We have a new slogan

This is “competition” (in its classical meaning) at its purest. EverQuest 2 launched a funny advertising campaign based on World of Warcraft. No, really:

Today Sony Online Entertainment would like to invite players from any game that may be experiencing lines to log into their servers, a lack in customer service attention, or a lack of new, free game content, to play the EverQuest II Trial of the Isle demo

That sounds already like a plan. Indeed:

EverQuest II – 325,000 Players Strong, No Waiting

EverQuest II continues to grow at an amazing rate, not just in the number of players that have fallen in love with the game’s rich, entertaining content, but also in the physical size of the world. We’ve got over 325,000 people logging in to our servers every week, with no delays or wait times and the game they are playing is only getting better.

Below are a few reasons why we believe that if you arenâ

On the razor’s edge

So one mmorpg will be released tomorrow… oops, wait.
Let’s try again: tomorrow.
I said tomorrow!

Ahh, better. So, this mmorpg open beta will start tomorrow. Well, maybe:

it is on it’s way. Starting tomorrow or day after tomorrow we start sending the keys to people :)

Preordering the box to get a spot in the open(?!) beta… Well, it doesn’t make sense but okay. I guess it’s another fancy interpretation of the word “open”. With an odd quirk:

Everybody that preordered will get into the beta. The problem is that by the time they get into beta the boxes will be on the way to them and by that time they would have been charged.

That was the 20 of February.

Posted in: Uncategorized |

Working with expensive tools

After I finished there following a link at N3rfed I’m still reading the Fires of Heaven forum. I like them because they are becoming the waterthread of the poor. It’s not like you find valuable and interesting commentary but it works nicely as a “catch all” message board. Plus they are able, sometimes, to summarize a concept with a single line of text. This is an example:

Within its style and genre of graphics, EQ2 simply sucks. I don’t care what people think of WoW, EQ2’s graphics are simply like the product of a child working with expensive tools.

Which is even better and more direct that the quote I saved from Haemish long ago:

If your 3d artists are mediocre, as these guys are, if they cannot imbue the art with a sense of style, the models will be bland suckage. Numbers (i.e. math and high-level abstract technical shit) is not pretty.

These things draw particularly my attention because it’s between my flaws. To explain the exact same concept I’d need the proverbial “wall-of-text”. I suck.

(btw, this is also a memo. I have to post a -lighter- follow up to the Mudflation article. Because there are possible and viable solutions to that problem that would give a nice push to the whole genre. Luckily I have also a concrete example this time: Eve-Online.)

Fix this! KTHNX

After my rant about the weak sneak peek from the upcoming patch in WoW, I got dragged in a discussion about the merits, demerits and expectations. The result is that I wrote my own list of things I’d like to see and that seem gone forgotten at Blizzard.

This list doesn’t beg for “more content” (in fact I believe that it may damage the game). It just groups those “usability” fixes and features that were asked back in beta but fell ignored. It’s a list of minor problem and glitches that should extremely easy and fast to solve, but still improving directly the experience of the game without requiring too much pondering.

What I want is:

– Leet speak blocked at the root
– Server transfers from the overcrowded servers
– Possibility to join the european realms and vice versa
– A fucking server-wide LFG system (it existed in beta)
– AH in all the major cities, linked together (and get rid of the lag in one step)
– Fixes to the raid instances
– Fixes to the resurrection in instances porting you in 0.0 space
– Fixes to the ships dropping you in the ocean
– Possibility to ride a mount ON BRIDGES. I hate STV.
– *ALL* the class issues KNOWN and CONFIRMED fixed. Not a timid line for each. There are devs sticky posts with consistent changes, where are they?
– Fire damage to lock characters in combat. So that peoples will finally STOP to sit on the fireplaces to annoy others
– Fixes to the faction system so that you don’t finish to get locked in situations where you have to kill 2345123455462345 mobs to gain status
– Fixes to the PvP exploits where peoples are able to cast spells from unreachable places and kill NPC guards unaffected
– Fixes to the broken polygons of the cloaks on the dwarf model
– New raid interface with the features explained in a sticky post
– Tweaks to the most awful flight paths
– Trees blocking the LOS of range weapons and spells. AT LEAST IN PVP
– The possibility to change the tabard without disbanding/reforming the whole guild
– A quest log to categorize and archive already completed quests
– Possibility to see the loot mode used by the group without being the group leader


– At least a PLAN for a weather system to launch in the next months

But really, if I have to pick just one, I WANT LEET SPEAK OUT OF THE GAME.

Most of the stuff I listed above is already confirmed. A good part is trivial to implement. I’d like to see some goddamn commitment to this game. Not useless fluff like ripping an user interface to brag about it as a new feature.

I do not think I’m asking the moon.

As expected, after I pasted this list, I got flamed and mocked: “So which things on HRose’s list would you like fixed? The “Leet Speek” problem? The developers don’t share enough of the internal bugs with us? The sound when people stand in fire? Or about the broken polygons on the dwarf’s cloak? These sound terribly important.”

So I had to justify myself and at least explain two of the most stupid points (fire damage and the dwarf cloak) to demonstrate that they aren’t that stupid. You are the judge.

The point of my list is that half is about announced stuff, half is about usability stuff that improves the games flat out with no side-effects (like the mounts on the bridges), and the rest is about stuff that would require less than 10 minutes to code and test.

The example of the fire is one of those things that are trivial to do:
– Peoples can sit on fires for HOURS because the fire does like 10/20 damage per hit. The regeneration rate for every character is ABOVE that value.

Now. The solution is about locking you in combat if you are taking damage. If you are locked you don’t regenerate health. This means that after three minutes sittin on a fire… YOU DIE!

What? It makes too much sense?

At the end what’s the point of EVEN APPLY fire damage in a game when it just does ZERO since the damage is pointless?

Same as for the communication barrier: OR you fix it properly OR you remove it altogether.

This is the example of “the broken polygons of the cloaks on the dwarf model” (it happens with ALL the cloak models):

Now, considering that this game is supposed to be played in third person, that’s what I see on screen for about 90% of the time. And it’s both ugly and annoying.

Even more annoying because this is a bug on the back of the model (a misplaced polygon) that happened with the patch in June. It worked perfectly before. Since June is there and noone cared to spend, how much? An HOUR? I really don’t know how much time it would take to move back the vertex that was bugged back to its original position.

I have another proof of this “bug” but only from a frontal view, comparing the old, discared (and way better) models with the new ones. As you see on the right part of the back, the new models have a sharp “edge”. That’s that exact misplaced edge that is causing the cloak texture to melt.

This can be consider MINOR as MINOR is the time to fix it. And still it’s on my screen 90% of the time. Excuse me.

This last graphic bug was also discussed long ago on this website.

Still arguing:
What you don’t understand is that my list was made to not ask for “content”. Instead it pointed out things to fix that aren’t “arguable”. You don’t need a design team to ponder the pros and cons because those are just inconsistencies and usability fixes.

They ARE “high priority” because their relevance is a balance between “how many users they affect” and “time required to fix”.

They aren’t “emergencies”, but even a small team is supposed to fix all that rather quickly.

The point is that we will be here IN A YEAR and, as an example, both the problem of the fire damage and the polygon of the cloak will STILL REMAIN UNSOLVED. Again, that was stuff that worked perfectly in beta, was broken, and noone cared to fix again. While it would take only an extremely limited time to fix, these things will keep piling up unsolved. How hard is to address them quickly, put the result on the pool of stuff that will be patched and FORGET altogether about them? Problem solved forever, you’ll never need to go back to work on that.

It’s this way that you are able to keep these large projects clean and organized, by starting to address all the small (but relevant and diffused) problems so that, once fixed, they do not crowd anymore the list of priorities.

If you take a single element from that list alone it doesn’t add much to the game. But if you take the whole list and patch it you’ll see the overall quality of the game rise with zero loss. And once done you’ll see the pool of problems start to drain way more quickly. This will directly help the team to control and focus even the most problematic issues.

Moral: The time it took me to write and explain each point on that list is more than the time a developer would spend to actually fix it.

Posted in: Uncategorized | Tagged:

Exploit it all till it’s legal

Then, maybe, someone will wake up.

Someone on the boards reported another, rather relevant, exploit for the paladin class:

1- click divine favor

2- select a target and use holy light or flash of light on them

3- as soon as the light lands on them, press x to crouch

4- one second later, stand up (I do it by tapping w to move forward real quick)

5- your divine favor will still be up and you can get more critical heals for free…
It is very easy to land in 3 critical holy lights and if you are good you can land in a critical flash of light on top of that…all for NO mana…making other healers look like fools!

over 8000hp healing for no mana anyone?

Luckily we have a diligent player here, so she reported this directly to a GM. Here’s the result:

At first when I told this to the GM he said: the spell is working as intended thank you and bye…
I was like…wtf dude, the spell does NOT work as intended! please read!!!

At one point I even got threatened to be actioned for reporting this bug

If the same thing happened to me I’d have taken a screenshot with the proof of what the GM said. Start to exploit it savagely and spread the knowledge.

It’s about time that these companies *value* the help coming from the players. If they do not, they should be repaid with the same behaviour.

The removal of /bug and /suggest thanks you again. Still a great idea.

Posted in: Uncategorized | Tagged:

Do not leave a game in the hands of these guys

I just bumped on two (popular) blogs suggesting ideas for World of Warcraft. Both of those writers are way more near to the possibility to become actual developers than me (the second guy is supposed to work somewhere), so the fact that their ideas suck greatly reassured me a bit :)

The first two ideas come from here. And they are both out of place and not directly relevant for the game (I believe he doesn’t know that WoW runs great in a window or it’s another failure from myself at getting bad sarcasm).

The other two ideas instead at least make sense. Still they are poor. The first is a database hog and again a work on fluff that doesn’t add anything. I still think that an archive where to browse the completed quests would be easier to implement and more useful to have.

The other idea is better even if poor in the proposed implementation. He basically suggests to shift some of the treadmill progress on the equipment. So that the use of a weapon makes it improve and “grow”. This idea is actually the reason why I’m writing. To begin with it’s nothing new. Just the last example (with another awful implementation) is about the artifacts in DAoC, but it’s obvious that the concept has been used many times even if it failed to become a major system (for all I know).

The fact is that this idea is also the origin of one of the systems on which my dream mmorpg is built. It’s between those ideas that I haven’t already fleshed out and written completely but, at least in my head, I have already all the basic elements organized.

A few details are described in the piece where I started to shape the combat system:

Each type of attack is obviously based on a weapon, assuming that even a fist is a weapon. Usually the player will have a different skill for every weapon type, but this isn’t directly true because there will be also a side-skill that will measure the “fondness”. So a character loosing a short sword will have the “fondness” reset to zero even if it will grab and use another very similar short sword. The weapon skill is the skill of the *weapon type* (short swords, long swords, axes, 2h swords, etc..) then the skill is modified by the “fondness” that is instead dependent on that specific weapon/physical entity.

Here you have already the proposed idea fully implemented, with the use of a specific weapon slowly improving, but it’s just the bottom of the system I built. The “fondness” just regulates the behaviour of ALL the weapons. While the advancement system that I have in mind will apply only to magical items, with the possibility to transform a normal item into a magical one.

The idea is that you can start with just a normal weapon and make it not only special but also unique. The first problem I had to face is that the original plan was about transforming a normal item into a magic item through the use. But this means a pure form of grind, so something to dodge. The consideration of this problem brought me the core system that I explained on the link I pasted above. All the progress related to a character (skills, magic, weapons etc..) is *strictly* goal-based (and here I’d be interested to know if Turbine came up with the idea before me because I discovered they “stole” it months after I wrote about it). In general (but not only) the progress is based on quests, never on the repetition. So you can grind the quest system and find the best path but you cannot sit in a place, killing the same mob over and over and expect something to happen (aside rising the “fondness”).

So, moving through special quest lines, you can transform a normal item into a magic one. Now my game detaches itself from the current games. The magic system is one. Every magic item in the game (with the exception of the artifacts, that are lootable in PvP and extremely powerful), dropped, player-made or quest related, is equal in power and possibilities. This means that nothing is directly more powerful in potential than something else. A rusty dagger has the possibility to become the most uber item around (again with the exception of the artifacts).

As per the idea above, the “magic” items aquire and provide new skills. The fact that they are “magic” is simply to define that they have access to a dedicated advancement system. This system is very complex to explain with words but will be straightforward and clear in the use, retaining a lot of depth and producing unique items. The progress is based on “skill trees” similar to the talents in World of Warcraft, but where each step is always directly connected to the next one, if the connection misses you cannot move on that point. The complexity depends on a few factors. The main one is that these “skill trees” are three dimensional. Concretely not only you can move horizontally (in the 2D space of the graph) to unblock more powerful skills, but you can jump also “up” or “down” to parallel skill trees (think like overlapping different sheets). Each overlapped layer will correspond to a school of magic (think like “fire”, “ice”, “shadow” etc..).

Now the movement of the progress along these graphs is, in general, casual. The player will have a limited control in two ways. The first is about fighting (and solving quests) that are linked to a particular sphere (each school of magic corresponds to a skill tree and also to a physical plane that the players can access, as I hinted here). The second is about blocking the way in a direction he wants to avoid but considering that there are always more than two possibilities, so offering only a partial control. Doing so the item will grow and gain power in a semi-random way. At the end the system will be deep enough to create many unique items. Things like graphical effects (items glowing, fire effects, usable skills etc..) will always be the direct consequence of the progress of the item through particular schools of magic.

There’s also a last element that will affect the progress of an item. It’s about an invisible DNA code unique for each item. This code will affect the % of possibilities for an item to move in a direction or the other. It represent a “destiny”. The players will be able to drive the progress with the tools I explained above but at the end the possibilities of movement will always be restricted in the “space of possibility” given by the hidden DNA code. Something that the players will have to discover through the observation and research.

What happens to the mechanic of dropped items? Nothing in particular. Dropped items are no different from player-made magic items. The difference is that the dropped magic items are in a “frozen” status (so they have an “history” already set that cannot be changed). This means that a dropped magic item is an item that already had a progression through the skill trees. It could have just started or even be near the end of its path. These items can be “unfrozen” but then they’ll move only “onward”, with their previous skills already set.

I guess it’s all. I just took the occasion to write it down before someone else steals me the idea :)

Blizzard breaks the servers list by population

Till now it was possible to sort the servers by population. So you were able to see from the most crowded server till the most empty or vice versa.

Today Blizzard disabled even this. Now the servers are still divided into three groups (high, medium, low) but the servers in each group cannot be sorted anymore by population. So now it’s impossible to say which of the “high”-marked servers is the most crowded.

Just reporting. I hate these things, but I can see why they did it.

(I suspect that even the groups are broken, Froswolf is listed as “medium” and still has a queue. My server is “high” and no trace of one)

Posted in: Uncategorized | Tagged:

Got numbers?

Ethic spotted World of Warcraft‘s numbers:

In less than three months, it had already sold over 800,000 copies in North America. With a subscriber base of more than 750,000 players and peak concurrency of over 250,000 users, World of Warcraft is now the biggest online game in North America.


On January 18, 2005, World of Warcraft released in Korea, and in just one day had achieved peak concurrency of over 100,000 players.


Most recently, the game launched in Europe on February 11, 2005, to even greater success than in North America. After just its first weekend, Europe had already hit peak concurrency of over 180,000 players.

Hey Brucie, time to update the charts. And, yes. I was right.

Now lets see how much those numbers will sink in the next months. Because that’s what will happen, even if slowly.

(despite it’s still selling like bread)

I paste here an excerpt from Dave Rickey:

To explain how I get the 440K-550K number, what Iâ

Good graphic is possible

Tell to the SWG team that good graphic is possible.

That wookie looks finally great and the armor it wears doesn’t look just like pieces of junk glued together with two dicks coming out from the ears.

All the other screenshots from that game reconfirm the same concept. Fill a demand to get Lucasarts artists, please.

But I guess I’m repeating an old concept.

(btw, the wookie grabbing and lifting the droid is the same concept of interactivity that I still preach as the future of this genre)

Posted in: Uncategorized | Tagged: