Today does not make your otherwise unfunny blog funny.
Noticed a few blogs are doing this. Someone fill me in on the why? Is it some new meme I missed, or does it get you ‘followers’ on Twitter?
Quick note: I like this blog about life in a wormhole. Good writing style, interesting stories, and written in a way that I think will be enjoyable even for non-EVE players. Head on over and check it out.
This is one of those “it’s a comment but it’s too long so it becomes a post” deals, in response to Keen’s post about hype/excitement. I’m likely near the top of people who have criticized or at least taken a cheap shot at Keen for getting too hyped up about a game. In my defense, there is a Friday every week.
There are a few things that play into all of this. The first, and really central point, is that following/playing an MMO is closer to a religion than a hobby (or should be). When you are all-in on an MMO, it dominates your time, and the better the MMO is, the more time it takes up. And in a ‘real’ MMO, the more time you put in, the more fun it puts out. Before the casual ‘solo-hero’ revolution, MMOs were as much about WHO you played with as WHAT you were doing, and the ‘who’ only mattered if they stayed logging in month after month. “Guild hoppers” were the tourists of the genre before we had enough titles to allow tourism, and neither term is one you want associated with you.
Under that approach, someone who is in/out of a game in 1-3 months is unhelpful at best, and a ‘problem’ at worse. Combine this with the religion thing above, and if Keen hyped and then left your MMO of choice, that can rub people the wrong way. This effect has noticeably decreased as MMOs become more content rather the community focused. In SW:TOR, does anyone even notice if someone else stops playing? Is it even possible to notice? At least in Skyrim Steam shows me who is playing while I’m playing.
Another aspect is one that Keen mentioned; the pre-release talk about features that likely won’t work as written/hyped. Rift is one example that comes to mind. Pre-release I believe Keen made a statement that thanks to the soul system, you can build any character you want in Rift. That was simply not true, and if someone (me) wanted to make a point of Keen creating unrealistic hype around a game, that was a great example.
At the same time, Rift’s soul system is a hell of a lot more flexible than the other members of that clone army, so the spirit of what Keen wrote is still sorta true, if just stated incorrectly. If you don’t get hung up on the exact wording (although really, what fun is that?), you get the point and move on. If it’s Friday, or you just hate Keen, you don’t (unless Tobold has a PvP post up anyway).
Experience is also a factor, both with MMOs and blogging itself. When you are new to MMOs/blogging, everything seems fresh and new to you, and you truly believe you are sharing revolutionary ideas/thoughts, and you sorta believe the devs because hey, why would they lie? As you progress towards bittervet gamer/blogger, and go through multiple releases that fail to not only live up to expectations, but outright lie about features/goals, you stop trusting words/hype and consider anything pre-beta as a maybe (or in the case of Rift, even beyond).
GW2 is a good example of this right now. ArenaNet will tell you that GW2 has an active combat system. If the only MMO you have played is WoW, that’s sounds true-enough to you. If you played UO, or AC-DT, or Darkfall, it’s not exactly as ‘active’ as ArenaNet tries to paint it. Now it’s the job of PR to create hype, so not-really dynamic content like rifts in Rift are called “The most dynamic content ever”. They are lying, but it’s their job to lie. Since bloggers don’t get paid (other than me, buy Darkfall), just accepting the PR release and running with it opens you up to skepticism or ridicule, especially if you can already spot the hype just on what they have released (GW2 will have ‘massive’ battles, limited to 300 people. 300 is not massive if you play EVE. It is if you play WoW).
The final piece here is being the ‘white knight’ for a game. Not only have you bought into the hype, but you also defend the game from all criticism and refuse to believe that flaws exist even in just the facts released (GW2 non-80s being able to contribute meaningfully in WvW for example). This not only comes off as silly, but also reduces the value of your otherwise solid insights. You might have made nine good points, but if your tenth is clearly a copy/paste belief in PR spin, it’s the tenth point everyone will focus and comment on.
With all of that said (told you it was too long for a comment), I still read Keen’s blog because it is entertaining, and the ‘white knight’ aspect has been toned down big time over the years. When you blog for as long as he has, you are bound to write a few things that you later look back on and shake your head. So long as the head-shake posts are far and few between, and you own up to them (everyone with WAR), the blog remains entertaining and the author credible (whatever that means in the MMO blogging world).
I’m also surprised this has not happened yet. Not the whole “two paragraphs for free” part, but the ability for people to pay for ‘fluff’ related to commenting and such. I’m 100% positive that if offered, some people would pay a monthly charge for their comments to look different from others, be it a special icon or different text. Customizable interface, more RSS feed options, priority ping-back location, etc. People would pay for this stuff.
WordPress should get all over this, and then take an Apple-like cut of any of the profits, in exchange for handling the whole transaction backend so all I have to do is enable fluff at whatever prices I want.
Pure genius IMO.
(And no, I would not sell power, so no “comment goes to the top”, or “ability to delete other comments” or anything like that. I do have standards!)
What I object to is that in EVE the players with all the advantages are the leeches who pay nothing. In the F2P model the people who pay at least get some advantages over the people who leech. – Tobold
It’s an interesting take, and one that I 100% disagree with.
First, I’d never call the most successful EVE players leeches, as that’s just incorrect. In a sandbox, it’s that player base that DRIVES the content of the game. 0.0 stories? Yea, not driven by Joey Casual. Joey is also not planning a BBC-reported bank heist. Actually he’s not planning anything, he just shows up and does what his FC tells him to do. No FC, no goals for Joey. Now who’s leeching?
But maybe EVE is unique in this aspect, much like it is in just about all others. What about WoW?
That UI you enjoy so much? Yea, it’s not from Joey putting in the work. And no, it’s not from Blizzard either. A ‘leech’ created it. That dungeon you just completed? Thank a ‘leech’ for creating not just the dungeon guide you used, but the build you run and the guild comp you use. Because Joey Casual just logs in to collect his epics (once the content is nerfed down to his level).
Podcasts, web comics, and um, blogs: Joey Casual doesn’t creating a single one of em. The ‘leeches’ do. Forum posts that point out hard-to-find bugs, or imbalances, or lead to great additions? Joey, at best, just reads those sometimes.
Tobold is correct in that the F2P MMO model does indeed work in reverse. The more you play, the more you pay. Love an MMO so much that you want to see all the content and play it to the fullest? If it’s EVE, it’s going to cost you nothing. If it’s a traditional F2P game, enjoy paying $100s a month. Also enjoy knowing that while you do invest a lot of time/effort into the game, ultimately it’s your ability to spend money that determines how successful you are. I don’t know about you, but I feel like a real winner when I go to the store and buy a World Championship trophy to ‘proudly’ display at my house. Oh yes, real men buy accomplishments.
On a different level, which game would you likely get more into; the one you can eventually play for free, or the one that’s going to increase in cost the more you play? Now if we’re talking single-player games, I could care less. You want to blow $100s to collect all the Pokemon or whatever? Knock yourself out.
But MMOs are different, because they (should) emphasis community and player relations/interactions, and nothing crushes a community faster than everyone half-assing everything. The worse kind of MMO community is when everyone logs in once a week or less, and there is no continuation or momentum; just a bunch of random characters occasionally checking in and knocking something out before disappearing again. That’s so un-MMO it’s disgusting (remind me to blog about the whole “lets play five MMOs at a time” thing another day), and that’s EXACTLY what F2P encourages. “It’s free, hop in and out whenever you want, wheee” is just such a horribly unappealing sales pitch for an MMO. I want community, I want dedication, I want players who are INVESTED in the game. The more everyone around you cares, the more you care, and the better it just makes the whole thing.
Edit: Plus what exactly does it say about your game if your sales pitch is “Hey, we are fun for short bursts every now and then!” What’s that? SW:sRPG just called. Oh.
Casual and MMO don’t mix. They just don’t. At least not in the way I view an MMO. If your view of an MMO is an online collection of solo tasks and random names drifting across your screen that you occasionally get matched up with to roll over something as mutes, well, we are talking different genres. I don’t know what to call that style of game, but it sure as hell isn’t an MMO.
I like playing with the ‘leeches’. I like being around passionate players that drive communities and content forward. I like being around people who are invested, who care about what happens, and who ‘get’ what’s going on in the virtual world. It’s fun to log in nightly to pick up where you left off the night before.
That’s just me though, leeching away.
My Raptr name is Syncaine. Feel free to buddy me. That is all… for now.
Is technology ever going to get to the point where we no longer need shards for an MMO? If yes, will design shift to accommodate that, or stick with the tiny zones, tiny shards, dozens of servers model? I’m pretty over the whole shard thing, and I think it really holds devs back in terms of world events and a progressive storyline, not to mention cheapening player achievements (not the WoW kind) due to only a fraction of the total base being affected by it.
Imagine if the tech was already here, how silly would an upcoming game like SW:sRPG sound when pitched as an MMO? Now what if the tech arrives in, say, two years. Does SW fully shift out of the MMO space, or does the space split between truly massive single-world titles and small ‘group’ community ones?
Shadow’s post before the one linked above was his original (even weaker) attempt, and while it’s pretty fail at a FBW starter, it does (slightly) manage to raise one question: if you’re a carebear solo-hero WoWbie, and you are burned out on themeparks, do you leave the MMO genre or do you actually move on to something with a bit more meat to it like EVE or Darkfall?
I would suspect that most take a break and go play My Little Pony or whatever WoWbies were playing before WoW, but maybe some do grow up and learn to play a real MMO? And if so, has Blizzard finally done something to actually help the MMO genre by releasing Cata and speed-burning so many on themeparks?
Because even if just 10% of WoWbie burnouts stay within the genre and try something better, that’s a crapload of people. And sure, most of them will die once, lose some gear, ragequit on the forums, and go back to playing Candyland with their little sister, but again, if just some of them man up and stay, that’s a win for everyone who supports good MMOs.
Or maybe not, because WoWbies being WoWbies, they will likely hit the forums and demand safezones, BoE gear, and 1-to-cap progression to be measured in hours rather than months. So on second though, no, don’t switch. Go play with your kid sister or Hello Kitty (one glance at the Rift forums and you can clearly see this already happening, with requests for gearscores, recount, cross server everything, etc. Hats off to Trion for actually REMOVING the contribution indicator for rifts; huge step in the right (not WoW) direction).
As readers here might remember from my yearly blog review posts, the busiest day for this blog was way back on September 6th, 2007, thanks to the BBC’s tech site link-quoting one of my posts. As with most of these random occurrences, the post quoted was not anything I would consider outstanding or particularly special, and most if not all of that traffic was one-and-done style, rather than actually attracting readers who stuck around.
My joke Rift review, currently the #2 search result in Google for “Rift review”, and one that was #1 for some time, has generated a lot of traffic. To put things in perspective, the second most common search term for the blog all time is the blog’s title, Hardcore Casual, at just over 9000. Rift review, after just a few weeks, sits at 38,000 and counting. Overall site traffic since the Google ranking has also close to doubled, and had tripled around the week of Rift’s release.
Unlike the BBC event years back, I think the Rift post has increased overall readership and participation, though this goes hand and hand with my more recent Rift-related posts. That’s a nice plus, as comments often spark ideas which lead to more content. On the other hand, getting swarmed by people looking to “link share” or pay a tiny amount to place a link is rather annoying. The extra comment spam, although handled well by WordPress for the most part, is also a negative I could do without.
Also interesting is that those who have come here via Google searching for a Rift review click the Darkfall community publishing link a good amount, yet don’t purchase often. Normally, when I post more about Darkfall, the click-to-buy rate is decently high, and when I don’t post, both stats (click and buy) drop. Seems those looking for a Rift review are also open to other MMOs, just not Darkfall. No huge surprise there.
All of this shows how little correlation exists between total traffic and blog community size (as defined by the total number of repeat readers who also occasionally comment). The “one hit wonder” posts make for some cute spikes in your stat page, but really they do little for the things I really enjoy; interacting and sharing amongst like-minded gamers. To achieve that, you truly have to be consistent with your writing quality, its frequency, and how often you bash WoWbies.
Oh, and a good blog war never hurt either.
It seems the self-sacrifice that EuroGamer made for the good of our community is being forgotten, and it’s getting embarrassing. It’s been just over two years since the infamous “5 minute MMO review”, and yet here we are today, with people passing judgment and making sweeping statements about an MMO based on limited experience, and doing so without a smirk or heavy use of sarcasm. It’s kinda sad really.
In addition to misguided ‘opinions’, there are other factors at work here. In MMO releases past, the tourist population was always thriving, and so it was a guarantee that whatever your numbers in the first month, the second month they would be drastically lower. It helped that most of those MMOs were also flawed in one way or another, but the true tourist would have returned home regardless. Many of those players today are not looking like tourists though, and we mostly have WoW’s Cata to thank for that (EVE tourists would be the most rampant if EVE had 12m subs, as almost all EVE players eventually return home, but with 350k or so subs they are not that noticeable. That they are also not as obnoxious as WoW players helps too).
Back when WAR was released, WoW was ready with WotLK, and many who went over to WAR knew they were coming back. WoW itself was also not in the shape it’s in now, as things had not begun to seriously deteriorate during the BC era. The C team that ‘updates’ WoW now has done a fine job setting the stage for Rift. Why, it’s almost 2004 EQ2-like in nature. Who would have ever imagined Blizzard would ‘borrow’ that strategy from SOE.
And much like WoW’s original perfect-storm release, outside factors have shaped up nicely for Rift. WoW has never been lower, the response to Rift is to re-released more rehashed content ‘soon’ (and not even originally excellent content like Nax), and any potential AAA contenders (GW2, SW:sRPG) are a ways off. Factor in that everyone else in the themepark genre is either spinning in circles or playing in the F2P minors, and it might as well be 2004 all over again, with the crown sitting on a pedestal begging someone to put it on.
Then there is the product itself, so familiar yet clearly able to confuse those who just quickly glanced. Take, for instance, invasions. To the EG review crowd, they are simplistic events that require nothing more than showing up to collect some loot, and this is very much the case in the first zone. Because, well, it’s the first zone and it’s just an intro to the game. If that was all invasions were for 50 levels that would be pretty weak. If that’s all they are for the newbie zone, yea, that’s pretty understandable (and you would not want lvl 35 complexity invasions beating up on level 10 players anyway) WoW conditioning has, unfortunately, taught many that what you do at level one is what you will be doing until you hit the cap and start the ‘real’ game. Fixing that terrible design decision is seemingly incomprehensible to many, yet that’s exactly what Rift has done.
Which is not to say you can’t faceroll your way to 50, solo, without interacting once with another player. That option exists, and while for an MMO fan it’s about as fun or interesting as punching yourself in the face, lots of WoW players love the abuse. It’s not entirely their fault either, they simply don’t know any better after having been in Azeroth for so long. But the option existing is very different from it being the optimal path, which it certainly is not. Later invasions require solid coordination, running instances at or slightly below level can be a very worthwhile challenge, and tackling rifts in a small group requires more than drooling on your keyboard as well. People who have reached 50 also report that in addition to being plentifully, the end-game content is a very solid challenge.
It’s almost like Trion build Rift knowing the common pitfalls of an MMO, and had the time/resources to figure them out, plus the talent to actually do it right. Kinda like, oh, in 2004 when WoW fixed many of EQ1’s shortfalls, delivered a game of an above-level quality for games at that time, and had the talent/resources to keep the momentum going.
Finally, one has to ask why Rift is causing so much angst for those who are not playing. When Darkfall gets hated on, it’s more understandable, as carebears have a natural fear of PvP MMOs and anytime one pops up they can’t help themselves. God forbid a sandbox gets popular enough to influence changes in themepark land; scary! But Rift is very much a non-threatening themepark, so why the hate?
My guess is that for many, they are seeing guild members log in to their old game less and less, perhaps only to show up for pre-planned events like raids. The rest of the time, they are playing Rift. While silly, that builds a certain animosity in those who are not yet ready to leave their current home, either because they can’t (weak hardware, no money, whatever), or their EG experience with Rift was not mind-blowing and they believe the game to be just another quick trip away from Azeroth. That Rift is not frontloaded like WAR or AoC is likely a factor, and like games of old, it takes more than a glance to see all of its depth and innovation (of which it has plenty, you just never saw it in beta). That’s tough for the one-month-and-done tourist crowd to grasp.
Plus, facts ruin so many good rants.