GW2: Posting this from the overflow blogging server

August 27, 2012

Having re-subbed to WoW this weekend… no wait.

GW2! Best game ever! Yay!

Wait wait… GW2, still worth the $60, I guess. Much better.

Talking about the hours after a major launch is always subjective. My first hour with GW2 was an unplayable mess of lag and disconnecting. If I had logged off during that time, I could easily write a post today calling the GW2 launch yet another disaster in the storied history of MMO launches being disasters.

Of course, being a true MMO gamer, I took the game being unplayable as a challenge and soldiered on, and things improved. Others on vent reported similar issues, although others did not. I did not have an issue with the login server, but again others did. I was able to log right into Jade Quarry, but others reported it being full and had to later transfer.

Again, from what I’ve personally experienced and heard from others, overall the GW2 launch might be the best in MMO history (pending the ‘true’ release, but at this point I’d be shocked if come Tuesday the game has launch issues), so congrats to Anet for that. Maybe now going forward the question of “will the MMO be playable on day one” won’t be such a one-sided ordeal.

Gameplay wise the game is what it is. Some will tell you it’s solved all MMO woes (and be serious…), which amazingly was STILL happening in-game. One must wonder when that blind fanaticism will die down, because it truly is quickly becoming the worst aspect of GW2. My guess is the day those ‘dynamic’ events follow the path of WAR’s PQs (and they will) and becoming ghost-towns, but even then I’m not convinced.

The biggest grip I have right now is the overflow situation. I tried to play with my wife twice and both times the game made that impossible. Some have said the overflows are better than queues, and while I agree if you are playing solo, I’m not convinced from a multiplayer perspective. Again I’m guessing this will only be a short-term issue, because otherwise it’s going to be a MAJOR pain considering how often you zone in/out of areas.

I’m also curious how WvW queuing is going to work, as reportedly Jade Quarry had a permanent queue the entire time, and I could easily see Anet having trouble balancing population demands between servers. If Jade Quarry is all PvP players, and server X is carebear land where hardly anyone enters WvW, how is Anet going to balance total server population? If you limit it based on Jade Quarry, server X will have 10 people in WvW and get stomped. If you balance based on server X, Jade Quarry will forever have an insane queue for WvW. Something to keep an eye on as time goes by, and more people hit 80 and finishing leveling.

Overall though a good start for Anet and GW2, even with that stupid baseball cap they gave out to everyone that instantly kicks immersion in the nuts.

GW2: Server = Jade Quarry

August 21, 2012

Inquisition will be playing on Jade Quarry, so if you have been following this blog and are considering playing with us, make that your home server.

A lot of factors went into the decision, but overall we feel that server will have the highest concentration of skilled PvP players to consistently dominate in WvW, and WvW is the primary focus for Inq.

I think almost everyone is in agreement that come launch, no matter the server selected, things are going to be less-than-smooth. I’m hoping they won’t be 2004 WoW bad, but you never know, and trying to dodge high-pop servers seemed like a poor short-term decision in what we expect to be a long-term investment of time/effort.

GW2: Server selection metagame

August 16, 2012

The amount of meta-gaming going on right now around GW2 server selection is pretty interesting. More on this post go-live, but if WvW is at all a concern to you, choose wisely (or read this blog).

Captain Gevlon going down with the Tortanic

August 8, 2012

And… back!

Vacation was very nice, thanks for asking.

TAGN did a very nice job filling in for me on the SW:TOR failure front. I agree with everything in his post, and will only add one thing; while it’s obvious now why SW:TOR is a terrible MMO, it’s important to remember that when the 4th pillar was originally announced, lots of bloggers and commenters were convinced BioWare was aiming at the right target. Hell, even as more info about SW:TOR came out, those people were STILL convinced the game was going to work. And 1.7m or whatever even put down $60+ because they still believed.

The great thing about the best blogging gift of 2012 however is that this is just another step on the fail cascade for SW:TOR. As Wilhelm correctly predicts, EAWare is going to do lots of hilarious things with the F2P model for the game. Time to cook up another batch of popcorn and enjoy the next phase of failure. I’m hoping they put out more of those fancy videos explaining things, those were incredibly entertaining.

The other item of hilarious fail is Gevlon. Where to start… (I’d link to the posts, but with Gevlon editing things as heavily as he does, it’s pretty pointless. That said, it is amusing to read his stuff after the fact, and then try to follow the comments as they talk about things that are no longer there. His editing skills need some serious work.)

Gevlon created a Corp, it failed.

Gevlon created another Corp, it also failed.

Gevlon then posted that EVE is less hardcore than WoW, in a sad justification of why he is going to play with Pandas soon.

While all of this was going on, Gevlon continued to fail to get into a Null entity in the batshit crazy way he wanted to. Why no one jumped on the chance to gain a tackle-titan/fleetboost-titan/noob-carrier/noob-logi pilot still remains a mystery to me…

And while ALL of that was happening, he continued to ‘prove’ that being a human market bot was a way to create some modest wealth (for all non-EVE players, 100b ISK is very modest for market players.) Yes, who knew selling Badger IIs, skillbooks, and hardwires for 2-3 hours a day, every day, for six months straight (!) could make you some ISK in EVE. Also I heard you can mine veld in highsec, c/d? The best part here is Gevlon believes he is providing something of value and teaching this revolutionary method to anyone.

Personal and hilarious failure aside, Gevlon’s little adventure into EVE highlights an important aspect of the game; in order to succeed, you must not only have goals, but be able to accomplish them or fail and learn from the failure. Gevlon took the box of Legos that is EVE and tried to do many things with them. To his credit, at least he had some goals. Sadly, due to his nature, he would not listen when people told him you can’t grow grass from Legos. In that he failed in spectacular fashion over (fits) and over (Corps) and over (Null) again, but unlike the rest of humanity, rather than actually learning from those failures he continued to bash his little green head into the learning-curve wall.

And like many, when ultimately faced with the failure of not having any ‘content’, he has decided to return to safer pastures, to pick up Simon Says again, rather than get into anything of substance in EVE. WoW is nice and safe because it always holds your hand, brings you to the next instance, and tells you exactly how good you did and where to go next. Having ‘goals’ in WoW is easy by design, and for those who lack the ability to self-motivate, or to accomplish anything semi-complex, it works perfectly.

By contrast, EVE does not. Or rather, it does not when you fail to accept even the absolute most basic suggestions. It won’t become obvious why your tackle-Titan is a complete failure until the soon-to-be ridiculed killmail shows up, and even then the feedback is still player-based rather than the game itself telling you why. For someone as ‘unique’ as Gevlon, this feedback loop does not work, or works very, very slowly in the most extreme cases.

Gevlon is right in that EVE is easy however. As almost all of the members of my Corp will attest to, being a new player in EVE and being able to accomplish significant goals is not nearly as hard as it first seems on day one. The amount of support, both in-game and on Vent/Mumble that you can provide to someone in EVE is amazingly high compared to WoW. I can bring that day-one pilot into a C6 wormhole and show him the ropes, and within a week he can provide real value in what some would call an ‘end-game’ space in EVE. Of course, I would never take someone like Gevlon, but luckily those types are easy to weed out in the recruitment process, and even if they get past that they have a nice way of killing themselves off, as Gevlon is doing right now.

I think the saddest thing about Gevlon failing in EVE however is that he only did so on his blog. He never, well, did anything in EVE itself. He never got in that Titan to produce a good killmail. He never got a Corp off the ground far enough to have it implode for all to see. He never went into WH space. Never really went into Null. Just sat in a few stations, updated his market orders, and flew his frig around in high-sec.

Unlike SW:TOR, all that potential hilarious fail, wasted.

Vacation time

July 25, 2012

I’m off on no-Internet vacation until August 6th, so this blog will be quiet until then.

When I get back I’ll be sure to talk a little about SW:TOR shutting down (that’s still scheduled for next week, right?), as well as likely reopen recruitment in EVE (train up those scanning skills).

Behave yourselves until then.

Dear EAWare and SOE: Please don’t release any blog-worthy announcements until I get back. I so do hate missing quality bash opportunities.

Ah who am I kidding, zero chance you guys can go a week without something stupid coming out.

EVE: Red Dawn, Red Midday, Red G’night

July 16, 2012

One of the ‘secret’ Ops that I’ve alluded to here before has finally come to fruition, and I can now finally blog about it.

As most WH Corps/Alliances do, HAHA has been sending pilots out to scout other holes and see what the residence are up to. In one such hole, a C6 no less, our scout noticed that the residents always ran their sites at around the same time, and always used the same mix of Dreads and Carriers. They were very routine about this, and so a plan was hatched to get ships inside the C6, log out, and log in when the capitals were in the middle of a Sleeper site, hopefully resulting in some dead caps and some nice kill mails.

Early last Friday, our scout reported some very favorable entrances into the C6, and so our alliance mobilized and we got people ready to jump inside and log out. I was one of the first ships to make it in and log, as I had dinner plans. As I was out eating anniversary dinner with my wife, I get a text that the plan is off, as some third party had already run the sites inside the C6, and so the locals would not be doing their normal routine. Such is WH life.

About 30 minutes later, still at dinner (I believe I was a few bites into a cheesecake), I get another text informing me that the plan is back on, only it’s been escalated. Turns out, an even more favorable entrance had opened, one that would allow us to get a few of our own capital ships inside. Rather than waiting for the current owners to log on, we were going to siege the POS and loot whatever was inside.

As I got home and logged into Mumble, the alliance was still working the logistics of getting everything inside the C6. This went on for quite some time, but eventually we had two dreads and a large support fleet ready to go. Then a very fortunate, and funny, thing happened.

The owner of the POS had not configured his defenses correctly, and all his shiny faction guns and ewar did not attack us as we opened fire. Most likely, the POS was left in the default settings; attacking anyone with a standing less than 0. As we had no standing with this alliance (0), the POS did not consider us a threat. This made disabling everything nice and easy, although not all that quick.

At about 4am or so early Saturday morning, the POS went into reinforced mode. Our assumption was that the POS had full stront, so it would come out of reinforce at our primetime Sunday. As luck would have it, the owner had the stront bay less than full, and the tower was actually set to come out at 8am Sunday morning (EST). Alarm clock raid!

Our alliance camped the hole all day Saturday, making sure no evac was possible and that all incoming holes were accounted for and handled properly. For the most part, Saturday was quiet.

At just before 8am Sunday, the real action started.

The defenders had four (visible) dreads and two carriers inside the POS, along with a few sub-caps. Also, at some point they had managed to repair and online some defenses. As our two dreads and the support fleet started hammering the POS and disabling the defenses again, the enemy moved four dreads and a carrier just outside the POS shield, and a massive brawl broke out.

Our two dreads were of course the targets, and while they hero tanked for as long as they could, they eventually went down in a blaze of glory. However they did not die in vain, as they survived long enough, and dished out enough DPS, to also allow us to take down two enemy dreads (both shiny fit compared to ours), and to put the carrier into structure before it and the two remaining dreads made it back inside the POS. (Note: I was not online at this point, but that was the summary I was given. Anyone at that fight feel free to provide more detail).

With our dreads gone, grinding down the POS became… well a grind. To further slow things down, the defenders would occasionally move a dread just outside the POS to attempt to blap a sup-cap. In response, we had two Bhaalgorns that would warp to anything that left the POS and start neuting, along with a few other ships to attempt to bump the capital further out and allow us to kill it. The neut/bump plan did not yield a kill here however, and the dreads did manage to blap two ships due to pilot error and not keeping traversal up.

While all of this was happening (3-4 hours’ worth), we had a scout scanning the C6 always looking for new sigs, and just as the POS shields hit 25%, he announced a new WH opening. As we warped our fleet to a safe spot just in case, the scout further reported that the connecting WH had a connection to low-sec. This was very fortunate news for us.

Due to the length and complexity of the siege, we were running low on ammo, and so the new connection to known space meant we could resupply. It also meant more ships could get inside, and those who had lost ships could rejoin the fight as well.

But best of all, it meant we could, theoretically, get more dreads inside. I say theoretically because the low-sec was nowhere near our current home C5 exit, so bringing our existing capital ships would not be possible. A quick check of the market revealed some good news however; there were two dreads for sale on contracts nearby. For 5 billion each. Someone liked their dreads shiny. After some quick consideration, Alliance leadership dropped the ISK and started working on getting the dreads inside the C6. This was again a logistics puzzle both in terms of fuel and fittings, and of dodging a very active section of low-sec during euro primetime. More than one scouts and indy was lost to a gate camp, but ultimately our big new toys were inside and we were ready to finish what we started.

In another turn of fortune, our new dreads were rail fit rather than blaster, meaning they could sit 100km off the POS and still hit their targets. This would lead to a new and interesting combat scenario.

Due to the enemy dreads being blaster fit, they could not effectively poke their heads out of the POS and shoot at our dreads. But since our dreads were shooting at the center of the POS itself (25km inside the shield), and they were aiming at our ships, they could still do some damage. Enough to pose a threat anyway, which forced our sub-caps into action. This would trigger the final and most epic battle of the siege.

The first threat was a smartbomb-loaded carrier moving out of the POS shield along with two dreads. Thankfully, our skilled logistics pilots were able to keep everyone alive despite the heavy bombing, and we managed to get a solid bump on the carrier, moving it away from the POS. At this point our two Bhaalgorns where heavily neuting, while our 30 or so sub-cap fleet was hammering away. Inch by inch the carrier’s shields and armor was being shred, all while a few hero pilots also managed to bump and web down a dread. Our full commitment came at a cost however, as one of our Bhaalgorns went down in a billion+ ISK blaze from the combined siege-mode dreadnaught fire.

As we finished burning down the carrier, we turned our attention to the trapped dread. Our swarm of sub-cap piranhas repeatedly bumped the giant ship to ensure it stayed out of the POS, and in short order it too went down, leaving behind a ruined husk of a wreck. The final dread managed to slip back inside the POS at this time. As the rush of battle subsided on coms, congrats went out and everyone was pumped.

Having failed in their final stand, the defenders could be seen packing up ships and preparing to escape as we hammered on the POS. Despite a great effort to scan down the escaping capital ships, their long distance safe spots proved effective, and they managed to sneak out and (for now) avoid destruction.

With the POS now empty of defenders, we finished off the tower and moved inside to loot the spoils of victory. Still floating inside the POS was an Orca and two Abaddons, and an additional dozen or so ships of various sizes (though no capitals) were found among the many ship hangers we destroyed. When we destroyed the Corporate hanger, a half-dozen jetcans of loot popped out, containing more than 10bil in total value.

Despite the long hours, and the near-total lack of sleep for some alliance members, the Op was a huge success, and got me my first two capital kills in EVE. As a Corp member said towards the end, this is exactly why we play EVE.

Christmas came early for HAHA.

Edit: Some screenshots will be posted later tonight.

Day-one mastery

June 29, 2012

Keen has a nice post about why he is finding current-day MMOs lacking, especially in immersion. I think what Keen writes is something many (most?) MMO players feel, whether they actually know it or not. A major issue with MMOs cloning WoW is that today, everyone is already really good at WoW, and so a major chunk of ‘content’ (learning the game) is instantly missing from whatever AAA MMO you load up.

This is a major reason why, despite having access, I only played GW2 a tiny bit during the first BWE event; just enough to know the game was decent-enough to play with INQ and my wife. Because while GW2 is set to cure all MMO woes, it does so in very familiar fashion. You are still mashing a hotbar, you are still going from lower level zones to higher, still collecting ever-increasing gear, and you still have an end-game where you bash people/doors/npcs until… well until you are bored (or for a small subset, until your server sits at the top).

The details of all of the above is what will make GW2 interesting, and there will be some changes thrown in (ooh, dodge), but learning those will take minutes rather than years, and because this is a mass-market game, the learning will be terrible accessible and dummy-proof.

The ride itself will undoubtedly be pretty, it will have some ‘ooh neat’ moments, and the time spent with it will be entertaining. But I have absolutely no doubts that GW2 will not be immersive. It won’t be something that sucks you in and challenges you on that level for months if not years. It won’t be the land of unique MMO stories, where a year after release we are reading about how a small group of players just discovered a new way of doing… anyway. And all of that is 100% fine, so long as you go in with reasonable expectations. I fear many are not, but what can you do.

Back to the larger point; in the days of the big three, immersion worked not only because no one really knew this MMO thing, but because each game had little in common with the other two. Simply put UO did not play or work like EQ1 in any way, and what AC-DT was doing was also completely different. If you put UO next to EQ and added up the similarities, and did the same for WoW and GW2, which total would be higher? And by how much?

On top of this, figuring each game out took longer, mostly thanks to the games being less accessible and the ‘how this works’ never being officially explained. This lead to information being posted elsewhere, but at that time half of what you read was still wrong. Today not only can you get every system explained to you on one site, but that one site is almost certainly accurate. If today I want to know the absolute best build for a GW2 character, I’m only one Google search away.

As always, the current-day exception to this is EVE. The lack of accessibility in EVE means you are left to figure many things out either on your own or in your group. The wealth of options means that while you can master one aspect, there are dozens of unrelated things you know nothing about. A great null-sec pilot is a noob in WH space, for instance, and to truly become a master of everything not only requires a massive amount of time, it’s also very, very optional. You would have to force yourself to jump from area to area of the game frequently just to experience it all, and that’s not very realistic for a variety of reasons.

What EVE loses by those dropping off before the first month due to the complexity it makes up for (and then some) from those who are 4 year vets and still have things to learn. The PvP-based nature of EVE also means that not only will that 4 year vet have game systems to learn; he will constantly be adjusting his gameplay due to other players and shifting tactics.

It would be difficult for a new MMO to replicate the complexity and depth of EVE on launch day, simply because unlike WoW, EVE has actually been expanding (rather than replacing) its content over the years. But while it would be unrealistic to expect years of complexity on day one, more than a month is not asking too much, is it?


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