Ten years from now and there will still be goons

From Penny Arcade, about the problems of PvE endgame grind (in WoW):

Of course I have a bunch of ideas for what I’d like to see Blizzard do to fix this but honestly none of them matter. There are a million other back seat MMO designers bitching at them in their forums every day. What it boils down to is that I trust them. I trust that the game I love will continue to get better and better with each new patch.

You are gullible.

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Stop hammering my site! – become.com – msnbot.msn.com

Two hours hammering my poor site. The first one for the most part.

Are you having fun?

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Unsolved design – EQ2 already with population problems

I anticipate problems as always.

The “LFG” problem is only the emergent problem of a bigger one called “mudflation”. One of my favourite topics recently. If you follow that forum thread to its second page you’ll read about its true nature.

This thread, instead, is about the visible tip of the iceberg:

The server population issue really needs to be addressed or I may never make it to DoF. For the last few weeks I’ve been randomly sampling who’s LFG, especially around primetime (8-10pm). The results are pretty sad, last night in my level range (mid to high 30’s) there was a whopping three people looking for a group, one tank, and two scouts. Now I’m sure we would have had a jolly old time grouped up and getting our asses handed to us, but I’d rather watch TV than get fubar’d. And yeah I know about all the wonderful “solo instanced” zones, gimme a break you can only do that stuff for so long until it gets tedious.

But that’s just one example, yeah there were three people in my level range LFG last night, but I was lucky! There were only 9 people total on the whole server (Unrest) looking for a group! how in the hell can a US server only have 9 people looking for a group at any hour much less 9pm, Sony are you kidding me? Is this some demented way to make sure leveling takes a long time and you’ll get more of our subscription dollars? I really hope not, but if so it’ll never work, at least not with me. And no this wasn’t just one days worth of sampling, I’ve been looking at this closely for over two weeks, it’s kind of hard not to when you’re… LFG.

Look I know it’s embarrassing to have such light server loads with a game you had pegged to be your MMORPG cash cow for years to come, especially when the game is only what 9 or 10 months old? But this isn’t my fault, hey I could be off playing WoW or just biding my time until Vanguard comes out, but I actually like eq2 and really want to play it. However with a handful of people to group with at any given time, it just isn’t very feasible.

Like I said I know this must be embarrassing, but surely you guys can come up with some clever way of getting the people that are playing, playing together instead of staring at an almost empty LFG window. How about making some of the zones that cater to those most in need of similarly leveled players, cross server instanced? i.e if you do a sample and find that lvls 34-40 are consistently having a hard time finding groups, pick a few zones that would benefit those level ranges and cross server enable them, that way you don’t take it on the chin from everyone saying “see I told you it was no good, they’re shutting down servers” but at the same time you actually help your subscribers, you do want to help your subscribers right?

I don’t know if that would even work, some would say it might mess up the economy if those players traded items, you could disallow coin trade between players from different servers to keep the precious economy balanced, but do something or you’ll lose yet another player to “something else”.

/rant off

Wait I thought of another way to say it. Why run a game that requires grouping for many of the encounters (you designed), only to deny your subscriber base adequate numbers of other payers to group with?

Ok now really /rant off

(From Corpnews)

Matrix Online is already at that point. If you want, come to F13 to discuss about fancy lifecycles.

An Ultima Online story to warm your hearts

Story taken from F13, it doesn’t need particular comments:

I hear from plenty of people who still play UO, and this is just the sort of story F13 loves: The tattered remnant of OSI, borged by EA and forced to live in slavery, recently decided to add to the game some “evil decor” items. A bed of nails, a couch made of bones, a talking mirror, junk for people to lock down in their houses. A bit goofy, perhaps, but far from the stupidest thing they’ve added to the game lately.


These items aren’t craftable. They don’t drop from monsters. They don’t spawn as rares. Nope. Everyone gets a code for one free item, and after that, you buy them from EA directly. Screw playing the game, and screw ebay, they’ll just sell you the shit for three bucks each or twelve bucks for half a dozen. A pretty brazen move to squeeze the dying cash cow for every last drop.


When the patch to enable these items hits the shards, chaos ensues. Nearly every North American shard is knocked offline for hours and hours during primetime. Oops. Par for the course with these asshats, and they quickly come up with an emergency patch to fix everything. The shards come back up and all is well.


There’s a wee bit of the problem with the new patch, in that people are now able to dupe the living shit out of these items. People pay millions and millions of gold for items which they have no idea are actually duped. Well, okay, this is hardly the first time a dupe bug turned up in an MMORPG. A simple revert might piss some people off, but it should fix this problem.


Inexplicably, they don’t do a revert. They just delete all of the new items, and renew all of the codes used to claim them. Ergo anyone who bought an item from another player is just plain fucked in the ass, and the dupers win big-time.

Just thought I would share.

I guess an old “Lum the Mad” rant site focusing on UO would still have plenty of content to play with. The point is… who still cares?

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Designing a guild

This is an excerpt taken from an idea for a guild. It’s specific to DAoC but I archive it because the patterns it presents are easily “portable” to other games.

I consider this also “design”. And it’s interesting to consider under the light of a recent comment from Soulflame:

Get a guild.

The “good olde days” of people grouping with random idiots is long past.

I’d rather solo than group with 99% of the idiots that infest MMOGs.

These are my guidlines, instead:

– HAVE FUN: This is the very first principle, it may sound obvious but I believe many guilds are actually forgetting about this. I come from WoW where the players, noone excluded, are ready to stab each other for a piece of loot. The first goal is to have fun and to allow everyone in the guild to do the same. Both for new players and those that may have a long experience. When the focus is the RvR I want to organize with the other guilds and try to achieve something, but this doesn’t mean that it’s acceptable to sit at a keep for hours staring a wall or play tennis with a ballista till every other player is bored to tears. The goal is to have as less downtime as possible and actively taking the initiative so that this can happen. We are all here to relax and have fun for a few hours and noone is interested into transforming a game into a painful work or endless drama. I’m trying to start a guild to RUN AWAY from that. If you are interested into a guild specialized and obsessed in just one activity, to grind it and rinse and repeat it over and over and over, look elsewhere.

– NO DRAMA: As I write above I’m extremely tired of guilds looking like a soap operas and where the players are there just for personal convenience. When I log in I want to enjoy the game and have fun for the time I have. The same should apply to every other player in the guild. I don’t want to pass all the time to yell at people or try to recover from catastrophes that happened while I was away. I’m sick of guilds bragging for superiority and trying to provoke endlessly everyone else. I want the guild to cooperate with other guilds outside and leave behind that type of elitism I’ve seen too often. The drama is a weight that I do not find entertaining and that I want to keep outside this guild.

– COOPERATION: This point is crucial to have a positive environment that everyone can enjoy. If we do not play together and keep being strangers to each other, we’ll lose interest and motivation. Consequently, people will look elsewhere and leave the guild. The goal of a guild should always be the cooperation. To have commonal goals to reach together. This doesn’t mean that I’ll log in and dictate what everyone will have to do. It is not going to be a dictatorship where everyone is forced to follow orders. Everyone is still free to chase his own goal and ask the guild for help. We are here to enjoy the game together and accomplish something, but you won’t be kicked out if you want to do something else while the guild is planning something specific. I just would like every member to take the initiative and try to join with other players, organize something together even if I’m not there. Participation is always encouraged but not forced, if you want to solo noone will accuse you. But in general there should be the willingness to take an active role and join when the guild is working together over something (the defense of a keep, a PvE raid or whatever). In the case of a Relic raid (planned or not) every player at level 48 or above with enough time to play should stop chasing personal goals and quickly organize with who is online and the other guilds in the game to participate in the attack or defence. Do not wait for someone else do do that, be the first to take the initiative and organize something.

– NO ELITISM: This isn’t an elitist guild. If your goal is to brag about your e-peen, look somewhere else, like specialized ganking groups. It’s always okay to celebrate a ding or a new realm rank but we are here again to have fun, not to transform a game in a work. This doesn’t mean that the guild won’t be competitive but just that the first goal is to enjoy the game without being obsessed with it and with tolerance to errors. If something goes wrong we’ll try to see what we can improve the next time. The results should be the consequence of us having fun and not an obssession. It will happen that there will be frustrating moments but the point is to try the best we can without stretching this too much and without offending people. The game is competitive and we will try to do our best, just not so much to put this ahead of the fun. When building groups for RvR or something else noone will be discriminated over equipment or Realm Rank achieved. Surely we will look at levels and classes to have balanced groups but we won’t exclude players just because they still haven’t invested enough time.

– ORGANIZATION WITH OTHER GUILDS: In the RvR the main goal is to contribute, join the forces, organize with the other guilds for larger goals and have an active role in the RvR. The attitude should be always open and constructive instead of being stubborn and just build selected groups within the guild to play detached from all the rest. In the RvR we won’t play as hermits. Try to join and participate in the organization of the RvR. If your group isn’t full don’t refuse to invite players outside the guild and always try to organize with other groups for a shared strategy instead of minding your own business and ignore what is going on outside your zone of interest. Work to build a mature community and not to isolate the guild more and more (elitism).

– OPEN TO NEW PLAYERS: New players are always welcome, no matter of the experience. Noone will be discriminated over this. Do not ask for powerlevelling or money in the guild chat. The guild isn’t a service you use. You are welcome to try to group with players near your level but don’t pretend that everyone is there for your personal needs. We’ll try to keep a balance so that everyone will have the occasion to accomplish personal goals that require some help, like epic quests etc.. But try to have patience and never pretend something. The goal is to offer everyone a possibility. New players will be helped to learn the game and become good players. What I want to see is the disposition to learn from the mistakes, not the demostration that you are already the best player out there. If you think you have learnt already everything and do not tolerate mistakes or new players that may ask for help, look for an elitist guild, like I write above. I believe that the health of a guild in the long term strongly depends on its attitude toward the community and the relationship with other guilds. So I don’t want a closed group hostile to new players. They are a resource, not a problem to avoid.

– CASUAL FRIENDLY: This is another important point. Again you won’t be discriminated if you cannot play for a set amount of time or be online for a scheduled event. We will NEVER use loot systems I’ve seen like the “Dragon Kill Points” for loot and what we do should be always accessible to everyone in the guild. There are no requirements in time and I welcome players from all the timezones so that the guild can keep a presence over time instead of focusing in a few hours only. Of course if you join it means you are willingly to contribute to what we do and it’s not going to work if you can be around just a few days each month. So there’s always an acceptable limit to this. If you plan to join only to leave the week after, please look elsewhere. If you enjoy jumping from guild to guild, also look elsewhere. I still have to research the details but I plan to remove from the roster the characters that didn’t log in for the previous 30 days, in the case you are back you are always welcome to rejoin. Alts are acceptable but not encouraged. It’s encouraged to choose useful support classes like active Clerics, Heretics, Friars, Sorcerers and minstrels, discouraged to choose infiltrators, scouts, necros and mercenaries since it becomes harder to build effective groups. We will have these classes as well but I hope to keep the guild balanced as much as possible.

– RESPECT: This is another important point along with the “fun”. Have respect of other players, in the guild and outside. There’s anonymity on the internet but this doesn’t mean that people have no dignity. Think before insulting someone else and vent your judgements. Try to be mature. I won’t ask for age because I found both young and old idiots along these years, so your attitude and your behaviour will demonstrate your maturity. If we are involved with something and there is a leader, do not start to argue the orders and just follow them. There will be another time to discuss what was going on and make better choices for the next time. As I said this isn’t a dictatorship but there are moments when a decision must be taken even if it isn’t optimal and isn’t convincing for everyone.

– PATIENCE: Like the tolerance to mistakes and willingness to experiment. The goal is always to try, do our best and try to become more proficient. In RvR we can fail repeatedly and I don’t like players leaving the group after a couple of deaths. For me it’s more important to play and have fun with little downtimes instead of fighting only when you are absolutely sure of a success. So we will experiment and we will do many mistakes. If you do not tolerate newbies, do not tolerate to die in RvR, do not tolerate to organize with others, again, look elsewhere. If you have goals that need the assistence for the guild do not pretend that everyone runs to help you as you say so. We will have a dedicated forum where people will be able to ask for help and we will work so that we can accomplish everything with some patience and tolerance.

– NO BABYSITTING: Please, please, stay away if you need to be babysitted all the time. I’m sort of a casual player as well, a day I can play for several hours, another only for a short time, another I can even not show at all. The guild must be able to work together efficiently even if there aren’t set leaders online. This is why I repeated that everyone should be able to take the initiative. The guild must be independent and so every player in it. If you are an attention whore please stay away, there are so many other places that may be more satisfying for your needs.

– NO TEAMSPEAK/VENTRILO REQUIRED: Personally, I cannot use it. You are free to organize one with the other players but this must never be a requirement. The voice chat is always useful but never indispensable. I played for years without and I don’t think that something changed in these games so that it’s not possible to play anymore without it. What you are required is to pay attention to the chat, the group or the RvR chat. If you do this, it will be enough to achieve good results. Noone should be left out of groups if not being able to use those programs. So a possibility without a requirement. Always set a leader for the voice chat and another to give order through text for those who cannot hear.

– ALLIANCES: This will depend on how things will go. We won’t join an alliance without thinking about it. This will be a result of a decision and it probably won’t happen before a few months, before we can see the situation of the RvR. When we will form one it will be because I believe it’s a good choice and that it won’t collapse the week after, so the decision won’t be taken lightheartedly. In the alliance chat it’s forbidden to send trade announces. The purpose is mainly to coordinate RvR, so cut out the spam as much as possible and do not ask for PvE groups if we are involved in RvR or another event. In the case a keep or a tower we own is attacked you should always warn the alliance and try to organize the defence actively.

– RvR NOTES: As I write above I don’t want to turn the guild into an elitist 8vs8 ganking group to farm RPs over and over and over. I hate pointless, unfun grinds and I hate ten minutes of running for a fight of three seconds. I don’t want to demonstrate anything on that level and I don’t want to brag about how cool I am. This doesn’t mean that we won’t do 8vs8 at all, but just that the focus should be more dynamic. I want to enjoy the game for all the possibilities it offers, from those 8vs8 encounters to larger events and even PvE raids like Darkspire, the dragon, new expansions etc.. So we won’t do something and just that. We won’t specialize. We will try to keep every part accessible and enjoyable without letting the gameplay sclerotize in just one form.

In accordance with my ideas about the design of these games, my goal is about bringing new and experienced players together instead of isolating them. And keep the guild activities always accessible for everyone.

Now what is hard is to “reeducate” the players so that they accept this attitude after the design itself has taught them for years to care exclusively about their personal convenience and nothing else.

Amelath, guild “mistress” of one of the best groups I’ve met, still has an intelligent signature:

“Ask not what your guild can do for you, but what YOU can do for your guild”

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Piracy is a point of view

From the Guardian:

Computer-literate music fans who illegally share tracks over the internet also spend four and a half times as much on digital music as those who do not, according to research published today.

The survey confirms what many music fans have informally insisted for some time: that downloading tracks illegally has also led them to become more enthusiastic buyers of singles and albums online.

Recent figures from the International Federation of Phonographic Industries showed that the number of legal tracks downloaded internationally tripled to 180m in the first half of the year, while the volume of tracks being traded illegally rose only 3% to 900m, despite the increased penetration of high-speed broadband lines.

In the UK more than 5.5m online tracks were sold in the second quarter of 2005, a rise of 744% on the previous year.

This can be easily applied to games as well.

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Brad isn’t even close to finish the first that already thinks about the SECOND

OMG, this is retarded:

If you read all the info available about Vanguard, I think it has quite a few features that make it different than previous MMOGs. That said, it was our intent from the beginning to make another fantasy MMOG as opposed to changing theme or genre. Some designers don’t like to do this, but it’s where our passion was and is. On a side note, our second unannounced MMOG that we’re just beginning work on is pretty different.

What the fuck?!

These guys will never learn. Stick to something. Do your best. Mmorpgs aren’t stuff you throw away and forgot, I still have never seen a company that is able to support more than one mmorpg. This one (Sigil) is planning a sequel when the first chapter is still for the most part vaporware.

I pass the last two days discussing how dissipating the resources between different projects is killing these worlds and now I find that this company is already splitting the work when they are still far away from releasing something concrete with the first project.

I guess Vanguard feels already too tight for Brad’s ego.

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FFXI patches the swimsuits and invites the players to cybersexzor

I’m reading too much into this?:

And now it’s time for the main event–“Azimuth Circle”!

Azimuth Circle has rather complex rules, so I’ll have to drill you beforehand, kupo. First off, the game can only be played in pairs–everyone must be in a party of two. So you must begin by searching for a partner. Coupling with a good friend would be ideal, of course. But even if you aren’t exactly the most popular master…no problem! Just ask around, kupo!

End game–the moogle will give you beautiful swimwear to beat the heat as a reward for your efforts! Nothing like going for a dip in the ocean in this scorching weather, kupo!

Anyway, I hope you and your partner become good friends while playing. Maybe you can even invite them to join you again later wearing the rewards you gained from playing. I wonder what games you could play with them then…haw haw… *cough* … *wheez*…!

Well, these sort of events are interesting and I believe a positive way to develop a game outside the psychotic focus on more powerful loot to acquire. This is what transforms a dull, repetitive game into something nearer to a Virtual World. This is also how you relieve directly the stress for more mudflation.

There are better ways to spend constructively the time of the developers. This is one, even if it could seem the exact opposite. It’s the game to set the expectations, not the players. If all you offer is about more grind, the players will ask more and more of it. It’s a vicious circle that noone should second.

EDIT- The last publish is rather interesting. They are finally tweaking some core points like the experience gained and they are also implementing NPC henchmen to assist parties. The fun part is that they seem persistent and will level along with the player.

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