DF:UW – Fear and fun in Agon

April 30, 2014

Following the development of Darkfall is far more stressful than actually playing it for me. I have issues, most likely stemming from having more than one MMO I enjoyed crapped on by the developers. Whether it was Tammel in UO, ToA in DoAC, ‘accessibility’ in WoW, or 1.2 in Rift, I’ve played too many MMOs that started good/great and turned into something I no longer liked. I have that fear, constantly, with DF:UW, mostly because of the idiocy cesspool that is Forumfall and AV’s past history of making decisions based off that noise. Again, issues.

That fear is subsiding however. Lately AV has been hitting it out of the park. They have acted decisively to try to fix the economy, ignoring the loud nonsense coming from Forumfall, and that area of the game has seen improvement. They stopped adding one-off content and have started delivering stuff that is sustainable and either improves the core game (AoI, levy) or adds additional layers to it (armor dyes, daily/weekly feats). The upcoming combat changes, something I once feared would bring back the core flaws of DF1 (everyone playing the FOTM), look on paper as a solid, logical step forward for character options while being mindful of past mistakes and pitfalls.

They are also communicating on the forums more, which is at times overrated (I’d rather they act more than talk more, ultimately), but when combined with solid patches that hit deadlines, it works and helps calm some of the lunatics down.

More important than increased communication, they are interacting more with the game and the players, from the very successful 1v1 tournament they recently ran, to the upcoming free weekend and rumored GM events, the ‘new’ AV seems to actually get it and care. It hasn’t really felt like that since the first two years of DF1. Even the soon-to-start mentor system is well thought out and should really help the game retain new players.

For me personally I’m really enjoying the game right now, and having as much fun with it as I’ve ever had. PvP with Last Call (my clan) is very enjoyable win or lose, we PvE in groups and as a clan nightly, and every patch of late has given us new stuff to do or new features that improve the game for us. Good times.

Edit: DF:UW one year anniversary news post + video.

Second Edit: Buddy keys have also been added. If you would like one, contact me via email (top right corner, front page).


AcheAge: Getting through the themepark to get to the sandbox

April 28, 2014

Keen’s ArcheAge post today reiterates one of the ‘core values’ I think any virtual world must have; at no point should I be ‘done’ with an area. I think the whole concept of moving through zones is distinctively ‘not virtual world’ (saying its themepark might be accurate, though perhaps too limiting), and it also just bothers me on a number of levels.

First, anytime you have a setup where you progress through things, you inherit the problem of player separation and motivation. Once you ‘finish’ an area, returning to help someone else out is a pain or at best a waste.

Adding to the above, anytime you ‘finish’ content you are done with it, and now need the devs to make more. Regardless of the size of the development team, ultimately that’s not sustainable, and if the overall goal is to keep playing an MMO ‘forever’, that’s not going to work out.

What’s really interesting about the genre right now is newer games are mixing concepts together from previous titles. What puts me off heavily from ArcheAge is that while it has some ‘sandbox features’, that 1-50 linear zone setup is a killer for me.


EVE: I’m going to put this next to my “History of WoW Empires” book

April 25, 2014

Via TAGN, Kickstater (already funded) for a history of EVE Empires book. Easiest $25 I’ve spent in a while.



ESO: State of the game, state of the MMO

April 23, 2014

Since Bethesda releases a State of the Game today, I might as well post mine now as well.

Overall I really like the game. I don’t know if I’d call it a great MMO, but as just a game overall I’m really enjoying it. I’m progressing slower than expected (lvl 21 right now), but don’t feel that need to catch up or hit the end-game.

Gold spam has been noticeable, and it’s disappointing that Bethesda seems so unprepared for it and that it’s now taking so much of their focus to fix. It’s 2014 guys, and you expected to launch a highly populated MMO, really no excuse here.

On a similar note, I had posted that the first few days of launch where the best MMO launch I’ve experienced. Well the first month hasn’t been. Some quests have been broken, the bots at public dungeon bosses is HORRIBLE in terms of immersion and just general game enjoyment, and stuff like unusually long loading screens and chat lag all result in a game that is not nearly as smooth and easy to enjoy as it was on day one of the early start.

The MMO parts? Pretty hit or miss here.

The 4 man dungeons so far have all been fun, and what limited time I’ve spent with PvP has shown glimpses of something much better than the mess that was GW2 PvP. I like my character, I look forward to trying other specs, and I think overall the crafting has been above-average themepark crafting.

On the other hand questing really is best done solo, to the point that having others around you is more annoying than anything else. On top of that, you basically have to go out of your way to do non-dungeon stuff with your guildmates, which just feels wrong. I should be happy when a guildmate logs on, and I’m just not in ESO.

Even stuff like taking down the elite spawns on a map together feels forced, if only because one player is teleporting nearby to the other, and more than once said elite spawn has been killed by a random coming by and helping out while your guild mate is traveling. Plus once you kill the mob, the guild mate goes back to his solo questing while you go back to yours. (Note: This aspect is particularly striking to me right now because I’m also playing a lot of Darkfall, and in Darkfall having more people is almost always a good thing, and grouping up is so natural and beneficial.)

Ultimately it all returns me to the main driving of this blog since pretty much day one; a ‘sandbox’ is how MMOs work best, but for whatever reason it always (not EVE) seems that the sandbox is limited by its budget or design details, while a good themepark makes for a good game, but it ultimately held back by the fact that it’s a themepark. Why can’t someone other than CCP make a sandbox MMO that is also a solid game?


EVE: Space Famous

April 21, 2014

The latest EVE Blog Banter topic is about “space famous” individuals and everyone’s thoughts about them. Jester has his entry here.

The topic reminded me that I had previously talked about the importance of such players, here in more general terms and this post about my personal experience. I still agree with my 2012 self on the topic; the more “MMOish” your game is, the more important and beneficial the ‘space famous’ players are, at least the ones ‘space famous’ because they impact a lot of people, either directly or indirectly.

Side note but not really: It was kind of depressing skimming blog entries from 2012, in that they just had a lot more passion and drive behind them. Sure, more than a few were ‘off the handle’ rants or seemed to focus on laughing at Massively and the comments section, but overall more was happening on the blog itself and clearly in my gaming at that time.

I’ll of course lay some of the blame on the MMO genre. I mean, I’m currently playing one game I fully expect to kill itself with its next major update (DF:UW), and the other is a really fun solo experience with bits of multiplayer that, while entertaining, don’t really ‘fit’ into the game for me just yet (ESO).

On the horizon the only title I’m legitimately excited for is Pathfinder, but having seen so many similar titles not even come close to delivering, I’m not going to be a fool again and jump in head-first here. It would also help if more of the Inquisition core group was looking forward to it, but I don’t believe they are (or it’s not on their radar just yet). Blah…


Steam number crunching

April 17, 2014

Ars Technica has done some really nice work around Steam and what players are buying and playing on that service. If the stat that Steam makes up 75% of PC sales today is even remotely true, it only makes this reporting all that more interesting.

It’s worth a read for sure, and hopefully they drill down into MMO-specific data so we have something more meaty to chew on. That DoTA is really popular is nice, but yea, not that interesting as a discussion topic. Good start though, and something I’ll be keeping an eye on for sure.

DF:UW – Those who don’t learn from history

April 16, 2014

The big announcement recently from AV about DF:UW is that they are doing away with the class system and going back to a more free-form character skill system.

The perception on Forumfall was that due to classes, balance was poor. The reality in-game was that basically all roles were used, and really only Fire and Brawler were not considered viable primary choices. Everything else you saw in-game, at almost all levels of play (including the most recent tournament), which should tell you all you need to know about balance and viability.

The other bit that is clouding judgment right now is the revisionist history of what DF1 really was. It has somehow gone from a game that was always dominated by FOTM builds to one where people all had their own ‘style’, and focused on what they were best at, which is not only a lie but a total joke.

In short, I think this direction change by AV is a mistake and moves the game back towards the problem areas of DF1, but I’ll wait for the details before going any further than that. MMO history, and their own, is against AV here however.


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