Who hasn’t wanted to kill someone over a balance change?

October 16, 2014

Oh Gamergate, why are you so entertainingly funny? The fact that comments aren’t enabled on that story is a crime, because the CNN comments section makes the Massively comments section look like a Mensa meeting.

I’m not going to fully dive into this little media-created bruhaha because lets be honest, it’s really a story about nothing. Someone getting death threats because they did something someone else didn’t like on the internet? Yea that’s never happened before. An entire group being labeled by another group based on a few outliers that people run with? Are talking about the perception of PvP MMOs again? This is a debate about the SNES vs Genesis, right?

I think my favorite part though is this idea that ‘core gamers’ don’t matter anymore. I mean, I guess if you pretend CoD, LoL, CoC, Battlefield, GTA, FIFA, etc don’t exist, and that Farmville is still a thing, then sure, you might have a point. It’s like when fools state that PvP-based games drive more people away than they attract. Again, if you want to create a fantasy-land and run with it, go nuts, but until the top-seller list ISN’T filled with the exact type of game you claim isn’t popular, I’ll just keep laughing at your stupidity.

Which isn’t to say that the gaming market overall hasn’t expanded, because it has, and that’s a good thing for everyone, but to suggest that people are honestly concerned that the next CoD won’t be made because Barbie Princess Time (get it?) is getting made instead? Please.

PS: Nice of the guy in the video to wait until 3 minutes to throw out the race card. Was really expecting it much sooner. Also would it have killed him to prepare for maybe a minute here? Was he trying to maintain the whole ‘gamers can’t handle public situations because lulz basement’ thing, because if so A+ work. Guy should kill himself after that performance.

AA: Today in Trion being Trion

October 7, 2014

If you have been keeping up with all of the issues AA is facing thanks to Trion (queues, bots and hackers going unpunished, spammers destroying public channels for hours at a time), my guess is you have also picked up on this theme: Trion laying blame for the issues with XLGames, or at least deferring to them to take some heat off.

Now granted, Trion isn’t the developer of AA (thank god, or this would be a Trove-level game), so they don’t have control over things like skill power, general bugs, or when new content is coming. That’s all fine and understood. But Trion DOES have control over server numbers, how queues are handled, and what actions they allow their GM’s to take. XLGames can develop better tools to track and catch hackers, but if Trion has an insufficient or incompetent GM staff, that’s on them.

For example, in a reply to hackers picking up housing spots as buildings decay:

We’ve been closely following the accusations of unfair land claiming methods. The team is actively investigating accounts that appear to some players as outliers in terms of number of properties owned. This data point alone isn’t sufficient evidence of foul play as some players are focusing all of their gameplay on real estate and flipping properties.

We agree that one player claiming multiple properties that many other players are simultaneously trying to claim is suspect, which is why we’re taking a close look to determine the cause, prevent it, and remove the players using it. Additionally, we’re proposing new methods for land claiming to XLGAMES that will remove the benefit of fastest ping or most clicks per second.

So Trion is aware that certain players own silly amounts of housing, yet currently haven’t done something about it like, oh I don’t know, have a GM look into how that player got all that property? Maybe flag that account to see what they do? Look into who owns that account? See what happens to the houses they claim (wonder what’s happening if they are being traded for next to nothing in-game…)? We don’t need weeks worth of investigating here, not when housing spots are being picked up daily.

It’s 2014. This isn’t 1997 where all of these basic MMO issues are something new. Hell, this isn’t even Trion’s first big MMO, not to mention the fact that Trion was founded by ‘MMO vets’. If AA’s design is an example of learning from MMO history to make a better game, Trion’s handling of AA as the EU/US publisher is currently a textbook example of how to royally screw a successful launch in every possible way.AA is a fun game DESPITE Trion. All they had to do was be decent. That’s it. The bar is so freaking low here, and yet Trion continues to knock it down day after day.

I mean, how is gold-seller spam in your global public chat channels something that caught you by surprise and the added tweak (need to be level 15 to type) not something you had in on day one of a massively popular, free-to-make-accounts MMO? Did you really thing “gee, surely no one will attempt to spam our global chat channels with throwaway characters, better just focus on copy/pasting text into Google translate”?

Are Trion and SOE in some sort of hidden bet for who can be the king of incompetence, with MMO players as the unaware test subjects? That has to be it. Entire companies with prior MMO experience can’t be unintentionally this terrible… right?

AA: Trion is really doing a great job, example 1 billion

October 6, 2014

Take your time Trion, no rush. It’s not like the economy in a sandbox is important or anything.

AA: Trion does its best to ruin a good thing

September 29, 2014

ArcheAge makes for some rather interesting blogging fodder, and hopefully I can get through the major points and get my point across in a way that makes sense, but no promises, as this might get rambly.

Let’s start with the business model. Flat out, AA has one of the worst versions of F2P in the genre. For starters playing for free is basically a non-option due to the limits of labor point generation, among other crippling restrictions. What’s really awesome about this is that it encourages free players to stay logged in even when not playing to generate labor points. Such brilliant design was no doubt a major factor in the terrible queue situation that AA had (has?) at launch.

Then there is the pay-to-win (P2W) factor, which really should be renamed pay-for-power (P4P) overall, because that’s really what it is. In almost no game can you outright buy wins, but in many you certainly can buy power so that if all other factors are equal, the guy who spent more wins (or gets ahead, has an advantage, etc, as you can’t always ‘win’ in an MMO).

I don’t mind the P4P model if its honest and upfront (gold ammo in WoT before it was removed, for instance), because then I can decide if I want to get involved in something like that. What I hate is the “oh no we don’t sell power in the shop, just convenience” bullshit developers try to shill you, and Trion has plenty of this in AA. From labor points (buy a potion to get more!), to pet/mount levels (buy a potion to level them up!), to lottery item chests; if there is a scummy F2P itemization strategy for the cash shop, Trion has included it in AA.

The multiple currencies situation really brings this home, as AA has three. The first is in-game gold like all MMOs have. Then you have ‘loyalty’ points, which you earn 5 of each day if you sub and log in. This buys you a few things in the item shop, but not much, which leaves it as little more than an insult from Trion. “Thanks for your $15 a month, feel free to buy some table crumbs from our store”. The third is the cash-only currency, which buys everything else.

The double dipping ($15 for the basically required sub, plus a fully stocked, P4P item shop) is bad. Really bad. The fact that you have to run the game through Trion’s feeble little Steam-clone Glyph sucks as well. Trion has 2.5 games released (Rift, AA, Trove/Defiance), and the Glyph shop has an embarrassingly small selection of other titles to purchase (Not that you would want to anyway, though I would LOVE to meet someone who has, must be a fascinating creature). Glyph is just bloat garbage that delays getting into AA, so thanks for that Trion. Also thank you for your anti-hack program that installs itself without asking. I’m sure there will never be an issue with that, plus who doesn’t love random stuff installing itself on your PC, right? Also that program delaying getting into AA is another plus of you being the publisher!

The MMO that XL Games (the developer) made seems pretty great so far. It really does, and I’ll cover that in future posts. The trash Trion stacked on top of said game brings the experience down sadly. The translation that took Trion so, so long to do is at Google translate-level, and even some of the voice work in the game isn’t in English. The whole “Join us in beta” email campaign that was really a “buy into beta” message was insulting. The launch was a borderline disaster thanks to multiple Trion missteps. Plus given Trion’s history with Rift, I’m not exactly confident that they won’t find a way to (further) screw with AA.

AA the game is great. What Trion the publisher has done with it is terrible. Seems that even when we get nice things in this genre, they come with something that reminds us we aren’t allowed to just fully enjoy ourselves. So a big ‘Thank you’ to Trion, for going above and beyond in attempting to take a fun MMO and trying to ruin it, what you have done really is next-level incompetence and scumbaggery.

PS: While its possible XL Games forced Trion into all of the F2P-based crap (there is no doubt who caused the Glyph garbage), and they are just a helpless unthinking drone in all of this, until this is made clear, they get full blame.

Bungie beats Blizzard yet again, this time in public view

September 26, 2014

If you were a Mac-based gamer back in the 90s, you were likely familiar with Bungie. While Mac gaming was overall highly inferior to PC gaming, perhaps the biggest bright spot was Bungie, who for whatever reason made Mac-only games for a while.

They made Marathon and Marathon 2, titles that dwarfed the far more famous Doom in terms of design, innovation, and overall impact on the FPS genre (a lot of the features people think Doom introduced (rocket jump, duel wield) were done, or done better, in Marathon).

They then made Myth, an RTS title that was years ahead of its time (3D battlefields, physics for projectiles, dedicated online lobby with ranking). This was during the time when Starcraft was out and everyone was falling over themselves on that title (a small step forward over Warcraft), while quietly in Mac land Bungie was making the blueprint for future RTS titles.

Speaking of dreaming, Bungie also had Bungie.net, which was a matchmaking service similar to what Blizzard would eventually do with Battle.net. It was on that said service that my greatest gaming achievement, being ranked #1 in the world in Myth 2 until Bungie introduced rolling seasons, was accomplished. Yes, I’ve been kind of a big deal for a long time. And yes, I’m a bit bitter that pro-gaming is just now taking off, but what can you do. Things kinda worked themselves out in the end.

Moving forward, I’m guessing everyone is familiar with Halo and it’s impact.

And finally we come to Destiny and Titan. Funny that this time, Blizzard wasn’t able to escape the crushing shadow of Bungie simply still being ahead in terms of game design (albeit this time fairly generic and uninspiring design. Kinda sums up a large section of gaming when these two are fighting over who can put out an overall meh product first). But hey, maybe Blizzard will still scrap something together and put out a cute Destiny clone.

PS: How dumb does Blizzard look right now not having simply made a StarCraft MMO like everyone was expecting/hoping for, with the game basically being a reskinned and updated WoW? This is what happens when they step out of their copy/paste comfort zone I guess.

Can we close the book on ‘accessibility’ now?

September 18, 2014

File this as example 164,239 of “difficulty is good for everyone, faceroll is bad”: EVE Burner missions killing people make them enjoyable. This is pretty good timing too, given that Blizzard just confirmed example 164,238 (WotLK, the ‘accessible’ age, was when WoW started declining), and Tobold is here to provide example 164,240, where he had to stop face-rolling in Destiny (a ‘casual AAA game’ everyone) due to running into something with a challenge, and actually had to think up a way to get around it. Oh the horror.

Not that this is news to most. The most popular game out overall is based on scaling PvP difficulty (LoL), the most popular and profitable mobile game is based on scaling PvP difficulty (CoC), and the most popular gaming franchise (CoD) is based primarily around PvP of scaling difficulty (server selection). It’s almost like people are trying to tell devs something, and they are saying it with what counts (money rather than words).

Candyman, candyman, candyman

August 18, 2014

Trollbold is back it seems, and in classic style.

Let me just cut that post down completely with one question before moving into the details: What day-one F2P MMO has been more successful than recently launched sub MMOs?

Because if the sub model is dead, surely some new F2P mega-hit must have replaced it, right? That’s what everyone must be playing now? The new F2P hotness called… what was its name again? You know, that F2P from day one MMO that is doing so well. Never can remember its name, or all those other really successful F2P MMOs before it…

I do find it hilarious that Tobold is linking to Superdata as well. Just trolls linking trolls and dancing around in a fantasyland circle together.

But let’s put aside fairyland numbers and look at something solid shall we? That recent NCSoft financial report for instance, that showed WildStar bringing in more money than GW2. Now GW2 isn’t F2P, but it’s also not good enough to be a sub MMO either, and NCSoft’s numbers back that up. An MMO made for the “1%” pulled in more than the MMO who’s manifesto told us was changing everything for everyone; funny how that works. And yes, WildStar will drop because its box sales drive the numbers up, but isn’t it cute that the “1%” consists of about 450k people initially? One would think you could sustain an MMO off such a population if you did it right, huh?

Of course the most glaring omission from the two troll sources is FFXIV, but it’s hard to call something dead when a 2m+ account behemoth is standing right in front of you, more than a year after launch. And while you’re at it, you should probably also ignore its previous iteration, FFXI, because that also isn’t helping your case.

The problem here is the same one we have had since day one; in order to remain a subscription-based game, an MMO has to be good-enough for its core audience to keep them. There are some MMOs at that level, and then there is a near-endless landfill of F2P titles below them trying to sell you a hotbar or the One Ring, because if you aren’t a quality game, you might as well try to dupe suckers out of a few bucks before they catch on. But just like with FFXIV, whenever someone has something they know is better than average, they go with the business model that best supports good games, and unless the genre just up and decides to stop making worthwhile games, the sub model will remain.


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