MMO players eat at Olive Garden

September 10, 2014

Loving the ‘outrage’ some are experiencing over this whole Olive Garden promotion, because it reminds me so much of MMO players and the ‘outrage’ we display at times over an MMO. I mean you could literally replace “Olive Garden” with “World of Warcraft” in some instances and the rants people go on would still totally work. Funny stuff.

Spam, freebies, rewards

September 9, 2014

Slow days in blogging land of late, unless you are really into ‘debating’ definitions or pounding away at the corpse of a long-dead horse, so just a quick couple of notes for today.

First, if you own a blog that I occasionally comment on, check your spam filter. Seems I pop into spam filters now. Not entirely sure that’s in error…

Second, I’ve noticed that if a company outright sends me a copy/code for a game, I’m far more likely to at least give it a shot than if someone sends me one of those “would you be interested in…” emails. Just something about getting right to it and not pre-filtering it with a wink wink nudge about a positive review works for me. Still doesn’t guarantee you anything, but if you have a solid product, it removes one barrier I have to giving you a shot.

Finally, I like how Final Fantasy XIV handles subscription longevity rewards, in that you can see what you will get the longer you stay subscribed, and (I think) all of the rewards fall into the fluff category. It’s not THE reason to stay subscribed, but at the same time it is a nice bonus and does its part to justify the monthly cost. FFXIV maybe not have the one killer feature to make it amazing, but so far it seems that everything it does, it at least does well, and the sum of all those solid parts makes for a great MMO.

CoC: Blitz offensive

September 6, 2014

Quick little Clash of Clans update: We have less than ten spots remaining in the clan; Supreme Cream! (cap is 50). If you have plans to join up, do so before it’s too late.

As mentioned in the previous CoC post, we are not only winning every clan war, but now we are just straight up mauling people. Up 40+ stars before they even blink thanks to my genius new strat; the blitz.

It’s pretty simple; everyone tries to hit the hardest enemy base then can reliably 3 star right as the war starts, which usually puts us way ahead. When the enemy sees they are so far behind already, a lot of them won’t bother to attack, since attacks during a clan war that you end up losing don’t give worthwhile rewards. When victory is assured, we then use our second attack to hit the highest base we can get a single star off for maximum loot.

Win the war, get massively paid, progress faster, crush whoever is next. That’s what we do, and its a damn good time.

Subtraction by addition

September 3, 2014

One of the lazier strawmen in MMO blogging land is to dismiss the success of an older MMO by stating that fewer people play it today. I’m sure you have read some version of “If UO did so many things right, why aren’t more people playing it today?” on one blog or another. The overall ‘why’ is a pretty complex topic that I won’t fully get into today, but what I do want to talk about is the fact that MMOs can get worse.

Time is one factor. As the months and years go by, a game ages. Visuals that at release looked great might not be so hot anymore. A feature that was special at release might be common in most games a few years later. You don’t have the newest, hottest feature. Etc, etc.

All of the above however doesn’t have to happen in an MMO. You can upgrade your visuals. You can patch in new features. You can introduce whatever the newest technology trend is (super servers for example). Just because WoW today looks like a game from 2005, or EQ2 looks like something from 1999, doesn’t mean that’s just how things go. EVE today looks like a game released in 2014, and its technical backend is still miles ahead of everyone else. UO did an engine update. So did DDO. Plenty of other examples exist. That’s a major selling point of the genre after all; you aren’t just buying a game as-is today, you are buying into a service that will evolve and improve as time goes on.

Yet while the intent of every update is to make an MMO better, not all do so. Of course famous examples like UO’s Trammel, SWG’s NGE, or DoAC’s ToA are well known and deservedly hated, but all MMOs have had some update that has driven someone away. Now most updates are positive, but even if a change brings or retains more people than it drives away, someone somewhere is going to hate that you did X instead of Y.

And sometimes an MMO does just get worse due to updates. How many half-decent MMOs have become complete dreck because of a F2P switch? Remember when LotRO was all about staying true to the lore, or when loading screens weren’t an opportunity to spam with you a cash-shop ad? When EVE forced you into the captains quarters? Etc, etc.

So yes, even if I did love what UO was in 97, that doesn’t mean that the 2014 version with elves, ninjas, and god knows what else is a game I want to play. Due to updates, the passing of time, and a multitude of other factors, in 2014 I’m not playing UO. That doesn’t change the fact that 1997 UO did a lot of things better than MMOs today, including 2014 UO, and that today’s devs could still learn a lot from it, or other once-successful MMOs.

And hopefully, they learn the right lessons, and make the right update, to actually make there MMO better with each update. Seems to be a rare thing these days.

We have time to make this, but not a sandbox PvE MMO

September 3, 2014

Really gaming? A garbage truck simulator, and just $21 thanks to a sale!? I’ll take three!!

I guess this is a bit like learning that Nascar is really popular. While most people see zero value in hours and hours of left turns, there are ‘those people’ who just can’t get enough of it. I guess this game is for that crowd. Strange world.

PS: Love that this is published by Rondomedia, because I of course initially read it as rando-media, which made a lot of sense.

State of Decay: The survival aspect survives for longer than 30 minutes!

September 2, 2014

I’ve been playing a lot of State of Decay lately (Steam sale, what else), and I think it’s the best zombie survival game I’ve played so far, primarily because the threat/survival part lasts longer than 30 minutes or until you find the first gun and things go from ‘survival game’ to zombie mass murder funtime (Looking at you, Dead Island).

I won’t do a full review, but will just quickly say that everything is on point other than the UI, which is clearly held back due to the game being a console port. It’s not game-ruining horrible, but it does get in the way more often than I would like.

I first played through the standard “story mode” of the game, which took about 10 hours. Even though you have story-specific missions at times, it still feels very open-world, which is nice. I was also surprised by the voice acting, as 90% of it is solid to great. The story itself isn’t going to blow you away, but at the same time its good-enough to keep you entertained.

Once that was finished, I started playing the Breakdown DLC, which removes all of the story missions from the game and replaces them with just one objective; find an RV, fix it, and escape. Well, not escape exactly, but move on and repeat at a higher difficulty. The RV breaks down in a different spot of the map, and you plus the 6 companions you selected basically start again, though you keep your skills/inventory.

What I like most about Breakdown is that the escalating difficulty is somewhat gradual, with each step up increasing the zombie population a bit, cars become harder to find, resources shrink, etc. There are ten degrees of difficulty, and even at level 4 right now I can already feel the difference. What’s really great about this is that all of the tools you had but didn’t need in the main game now become more vital. Basically, unlike most zombie survival games where things get easier, in Breakdown the actual survival gets harder and harder.

For instance, I’ve lost more than a few people while searching a house because I made too much noise and got swarmed, while I also escaped similar situations because I brought along a distraction item or two. In the ‘main game’, I never really needed to do this because while the zombies were dangerous, things rarely got do-or-die difficult.

Another example; cars become harder to find as you move up, which means I can’t just plow through zombies at will. The car gets too damaged, and finding a replacement isn’t always easy. Having the ability for your home base to repair cars also becomes more and more important, which again is a feature that wasn’t that needed in the main game.

In a way, State of Decay has a bit of my ‘Sandbox PvE MMO’ design to it; in that it’s you vs the world, and the world is constantly fighting back. If the game had multiplayer, where each person could play a character and run around, with the world scaling to really crazy difficulties, it would be a total blast. I also thing with better technology or more resources, if the map had more randomization to it (ideally a totally random map each time), the game again would be all that much better.

Future dreaming aside, as is State of Decay is well-worth checking out, and is another good example of game difficulty nudging you to play better/smarter, and really pay attention to details you might have missed/skipped when things were easy.

DF:UW – Being right isn’t always fun

August 28, 2014

One of the better inside jokes around here is the concept of a ‘Jesus patch’, because all too often the fools tossing that term around are talking about an MMO that has either shut down or is a shell of itself. One of the best/worst example of this is/was Darkfall 1. To this day you will find forumfallers who will tell you patch X was a ‘jesus patch’ for that game and caused a ‘surge’ in population. It’s comical, and also a bit sad.

So how is DF:UW doing post ‘jesus patch’ (released 6/10/14)? Woops. I believe the term ‘off a cliff’ would be accurate?

And to make things about a million times worst, that pre-patch population spike was due to the stacking of a Steam sale, the introduction of a buddy key system, a ‘welcome back’ weekend, a PLEX-like system addition, and a bit later multiple “breaking the economy long-term for short-term gain” massive loot buff weekends, plus AV was on its best behavior in terms of communication (overrated) and patching speed (pretty important).

In other words, AV basically fired every bullet in the gun all at once, got a good number of people into the game for the first time in a long time, that crowd saw what the ‘jesus patch’ was really about, and basically everyone and then some left. Even Forumfall moves along at a crawl now, to the point that keeping up with it can be done in 30 minutes or less per week.

To save the game (if that’s even possible at this point), AV needs to pull what CCP did with Incarna, basically roll back the giant mistake that was the removal of classes, forget that ever happened, and return to what, despite being implemented half-assed, was giving them a slowly growing population; getting the economy under control and focusing on producing sustainable content that fit the theme of the virtual world they originally set out to create. They won’t do it unfortunately. At this point they are too far down the rabbit hole that is the current, oversized arena PvP-for-the-sake-of-PvP disaster that the game has become.

Again, its sad, even from the outside glancing back in.


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