FoH does the commentary (rickshaw rocks)

That the “meeting stones” are the most clueless design in the last few years isn’t a news. Instead of gathering a summary of the reasons and suggest the correct way (in this case even too glaring) I’ll just paste two comments on FoH’s boards.

Foozle #1:
I have to say after goofing around on an alt and testing these I just can’t imagine how much crack was being smoked to allow these things into the game.

As an example of their brilliance:

26 War & 28 Shaman (Me) duoing SFK decide to click the stone on the way into the zone for fun. Maybe we’ll get someone we won’t kick?

46 Warlock is helping a guildie through SFK at the same time. They invite a 3rd to come in and help.

Newest addition to the warlock’s crew clicks the stone before he enters.

46 Warlock and his guildie are automatically flagged by the “stone” because a group member clicked it.

While the warlock was fighting the Wolfmaster his ENTIRE group gets ‘moved’ into Mine! Their entire group is now in the wrong instance and gets kicked!

They disband and reform and have to do the instance again.

I must say Blizzard this is just brilliant coding.

Foozle #2:
It’s weird that blizz takes this stand regarding this dynamic, rather than cater to “what people do” (which is stay in one zone and spam it, either a hub zone like ironforge or the zone near the dungeon, and ferret out specific classes using the powerful “/who” command).

Seriously now, put a real fucking LFG tool in the game, especially not one based on proximity to the dungeon.

I think the correct dynamic is a tool centered on where people ARE, and not where people ARE TRYING TO GO.

Since I am going to be anywhere in the world, and since people are going to do /who priest 60 and then send a “tell” or “whisper,” let’s make it easier for those who want to be bothered to be bothered, and harder for those who don’t?

Brilliant!

It takes various reiterations before Blizzard realizes the fundamentals.

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Final Fantyasy XI comeback campaign

One of the most awful “features” of Final Fantasy XI is that if you unsubscribe for three months (or something similar, I forgot the details) your characters are gone and even your account is disabled permanently. So if you ever decide to come back you’ll need to buy a brand new box+expansions and restart from zero.

Now they are about to launch a comeback campaign. They’ll re-enable old and deleted accounts for free (starting from the 14 April) and even restore old, deleted characters on demand.

The details aren’t actually so clear but it seems that you have up to 30 days of “free” play with your restored characters, then you’ll have to pay the normal fee if you decide to keep playing.

Now I wonder. If Squaresoft actually has all the backups of the characters, why they do not use this directly as a permanent feature? Why they decide to delete characters and account in the first place if they keep backups anyway? Just to be unpopular and prevent old players to come back when they choose so?

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Payola new blog + rumor mill

Via J. I learn that another site may join the “payola” blog links. A section where I list mmorpg-related blogs written by actual developers. Ashen Temper is part of the dev team working on Shadowbane and while I do not know him well enough I know he is well-respected. So he writes to J.:

Hey! Well, hell hath frozen over and I started my own website. Anyhow, I plan on doing some game design discussions on there and would love your input on it so if you ever have some free time, check it out: http://www.ashentemper.com/

And some rumors that started some time ago (and I hope false. Because I hate sequels):

Play 2 Crush… Again?

So, a short time ago Ray over at Corpnews did a story entitled “Shadowbane 2: rumors and such” that was based off of a Russian Article (feel free to try and read it, heh). Of course, the Rumor Mill started and I’ve had a lot of people ask me if this is true or not. The fact that I’ve had so many inquiries is great, it means that there is still a desire for PvP Games that are not completely twitch/FPSish and need more tactics than +5 Levels. With that said, I cannot confirm… nor can I deny… this rumor.

Of course, if you are like me and do love to play PvP/Strategy games, I welcome you all to join me on my Game Development forum. Being a developer (and a wannabe Designer), it would be nice to bounce ideas off of people with the same interests. And who knows, maybe those ideas might show up somewhere :)

The site seems rather unresponsive from here but it may be my problem.

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Slowing down

The more the time passes the more I lag behind on my own schedule of “things to write about”. Recently I also have the desktop filled of lengthy text files that I refuse to post because written too awfully. It seems that I cannot pull the thoughts together and write down something interesting and comprehensible. It doesn’t even pass my personal check of quality.

I have a lot of stuff to “parse”. A few sequels to past arguments like the problem of the secondary market and my critique on the mudflation. In this second case I want to delve on what I’d propose as an alternative, because that’s exactly where I wanted to go. Then I wanted to write a short article about the “role of healers”. I believe this is one of the fundamental problems, with the healers being the most needed, unreplaceable class and, still, the less popular. It’s something that should be considered directly and my solution is probably even too elementary, but working. I have an half article about “questing”. How to build interesting quests? How they can be structured? When they are completely useless? I have to write down a cumulative post to Jeff Freeman’s article about clustering, joining and organizing together the few points I already commented. An article about why surveys are always bullshit, an article about why SWG was and still is flawed and why it won’t move if the approach isn’t changed (and it’s all Raph’s fault in leaving behind his responsibility). An article to explain why we are getting clones of similar games, because there are -more than good- reasons. An article comparing mmorpgs to the comics market, Marvel vs DC, characters->powers vs powers->characters (processes of identification). Brian M. Bendis writes that Spider-Man 2 is the Star Wars of this generation. But why SW is lagging behind and isn’t able to hook anymore as before? What brings instead legions of fans to love the Lord of the Rings? Cultural patterns vs formal patterns…

Sometimes I also feel like forgetting everything. I pile up plans for articles and then I simply forget what was exactly my point. How stupid.

Anyway. For at least the next week and half I’ll be busy with RL. So I’ll zone out of here as much as possible. The fact that I’m writing this is to force me to zone off or I know that nothing would change at all if I do not draw a line. (that’s was the reason of this entry, then I got carried away as always)

Lengthy un-contextual P.S.
One of the unwritten articles was an analysis about an old Squaresoft masterpiece, “Vagrant Story”. In particular there’s a system used for the combat that at first glance would be extremely interesting to deploy in a mmorpg. It would allow (in my idea) to create an absolutely balanced environment that would still grant an -high- degree of specialization and, at the same time, avoid completely the cookie-cutter commonplace. So I tried to delve more but I got stuck -completely-. I thought about it for more than an hour and felt my brain like filled with vapor. I suck even as a wannabe designer. I really couldn’t understand how it may work even if it’s absolutely simple.

Basically the system works on three rows of “dichotomies”: Fire/Water – Earth/Air – Light/Dark. Plus “physical” that is a special case. A weapon will react to an element by developing the opposite affinity. This means that the more you hit a salamander (fire) the more your weapon will be water-based. So the more your weapon will hurt that mob-type. At the same time your armor also develops affinity. But the same type of affinity, meaning that it becomes more efficent protecting against that element.

This means that the more you fight a fire-based mob the more your weapon develops a water affinity (dealing more damage) and the more your armor develops a fire affinity (protecting more efficently). The concrete result is that you’ll be able to fight that class of monster progressively more easily, while becoming weaker against other types (or not?).

How the fuck this translates to a mmorpg? The first stage was about figuring out that Square doesn’t give a damn about this. The system is probably unique to the character while the mobs don’t use it directly. So it’s already planned to not be balanced. But how this could work on a multiplayer scenario where your weapons and armor develop “affinity” (so they specialize)? Will all the players choose one, and only one element to maximize? Will the players chose to remain strictly neutral? Will the players go with an hybrid? What the fuck happens when someone full-fire goes against one full-water?

I really drown in there. I cannot understand how it could work even if I believe that it could generate something actually fun. What happens when someone full fire goes against a neutral player? Who wins?

Help!

(in my mind I imagined a slider going like “+10 fire <-- 0 neutral --> +10 water”. Now, a +10 fire against a neutral would deal damage based on the relative position, so 10 spaces equal to 10 damage. But the neutral guy would be able to resist 10 damage since that’s the gap for his armor. He’d also deal 10 damage to the fire-based guy who would resist exactly 10 damage. Always zero as a result. Fire vs water are also again supposed to nullificate each other. So, how the fuck this system is supposed to work if the result is always zero?

I mean.. Okay, I know that if I hit the fire based guy I’ll progressively to do more damage to it. But the fire based guy will also progressively develop a resistence to my progressively powerful weapon. So the result is “nothing at all”?

And is someone able to draw from this an actual working and interesting mechanic?)

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A short Haemish compilation (on a single thread)

From a sign:
When speaking of the MMOG industry, the glass may be half full, but it’s full of urine. -HaemishM

About MEO:

Haemish:
Because if we have nice things, we have to shit all over them. I expect a bazillion Lagolasses that I cannot PK.

Essentially, this is a worse license than Star Wars, except that with Star Wars, you have Lucas to shit all over good game design ideas. But in this one, all the good shit in the stories, players shouldn’t be allowed to have.

Haemish:
The idea of Tolkien’s worlds being turned into WoW 1.1 makes my fucking stomach turn. Not that it couldn’t be fun, or anything, but really.

What end game is there going to be? Dragon raids? In the time between Hobbit and LotR, there is exactly 1 dragon mentioned, unless you count the Nazgul mounts. Not to say that there aren’t other dragons, but where are they? Both the Fellowship and Bilbo’s party of dwarves traveled a great distance across the width and breadth of Middle-Earth, and nothing was ever mentioned.

Planes raids? No extra-planar entities in Middle-Earth, though you could make a case that the Grey Havens was in another plane. Battlegrounds sounds fun, but again, unless you are allowed to play the evil races, or swear an oath of allengiance such as the Haradrim (?) did to Sauraman, what’s the point? There’s plenty of factions to play, but the things we think of for typical, traditional, WoW-esque MMOG’s are totally fucked if you put them in the Tolkien story.

In short, this is the worst license since Star Wars for making a traditional MMOG.

Foozle #1:
Bah you have EQs/WoW for that, why make more of the same?

Haemish:
Ask the pigfuckers who keep churning that shit out, as well as the pigfuckers who invest the money to make another cash mill as subscription service. Why make more of the same? Because businesses like to make money.

Foozle #1:
Very few people get to go on raids, most players never get to ‘raid’ content until it trivialized by many consequent expansions. Build your game around things that average players can participate in – rich and non-liner character building with strong diminishing returns, complex and all encompassing crafting system that works on gathering rather than drop resource system and meaningful PvP revolving around controlling desirable but optional elements of the game.

Haemish:
Now you know good and goddamn well that these things don’t get built around the average player and if any of the things you are talking about get put in there, I’ll be very surprised.

Foozle #1:
Why do we need ‘magic’ with flashy spells in all games?

Haemish:
How else do you justify the particle effects engine for all those cool sparklies!?! And how else could you claim to allow the player to “adventure in a world of magic and mystery!”?!?!?!

Mesozoic:
Your nostalgia will be ground into a fine powder, spiced with the salt from Tolkien’s tears, and consumed wholesale by The Bottom Line. The resulting fecal material will be pressed into pancakes, dried over the burning rage of literary men, boxed and sold as the Collector’s Edition for $69.99 with a $15.99 monthly fee.

Enjoy.

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Alliance instances quest guide – updated

Since the servers died again I took advantage and updated my guide to the quests in Alliance’s instances with the last informations I was able to gather. In particular I added the quests related to Maraudon, Zul’Farrak and Sunken Temple. As always as spoiler-free as possible, the aim is just to point to the NPCs that give those quests in order to “complete” as much as possible. If you know something I’m missing leave a comment somewhere.

The guide can be found through the “Repository” linked in the “Resource” section of the sidebar or directly here.

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Half-assed news

The Steam Turbine firstly announced this week that they are going to self-publish Middle-Earth Online, after breaking up with Vivendi. Then someone noticed that the game was also pushed back one year. So now it’s 2006. Better never than soon, call me surprised.

At least when the game will blow up they’ll still have the licence to sell. Smart.

I cannot avoid to notice that some peoples have talent to move between half-assed games. Examples. Calandryll (Ulitma X -> SWG -> Turbine) and Vosx (Shadowbane -> The Matrix Online).

Speaking of half-assed games (better: completely assed). It’s been a month since Mourning was going to launch “tomorrow”. Here’s a quick report since last update.

“As sure as the sun will rise…”

I wrote a few opinions in this thread.

(Krones java buttons are nifty and useful)

Site fucked

I DO NOT know what the fuck is going on.

It seems the hosting company deleted all the site and put up a backup three days old. All the rest is lost.

EDIT: Thanks GOD for google cache and bloglines. I’m going to revive what is lost.

EDIT2: The missing entries are back. I’ll upload the patch and missing images in the next three hours, then I’ll check the news feeds and backup the whole place before it gets fucked again.

(it seems also they changed the IP)

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