Same old EA.

April 9, 2008

I’ll be honest and say I’m a bit disappointed by EA and this story about one of their games.

First off I have not heard anything about the actual game or the boycott surrounding it, but the fact that a story about it gets financial publication attention must mean its at least somewhat of a big deal. The reason I’m disappointed is that I thought EA had turned a corner and was attempting to move away from being known for releasing the same version of Madden each year. It seems, at least based on that story, that they have not.

As much hate as EA gets, and almost all of it is deserved, they do put out some quality games among the rehashed stuff, and if they actually get it together and try to focus more on long term quality, it would be a huge benefit to all gamers.

It’s sad that the biggest 3rd party gaming company is also the most hated, and moves like this won’t change that perception anytime soon.

Damn you DoTA!

April 9, 2008

Quick update today: DoTA is evil in it’s addictive nature. Every time you have a quality, down-to-the-end 5v5 game, it just adds fuel to the fire. Amazing that something of such quality was created as a mod, and also amazing that one map has been updated and balanced over so many years.

Great stuff, and for anyone who has Warcraft 3 and has never tried DoTA, you are missing out big time.

Daily quest, RMT, and the end-game in WoW

April 8, 2008

Many people credit daily quests with making earning gold in WoW easier, and that part of the reason Blizzard added so many of them was to combat gold farmers by making lots of gold available to everyone. I’m not sure if anyone has really broken this down before, but I believe daily quests actually make earning gold harder for most players.

Before TBC and daily quests, there were a few tried and true methods to really ‘grind’ gold. You either did gathering circles in certain zones, or you farmed particular mobs that dropped items of high value, usually something related to crafting. Pre-BC, crafting was the main ingredient that kept the economy in WoW moving, as supply/demand was highest in that area. Epic gear and other non-crafting item prices remained relatively steady, as the supply/demand of those items did not change.

Another pre-BC factor overlooked is the amount of people who actually went out and farmed gold, and the frequency of that farming. Raiders did it to pay for repair costs, which were somewhat high before the nerf, and also for consumables. Crafters would farm to support maxing out a skill, or to craft the one or two useful items they needed to make. Everyone else would farm whenever they needed money for new enchants, or perhaps some upgrade in the form of a BoE epic. An epic riding mount, while not easy to get, was not priced as high as the current 5k cost for an epic flying mount. And since we are talking pre-BC, you did not have the added cost of gems for gear.

The real problem with daily quests is that the hardcore players are able to grind them out at a must faster rate than the casual player, and a casual must dedicate greater amounts of time to the gold grind in order to keep up. This all reflects on AH prices, as anything of real value is priced ridiculously high. Now instead of taking 1-2 days from your normal activities to grind out some gold, a casual play has to dedicate far more time in order to achieve the same result pre-BC.

Dailies also encourage gold grinding from the entire player base, popping up each day with the lure of the blue !, and if everyone is grinding, it just raised the price bar that much higher. While before grinding gold was something you MIGHT do, grinding dailies is something everyone does when they hit 70.

My theory is that dailies and the massive inflation on prices might actually be a positive boost to the RMT industry. If I’m a casual player with disposable income, why spend time grinding dailies for days when instead I can buy gold, especially now that gold is MUCH cheaper thanks to all the methods Blizzard added. Sure that 5k epic flyer might seem expensive at first, but if we are comparing that price to all the top tier enchants and gems needed by hardcore players, a casual actually gets a bargain if they go the RMT route now than they would have pre-BC.

Of course dailies serve as yet another time sink for Blizzard to keep its players interested, but is a daily grind for inflated items really a step forward in end-game design? Is it really better to repeat the same set of ‘quests’ each day instead of going into an instance with 4 others, or a raid with 10-25? Has the end-game in WoW actually improved with the addition of daily quests?

Ding 70, now what?

April 7, 2008

Over the weekend my girlfriend and I both hit 70 in WoW, marking the first time she has ever hit the cap in an MMO. It’s somewhat bittersweet of course, as part of the fun in WoW is gaining xp and unlocking new skills. On the other hand, being at the cap means all basic ‘end game’ stuff is open to us, giving us lots of content options. We are looking forward to running the level 70 5 mans, along with all of the heroics of former instances. I’ll also be doing a bit of PvP, which is something she avoids. Between the .5 set and the increased rate of acquiring badges of honor, getting to a reasonable gear level for PvP should be somewhat easy.

Oddly enough, we accomplished hitting 70 before ever completing a quest in Shadowmoon, Blades Edge, or Netherstorm, and we still have a few random quests in Nagrand. Is that normal, or is the fact that we ended up running 5 mans often the reason we capped before entering those zones? The plan is to still experience the remaining zones, if perhaps skipping some of the more tedious quests. Ahead of us is of course the grind to 5000g for an epic flying mount, and I personally would still like to get to 375 enchanting. That said, not a major rush on either goal, and both will be worked on as we continue to quest.

The only remaining question now is how long WoW will hold our attention at 70. The delay of WAR certainly creates a lengthy window, and the unfortunate timing of the LoTRO expansion delays the return to that game. Will the AoC open beta change anything? I’m guessing EVE will creep back into the picture now that the need to cap in WoW has been meet, but first I need to get over my on-again off-again tendency to play DoTA over

WoW’s legacy on the MMO players mindframe.

April 4, 2008

Tobold has a post up today about training players in WoW, and what can be done to improve the sad state the PUG scene is in.

I think the PUG scene in WoW is hopeless though, that game is too far into easy mode to make any reasonable changes. Between guild hopping, welfare epics, PvP being quasi-solo, its no wonder WoW players don’t stop to teach others about agro, CC, builds, etc.

In direct contrast, EVE has an extremely helpful player base, old and new, and is often considered the most complex game to understand. In addition, one of the primary recruiting tools used by Corps is the offer to train new members in whatever field they wish to focus on. Corp hopping is rarely seen in EVE as well.

Which leads to the greater overall problem of designing a game that hand-holds you through everything and gives you rewards regardless of success or failure. Everything is all peaches until you add any amount of challenge, and all of a sudden a player is required to understand something beyond auto-attack.

That alone will be one of the worst legacies left by WoW, the massive dumbing down of MMOs. Outside of a much smaller minority, most WoW players expect everything for nothing, and generally get it. Oddly enough, even WoW was not originally as dumbed down as it is right now. The original WoW at release was, believe it or not, actually a bit more challenging. Still by far the easiest MMO out, but not in the state it is now. It will be interesting to see what the reaction will be when that majority tries something with a bit of challenge to it, or will all future MMOs with mass market dreams continue the ‘massive solo online’ trend set by Blizzard?

User created content, who needs it?

April 3, 2008

Continuing today’s theme of linking to blogs from people who know a hell of a lot more about MMOs than I do, Raph Koster has a post today about the growing amount of user-created browser-based content that is hitting the net.

At the very beginning he says that the gamer side is waiting for Warhammer, but that there may be a second population more interested in “user-created content, microworlds, web-embedding”. I can’t help but ask, what do people see in that stuff? Aside from bringing us CS, DoTA and Tower Defense (the 3rd is an arguable contribution), what user-created content is truly an advancement of a genre, something that was more than a very temporary distraction? And how many times have you tried something user-generated and been seriously disappointed?

Is the market really there for this type of stuff, on a massive and profitable basis? Something tells me there must be, with some many companies trying it, but the gamer in me says most won’t bother or accept it, especially not when a price is involved.

Of course if I was putting money on it, I would bet on Raph being right over my opinion, but yea…

The REAL war on terror.

April 3, 2008

Lum posted this a few days ago, but only today did I actually read the linked article, found here.

I’m not sure if saying it’s a bit surprising that congress has this much time to waste would be very accurate. Clearly this is not the first time we have seen/read a story of our tax dollars being abused, but since this is an MMO blog, this particular story hits a little closer to home.

All the usual signs of stupidity can be found in the story.

  • Second Life a ‘game’, check.
  • Online gaming makes you a terrorist and or child rapist, check.
  • Random ‘save the kids’ angle, check.
  • Goons dropping penis clouds on everyone… well I guess they took a day off.

Speaking of the Goons, why is congress not holding a hearing about their recent Jihad? Think about what a great publicity stunt that would be, Congressman X stepping up and stopping the great Jihad, saving all those poor miners from the evil Goonswarm, standing up for the little guy. (or Chinese bot farmer, but shhh) Missing opportunity really, some low level worker should get fired.

That would at least be one war on terror that would get some results.


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