DAoC: the return of buffbots

This game is so dead.

On the forums people are complaining because it is now pretty obvious that noone is left on DAoC after Warhammer, the expansion and everything else. And I don’t mean the players. Apparently there isn’t anyone anymore working on the game beside all those guys they hired from QA and CS that are now probably rolling their thumbs and stare blankly. Or have VERY BAD ideas.

The pace of development is spiraling down at a much faster pace than the subscribers count.

The last test patch segment arrives after more than two weeks and only contains some database changes. These changes have an impact on the gameplay, but quite “cheap” to implement. As if the designers are trying hard to impress the players more than trying to seriously make a better game.

At a first glance you could say that the new changes are good. All the buffs will now last (WoW-like) from half to a full hour. So less annoyances for the players.

But you see, DAoC isn’t designed as WoW (where there isn’t a “buffbot” class that casts nearly all the buffs in the game) and you cannot port those kind of features like that without breaking the game. If the timers are shorter THERE IS a reason. In fact this applies even to the resists buffs, which have a *significant* impact on the gameplay if you can specialize a toon completely on them, with then the possibility to cast the buff on just EVERYONE (since the resists buffs don’t use the concentration pool).

And yeah. This means buffbots EVEN on the classic servers.

Why? Because the resists buffs, again, aren’t concentration based. And the range limit on buffs on the classic servers works only on concentration based buffs.

P.S.
And the minotaur model was shown on the test server as well. And, ugh, it’s not so good.

Standard troll model with a different head plugged in. No tail, no hoof. Probably no dedicated animations either.

Complete lack of style whatsoever, and the hair are ridiculous. Mythic is getting lazier than ever. Shadowbane isn’t my idea of good art, but at least they gave it a more beast-like feel and not just a standard body with a super-deformed head taken out of a Disney’s movie.

Mid and Hib versions are even uglier due to bad colors/light used.

P.P.S.
Haha. Best quote from FoH:

I saw that minotaur this morning. It was on the front of my cup of Brown Cow brand Yogurt.

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What Mythic isn’t lacking: talented artists

WordPress spam filter swallowed (I think) my comments over at Lum’s blog, so I’m going to save them here, nyah, nyah!

It’s undeniable that DAoC has some of the best art I’ve ever seen in a mmorpg. In many cases far superior even to WoW, even if crippled by some overall carelessness and things too rushed out and approximate. But what is sure is that they have some GREAT talent. And that kind of talent is inestimable as you just cannot find it easily.

I don’t remember anything particularly great in ToA (but I also never went too far), but I was definitely impressed by what the artists did with Catacombs and all that came after it.

I praised DAoC’s art in many occasions, even if I don’t exactly know who I’m praising. Maybe it’s that guy (Mat Weathers) Lum is talking about, maybe it’s someone else, maybe it’s the whole art team.

I know I am easily amazed by smaller details like this, this and this. That’s some magistral work on those textures. Definitely not something you see often. And remember that at least one player stopped there to stare in awe.

At the beginning the art style was a bit too generic and not particularly inspired, but with the time it became much more consistent and today the quality of the art is the very LAST problem that DAoC and Mythic have. Maybe some approximate execution and lack of polish, but the overall quality and skill that the artists have shown is simply awesome.

The same for Warhammer. The art in Warhammer is already head and shoulders above WoW’s character’s art. Without a doubt. Mythic has definitely the potential not only to be on par with the quality of the other game, but easily suprass it. Also because they are building a PvP game, so they need again to consolidate the space and not make an infinite number of zones. The initial screenshots shown were a bit deluding, in particular because of the lightweight atmosphere they chose compared to the more harsh and worn look we were all expecting for that setting, but with the time things seem improving and even for Warhammer it looks like that the quality of the art will be its last problem. The dwarf model is still the one I like less as it is too imprecise and undefined, but what they did with the orcs and goblins seems very good. And I do hope that a particular attention goes into giving them unique and appropriate animations.

Give a look for example at this orc in shiny armor. That’s the idea I have when I think to inspired armor that fits the setting. That’s why I CANNOT HATE MORE the direction that WoW is taking, with all those goofy, exaggerate, plastic armor pieces that Blizzard started to patch in post-release. Imho the equipment of a character should be defined exactly in the game world. It’s not a model and a color/texture. I want to know the material it is made of, I want to know where it came from, I want to know the utility of it. I don’t mind some exaggeration, and I love how each item has an unique look that is suddenly recognizeable, but if you compare that orc from Warhammer to whatever you see in WoW nowadays you can easily understand why I’m starting to love Warhammer’s art direction and hating the path that WoW is taking now.

That orc in that page is awesome. the model is detailed enough, the textures well done and every piece of the equipment fits perfectly the setting and it is suddenly recognizeable. It looks great and it looks unique. I just love it and I hope that for the whole game they stick to that style (and I want to see what they do with Chaos).

But this is also why browsing through my old screenshots in DAoC and looking at the progress in Warhammer makes me feel furious. Because Mythic has and still is wasting the so great resources they have. Wasted because of the not so great design. They have great artists, but terrible designers (and a crippled client).

And the result is that those great resources they have are NEVER put at a good use.

DAoC had and still has the numbers to be the best, and yet it has to struggle in the relative mediocrity.

The “labyrinth” confirmed as RvR dungeon

From an interview with Sanya:

The dungeon (with its maze of twisty passages all alike)

It sounds more like the art team going lazy or moved to Warhammer :)

I’ll repeat:

– The RvR didn’t need more space added, it needed space cut and consolidated
– If you think about it for more than two seconds a maze-like environment doesn’t look so great for PvP action
– “twisty passages all alike” and “largest single dungeon in any MMO”, I’m sure you get the point

There’s a confirmation that the dungeon will be RvR, though.

How can this be a good idea? I’ll wait for more details to be revealed.

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DAoC’s expansion – The feature list

Another part on the same topic because I wasn’t able to fit all I wanted to say in the other post. In this case more opinions directly on the features of the expansion.

To begin with: noone is writing about the expansion on a forum beside the specialized ones about the game. This says a lot about the appeal of this expansion towards new or returning players.

Then, from what I read, everyone has taken “The Labyrinth” as an RvR dungeon. I don’t know from where that idea is coming because after I read the expansion details that thought didn’t even pass by my head. I don’t know if my brain just refuses to accept bad game design, but if that dungeon is an RvR dungeon then it’s really a bad idea.

This is one of those things that are obvious to just *everyone*. The game definitely doesn’t need more space where to fit the RvR. It needs LESS. And everyone KNEW that already when “New Frontiers” was in the design stages, with everyone wondering why the hell Mythic didn’t reduce the number of zones. It was just stupid.

When I read that announce I thought it was just one massive dungeon, maybe even instanced, but just for PvE. The press release doesn’t specify it’s “RvR” and, if true, it would be a so bad idea that I didn’t even contemplate it.

The games HAS ALREADY a massive RvR dungeon. It’s called Darkness Falls and it is already largely ignored by the players. If you wanted to give some weight to this aspect of the game then it would have made sense to revitalise it (and not just graphically). I really dislike when the game design isn’t well polished and new ideas goes right to overlap and crowd another part of the game that shares the exact same purpose.

As I wrote in the last discussions about PvP, the PvP needs a “convergence”. More locales only damage the game, in particular when so much space is already there wasted and without a purpose.

In those ideas that I had suggested for the expansion I also proposed to add a new RvR zone, but with a significant difference that can be used as a template to judge similar attempts about adding more space. In that idea the new zone was designed to be “alternate” to the RvR frontiers. It was planned to be sealed for most of the time, so with the players forced outside of it. While, when open, it would become the focus, with all the players converging there. It was the frontier OR the new zone, not both together at the same time.

So it wasn’t just another zone always available, but a new space that “triggered” under certain conditions. So that its role didn’t overlap nor replaced the standard zones.

If the rumor is confirmed I would really like to know what’s the purpose of that new RvR dungeon. In particular when they underline so much that it is going to be the biggest dungeon ever. I imagine the slogan: “You will never meet the same player two times”. A great feature for a PvP game.

By definition a “labyrinth” is PvE. Not really the best layout to host some PvP action. Maybe I’m wrong but when Mythic says “largest single dungeon in any MMO” I suddenly imagine the exact same corridor cut and pasted ad infinitum. Already with Darkness Rising they went with those huge locales but thin on content. Advertising “size” today is like a warning, as people know that worthwhile content isn’t proportional with size. You don’t want to be “Dark & Light”.

While I was thinking about what could be possible with a labyrinth and some PvP I started to think about moving walls, traps, the possibility to rotate entire sections of the labyrinth to trap the players inside or made them lose orientation and so on. I even thought of walls that become progressively more solid over time, like graphically fading in and out. Then I also thought about group of players trapped within certain sections and then respawn directly in the dungeon if killed. There could be some interesting possibilities to explore, adding some dynamic elements and give some player control over them. But I seriously doubt that it’s what Mythic is trying to do. And no matter how good these ideas could be, the problem of adding too much space when the game is already too spread thin would still cripple whatever you may add.

In all the cases, all the ideas I imagined were about the players and not about respawning mobs. Noone likes to PvP in a dungeon crowded with monsters. The game has already PvE/PvP dungeons. One is Darkness Falls, the other is the underground tunnel in the frontiers. Both largely ignored. Adding one more? Why?

The dungeon will be located under Agramon and my suspect is that it will inherit is uselessness. So, instead of worrying about the damaging effect it could have on the RvR population/concentration, the risk is that it will instead go completely ignored already after a few weeks it will be patched in.

AT LEAST the rumor about instanced RvR revealed to be false. And if it was a feature-cut, then god bless it.

This dungeon will be also populated by mechanical creatures. Here only a note to make because I’m kind of used to the superficiality/carelessness with which Mythic implements things (they are usually quick and respect the deadlines, but the results are poor): mechanical things, even before how they look, need special animations. I put my hands forward here because I’ve seen one screenshot of a pet you can get, and it’s just an animal model with a mechanical skin. As a style I would pick something more odd and awkward, with mechanical things that move and attack oddly, instead of just taking the standard monster types and reskinning them to look metallic.

About the new race and class I don’t have much to say because I wrote about them in the other post. The fact that the minotaur can use a two-handed weapon with one hand doesn’t really shock me because I know that the designers will have to compensate it somehow. It’s a bad idea to advertize the power of a new class in a PvP game because it only leads to players screaming about unbalances already before the game is out.

DAoC usually had quite original and diversified classes to offer. That’s a merit. For now there isn’t much about the “Brawler” class that makes it look like something really interesting.

About the lootable relic/artifacts idea I won’t comment either, for now. It’s one that I know really well because I’ve juggled with it for a few years. So I know quite well the risks and purposes of it. I’ll wait to see the details before adding my comments (if I’ll be around by then). I’ll just say that the idea fits an expansion well. There’s always the problem that you cannot touch the RvR with “optional” content. But in this case these items are unique (at least in my idea), so while they will influence ALL players, those who use/carry them are still unique cases. You just need one player with the expansion who can loot/carry the item, then everyone else can play around. It doesn’t unbalance the game or is felt as “unfair” from that perspective as it cannot be made mandatory for all players as it happens instead with the ToA items and abilities, which are “farmable”.

And finally we have the new item slots and the Champion levels. About the Champion levels I can only grimace a bit. They are neither bad nor good, I will have to see how they continue the paths. I also cannot comment much because I never went about the first level, as I didn’t finish the last PvE encounter and the kills in RvR didn’t give enough points to see the bar moving.

The items slots have the problematic implication and risk to become another ToA. And people would hate this already on the principle. I continue to believe that DAoC NEEDS PvE, and that some PvE can be good IF MADE ACCESSIBLE. But even here I don’t have enough elements to comment. Those item slots could be just reserved for the relics (I doubt it), but in every case it’s too soon to rant about them.

Lastly a feature that isn’t in the feature list and that I want to discuss exactly because it isn’t there. All previous expansion with the exception of the last included new technology. New engines, graphic restyles and upgrades. The biggest leap forward was with Shrouded Isles with the whole new engine that partially fixed a mean memory leak that corrupted the screen after a few hours of play, then the higher res textures and a bunch of other details. After it we had ToA with another new (laggy) client, SpeedTree, new multi-layer terrain textures and the support for some new pretty effects. Catacombs didn’t change much in the engine (that is noticeable) but it brought the all-new character models (with mixed results). And Darkness Rising didn’t introduce any new technology either but it accompanied the reskin of Darkness Falls and the capital cities. Minor graphic reskins have continued with the Live patches, but this new expansion won’t bring anything from that perspective. No better technology, no restyles. And I underline this because DAoC’s client is really, really bad and would definitely need work. Even if most of its fault are due to Netimmerse/Gamebryo (the engine they licenced). For example the awful performance and stutter if you play in windowed mode, the impossibility to resize/maximize the window and so on. And you can add the UI to the list.

But that kind of development isn’t competence of DAoC’s current team, I suspect. Those who can touch those sort of things would be already busy with Warhammer.

Btw, if you remember Sanya said that the delay of the announce was also because they were granted more resources and so they could re-add features that were cut. Well, with a second glance at the feature list I really wonder what they were going to put in the expansion if the plan was to add even less than that.

And, quoting from the other post:

However, we’ve got some things coming down the pike that will almost certainly have an impact on those numbers.

I hope it wasn’t this expansion. Because I seriously doubt it will have even a slight positive effect on the population of the game.

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DAoC’s expansion will save the game?

Some more “neutral” comments after the whiny post.

It looks like someone else took my role.

See, the truth is that DAoC’s fanboys and fangirls are VERY HARD to please and I would dare to say that we were even spoilt along the years. When Mythic stops trying, we notice. And our original enthusiasm and dedication backfires.

From my point of view the content of this expansion was quite predictable. After all the rants about the classes in the Catacombs expansion and all the efforts that Mythic had to spend to tweak them along the months, the choice to use just one class shared by the three realms became more and more attractive.

The real problem is that the game has already way too many classes. At this point one more is BETTER than three. Zero would be even better than one, but this expansion for Mythic is like a duty. Something that they have promised and now they have to finish even if they don’t really want to. Because now that the Warhammer is the focus of the attention and of the “serious” development, DAoC is just a burden. A dead weight.

They had to fit something in this expansion. And classes and races seem to be obligatory in the recipe even when they are POISON, as in this case.

If you read the negative feedback about this expansion you notice that the general opinion is quite uniform. There aren’t many complaints about the features themselves (well, there are. But I’ll return on this), but more concerns about the direction the game is taking.

Because the point is that this expansion IS NOT what DAoC would need. That’s what people see. That’s what Amber is ranting about in the link above, and even what I read in a comment here. But what’s new? How is this different from ALL previous expansions? None of them really helped the game. Darkness Rising, Catacombs, ToA. In a few cases they damaged or deviated the game from its track. Not helped.

This isn’t a problem of resources available. This is a problem of an overall model of development used. By definition the expansions are the only way possible to develop significantly the game. To do that kind of stuff that the Live team cannot do alone. At the same time the only real part of the game that can be made optional (which is the true problem) and expandable is PvE.

Please notice: optional and expandable. Take these two terms, then think about “revitalizing the game”. How’s that “optional and expandable”?

That’s the point. It was the real problem since the beginning. The core of the game and the potential and scope of an expansion pack part ways. In the same way ToA derailed the game when the players wanted the RvR to improve. And not that kind of PvE that they can find in a better shape in other games.

But the RvR and all the basic structure of the game CANNOT be worked in an expansion. Because those parts aren’t “optional and expandable”. They need the opposite, they are mandatory and need to be consolidated because there’s already way too much space wasted. CCP solved this problem with Eve. They have a sandbox and they adapt to its model. Eve HAS expansions. And those expansion CAN improve radically the CORE of the game. But they aren’t optional.

So the point is: do not expect that kind of development on an expansion. Not only because it isn’t possible, but because it would even damage the game if that significant work would be restricted to an expansion pack and not the totality of the players (and the game).

Mythic had to deal with that. And their plan to minimize the side-effects was to use the expansions to expand and improve the PvE, while bundling the “technology upgrades” with it. While along the year they tried to work on the RvR and all the other parts of the game that couldn’t be made optional. That’s how we got the “New Frontier” and all those WoW-like eases of use that started to trickle in the game. Looking back, that’s how we got the original masterpiece that was Darkness Falls.

If you ask Mythic what’s their plan about “revitalizing the game”, they answer: “we have done that and always continue to do that.” Now the real question is: are they doing it effectively?

My opinion is that they aren’t doing enough, and I always specified that it’s not a matter of resources, but the way they are used. But then I would also say that that “Catacombs” damaged more the game than ToA. It took Mythic two years to admit the flaws of ToA, and it took them even more to admit the flaws of “/level 20”. I wouldn’t be surprised if one day they’ll even admit that Catacombs design was a big mistake.

Yes, I have ideas about how you could revitalize the game so that it could go from a negative to a positive growth. That idea they “stole” from me didn’t have that purpose and cannot be blamed for it. At least I could suggest some serious attempts that could make that a possibility. Many of these ideas are already in all I wrote. One of these is a reorganization of the overall structure behind “Catacombs” that doesn’t directly touch the content, but only the overall scheme and function. Doing something along those lines while also making the whole expansion (content) free for everyone could already do something. Then you could do the other part working on all the Battlegrounds in the game and convert them to the “Permeable Barriers” design strategy (see point 2), while also working on the BGs to make them all unique and special (with specific rewards and perks), instead of moving linearly toward a complexity.

Want another idea that could draw the attention of more players without requiring too much work? PvP classic servers:

– You take the classic server rules, no ToA, no buffbots
– You unify all the underground zones in “Catacombs” so that all the three realms share the same structure, used also as a “subway” connecting the three realms
– Make all the private instances, public
– Instead of the current “free-for-all” mode of the DAoC’s PvP servers, you retain the three hardcoded realms factions

It would require a quite significant effort to work on the technology (but I think it could be possible with Doom-like “visportals”), but it would also be great if all the Catacombs zones could be made “seamless”, with no zoning. Becoming one big seamless PvE/PvP environment.

Of course the negatives are that it’s yet another server that thins even more the population on the other servers. But, still, it risks to be insanely popular if well executed. And then you can work on the idea, adding mini-games and objectives in each dungeon and maybe doing the impossibe: REMOVE the frontiers entirely. And then reintegrate parts of them directly on the classic zones. With the realms becoming the RvR territories and the players taking control of Ludlow, Prydwen Keep, Cornwall, Ardagh, Mag Mell and so on. In a full PvP world.

So much is still possible. DAoC could still have a so huge potential and still have a lot to say. It could still make pale even the newer game and find its own noteworthy place in the market without getting overwhelmed. The game has still that kind of strength. But it’s a strength that you need to recognize and then pull out of it.

You decide if Mythic is doing that or not.

I believe that not only Mythic made many mistakes along the way (which isn’t bad and can lead to improve) but that they are still making them, and even easily predictable ones. The server clusters were a partial mistake, Agramon was a mistake, Catacombs was an announced disaster whose true effects are only visible today. The implementation of boats, PvP missions and rules to ease the realm unbalance way too weak and inappropriate in some cases.

The point is: there is so much that could be discussed, but I cannot believe that you really hoped that this expansion was going to solve the long-standing problems that this game has always had at the core.

Give credit where credit is due

Some precisations are due after I claimed that Mythic “stole” my idea.

To begin with, I wrote it in a somewhat ironic tone, because I’m definitely not furious about that. As I wrote, the expansion actually looks better than how I expected and I’m glad that they added something interesting into it beside the usual rehated food. Some new design, new ideas. Not just the cow to milk.

So I’m glad. I was waiting for the announce of the press release and I was expecting it to be totally deluding to the point that I wouldn’t even have bothered to write about it here. Instead I’m writing and definitely not in a negative way.

Now what’s important to consider is that whether Mythic really stole my idea or not is… completely irrelevant. There are two reasons:

1- It’s not possible to demonstrate in any way that Mythic stole that idea directly from me
2- I lose EVERY right to complain about my ideas being stolen the second that I write them here publicly

Still, I think i have the right to point this out. I mean, I’m one of the most snubbed and scorned blogger about these games. Still my ideas prove to be valid, eventually. That’s what I’m pointing out.

Let’s take a look at this expansion. One new race, one class, some more skills, items and a dungeon. If the feature list stopped there we would have the death of the game design. There is absolutely NOTHING that would tickle the interest or draw the attention of a potential player. Nothing to talk about because it’s just the same reheated food, the kind of stuff you pull out of the hat when you have absolutely no idea about what to fit in an expansion pack. Like if the expansion pack was more a inconvenient obligation to fulfill instead of an opportunity to realize better the potential and ambition of a game.

The death of game design because it’s a total abdication to develop and improve the game, and just milk the cow till there isn’t nothing left.

So. Honestly. Give a look at that feature list. Read it and then tell me if the idea that they supposedly stole from me isn’t the ONLY ONE that makes that expansion pack at least slightly more interesting. That’s the point.

That’s MY OWN IDEA. There isn’t any fucking doubt that the idea is my own. Then, MAYBE, someone else could have had it in the exact same way I had it. I doubt it, because it looks like it’s EXACTLY the same, applied in the exact same part of the game, with the exact same purpose and mechanics (and maybe the designers read it here, forgot it and then thought they had it themselves…). There are a bit too many coincidences, but let’s still assume that Mythic didn’t deliberately stole that idea. And that they had it entirely on their own.

Let’s take the Mozart example. Mozart composes some of the most incredible songs ever, in Austria. Then, at the other side of the world, at the same time, there is someone else who composes the exact same songs. It is an absolute coincidence but this doesn’t change anything about the validity of those songs. One will become famous and popular, the other not. That other guy at the other side of the world can still do what Mozart did.

Now I’m definitely not Mozart and that idea is just a small one. I don’t care if Mythic stole it from me or if they had it entirely on their own. But it was still my own idea, that I defined in detail, examining and explain all its design implications. An idea that I developed entirely on my own and that maybe was then imagined by someone else entirely on his own. The point is: that idea was valid.

See, in a couple of months this site you are reading will be forgotten. When Mythic will release the expansion everyone will recognize that type of PvP design as their own. Yes, I’m glad when I see my ideas being actually put into use and turn into practice. Because if I write them then it means that I believe they are valid and that people would enjoy them. So I’m glad if this happens. But I think you can also understand how this is terribly frustrating for me.

It is frustrating because I’m always mocked and laughed at. “Haha, look. Another idiot with a blog who thinks to be special”. And I will be laughed at RIGHT NOW because I believe to be so special that a Mythic employee read that idea here and then decided to steal it.

Ryan “Nerfbat/Blackguard” Shwayder wrote a while ago that he wasn’t going to write his own design ideas on his website because he hoped that eventually he could use them in a game. Well, instead I do write those ideas for a similar reason. I write them because I know I won’t have that opportunity, no matter how much I want it.

I know that those ideas I have will never see the light of the day. I write here for that reason. This site is “the ladder to see the stars”. Because I love that world, be part of it, contribute, to discuss things, analyze, examine, find solution to problems and dream of (im)possible things.

I couldn’t be more happy if someone sees how these ideas are good and put them into use. Because that’s ultimately what I would like to do. And even more than that: the opportunity participate. See, it’s the completely opposite idea of feeling like a genius above everyone else. I don’t feel like that, instead what I dream of is being there and do these kinds of things. Work with people who I have esteem for and share that kind of passion.

If I’d know for sure that Mythic came here and stole my idea I couldn’t be more happy. Because it would be a demonstration and a confirmation that those ideas have some worth. And that they aren’t just words wasted on the internet by yet another idiot. But that’s also what it is frustrating. Because I will never be sure if I actually had contributed to that idea or not. And, in the case I did, Mythic will never even turn in my direction to give me credit.

Instead I will continue to get ignored and mocked, by Mythic in the first place and RIGHT NOW. That’s what’s frustrating, when you do something and it’s valid, but never recognized if not when someone else takes it and takes all the credit. It’s a feeling of impotence that even grows when you see how what you do could be, in fact, valid.

And IN PARTICULAR when you always searched a more direct dialogue and all you got was being ignored. And ignored after your ideas are taken and rebranded without even glancing back.

See, I have NO PROBLEM to say that the great majority of the design ideas I have at an high level were inspired by what Dave Rickey was doing on “Wish” before he was kicked out and the project killed (one year later, but it died the one before). I have no problem to admit that without this community, other bloggers, the message boards and all the rest MY HEAD WOULD BE EMPTY about these things. I’m the first to draw from everything I see. Use everything as a source of inspiration. From comics, to books, to movies, to games I play and the ideas I get while I play them. Nothing is original because one things flow after the other and it isn’t even possible to remember what were all the influences. We all contibute to a discussion, a line of thought. Everyone is a source of inspiration. But I DO give credit to all that. And I would give credit back to Mythic itself because DAoC is still the game I loved the most and that inspired me the most.

I started to write exactly a few months after “Wish” as a result of that frustration. See a game with a great potential being driven to the ground. So this site came as the result of a *need*. Because in the month and half that I’ve been involved with the beta of the game I was totally absorbed by it and when I saw everything thrown away, I felt the need to continue along that path. And save something. Let it continue. Put it into use.

So the purpose is about making the ideas flow. Work together because that’s what I do. I don’t just write here and “enlight” the readers with my superiority. Instead I read every other blog, I participate in message boards and I go deep into everything I see. This because the ideas come from there.

The real point is that I just don’t belong where I’d like to be. I’m just an anomaly. This site and all the rest are a way to deal with all that even if I know the way things work, and that it’s not my place.

So the frustration is the essence of it all. I know it well and some more of it doesn’t really change much things. I’m happy that Mythic is going to use a valid idea for the expansion pack.

At the same time you can understand the frustration because I see something to which I dedicate myself, taken away. While I’m still the idiot of the village and have to swallow it.

So I’m not saying “You bastards, that’s my idea and I want it back NOW.” Instead I’m saying “I think that’s a good one and, if well executed, can improve the game. So go on and do it. And maybe go read all I write about it so that you could find suggestions to avoid making some mistakes and better realize it.”

But also remember that I was here and made that work entirely on my own. I don’t have a team to work with and, without that one idea, the expansion would have been quite forgettable.

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DAoC’s expansion announced: The Labyrinth of the Minotaur

I have only five minutes to comment, but I’ll continue later.

The site of the expansion has a somewhat “retro game” feel that I actually like.

The features are better than what I expected:

– One new race (Minotaur) shared by the three realms, as anticipated
– One new class (Mauler) shared by the three realms, as anticipated
– Champion Levels 6-10, as anticipated
– New dungeon: The Labyrinth – Under Agramon (not specified if instanced or shared, but it shouldn’t be RvR)
– Cerberus, end-game encounter
– New Item Slots – Mythical Items. To get from the Labyrinth. No other details about these.

And, the biggest one, imho:

– RvR relics that you bring in RvR but that make your character get hunted by other players

No specific details about this either, but I’m pointing to it because… IT’S MY OWN IDEA!

I’ll link later (or right now), but if you go see the early pages of the “Dream mmorpg” category you can see how I was imagining powerful PvP items (artifacts) that turn the carrier into a Demi-god. In my design idea, these objects were surely “overpowered” (unbalance in PvP is FUN!), but also “full loot”. In the sense that other players who killed you could steal them from your body and becoming themselves a Demi-god.

These powerful items could be summoned only inside very hard PvE instances and then brought back to the PvP world. There were also some limits so that you had to “feed” the item, preventing a player to log out with it and keep it outside of the game for too much time and also forcing the carrier to go out and actually kill people instead of just hide somewhere. In my orginal idea carrying an artifact also “mutated” the graphical appearance of the character, making him bigger and meaner and recognizeable on the battlefield.

Here’s an excerpt from the orginial design:

These artifacts make a player near to a demi-god. One player wielding one or more artifacts can fight alone and win against multiple opponents and will be really, really hard to take down without an organized effort from the opposite side. These demi-gods are supposed to become the focus of the PvP in a similar way to how the “heroes” were used in Warcraft 3. They are special and unique. They artifacts aren’t usable in PvE, they lose all their properties if they are brought in a PvE instance. In order to keep them on your character, you need to “feed” them by killing the players on the opposite factions and have a role in the conquest, participating actively in the PvP. Exposing yourself. If you are hiding you won’t be able to fulfill the “feed” requirements and you’ll lose the artifact. When you have an artifact with you your character will change its appearance and you’ll be recognizable in the battlefield. Even graphically you’ll transform into a demi-god. The other faction will also know that one of the artifacts was summoned and will be able to “divinate” your position in the map. They can track you down. you will be hunted. If you die in a PvP battle, your artifact will be dropped on the ground and one of the players in the opposite faction can loot it and use it, acquiring the powers that were yours. The artifacts are also limited in number. Each type of artifact can have only a fixed (and really small) nuber of “copies” active in a PvP world. The most powerful artifacts are unique and one and only one copy can exist in the PvP world at once. If an artifact is unique, the instance where it can be summoned will be sealed till the artifact remains in the PvP world. There isn’t a time limit to the persistence of an artifact in the PvP world, just its “feeding” and “active” requirements. If the feeding requirement aren’t met, or if the player with the artifact has been logged out for too long, not meeting the active requirements, the artifact is reset to the original PvE instance that will remain sealed for a set amount of time depending on the type of the artifact.

Now I don’t know if Mythic’s relics implementation is really similar to that old idea I had since we only have that line in the features list. But I have suspects :)

Who wants to take bets? And who wants to bet that my idea will still be better than Mythic’s implementation?

OMG! THIEFS IN MY HOUSE! :)

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Is DAoC growing?

If you look at the graph of total players in the US, not really:

More or less the game is losing players since February 04. Steady in the last couple of months but not sitting in a very positive condition since it’s still sitting at the very bottom of its overall performance.

If you look at the graph of total players in the EU, not really either:

Right now the two regions have 50% of the subscribers (or better, active users) respectively, and both used to have much more months and years ago. A rough esteem of the number of total subscribers would put them at around 120-130k or slightly less considering the trends of the game.

Then Sanya said something about Gareth (one of the no-TOA servers) trending up in the last Grab Bag, and I went to see:

Yep, trending up and quite surprising. Is this an inversion of tendence? Well, it’s something but it still needs to be reproportioned if you look at the other cluster that shares the same ruleset of Gareth:

Gareth gained around 500 players, the Lamorak cluster lost nearly 400. More like a migration considering that the cluster has continued to decline since Gareth was taken as the “preferred” server.

Still, Sanya is right when she says that clustering Gareth could lead to issues. The servers usually cap at 3000 players and it doesn’t really matter if the servers are clustered instead of merged since the RvR zones is where the problems will arise (since those are shared). It would be possible right now, but would there be the risk of DAoC gaining some new players?

However, we’ve got some things coming down the pike that will almost certainly have an impact on those numbers.

You’ve got me curious.

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If I’m wrong, do this

Folks,

I really like how I’m all ballistic against Mythic these days. I seriously don’t know why, actually I’m quite enjoying writing this and I do it with no anger :)

I was reading some comments on the Vault about Mythic and DAoC’s unannounced expansion and started to think about “half-truths”.

So they really have *no shame* to announce that they are hiring and that it’s the reason of the delay on the announces about the expansion, and everyone swallows that and sees it as a so positive thing. Of course Sanya pays attention to not reveal how many devs left in the meantime to justify the income of new devs. So: half-truths. Or better: half-lies to make appear everything positive.

Growth or inadequate compensation? You can imagine what I’m thinking ;)

What about facing the truth and demonstrating that all my suspects and bad mouthing are wrong?

Mythic, do this: gather an headcount, staggered from the beta of DAoC till today, every six months. Leaving out everyone who doesn’t work directly in the game, so including only designers, artists, programmers, coordinators. Everyone who touched directly the game, leaving out CS, QA, marketing and everything that isn’t directly related to build the game for what it is. Then put those numbers on a graph and publish it.

If I’m wrong and the graph still shows a positive curve, Mythic will have a quite effective marketing tool to demonstrate that the support to DAoC has always remained strong and that they still believe in the game as they claim.

If I’m right we’ll never see that graph.

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