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.

Left 4 Dead : Talk about your Zen of farming (tm-Tesh). Farming delicious evil zombies. With friends. Shame the multiplayer is spotty for me (my guess is the demo is going to work out the last kinks in their MP system) but there is something cathartic of killing a seemingly endless trail of pure evil. Even better with other humans. The game is snazzy, plays simple yet challenging, and is way more fun than grinding XP in an MMO. I can’t wait to play this game with 4 real friends instead of anonymous online folk to save all human kind. Why no character customization options? That is all that is missing from the game to be a 2008 MMO.

World of Warcraft : Strange to say that the biggest barrier for me to get back into this game are the mods. I used 15-20 when I played seriously, all packaged in a nice little updater program so I didn’t have to hunt them down on various sites every patch (which is now defunct). Reminds me of why I hate mods. Mods save companies development time and money as users create UI’s that are more useful and far superior – for free. It is akin to sweatshop labor, but at least in sweatshops you actually get paid SOMETHING. Seriously, upcoming MMO’s, don’t build your UI so players have to change it to make it work for the mechanics you build into your game. Look at the 1000 mods out there for existing games, figure out what your game will need, and build in the functionality – then LOCK the UI so crafty players don’t find ways to take advantage of it. UI’s are our window to your world, so hire 10 to work on it’s functionality instead of 1, and cut the art department since they will only be designing lands we see for 15 minutes until we level out of the first area anyway. WoW is still a great 2005 MMO.

Warhammer Online :  Haven’t played much lately. Have 7 through the T1 lands and well into T2 fare, but with the announcement of the KotBS and Black Guard coming in December, I am going to hold out and wait. Plumes. Definitely need more plumes. I have never really been fond of dwarves yet my two main characters – Ironbreaker and Engineer – are both of the short & squat. Going to wait for the KotBS as my main, go through the T1 experience one final time, and see if the game can hold my attention after that. War is, after all, a great 2005 MMO.

10 comments / Add your comment below

  1. The “persistent world” aspect is one of the things that I really wish MMOs could do right. It is, after all, one of the selling points of the genre. The trouble is, the point of a persistent world is that choices matter, and player actions affect the game world. MMOs cannot by nature do much of this, because if all of the people playing had real power to change the world, there are very real risks of breaking the world and/or even small scale griefing.

    It’s why I’ve decided that I play MMOs to have fun with friends on an interesting stage, but if I want to have an immersive, dynamic gaming experience, I’ve got to stick with offline games. The design limitations of the MMO genre just don’t live up to the hype. They are fun for what they are, but they are not what they were promised to be. They can’t be.

  2. @Hez curse? CURSE YOU! (ha, gotcha! badum-ching)

    @Tesh: I haven’t given up on the idea of a true persistant world MMO. First step would be faction systems – MEANINGFUL faction systems. Like Fallout with those pesky regulators always seemingly on my trail. Of course, wrap that in with other ideas on this and your blog (dynamic world – not just the tag line) and it could “get that feel”. Wouldn’t hit the mark, but close.

    Secondly, you would have to triple the size of the world and have player owned towns. These towns would act as the current Shattrath, or Altdorf. Each account can have one housing unit. (hence the triple the world size). What is more ‘persistant’ than having a changed landscape from server to server?

    Mobs and dungeons would be the near impossible part. I don’t say impossible (because nothing is) but would take clever thought and development. Off the top of my head, why have a mob that dies in 3 hits? What if a mob took 5 minutes to kill, and it rewarded the type of XP that it took to kill 10? Each battle being an epic battle in itself, requiring less need for a bajillion mobs in the land with a bajillion respawn points. Clean out the ant colony? build your house in there! And a town! Of course, eventually you would run out of geography – unless of course, you made it truely persistant and had mobs fight back for real estate. In my head it works, I promise you.

    Of course, this is all in the context of current MMO, which it wouldn’t work in because it would have to be sooo sandbox (which people don’t like, and companies don’t develop for, right now).

  3. Would you believe that I spent a full minute trying to figure out what “bolg” meant? I’m slow today.

    I like the “different world, different server” concept. It’s almost like Sliders; “same Earth, different dimension”. Each server would run its own divergent history. Of course, I’d want some sort of painless server transfer option, should my server get stupid. That, or have devs stay on top of a server, and actively (via automation, if planned well) rebalance the server dynamics via new enemies or plot hooks. (Disease, threats to the economy, whatever.)

    Yes, definitely, have the creepy crawlies fight back. Make player housing vulnerable. Those ants you cleared out to make your home had cousins… who want the old homestead back. There should probably be invincible trinkets so that players can have durable things to “invest” in that give them a sense of accomplishment, but absolutely, the wildnerness needs to fight back, not just in the moment, but relentlessly. (Whether or not it’s with foresight and planning can vary according to story and player dynamics.)

    As for the neverending stream of mobs… well… I generally don’t like zombies, but I can see some sort of “no true death” system working. That, or some sort of necromantic miasma that resurrects slain enemies as part of a larger, nefarious plot. Or perhaps a steampunk technomancy guild, bent on taking over the world. Unfeeling enemies that aren’t dependent on life force to function can be downright relentless, and even shattered foes can be reassembled, Borg-like, into crazy new enemies. It’s all just so much raw material, after all.

  4. Fixed the bolg. You will not be assimilated.

    I just got off a 6.5 hour drive, so I’m fried too.

    I think the solution with player housing that can be destroyed (as a casual who would hate to “lose” my “stuff” I gamed so “hard” for) is simple. Insurance. Your house gets razed, you get full value back. If you had trophies/items (rare) they end up in your housing “backpack”.

    Bah. You don’t like zombies? How did you know that was where I was going with this? How does any red-blooded American NOT like zombies? The constitution was built on ZOMBIES!

    (I need sleep)

  5. Insurance is a great idea. It can even be a gradated money sink. I also like the idea of a “housing backpack”, since a player out and about may not have pocket space.

    …there could even be a salvage occupation, whether it’s mission based or a crafting sort of skill.

    As for Zombies, well… I didn’t mind them in Puzzle Pirate, and they can be entertaining… but I don’t like the Romero strain. I didn’t know that’s where you were going, but if we’re talking about ways to reuse mobs, zombies are one of the premier logical choices. 😉 They even make more sense than vanishing corpses and new mobs generated from nowhere.

    Y’know, I guess the Borg are zombies of a sort. It’s not so much the “mindless drone” that bugs me, it’s the cheap schlocky horror tripe that I’m no fan of. I’ll write up a post on it on my Borg blog here in a bit. 🙂

  6. I was half kidding about the zombies and you pegging me with them, GM Tesh =) I do, however, see a zombie apocalypse as a great setting for the type of MMO with the mechanics we often wax poetic about – it would contain the type of gameplay we both seem to like. I won’t rehash the thoughts but I am sure you can see the connection.

    ‘Zombies’ are a great mob, and you aren’t held to the Romero type. Think “I am Legend” as zombies. Or the borg, even. Once we get out of Romero land, anything less than human – but resembles human, can be categorized as zombies (you could even make the argument for politicians in that line of thought! 🙂

    The Zombie setting attracts me as the struggle for the survival of humanity, against impossible odds, that makes it such a great backdrop. The fact that every non-infected man, woman, and child becomes a possible hero – saviour of the human race.

    Bah, I might as well go and make my Zombie MMO post that I have been writing for a decade.

  7. @Phil: Twice bitten, once shy? I refuse to get excited for titles anymore, especially early in development. Give me something showing me this will be something truly special (besides the obvious SW backdrop) and I may commence drooling. Right now, I am so “wait and see”. =)

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