Warhammer Online being overlooked.

July 31, 2008

Moving away from game theory and the other more common topics generally covered, I wanted to bring up something that has irked me for a while now.

Why is it that in every earnings report and preview, Warhammer is never mentioned as a potential hit for publisher EA? Is it as simple as EA not getting a big cut from the game, so it’s impact will be small regardless, or is it just the opinion of ‘market people’ that WAR won’t set the world on fire in terms of sales?

If it’s the second theory, I really find that really odd. Every report from beta has been very positive, and everything points to a solid, smooth launch for WAR, baring server overload issues and queues like we saw with WoW, but you only get that problem if more people bought your game than you estimated, so it’s kind of a nice problem to have

Now we know an MMO has to remain popular for however long to actually be profitable, as the initial sales are used to recoup development costs, but again WAR is poised to stay popular due to RvR being its endgame, rather than the more burnout prone PvE/Raiding endgame. There is also no big MMO release after WAR for quite some time, WoW expansion aside, as anything really big is at least 1yr+ away, so you have to figure if WAR is a success, it won’t face serious competition for a nice window of time, again helping profit numbers.

Are they just missing what more focused MMO fans have predicted for quite some time, or is there more to this than we are able to see?

End-game content is not the ONLY content.

July 30, 2008

Tobold, MMOCrunch and Random Battle are three blogs which have recently talked about solo vs group play in an MMO, and everyone brings some good points to the table. One major issue during the leveling process is that far too often, grouping actually slows progress down, and hence players solo instead.

The quick fix to this would be to make grouping more rewarding than soloing, while not going as far as EQ1 with forced groups. Players avoid groups in WoW because they know they can accomplish more solo, and hit the level cap faster.

What stuck me however is not the group vs solo aspect, but the whole ‘rush to cap’ notion. Why do we just assume everyone want to hit the level cap as fast as possible?

The easy answer is, ‘Blizzard said so’. It’s no secret the ‘good’ stuff in WoW is at the level cap, at least according to Blizzard, which is in sharp contrast to what most people really like about WoW; the questing and fast paced progression.

Before WoW (yes, people played MMO’s before WoW), rushing head first to the level cap was not how most people played. No one rushed to 7x GM in UO. You blatantly could not rush to cap in EQ due to how long that whole process use to be. In Asheron’s Call, after a certain point, level gains were insignificant due to diminishing returns. DAoC had plenty of PvP pre-cap. The list goes on.

Yet today, in WoW/LoTRO/AoC (and I’m sure others), you have the ‘leveling game’ and the ‘end game’, and the two are usually night and day. Will that be the case with Warhammer Online as well? The reason I ask is because for months now, we have been reading about all these great Public Quests and PvP areas, which are zone/level specific. What if I really love doing a certain Public Quest, or enjoy how PvP works at a certain level? Will I still need to rush and hit cap, just so I can join the ‘official’ endgame of city sieges?

Unlike questing, PvP is almost endless content, and since WAR is built around PvP, who is to say people won’t slow down and enjoy each tier of PvP, instead of always looking at their XP bar and grinding out another level. Perhaps the whole ‘group vs solo’ issue will be a non-factor, as players instead focus on their current tier and battling the enemy, enjoying what is currently in front of them, instead of rushing towards the end-game carrot. One can hope, right?

Can Blizzard dig itself out of this hole…

July 29, 2008

We have a shortage of tanks, how are we going to fix that?

Trick everyone into playing a new tank class.

But people hate tank classes…

Yea but this one will be more fun, have more utility, and will have a fancy ‘hero’ title.

Hmm that sounds unbalanced…

No it’s cool, we will gimp him on the high end, so he can’t dps/tank/heal as well as focused classes, but he will be super fun in that part of the game we no longer view as important, leveling.

Blizzard’s fix to the warrior shortage, make a class that’s more fun to play than the current tank, while not being quite on par in terms of tanking, and make him more solo-friendly. That fixes EVERYTHING…

Warhammer Online Collectors Edition, woot!

July 28, 2008

I ordered the Warhammer Online collectors edition on Sunday. This might not be such a big deal on its own, but the CE has been sold out online for quite some time now, and only recently was it made available again at the EA Store.

Why I held off for so long on pre-ordering I’m not really sure. I’m a sucker for CE’s, as I really like flipping through all the artwork and extras; it makes getting a new game that much better. It’s not cost effective, but everyone has their vice, right?

Now I’m in wait mode to get my pre-order codes by email. Internet rumor has it the codes are sent out once a week, so I’m not too worried yet. Can’t wait for a beta account though, as I really want to nail down what I’m going to play when the game goes live. Currently my pick is a warrior priest, as the class just sounds really cool and I love the visual of a two handed hammer crushing skulls. But without actually playing the game, I can’t say for sure.

September 23rd can’t come soon enough!

Market, mining, and the loss of a Battleship.

July 28, 2008

First a market update: The weekend is indeed a busy time, and business picked up significantly. The most noticeable increase in sales was for high meta items, which tend to have a high price tag, resulting in a large influx of ISK. I also made a killing selling Gallente badges which I gained while completing the Enemies Abound (lvl 4) mission chain. This has me rethinking that entire chain, which I originally swore I would never run again. The faction hit is still a killer though.

My current dilemma is not with my sell orders, but rather buy orders. While not completely devoid of action, they are filling awfully slow, to the order of 100-200 rounds of ammo a day, when the buy order is for 10k. My price on the buy order is top in the system, and very competitive region-wide, while still allowing a decent margin. The range is system-wide. The system itself has proven to be a decent hotspot for trade and mission runners, so traffic itself is not the cause. My question now is, are buy orders just naturally slow to fill, or am I missing something?

Market activity aside, my miner/trader FINALLY got his Hulk, which is a huge upgrade over his Retriever. I’m still using tech I strip miners, but even with those, the Hulk is a beast. Our next mining Op is this coming Sunday, and I’m interested to see just how many asteroids I can chew through when I don’t have to worry about hauling or ore type. I’ll also have to finish the training fore tech II mining drones by then, as the random belt rat will also not be an issue. One final goal is to get my miners standing up with the local Corp, so I don’t get hit quite as hard by taxes when refining. As my base of operation is a good 10 jumps away from Corp HQ, hauling ore is impossible without a freighter, while hauling minerals will be very doable, so refining at a good rate is a must. This should be easy enough, as I can just have him join up with my combat pilot, and leech reputation that way, correct?

Speaking of my combat pilot, Saturday night proved rather eventful. I logged on and asked if anyone was interested in running some lvl 4 missions, and two Corp mates joined up and flew over, both in battleships (Typhoon and Hyperion, to go along with my Rohk). With three battleships we had a good amount of firepower, and I was hoping to get some of the tougher level 4 missions, like Angels Extravaganza or Blockade. As luck would have it, the first few missions we drew were pathetically easy, and having two others proved to be massive overkill. Still, it meant we finished the missions quickly, meaning more storyline mission progress.

Eventually we drew the Recon mission chain, and this is when things start to get interesting. Now normally Recon is best done by a blitz, meaning you get in a fast frigate and haul ass to the gate before you get shot down, as the mission is complete as soon as you use the gate. However, having three battleships, we wanted some action, and the bounties on the ships looked so tasty. (1.2 million ISK for many of the Battleships) The mission started off decent enough, although we quickly noticed that the 1.2m BS had a heavy armor tank which required quite a bit of time to chew through. As more waves constantly spawn, killing everything quickly is very important, and we were starting to fall behind on the pace. I was worried they would eventually start cracking our tanks and we would need to warp out. Thankfully, right around the time things were getting really dicey, the final wave spawned, meaning an end to the escalating troubles. While it was close, we managed to hold, and eventually clear the entire first area, ISK wallets a bit fatter from all the bounties.

Feeling good, we used the gate and flew into the second area, which I thought would actually be easier. My mistake… Our tank, the Typhoon, was taking some serious damage, and soon enough we realized a warp was needed. The Hyperion pilot was rather new to EVE (4-5 million skill points I believe), and was slow to align. We warped out, only to find out that the Hyperion pilot was stuck, being scrambled by one of the elite frigates in the mission. A feeling of dread set in, as I figured if the more advanced pilot had trouble tanking, our younger Corp mate would soon be dust.

We quickly warped back in with the hope of saving him, but the mission layout provided a large hurdle. The first room, which we had cleared, leaves you 20km away from the warp gate to the second room (the location of the scrammed pilot). 20km might not seem like a huge distance, but when you are flying a slow ass battleship, it seems like forever. While we raced to the gate at a brisk 130m/s, our Hyperion pilot was giving us updates on his tank and cap status, saying he would not last much longer. After what seemed like ages, we arrived at the gate, warped, and assessed the situation. The Hyperion, along with most of the NPC ships, was about 60-100km away, perfect range for my Large Rails. I started blasting Cruisers and Battle Cruisers as fast as I could, trying to decrease the enemy DPS as much as I could. I knew the Battleships were putting out most of the DPS, but with their heavy tank, I knew I could not take them down quickly, so opted for the smaller stuff instead. Sadly even at that range, my guns could not hit the elite frigates, so breaking the scram was not an option. The Typhoon pilot meanwhile sped towards the ships, hoping to get his drones in range, while also shooting down as many of the small ships as he could. Just as we thought the situation was improving, we saw the Hyperion go down in a ball of fire, leaving our unfortunate Corp mate floating in his pod. He had run out of cap, meaning he could no longer run his armor rep, and quickly succumbed to the massive DPS.

The truly sad part was that our newer pilot had mined almost all the minerals for the Hyperion before having a Corp mate construct it for him, and had only flown it for two days prior to it’s death. Certainly a tough lesson to learn after finally having reached a major goal, but he kept his spirits high, and even declined an offer from myself and the Typhoon pilot to help pay for a replacement. He instead bought a much cheaper Megathron, using the insurance ISK he got, and stated that now he had a new mining goal, along with a valuable lesson about running missions.

Recon now holds to record for most ships killed, having previously lost a cruiser and a battle cruiser to lower levels myself. Is it just me, or are the ships in that mission even tougher than their bounties suggest?

Stop bitching about skill points newbtards.

July 25, 2008

Read enough EVE-related posts and you will notice a certain complaint always being made: I can never catch up to older players.

First of all, the statement is mostly true. If you started a new character today, those pilots with 50 million skill points will always be around 50 million skill points ahead of you, give or take. Baring a complete reset, that will always be true.

The issue I have with the statement is: who cares? Yes in a 1 on 1 situation, they will smoke you, be it combat, mining, economy, production, whatever. Last I checked (this morning) EVE is an MMO, which stands for Massive Multiplayer Online. Well EVE is certainly massive, since everyone plays on one server. And it’s certainly online, as everyone has to log in to said server. And now the real kicker, it’s actually MULTIPLAYER, and not in that WoW way where you run by people on your solo-happy way to kill/collect 10 of something.

You join a Corp, work with others, compete against others, and generally try to survive. If you go about it solo, you will have a tough time, and will get really bored. The fools at CCP had this crazy notion that people would like to play together, and do things as a group, so they designed systems around that silly idea. Mining solo sucks, mining as a Corp is fun. Running missions solo day in day out gets boring, running missions with a buddy is fun. Dueling is boring, group battles are fun. See the trend here?

The other thing that EVE nails, and most other MMOs get terribly wrong, is that no matter your skill points, you can contribute. If you just created your pilot, you can join your Corp in a mining Op, and still contribute. Sure the guy flying the Hulk will mine a hell of a lot more ore, but you still did your part, and unlike other MMOs, you did not take anyone’s spot, or loot an ‘epic’ that someone else is going to be pissed about. EVE does not have a ‘raid cap’ of 40 or 25. The more the merrier, no matter the skill level. Is your Corp running missions just for fun? Bring your newbie self in a frigate and join in. Pew pew the frigates in the mission, loot some wrecks, get blown up, and have a blast.

So while you might never catch the skill point leader in EVE, you also don’t have to level to 70 and grind gear/rep/tokens to play with your friends. Day one you can jump right in, and not once will someone pick a ‘better geared’ pilot over you, while you sit around and listen to vent as everyone else is having fun.

That skill point thing, not that big an issue now, is it?

Burned out on WotLK already.

July 24, 2008

I wanted to expand on a previous post here, and go into a bit more detail about WotLK and my total lack of excitement. I still think that more than anything else, the fact that Warhammer Online is so close has really narrowed my view. Baring total failure, I know WAR will be my MMO of choice in 2009, with some EVE goodness as well.

But WAR aside, there are other issues at play for WoW and WotLK. One is the fact that graphically, WoW is aging. While WotLK will have new textures, animations, and effects, everything is still bound to the same graphics engine, and the overall ‘style’ is still the same WoW that it was in 2004. The WoW team has to work that much harder to impress us visually now, because we have seen so much already, and newer games appear fresh just by the very nature that they are new.

Another factor, and this one is a bit unique to WoW, is that most of us have played WoW more than any other MMO, and after all those hours, burnout is natural. WoW is an amazing game, and that fact might hurt it more than anything else. We have played our main, leveled alts, respecced, switched profession, pvped, raided, etc. More players have done more things in WoW than they would in other games, due to the games quality. Instead of rolling something new when WotLK is out, and playing the game from a new angle, most of us have already covered all the angles, and WotLK would have to deliver a completely new game, 1-80, to really entertain us. Sure that journey from 70-80 will be fun, but lets face it, you will still be using 99% of the same skills, which use the same animations, which have the same sounds. The fact that you are hitting a new snow beast in a new ice zone is not enough, at least not enough to keep us grinding like we did in Azeroth, and to a lesser extend in Outland. With each expansion, regardless of content, player burnout sets in faster and faster. You might have run Scholomance 50 times, because even after 30 runs, it was still damn fun. But you probably ran the Outlands instances fewer times, and the burnout for WotLK instances will be even faster, perhaps after just one run.

Which brings me to why I’m really not excited about WotLK; it’s not that WotLK is going to have bad content; it’s just that I’m already burned out on 75% of that content. I’ve seen how 5 man instance runs work in WoW. I’ve seen 10/25/40 man raids. I’ve seen pre-form PvP, PuG PvP. I’ve done the item/token/rep grind. I’ve never done it as a Deathknight, or in Northrend, but that’s not enough to pull me away from WAR, or to even make we want to drop $40 on WotLK.

It might not be out, but to whack a dead horse once more, I’ve played WotLK, it was called WoW.


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