No Guild Wars here, for some time

As I wrote on QT3 I won’t buy Guild Wars till they offer a downloadable package.

They won’t see my money till I will be able to buy it online.

What the fuck is the sense of having the technology and not use it? GW has a completely streamed client and you HAVE to buy the box?

I have the beta exe. You start it and it will update to the last version. I HAVE THE GAME. I just need to buy the goddamn key-code.

That’s why it doesn’t make sense at all. And if they even THINK about not selling the expansions as downloadable content they are simply shooting on their feet.

We have a dev lurking around the message boards and this is the answer for that idiocy:

It makes sense in that it makes retailers and distributors extremely unhappy when you do this. We aren’t Half life 2 we can’t afford to piss off our distribution channels.

The original idea behind the streaming technology was that the game was in fact going to be distibuted online. Arena was called triforge back then and didn’t have a lucrative publishing deal or anything like that (before my time here) basically they didn’t have a deal and wanted to “self-publish”. Since then they were bought by NCsoft which of course allowed them to get into the retail distribution channel.

My following question would be why both Lineage 2 anf City of Heroes have BOTH the retail box and the digital download…

Anyway, I already commented these choices and I’d like the distributors to start to wake up instead of fucking up what they are supposed to promote.

My opinions about Guild Wars are still valid even if old: Here. I do not feel the need to write new commentary or correct myself. Not much has changed.

The facade of good intentions

Today Mythic suspended and/or closed around 250+ accounts caught using cheats in DAoC. Sticking with their policy of “moral integrity” and good principles that they like to flaunt in public.

This while the game (still) needs concrete work to reach that integrity that is present on the public announces but not in the actual game. Still today DAoC is plagued by buffbots, aka the “legal and supported cheating” and another manifestation of blatant hypocrisy. Or, as Sanya says:

At one point, the perception had been expressed on the part of some of our players that one had to have radar to be competitive. As the steady decline in the number of radar users has shown, the reality is that this is no longer an issue.

This describes perfectly the buffbots, not the radar cheats. The need of buffbots to be competitive isn’t an idea of a few players, nor a perception. It’s a fact. The ruleset expects and supports the use of buffbots. With the time they became a normality. Even if they break those vary basic rules that the game itself would be supposed to follow in the case the moral flaunts were more than an actual marketing tool.

If Mythic closes an account for cheating, it’s possible that the player will buy again the game and all the expansions in order to go back at its addiction. The hardcore players are today the most faithful subscribers Mythic has. Of course they aren’t banning credit card numbers because they like a “sorry” player coming back and sending them money. But if they stop the “legal cheating” under the form of buffbots they are going to lose that money. The players would be required to play 15$ (the declared monthly fee) instead of 30$ (the actual monthly fee). Could they afford this risk? Especially now? For this very simple reason the buffbots cannot be “an issue” like radars cheating.

Soon Mythic will launch a “casual server” that will offer various benefits, like experience points capped for each day, the removal of a design-disaster like ToA and the limitation of ranged buffs. Of course this won’t stop the unbalance in PvE but Mythic doesn’t care. They are just executing what the players ask and in PvE the “legal cheating tool” isn’t disrupting the experience of other players, so tolerable.

When Mythic flaunts about its integrity remember that it’s just a facade.

If they open new servers where cheating through buffbots is partially solved they aren’t doing anything different than SOE opening servers where you can buy stuff with real money. This while speaking of “creative corners”.

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My DAoC – Fancy ideas for a “better” game

Posted on the boards in the impossible hope to receive some feedback and archiving here.

This is what DAoC should become, how it should move and develop and what, as “Just Another Player”, I’d like to see. It’s actually a draft of something more detailed but I decided to see if I’m able to receive some feedback before considering if to put more work into it. I’d like to read some critics in order to discover what’s wrong in these ideas, someone pointing to me where they fail or where they aren’t as good as they seem to me.

A follow up focusing on different details here.

And forgive my crappy english, it is still my second language.. ;p


– Move the quest/content team to reconsider, realm by realm all the quests in the classic game -> Updating the quest mechanics where needed, reducing pointless, endless fetch patterns, isolating and reinforcing the fun mechanics, removing what is unneeded, adjusting the rewards to be valuable and interesting with the rest of the game (and for low-level PvP). Reconsider the distribution of the monsters. Study EACH zone with a design approach aimed to give a specific purpose and an actual, concrete use to each “Point of Interest” on each zone. Erase the idea of mudflation and obsolete content and reconsider all these parts (in progressive stages, like from leve 1 to 5 of each realm, then from 6 to 10 and so on, till everything is consequentially covered) in order to give back a sense and use to *all* the parts of the game. Each zone should have 4-5 “PoI”s with a specific, unique purpose in the overall structure of the game.

– In particular: Redesign all the quests for the epic armors. Redesign the kits so that they have bonuses up to date with the rest of the content. Add to each full set new bonuses *unique* for these armors and that no other item in the game will provide.

– Instance ToA’s ML content to be doable with a single group (everything, from step one to the last) -> Tune *UP* the difficulty so that it will be HARD to complete each level with that group. As an example the ML1 part1, consisting on a 1vs1 encounter in an arena underwater, should be redesigned from zero to become an 8vs8 arena, with no possible intervention from outside. Remove the constitution loss on death if the death happens during a ML trial. Add a /release point *within* the instance (maybe as a small dungeon to clean to find your way back to the actual ML missions) porting there the players automatically and without needing them to actually bind there.

– Redesign the scrolls to activate the artifacts of the game so that they become rewards from *direct quests* -> Each of the three scrolls to activate an artifact should come from a quest that will point the player to rediscover a part of the *classic* world (new named monsters could be added to the classic game for this purpose). All these quests *must be soloable* but requiring 5-6 steps each (no farming). Some of these steps should require the use of player crafted components.

– Redesign the artifacts’ bonuses so that *each level* offers a new skill, or a power-up to a previous one.

– Allow the artifacts to gain experience without specific requirements (PvP and PvE equally balanced over average time spent). Boost the experience up if the player is in a full group.

– Add a quest to restore the use of an artifact after it loses all its durability (example: kill Legion in DF). Apply the same mechanic for every quest item in the game.


– Reconsider (reduce by a very good margin) the damage of siege engines in all the Battlegrounds.

– Fix the Tower Razing mechanic to disable also its *function* (the tower cannot be conquered and remains “neutral” till the repairing process is over) while the tower is repairing.

– Continue to monitor, consider and potentiate the RvR missions in order to add dynamism, purpose and spread the players uniformly around the zones. Add competitive missions (one goal – three different groups coming each from each realm to fight over it) to work as “matchmaking” services for single players and groups.

– Address directly the population unbalance (this point is too long to explain, my idea is to cap the total upgrades to the keeps to a fixed pool. Each realm will have to decide if to upgrade one keep only to the maximum, or many but all at low levels and so on). This in order to open up possibilities to smaller realms so that they will be able to compete with hit&run tactics. Taking advantage of the weaknesses of the bigger realms (chatoic zergs, confusion, lack of organization, visibility).

– Redesign completely how interrupts, stuns and immunity timers work -> The interrupts shouldn’t break an action but just put it “on hold”. So without requiring the player to keep spamming a key. The spell should trigger as (if) there’s a right moment to cast it. The spell should remain in the queue till the spell is successfully casted or the player interrupts it directly. Stuns should never last longer than 5 seconds, mezz should never last longer than 15, immunity timers should last a fixed amount of time (like 15 sec) without a variation or special cases. When an immunity timer is active it should show a specific blinking icon.

– Redesign the healer classes on *all the three realms* as follows ->
* Adjust the specialization factor from 1.0 to 1.5 (in order to grant them the access to different roles instead of becoming buff or heal bots).
* Redesign the buffs mechanic, the caster will be able to mantain only a maximum of 2 buffs on each player. Adjust the concentration values accordingly (sensibly reducing the pool).
* Redesign the three resist spells as just one spell working in an Area of Effect without timer (as long as the caster is on range the protection will be active).
* Two same-type casters cannot buff the same player (to not dodge the 2 buffs cap).

– Reduce/reconsider/adjust and rebalance the damage in PvP. Do not touch the hitpoints, just scale up the defenses and the damage down all over the table and with a regular scheme to uniformly affect each class without differences (so that the system won’t need a redesign from zero).

– Remove the red “names” above the heads of stealthed enemies.

– Disable /face /stick /follow on enemy targets (mobs and enemy players).

This is also what I consider broken in the game right now and what I believe should be high-priority. I believe a new server with a new ruleset is just a “cheap” solution to simply continue to ignore the problems while throwing a cookie to the players. It won’t help the game as it didn’t help to add /level 20, the free levels, and the bonuses to the smaller realms.

The marketing guys are all masochists

Oh well, this doesn’t make sense. Why these games are always, constantly published in the worst way possible? What’s the reason of this masochistic attitude aimed to damage the sales as much as possible?

The first of the recent examples is DAoC with the last expansion, Catacombs. I’ve covered this along my raving review. Mythic already expressed the will to offer the expansion as downloadable content to buy directly online but it seems that there are agreements with the distributor preventing this possibility. So okay, they did what they could. But, maybe, it should be the time to consider those agreements and make them FOR the game and not AGAINST it. Does it make sense? Maybe it makes even more sense if these retarded distributors start TO DO SOMETHING INSTEAD OF SITTING ON THEIR ASSES. I know that if a game is sold online the revenues of a “solid” distributor go down. This is why they should start doing something concretely instead of staring and whining (like the RIAA). I’m sure that they could have a HUGE market if they would offer directly the service. So why a standard distributor like Vivendi doesn’t come forward and offers *directly* an online store with streamed content? Hear this… *bling, bling* – It’s the sound of the money, you should like it. So please stop being a burden and start again to be a resource.

This is only a part of the problem with Mythic’s last expansion. I’ve already explained that they should have launched it later in order to polish it and maximize its impact on the market. But they are masochists and they preferred a launch just behind the behemoths with the result of being completely overshadowed and nerfed out of relevance. And this goes along with the questions I asked at the beginning.

The second example is SWG. I stated openly in October that I would have bought the space expansion only if it would have been available as digital download. After all they have the technology, EverQuest’s expansion are always sold that way. But no. Just boxes. So good riddance… at least till two weeks ago. I’ve read that the Rage of the furries can be preordered and bought through the online store as digital download. What? So I go to check, maybe they rediscovered some common sense and they put the space expansion as well as downloadable content. Hey, maybe there’s even a bundle package with both, wow. So I go check and… nothing. There’s only this Rage of furries and no space exp. Okay, go to hell.

Well, at least that happened after SOE’s latest announce. For sure now I won’t touch any of their products. Is there anything left worth something aside lost kids and Lums?

The third example is Guild Wars. The game with the awesome technology. The game where you downloaded (since the first open beta in May of the last year) just the exe and everything got streamed directly from the internet. A masterpiece. Guess what? Just a box. No digital download. You need a fucking CD (if it’s a DVD I’ll die of laughter) for an .exe of a couple of Mb. What the fuck is the sense of this. No, really.

It becomes even funnier if you go check the NCSoft store. Yeah. You can buy both Lineage 2 and City of Heroes as digital download, those two games that do not have streamed technology and require to download 2Gb or more. But not Guild Wars. With 3Mb of client.

Now, if you really want to score an homerun, just apply this even to the upcoming expansion and you already won.

Btw, Guild Wars still misses a quit button

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Kalgan suppresses the protests with hype

Kalgan answered the questions about the Honor Rystem clusterfuck I was awaiting. Unfortunately there’s nothing at all to comment.

Despite these questions were direct, despite these questions pretended a concrete acknowledgment of the problems, Kalgan answered with just demagogy. “So, about this pointless ganking fest without a purpose.. Uhm.. I think that.. Uhm.. BATTLEGROUNDS NEXT PATCH! YEAH! Woot, woot! /dance!!”

While peoples start to dance, because the peoples are really stupid and gullible like that, Kalgan sneaks away sweating hard.

Result: The Honor System still ruined, ruins and will ruin a wonderful game. Kalgan demonstrated again that there’s nothing to see. Move along.

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Mark Jacobs regains the use of the reason for an instant

Lum linked an article where Mark Jacobs goes ballistic against SOE’s plan to ebayize EverQuest 2 and, soon, the rest of the world.

I’m disappointed with the decision from a leader in the MMO industry to go down a path which in the past, has been an anathema to them and remains so to just about every other MMORPG company in the industry. I think that not only supporting the sale of in-game characters, items and currency, but also taking a ‘cut’ of those sales, is not only a mistake but one of the worst decisions in the history of the MMORPG industry.

By creating this service, SOE may be painting themselves into a creative corner. What will happen when SOE finds it has to change or delete items, servers, etc? Will users who have bought items through SOE take kindly to the fact that their $800 swords have been deleted? Will SOE have to consider now and forever the ramifications of every major change they make to the game based on the possibility that users will not only be dissatisfied on an ‘entertainment level’ but now will be angry from a ‘financial level’ as well?

Rather than discouraging companies such as IGE, I believe that by this decision, SOE will probably create dozens of small IGE and IGE-like companies who may view SOE’s servers as the ‘Virtual Gold Rush of 2005.’ At the same time, this decision will reduce the costs of IGE who now can use SOE’s own customer service, billing and bandwidth to complete these transactions quicker and easier than they can do under the present system.

Smedley also replied to the attack (again in the same article) but just underlining how clueless he is and how wrong is his point of view on the genre. The justification is: “everyone is doing it anyway”. FUCKING RIGHT! But, maybe, it isn’t better to go look at THE REASONS? It’s NOT about “morals” or “integrity”. It’s about understanding what the fuck it’s happening and why.

However, we will continue to maintain our strict policy against exploiting, using macros or bots, duping items, and transactions through 3rd party auction sites.

Okay. Who starts the lawsuit against this monopoly shit? This cannot be tolerated even from the law point of view. MONEY WHORE. It hurts knowing that someone else is doing money over your stuff, huh? You want it all for yourself, huh? Put that as a slogan: We drool for money! It’s not “right or wrong”. It’s just RICH.

What I do not understand is why it’s important to GIVE RELEVANCE TO ALL THIS. Why the fuck are you (Mark Jacobs) giving SOE this credit? Why the fuck it’s “the worst decisions in the history of the MMORPG industry”? It’s nothing. Nothing. It’s a company digging its grave, there’s no reason to alarm. Just let them do that and watch for a laugh. Grab the popcorns. You are part of the same “industry”, you can stop to just tail them as you ALWAYS did with the design of the games and gain an independence and personality. Are you scared because they won’t lead you anymore by the hand?

“SOE may be painting themselves into a creative corner”. Oh, really? It’s started from a long time, not now. It’s exactly the opposite. EverQuest 2 *as a whole* is a “creative corner”. This ebayization is the consequence of the creative corner, not the cause. That’s the point. They are running wild, adrift.

They are done and these are the final wails.

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Caydiem on the Honor System

You folks do have valid complaints. If you ever got the impression that we’re ignoring them, I’d like to dispel that right now: we are reading what you write and taking it to the developers. The Q&A we’re working on should help explain some aspects of the Honor System that were confusing to you.

Yeah, because the Honor System is “confusing”. Not completely broken.

We are not going to take rash action when it comes to the Honor System. This is a major feature that has been worked on for quite some time… it is not something we threw together in five minutes and pushed out there to you. It’s been meticulously designed, tuned, and tested over months. It does change the game somewhat — I won’t deny that — but it is not the disaster some believe it to be.

I say “we’ve seen this before” because we have, with every major feature addition. I’m not throwing your opinions out the window with this remark. I wasn’t here for the Rest System (as a CM; I was as a tester), but when the Durability System and Paladin changes went live, I was in discussions with the development team about your initial reaction to the changes. It’s no different this time — we’re here for you, but at the same time we’re not going to remove the system completely after less than a week of it being live.

Oh my fucking god.

GO READ THIS. It’s MY rant against the RETARDED durability system.


Yes, it was completely broken. In fact it was fixed. But why the fuck these GLARING MISTAKES are NOT ACKNOWLEDGED *BEFORE* a widespread revolt? Is this, really, the result of something “meticulously designed, tuned, and tested over months”?

It’s not possible.

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Jessica Mulligan quits

As spoiled through Grimwell it seems that Jessica Mulligan is leaving Turbine. She “was” the Executive Producer of the doomed Asheron’s Call franchise and also one of the few valuable persons in the industry with some brain. This is why I commented the news with a “standing ovation”, as an encouragement. Whatever will happen I hope it will be for the better.

The news came from Asheron’s Call April letter from the team.

2: I’m leaving the AC Team and Turbine. Today is my last day here.

Before the conspiracy theorists drown out the rest of us, this is in no way connected with the launch delay discussed above. In fact, I, among others, lobbied hard to get that delay and the fact that we got it – even though Turbine is going to take a financial hit on marketing and distribution money that has already been spent and a confidence hit with some of your fellow players – should prove that this company is committed to giving you quality. In the old adage of “You can have it good or you can have it Tuesday,” the company chose the former. How many times have we seen companies choose Tuesday, instead? It doesn’t guarantee a flawless launch, but it does reduce the risks to one and that’s the best any of us can hope for.

So, no, the reason I’m leaving isn’t about the delay; my reasons are my own and don’t involve dark portents. (Remember, the Illuminati have nothing to do with my leaving. No, really. Honest.) In the meantime, you are in good hands with srand as Live Producer, backed up by Ibn, meanbeard, Scenario and the rest of the crew, some of the best developers I’ve ever worked with. Almost all of them came to the team as AC players – one of you and a part of you, in fact – with years of experience in the game; I don’t think any other MMORPG can say that about their Live Team.

I’ll still be around the industry, but I’m going to miss the team and I’m going to miss you guys. AC is still my favorite online RPG; I played it long before joining Turbine and I’ll be exploring Dereth years from now. For all that a few of you are the most cantankerous players on the face of the earth, as a whole you’re the best community I’ve been part of to date. After nineteen years and being part of more MMOGs than perhaps anyone in the industry, that’s saying something. It has been a privilege to serve you, truly.

And who knows? Maybe one day I’ll actually make it out of the Training Academy on Darktide without getting ganked.

– Jessica

Why not taking up knitting?

SOE realized that they are done making good games, so they are going to concentrate on something else. The news comes from the same site that found Spore’s screenshots. I’m going to repaste the entry because it’s interesting:

John Smedley, President of Sony Online Entertainment, started the conference off with his keynote address and revealed quite a few interesting tidbits.

First the foremost, Smedley revealed that the PS3 will allow online microtransactions (just like the Xbox 360) and these transactions will become more commonplace in the near future.

Smedley then described a future where you could play an online game via your PSP, PS3, PC, and cell phone where you would be able to play the same game utilizing the same character on all platforms. The graphics and experience may be slightly different – for example, you would only be able to perform inventory management of your character on the cell phone version of the game while the PSP, PS3, and PC versions would play the same but have different graphic engines. However, it was important to note that these online games would not be separate games, they would all be the same game, using the same character, across different platforms, where you can play with the same people online. He also said we should expect to see this sort of gameplay within the next six months.

As for selling items within Everquest via Station Exchange, Smedley said that they were still figuring out the exact pricing but expect the Station Exchange to be live in June. He also warned that SOE programmed extensive monitoring tools which will alert SOE if players are excessively camping certain creatures or treasures and may ban these people from EQ.

As for new online chatting interfaces, Smedley explained that they were working on a single text and voice chat interface which would work across all platforms and games (PS3, PC, PSP, Everquest, etc.). So rather than having to leave Everquest to chat with your friends playing an online game on PS3 you could chat across platforms and games within a single interface. No timetable was given for this technology.

Darniaq wrote a comment to the previous news about the IGEization that also applies wonderfully here. In particular the last line:

SOE has always been about the a la carte service, from back in the days when they only had one MMORPG. They charge for name changes, character moves, premium servers, premium website services, and so on. I wouldn’t be surprised if they charge for this trade-facilitation service, either directly or by slightly raising the price of all of their other services.

They are a business first. As long as it works for them, great! But only when the rest of the genre picks up on their practices will I think SOE was successful with them. The money they make is fine for SOE. It doesn’t drive the genre. Only through emulation will the face of the genre actually change. It’d require Mythic, NC Soft, Blizzard, MSG, and the various one-game developers to try and leech players the same way.

If that ever happens, well, the genre was fun for me for long enough.

How many players there are left, out there, who want to just play games?

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