Archive for March 2010

EVE WOW EVE WOW EVE WOW

March 23, 2010

Which one should I subscribe to, or should I not subscribe at all?  I have been battling with this thought for a couple weeks now simply because my MMO-less boredom is start to grow too strong on me.  No matter which one I subscribe to I feel it’s only going to be a short term boredom depresser, so I was really trying to avoid playing a pay to play game.

However That didn’t go to well cause even the free to play market isn’t worth experimenting with at this point.  I first tried to go to go back to guildwars, which I have all the expansions for, but I didn’t manage to get past the login screen.  I guess my account got jacked when ArenaNet’s system was hacked.  I didn’t want to go through the process of getting it back, so that put a quick end to my GW adventure.  I briefly thought about FreeRealms, but the kiddie scene isn’t really for me.  I quickly abandoned that idea.I had to play a game that I atleast respect, but the ones I do are well past their prime.  The only two real decisions are EVE or WOW.

I’ve done the free trial a couple of times in EVE, and I have a general understanding of the game.  I’ve done a lot of missions, but something like PVP, that happens regularly, would have a steep learning curve for me.  Also their skill based system is based on time, which I’m clearly at a disadvantage against the older players.  Starting from scratch with EVE seems like it would just take too long.

I admit Keen’s post of going to WOW for nostalgic reasons kinda got my interest in WOW up again, but not for nostalgic reasons.  I’m not the nostalgic type, but I did plan to go back to WOW once Cataclysm comes out.  I hate the raiding scene in WOW because of the high turnover rate and lack of people wanting to tell you about the encounters, but I figure I’ll gear up a few alts so I have a variety of characters geared and ready for the new expansion.  Of course I had to resub during a patch day.

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How Useful is Beta?

March 20, 2010

This post was a response from Nerfbat.

Overall I agree with you that beta’s are useful, but after seeing AAA titles like VG, AOC, and WAR come out I can’t help but question the beta process. The cost of failure is so high, and someone obviously dropped the ball somewhere which shouldn’t be happening with multi-million dollar projects.

I think this article is more in-line with closed rather than open beta, But one line which I completely agree with is. “What you get are hundreds of random messages, none in a useful format for the dev team, many without the steps to reproduce.”

There’s a huge gap between the intention of beta’s and the results your actually getting from them, and it’s up to the developers to design the format that will pull out information from beta players that they can work with. Sometimes players offer ridiculous suggestions that just won’t work, and other times I feel developers are afraid to admit the design doesn’t work and refuse to make adjustments. You can’t just say ok here’s your invite go play our game then go spout off on the forum with the problems you have.

I get the impression that developers under-estimate the difficulties of extracting valuable information through the beta process, but with the ones who know what they’re doing it will show up in their work.

Contested VS Instance Content

March 16, 2010

This was my reply from a post on the 38watch.com site, which I found interesting.  There’s nothing I can say to make contested content seem pleasant.  It’s unfair, unforgiving, and time consuming, yet there’s a number of people who still want that mechanic back.  If you look at the mechanics and how they effect the game as a whole I think it’s easier to see why.

My MMO experiences are defined by the rewards I receive, and the game mechanics that I have to go through to get the rewards have an effect on them. Obviously the main difference between instanced an non instanced content is accessibility. Instanced content makes items more common. If you’re making an MMO where your streamlining everything and all the characters are basically wearing a new suit of armor every 5 levels, then go ahead and instance the hell out of the game.

I would rather have contested content where I have to deal with the effects that a massive online environment brings to the game. If the camp I want to hunt in is already taken, or I have to go lfg for a period of time, then so be it. Items are going to be harder to get, but itemization could be less restrictive with bind on pickup and equip so we could get a more active market.

Developers can’t just say we have contested content and instanced content, so everyone is happy, all done. It’s not that simple. How are the rewards going to compare with each other? Are they going to overlap? Or are they going to make it so that you have to master both forms of content if you want to have respectable gear. You don’t want one system driving out the other. That’s the danger of picking the middle road, sometimes it’s better just picking one side and sticking with that.

R.A Salvatore Gives GDC Speech

March 12, 2010

Gamasutra has the most detailed review of it from what I can tell.  He dosen’t go into many specifics about the copernicus project, and I really wasn’t expecting any, but there were a few quotes it that I would like to point out.

“What we did was we built a 10,000 year history of our world. That was what I insisted on. We need a huge history for the world.”

“[We’re] not giving you these big text blocks — nothing like that. Just the attitudes [of the characters] make sense.”

“In the beginning of Copernicus a device has been perfected, called the Well of Souls. When you die the well of souls will bring you back from the dead if you’ve met the conditions for the Well of Souls.”

That’s all I can find regarding specifics to the copernicus project.  He did a lot of reminiscing about EQ, which I hope will heavily influence the development of copernicus.  I didn’t really know RA before he joined 38S, and my initial impression when he joined the team was he’s just a figure head to sell the brand.  After reading a few of his interviews I know that is not the case.  Not only does he have solid insights about MMORPG’s, I found myself often agreeing with his vision of various MMO concepts.  To show that here are a couple of my favorite quotes in that interview.

“If you take out of a world two things: the pain of losing, it will diminish the accomplishment of winning.  if you take the element of chance of out it, I won’t enjoy it.”

“complaining is part of the fun. And if you eliminate the downside of a game, when you accomplish something, what’s the point?”

“”[EverQuest] is still the game that I look to as the best world in a game,” due to its size and scope.”

“I’ve come to believe that one of the problems of gamers going forward if we’re not careful is how mechanics will take all of the pain out of the games.”

I know it’s premature to draw connections with what he says and imply that their going to be in the game, but I hope his insights are influencing the developers.  I want Copernicus to reflect RA’s visions, and not just in a story line type of way, but in a game mechanics match his vision type of way.

The MMORPG Drought and The FPS Show

March 5, 2010

I can’t wait for GDC to begin, so we can get an update on the MMO developments, because it has been the same old dried up stuff in the MMO market.  The decent MMO’s are now 5+ years old, and the new ones are just generic copies that want to make a few bucks through item shops.  The saddest thing about all of this is, I don’t see a repectable MMO coming out anytime soon.  When you don’t have an MMO to log into everyday when you get home, it creates an empty feeling inside that I can’t stand.  While at times I have a similar expeirence to what CuppyTalk describes here, I’m not ready to give up hope on MMO genre just yet.

Since the MMO market is in a drought, I have been messing around with my next favorite genre the FPS games.  MW2 has been a great game, and I have gotten pretty good at it, but now that Bad Company 2 is out I’m going to be playing that for a while.  Despite both of these games having a similar military setting, I’m amazed at how different they play out.  While teamwork is always good, in MW2 you can get by on your own very well.  In BC2 teamwork is essential, unless you want to sit in the corner of the map and snipe all day.  Currently in BC2 I think you have a lot of COD players that just want to log in and shoot people, but if that is the way you approach it then it’s not going to go well for you.  BC2 is a lot more strategic, you have to pick the best time and place to spawn, work with your squad members, change kits, and most importantly revive people.  It’s a fun game and I’m looking forward to playing it some more till a decent MMO comes out.

How To Royally Screw Up Your MMO At Release

March 2, 2010

The process of screwing up your game for the AA MMO titles seems so common now, it feels like they just intentionally do it.

Step 1: Have a team work their ass off to develop an MMO

Step 2: Run a Beta to gauge how the player base enjoys it, and keep tweaking it till they enjoy playing a respectable amount.

Step 3: Close down beta and get ready for realease, but alter the game in a major way.

Step 4: Make sure the players are thoroughly pissed off at the change to the point where they leave and uninstall the game.

Step 5: The damage has already been done, but pick up whaterver peices of your game is left, face the music, and fix the dumb change you made.

This model was followed by recently realease AA MMO, Allods Online.  The most recent one Allods went through a item shop mess where they jacked up prices 20x what players were expecting them to be.  I understand that there’s going to be lag and bugs at release to contend with, but supid decisions like this need to be avoided.  There no excuse for them.