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 – Dungeon content in a virtual world

June 3, 2013

Last Friday the latest patch for DF:UW was released, and it included the first dungeon added to the game. Sunday night OTG and allies put together a group of eight to go check it out.

Entering the dungeon works like it did in DF1, where you click on the portal entrance, charge for a few seconds, and then you are taking down into the dungeon. You are not in an instance like in themepark MMOs, but rather in a different ‘zone’ that anyone else can enter as well.

A bit of strategy plays into entering or exit a dungeon, as we sent in our warriors first and delayed the entry of our squishy characters. This is done in case someone is camping the dungeon entrance/exit, but that was not the case last night.

Once inside, we explored what is ultimately a large loop with a few offshoots, one being a spawn of lizard-like creatures and another being the boss room. The main room of the dungeon contains a large cave troll (new mob) spawn, featuring cave trolls (easy), cave troll shamans, and cave troll fighters (fairly tough in numbers). The boss is a Primordial Troll Juggernaut, who while not overly difficult for our group of eight, was not a complete pushover either.

The dungeon itself has a good look and feel thanks to the advanced lighting and effects new to DF:UW, and the spawn rates are such that you are always kept busy. The loot from the troll mobs was nice (they drop gold and a good amount of large pots), and the boss mob drops a key to a chest that, among other loot, usually had 1-2 portal shards inside.

The dungeon overall would be decent content in a pure PvE game. It’s not huge or overly challenging, but it is larger and more detailed than the starter dungeons found in the capital cities, and just from a pure PvE perspective we had a good time. Of course DF being DF PvE is only a part of the equation, and like almost all locations, the PvE also drives PvP, with the dungeon being no exception.

The first time we arrived at the dungeon we found one player just outside trying to recall. We quickly gave him an express ticket home, and found a decent amount of dungeon loot on his tombstone. Once inside, we found another player farming and he too was dropped quickly. After killing the boss once and farming for about 30 minutes, we left the dungeon to bank at our nearby hamlet.

Along the way back we came across a few players, killed a couple and had the rest run away. On our trip back to the dungeon, we caught a naked player on his mount, killed the mount, and chased him to the nearby village. He ran into a house he owned, and one of our members followed him inside. He killed him, looted a treasure map, and found himself stuck inside as the door had been closed. The owner came back, we asked him nicely to open it, he refused, and so out came the battle spikes to blow his door down.

On our third run in the dungeon, we had two geared warrior run into the boss chamber with us, and a short, cramped melee commenced. They did well, taking down two of us before one of them got very low and ran away. We made the mistake of not pursuing immediately, forgetting that in order to exit the dungeon he would have needed to charge at the portal, and that would have been easily interrupted. We left the dungeon shortly after and called it a night.

I think the dungeon is a great addition to the game. It brought new feats which you progress through at a good rate thanks to the quick spawns, the boss is something different, and your PvP tactics need to adjust thanks to the limited spacing. It’s very ideal for a group, adjusts well for small or large numbers, and creates a new PvP hotspot in the world. Hopefully AV doesn’t take too long to add more, and we get them ‘soon’.

Video of the dungeon from Ripper Exe. Enjoy!

DF:UW – Sieging Alden Enak

May 16, 2013

Last night OTG had a siege against The Empire for their hamlet of Alden Enak (AE), located just south of our city of Kvit.

The nice thing about this siege was that the numbers, gear, and player skill were about as even as you are likely to find in Darkfall, resulting in multiple battles in a few locations rather than one steamrolling.

The unfortunate part was that on our end, we had a lot of crashing, which we believe is tied to using Mumble instead of TS3 or Vent. In each battle a good 20-30% of our force would randomly crash, which not only reduced our overall fighting numbers, but caused havoc for communication and organization. It did not appear that The Empire clan members were crashing nearly as often, which is good once we correct the Mumble issue, but bad for trying to win that particular siege.

For me personally, a few crashes aside, performance was excellent. I kept my game maxed out at 1900×1200 and never had my FPS dip below 60 or my ping go over 70, even though at the peak of combat we had over 100 total players fighting it out.

On to the fighting itself!

Right as I got home and was preparing to log on, Empire was raiding Kvit and blew up our bank. After they cleared out, we formed up a group of about 20, got on a boat, and sailed around for a sneak attack on their hamlet. The idea was to kill who they had before the siege went live, and hopefully hold the hamlet itself so they could not use it as a rally point.

The boat ride itself was uneventful, and we snuck up on the hamlet without incident. They had around 20 players as well, some right at the bank and others spread around the hamlet grounds. Our initial charge took down a few, but they quickly rallied to some high ground and counter-pushed. One warrior in particular, sporting Dread Plate (second-best warrior armor), was incredible disruptive and took a few of us down. After a few back and forth pushes, we lost too many and had to retreat back to our city.

After both sides gained some more members, a scout reported Empire was heading into our city. We decided to retreat up the lift we have in Kvit (the city itself is inside a mountain with three large cave entrances. A lift runs to the top of the mountain through a hole in the ceiling. There is also a path up the side of the mountain that leads to the top area). Once at the top, we waited for the enemy to follow us up, and planned to AoE the lift as it came up.

The plan initially worked, but once we started AoE’ing those on the lift, they jumped off, and we made the tactical mistake of getting on the lift ourselves and taking it back down into the city. The enemy was able to AoE us as the lift reached the bottom, and our general disorganization lead to a rather quick defeat (I crashed right as the lift hit the ground, so missed the fighting, and once back inside had to sneak my way out of the city). Though we did take down a few, overall we got wiped and they were able to loot most of our graves and ride back out of our city.

The final major battle occurred again at our city. Empire again made a push, but this time we were more organized and held them at the southern cave entrance. The choke point where a city gate can be built (we have not built the walls yet) was AoE’ed heavily by both sides, and the first push from the Empire was turned back as they lost half a dozen fighters, with the rest falling back outside to regroup.

However the second pushed got them through the choke point, and while we held for a while further inside, ultimately we again were overwhelmed and defeated.

It was only after this battle that the siege officially went live with our siege stones becoming vulnerable. At this point however moral was pretty low, people were low on gear bags, and we never reformed to defend the stones. Empire took them down quickly, and the siege ended with them retaining their hamlet.

Crashing aside, it was a very fun night, and while initially OTG was a bit down, identifying the Mumble-based crashing and getting on TS3/Vent will mean next time we don’t have to deal with the technical issues getting in the way.

DF:UW – The value of owning a city

May 13, 2013

A popular topic on ForumFall of late has been the value of player cities and hamlets, with some believe they are not worth owning, or that the cost to build them up is too great and needs to be reduced. OTG has been living out of our city (Kvit) for about a week now, and it’s highlighted some ‘hidden values’ to me.

There are the obvious benefits of owning a city, such as being able to bind at the stone, receiving the system messages when anyone comes in/out, and the minor regen buff the city provides to its owners. Cities also have resource nodes (mines, farms, etc) that can be built, but OTG has yet to build ours so I can’t really comment on that.

The above are nice, but certainly not worth the large amount of resources needed to build up a city. But because DF:UW is a sandbox, the hard-coded benefits are only a small part of the value.

Since moving in, we have put up the keep and some houses to increase the maximum number of binds allowed, and currently we are at 71. This has allowed many (but still not all) of our members to bind from the same spot, making grouping and responding to attacks much easier.

For a more casual clan that has a wide range of PvP-skilled players, having numbers close by means we don’t get rolled whenever someone comes along. It also means we can farm high-value spots like Ogre Bullies or Arctic Bears with confidence, and have the numbers to chase someone off the spawn should we need to. It also allows for quicker grouping, so those with less time don’t spend most of it riding to get to a group. And since we are all concentrated, groups are always up and something is always happening.

Another benefit is learning the local area. By knowing where all of the local spawns are, as well as the major geographic features, we are better able to quickly respond to a call for help, and when fighting know the terrain and how best to use it. For instance, we know where the land gets relatively flat and clear of obstacles, so we know when to keep chasing someone on a mount and when it’s best to jump off and try to bow them down. We know the location of iron nodes for quick gathering, and where the best hiding spots are for escaping a chase.

Owning and building up a city also motivates us to take group mining trips, where a bunch of us will head and out clean out iron nodes for the clan. We do this geared up for PvP, and often find it (or it finds us). Seeing the city gain buildings and (soon) added functionality gives everyone a goal to work towards, and creates game and clan ‘buy in’.

Finally, because other players know OTG lives out of Kvit, we in essence have created a bit of a PvP hotspot. This is greatly beneficial for a number of reasons. First, DF:UW is a PvP MMO, and having PvP come to us saves us the trouble of having to finding it (though we do plenty of that as well). Near-constant PvP also means our members are getting experience and becoming better players, rather than sitting in a secluded corner getting fat and lazy off nothing but PvE (something that happened in DF1 to many clans). And thanks to the factors above, OTG has been holding its own in most fights, meaning not only do we have PvP delivered to our front door, but nice loot as well.

Owning and actively living out of Kvit has been a major boon for OTG, and we are excited to continue building up the city and carving out a place for ourselves in Agon.

UO Forever: More lessons

January 28, 2013

UO Forever has been a great time so far, both from just a pure gameplay perspective and as a refresher of sorts on how the MMO genre got started and the design decisions that worked.

I’ve covered combat already, as well as talking about the slower pace and why that’s important. Keen has a post about his enjoyment of crafting, which I think touches on some of these points as well.

Quick comment on the crafting aspect; as I said on vent, mining in UO ‘works’ because you are advancing towards something that matters to you, in a way you want to. You mine to get ore, to get ingots, to skill up smithing, to smith better items, to place those items on a vendor, and ultimately to make that vendor known and have people come to you to shop. This ultimately makes you good money, but also gives you a bit of fame, carves out your spot in the world, and opens other doors (shoppers become friends or guild members, the gold is used to fund bigger projects, the vendor traffic attracts other shopkeepers to your area of the world, etc).

In other MMOs, a ‘crafter’ is just a monster slayer that happens to dump gold into a side profession (usually at a huge loss), and the ‘fix’ that many have added is to get monster slaying experience from the art of crafting. “Level to the cap from crafting” should not be seen as a step forward, it should be seen as a slap in the face to crafters. Of course, when the result of crafting is being an anonymous listing on some global AH, who really cares?

Moving on, the skill gain rates on UOF are interesting. Combat skills go up very quickly. You can max out the basics in about 10 hours, and all but a few skills (magic resistance being the main one) shortly after that. Crafting skills on the other hand are very slow.

The fast skill gains, IMO, just shorten one area of the game and get you into another faster. Had they been slow, players would have spent more time fighting weaker creatures, all while farming less gold/items while they skill up. Eventually many would have reached the cap, and what is happening now would have happened then, but instead that early phase was basically non-existent. If UOF had a sub fee, that would be bad design from a business standpoint. Since it does not, it might just lead people to burn out quicker.

That said, just because you are able to get some skills to the cap does not mean you are ‘done’. Far from it. My current goal is to buy a house to place in our guild city. Originally this was going to be a basic house for about 65k, but the farming has gone well and along with a buddy, we have decided to go big and aim buy a two story for 150k. We are currently about 50k short of that goal.

And once we buy and place the house, it opens up some additional options for us. We will now have a base to PK out of. We will have a place to run a vendor from if we choose. And of course, we can’t leave it unfurnished, now can we?

By the time all of that’s done, who knows what other goals or options will pop up. Perhaps we will be in a guild war, or working to establish control of a particular dungeon. UO being a sandbox, the path is not pre-arranged and laid out for you to follow.

Finally, playing UOF reconfirms my belief that the reason UO retained subs for so long was because it’s a great game, not because it was the only MMO out (as if people didn’t have other gaming options back then…). It also confirms how massive of a mistake EA made when the trammeled it, and later butchered the IP with silly stuff like elves, ninjas, and whatever else is in the current paid version of the game. To think that UO could have been handled like EVE has been handled, expanded and enhanced while remaining true to its original design. Somehow I don’t think the genre would be quite as focuses on ‘personal stories’, instancing, or voice acting.


MMO housing IS gameplay

January 17, 2013

And yes, I’ve heard the Ultima Online house analogy. But until I can plant a flower box outside my POS, I don’t buy it. EVE ain’t Minecraft.

Going to pick on Jester a bit in this post. I say pick on because while Jester is extremely knowledgeable about EVE (and writes the best blog about it), his overall MMO experience is somewhat limited, and I’m 99% sure he did not play UO and experience its housing.

So with that said, flowers did not make UO housing. Not even a little bit. And ‘flowers’ would not be what would make EVE’s POS revamp. ‘Flower’ housing systems, like what LotRO has, suck. They are pointless, vapid wastes of instances space. That type of housing has zero gameplay. But that’s not what UO had.

The reason housing in UO was amazing gameplay was because it centralized you in a huge world. Without a house, you lived out of an NPC city, and those cities were not ‘yours’. As soon as you had a house, that was YOUR spot. Everything around you was important, because it was connected to YOUR spot in the world. That alone is perhaps the biggest retention ‘hook’ in the genre.

But housing in UO went further than just claiming land. It also opened up options such as running a vendor, or a crafting station near a mine, or just being a guild house for everyone to store items in and work out of. Each of those avenues further branched out. Once you start running a vendor, you care a lot more about the economy, and what items are worth. Or you go into crafting to ensure supply. Or you make connections to a crafting guild to work out a deal.

Point being, a house is the central point of the giant spiderweb we call sandbox content, and it’s a damn crime so many MMOs do it so poorly or don’t even do it at all.

Returning back to EVE, running a POS is painful. Really, really painful. No one likes it, very few tolerate it. Yet even in the sludge that is the current system, you have some interesting gameplay. Jester himself covers one example here.

Now imagine if CCP removed the sludge of the horrible UI you have to use to place POS guns, or the mishmash that is placing refineries and hangers. Designing a house/POS should be fun, like it is in UO. It should allow talented individuals to do something like the deathstar, but to the degree EVE lets you do things (think EVE market manipulation vs WoW kiddie pool economy).

And if newish players are given the chance to jump in and setup a small home, how many new players does that bring in? What kind of splash would a video showing the creation of a great looking and function POS make in the media? Hell, new players often struggle to define a ‘why’ in EVE; and building/growing your POS could be just the ticket. Reach a certain size, and the game should naturally encourage you to branch out, socialize, and work with others to continue on, much like UO subconsciously did way back in 1997. Again, the problem has been solved. The solution has simply been forgotten and drowned out in WoW-clone me-too trash design.

Darkfall:UW – Best Case

November 6, 2012

With Darkfall set to release in two weeks, I want to write down my expectations for the game. Today will be a best-case post, while tomorrow I’ll do worst-case. If nothing else, it will be interesting to revisit these post-release and see how Aventurine did and how DF2 ended up.

Best Case

The launch will be smooth from a performance standpoint, as the three years of DF1 experience will have refined the engine and stabilized it. Queues will still occur but won’t be ridiculous (over 1hr) in the first week or so, and player populations will be similar to levels experienced when DF1 launched the EU server. Server stability will be good, with minimal or no crashing. Hacking and exploits will be kept in check like they were in the later years of DF1.

The game will feel like DF1, but refined with the new roles and skills. Progression will still matter, but without obvious “must grind” skills like swimming or running. The early days/weeks will be heavily focused on character development and world explorations, with PvP happening when hunting parties cross naturally rather than along pre-defined PvP routes. The early land grab will be an interesting scramble, and the true value of each holding won’t be known until everything settles down and cities/hamlets/villages are built up.

The game will look similar to DF1 graphically, but with a nice facelift in terms of animations, lighting, sound, and overall feel. Much like DF1 in 2009, it won’t be cutting edge, but it will hold its own and the graphics will get the job done. Agon itself will be a better –designed version of its old self, with more places of interest and fewer barren spots. The three years of watching player behavior in old Agon will result in AV crafting a better, simply more interesting version, retaining the aspects that made the world interesting (magic lifts, high mountains, hidden passes) but removing the troublesome parts (one-entrance cities, imbalanced resource allocation).

The safe zones will allow players new to the DF experience to settle in before jumping into the deep end. Clans that are still forming will have a place to grow and learn. Veteran players will shortly leave these areas for the much richer lands beyond, but a sizable population of players will always occupy the safe zones. This will in turn allow DF2 to retain players better, and more of those new to the experience will be converted into core players rather than being driven off before really seeing what DF is about.

Those core players will have an environment that is busy and politically complex. Empires will rise and fall much like they did in the early EU days. PvP strategies will develop around specific roles, but then get countered by other roles and battle plans. The ‘grind everything’ character will not be the end-goal for everyone, and this will keep PvP interesting.

Crafting will be a refined version of DF1 crafting, with more designed being overall viable. With harvesting and resource placement redone, the DF2 economy will be stronger than anything DF1 saw, and ‘playing the market’ will become a legitimate role.

Finally, AV will have the resources to support DF2 much like they did for the first year or so of DF1, with frequent small updates and bi-annual expansions. This in turn will keep the core players playing while also attracting new ones.

Edit: Eurogamer will review DF2 and give it a 6/10, assigning someone who will actually login before writing it up.

Rift: Storm Legion – Who put this sand in here?

October 22, 2012

James, a community manager from Trion recently reached out to me and asked if I’d be interesting in taking Rift’s upcoming expansion Storm Legion for a guided tour. While I’m not currently playing Rift, and my reasons why are well documented here, I still have a lot of respect for Trion as a company and Rift as a themepark, so I took James up on his offer and last Friday he joined Inq’s vent and set me up with a beta account and character.

I went into this with two goals; the first was to see if anything in Storm Legion was more than just “more themepark”, and the second was to ask some general MMO questions and see what info I could get out of James. I’d say I was successful in both.

As for Storm Legion itself, the feature that stood out to me most was the housing system, because just from the glimpse I saw, I can safely say this is how themepark housing should be done. The design issue with instanced housing has always been the ‘why’. Why would you want/need to zone into your own area? Many themeparks give small incentives like crafting bonuses, or rely purely on Barbie dress up to sell the feature, turning what should be a core feature for everyone into a niche space for fantasy fashion designers and interior decorators.

Rift lets you do that as well, but also allows you to set your space to public, so that anyone can zone into it. On top of this, they also have a simple +1 rating system, and you can sort public housing zones by rating. In the beta, the house with the highest rating was from a player who clearly put in a lot of time with the new system, and had created something pretty unique (he took the base house and added a second level through creative use of stone and wooden planks, among other creative uses of basic materials). As I was being shown this area, he was actually in-game and designing a lawn statue, which was actually a pretty cool moment.

And if that was all that housing offered, it would be a nice step forward. But in a rare turn down sandbox lane, Trion lets you basically place items anywhere you want, up to the skycap. So our next stop on the tour was a ‘housing’ area that some player had converted into a giant jumping puzzle ala GW2. As James was explaining this, I watched dozens of players attempt this guy’s puzzle, which again was a pretty cool moment in “hey, people are actually going to use this feature”. I can only imagine as players have more time, they will create better and more creative stuff here, far beyond just fantasy houses you visit once. (The feature needs some additions, like the ability to create a loot chest, or to display armor, but James noted that what they have here now is just the first step, and expanding the feature will be an ongoing focus)

Housing aside, the other ‘feature’ that stood out to me was the overall size of the new zones; they are huge and more Rift-like than many of the games original zones. Also good to see is that the expansion is aligning to have the death rifts fighting the air rifts, a point of focus I thought the original game greatly lacked after rifts were overall nerfed at the end of beta. I’m not sure if this expansion is going to push the zones into complete three-way battles (death vs air vs players), but it should at least be closer to that.

I also saw the new raid that will be ready at release, as well as the first raid to be added post-release. They both looked interesting visually, and certainly captured that epic feeling in terms of mob and room size. Getting one-shot by different bosses and then having James one-shot them with GM powers was also pretty cool.

Since this was beta, we did run into a few issues, mostly around bosses showing up. But considering we were teleporting around so often and using GM powers to kill stuff, I’m not too worried. Even at its original release, Rift was a polished product, and Trion has always been quick with the fixes and updates. That there is no NDA around anything I saw or talked about with James, including the raid that is very clearly still in development should tell you a lot about how confident Trion is in their ability to deliver a solid product.

Moving away from the expansion itself and to more general topics about Trion and the MMO genre itself, I talked with James about Rift staying a subscription MMO when so many others are forced into F2P. He noted that Rift has always been profitable for Trion, and that they have a good balance between players who subscribe long-term and those who come back for a month or so to see an update. As the updates are frequent and substantial, it’s no surprise that the flow of returning players is as well.

Another major competitive advantage Trion has with Rift is that everything around the game was built to allow for rapid content development, something that is pretty obvious when you look at all the updates Trion has released since day one. The size and depth of Storm Legion also drives this home.

It sounds like a pretty obvious thing (being able to provide update to a game who’s business model is based around updates), but take a quick look around the themepark space and compare Trion’s release pace with its main competitors. The biggest design flaw around the themepark space vs sandbox titles has always been content creation being slower than consumption, and Trion has set themselves up well to minimize, if not outright counter this.

If themeparks are your thing, I’d say the way Trion handles Rift is how you’d want your themepark handled, and I’m actually curious to see just what players eventually do with the housing system. I think Rift players and general themepark fans will be very happy with Storm Legion, and the general direction Rift is moving in.

EVE: A POS to call my home

September 10, 2012

Another Jester-lead post for today (GW2 thoughts are brewing, but I can’t quite place my finger on them just yet. Something-something themepark though), this time about the next EVE expansion, and expansions/patches in general.

Jester is worried that much like last year, EVE players are going to be slowly simmering (or perhaps raging) due to a lack of focus on spaceships. I’d have a hard time arguing with him given the current unknowns about the next release, and the potential for it to be little more than “hey Dust is here”. While significant from a tech perspective and good long-term (assuming Dust does well, which I believe it will), if all you care about are spaceships, it’s not a lot to write home about short-term.

But really, if you take a step back, what has the last year done for EVE? How game-changing were Crucible and Inferno? They both included a lot of nice updates and changes, but nothing to really get excited about like the addition of wormhole space or incursions. To me they represented CCP doing some long overdue housecleaning. It’s not glamorous work, but it’s something you need to do and once done, allows you to finally move on.

The problem now is that the ‘move on’ aspect seems to be focused mostly on Dust, and as stated above, core EVE players that only care about spaceships are not going to find that all too exciting. Furthermore, Dust connecting to EVE is also not a game-changer for someone not currently playing EVE and looking for a reason to sign up or return. What CCP needs now is… wait for it… a Jesus feature.

Or at least something major that gets current players excited to play with something new, and potential players to notice and go “hey, that sounds interesting, I need to go check it out”. Which is basically how I regard other MMO updates I read on Massively; unless it’s some major feature that sounds interesting, updates and tweaks don’t interests me at all and I move on. To grab my attention, you need something major. I’m sure I’m not alone on this.

The key to me is striking a balance between keeping your MMO current and in-shape, while also attracting new players or getting former players to return for another go. We have seen far too many MMO devs panic and give up on their current base to chase a mythical “other group”, and one of the major reasons CCP has been so successful with EVE for 9+ years is they have stayed true to the games core and allowed growth to be more natural rather than buying into feature X bringing in a totally new crowd (if we ignore Incarna anyway).

So what Jesus feature should CCP ‘add’?

Redo how Player Owned Structures (POSs) work, turning them from something everyone hates but tolerates into a major goal almost everyone strives for. Because let’s be honest, does anything strike the “pride of playing” cord stronger than owning MMO property in a virtual world? I loved my house in UO, loved owning property in Darkfall, and SWG players will gush about their player cities. Does any EVE player write lovingly about setting up a POS, or how they love hanging out in their high or lowsec POS ‘home’? Does anyone even call it that? Hell even in WH space, we identify more with the current WH we occupy than the POS we live out of.

Redo the feature so it functions more like the housing in UO, where a player can customize the look and function in a modular way (I believe CCP has hinted at this already, but they should be making a full-court push IMO), and make it so its intuitive and easy rather than a strong contestant for most painful activity in EVE (which is saying something).

Make it so owning a small POS, even in highsec, is an achievable goal even for newish players (6 months or so), and something Corporations can collaborate on to gain additional benefits or comforts. Make them look cool, provide something wanted, and perhaps even integrate them into a form of gameplay around avatars like Incarna should have.

Oh, and do it sooner than ‘soon’.

You should return those glasses to their rightful owner

January 17, 2012

Syp over at Biobreak has a post talking about the pre-2003 MMO market and todays, and how you can’t pay him enough to go back to that time.

First I find this odd, as looking at his About page, I’m not seeing pre-2003 MMOs on his list of games he has played extensively, but maybe that’s just an omission on his part? Maybe he is a pre-2003 MMO vet? Is he just hiding the fact that he was Dreadlord Syp?

Anyway, here is his list of reasons why the genre is better today:

The quest system, dynamic events, full voice-overs, customizable appearances, public grouping, hybrid gameplay (such as STO’s ground/space combat), genre blending, business models

The quest system of 2012 is Cataclysm and SW:TOR. I’ll leave it at that.

‘Dynamic Events’ are a buzzword today for games like Rift, which are painfully static. Dynamic events in games like UO or EQ, which were player-driven, were actually dynamic. And actual events. The killing of Lord British anyone?

Voice-overs – Yup.

Customizable Appearances – In UO you had more options for this than you do today in WoW. With more impact as well. The game also had customizable housing on a scale most games today can only dream about (or declare technically impossible, depending on how little the devs think of their player-base).

Public Grouping – UO had this feature. Only it was called “Talk to that played, see what they are doing, and do stuff together”. When this happened regularly, it was called a guild. And since people actually lived in those worlds, rather than just ‘progressed’ through one hub to the next, knowing the locals meant something. I’d be dying to hear how someone who has experience with that prefers the random dungeon finder instead, as relates to group quality and the overall enjoyment of grouping.

Hybrid gameplay – The genre is better now that we have a poor man’s version of Starfox that we have to pay $15 a month to play? Odd, I was under the impression that when I loaded up an MMO, it was because I wanted to play an MMO, and when I loaded up Starfox, it was because I wanted to play Starfox. That said, UO had chess, although it required two players, so I understand why it would not work today.

Genre blending – We sure are.

Business Models – I love Pay-2-Win enhanced games like Atlantica. That game would suck as a pure sub game. I also love an immersive experience like LotRO turn into a slot-machine. Finally how can you not love what accounts being free does to server communities (lulz what is that?). In all fairness this can work sometimes. LoL being F2P is cool. EVE having PLEX is nice. Games like DDO/EQ2/LotRO/AoC not shutting down but instead milking a few dummies is cool, I guess.

And finally on to his real argument as to why those who enjoyed the genre pre-2003 love it today.

Oh wait he’s done? I see. Fine, let’s move on to the horrors of pre-2003 games, shall we?

You think the quest grind is bad today? Try simply grinding mobs endlessly for no reason other than a lack of other options. Or the horrible death penalties. The lack of real support for solo players. The incredibly obtuse nature of game mechanics and stats. The lack of free-to-play resulting in fewer gaming options on any given day

What game was Syp playing where he was grinding mobs endlessly because he had no other options and that was it? Doesn’t sound like UO to me. Nor AC. Nor DAoC. EQ1 players? The original carebears? Is it you?

Death penalties – The funny thing about WoW-only players is they just don’t know better. Tell them that if they die they lose all their stuff, and their heads explode. Now Syp, I guess being a pre-2003 vet, (right?) knows better. So he knows why the death penalty in UO was awesome. Just how much gameplay came out of the penalty in AC (Darktide, the only version of the game that mattered). And how many of you original carebears have epic corpse-run stories? I don’t think I need to talk about dying in DaoC, do I?

Solo players – What a horrible crime, that in a genre called massive MULTIPLAYER, we don’t cater to solo players. One can only imagine how horrible server communities and guilds were back when the only people playing were those who wanted to be social, who wanted to play something with others, who cared for group progression over personal. The horror! What would I do without little solo-Billy never talking and always being in his personal instance? Do you know how much worse my MMO experience would be without people like him… not around?

Game stats – I’m so glad the genre moved away from needing a website like EJ to play ‘the real game’, where groups are no longer formed based on gearscore, and that we no longer suffer with FOTM builds in games like Rift. That finally, we did away with obtuse things like being stuck playing a character in DAoC and making the best of it, rather than just re-spec’ing. That finally, rather than having to work towards a new build like we did in UO, you can just instantly hop from one solo-build to another. Amazing progress has indeed been made, and it’s clearly reflected in not just the games, but their communities as well.

Lack of free-to-play – Ah yes, the land of infinite quality, where only the best and brightest games dwell, and where only the finest of citizen reside.

I think I get where Syp is going with this. Now that I think about it, the 1997-2003 years were indeed horrible. Dealing with server communities, playing with tight-knit groups that stuck around longer than a month, building a server reputation, being judged not by my epics but by my personality. Just terrible, nightmarish days.

And remember all those awful days of Relic keep raids? Of invading Darkness Falls? Or all that time spent ‘grinding’ away in Minoc? Just talking to other players around your house because, damnit, you had no other options? Remember how painful it was to go into a dungeon in AC-DT, only for it to escalating into a server-wide brawl? Do any of you know how much time I ‘wasted’ fighting over a city in that game? How many people I knew by reputation, how deep the connections were? It was just awful man, awful. Not a single solo instance around, no ‘epic’ gear handed to me, absolutely no way to instantly teleport to a dungeon with some bots to go on an ‘epic’ quest to kill a god (for the 400th time).

Syp didn’t mention these things, but I will. You know what’s awesome about 2012? That thanks to $300m budgets, the games of today are bug-free (just don’t /dance), that they get prompt content updates (delayed until next week), look amazing (SW retro 2004 vibe is great), run great (just don’t turn on those now-gone high textures), have awesome server hardware (up to 10 people in one area) and they offer such a wide variety of things to do compared to games of old.

I mean look, when I’m tired of listening to those B-rate voices on my main solo-quest, I can go and do this side-quest. Solo. While listening to B-rate voices. In only one zone (sorry, planet) See? It’s awesome. So much better than being ‘forced’ to grind the same mob camp (one out of about a few thousand, if we’re talking UO) all day. Assuming I’m not a crafter. Or a shopkeeper. Or a PK. Or an anti. Or exploring. Or sailing. Or acting like an orc. Grinding mobs all day, yo!

Man I’m glad it’s 2012!

(Apologies for it not being Friday)


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