Shocker, a successful MMO is going to the sub model

March 19, 2015

Lineage 1, which I’ve actually played a good amount of and must say the game is very solid (in a very Asian, hyper-grindy way), is opening up a sub-only server in China. In freaking China!

Really weird how if a game is successful, it stays or goes to sub, while if an MMO sucks, it launches/stays F2P. Almost like each model represents something. Someone should blog about that a time or two…

To play now or wait for later

March 19, 2015

As noted before, Cities: Skylines is a great title that I’ve enjoyed a good bit, but having ‘finished’ a fairly major city, I’m now somewhat paralyzed with the game. On the one hand, I want to start a new city because the game is fun, but on the other I know down the road there will be a lot of great mods that make the game much better, and part of me wants to hold off until that happens.

In a way this is similar to waiting for Steam sales vs just buying a game; often I want a game that I think might be worth full price or whatever the price is at the time, but at the same time I know with 100% certainty that at some point, usually sooner rather than later, the game will go on sale.

First world problems.

FFXIV: Playing different roles on one character is brilliant

March 18, 2015

Quick note to start with: Playing the relaunch of The Elder Scrolls Online just reinforced how much better FFXIV is at being a thempark MMO. I might still try to get back into ESO at some point, but after spending 15 minutes with it, I’m more than fine waiting a bit longer.

Anyway, FFXIV. Having finally hit level 30, I’ve dug more seriously into leveling other roles using other (non-questing) systems, and man oh man is it fun. As I keep saying about FFXIV, what makes the game great isn’t the addition of some new magical feature, but rather taking the existing themepark formula and significantly refining it towards perfection. Rift certainly wasn’t themepark 3.0 (thanks Trion!), but FFXIV is. The order of significant themepark evolution now goes EQ1->WoW->FFXIV.

When I play MMOs I want to play my avatar, which is why I’ve always hated alts. I don’t want to be a bunch of characters in a game; I want to be ONE character in a world experiencing things. I don’t have multiple people playing my account, so I shouldn’t need multiple characters to play the game.

FFXIV nails this by letting you switch from role to role, and also by making the gathering and crafting roles a real thing rather than just a single skill bar to max out. Finally I can ‘play an alt’ in an MMO while still being my one character. That sounds so simple, but at least for me goes such a long way.

But that feature alone wouldn’t be nearly as great if FFXIV did what most other themeparks do and force you into the normal questing grind until you can do other stuff. FFXIV has that option mind you, there are three separate leveling chains from 1-cap (I believe), but that is but one choice among many (how sandboxy huh?), and you can mix and match all of the options as you go, which is also brilliant. Whether you decide to chase Fates, run dungeons, do guildhests, or just farm mobs for xp and crafting resources, how often and in what order you do all of this is up to you.

What turns a lot of MMO players off from a sandbox is the lack of direction, while what annoys others in a themepark is the on-rails experience. FFXIV has plenty of guided content (and also plenty of not-so-guided content), but at almost any point you can stop the ride and do something else, potentially never returning to that ride again (the main quest chain aside). I love that, because I can play an MMO ‘my way’, but it’s not as investment-heavy as a sandbox often requires.

Cities: Skylines has solid city-builder bones

March 16, 2015

Mostly agree with what J3W3L wrote about Cities: Skylines. In short, its a very solid city building sim that is more than worth the $30 to grab right now on Steam.

A few additions to what was already written. I love that mod integration happened day one, and that in the game’s own lobby screen you see a selection of Steamworks mods. This is a game type made far better with mods, and taking this into consideration right away is a great move.

Fully agree that how you unlock some of the unique buildings is a bit silly. For example, to achieve the 50% crime rate unlock, I basically built a test city, got it to a certain population, then deleted all of the police stations and let the game run for an hour or two while I did something else. And the crazy part? It took over an hour on the fastest time mode for the crime rate to get that high. How is that fun or good design? Granted some of the other building unlocks are better (10k industry space, 5000 elementary students), but to unlock everything you are going to be making test/dummy cities.

I think city builders last longer for kids than adults. The comparisons to older SimCities are a bit unfair IMO, because I think a large factor in how long you played those games is based on age. The younger you were, the longer it took you to master the game. An adult is going to figure things out in fewer cities or fewer hours, and this taints how we view these games sometimes. As someone who recently played SimCity 4 for the first time in a LONG time, it certainly didn’t have the replayability I thought it would, while at the same time I feel my mastery of Cities: Skylines is also climbing at a very fast rate. I don’t think that is so much a flaw with the game as it is just a reflection on who is playing it.

I also think future mods that increase the complexity will help. I view it how I view Mount and Blade; the base game is very solid and fun, and then you have total conversion mods that build on that and greatly increase the complexity. A mod like Prophecy of Pendor wouldn’t work as a standalone game, it’s way too complex, but it works great as a next-step after you play the base game. I’m hoping in the future we get such conversion mods for Skylines that also greatly extend the games life/appeal.

Complaints aside, this is still a title worth picking up at ‘full price’ (it’s $30 so not really ‘full’). For a new release, its nice to get a game that isn’t early release, in beta, or whatever the hell pre-alpha means. So far I haven’t had the game crash once, didn’t notice any bugs, and there aren’t major content gaps that you can clearly spot “future DLC” content coming. Very solid title and recommended for anyone who enjoys city builders.

CoC: Supreme Cream! vs Texas Knights

March 14, 2015

(Stats and writeup by Delpez)

Great war and very nice write-up by Syncaine. Anytime you win by 1 star it’s very satisfying, especially if you have to come from way behind like we did. But firstly, let’s see how the clans matched up in terms of strength: Read the rest of this entry »

CoC: About as good as it gets

March 13, 2015

Delpez should have the stats and writeup soon, but I wanted to jump ahead and post this:

Final war events

Final war events

In a 110-109 war, that we were down by ten stars or more for much of it, not only were our final five attacks all three-star hits, but the last moments saw four attacks happen in rapid succession, first Tirn bringing the war to a 108-108 tie, then their guy put them ahead by three-star’ing Durad (a 10 vs 37 matchup).

The two final attacks were even more critical. Their #4, a near-max TH9, attacked Jenks, our 35. He went GoWiPi, which should have crushed a mid-range TH8, but he didn’t pull the clan castle troops, and then sent all of his golems into the same spot, where they ended up banging on a wall while the defending wizards and others nuked them. He could have bailed himself out in a number of ways (like using his jump spell), but he didn’t. He also made a few more critical mistakes (not using his archer queen ability), and ultimately failed to three-star Jenks, which was a huge upset.

With that the stage was set for Justin, a fairly fresh TH9 (so basically a TH8 with a low-level AQ in terms of troops) to pull off a three-star using dragons against a near-max TH8. We have learned over time that while dragons at TH8 are very strong early on, a well-designed near-max TH8 base is very tough to three-star using dragons. Usually the attack is stopped by the last few defenses, and the margin of error is so small that even a single air bomb hitting too many dragons can be the difference, as can the placement of your heal/rage spells. If you use them well but not perfectly, you might come just short.

Justin pulled off a perfect attack however, especially with spell placement, and with the war clock at zero, the go-ahead star was scored and victory was ours. Crazy how thrilling the last 30 minutes or so of the war got, and plenty of cheers went out in chat right after. Good times.

PS: Silk pulling off two three-star attacks in the final hours was also huge, as were a large number of others with clutch attacks. I’m really glad we won too, because I derped badly with my main account’s first attack and also on my alt, so very happy that the clan picked up the slack and carried us all to victory.

Pathfinder Online: It’s 2003 EVE!

March 12, 2015

Raise your hand if you knew Pathfinder Online was already playable?

Yea, me neither.

But it is, and my friend Rynnik hooked me up with a buddy key to take a look. To use his words, Pathfinder right now is 2003 EVE. That’s both the ultimate compliment and a reality check.

The good is the systems behind Pathfinder and the feel of the world are great. The game is very much a virtual world ala EVE, and that is exciting. Fantasy EVE has been something a lot of us have been waiting for since.. well almost 2003 really.

The bad is Pathfinder isn’t even close to ready. There is a massive amount of desync going on right now, which is so bad that even PvE combat is terrible. Stuff dies, but you don’t know if you are swinging or not, and it just doesn’t work. Graphically the game is very weak, other window dressing is almost non-existent, and the UI is… well EVE 2003 quality.

What drives me nuts is you have a game like Darkfall, which has hand-down the best combat and ‘feel’ in an MMO, but is missing so much in terms of design and long-term depth. Then you have Pathfinder, which has filled all the holes DF had, but is missing all of DF’s strengths. Can’t someone get both right? I’m not even asking for perfect, but just get both decent to start off?

So yea, Pathfinder is on my radar, and already has a core following that loves it, but until it takes some big steps in a few areas, it’s not something I’m going to dive into right now.


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