Victory conditions and personal goals

June 27, 2013

This Tobold post contains a lot of straw, and while I don’t think he believes some of the things he wrote, I do wonder if others might look at things in such a way. Before I get to that however, let’s cover some basics.

There is a huge difference between victory conditions and personal goals. For something to be a victory condition, it must be acknowledged by those who participate in the competition; be it game-wide or a sub-culture. A personal goal is just that; something that you aim to accomplish that has little to no impact on anyone else.

For a simple example, let’s look at any team sporting event; everyone involved understands that whoever has the most points at the end of the game wins. You didn’t ‘win’ because you created the personal goal of never touching the ball and stood in the corner all game.

World firsts in raiding are a victory condition, because amongst top-tier raiding guilds it’s accepted that being ‘first’ is the goal. This victory condition is not diminished because there are also some casual raiding guilds that don’t aim for world firsts; the world-first crowd is a subset, but everyone in that subset knows the rules to the game.

In that subset, things like gearing up matter, so when a game sells raid-quality gear in its cash shop, for that subset the game is now P2W. That a different subset exists only to collect raid dresses to look pretty doesn’t matter to top guilds or how they view a game.

Tobold brings up LoL and buying champs/XP as a form of P2W, but there is no victory condition in LoL for reaching lvl 30 (end of tutorial) or collecting all the champs. Those can be personal goals, but winning games is the accepted victory condition (with an accompanying Victory/Defeat announcement at the end of the game). If Riot started selling ‘gold ammo’, or anything else that increased your chance to win a ranked game, LoL would be P2W. But Riot is smart, and knows very well that to the millions and millions playing, the game NOT being P2W is a massive draw.

When Wargaming.net announced WoT was no longer P2W, they did so because the accepted victory condition in that game was winning matches, and the cash-only gold ammo helped you win matches. Declaring that your personal goal is to just drive around in a tank looking at trees does not change WoT from a former P2W game; it just means you set a personal goal (that is likely to get you banned for not playing as intended and ruining the game for others) that was not effected by gold ammo. Neat, but irrelevant.

As to why Wargaming would make such an announcement? Look above; WoT is doing well, but it’s not at the level of LoL. Wargaming is also smart (and likely has plenty of data to back it up), and sees that being a P2W game hurts the bottom line more than it helps, hence the change and announcement.

There are plenty of games out that are blatant P2W (Atlantica Online is one example, along with dozens of iPhone games). One glance at what money gets you vs what the victory conditions are makes that clear. And for some, that is exactly what they are looking for. P2W is not a problem to be fixed; it’s just a different approach to gaming. For whatever reasons, some people enjoy competing in an environment where your wallet is a factor (note that even in something like AO, your wallet is not the ONLY factor, and player skill/decisions still matter).

Non-P2W subscription games in some ways are the opposite; here the factors are the amount of time you can play and your skill level. If you are something who is heavily time restricted but still wants to ‘win’, you will be annoyed by this model and find it ‘unfair’, much like someone who has time but isn’t willing or able to spend money in a P2W game will find that model ‘unfair’. And for some, playing in an unfair environment is an added challenge/bonus rather than a flaw; there are plenty of players who seek to make the most of their limited time in a sub-based game, or those who will push a P2W game as far as they can without spending a dime.

In summary, P2W exists and is just as valid a game/business model as non-P2W games. Much of the rage around the topic comes when a former non-P2W game changes its model, which IMO is very understandable, especially if you have invested a lot of time/effort into something. I do however find it silly that people will complain about P2W in a title that started out like that; you should have known what you were signing up for. The Oakland Athletics might bitch about the New York Yankees payroll, but at the end of the day the MLB rules are what they are, and both teams/owners know it. Don’t like it? Buy an NFL team and play in a league with a hard salary cap (subscription).


The choices you can make

June 25, 2013

Over at KTR, thanks to a RSS trigger from TAGN, the topic of groups has been brought up. I’m generally a “pro groups” person, but playing DF:UW has reminded me why and how most MMOs get the basics wrong.

In most MMOs, the game makes the decision to group or not for you, and often tells you exactly how to group as well. You can’t enter a raid instance solo, just like you can’t bring 100 players to a 10 man raid. In Rift, the random finder goes so far as to insist you have the correct group makeup (tank, healer, dps) before zipping you inside.

Games do this in part because it makes designing the content easier. If you know that 100% of the time the players will only have a group of five, you have a much easier time designing enemy abilities and setting difficulty. This is not always a bad thing, but if it’s the ONLY thing going on in your MMO, you have robbed the players of a very interesting decision; do you group, and if so, how big will the group be?

In DF:UW, the content is not gated behind group requirements or class restrictions. If you want to try and solo the red dragon, you can do so. If you want to bring 100 to down it, go ahead. And while doing it solo is basically impossible, and bringing 100 makes victory almost assured, both results are acceptable because the game is balanced based on the reward; the dragon drops 50k gold whether one person or 100 kill it, so while more makes it easier, it also makes it less profitable per person.

This balance however only works in games without permanent Best-in-slot (BiS) systems; in DF:UW you can gain 50k gold in a number of ways, while in WoW only one raid boss drops the item you want. Additionally, in DF:UW and games like it, that 50k is fluid. You gain it and you can lose it. In BiS setups, once you have it only the devs can take it away from you (expansions).

In a PvP MMO like DF:UW there is also the added consideration of safety. Just because I can solo a mob spawn does not mean that’s always the best choice, even if bringing more will ultimately reduce the gain/hr. Sometimes having a group will be the difference between fending off enemy players and getting sent home naked. This goes one step further; even if I’m going to solo a spawn, if the spawn is close to my player city, that increases my chances of delaying a fight until allies can aid me; if I’m farming on the opposite side of the world, I’m alone. In most MMOs, the location of a spawn is often a non-factor, and again this robs the players of a choice/consideration.

The term sandbox gets thrown around a lot, and games will claim to have ‘sandbox features’. To me, what makes a game a sandbox isn’t always the big-picture stuff like whether PvP is FFA or the world is seamless, but the choices you are offered like those described above. Those choices, and dealing with the consequences, is why farming 180 mobs in DF:UW is entertaining, while a kill 10 quest in a themepark is a complete snooze.


DF:UW – A fishy patch day

June 19, 2013

New DF:UW patch has been released today, which is always nice.

One of the additions that I find interesting is the new fishing boat, mostly because it seems to cater to the exact behavior OTG has been doing since launch; organizing group fishing trips around Agon. I have no doubt we will make frequent use of the new ship.

Early reports indicate the new dungeon is pretty nifty too. I liked the first one for the PvE/PvP blend, and I’m sure the second will be more of the same.

Another item I’m loving is the blind rage from the 5-10 bitters (not vets) on Forumfall still crying about transfers. At this point I fully believe AV is just trolling them with little hints of “looking into it” but not really, and I support this trolling 100%.

Site update: I’m moving to a new house this weekend, so I’ll be offline and unpacking about a million boxes over the next few days. I’m also convinced Comcast will somehow screw up our Internet during the move, because Comcast.


The difference between good and great games

June 17, 2013

If there is one thing real MMO fans struggle with it’s the acceptance of ‘grind’ to justify progression or rewards. This is often expressed as “remove all the crap and just let us do the fun stuff”, and in that form it almost makes sense. After all, we play games to have fun, right? So anything ‘unfun’ sounds counterproductive. Yet much like anything else in life, working towards something is just as important, if not more so, than the actual result.

The lack of full multiplayer in “Eador: Masters of a Broken World” brilliantly drives this home. In that game, the only multiplayer you have is essentially the pivotal moment of any game; the one big battle between the two sides to decide a winner. Before the game you pick your hero, level him up, and select items and units based on point values. Your opponent does the same, and when ready you fight it out.

What you can’t do is play the hundreds of turns building up that hero/army, finding all the items, and all of the other stuff you do as part of the normal game. That, hopefully, will be patched in ‘soon’.

If we return to the first paragraph of this post, the MMO argument is that Eador removed the grind and let you jump right to the fun stuff. And for a match or two the multiplayer is fine. It’s entertaining-enough coming up with different combos of heroes and units and quickly testing them out. The fights themselves are also generally close thanks to the point system. Perfect right?

Again, for a fight or two. But after that my friend and I were both wishing we could play the full game, because the real fun is in playing to GET to that final fight, even if it’s more lopsided when it happens than the staged fights. And when looking at what makes a game great, the ability to keep playing it ranks high.

A good game will entertain you for 10 hours; a great one can do it for 1000.

GW2 is a cute 3 week distraction; EVE is a 10 year masterpiece.


DF:UW – Two more videos of the triple siege night

June 13, 2013

Rather than an extensive battle report, I’m just going to post the key details and let the videos fill in the blanks (aka: lazy blogging).

Here is one from our initial enemies and then mercenaries point of view, and here is a good one from OTG member Cotton.

Our alliance got triple sieged Monday night. Our hamlet on Niff, our hamlet in elf lands, and the hamlet closest to our city of Kvit where all sieged, with roughly two hours or so between each siege. We attempted to defend all three, and only lost the hamlet on Niff.

The battle on Niff was fairly close, but ultimately we got pushed away from the siege stones and as we had a second and third siege to still attend, we back off and took the loss. The high ground taken by the enemy was a huge asset to them, and we simply could not push them off despite our best efforts.

The elf lands hamlet was not heavily contested, and after one push up the ramp to the siege stones, and attackers broke and we quickly destroyed the siege stones to end the contest.

By far the heaviest fighting occurred at the 3rd siege, the hamlet near Kvit. Our first two attempts to get to the siege stones were repelled after heavy fighting, and the decisive battle was also very close. In the Nox video you can see that the enemy was attempting to destroy the hamlet stone as our forces destroyed the siege stones, so it was very, very close.

Now that the crashing issue has been resolved, I think everyone is looking forward to more sieges, and the political aspect of DF is going to really get rolling. Good times!


DF:UW – Win some, lose some, win some more

June 11, 2013

The last patch that AV put out seems to have fixed all crashing problems during a large battle, which is pretty damn awesome. My ping only spiked to 400ish once the entire night (3hrs or so?), and my FPS never dropped below 60 even with hundreds fighting in one area. Until AV screws it up, I’d say the major technical hurdles have been cleared for DF:UW.

I should have a post up about the action last night, but for now enjoy these videos from OTG member Holo.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TlsZq…CjUglN&index=2 <<< Khanruk (5:15 hero rez!)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xylrs…CjUglN&index=1 <<< Aer Tithel (not a lot of fighting here, we rolled them)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W_Vnh…CjUglN&index=4 <<< Aldan Enak (three full battles happened here)

 

Note on the videos; the quality is good, but not the highest is can be.


No Forumfall makes me sad

June 10, 2013

The DF:UW forums have been down for over 24 hours, and it’s driving me insane. Funny how big a part of my enjoyment that aspect of the game is.

Lots of siege action tonight for OTG. Should be interesting.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 174 other followers