zombies have a place in my heart. World War Z (the book) was a very cool 'historical' look at what happened during a realistic outbreak. It's a recommended read. The movie was a complete and utter waste of a good brand name but still worth watching if you like Zombie movies. Just don't expect it to reflect the book in any single way or form.
I'm pretty upset about that.
Imagine my delight when I saw on Kotaku through a unified news feeder that the USA army has a real plan for fighting a Zombie apocalypse and there is a direct link to it on Scribd (that I just linked to to save you an extra click). Of course, it was created as a useful training tool for writing attack plans and read the disclaimer because there is no reason to get upset that the USA government "spent money on this". People will probably get more upset that they don't actually look at the ZA as a legitimate threat. But hey, at least they account for magical zombies from all sorts of sources.
It's a fun read if you are into that sort of thing.
continuing my 'intriguing' web series of pulling old draft posts from the grave and completing them whether they are relevant or not (this one is! (I think)). This one I started in January - naught 6 months old!
39M in funding? (43.5 at the time of this draft necro..) That's crazy. Nuts, even. I don't spend a lot of time on Kickstarter and I have supported a total of two projects. One, Camelot Unchained, has less to do with the faith in Jacobs to be in charge (again) but more for nostalgia's sake. DAOC was my game for many years. I honestly have some faith, but not a ton.
The second was supporting Tesh. I try to be a supportive community member and this one also had the added bonus of getting something cool for being supportive. To be truthful though, I probably wouldn't have supported the tinker dice on the dice alone. That isn't to put the project down one bit! I'm just saying for me, Tesh was the driving factor to support. If I loved cool dice that may have been the factor. Regardless - Star Citizen is a clear voice of the people on a game a lot of people have asked for for a long time.
I loved the Wing Commander series and also Privateer. While not related, I also very much enjoyed the X-Wing fighter series. So I definitely have a space ace kind of vibe going on here. This naturally had me do a lot of research on the upcoming title and I am intrigued - DEFINITELY intrigued. But, like many kickstarters the stretch goals are starting to lose me. I have so much distrust in big name designers making their comeback.
sorry - couldn't resist!
The constant fundraising is as well. I know you can never have enough money when developing games but just looking at their main web page with the contests, video shoots, etc. etc. it seems as though they are becoming a professional money-raising organization as much as a game design one. More game making, less fundraising, ok? The good news is that their stretch goals stop at 45,000,000 and we'll see if they add more after that. The bad *feeling* to me is how much of the money they have already raised has been used to raise more money versus making the game? I'm not saying that isn't smart, but perhaps they should run a new Kickstarter for the PR side of the game. (note:joking/sarcasm - I know promotion (often shameless) is a huge part of gaming. I also know that it is a necessary evil to help push the box sales. I think the mandate is already clear here though.)
Chances are that answer is zero money "wasted" on promotion, and since it is a self-published title that they are working on from a legendary game designer (Chris Roberts) this money is critical for the whole process. I have been pretty tough on Brad McQuaid in the past and every other former rockstar designer (Jacobs, Garriott) who tried to make triumphant returns on their name alone have failed pretty good. This is Mr. Roberts' kick at the can and with the freedom he has from the rounds of fundraising he won't have a publisher/external pressure/zombies to blame if he fails.
Of course, and with the other famous designers, I want him to succeed. I was an early Tabula Rasa tester and thought it had a chance to be a niche success - but Rockstar Game Designers don't do niche! I beta tested Vanguard but saw the chinks early although I held hope. Bhagpuss still heralds the game as one of his faves. I made a now silly prediction that Warhammer Online would get and hold 1,000,000 subscribers based on the beta experience. I still think it would have hit that if they preserved what made the beta experience awesome, but that turned out to be impossible. The irony of that prior linked article about the 1,000,000 subs is talking about Copernicus and how perhaps Curt Shilling could be uninfluenced by the market and actually build a game for gamers. Yet another example of a Rockstar Style CEO/Designer and a huge flop.
I need to stop predicting while I am ahead. Wait, I've never been ahead on my predictions. I just need to stop.
Chris Roberts is the face of the space gaming and exploration and while he has been gone from gaming for quite some time (for the most part) before Star Citizen, he is the last standing hero designer with a shot at a repeat. I am going to watch in quiet anticipation from the sidelines on this one.
Help us Obi-Chris-Wan-Roberts, you're our only hope.
One challenge with all these fun beta and alpha tests (WildStar and Landmark, respectively) is that I don't want to play too long or too far - because I know when the game launches, if I decide to play, I will have to do this all over again. Also, if the beta is a "doomed to fail" game, I also don't play too far or too long - why invest the time?
Hitting my 40's and realizing how precious and valuable my time is finally.
It's a balance - "free" gaming time (for WildStar, since it is a sub) vs losing out on the launch experience. What if I zoom through the early levels, confident I already experienced it? What if they changed something?
Landmark is free, but as mentioned in other spaces why grind it out only to have to grind it out again when launch happens.
I thought I was outsmarting the process in WS because I played exclusively Exile during beta - so I could play Dominion (the other faction) at launch. I would still have a comfort with UI/controls/systems but a whole new world to explore. However, after playing with the Character Creator for the dominion side and the starting areas (briefly) I'm not sure I am digging the tone of the Dominion.
Dammit, I have preserved the experience I most likely won't want to enjoy. (lots of guessing here... it hasn't launched yet!)
Open beta starts on the 8th, and I encourage everyone to try it. This is going to be one of the largest launches of this year MMO wise, love or hate it.
As silly as this entire train of thought is, I find I am far less likely to play through until end of Beta/Alpha tests generally if I am not enjoying the experience, and/or if I *am* enjoying the experience. I don't want to waste my time / waste the live experience, after all.
I am starting to feel that flexibility on my characters is hurting immersion. I am very flip-floppy on this subject so please help!
In movies and high fantasy typically a hero is "good at one thing". Legolas has short swords/daggers but really, he uses his bow. And he is famous for it.
Luke Skywalker has a lightsaber, and uses that primarily.
There are many examples of this. Characters are identified by the way they look and the weapons they use almost as much as their personality and grander quest they are on.
I loved sword/torch in GW2 for Guardian - but I had to swap out another weapon mid rotation to maximize my DPS rotation. This just felt silly. My Guardian looked awesome with a torch and sword, press 6 buttons, swap to 2 handed sword, swap back. You don't see that very often in movies. At least, not at the level of repetition required to get from level 6 to level 8 in a MMO.
WildStar, I fear, has the exact opposite problem. Everyone in the same class has the same weapon (essentially). It may look a little different, but Stalkers use claws, Warriors use 2H swords, Spellslingers dual wield pistols (and on). There is no room for customization except the look of the weapon. You can't be a Warrior that uses claws.
I feel these things challenges role playing and makes other issues harder. I am assuming these are built in to solve animation and other technical issues.
I still like multiple spec options in gaming, but complete changes is just too much in my opinion (right down to skills in between pulls). There is no commitment to any sort of build or play style. My character is master of fire! and ice! and lightning! and earth! and swords and shields and staves and... and.. and.. (you get the picture.) If you are truly the proficient in all, aren't you also the master of none? Don't we want to feel heroic? Why can't I fill a "role" using whatever weapons and/or look that I want? I feel as though the lack of this ruins the story potential. If I want to make myself a tank that has huge armor and a giant shield, I should be able to do that - regardless of if I want to dps or tank.
Specialization was more consistent for character building. I don't want to go back to the old days where a healer just healed, and a tank just tanked. What I would like to see is the flexibility for us to create our own character and build them the way we want them to look (appearance wise), with the functionality of what we need them to perform. I know both WildStar and GW2 (among others) do this well with costume features, but that typically doesn't work with weapons (the most defining feature). This does work in World of Warcraft (cross weapon transmog) if the attack animation is the same.
As I say this, I am reminded that perhaps roles are the issue. There are no tanks, healers, or DPS in Lord of The Rings. They just fight.
Then again, perhaps this thought line is just a portion of the lack of fluff that is missing in the engagement of the new MMO crop.
I am not "officially" participating in the NBI this year and it definitely has nothing to do with not being interested - this year is just bad timing for me with a whirlwind of work and family commitments I'll barely get around to posting (but am trying!)
All that being said, I think it is a great initiative and even though I am not officially a part of the NBI, I'll share my thoughts on blogging in case any of it is remotely helpful to anyone reading.
Brief history - this blog is actually pretty old - started way back in 2008. I started off writing around 20 posts a month - and that was a lot to keep up with. I had two extended breaks, one during a major health issue (lymphoma-scare) and one during a near divorce. I wasn't very good at balancing my life between workaholism, gaming too much (progression raiding in WoW) - the balance was all off. So I quit blogging as I kept viewing blogging as adding to my inability to balance. This, in hindsight, was the wrong choice - I should have cut back on WoW and other things because I had a great deal of joy writing, reading, and thinking about games and gaming. I remember my first Vic-20 and C-64, and I programmed an asteroids type game on the tape drive. I remember playing Star Control 2 on a 386-sx16 that I paid almost $4000 for (it was cutting edge!) I remember Sierra games at my friends house. I grew up in love with the digital playground and spent a lot of time there.
In short, it is a passion.
My lessons learned since 2008:
- Write for you and your audience. Both will, and are allowed, to change
- Don't stress about who is and isn't reading, and who is and isn't commenting
- Blogging is a community so try to read other blogs and support them. Usually just reading is enough! Comments are also much-loved by most bloggers (erm.. constructive comments and opinions *grin*) so if you read something you enjoyed let them know. Sometimes my comments are just that - "I enjoyed this article - thanks for writing it!" - that's the best most bloggers get these days!
- Being a professional writer isn't important - trying to keep spelling and punctuation errors clean is. I often have to re-edit posts for spelling and punctuation.
- Don't edit out your posts after posting - except for the above! If your opinion changes after a nice debate, feel free to add something at the top or bottom - but leave the article intact. Remember, it was the one that started the conversation in the first place!
- Have fun.
There are more but that is top of mind. My blogging style is conversational - I just write what I am thinking AS I am thinking it. I enjoy being free that way. I re read it a couple times, make minor edits, and then post (and then re-read and find those pesky spelling and punctuation errors...)
Welcome to Blognation. I hope you stay a while =)
Go check out the NBI and participate! I am going to make sure my calendar is cleared so I can be a better community blogger for next year. I am still going to go comment on some newbie sites =)
I took down my last post - turns out the guys I was running the WildStar dungeons with must have been trolling me. I have read the truth and turns out the medals are grouped base. After the run I asked what everyone else got and they told me differently.
So, I was either trolled or it was a bug. Either way, the post is completely useless now =)
I couldn't decide if I was going to leave it up and [redact] it (probably would have been way cooler?) but just took it down instead!
Ruined a post that I liked, but wasn't based on fact, so buh-bye.
Another beta weekend gone by with WildStar and some significant time was spent within the game. The extended weekend was helpful as I had both Friday and Monday off of work *and* my wife was out of town so it was a perfect storm of gaming.
I got to beta-max level (20) on my Exile Medic and level 10 on all other classes. This has created a small conundrum for me - I *love* the medic and levelling the class, but as I got higher I noticed a few issues that many are going to find at launch (without major tweaking - it *is* still beta after all).
Healing is a two way street. I hit heal but the tank/dps has to actually stay in the telegraph to receive it - very few are instant. So, running more challenging content I'd get off a clutch heal only to have the tank/dps rotate out of it. DPS and tanks are only used to moving out of the bad, not as well trained for moving into the good - years of training. This is going to be an issue with the Medic moreso than the other classes. They can hit from far way while medics are a melee healer. Also - everyone is jumping around like they are on crack or Ritalin. (do crackheads jump around?). Wildstar is like GW2 and others that have active dodging - most players are taking this as the opportunity to circle strafe even when it isn't necessary or important and is making healing harder. This is of course a PUG perspective. I am sure organized groups don't face this as much.
DPS on the Medic is much more rewarding and smooth. Still learning and sorting out optimal rotations but it is a very simple system. Some abilities are tied to actuators (points) and you build them (up to 4) and use them (1 or 2 at a time). Other abilities are off the actuators and purely cooldown based. Same premise for the healing. Hence the conundrum - none of the other classes spoke to me in the short time I played but I am interested in sorting out a tanking class. The engineer felt clunky and I just didn't get the feel of the stalker or the warrior. Tanking is going to be so much more important than healing in this game as you can negate most of the big damage if you are paying attention. That is the way the first 20 levels felt. I have to give them more than the 10 levels of test time obviously. Still - interesting take on how to find your class in an MMO world of all sorts of class options. That is for another post.
I mentioned in my first WildStar post that I felt 5 classes were too few - and it is feeling that way as I struggle to find my way with it.
The Levelling Experience
The Levelling experience was great and I really enjoyed it. Since I am leaning towards Dominion (I always play the pansy alliance side types) I figured I would only play Exile side quests to preserve the levelling experience when the game goes live. The questing is slick and the story is full of potential. A huge, mysterious planet once inhabited by an ancient race that has long left the galaxy. There are datacubes and lore points all around. While the writing is not supposed to win an Oscar it still adds some nice flavor and color. Check this gem out.
[The final dictated diary entry of an unfortunate explorer has a singular focus and is burned onto the broken, blood-encrusted screen.]
MY LEGS! Oh gods it hurts it hurts it HUUURTS why did I ever try that jump? Why did I think it was a good idea to - oh gods is that bone poking through the skin? And is that my - sitting on top of my - oh gods, it is. GYAAARGH! The pain the pain the PAIN why the stars did I come to this gods-forsaken planet in the first place?
Okay just - just calm down. Medishot... numbing pain enough... to talk. Legs... shattered. My attempt to reach the heart of the Sanctuary... doomed to fail. If you are reading this, turn back. TURN BACK before you take one lousy STINKING MISSTEP and plummet to the floor of this hellscape of a - oh stars the pain's coming back. Too much to concentrate. Must reach... medishots. Belt. Where's my belt. Oh, it's on my - with the - oh no. Hey! Get away from that! I need it! Well... I will need it. If I can - why are you looking at me like that? Oh gods. Your eyes. Why are they like that? Please, I need help. Don't - please, no - not my legs. Not my legs! What are you - don't eat that! Gods - nerves must be - totally severed - or pain would be oh NO GODS NO THOSE ONES AREN'T SEVERED gyagharghGODS ALMIGHTY the chewing the chewing oh gods OH GODS HELP ME the horrible chewing and crunching and GYAAAAAAAAGHHHH -
[The remainder of the screen is filled with the autorecord AI's valiant attempts to write out the sounds of violent predation.]
Picture a Morgan Freeman narration on that scene. All sadistic kidding aside, a lot of quests have tidbits like that - people getting lost (and dead) exploring the planet trying to find fame, riches, and/or sanctuary. It's a nifty backdrop.
The Gear Mistake
I know WS has been in development for a long time and it is too late to make the move now but I believe the way gear works will be frustrating for players - especially with WoW moving to a one gear system. In WildStar you have PVE-DPS gear, which is different from your PVE-SUPPORT (tank/heal) gear, which is different from your PVP-DPS gear, which is different from your PVP-SUPPORT (tank/heal) gear. In Warlords of Draenor gear is getting smart and changing to your spec. This makes sense instead of complicated storage and gear swapping issues when you can change specs on the fly.
I said this was a good idea in 2008 for Blizzard and am glad to see they are finally getting around to my old blog posts. Hopefully WS does too!
While levelling I did PVP, PVE and healed and dps'd throughout both. The experience would have been far better for myself (AND the people I was grouping with) if my gear fit the role I was playing. This is even more important in lowbie levelling where you are upgrading gear at a rapid pace. Doesn't make sense to carry around four sets (and you won't have the room anyway). Calling it now - once WoW WoD comes out Carbine will have to backtrack on this decision and make it work the smart way.
The Convenience Factor
Similar to the above - WS is awesome in that they give you action sets where you can literally change your specs in between pulls. You have room for up to 8 standard abilities and you can choose how you fill your action bar. The problem here is that you can't save a second set until you hit level 15. I don't know when you get a third set. The workaround is that you take the time and click the button 20x to swap it out - but why provide a convenient option if you won't let us save multiples? I believe this will be a cash shop item when the cash shop is finally released. Sure, you can live without it, but why would you want to?
Levelling is slow in WildStar. It takes effort, but thankfully, there is tons to do.
The level 20 dungeon Exile will be retuned (very difficult to PUG) and money is sparse and repairs are painfully expensive. The rewards are currently slim for the effort required which will make them avoided by the optimizer. The encounters I did (got through two bosses in a PUG, took us an hour to get those sorted) were fun but nothing you haven't seen before in other 5 mans. Still, worth playing out. 5 mans are one of my favorite parts of MMOs.
At level 15 you can do your first adventure which is a choose your own adventure style dungeon. The Exile one is really fun. Basically 5 go in to an over-arching story line and group members vote what things to do - so you could have the choice to rescue the farmer's daughter, kill a certain spy, or disable supplies. Each leg of the adventure has those choices - and in the Exile one there were 3 choice sets. Each played out in the same backdrop which gives custom options and running through the same instance isn't so boring because of it.
Shiphand missions take you offworld but are scalable mini dungeons for 1-5 players. The first I encountered was an infestation of a moon station and it was really fun - but also hard to complete solo. Took me a few deaths to sort out what I was doing wrong. The story was fun, and it was a neat way to solo it out. Would have been more fun with a couple friends, but c'est la vie.
I also did a few PVP runs which was fun and fast while being familiar.
It is amazing, fun, easy, and very, very personalized. I loved finding things I could put in my house and on my plot of land through quests, adventures, and dungeons. Its an awesome feature full of personalization and creativity (there are a ton of manipulation of objects capability built in). There are going to be some awesome homes in WS and hopefully they keep cranking out the props to support it. There are functional things as well - I did a relic garden, which is a planet-harvestable resource. Sure it is limited to once per day (in game day) but every time I ported back to my house I could farm some. It was handy. I also did a garden, and planted some seeds I found in the wild. (I didn't take farming, so I couldn't harvest them). Finally I did a moonshine unit in my backyard and had to make a batch in challenge mode - and I won a giant neon BEER sign for doing so. Which I then hung on my Moonshine still. The possibilities are endless. You can have one home that all Alts can edit I am told so that is a big bonus.
The Pre Order
I pre-ordered. This game is WoW-polished and on rails, with a heavy dose of phasing. It will be great for solo questers with a lot of areas to explore and the grouping options are plentiful and interesting. There is nothing here that screams innovation in the sense of world building or MMO gaming but sometimes its okay to just have a great game that caters to the masses. If you are comfortable in WoW, but want a different backdrop, this game will work for you. I am still not excited for the sub fee (and believe it will be gone at some point) but with the discount I got on the game I basically get two months free. If I eke out 30 hours of gameplay in those two months I get my money's worth based on today's single player campaign hours.
Besides, I can always cancel the sub fee and wait for the value to catch up or the time to play.
I love information and believe that all MMOs should be regularly publishing information that is only available to them. This would get rid of the "what ifs" and curiosities of the general population. It would also get rid of the mis-information. Is 50% of the "tanks" a paladin in the end game? Why *not* share that information? It seems most companies are overprotective of their population, class, race and spec mix - for fear that it would somehow influence the population base. The truth is, in the absence of true information players will just guess, hypothesize, and collect as accurate as they can - and still make their own conclusions regardless.
Just give it to them. Give it to us.
One of my favorite sites (now WRIP) was a WoW datamining site. This site wrote scripts to pull information from Blizzard's armory site. Why make someone sort that out? Provide it! Worst case scenario is that players will jump to the same conclusions they would without the right information (anyway) - best case scenario, we have the opportunity to have a conversation based on facts. That site provided so much perspective that Blizzard refused to - why give the kudos to the individual? Let the company provide the 100% accurate information, AND get the respect and accuracy out there.
This site is interesting, thanks to it! And based off of this conversation, I definitely wanted to share!
Obviously the information isn't accurate as the game isn't even launched, but interesting to see people's intentions. ALSO it will be very interesting to see 6months in if that is a nice cross section of accuracy. I am thankful that Wildstar devs have previously shared beta weekend population stats and hopefully this is a trend that continues. I will respect Carbine that much more for it.
Not sure if this is a bad sign, or if they are just trying to pump up box sales. I always thought launch time was the best time to get a full pop of box price? I only have a free CURSE account (used to help manage my WoW addons back in the day) and I received this email today.
My big question is: How does this make people feel who already paid full price? As an FYI, curse had 300,000 keys to give away, so this email probably went out to 300,000 people.
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The 22% works out to a $15ish discount before taxes, so you get a second month of sub fee technically free. This might be enough for me to justify the purchase, so kudos to good marketing. Still, my main concern is why they are discounting a HUGE launch, with big visibility - arguably one of the biggest launches of the year! Why discount that?