Dear Trion: Entry #1

January 31, 2011

Dear Trion:,

Add a ‘quest item’ hotbar button to the default UI. Anytime I have an item that I need to use during a quest, it goes into that slot. Nothing else can be placed there. The slot should be located somewhere above or near the actual hotbar(s). Bonus points if the slot dynamically changes based on the proximity of a quest objective in the event that I have 2+ of such items. Also feel free to remove the quest item(s) from my bag and store them someplace else, since I don’t find quest items cluttering my inventory ‘interesting gameplay’.


Sightless! Play your Blood Bowl game

January 30, 2011

Yes, it has come to this, using the blog to get at people. Don’t push me internet!

Here is the forum thread man, make sure to sign up and post as we get a ton of spam accounts and we clear them unless they have a legit post.


Crafting sucks

January 28, 2011

I think I spend a good hour or more last night getting the water entrance to my new structure in Minecraft ‘just right’. That activity involved placing and deleting dirt squares repeatedly. Finally it’s now a waterfall that only has water falling down, rather than down and under into the ‘secret’ passageway behind it. :Achievement!:

This was, of course, after I cleared half the Sahara digging up sand to turn into sandstone for the middle layer. Plus I needed to bake lots of cobblestone into stone, because, well, you can’t have things not looking right, right? Sure cobblestone and stone do the same thing, and the only real difference is that cobblestone is more white/gray/black specs while stone is just mostly gray, but listen, the gray looks better, so that’s how it was built!

Which brings me to the point of today’s posts: ‘fun’ crafting has nothing to do with the actual activity required to craft something, but is all about the WHAT and WHY of crafting. That’s why 99% of MMO crafting sucks. The ‘what’ is my 1000th pair of chain pants to grind up smithing, and the ‘why’ is because I need the skill at the cap to make that one epic I’ll actually find useful (until the next raid that replaces it, if not the raid last week that already replaced it, oops). No amount of ‘mini-games’ is going to make that fun, because if I actually want to play a mini-game, I’ve got a Wii, and it does that type of gameplay far better than an MMO. And no Wii mini-game is fun after the 1000th time anyway, so yea.

And it’s not like WHAT and WHY has never been done well in an MMO. Crafting the 1000th pair of chain pants in UO was fun. Why? Because I had a vendor to sell them on, and by keeping my vendor well stocked and with reasonable (but still very profitable) prices, I developed a reputation and had repeat customers. A few of those repeat customers then became friends through the somewhat ‘natural’ interaction of me being around the house and them visiting it. My characters FULL TIME activity in UO was crafting and gathering at one point, and it was thrilling. UO had click and wait crafting.

Minecraft is much the same, although less ‘massive’. The crafting is still very simple ‘drop it into this, pull out that’ stuff, and the gathering is ‘mash left-click x1000000’. Yet the gathering is fun thanks to the huge random world, and the crafting works because you not only set the purpose, but also directly see the results. I don’t start by baking sand to allow myself to finally reach gold-smelting. If Minecraft was a ‘tradition’ MMO, $10 says smelting iron/gold would be an ‘end-game’ activity you skilled-up to reach. That sounds incredibly stupid, but that’s how a lot of MMO design works, and that’s why 99% of crafting sucks.


Non-factors raging again? Good thing we can easily replace them!

January 27, 2011

I don’t always agree with Tobold, as we generally approach MMO games from two very different viewpoints, along with having different writing styles, but I’m in total agreement with the basis for this post and the ones before it, and can’t help but laugh at all the people disagreeing and frothing with rage.

Whenever I’m playing a themepark MMO, I’m always playing either the tank or the healer (usually the tank). The reason? Because I know I’m better than the ‘average’ themepark player, and rather than ‘waste’ that skill on a simple and replaceable role (dps), I’m much better off playing something critical. Lets face it, most instances can be beaten with a good tank and healer, plus whatever filler dps you find, and a super-star dps player won’t do much if the tank or healer can’t do their job.

Just a few days ago my buddies and I were talking about our old WoW raiding days, and how much better things would have gone if one of our friends has played a priest rather than a mage, as his talent was under-utilized in the easily replaceable and somewhat non-impact DPS role. Furthermore, while I remember our standout tanks (me basically) and healers, I’m having trouble remembering who topped the dps charts, or who played any kind of critical dps role. Actually, the only thing I do remember about DPS is wondering how some of them were so inferior to our better guys, given that everyone had similar gear. But that inferiority meant nothing more than clearing a raid a bit slower, while if we had our sub-par healers on, it usually meant not making much progress (I was the MT, so, you know, that area was always solid, unless I let one of my underlings try and MT, much to the chagrin of everyone else in the raid). Furthermore, while we often kicked dps players who were terribly, you had to be a complete and utter mutant to be kicked if you played a healer.

I think that is why people are so up in arms about what Tobold wrote; because the average dps player switching to a vital role would expose them. It’s easy to go unnoticed as a slightly below average rogue/mage/hunter, but play poorly as a tank or healer, and everyone sees it. If you are in even a semi-competitive guild, that might mean getting kicked, or at least not being selected for a raid. And not only can dps ‘hide’ their skills, but generally the bar is set lower for them to perform anyway. Generally dps roles don’t position raid bosses, they generally don’t have to worry about burst damage or sustained healing, or theory-crafting out how to handle the next encounter. Nope, they show up, mash 1-2-3-2, and at most worrying not to mash too fast to grab agro (and the bad ones do that anyway, which a good tank will overplay to make up for them). Of course there are examples were dps does more , but is it any surprise that generally, those bosses are considered the tough ones?

So while it’s amusing to watch reply after replay, post after post, talking about ‘player freedom’ or how this is Blizzard’s fault (ignoring the fact that this setup existed long before WoW launched…) and all that nonsense, I think a large kernel of truth lies in the fact that, when you really break it down, the ‘average’ player is scared to play a vital role and expose or challenge themselves. Playing a role that requires 100% attention is ‘work’, and “it’s just a game”. One which you sit for 30 minutes in a queue for to avoid getting noticed.


Quick notes from Rift beta 5

January 26, 2011

Aria and I put in some time with the Rift 5 beta last night and enjoyed ourselves. The Guardian starting area is IMO much better than that of the Defiant in terms of feeling MMO-ish rather than super on-rails. After the initial hour or so it won’t matter, but as a first impression the Guardian zone does a nice job of pulling you into the conflict while also playing somewhat like a traditional themepark MMO zone. I still think that’s the market for Rift; the people who really enjoy a more zone-like free-form MMO, rather than the step-by-step handholding that is the latest trend.

I’m playing a cleric this time, and I like that the different souls all play more like a warrior priest from WAR than a robed wimp who does nothing but heal like in WoW. I also like how each of the souls is clearly defined in terms of healing style (AoE, HoT, Single Target burst, etc) and fighting style (ranged, melee). It makes selecting what you want initially a bit easier/faster, while still allowing you to switch things up later thanks to the respecs. It only takes reading a few short descriptions to make that melee-driven, buff-wielding, HoT-healing character you believe will duo well. And since I know I can respec, I’m not pouring over very tree making sure I don’t ‘do it wrong’ and get something that’s either gimped or not fun to play. Again it’s a small detail, but so far Rift seems to be getting all of the small details right.

Aria is playing a warrior, with the first soul being a beastmaster. Note to players: if you don’t summon your pet at level one, you can’t beat the first mob the game asks you to fight, and you will die. Leave it to the super noob to die on the first mob in a themepark, but at least it proves it CAN be done. That’s worth something, I think. I will say her character does have a very fancy Charge move similar to WoW’s warrior, but Rift’s version just looks more impressive, as it’s somewhat more to a Diablo 2 Barbarians’ leap than the ‘sprint really fast’ move in WoW. Devil/details/blablabla.

Likely more tomorrow as we move on from the starting area and into ‘the real game’.


The Sims: Medieval

January 25, 2011

Am I the only one who thinks The Sims: Medieval looks interesting?

Yea, just me?

Alright, that’s cool. Just me in my carebear kingdom then.

EG Review: The animations look good, much like the animations in The Sims 3 were very entertaining. I am worried that you can’t actually build the castle/town/kingdom block by block, but rather everything is pre-made, which is very un-Sims-like. Plus it’s EA; they find a way to screw stuff up far too often. Hopefully though the game is a smash hit, my stock portfolio could use it (don’t get me started on selling Nvidia to pick up EA).

5/10


Someone apply already!

January 25, 2011

We need one more team for our Blood Bowl league. Pick a race that has not already been accepted.

Name: Inquisition Hardcore Casual Pro Circuit

PW: INQ (all caps)


Smartest guy in the room

January 24, 2011

For a while now I’ve wondered why we don’t have a computer game version of Warhammer Fantasy Battle or Warhammer 40k. I don’t mean the ‘spin-off’ style games; I mean a direct port of the rules and miniatures, all playable on a turn-based PC game, ala Blood Bowl. I suspect it’s because Games Workshop would rather you buy hundreds of dollars worth of miniatures rather than a $50 PC game, and if that is indeed the case, then damn you GW!

That’s most likely why Blood Bowl was made, because it’s a niche product in the niche world of Warhammer, and total miniature sales must have been tiny anyway. Again, if that’s the case, boo GW, but it does make sense.

Which is why, if I could program/draw/other-stuff worth a damn, I would make a Necromunda PC game. And then retire on my personal island to play Darkfall 24/7 in peace. Because the game would just be dripping in pure awesome.

Think about it, what do MMO/RPG gamers love? We love customizing a character, skilling up, and getting sweet gear. And you know the only thing better than customizing one character, skilling him up, and getting him some sweet gear? Doing it for a whole gang! Plus the F2P/RMT possibilities are just as silly as they are in League of Legends; custom skins for gang members, custom gang insignias, special ‘fancy effects’ versions of weapons (same stats, just epeen-pony-like sparkle), etc. People would eat it up.

The game itself could also take advantage of technology, with the game handling complex collision/cover calculations, in addition to “can’t do that in IRL” stuff like destructible environments and character damage. Additional free content updates would include new maps, which would be delivered as new areas for gangs to control and fight over, all launched from a simple lobby interface much like Blood Bowl.

Online you can track your gang’s stats, hire new recruits, customize the look, etc. Then you go and challenge another player for his territory, or have someone challenge you for one of yours, or you both queue up for different scenarios. Since the core rules would be in effect, gang members can die or sustain permanent injuries, and the size of your gang is related to how much territory you control. The bigger you get, the bigger the target on your back.

Note that if someone with great coding skills is reading this, and you know some really sweet artist who can do the graphics (bonus points if he can do sound), feel free to email me and we can discuss how to spend our upcoming millions.

Thanks,

Syn

PS: GW, if you want me to be the lead developer on your upcoming Warhammer Fantasy Battle or Warhammer 40k tabletop interpretation, I have some time available. Don’t worry, I won’t Mythic you.


MMO bloggers obligatory Minecraft post

January 24, 2011

Because my gaming time is so wide open (sarcasm), I picked up Minecraft to play with my two favorite carebears, Remastered and Allerion. As many know or have read, Minecraft is in many ways the ultimate sandbox world, as you can literally build and destroy anything, and ‘just doing stuff’ is about as deep as the game gets. There is no ‘end-game’, there is no progression path, and really, there are no goals beyond what you yourself make.

In a lot of ways it feels more like a tech demo than an actual game, but its one very impressive tech demo. From its oldschool-style graphics (Aria thought I was playing Wolfenstein 3D (if you don’t know Wolfenstein 3D, gtfo WoW kiddie!)), it’s use of sound/music, the simple yet effective control scheme, and just how massive the world it generates is, it just does a lot of things well. And if you are someone who sorts their MMO bank according to crafting tiers (can’t have the t3 stuff in the same row/col as the t2 stuff!), Minecraft is going to keep you very, very busy.

At least for a bit. I do wonder just how long it can keep you entertained. Sure, exploring a cavern is great fun the first time, or the second, but what about the 10th? Especially once you have a good collection of rare-ish materials? Building a base is a blast, but are you really going to get hyped building your 5th?

Now of course this is where the sandbox part comes in, and if you have creative players, they will find crazy stuff to do. Certainly for some, it’s endless content. At the same time, the game right now is a great baseline for something much greater, be it direct-dev content or some mod-run stuff. Take the core engine, edit some of the rules around it, build up a world, and you could get some really interesting stuff.

For now though, I’ll be putting the finishing touches on my lighthouse, Allerion will keep playing gardener (like I said, total carebear) and Remastered will likely continue to fall into lava with an inventory full of rare ore.


After 1000+ posts, little has changed

January 24, 2011

A thousand posts over close to four years is a lot of writing, it’s a lot of opinions, and it’s the publicly viewable history of one gamer. In four years of anything, things are bound to change. Hell, since starting this very blog I’ve had three different jobs, built a house, and got married. Yet go read the very first post of this blog, and tell me how much things have really changed here (sorry the format is a bit odd, copy/paste fail from way back).

Which is not to say that if you read all 1000+ posts, each and every single one of them will align perfectly, or that you won’t find me bashing something I praised earlier. Over the course of 1000+ posts you say a lot of stuff, and more than one post was written with a bit of seething rage-drool or double-rainbow joy. Yet my ‘core values’ of a gamer have remained intact. I still believe challenging content is ‘better’ than easier content. I still believe that players themselves are the ultimate form of content in an MMO. I’m still more of a UO guy than an EQ fan.

And I don’t think that’s going to change whenever I ding 2000+ posts.


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