…And “Stargate Worlds”

Are we done announcing new MMOs? Not at all, this is just the beginning. It seems that we are starting to see the result of the lust that WoW’s success generated.

From the only official page we have at the moment:

Cheyenne Mountain EntertainmentTM has obtained the license to create online games based on the popular science fiction television series, StargateTM SG-1 and StargateTM Atlantis. We are currently in pre-production of Stargate Worlds, which is a MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) of historical human time periods, alien environments, and outer space locations. Step through the StargateTM as an SG team of soldiers and scientists, and travel instantly to fantastic worlds in this galaxy and beyond. Players can forge alliances, establish trade, investigate ancient mysteries, and defend Earth from such hostile forces as the Goa’uld and the Ori in an immense multiplayer universe.

It sounds as they stole Mythic the assets from Imperator.

Some more details:

Stargate Worlds provides players with a form of ranged combat unique to MMORPG that will take full advantage of modern and science fiction weaponry, cover, and terrain. Players will be able to form squads with their friends or use bots for players who want to go solo. Squad leaders will control maneuvers and objectives through an innovative combat control interface. Players may choose to create characters that are members of either the SGC (the Good Guys) or the System Lords (the Bad Guys). Characters are equipped with varied and mixed skills, with the choice to form such classes as Research, Combat Marine, Medical, Scientific, Diplomatic, Engineering, Archeological, and Exploration. PVP will be possible between the two alliances on many contested worlds, actually swaying the balance of power on those planets, and unlocking hidden content. Cooperative play will also be possible, and players will be encouraged to forge temporary alliances to deal with greater threats, such as the Ori.

Underline mine. It sounds like what SWG should have been when it comes to combat.

It’s also interesting that they’ll add bots to fill the group requirements as it partially happens in Guild Wars with the henchmen. Instead I’m doubtful about the classes. Those aren’t different roles in a given gameplay situation. Those are completely different styles of play (and styles that should be accessible to everyone in the case they are present, instead of making the player specialize on one), how can they expect those classes to interact?

From a side it sounds like another evolved FPS (the description of the squad leaders), from the other like a sci-fi “4X” strategy game.

The universe evolves as players inhabit and vie for control over alien worlds. Local populations will shift their allegiance between the two alliances. Outside threats, such as the Ori, will conspire to further change the face of these worlds. Players will be able to tip the balance of power on these worlds, beating back the Ori invasion, and swaying the local populations to their side through quests, combat and trade. Whether you are a solitary explorer, master tradesman, or commander of a massive armed force- your every action will alter the worlds of the StargateTM universe.

We’ll see. I’m all for world conquest. It’s that part that is currently missing from the current mmorpgs where the environment is just a backdrop populated by passive NPCs.

That said I’m not fond of this setting. In fact I find it completely uninspiring and I couldn’t even remain awake the first time I saw the movie.

There are some elements that make me seriously doubt of the whole project:

Cheyenne and MGM Interactive entered into a licensing agreement to develop Stargate Worlds in September 2005 and Cheyenne has quickly built a very talented development team and created some impressive initial art and technology assets.

A brand new development team? The very first thing that a mmorpg needs is a solid and well-oiled team. The teamwork and synergy is really everything when you build a project with such a scope and that is supposed to going on in the long term. Mmorpg development seriously needs specialization, not teams formed in a hurry with people who have nothing to share and that have never worked together.

Joe Ybarra, Vice President of Product Development for Cheyenne, stated that “Today’s MMO market challenges developers in many ways. Creating a product that separates itself from the pack requires a unique combination of two elements: a superior game concept implemented by a superior development team.

No. They need lots of commitment, dedication and passion for this specific thing.

The rest of the PR fluff is here.

EDIT: Some informations from F13:

Timothy N. Jenson — President and Chief Executive Officer
Joseph Ybarra — Vice President of Product Development
David Adams — Vice President of Strategic Partnerships
Stu Rose — Art Director
Chris Klug — Creative Director
Jim Brown — Director of New Product Development

I think Ybarra was the producer on Matrix Online.

Ybarra is a big name, and their art guy has been involved in … almost everything Blizzard, inc. WoW.

Chris Klug was lead content designer on Earth & Beyond.

More details on their management page.

It seems they really got one of those Blizzard’s escapees.

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What MMO get next? John Romero!

From CGV:

World Exclusive: Industry veteran John Romero to venture forth into the MMO world with latest project

In summer 2005, John Romero’s stint at Midway came to an end. The ex-id Software and ex-Ion Storm staffer had joined the company in 2003 as Creative Director and was involved with Gauntlet project Seven Sorrows. Shortly after his departure, he stated he was “looking at lots of exciting developments” but added that it’d be a few months before he announced his next destination.

Well, the sand’s finally stopped falling through the hourglass and we can now exclusively reveal that the industry legend is at a new company and working on a massively multiplayer online project.

“I started looking at what I was going to do next, so I looked around on the net and I saw there was an opportunity for an MMO, there was a person starting an MMO so I contacted him,” Romero told us recently, explaining where his involvement with the project began. “We talked for hours on the phone, we had a lot of common interests and ideas about this title and so basically this guy was really excited, brought me on as a co-founder of the company and I’ve been here for almost four months now.”

Strangely, Romero isn’t willing to divulge the name of the company, nor is he slapping a name on the MMO title. “I can’t really say too much… this is [a] complete secret, stealth company”, he said, adding cryptically that “This is not a typical games company and we’re not making typical games”.

According to Romero (who says he loves MMOs), the game he’s working on is “very different from any other MMO for some special reasons.” Precisely what those special reasons are, he wouldn’t elaborate. He did, however, admit that funding for the project is lurking in the many millions of dollars bracket. “It’s a lot of money, this is the most money I’ve ever spent on a game – in Gauntlet it was like $10 million, but this is much more,” Romero revealed.

As for when we’ll first get to see Romero’s MMO title, he said nothing will be shown until next year.

Oh well.

I guess people already started taking bet on when this will get get cancelled.

I checked his site but he doesn’t say much beside “everyone can feel that something extremely rocking is happening.” And that he seems to have good taste for (underage) women.

Btw, while reading his blog I found links to some of the best flash games ever. Like this one.

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WoW: news tidbits after the “stirring waters”

I was writing some comments on what Tigole wrote after all the bitching of the past days when Lum posted his thing that dragged me in a whole different direction (but an occasion to mark the points).

So back to the bitching now. I defined what Tigole wrote as “PR fluff”.

When he’ll have something to add to the discussion or even willingly to have it, I’ll consider what he has to say. Or what he has to show when the patch notes are up.

Till then, this is the summary of his (void):

It’s not an argument as simple as “hardcore versus casual” – it goes way beyond that.

It goes beyond that. But of course he refuses to say what it is.

I think it also needs to be mentioned, that players need to keep in mind that by railing against content that you don’t personally enjoy – whether it be raids, casual content or PvP – it won’t improve anything.

And that’s the whole point that he is totally missing (and that his design will probably fail to address if it reflects his words).

If you want to play this game and don’t want be left out of the community or your friends. YOU HAVE to adapt. It’s not a choice.

This is what the players are complaining about. Not that there are distinct options available. But that they are strongarmed into a direction that they don’t like. So they bitch because they would like the game to steer away from that mandatory progression.

It’s about the accessibility and REQUIREMENTS for that content. Set by the design. DEPENDENCIES. Commitment. They *forced* the players in that direction.

The increased requirements to access content. The need to “catch up” or “put up with”. The game CREATED these requirements and is responsible for putting many smaller guilds (and players) out of business.

The main point is that Tigole is acknowledging the wrong problem, while he is totally ignoring where the real issue is. Which brings me to a comment from Megyn that I steal from Lum:

Man, and I remember when it was just rants about the ongoings of UO and Great Lakes :) I’ve always understood the plight of all sides of this argument. Unfortunately, I think developers always pick one of the sides and cater exclusively to that one. Blizzard knew this was going to happen in beta. Because several developers astutely observed “we’re out of stuff to do,” which was preceeded by the testers levelling through the whole game three times and saying the same thing. They won’t fix it because I don’t think they know how.

That or they’ll build a money boat and sail to a money island and forget about this world of warcraft thing.

Tigole’s defence didn’t end with that “letter” and inflated “declaration of intent”, but he went on revealing some details about the next patch. The next patch is the 1.10. The next patch is also the one that the CMs tirelessly repeated IT’S NOT the one where the new “casual” armor sets will go in.

I guess things can change quickly ;)

We’ve been hard at work at Patch 1.10 and I’m excited to bring you a small sneak preview of some of the content. We’ll be offering a series of quests for maximum level players so they can obtain a really good, class-specific armor set. This should prove to be a great way for non-raiding players to upgrade their gear. Here are some highlights:

• Characters follow a new quest line to obtain an armor set
• The armor sets contain 4 rare and 4 epic pieces
• Some of the pieces can be obtained by soloing (including one of the epic pieces)
• The most difficult pieces to obtain require a UBRS level group
• We are adding new bosses to existing dungeons
• Some of the existing dungeons are being re-itemized

Now, some of these points aren’t bad. The last two in fact are good decisions and I surely support that approach (add more meat to the spaces we already have, add more quests for the same dungeons and so on – previously linked).

We still have to see if “some of the pieces can be obtained by soloing” actually translates into “some of the pieces can be obtained by farming“. Because that’s the whole point that is worth discussing. Whether this content is desirable or not (both journey and destination).

And we still have to see how “really good, class-specific armor set” actually translates, compared with the rest of the gear in the game. Where it will be “positioned”. Because “gear” here is a systemic relationship where the value is defined by the relation and relative position of a loot piece within the whole system. If the whole system shifts, even the value of the single loot piece does the same. Which concretely means that “really good” is subject to change.

So we got some informations but not much really worth commenting. We know that they are being lazy (reusing the same dungeons) and that they’ll add some content. But we still don’t know if this will help the current situation or not. Because I still have the suspect that they are addressing the wrong problem.

EDIT: 1UP has already some images of the stats of these armor pieces. Starting from here.

We’ll do everything in our power to make sure that we can deliver content for everyone, not just a select few.

Oh yeah. In fact they have right now the artists working on two new boar models and four worm models. Just for you casuals!!!

While the catasses get the flying city, of course :) And dragons, demons, new tiers of the skills, new powers…

Beside all this I spotted a comment from Caydiem that made me really happy and still about the upcoming patch:

(about weather effects)
I believe they’re currently still slated for 1.10.

They do look awesome, and for what it’s worth, I haven’t noticed any significant slowdown in performance when they were on.

Wow! Finally! I’m happy!

Well… at least till I scrolled down to discover another message that killed my enthusiasm:

Of course, the option will be there to turn them off if you dislike them or you find they’re causing you issues, but performance is definitely something the developers kept in mind when creating the effects.


Turn the weather effects off …?

Okay, so why not let everyone turn off the terrain, the buildings so you can more easily see through them? Why not making everyone feely port everywhere? Why not letting them turn off the spell effects, or set a custom time of the day so you can play during the day or at night all the time? Why not removing the hills and valleys? Why not removing the trees and other barriers so that you can walk in a straight line?

There’s only one thing that you can screw in the design of weather effects: giving the players the possibility to “turn them off”.

Blizzard managed to do even this. How lame.

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Stirring waters

So I was going to comment Tigole’s “defence” on the forums and why I think it’s just PR fluff. But Lum chimed in. And when it happens things go in another direction and change perspective.

The point is that this time I completely disagree because he goes just with the demagoguery to explain that “what people want” is stupid. Okay, we already knew that.

Demagogy is built through commonplaces. Here are some:

You mean MMO players resent any development time and effort put into a playstyle they don’t personally engage in? O RLY?

False. Noone argues with the development till the game is felt as satisfying. Noone complained that Blizzard was developing raid content till the players began to crush against that wall to discover that the game continued in that direction. With or without them.

Noone cares much if there are (more) options available in the game. In fact most people would be glad. If I’m at level 10 and Blizzard announces they are working on a dungeon for level 50s, I’m happy. Because eventually I’ll get there. If Eve-Online devs decide to build superHUGE capital ships that I will never even remotely hope to fly, I’m happy. Because it creates the context of the world. It gives it scope.

People complain when they meet a signpost that BLATANTLY says: “Go that way”. They try and they find a wall they cannot pass. And they start to see their friends with better luck that manage to “get promoted” and join the “fun stuff”. Returning with sparkling loot and laughing at you while you kill your worms to grind the faction. Which is the only option you have left: Go in a corner and feel ashamed of your condition. Enjoy being oucast from that community that you slowly started to enjoy and integrate with through 60 levels. At that point some jump the fence to reach greener pastures, while some bite the dust and are left with the crumbs.

This is WoW’s endgame and this is what the players complain about. It’s not for the demagogic commonplace about “development time and effort put into a playstyle they don’t personally engage in”. It’s about those patterns becoming mandatory and inaccessible. The community moves onward while selecting who can go and who is left behind. And who could eventually join later and who is out for good.

Another commonplace:

You have a player base composed mostly of people for whom this is their first MMO, and definitely the first MMO they’ve reached the endgame in. They want more stuff. They want more stuff like they already played.

They absolutely do not want different stuff. They want stuff like they liked.

False again. The great majority of the players would appreciate some variation in the gameplay.

I’d gladly mix in my playtime some PvP, casual PvE and raid content. But this is EXACTLY what WoW is negating. Because Lum, as everyone else, you are missing the point. It’s again not the availability of options. It’s not about the variance.

It’s instead THE LACK OF THEM.

WoW’s endgame isn’t a scenario where many doors suddenly open to offer you a whole slew of options to choose from. IT’S THE EXACT CONTRARY. These doors shut in your face. Those door that become mandatory become also more and more SELECTIVE.

The game SHRINKS. Till the point that it is so tight that you cannot breath. Till the point where it chokes the fun. Till the point that people start to complain.

WoW’s raiding isn’t criticized because it’s another of the many options available. But because it is the only one and, in particular, because it’s the one THE GAME REWARDS THE MOST.

If the games offer feedback through rewards. If the games are patterns of learning and the feedback is used as a guide. Think about it. Where the game is pointing the players to? Where?

This is why the two player types are now two FACTIONS, one at war with the other. It’s just the consequence of a tension that the design of this game actively built up.

And that’s where some people get REALLY ANGRY. Because they have a lot invested into their characters, their friends and the connections between the two, and they REALLY. DO. NOT. LIKE. BEING. TOLD. NO.

And this is the final point. The players see their friends move on a level they cannot access and are cut out. This is the process of exclusion and this is the original nature of a mmorpg. A concept that goes beyond the “competitiveness”. Because it’s a broader system where the community builds the game and where the game world acquires depth and significance depending on other players.

Of course they are pissed off if they are lured in and if they can only stare when their friends move on and kiss them goodbye. They aren’t needed anymore. They are out.

This is the process of a culture. This is what a culture builds. This is the “mass market” and its effect on the people. The need to belong and be there. The need to share something and don’t feel different. The need to “succeed” in the same way they see their friends succeeding.

If you forbid this process, you build up a tension that sooner or later will explode. A tension that didn’t explode before only because mmorpgs have been considered “catass” by definition till today. From level 1 to whatever.

I’m biting the leaf…

While I didn’t find the time or occasion to comment the two upcoming expansions (for the two EverQuests) and despite I must still have some notes saved somewhere, I’ll comment quickly the latest news about the servers consolidation.

It starts with a curious statement:

Thanks to all of you, EverQuest II is growing.

Hence they are going to close some servers. No, really.

As the title suggests, I’m going to believe what Scott Hartsman wrote. I like the guy and I actually believe he is doing a decent work on the game. At least for what is possible and probably because I’m observing from too far away to feel the “heat of bitching” (I’m sure I would find plenty to complain about if I was playing).

But I also believe that those arguments are solid and make sense. In fact they were already part of my worries from the beginning (curiously enough, in a discussion with Scott).

The biggest problem is that consolidating some servers to make the game world feel less barren is only a temporary, superficial band-aid and not really a direct answer (that would require deeper discussions about the use of instancing and content progression. So directly the foundations of the game). But then it would be asking too much. (read also this for context)

So, is EQ2 in trouble?

I don’t think it is. Or it isn’t to the point to feel more worried than usual. That EQ2 wasn’t as successful as expected is not a news. It’s here where SOE “lies” (they won’t admit this). But we still have to see how this translates to “trouble” and I’m not convinced by this perspective. There are no concrete signs of this.

If the sky is going to fall, it is going to fall on the whole company (and this wouldn’t surprise me, instead), not on EQ2. The game is actually doing much better than how I expected and exactly because the hard work they are putting on it after the release. So despite they had to build on top of a wrecked game.

SWG is in a much worst condition, EQ is being pillaged and PlanetSide is going “free” to try to survive. I don’t think that Matrix Online is more than a mmo zombie.

EQ2 is probably the most solid game they have at the moment.

By the way, Scott clearly stated on FoH’s boards what most of us are curious about:

Right. Taken as a net, EQ2 grows every week. The sum of +new subs in, -cancels nets out to a positive number.

Taken at the individual server level, underpopulated servers make up a disproportionately large number of the -cancels component in that equation, which correlates to “Server that is not populated enough just isn’t fun.”

So much so, that it’s in EQ2’s best interest to address the problem directly, instead of dancing around it, no matter what random non-subscribing doomsayers will end up saying.

A WoW Retrospective… and thoughts on the Future.

So, after playing the game for close to a year of my life I’m finding myself dissecting it, taking a good look at both its positives and negatives and assessing the reasons why I continue to play.

I thought I would put down my thoughts and post them in the hopes that it promotes discussion. I posted this on the EU WoW General board and, of course, it was lost almost immediately in the deluge of non-constructive detritus.

I have two level 60s, both well equipped with blues/purples. One is on a PvP server and the other is on a PvE server. My current main is in a guild which does full MC runs in a few hours and has just taken down Nefarian so we’re essentially waiting for AQ whilst farming the existing high-end instances.

I don’t consider myself a ‘hardcore’ player. I have a full time job and various evening commitments etc. I’m simply very efficient with the gaming time I have available. I was an avid player of WCIII but WoW is my first MMORPG.

In the simplest terms, there are three reasons why I enjoy the game:

Immersion – I love the look and feel of the game world. Even at level 60, it’s still fun to hit Alt+Z and ride around taking in the scenery and I still get a kick out of little things like leaping from the Booty Bay dock into the water. WoW gets criticised as being cartoony but I consider it to be very stylised and I like the look. I grew up on Adventure Gamebooks and, at least from a visual and aesthetic point of view, it reminds me of the imaginary worlds I inhabited as a kid.

Interaction – Whilst I will always consider real life to be better, I do believe that the social interaction involved in WoW is both genuine and positive. I’ve had some really good laughs with friends in the game and it has spawned countless in-jokes and reminders of good times had. The interaction is not limited to the social aspect, however, as I very much enjoy interacting with the opposing faction via. PvP. Friendly competition is also a draw – the success and advancement of your character is something of a visual ‘hi-score table’ which can be compared to other players. I don’t consider myself elite or have a ‘higher than thou’ attitude but I think everyone can appreciate the joys of getting a rare or cool looking item.

Advancement/Goal Achieving – Obviously this is a satisfying element and could be considered the main object of the game. Leveling to 40, saving for a mount, leveling to 60, mastering the tactics for instances, becoming proficient at your class, leveling skills and reputation, etc. This is something I do feel satisfied about, considering I have leveled two characters to 60 and have essentially seen/conquered most (if not all) of the content in the game.

This brings me onto what I feel I now need from the game in order to sustain my interest. When I first started out the game world seemed incredibly vast and amazing. The ceiling on the game world is now clearly visible and the game world seems decidedly smaller. From an Immersion point of view, I think some freshness could be brought back (at least for me personally) by such simple things as new music and new loading screens. I enjoy exploring lesser travelled areas so the addition of more lonely, open spaces would also be something I’d enjoy. Things that would require a bit more to impliment (but which I would love) would be weather effects (I really hope this is added in the expansion) and greater character customisation (perhaps the ability to customise the colour of armour, equipment etc.). From what I understand, much of the original creative team left Blizzard, so I hope the new designers can produce as good (if not better) work on the game’s aesthetics.

The Interactive side of the game seems to work fine as it is, although I would like to see a larger (and annotated) ignore list. As for PvP, however, I think the system needs a complete overhaul. I refuse to join in with ‘rank grinding’ as it is an entirely flawed system and is not ‘skill based’ enough for my liking. It bears no relevance to the opposing faction since you are essentially competing against your own side for Honor. I very much enjoy PvP from a combatative point of view, though. From my experience on a PvP server I felt that Battlegrounds killed the player established, balanced, “wilds” PvP. Less fights for the fun of it because skillfull PvP has been replaced with repetitive Honor grinding taking place in instanced Battlegrounds. PvP servers seem to have just become PvE servers-with-extra-griefing. Consequently, I’d really like to see more ‘PvP enabled areas’ such as the Gurubashi Arena but perhaps extended to the size of an entire zone so that there is the possibility of healthy “wilds” PvP even on a PvE server.

As for Advancement and Goal Achieving despite having experienced a large portion of the game already there are still things I’d like to personally accomplish. Leveling my cooking, fishing and all my trainable weapon skills up to 300, for instance. I have also yet to own an Epic Mount (mostly to do with having a full time job, and thus my playing time is taken up with raiding and not farming for cash). I do think the game would benefit hugely by more ‘alternative’ goals in the game (such as becoming Admiral of the Bloodsail Pirates). I don’t really have the inclination to grind faction reputation (due to time constraints as mentioned above) so anything that provides an alternative ‘path’ in the game which isn’t a deliberate timesink would be a nice addition. Incidently, I really enjoyed the Epic Hunter quest because of the fact it had to be done solo and was a nice change from the usual instanced, 40-man raids. I really like the fact that such great movies have been made from the game, and that too is something I want to create at some point.

How confident am I that my game needs will be met? Well, I’m not entirely sure. Blizzard will no doubt continue to impliment new content/instances but will they be really all that different from what’s currently in the game? Will boss encounters be a bit more innovative or will they simply stick to the same old formula of aggro retention and ‘do X in Phase 1, Y in Phase 2’ structure? Also, I do think the game really needs to have something injected into it to make it feel newer, rather than slightly different coded variations of the same things. I’ve actually found myself drawn to other MMORPs simply because of the potential to ‘start over’ again with something that feels completely new and be in a position where the ceiling of content seems like many, many adventures away.

I am looking forward to the future of WoW but I also feel that there’s every possibility my expectations will not be met. In the short term, we’ll see how AQ pans out, and in the long term I guess a lot will be riding on the Expansion. From a personal point of view though, I can’t help but feel like I’m coming towards the ‘end’ of the game. :\

Like a broken record

Bla. And then bla. Still archiving the same shit. Also read this to put things into perspective. Before all my other comments, actually.

Again I “use” Blizzard because I need antagonism to mark my ideas. Not because I’m “angry” at them.

Bump PvP, equalize PvP inherently, or build PvP items which are simply more effective against real players than they are against monsters.

Yes, add even more cockblocking and selectivity. As if the game hasn’t enough already.

The faction grinds aren’t for the players who want all the fun of a raid zone but by themselves. I have absolutely no clue how you’d go about designing that.

So raiding is now the only fun that can be had in a game?

I guess not. So, if fun can be had in the game through other means, why these other means couldn’t offer comparable rewards?

“The best route should also be the most fun route.”

Practical example: In AQ not only you get the uber loot, but now you get even new “tiers” of your skills. So the power creep increases two folds.

It would have been hard to add also two “means” to achieve those skills, one within those raids and another more easily accessible?

Some of them suck, some of them don’t. There’s good gear out there for me at various places with revered to exalted faction. Needless to say, I’m not grinding faction despite this. There’s also good gear out there in dungeons. I’d much rather do the dungeons. There’s also good gear out there in raids. I’d also much rather do the raids.

If this was true noone would complain.

The wrong part is that there isn’t “good” gear in the raid instances. There is *better* gear. A different concept. Raiding gear stacks up in tiers, it doesn’t offer a flat power growth.

In fact the possibility to choose your own patterns would be a very good idea. But you cannot. In fact most of those activities are selective as the first example here above I commented about the PvP. The game promotes specialization and your character is developed through this specialization that doesn’t open the possibilities of the game. It closes them if not what you specialize into.

What you’re bitching about is that there’s not good gear in an utterly fun quest chain that a solo player can get that rivals raid quality gear in some way. Guess what? That’s an awfully specific condition. But supposedly Blizz. will still be trying to take care of you in an upcoming patch with the second dungeon set of armor. They’re supposed to come from quest lines most (but not all) of which are accessible solo. If I may be so bold, I’m going to predict here (because I don’t have a blog) that you will find fault with this solution when it’s implemented and you know the details

Of course I’ll bitch. Because I don’t see how this is a concrete answer to the problem. It’s just another “sop” to buy time. As the rise to the level cap.

These aren’t answers. These are temporary workarounds. It’s obvious that they don’t “convince” me.

Of course I’ll also check out this content. And hopefully will find it interesting. I’d do the same even if they added a level 30 instance. And I’m sure many other players would do the same.

I always enjoyed the content in WoW from 1 to 60. I never looked about the exp bar and I actually dinged 60 before finishing most of the stuff I began. I couldn’t care less about the power creep.

After that things changed and I was forced to start to care about “what I was wearing” because from that point onward you can access content and join other players only if you are “this tall”. And my way of play the game HAD to change. The alternative was cancelling (see Angie’s post up here on this page).

But here we were talking about the increasing gap between the “have” and “not have”. If with the new raid zone the skills and armors of the leet guys will skyrocket, I suspect that these upcoming Tier 0.5 will be laughable at best.

Or would involve another endless factional grind.

I’d be happy, instead, if they worked to level the power differential instead of increasing it exponentially. And if they worked to add some more satisfying progression that isn’t exclusively centered on that power growth.

Which are the same points I’ve written about in the last months:
1- Try to bring the players together instead of apart
2- Explore other possibilities that these games have to offer beside the endless power growth

Which also doesn’t mean that I would revolution WoW and make a completely different game. But only that I would try to improve on its qualities instead of making it progressively more alienating.

Again, I do not think the alienation and selection is what made this game successful. In fact I believe it’s what granted Blizzard the possibility to wipe the floor with EQ.


No comment.

From Raph:
The paradigm in these so-called “sandbox games” is the same as it is for the MMORPG: a space in which there are multiple activities. Now, some of these activities may be games (levelling up, completing a time challenge); some may not be (chat systems); some may seem more important than others, or have more development time associated with them… In fact, we frequently see that they even have a “magic circle” insulating them from.

What we shouldn’t do is confuse the act of moving from one activity to another within the virtual space as being equivalent to playing a game. That’s why I try, when I have the luxury of being pedantic, to call most modern games “interactive entertainment experiences.”

It is reductionist for even game-centric MMORPGs to be considered to be merely games; even the most game-centric of them embeds some experiences that are not games, and of course, more can always be added. We tend to call a virtual world a game world when all the reward mechanisms are tied together into one game of advancement; that isn’t even the only way to make a game, much less the only way to make a virtual world.

Of course, the fact that MMORPGs aren’t intrinsically games doesn’t at all mean that if you choose to embed a game, you can pay it any less attention, or regard it as somehow less important. Arguably, we have regularly done games a disservice when putting them into MMORPGs, by failing to make the gameplay good enough and instead relying on the virtual world’s nature to prop up the gameplay. A good test for an embedded game in a virtual world would be to play it without the virtual world itself; if it’s fun enough that way, then we’re doing the game justice.

I believe that regarding virtual worlds this way opens up the door for a very different outlook on how to design them; the spread of possible worlds becomes much wider. If we let go of the notion that virtual worlds are games, not only will we get better virtual worlds: I believe we will get better game worlds too.

From Tess:
I have a rogue, on WoW, and she has been quite cheerfully running about, collecting Ancestral Coins for the Lunar Festival. Only, being me, and loving diving into dangerous places as much as I do, I’ve been sneaking around, trying to get some of the most difficult ones. (And being only level 42, many are excessively difficult.)

Little Railee has been shimmying along cliff faces, running through enemy cities with her hair on fire, chased by giants, knocked off of mountains by evil albino hippogryphs, and pinned against walls by packs of slavering hyenas. She showed a higher level druid how to best sneak past a group of monstrously higher level nagas, and then teamed up to fight the two that attacked, when they reached their goal. She rescued lowbies who were blithely charging into dire peril, and skated across a frozen lake full of murderous ghosts.

All-in-all, it’s some of the most fun I’ve ever had in one of these games. Yet, it’s not collecting coins that makes it fun. Honestly, I hate playing most collect-the-coin type platform games. They bore me to tears. In an MMO, however, this otherwise mundane coin collecting activity can become almost epic. You’re not just collecting coins. You’re journeying across perilous terrain into almost certain doom, with nothing to protect you but your flimsy armor, and the optimistic belief that you can find some clever trick to get you to your goal at the end of the road — assuming you make it to the end of the road. You may even make some friends and enemies along the way. The sheer openness, complexity, and richness of presentation provides a compelling array of possibilities that has more in common with reality than it has with most traditional games.

Wasting some time on the Lunar event thing

So I took Foton’s bait and went coin collecting expecting all sort of fat loot. Instead I didn’t find much when I finally ported to Moonglade with 20 coins (those soloable in the Eastern Kingdoms) and lots of hopes in my backpacks.

I was lured in this with the promise of “kinky quest rewards” and engineering recipes. Instead all I found was some dresses, food and fireworks. And an obscure raid quest that a few guys are organizing right now while I alt+tabbed to write this. Well, in the worst case I’ll finally ding “Revered” with my faction (each of the 50 coins gives you 50 rep to all your starting factions, for a total of 2500 if you collect them all).

Anyway. There are rumors about four epic (I think the color is just bleached) trinkets. If you notice their names you can see how they are probably connected to these coins.

This is something more interesting than dresses and food :) Has someone more informations to share?

I don’t think the raid is going to end well. Or maybe it is.

Yeah, we managed to kill it. The harderst part is that it casts a “Starfall” AOE doing 700+ arcane damage per tick. It wouldn’t be too hard to dodge it if the graphic effect wasn’t HALF the actual (huge) radius of the AOE. So pretty much always you finished to noticed it when your health is already going down, with no time to manage to get out of the radius before dying.

The raid would have ended in less than a minute if we didn’t discover that this huge dog basically spawns on the graveyard. So you can fight as long as you want if you don’t mind the repair bills. It was a long fight with the dog walking all over Moonglade but at the end we got it. The best strategy seemed to be about sending just one Main Tank while everyone else does range damage or keeps the MT alive, without bothering about moving out of the AOE (the MT, I mean). The big dog is also immune to taunts.

Now I’m pissed off because for some reason I didn’t get credit while my equipment is all broken. The dog also dropped nothing at all beside a buff and I think people got a bunch of fireworks and nothing else (edit: the quest drops a lantern that just casts those lights that you see at each Lunar spot. So fireworks, the light thing and a 10% one hour buff to all stats).

EDIT: I read about it too late – Warning: In order to complete the quest after the kill, you must stand inside the corpse for 60 seconds. You DO NOT have to be the group tapping and killing Omen. Just be at the corpse while it’s there and you WILL complete it.

How lame.

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