Do not overestimate the beast, do not underestimate it either

When considering the insane success of WoW we shouldn’t forget that the game isn’t stopping from LAUNCHING. Everywhere.

We do not know if the game is hemorrhaging subscribers in the USA or maintaining a good retention, we just have the evidence that there is an insane growth due to the game “conquering spaces”. End of Novermber it launched in the USA, in January it launched in Korea, February was the time of Europe and now we have the China which will flood all the useful statistics you can pull from all this.

I mean, the geographical space on the earth isn’t infinite. There’s only so much you can conquer and I’m not sure how many people can be interested in the game in Africa. At least if Blizzard isn’t planning to sell the game to the aliens.

So remember that we do not have any evidence of the lasting appeal of the game. Which is the sole thing that matters in this genre.

The other consideration I find interesting is how much is irrelevant in this case the problem of the localization. It is surely important to localize and adapt the practical aspect, the costs, the distribution but the fact that the game is able to “win” the players everywhere in the world is always a demonstration of an undeniable quality.

But this could be a discussion about the culture that would require a deep analysis instead of a superficial glance.

In the meantime Grimwell has a thread to doubt of the game again:

Blizzard has a long history of taking existing game concepts, and simplifying them to a point where they are accessible to a much larger public. WoW is to MMORPG what Diablo is to CRPG and Warcraft to strategy games: The most successful title, but not very deep. And in all previous cases the Blizzard titles had some bad effects on their respective genres.

And that is the big danger. The MMORPG genre is wide, even wider than other video game genres. It is possible that a good developer could make a MMORPG which sells as well as WoW, but is based on a completely different approach. There could be good world-like MMORPG, good games which aren’t based on levels, good games which are based on a lot more social interaction. But the blinding success of World of Warcraft risks to get the concepts of these games stamped as “not like WoW” and thrown into the bin before they ever got a chance to prove their worth.

With Geldon going straight to the point this time:

While it’s true that World of Warcraft’s outstanding success will influence MMORPGs of the future, the fact of the matter is that most people aren’t going to interpret why WoW was a success correctly.

This thread is all about the fact that people will try to emulate World of Warcraft because of it’s success. The entire point of my message here is this: most designers either can’t identify or can’t emulate what World of Warcraft did well. So they’ll emulate other parts of World of Warcraft that they liked: The graphical styling, the battlegrounds, the casual friendliness, ect.

A concept somewhat backed up even by Anyuzer:

The problem with the term is that it’s a derogatory term. When a developer tells its fan base, that its upcoming game: “isn’t going to be an EQ clone” the term is used in an attempt to express that: “if you didn’t like EverQuest, you’re going to like our game!”

What baffles me about that is simply the short sightedness of every designer/developer who has claimed that, because it automatically suggests to me that they never took a close look at what made EQ tick.

These are all points I’ve discussed extensively in the past. While I strongly criticize some of the aspects of the game, in particular when it comes to PvP, I do not dismiss the quality that is surely there.

And I definitely agree with Geldon, it’s obvious that WoW will trigger a process of emulation everywhere, inesorably. It’s already happening, all the mmorpgs out there are ripping features constantly and systematically. But the point is again about delving deeper than a superficial level that won’t bring to any decent result.

I did already my homework (and in many other comments I wrote) and offer my own point of view on “what made the game tick” as Anyuzer would say. I’m not sure how many others arrived to the same conclusions without dismissing and trivializing the argument on the way.

So yes, it will be systematically cloned and I expect all these clones to fail miserably.

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Mythic prays to be right

The last Grab Bag is interesting. To begin with it dispels the doubts about the “Catacombs” expansion (enabled on the new ruleset servers) being dependent on ToA (which is going to be ditched):

Q: Do I need to own TOA in order to activate Catacombs on the new server?

A: On the new server, you do not need to own the TOA expansion.

I guess the time will finally obliterate the work put on ToA, which is somewhat a sad thing. Or, as Dave Rickey said:

The current Live team has their work cut out for them, and I wish them well.

And here is the important point. As I wrote elsewhere this new ruleset is questioning the work of the devs. This is why Dave “wishes well” to them. Because this whole project of the new server is basically a failure declaration. It cannot be read in any other way if not a complete failure.

Or maybe not. In fact, if you delve some more, you could be able to see a glimpse of what is the real stance of Mythic’s devs. They are still NEGATING the whole thing. They are negating that ToA was a failure, they are negating that the idea to give DAoC a new insane grind was a failure, they are negating the HOLES in the design and gameplay. This is the real reason why ToA wasn’t fixed after all this time. Because noone has ever acknowledged the problems. Noone has learnt A DAMN THING. They stand behind two similar positions: fear of being kicked out because of their failure and a constant denial of the problems in order to defend their work (and chair).

They DO NOT want to accept (or maybe cannot, because it means a crisis of their role) that they made some mistakes and that those mistakes must be considered, acknowledged and then addressed in order to let the game grow instead of sink inesorably.

In fact this is their actual stance on this whole thing:

Walt Yarbrough:
This is aimed at many of our former customers, not our current ones. Our satisfaction is high in the polls that we take of our current customers.

He thinks that their current customers love their game, love ToA, love the buffbots. He believes that the players are completely satisfied by Mythic’s offer. He does not believe that the new ruleset could appeal even to them. He does not believe that the new ruleset addresses serious problems that the game objectively has… He just thinks that all these issues are SUBJECTIVE points of view. NONE of Mythic’s work in these years has been a failure. NONE of their work is being questioned by all this. Nothing at all is being questioned, is being examined, is being acknowledged. NOTHING AT ALL IS BEING LEARNT. It’s a *denial*, complete denial of everything happening to the game.

And that stance has been now backed up directly by Sanya in the Grab Bag:

This new server type is meant for people who would otherwise not play DAOC at this time. I don’t expect that most people currently playing are going to do much more than roll on the new server out of pure curiosity. I DO expect that the people with active accounts who try the new toy will eventually go back to their “home” servers. And I hope that people who are reactivating just for this ruleset decide to stay.

This server is just an attempt to meet the needs of a niche group of players.

Listen carefully. ALL of you out there thinking that DAoC has “a few” consistent problems in the design. ALL OF YOU… You are just a fucking niche. You are a tiny, little, irrelevant annoyance. A minority of ranters who know nothing about their huge subscription base that, after being sagely polled, has been declared totally satisfied.

And remember:

Future expansions and patches will be primarily designed for the more typical servers.

Because they are so fucking stubborn that they won’t understand what is going on till the last paying player will vanish to never come back. And even then I have my doubts that they would be able to “get” it.

Thick as a brick.

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Vanguard’s Senior Designer resigns

Filed mostly for my “migratory fluxes” category since I don’t know this guy and so not able to provide any kind of commentary.

Vanguard loses John “Kendrick” Capozzi

The rumors have been confirmed, John Capozzi is no longer a senior game designer for Sigil Games.

At Sigil he was one of the original core senior designers working on the Asian themed continent, Kojan.

More interesting informations provided by Krones, who had spared kind words, and AFKGamer, who is slightly more skeptical and dubious about the myth.

Those news are the most important even if they are often unnoticed or even hidden. Games are built by people, not by brands.

Gathering comments, from DAoC onwards

More comments triggred by DAoC’s new ruleset I save from F13 that I haven’t completely covered in what I wrote below.

As has been said before, the PROCESS of DAoC’s PVE treadmill is what makes it so grindy.

That’s the point in fact. As I define it: a problem of quality and not of quantity.

DAoC’s treadmill isn’t longer compared to other games, but it is awful for the most part (especially now with a weak community).

In this thread someone brought the example of task dungeons as a relevent improvement to the treadmill. My point is that they are exactly the opposite. They BREAK the game. They are essentially corridors with a row of immoble mobs in the middle. You whack your way through them, one by one, with about a two minutes downtime between each kill till the end where sits the exact same mob you whacked till that point, just named. You kill the named and you get rewarded with money and experience.

Now the reward is good, this is true, and it makes the treadmill shorter since you can efficently level up in solo. But this is, in fact, the “quantity” aspect of the problem. The truth is that you are really playing an unashamed version of Progressquests that puts you in a corridor with a row of mobs you need to grind to increase the size of your e-peen. There is really NOTHING ELSE. Just repeat your easy kill 20x for each mob, complete the task, get another and repeat.

This CANNOT be tolerated. It cannot be tolerated for weeks or months as it cannot be tolerated for ten minutes. It’s one of those things that give you epiphanies: what the fuck am I doing? The game cannot be THAT dumb.

And you really cannot believe that the devs could be so unashamed to add something like that to the game.

Having played this game off and on since beta, I was very excited about the new server concept initially. Then I began to consider how ranged buffs and the lack of ToA would effect RvR gameplay. Sadly, it seems that the release of NF and catacombs both relied heavily on balance currently in place with ToA. As a result, I think that these two servers will be heavily populated initially, but the problems inherent in the system will cause some huge balance issues unless Mythic is willing to address the special needs of such a server. I personally don’t see Mythic willing to redesign the game for 2 servers, so the problems with balance will simply become a game artifact that the players there will work with. The people unwilling to live with the imbalance will leave after a month or so.

That’s also what I wrote on my website. The rulesets are divergent and I don’t expect them to split the work in two in order to let the two ruleset develop.

It will be also fun to see how they’ll show the horrible design even behind Catacombs. We have now powerful classes like Vampiir planned as workarounds to the buff bot problems. Now the buffbots are being removed and those “already buffed” classes will simply be completely unbalanced.

I preferred questing in DAoC, but you couldn’t level exclusively with questing, and after 20 or so, there were no quests to speak of.

That’s not true. The problems were *radical*.

To begin with you couldn’t know where to get them. You had to visit a spoiler site to understand what you could do since in the game you could just click on EVERY NPC in the game world and NOT EVEN KNOW if the quest was appropriate for your level. There was NO con system. You couldn’t know if you could complete the quest alone or if you needed a full group.

All this becomes recursive in a system simply *inaccessible*. Noone was questing, so it was impossible to build up a group to complete your goals. The rewards were always awful and the quests required HUGE downtimes by constantly riding horses. Most of those quests offer that exact gameplay: run around endlessly trying to figure out imprecise informations (that required spoiler sites in order to not waste REAL HOURS) and kill sporadically a few targets that were inevitably too hard to solo.

As I wrote many times, the questing in DAoC was a BURDEN. You did that only when absolutely FORCED, like in the case of extremely powerful items you needed for the endgame.

Why is it more fun to do a quest where you kill 50 foozles to collect 10 widgets then go back to Angry Dwarf 12 for Hammer of bashing 3? Also what are the /played of the people hitting 60 in wow?

Because WoW is often seen superficially and trivialized when there’s a complexity under the hood. The fact is that too many times its accessibility is confused with a lack of depth (which exists, for example in the PvP).

I passed the whole 55-60 range by trying to figure out the quests in BRD. Those are five levels, the longest in the game and by running (and not completing) just ONE instance. I was actually “lucky” to be able to join groups where I was systematically the most expert. I proceeded by little step, doing something more each day and finding out what was behind the next corner and how to face it. The fact that the game is designed wonderfully is proven by the actual mechanics. Once I knew what to expect it was way easier to face it and move onward. So it wasn’t just repeating the same kill over and over and over for hours. Instead it was a learning experience, a progressive conquest, constantly renovating and enclosed by smaller steps in the form of the quests that allowed me to not simply restart from zero each time (one of the flaws of Guild Wars).

Figuring out those quests isn’t easy. Especially if you don’t get powerleveled or just join raids to trivialize the experience. The game is HARD. It requires competence in the sense you need to know how to play. It’s not just relative to how much you know your class but, especially, the knowledge you have of that precise place.

To date those runs through BRD have been the most rich and fun experience I’ve EVER had in a (PvE) game. And that’s just one small example of what is available in the game that isn’t “reheated food”.

HRose: I see the PvE in DAoC as nothing more than the price of admission to RvR. It’s not fun nor is it interesting. Aside from CoH where the PvE was fun for about a week due to its fast pace, no MMOG has interesting PvE. PvE to me is killing a mob to get better gear to kill a mob with more hit points to get better gear… etc. It gets old fast.

From Dave Rickey’s interview, which is really worth-reading:

Dave Rickey:
After about 4 months of that, I became convinced that we needed to focus on improving and expanding our RvR game, as our unique competitive advantage. PvE wasn’t why our players were coming, and too long of a treadmill on the way to RvR was losing us a lot of them. This put my “malcontent” status at a whole new level, rather than pushing for 1 or 2 new positions, a few days of programmer time, or the reorganization of a half-dozen people, I was essentially saying that the entire strategic direction for the ongoing development of the game had to change, and since TOA (with a total PvE focus and a new levelling system to be stacked on top of the old) was scheduled to come out in 7 months, the change had to happen right *then* if we were to put anything else on the shelves that Christmas.


At an analytical level, TOA was an attempt to make Camelot more like EverQuest 1. Hugely complicated multi-step quests to earn “Master Levels”, that required the cooperative efforts of large numbers of people, doing them over and over again, and a new set of items that were bigger, better, and more shiny to collect. It was the antithesis of what I thought Camelot needed at that stage, as it added yet another treadmill that players would have to climb before they could be competitive in RvR.

For my $$$ I want to log on and hunt other players. The encounters are more varied and the tactics more interesting. My personal conclusion was that I had to come to grips with the fact I have to grind a treadmill for a week in able to do that.

Firstly, I believe that DAoC shouldn’t ditch its PvE. I strongly believe that it IS possible to make it fun and not a burden. That’s why I hate “/level 20”, those unacceptable task dungeons and that stupid “free level” mechanic.

Those are, exactly like the new ruleset, ways to DODGE the problems. To avoid to face them. Nothing will improve if you do not SOLVE or at least TRY to address the problems. There’s a serious need of acknowledgment even before they start moving a finger.

“The PvE sucks, so no PvE”, I do not accept that. That’s seconding a problem, not solving it. When “Wish” was turned toward the GM driven content the exuse brought by the devs was: “we tried to go in the PvP direction but it wasn’t fun”.

OF COURSE it’s not fun. Because to make good things you need to work on them and expand their potential. The quality or the “fun” in general doesn’t fall from the sky, you need to hunt for it. So I don’t accept that DAoC has to become “just PvP” because PvE isn’t fun. It should instead START to work in order to offer something interesting. Because they definitely have the resources to do so.

The second point is about the battlegrounds. They are a WONDERFUL idea. They allow you to do just PvP from day 1 till the last. But even here the idea is ruined by an awful implementation. Most of these BGs are devoid of players. Most of the times they are PACKED with stealthers behind siege equipment to one-shot you constantly. At best you find super twinked players where again you can just watch and feed them with points.

Even here there’s A LOT to do. There’s the need to cut out the twinking at the roots as a mechanic, there’s the need to draw the population of the BGS from ALL the servers in order to keep them populated at all times, there’s the need to SEVERELY NERF the siege engines, there’s the need to make the economy accessible again for the casual player, there’s the need to ease the accessibility to good equipment, there’s the need to balance the classes specifically for PvP at the low levels. AND SO ON.

But it’s dodging all these issues that brings nothing to the game. In fact this new ruleset is again a withdrawal from solving the problems. A workaround.

If I were going to start in DAoC at max level for RvR, maybe I’d rather play CounterStrike? You know, something not based on phat lewt, otherwise I’m just grinding for equipment anyway. Today I’m getting sleepy just thinking about a grind.

But the point is that PvP in a persistent environment is able to offer A LOT MORE. This is in fact what is happening to all the successful FPS. The deathmatches, today, are considered obsolate and all the design and the development is leaning toward more complex and interactive environments. This is why we have vehicles, large environments, semi persistent and tactical elements. And so on. This is why we have “onslaught” and “assault” modes instead of deathmatches and CTF, this is why the next Unreal Tournament is going to bundle them in an even more complex “battleground”.

The point is that mmorpgs have AN ADVANTAGE on this field that is completely WASTED. Noone is doing anything at all.

This is a genre that “is supposed” to move faster than everything else out there. That should push out “innovation” at a daily rate. Instead it’s severely lagging as the worst console game. Look around and you’ll see that the innovation is coming from everywhere BUT the mmorpgs.

BUT… the /level 20 did show one thing. None of the other battlegrounds is/was as populated at the level 20-24 battleground, mainly from people using /level 20 to quickly get a PVP-enabled character. And those battles were damn fun. Once they put in gold and experience, as well as realm points being gained from PVP, I never leveled by PVE until I had capped out my realm points for that BG. I got new items from the marketplace in the housing zones. At that point, the game didn’t exist for me outside of that same zone, and it was the most fun I had in DAoC ever, counting both times I subscribed.

I agree on that. But these are two different beasts and both need work. The PvE needs work to be attractive, not to be just as quick as possible in order to forget it. It needs value.

On the other side I believe that to give the possibility to advance completely through PvP is good for the game. I always suggested this and I supported them when they decided to go in that direction. A choice is always a good thing to have. So you can choose to do some PvE and PvP mixed, or just PvE, or just PvP.

“/level 20” just broke the community and jumpstarted the trend of super twinked characters. I found always hard to do anything in the BG exactly because I didn’t have a chance to compete due to those balance problems.

Again, with the introduction of BGs from level 1 to 45, there is no need anymore for commands used to jump levels (like the “free level” idiocy) because there is finally something worthy and interesting to do. But this is only a potential because the reality is WAY different. Most of the BGs are empty and have the serious issues that I listed above. So without a direct work this choice isn’t really a choice available for everyone.

It’s from day 1 that DAoC has accessibility problems. In the design, the ruleset and the gameplay. Games like WoW have been hugely successful exactly because they eased the accessibility (good UI, controls and so on till every tiny detail that has been defined as “polish”).

And if someone remembers I was the FIRST to suggest to hand out premade characters at level 45, way before Guild Wars. On these boards, in fact.

But my idea wasn’t to systematically give the possibility to the players to jump all that experience and break the game for the new players. My idea (that I still consider worth a try) was to bundle in each expansion pack like “Catacombs” a key code. You use the key code and you can pull out a maxed character. Just one.

That would allow EVERY player to see how the game works at the latter levels and enjoy the best it has to offer. At the same time it doesn’t break the community at the low levels that is CRUCIAL to keep the game healthy. “/level 20” was a superficial workaround that I believe damaged the game way more than the benefits it brought.

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Matrix Online sold to Sony

Anyuzer just came back to try to convince us it wasn’t going so bad. But I guess that didn’t work perfectly.

From Corpnews:

According to some unnamed sources, MxO has been sold.

To Sony.

And except for 26 people, everyone’s been given their 60 day notice. That includes event staff.

Here’s to all the people looking for jobs. Good luck, gang.

Never underestimate the power of Doom. Especially when it is so easily predictable.

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DAoC to launch soon nostalgic servers

While some players would have loved a truly “nostalgic server” without the new frontier zones, new classes and spellcrafting, the plan Mythic decided to follow is to launch two new server with an “alternate” ruleset around the middle of July.

The three relevant differences are:
– Removal of the /level 20 command (which was allowing the elder players with already a maxed out character to start another one bypassing the first twenty levels)
– Removal of the “Trial of Atlantis” expansions with the exception of the new races (which was the “catass” and less accessible part of the game that everyone finished to hate)
– Removal of the possibility to take advantage of buffs outside a group (buffs will be group and ranged based, removing directly the possibility to use external buffbots)

These changes are enough to trigger discussion threads on all the main forums I follow (and that I have to systematically troll, it seems) and in general the feedback from current and former players has been positive. The problem is that some aspects are different than how they appear and what is happening is interesting to consider from different perspectives instead of a superficial glance. This is one of the comments I wrote:

…try something new? Where?

These new servers add nothing at all. They remove:

– They remove a whole expansion
– They remove the possibility tu use buffs outside a group
– They remove the possibility to use the /evel 20 command that directly destroys the community at the lower levels.

Believe me, there is NO DIRECTION from Mythic here. There is NO WILL to experiment and NO deliberate choice. What happened is that they are simply trying to give the players what they asked for so long. It’s two years that they blame “Trials of Atlantis” and unfair mechanics like the buffbots and the /level 20, now Mythic decided to feed them with what they asked and see how it goes.

What they offer here is simply a bandaid (in fact none of those points is a “solution” but it is actualy a withdrawal from addressing those problems). A workaround to glaring problems in the game at a radical level that they are too scared to address properly.

Now the point is that a large part of the players is drooling over those workarounds because it’s better than nothing. Better than ignoring those broken mechanics altogether.

What will happen isn’t that positive. The two servers will be SWAMPED by players and I really do not expect them to be playable as they launch. I’m not sure how Mythic doesn’t see these issues coming. At the same time this will damage even more the population on the “standard” servers, making them even less playable and accessible (both already consistent problems).

All this means something different than offering a service that the players are asking. It means that the design of those parts failed big time and Mythic was unable/too scared to fix. They are removing a whole expansion. Imho, this definitely isn’t normal and would require some serious thought.

What happens here should question the stance Mythic maintained in these years, and not simply second the desires of the players as the most natural thing in the world.

The first problem is directly in the words of Walt Yarbourgh:

Yes, this is aimed at many of our former customers, not our current ones. Our satisfaction is high in the polls that we take of our current customers.

This already shows how wrong is the perception he has of the game and the playerbase. I’m rather sure that it’s nowhere useful to read the results of the polls in that way. I rather believe that the current subscribers like what they play, but that they are also enduring the problems. Those problems exist and are not a subjective perception. The fact that there are satisfied customers doesn’t mean that they approve directly everything Mythic is doing in the game. This is why I consider that comment completely off-track. It’s a huge mistake to consider these new servers appealing just for former players. They are appealing for everyone simply because they finally do something about some of the radical problems that the game has and that Mythic never cared to solve.

As I wrote above the new ruleset isn’t going to solve anything. It simply attests a design failure that Mythic is still refusing to acknowledge completely. The removal of consistent parts of the game (instead of fixing them and make them fun) is a denial of those problems even if still a way to second the playerbase. The position isn’t moved, they aren’t admitting that some parts of the design are flawed and would need an aggressive rework, so they feed us an “alternate ruleset” that is supposed to alleviate some gripes. If you read some of the defenses that the players write about the buffbots and the other broken features you’ll see how all their reasons are coming from consequences of radical problems. For examples the buffbots “cannot” be removed because the game has been balanced with them in mind. Absolutely true but this doesn’t justifies the existence of the buffbots, it just shift the attention to the REAL problem. Which should be addressed instead of being seconded or ignored. Again another example is that buffbots are required to not make the PvE in solo too slow and boring. But it’s another justification of a consequence of a real problem: the fact that the game needs a reconsideration of the downtimes (health and mana regeneration while not in combat). In a similar way the /level 20 command is absolutely required (along with the “free levels” idotic mechanic) in order to ease an awful treadmill. But again the problem is not that the treadmill is slow per se. But that it is DULL. It’s dull for an hour as it can be dull for a week. The problem isn’t again in its length, but in its direct gameplay.

What I’m saying is that DAoC is surely a game with its own merits as well as serious problems in the gameplay. Mythic has always refused to address those problems aggressively and the game has kept lagging and persisting in those mistakes. The point is that seconding the playerbase or heaping workarounds is again exactly what Big Bartle described. Instead of letting the game grow and improve you cut its legs. In the short term all those solutions will offer a sensible benefit but in the long distance the game will pay the price of this dodging approach and will sink more and more till it will be time to hide the skeleton and replace it with “new shiney” under a new name and a new flagship (DAoC 2: Warhammer). Bandaids always work temporarily but they do not heal anything and are typical of a superficial approach. Again it’s all about “choices”. What works in the short term isn’t always good even in the long term.

Each of those design points would deserve a deep analysis. The problems of the buffbots cannot get solved by making them group/range based simply because the true origin of the problem is deeper:

The problem with buffbots isn’t the mechanic of the buffs, it’s about the design of the classes.

World of Warcraft has demonstrated that you can design fun classes all around, without specific roles that just suck like a character that is specialized on buffs and does exclusively that. What sucks in DAoC and other games with a similar approach is that your character does just *one thing*. And the gameplay of some specific classes like buffbots and healers just sucks.

In WoW you cannot build a buffbot because there isn’t a class that can buff you with everything available in the game. There is no class with such an horrible role. To get buffed completely you’d need at least a priest, a druid, a paladin and a warlock.

The “buffs” aren’t anymore the specific role of a character that is supposed to just sit on its ass and, maybe, throw a weak heal (due to specialization issues) every few minutes. Instead they become a mechanic shared between all the classes.

That’s the real point. In DAoC there are basic design holes like the role of healers and the enforced specialization (in order to brag the number of different classes you can play) that Mythic never cared to address.

The ranged/group buffs are a workaround to a problem they do not plan to solve.

I’ve always agreed with you about DAoC’s overall design. The fact it attained and retained so many players is, to me, one part timing and one part good company relations. The game itself is some of the worse parts of EQ except for those players that know the game so well they know what to avoid.

The reason I said it’s in “maintenance mode” is exactly as you wrote. There is no concerted effort to solve the core problems with the game. Maybe there never was. Maybe they think everything’s fine.

I’ve been arguing a similar point for some time. I think Blizzard made a brilliant move by limiting the number of classes. EQ2 and SWG like DAoC and EQlive before them got into some sort of wierd overdesign mode where the developers thought more classes were better.

Not so. More classes just means more balance headaches at best, or marginalized classes at worst. They inevitably become super-specialized, and in ways that become boring for most players. Darwinized playstyles emerge. If a class/template is boring to play but deemed a requirement, it will be bot’ed. The developers can get pissed and ban players and cajole them and pay them off and invent new servers all they want, but they’re fighting a losing battle.

Don’t make boring classes. Anyone with a conscious can identify boring classes. Your players will. Better to do so before launch though.

Having a few classes that can do many things is better than having a zillion classes that can only do one.

The last point is that aside all these considerations there is also the problem about how the game will be maintained from now on. The two ruleset are divergent. It isn’t possible to balance the PvP of both with generic patches and I really don’t think that Mythic is going to double their work to let these two rulesets continue on opposite paths. Mythic designers know what they are doing? It seems that the whole idea of the poll just cornered them and now they are going to screw it no matter what they choose.

The idea to use alternate rulesets to fix important gameplay problems simply cannot be justified. While this reaction is better than nothing I believe that it will bring along many other problems, making the game progressively harder to manage. Exactly because this isn’t a good path to pursue.

By the way, in the case I have time to play I’ll resubscribe for the occasion (I canceled again recently after the announce of Warhammer). The brand new servers along with the removal of the “/level 20” command and the new work on the guild system could help to let a community develop. Aside the gameplay problems this is the most serious issue of the game. The only players left are in closed guilds and it’s basically impossible to enjoy the game casually and find people to group with. The game is silent, very silent. As always the most important part of a game is the community and this is the real reason why I’m interested on the new servers. Before the gameplay changes.

No buffbots, no twink characters, no powerlevelling and an economy not completely inaccessible and inflated. For some time it could be fun.

In the meantime Lum poked the fun on me, disproving what I wrote some time ago. It seems that the new player models added with the “Catacombs” expansions are, in fact, available to everyone for free through an optional patch and already bundled (along with the new tutorials and town art) in the free trial client. So it’s true that this time they are going to show to the former customers that could come back to check the new servers the best profile of the game. Instead of an obsolete and limited client as it happened till not long ago. Good choice.

He’s “sorry” to be that blunt but I’m sure he enjoyed that quite a bit :)

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World of Warcraft causes 3rd World War

There’s a fancy Press Release.

So the game reaches two million of paying subscribers. The rumor was already floating around and even SirBruce updated his charts accordingly before the press release.

You know what? Blizzard is done. Done. They can leave completely the game as it is, without a patch for years and they’ll still cash a fuckload of money. They triggered an out-of-scale process that can be exploited without any commitment. They are in a position that will prevent them to pay for their mistakes and it’s exactly the point where something breaks. Now they can fuck the game just for fun and watch the reaction amusedly. Development-wise they are done.

You say that some parts of the game are broken? HA! Two million subscribers. Rimshot.

This game is going to break China. Phenomena like the “Leroy video” demonstated how this game is becoming more than a game and nearer to a cultural symbol outside the boundaries of the game itself. I really don’t know how China will react to this but I’m starting to believe that the third World War will be triggered by a videogame.

Fun times.

Eve-Online plans big

This game never fails to amaze me. I just wish it was more accessible and I had more time to squeeze something good out of it.

In the last weeks the devs have released a series of “sneak peaks” about a massive content patch that is coming somewhere in the future:
Sneak peaks part I
Sneak peaks part II – COSMOS
Sneak Peaks Part III – Needful things?
Sneak Peaks Part IV – Outposts

Between one of those things I was planning to write there was a follow-up to my ramblings about the “mudlfation” as a process of development that is going to kill these games by making them sink progressively till it’s too late to save them. Eve-Online is the example of how it’s possible to invert that process. This game is flourishing now and is going to become better and better as the time passes. This because they are developing it in the “right way”.

My point is that the mudflated design brings the designers to get tired, to finish the ideas and to struggle to think something new to add. It’s a straining process that DETERIORATES with the time (both the game and the developers). When, instead, you design a game to add depth and a “vertical” direction instead of making it just “fatter”, the game itself will flourish. You will reach a point where you have SO MANY IDEAS that you don’t know anymore how to order and prioritize them. The game will design itself and will tell you exactly what it needs. Because what you build here is the base of what will be built next. You do not need anymore to plan an infinite list of “optional” features that can be bundled in an “optional” expansion. This because the game is kept cohesive (healthy in an holistic way) and the idea of detached extensions simply doesn’t work. Guess what? Eve-Online hasn’t expansions if not in the form of integrated evolutions that are part of the monthly fee and nowhere “optional”.

Now go read those sneak peaks one by one, till the last, impressive one. I’m absolutely sure that they will tickle the interest even if you do not play the game or have considered it nothing more than a pretty (boring) screensaver. What they are doing is moving toward that direction that I preached on this site more than once: give back the game-world to the players.

Eve-Online is constantly sperimenting in a way completely precluded to the ambitious but derivative commercial projects. It is FAR from being an optimal game but they are slowly moving toward a positive direction that isn’t progressively killing the game but, instead, progressively realizing and expanding its potential.

Remember, when we enable players to build infrastructure which they make money on from other players, this won’t only benefit the Alliances, this benefits the whole universe. Ultimately, you will be able to work for the new empires or work against them. Heck, you can build your own! It should be up to you, not us.

They will, indeed, taxi to victory.

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