WAR alts update.

March 31, 2009

Having just reached tier 2 on our Choppa and Black Orc alts, now would be a good time for some initial thoughts on our second trip through the WAR leveling game. Both classes are radically different than our two previous ones, the Disciple of Khaine and Witch Elf. The Choppa is more melee AoE focused compared to the WE single target damage, and the Black Orc is clearly tougher than the DoK, while lacking the utility and healing. Still, the Choppa/BO combo has allowed us to complete all ‘easy’ PQs, and with just one additional player we are able to complete the ‘normal’ PQs.

 

Speaking of PQs, the current easy/normal/hard setup, along with PQs always being visible on your map (no need to find them), makes running the correct PQ much easier and accessible. When it’s just the two of us, we know we can knock out the easy PQ without trouble. Should someone join us during that time, we can transition to the normal or hard PQ (depending on who joins and how many). These minor improvements go a long way to improving the PvE aspect of WAR, as its now easier than ever to level at a good pace without having to complete a single quest, while still seeing some of the better and more unique PvE content.

 

Along with running PQs, we have been queuing for the occasional scenario, which are still great content. I was somewhat surprised that the new Slayers and Choppas did not dominate the early levels, but I think the combination of new classes and the free trial means plenty of new players are trying all classes. Seeing many players without a guild tag backs this up, most alts are tagged to the mains guild since players want to keep in contact with their guild mates on an alt. Open RvR is also fun in T1, especially the Empire/Chaos pairing, which always has something going on. The simplified combat due to the lower level characters is a nice break from T4.

 

Overall we are really enjoying our second trip through WAR. The Choppa is a great class, allowing you to morph between a semi-tough melee guy and a glass cannon of death. The Black Orc of course is a nice compliment, being able to taunt away mobs and draw fire in PvP. More as we progress.


DarkFall PvE screenshots

March 29, 2009

While DarkFall is a PvP game first and foremost, even our very PvP-focused guild is not out ganking 24/7.  A few of our members were exploring recently, and found a new dungeon we had not seen before. Gathering a group of 10, we set out to bash some Orcs.  The dungeon is rather difficulty, as the orcs have a ton of HP (hence all the blood) and hit like trucks. Even while blocking with a shield, you still take 4-5 point of damage (normally you take zero). They drop rank 30 and 40 weapons, lots of gold/gems, and have a chance to drop a chest key worth 4000 gold and magic items, making the trip very worthwhile.

The surround and pound tactic

The surround and pound tactic

 

Since the mobs don’t just stand still and let you beat on them, boxing them in is key. In the shot above, we try and hold more than one orc, and use the wall to help form the box.

Wonder how well blood washes out of scale?

Wonder how well blood washes out of scale?

Here you see that arrows stick to mobs and players, mobs with lots of HP tend to shed a lot of blood, and once again we try to form a box to trap the orcs. The actual formation of the box is also important, since you want to avoid friendly fire as much as possible. Hits in the back do extra damage, and those are the most likely to happen when you miss an orc and hit the guy next to you. Also, should anyone be killed, a hit in the back has a higher chance of insta-death rather than the player being knocked down, so again formation is important.

Stories of ganking noobs told round a campfire

Stories of ganking noobs told round a campfire

 Loaded up with loot, we recall back home. One final note: We used a master looter system in the dungeon, although DF has nothing built-in to actually support this.  However, since unlike in most MMOs, anyone is able to loot a corpse, it was easy enough to elect one member to loot and skin the mobs, while everyone else was able to focus on combat. Not only did this make splitting the loot at the end much easier, it also let everyone focus on combat instead of chasing tombstones and taking shots in the back. Had we been attacked by other players, it would also have been easier for that one player to run away while the rest of us bought him time (assuming it was a situation we knew we were going to lose). It’s small details like this that continue to reinforce the idea that the best MMO rules are the ones the players make, not the designers. Sure you deal with the starting area goblins being occasionally looted from you by another noob, but I’ll take that over a built-in master looter system that costs you an epic by error any day.


Guess what this post is about? (hint: tourists)

March 27, 2009

A day after unsuccessfully going with “Without WoW WAR would not have sold 300,000 copies” and claiming that WoW tourists are actually good for the industry, Tobold today decides to go the “WoW is just that much better” route to justify WoW tourists. What form of denial will day three bring?

The very idea that WoW is so many times better than a game like LotRO or WAR, and hence the reason it has 11 million subs is of course laughable. All three games are good at what they do, and all three have glaring weaknesses when compared to each other. How does WoW’s use of lore to aid the story stack up to LotRO? How does LotROs PvP stack up to WAR? How does WARs questing stack up to WoW? If great DX10 graphics are important to you, clearly you have one choice out of the three. If you only want to solo and have a toaster for a computer, you have a clear choice, as you do if you value PvP over PvE, or are just someone who is particularly attracted to one of the three IPs above.

The point is, WoW is not in a class of it’s own in the MMO genre in terms of design, execution, or features, just like the Big Mac is not in a class of its own when compared to the Whooper or Wendy’s Classic. The only thing separating WoW from the rest of the MMO genre is that the game has 11 million subs, and everyone else has 500k or less. WoW has a lot going for it, and at its base is a very fun game, but so are LotRO and WAR. The major AAA titles all offer something unique in the space, and they all have their issues along with their strengths. Their also rather similar in many regards; they are all themepark games, are all relatively ‘easy’, they are all fantasy, etc etc. Unless you truly believe Blizzard found the magic formula of design, and their strengths are above and beyond important, with their weaknesses being all non-factors (despite some of those weaknesses being used as factors for other games as well, ie class balance), something just does not add up if we try to compare the games on gameplay alone and try to justify sales/subscription numbers that way.

So when you read about 700k people leaving WAR after the first month, it’s a bit foolish to think they all left because WAR was that bad, and WoW was that good. If WAR was flawless at launch, someone who wants to only PvE would still have found WoW to be a better game. Even flawless, someone looking for better graphics would still not be impressed with WAR. And even flawless, someone with a toaster would still not find WAR acceptable. If you are allergic to other players affecting your online experience, WAR could have launched without a single flaw and still turned you off.

In a normal market, all of the above is par for the course, people don’t always know exactly what they are buying (unless you are someone who believes the masses are overall intelligent, which I would then suggest you look at how many people still believe Obama is a Muslim, or that Sarah Palin is just misquoted by the media). The WoW tourist problem comes into effect because of said 11 million players. When 5% of the WoW population decides to try WAR because they think it’s going to be like WoW but better, you get problems. WAR is not like WoW but better, it’s like WAR. It’s RvR focused, has the engine to support that, and makes PvE sacrifices to keep the RvR solid, all acceptable trade-offs for the audience the game is aiming for. If you want a more refined history of that kind of development, look at how EVE Online is balanced and designed.

The WoW tourist population also brings other problems. For most of them, WoW was their first (and likely only serious) MMO. We all know the first love syndrome with an MMO and how it affects our judgment of other games, but for those who have played enough MMOs to understand the genre, we have had time to get over that and for the most part can look at each game on its own merits, rather than how it compares to our first. Related to that, most WoW tourists did not even play WoW at launch, but jumped on at a later (and more refined) time. Now you add in the first love aspect to the expectation that all MMOs look like WoW did to them for the first time in 2005-2008. No matter what new MMO game launches, it’s not going to meet those expectations, and hence will suffer the WoW tourist effect. The year being 2009 and not 2004 does not change the fact that MMOs are complicated pieces of software, relying in large part to the great unknown of how players will interact with them. Until the day a flawless MMO launches and perfectly predicts player behavior and trends day 1, using the tired line of “they launched too early” for every new MMO makes you look foolish (which is not to say some MMOs DID launch too early, but that’s an entirely different topic). Perhaps when Blizzard launches their next MMO and has all the similar launch issues all other MMOs (including their own) had, we can finally stop beating that dead horse.

And don’t be surprised when that next MMO from Blizzard fails to attract 11 million players, even though it will likely be a ‘better’ game. Perhaps then we can finally stop using 11 million as the size of the MMO genre, and realize WoW (along with being a good game) was a product of market timing and luck. Until then though, we can continue the debate while dealing with the tourists.


Taking the Crusade of the Miserable on tour

March 26, 2009

In an effort to bring our Crusade of the Miserable to distant lands, six Inquisition members set out last night on a trip across the world to visit the humans. No one in our group had ever gone that far out, and we more or less assumed we were going on a death march, but ended up actually having a good bit of success.

Riding from the north-west corner of the main continent, we more or less rode in a straight line to the human capital, crossing perhaps 80% of the main land mass west to east, which took us close to an hour mounted. Along the way we ran across various interesting mob camps (Obsidian Golems, some mutant wolf things, undead, various goblin camps), and we also crossed the very center of the map (the big black space). A giant crater is located at the VERY center of the map, and at the bottom a rather large (even from our distance) dragon makes his patrol route. We got just close enough to draw agro and see the beast start towards us. Not wanting our little adventure to end early, we turned and ran like little girls. Perhaps a future guild trip might be in order, but I doubt our little six man group would have done much. That black center does have a very cool ‘evil’ feel to it, like something just went horribly wrong and now the land and everything around it is suffering. The fact that a mob could kill your mount and then you if it gets the jump on you also helps with the whole dread thing.

Once we got to the other side, and started making our way closer to human civilization, we got a bit more serious and started looking for victims. One always-reliable source is the starting area goblin spawns. Easy to kill and control, the goblin spots are almost always a hotspot for activity in any starting area. As we rode closer, the familiar sounds of combat could be heard, and we crept up to have a look.

The camp itself was down a cliff from our location, with two humans fighting some goblins in a walled fort. We were literally in the perfect spot, as we were overlooking the fighting while those below us had no clue we were watching. In a coordinated effort, all six of us dropped down around the two humans and started hacking. They split and ran into the water nearby, and we made the choice to stick together and follow one rather than split up in unfamiliar territory. Not knowing the location of guard towers can result in a quick death. After a short chase, the human went down and the looting began. In a brief bit of comedy, our victim simply asked “why” in public chat. Various answers were offered, but the fact that the guy had a loaded backpack of loot was answer enough.

Welcome to DarkFall little buddy, see you again real soon.


Playing in our sandbox

March 25, 2009

Take a short break from the MMO martyr Crusade of the Miserable, Inquisition decided to play around in our DarkFall sandbox and just have some fun. (don’t worry, we were calling everyone the N word and talking non-stop about how WoW sucks while doing so, we have street cred to maintain!)

The origin of this fun was somewhat unexpected and random. We built scaffolding in our guilds hamlet (it was cheap, so we figured why not), which to our surprise created a two story wooden skeletal structure in the middle of our town. On it’s own it does little to nothing for our towns ‘power’ or ‘stats’.  Since the thing was screaming at us “American Gladiators”, we decided to have a little naked newb-weapon only combat tournament. The rules were rather simple: four people start at the top level, last one standing wins the round. If you miss a jump or just run off and hit the ground, you are out. Magic was limited to non-regent spells.

Going against all rules of a ‘polished’ MMO, level/gear/time was not a factor here, and everyone was more or less at the same power level; winning came down to good PvP skill and getting a little lucky with how many people decided to beat on you. As the four combatants were going at it, the rest of the guild sat on top of our hamlet merchant tent and watched while cheering on vent. After four preliminary rounds, we had a final with the four winners, and from my perspective it was clear the final four were some of our top PvP guys. It’s always fun to watch people at the top of their craft, and it’s a great way to learn how to get better.

The ladder tourney winner, Raw Dawg

The ladder tourney winner, Raw Dawg

After the winner (Grats Raw Dawg) was announced (and subsequently killed by “someone” firing a mana missile at them while they cheered), we had a mass free-for-all. Grats to Rajow Clawed for winning that in a very close finish.

Once the dust had settled,  I came up with another “American Gladiators” style game, dodge the mana missile. Everyone from the guild got on the wooden structure or surrounding wall, one person stood in the middle, and the game was to see how long they would survive with everyone shooting mana missiles at them. The first contestant lasted a grand total of 9 seconds, lit up in a hail of glowing blue spheres. Later contestants lasted longer, as people worked on juke moves and figured out that parrying with a shield actually helped a little. No one survived long enough to have all the shooters run out of mana (I came close, but at that time we had less shooters, so it was not exactly a fair comparison)

View of the contestant in our mana missile game

View of the contestant in our mana missile game

All pointless stuff, but amazingly fun and great for our guild community. We then proceeded to gear up and go gank some elves down south, as we had spent far too much time away from our Crusade of the Miserable. The ganking went well; soloers and small groups died, we ran into some allies, had a few staring contests with enemy groups, and everyone came out alive and mounted.

A sample of the mana missile barrage

A sample of the mana missile barrage


A final trip into the mind of a WoW tourist

March 24, 2009

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these posts, but I always have fun with them. This should (but won’t) also conclude the whole “who is a WoW tourist” thing. Once again this comes from WoW tourist representative Ixobelle (I elected you, congrats)

There’s a lot of people on the fence about Darkfall, and even more willing to play it just because it isn’t WoW. I think this is an unexplored genre in the MMO department that needs to be fully tapped. If you could make a game cheaply enough, with few enough people on the dev team to just implement a character creator and maybe one town and one dungeon, you could probably sell a few hundred thousand copies of the box alone to the ‘at least it’s not WoW demographic’. You wouldn’t even need to set up a billing department, since no one would actually SUBSCRIBE to your game, they’d just buy the box, spend a week with it, then move back to whatever they were playing before.

This is a different take on the WoW tourist population. It’s actually not a bad idea really, as I’m sure enough of the tourists WOULD drop $50 on something if you made it seem WoW-enough to get there attention (hell you get it from them even when you outright tell them to stay away). It’s amazing that no one has thought of this before, to make shovelware games and sell them cheaply at a store like Walmart. Man, I bet you could make a fortune on that, right THQ? In other news, the internet is coming, is your 14.4 ready?

Darkfall and Age of Conan fit that description perfectly, and Warhammer got maybe one month out of me.

Yes, all three of the games above are just shovelware, that brought nothing new to the genre, and their sole business plan was based around how many WoW tourists they could fool to sign up. They ‘failed’ because the silly devs could not figure out how to make their game WoW-enough to lure away all those true MMO gamers.

LotRO is probably the only other game I really respect out of the ‘non-WoW’ batch of MMOs I’ve played (but I never subscribed to LotRO, so there you go), and I have yet to actually even make it to the character creator in Coh/CoV. I signed up for a trial, and the downloader was so fucking slow that my free trial ran out before I ever actually got the game installed. Don’t even get me started on EVE. Hoo boy.

No please, do elaborate on EVE, it would be priceless. Warning though, the game does not contain NPCs with ! in bright yellow, so right off the bat it’s not as ‘polished’ as WoW. LoTRO thanks you for your respect, all 10 days or less of it. I am curious though what exactly you are looking for in an MMO if LoTRO was not WoW-enough for you?

Dear industry, please see exibit A above as to why WoW player != MMO player. Adjust budgets/expectations accordingly, or just wait for the current fad to pass.

People in Darkfall are doing the same thing I saw people doing in AoC, and it won’t be the last time I see people do this. They’re punishing themselves, and forcing themselves to play a sub par game, BUT AT LEAST THEY AREN’T PLAYING WOW. They repeat this mantra over and over on the game’s official forums, in the game’s public chat channels, and somehow decide this makes it all worth while.

I’m glad the WoW tourists have such a deep understanding of the MMO genre. Anyone not playing WoW is clearly just punishing themselves. Why in the world would I do anything described in the post below when I could be experiencing the utter joy of grinding dailies, afk-rep grinding a BG, or ‘raiding’ Nax while watching TV? BECAUSE I LOVE THE PAIN! I can’t think of anything better to do with my free time then log into a not-WoW MMO and just SUFFER through its content, because I’m gaining the all-important Interwebz rep! Look at me, I play DarkFall only because it’s not WoW, do you respect me yet?

Dear Industry, consider exhibit B above when designing future products, and just clone WoW so we don’t have to SUFFER through any form of innovation or change in the MMO genre. Clearly WoW is little baby Jesus for all mankind, lets not mess with perfection.

It won’t be a shocking revelation to anyone who reads this blog with any regularity, when I say I’m going back to WoW, because WoW doesn’t really bother me. :)

But it might come as a shocking revelation when I say please stay in WoW, and don’t venture back out. The genre thanks you for not flooding servers or posting “more like WoW” idiocy on forums. You do bother us :) (but the smiley makes it ok)

Insert rambling about how the Jews were so silly and could have avoided the Holocaust if they had just lied to the Nazi’s and said “nope, I’m not a Jew”.

ANYWAY, this all had a point, and here it is!

Oh but you have already made so many brilliant points already, solving the Holocaust and all, how could you possibly enlighten us any more?

Why suffer through BAD MMOs, for the sake of upholding your MMO MORALS?

Interwebz blogger street cred yo!

Every time I try a new MMO, I come into it with an open mind.

HAHAHAHAHA… oh wait you are serious about that? Please, continue.

There’s no magical force keeping me bound to WoW, and if I ever find a game that’s better, I’ll happily abandon WoW and move on. It’s just that, so far, there hasn’t been any game that’s horribly compelling. Darkfall (which is what this post started abaout, before it entered the Jesus Double Agent realm) is just not a good game. The combat is horrifically shallow, the supposed “freedom of being a PK” is flawed, and the game has very little going for it.

Allow me to translate this WoW tourist talk into something a MMO player understands. DarkFall was not WoW-enough for me. The mobs/players did not stand still and allow me to spam 2-3-4-2-3-4 until they burst with epix, and hence I find the combat ‘shallow’. Please add depth by removing the skill factor, and re-introduce item/level dependency. Being a PK was also too hard, yet at the same time only played by stupid 13yr olds. Somehow my personal vision of being a badass did not work out, and players held me accountable for my actions, therefore ruining my fun. Just because this is an MMO does not mean I want to interact with others!

I can’t really comment on “the game has very little going for it”, as I’ve only played for a few weeks now, which is nothing compared to the depth Ixobelle dove into. I’m assuming everything I wrote in the post below though is still before I get to that ‘very little going for it’ part. Maybe I’m not at that level or zone yet?

By removing classes, they just lump EVERYONE into the same mold. Everyone uses polearms and trains earth magic. Every single person shoots arrows at you from a distance, and wears plate.

Where to start… Dear Ixobelle, how many sets of plate did you acquire in DF? It should have been easy, what with EVERYONE running around in plate at all times. I’m also confused why my guild mates trained in non-earth magic, I’ll inform them of the mistake and have them respec to fit the current FOTM build. While I’m at it, I’ll also ask them to only shoot arrows at people point blank, rather than from a distance. I’ll also delete my own character now, as clearly my sword/board built is ‘wrong’. I’ll be sure to pass this along to the DF community, as I’ve noticed a large amount of players who missed the FOTM memo you got. Or I guess we will just continue as is, it means we are suffering more, so we get more interwebz cred, right?

The ‘big dangerous world’ mechanic is totally ruined when they have mining and timber resources located inside city walls. People aren’t dicouraged from macroing to upgrade certain skills, as long as they’re physically present at the keyboard while they do so. So people watch reruns of Frasier in a window while they pew pew pew their wand straight into the sky, thereby ‘leveling their magic’.

Because you know, they need to reach max level so they can start playing the awesome end-game in DarkFall. Odd that the ‘big dangerous world’ mechanic is TOTALLY ruined and yet you had so much trouble with it. Again, which one is it, too hard or too easy? (The skill system has issues, as I’ve written about, but connecting that with the world not being big or dangerous is dumbfounding, not to mention town resources have already been fixed, much to the dismay of the remaining tourists)

Darkfall, from what I saw, had exactly three things going for it:

Fear of death. The ability to wear armor you find (no “I’m only able to wear cloth”). One character per server.

Two of those even have downsides: Everyone wears plate

Yes, because plate rains from the sky and as soon as you lose a set, you just magically shit out another one. Even if you just outright suck at the game and get yourself killed to no end, you still just squat and shit out some plate. Exactly, and this goes RIGHT along with the fear of death. Everyone fears death so much, because the endless rain of plate, arrows, and polearms only comes around once a day…

and you can’t enagage in different playstyles to match your mood. Sometimes I want to DPS, sometimes I want to heal.

Sometimes I want to play a druid, sometimes I want to play a rogue. WoW -> that way.

I guess you *could* do that in Darkfall, but it’d be like having a druid specced 24-23-24. Sometimes I want to go 51+ points deep into a tree, and to do that (and subsequently undo that) takes way too much time. Some people love locking themselves into that one distinct playstyle, but I play these games to HAVE FUN. Darkfall isn’t very fun.

No no no, we play DarkFall to SUFFER, remember? I love being locked into only being able to wear all armor, use all weapons, and the ability to pick which magic schools to skill up regardless of any other choices. If only I had the freedom to play something as unique as a healbot Pali, loved by my guild for my leet spamming of a single ability in all raids. Sure I lost my raid spot when I said I wanted to DPS, but man, I love being able to do subpar (or is it OP this month?) DPS against afk players in a battleground, or Wintergrasp when they reenable it!

That’s what it always comes back to for me, and I feel like enough people are familiar enough with my stance on it. The more I spout it, the more I just feel like I’m just typing the same post over and over again.

Yes, next time an MMO is released, all you need to write is “I tried X, it was not WoW, everyone playing it are a bunch of suffering idiots, and I’m back to happily farming gear/rep/tokens/rainbows.”

I won’t suffer through a game that isn’t fun, and at this point WoW is still much more fun than Darkfall. This doesn’t make me a WoW fanfoi, it makes me a FuN fanboi. I just don’t care to punish myself in my liesure time, so sue me.

Not only are you not a WoW fanfoi, or even a FuN fanboi, you’re just a WoW tourist. So again, please don’t flood the servers the first month of launch and the forums the week after you ragequit. Just stay in candyland, enjoy the rides, and move on to the next fad when it hits. The MMO genre thanks you.

Now the bonus section, comments from the WoW tourist peanut gallery!

Kyir said:

I’m always going to be playing WoW if any MMO just because I’ve always figured I shouldn’t mess with what I’m good at.

Of course, it’s not that hard to be good at WoW, but whatever,

Thank you Kyir, if only more WoW players followed your example. Be like Kyir people!

Tragedyx said…

People hate WoW for one of three reasons: They’re bad at it, or they hate what it has become, or they’ve lost a friend and/or family member and/or all of their friends and family as a result of it. Then they go all emo rage and play terrible games because of it. I don’t bash WoW and play other games to spite it. I actually see my nephews playing and am happy they enjoy it. I just don’t find that same sense of satisfaction anymore.

@HP – If you’re a girl, good for you that you’re actually spending time with your b/f by doing something he enjoys. There aren’t enough female gamers because most women take everything for granted and expect shit to be handed to them. If you’re a guy and you have a b/f…um…hrm. Awkward.

The gays, so awkward…

Also, if you’re bad at WoW, I would suggest putting the padded helmet back on, clearly you can’t afford any more damage. Stick to tic-tac-toe. This is news to me that WoW actually kills your family/friends. It must be a really awesome game to still have 11 million subs if it can replace all the deceased players. But at least I got out in time, had my emo rage quit moment (I took my guild with me too!), and now I get to play terrible games all day!

Random Poster said…

@the WoW hate specifically

I think a lot of the “blogosphere” thinks it somehow builds their credibility if they start screaming “WoW sucks I hate it now…even though I played it for 4 years” because it makes them “cool” because they aren’t following the crowd. It’s the same thing you see with teenagers and the various cliques that form in school. “Yeah man I am so anti establishment look at me look at me look at me”.

Yes, I blog to be considered ‘cool’ amount people who read blogs. Please accept me into your secret society!

Syncaine is a good example of this to me. I used to enjoy the blog he writes but lately he has gone beyond disagreeing voiceferously with people over how much WoW sucks to immediately going into “OMG you don’t like Darkfall you fucking Newb die iun a fucking fire with your whole family while I piss on your corpse” and throwing out insults. It IMO undermines any point he is trying to get across as it makes him appear juvenille. His choice obviously.

I’m guessing this post won’t convince you to come back then huh? Now who will fill the void left behind by Random Poster? At least in his/her place, I can put all the street cred this post will earn me!

Bonedead said…

Something beyond a one liner…

Clearly someone hacked into Bonedead’s account. We here are not fooled however, as we know all about the man with the one-line comments!

Tesh said…

You’ll see this a lot in those who trash WoW after “falling out of love” with it. Instead of just realizing that they themselves have changed and moving on, they try to demonize their spurned love. That way, it’s not their fault, it’s someone else’s. (And it’s funny to assume there’s any fault at all, come to think of it. Sometimes it’s OK to have different preferences from someone else.)

There’s also the “street cred” psychology. Someone who wants to build their reputation might do so by taking a stance “against” rather than “for”. It’s easy; just look at political grandstanding. Standing for something is much more difficult, you have to intelligently articulate a position and defend it well. (It’s easier to be a Player Killer than a Pacifist?)

Running a slight tangent, that sort of street cred thing extends to those who see being at the level cap in Tier 8 armor as a badge of personal worth. Who cares? It’s a game, either you’re having fun or you’re not. (This also extends to any time that people complain about how *other* people play. This is seen in anything from the “you’re not specced properly” to “RMT is devil spawn”.)

Of course, for some people, life isn’t fun unless they are trying to make someone else miserable. For those people, they have Darkfall.

Dear lost love WoW, please take me back into your rep-grinding arms, and allow me to lay in your daily-grind bosom. I’m so tired of suffering while playing DarkFall, and long for your recycled  ezmod Nax content. I also miss your bastardized lore, your failure to balance classes after all these years, and lastly, your amazing use of neon colors. Take me back, please? Oh, and I want my ‘street cred’ too, yo!

Bonedead said…

More hacked account Bonedead posting…

And now he is making sense and bringing up good points. Come on buddy, if you are going to try and be an imposter, do your homework!

oshin said…

Spot on about the whole “omg dis is so much better dan wow guysh” spam every new wannabe mmo is spammed with.

Its funny how one sided the mmo market truly is at the moment, are blizzard really the only ones who can make a decent mmo, or is nobody really trying ?

So WoW is the true MMO, and the rest are wannabes? And yes, the ‘MMO’ market is truly one sided, with 11 million people playing for fun, and the rest of us idiots suffering to prove a point. But damnit, eventually our suffering will bear fruit, and we will get WoW 2 from the only company still trying!

Random poster said…

@bonedead

“What would happen if I went onto a WoW server and started saying this game needs player cities and full loot and close down the BGs because Darkfall does it? The same thing that syncaine is saying except probably at least 5 times more juvenile because we all know regional chat in WoW is pretty friggin stupid”

I think you would get a fair amount of agreement actually at least on the Player Housing. But yeah you’d get a lot of the same asshattedness Syn is spouting..it doesn’t make it any better that he is doing it. The people who resort to that in WoW tend ot be ignored. When you are trying to make a point or have a discussion actually stating those points without devolving in to personal insults is much more effective.

It is his blog and he can post whatever he wants but as I said it’s made me not like it all that much anymore. Does me not liking the style in anyway effect him, no but hey I can have my opinion to :P

It makes my ‘asshattedness’ better because I’m suffering while MMO gaming, and you are just having fun carebear. Not to mention my niche voice easily overpowers the voice of those 11 million players, so it’s really a non-issue. It’s not like if 1% of WoW players try something and then spam a forum that it’s not WoW is noticeable, while when 1% of all other MMO players bitch about WoW they are drastically changing WoW with their overwhelming spam on the WoW forums. Glad we cleared that up!

Hatch said…

Examples of things that are “toil” rather than “challenging”:

1) Having to walk everywhere (no hearthstone or mount)
2) No mail system
3) Having to use chat to do trading that could be done more conveniently on an AH
4) A shitty interface that gives no information and little flexibility
5) Overly harsh death penalties

Stay in WoW and never leave, PLEASE! The above is enough content to fill an entire blog for months.

Ixobelle said…

“If you want people to be more afraid of death and make it mean something, why not implement it in such a way that you gain renown when you win fights and lose it when you die, or by some other risk/reward mechanic. Being completely disabled every time you rez means that players can no longer have meaningful, interesting challenge (they can’t participate in any actual battles), and instead are dropped into a toiling mini-game of getting back to their corpse. Punish them for losses another way, while still letting them participate in the real game.”

agh, hatch! nail. head. hit. pow.

THIS sums up why I prefer WoW, I think, more elegantly than my ramblings could have. The INSTANT you die in Darkfall you become worhtless. Imagine a city siege with 40 on 40.

5 minutes into the siege, half the people are going to be running around naked. They won’t ‘go home’, they’ll just continue to throw themselves on your sword over and over wearing underwear and weilding a level 1 grey sword.

how is that fun for ANYONE but the person that still has their armor on? and how does that persom still have their armor on, except by sheer luck that they weren’t chosen by the zerg?

In the above example, you could argue ‘well, I took up a defensive position on the ramparts, and blah blah blah’, but nobody PLAYS these games like that. It’s a zerg. period. If 20 naked people jump on you with underwear and level 1 swords, you will eventually die.

Or instead of playing in the land of make believe, you could actually come to a city siege (you don’t even have to hit max level and gear up before you can come!) and see what it’s like. Players surviving a siege are just as lucky as poker pros who somehow manage to finish higher on average than regular players. It’s not skill, they just get lucky more often, right? Plus plate armor rains from the sky, so why worry? Oh, and can you please tell the defending guild in the last city siege that no one plays by taking up a defensive position, and to just come out and die randomly? It would have made our job as a zerg so much easier…

Also, the first part is another awesome example of “this does not work, and I don’t know a solution, but clearly ANYTHING would be better than this”. That’s grade A game design buddy.

Ixobelle said…

bringing it back to darkfall (which was what this post began as), I guess they play gritty ghetto ball. an elbow in the face is just part of the game, and nobody at Rucker Park in Manhattan is going to call a timeout for a foul, they just play differently.

I guess I’m a bitch, because I prefer the WoW ruleset. it’s not *better*, just different… and the one I prefer. : /

How does the above line up with the whole “if you don’t play WoW you are just playing MMOs to suffer” reasoning? And because a league decides to move beyond “we don’t keep score, everyone is a winner in our mind”, that somehow makes it ghetto gritty? I hate to tell you, some people do things in life because they enjoy a challenge, whether at work or on their off time. Those same people might not like 11 million tourists yelling at the league to stop keeping score and start handing out neon ribbons, even though they know they won’t sign up for the league anyway.

(The above is intended to be over the top.  I don’t have anything personal against Ixobelle, your writting just sums up the general feelings of most WoW tourists and makes a good example. Plus this is what happens when you find an increased amount of time at work to blog (new job in two weeks))


What playing way too much DarkFall gets you.

March 23, 2009

Things change quickly in DarkFall, on both a personal scale and on the grand political scale. With the game still in its infancy, everyone is scrambling to establish and maintain alliances, and guilds that were allies just hours ago are now enemies and vice versa. I’m guessing things will settle down eventually, but right now it’s a shitshow. The biggest fear everyone has overall is the establishment of two mega-alliances, and that basically being it. Given the number of guilds and egos however, it’s tough to see this happening, especially considering the size of the world. Who would want to travel two hours or more to maybe defend a city/hamlet with some guild you never interact with? Hopefully just the sheer size of the map will naturally separate guilds and alliances, we will see.

On the personal side, this weekend was highly entertaining. On Saturday a group of five Inquisition members went out to hunt some trolls. The area is accompanied by a killcounter-style quest, where you have an hour to kill as many trolls as possible, with a higher payout the more you kill. The quest is repeatable, and you must kill at least 10 to get any pay. This trip was very successful, as we had just the right amount of firepower to kill the trolls as they spawned, and after an hour we all left with 400ish gold and random gear/regents.

Thinking to repeat our success on Sunday, with the quest money going to our hamlet fund, a group of nine went out to hunt again. This time, we ran across a few LoD members (a guild we are at war with), and as expected a fight broke out. While we had them outnumbered, our group contained some of our newer members and overall we lacked some of our key PvP leaders, and so the fighting went sour quickly. The difference in DarkFall PvP over other games is that the lack of giant red names above everyone’s head makes just finding your enemy tough, and when you throw in friendly fire, just having more people on your side does not guarantee victory. Actual PvP skill factors in heavily, and the guys we were facing were no joke.

After the scramble, we regrouped and went back a bit more organized. Running into LoD again, this time the fight went our way, and soon two of them lay dead and looted, the rest chased away. With the area cleared, and a friendly guild taking up one of the troll spawn spots, our group picked another and started killing. While we did not have the full hour to work with, we still managed to get the quest completed for a few members (I was at 9 kills, ugh). Just as the timer was running down, another enemy guild showed up and started raining arrows down at us while we were still engaged with a troll or two. Two of us went down, myself included (mass arrows by surprise hurt). I was picked up by a quick-thinking guild member, and full of loot, we called it and ran for our lives. Luckily the enemy did not pursue, and we regrouped back at the wilderness bank to sell and collect our rewards. Not a perfect trip by any means, but still overall fun and a good learning experience.

Later that day, while killing some dwarves with two other guild members, the two worst PKs in the world ran into us. Now I’m not sure what their plan was exactly, but they both came in on mounts and started attacking us (poorly). As we were very close to water, we jumped in, and sure enough the two followed us. Mounts travel at the same speed a player does in water, without the option of fast swimming at the cost of stamina or diving underwater. In other words, don’t enter water on a mount and try to fight. These guys must not have learned that lesson yet, so we happily taught it to them, killing one guys mount and then the other. Now at this point the tables had turned, and it was 3v2 with everyone on foot and basically all healthy. It also helped that the two PKs ran in different directions, making it easy for the three of us to focus on one and chase him down. After a few minutes of him burning stamina by swimming and diving (all while taking mana missiles to the back), he clearly ran out as the go on land and did not proceed to sprint away. As we still had some stam, we sprinted up to him and hacked him down. In somewhat of a surprise, the PK actually had some loot on him from other players he must have killed, including some ore, tools, and assorted gear, not to mention the banded set he himself was wearing. Come back any time you two, your donations are always appreciated.

To finish off, late Sunday night we organized another group trip to the men-at-arms dungeon I wrote about previously. Just as tough as I remembered it, it took us a few minutes to get ourselves established and in a good spot to kill the little humans. Once we got rolling, the tombstones started popping and the loot was flowing, men-at-arms drop some very nice banded and scale armor, along with solid rank 10 and 20 weapons. Skinning them also yielded a good amount of bone and other materials.

After close to an hour, we spotted another player across the room we were farming. Unguilded, poorly equipped, and alone, he did not pose much of a threat and made no move towards us. Which in any other game this would mean return to farming, in DarkFall anyone is a potential threat and must be taken as such. Crossing the room into the hallway our visitor had occupied, we heard fighting noises in the distance (sound is very important in DarkFall) and proceeded to investigate, as there was no way someone so poorly equipped and alone would be able to handle much of anything in this dungeon. Sure enough, we ran into two members of Lucid Visions (another enemy guild), and decided quickly that the best way to say hello is to chop them up. They made for rather easy pickings, as the hallway was tight and they were already engaged with some mobs. Attacked on both sides, they quickly dropped, and we looted them for some VERY nice stuff. My guess is they had been farming the dungeon for quite some time, as they had a good amount of gold and gear on them, not to mention the full scale set one was wearing. With those two kills we decided to end on a high note, as our bags were full of high-priced loot and it was getting late.

So yes, another great weekend in DarkFall. Lost some gear, gained more back, took part in a city siege (kinda but not really, long boring story, other than it was cool to see 200+ people on screen with the framerate still above 30+ with only shadows turned off), and overall had a great time with my guild.

For those keeping count, yes, I played a stupid amount of DarkFall over the weekend. That’s what not having kids and having a very cool and understanding fiancé does for you, I’m lucky and I know it. Be jealous! (somewhat inside joke, relax)


Quick DarkFall funny

March 21, 2009

DarkFall is being patched right now, so you get a weekend post. Thank DarkFall.

Found this on the forum:

Every patch without patch notes is a slap in the face of a paying customer.

DarkFall, too hardcore for patch notes.
PS: It’s actually a nice change of pace not having patch notes, leaves more to discover every patch. Plus spares us all the “zomg you nerfed me” crap.

Solo vs Group MMO design

March 20, 2009

If you’ve been keeping up with DarkFall impressions you might have noticed a trend. Solo players hate it; people in active guilds love it. If you are thinking of this breakdown in terms of a MMORPG, it’s not all that surprising; this is a massively MULTIPLAYER game after all. If you are thinking of it in post-WoW MMO land, you probably consider this bad game design.

The rise of the solo MMO player can’t be purely attributed to WoW, but when WoW is the first and only MMO for so many players, it’s hard not to make the connection. Clearly charging $15 for a single player game with a chat window and a yearly update is a solid business model, but it’s not one that necessarily caters to the more core MMORPG audience, and that audience is big enough to still support a profitable product. It won’t ever reach 11 million, but there is a huge difference between failure and 11 million. (And until another sub MMO comes close to that number, it’s an outlier rather than an indicator of the actual market size. When pop culture moves on to the next ‘it’ thing in gaming, are we really confident we will see multi-million sub MMO games?)

This is not to say a player must have ZERO solo options, as designing around the idea that all players always have an hour+ (or whatever time frame we want to use as long enough to group) is not wise. Again there is space between a single player game and the forced grouping of a game like EQ1 or FFXI. However, designing your game to allow a solo player to experience most, if not all of your content also hurts your game in a number of ways. First and foremost, it diminishes the value of the community, particularly guilds. If you can solo the entire time, you don’t need to rely on the community for anything, and therefore how the community perceives you is a non-factor. Consider the differences in an average WoW pug group and one in LoTRO. LoTRO offers a good amount of solo content, yet the best content is reserved for groups (book quests). Consider guild loyalty in WoW, where your guild is only as good as the last raid boss they took down, to a Corp in EVE. Players leave EVE corps for various reasons (sometimes in headline grabbing ways), but if you are in an Industrial corp with good people, you are not going to jump to another Industrial corp because they have access to shinier asteroids. Human behavior factors in at all times (your EVE corp might be jerks, or your WoW guild might be awesome people), but the effect game rules have on this structure is noticeable.

In our last DarkFall guild meeting, a large amount of time was spent talking about recruiting people to join the guild. The focus was not because we needed to fill some raid spots, but to generally increase the guilds presence and open up more options for everyone. The emphasis was placed on solid people, rather than their gear level or how many reputation bars they have maxed. Part of this is just the character of the guild leadership, but another aspect is that the game rules themselves allow us to bring in a fresh character and integrate them into our regular activities from day one. No gear-up process, no xp grind, no “you must be this tall to enter” barriers. If you are willing to listen, learn, and mix well with the culture of the guild, you will enjoy DarkFall with us. Solid camaraderie makes even brain-dead activities like harvesting a good time, and stuff like PvP raids an absolute blast. This ‘person first’ focus would be more difficult, if not impossible, under a more solo player focused game.

The over-simplified difference in game design is this: in a solo-friendly game, the barrier of entry is character-specific (level, gear, rep, etc). In a more group-focused game, the barrier is you must bring X number of players. The stronger your character, the lower you can drop that number, but rarely is a character excluded due to a lack of character growth. Content is gated according to the above rules. In WoW you can’t bring 100 level 5 character to a raid, while in DarkFall a single character won’t be successful regardless of time spent skilling/gearing up.

The mass market is currently clearly behind the solo-focus, while the original appeal of the MMO genre is based on group-focus. They also don’t mix very well; solo players don’t like forced grouping, and groups of players don’t like being separated by artificial in-game barriers. The ‘land of make believe’ answer is cater to both; the realistic answer is design for a specific group. If you have the budget, aim for the crowded mass market space. Otherwise, there are plenty of niche markets to fill.


Some DarkFall issues

March 19, 2009

DarkFall has been a very pleasant surprise so far, as I really was not expecting so many things to actually work right out of the gate, and the game to overall be so solid and fun. I was not expecting much from an indie dev launching their first MMO, and one as ambitious as DarkFall. With that said, not everything is perfect in DF land, and some things just seem silly.

For starters, skill inconsistency. You don’t get sword skill if you swing at nothing (good), yet you DO gain magic skill when you cast at nothing (bad). Allowing magic to work like this is just asking people to macro it, like they did in 1997 with UO. Just make it gain skill when you hit something (not yourself) with magic, and at least it will be a bit harder (and more noticeable) when people try to macro it. Along that same line, what is the point of the run, sprint, and swim skills? You gain points in those skills for… running, sprinting, or swimming, regardless of when you do it. What character is NOT going to have 100 run/sprint/swim at some point? Again all you are asking for with this is people to macro the two until they hit 100. Either make it so you only gain skill when using those skills in certain situations (tough to program perhaps), or just dump them. At least a skill like riding makes more sense, since going afk on a mount is asking to get ganked (mounts can be taken, and they are costly). I’m sure more examples exist, but the basic idea is the same. Don’t have skills that can be skilled up in an easy afk manner, and make it so that a player actually has to PLAY the game to get skill gains. I realize some macro program will make this more difficult, but currently it’s just too easy.

The alignment system: Why DarkFall allows you to get positive alignment is a bit confusing. Currently the system is a -100 to 100 system, and anything below 0 turns you into a murderer (red). What this means is that you can go fight the enemy races, build alignment up to 100, and then kill a whole bunch of same-race players without going red. That does not seem like it’s working as intended. Allow players to build up 1-2 free kills through alignment, sure, but not 100 points worth, that just encourages abusing the system. It’s good that players are always more wary of other races than their own, that gives the world some flavor, but allowing alignment to go so high into the positive range just goes against this setup.

City issues: Currently anyone can run into your city and damage your buildings if they have a siege hammer or other city attack weapon. They can do this outside of the official siege system, which creates specific attack and defend windows for both sides. Why can a city be burned down to the clan stone without the enemy ever actually declaring a siege? Especially since cities don’t have NPC defenders, or even a way to keep players outside the walls (DF does not allow you to close your city off from the outside afaik). Make the city immune to attack unless declare on, simple. And while we are fixing that, allow the owner of the city to determine who has access to the bank in the city. It’s a bit ridiculous right now that the enemy can enter your city naked and use your OWN bank to pull their gear out and start hacking away. Silly at best, gamebreaking at worse (and in DF, worse is the norm).

Player identification: Currently any player of your own race shows up blue to you, even if your guild is at war with that player’s particular guild. Since DF is all about guilds, it’s not uncommon to be at war or in bad standing with a slew of guilds, and it’s difficult to keep track of all the small randomly named guilds. The problem is that you CAN attack that player without an alignment hit, since you are at war with them, but the game still shows them as blue to you. Dumb. Negative standing, be it racial, guild, or personal, should always supersede other factors. If I can attack a player without an alignment hit for whatever reason, show them gray or red (if I’m at war), not blue.

Item rank inconsistency: Weapons have a rank characteristic, which is a basic indicator of its power. Rank 10 is better than rank 20, etc. Armor does not have a rank characteristic, so in order to determine if banded armor is better than chain, you have to compare all 10 or so defense stats. Same goes for shields, no rank characteristic. Why? Granted it just take a bit more time to compare the two, but if you give weapons a rank, why not armor/shields?

I’m sure there is a bunch more, but those are just some of the issues that jump out at me right now. On the plus side, the queue/lag issue has been temporarily fixed (until more tourists arrive anyway), so progress is being made. Now we will have to see how quickly Aventurine goes after more core issues. Hopefully they don’t patch at the breakneck pace of the market leader, or I’ll have to wait over a year and pay $35 more for basic additions.


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