LotRO: Still a dumpster

On a whim I fired up LotRO, which was a mistake.

I’m not sure the last time I played LotRO, but it’s been a while, perhaps as far back as the F2P change. My history with LotRO is that initially I enjoyed it quite a bit, especially as a duo game with my wife, but then we lost momentum and stopped playing. Then the game went dumpster-tier F2P, and that was that.

Well in addition to all of the expected dumpster stuff of F2P still being firmly in place, there are other laughable shortcomings with the game now. My default resolution is 3440×1440. LotRO supports that, only not really. None of the loading screens scale that high, so they stretch horribly. The character selection UI looks like its stuck at 2005-sized scale, so looks worse than $.99 indie games on Steam. In-game, the UI doesn’t scale up, so those lovely LotRO icons are basically tiny specs on your screen, while the in-game map is also stuck in 2005, so is pretty close to one giant ugly pixel. Honestly why enable 3440×1440 if you don’t actually support it?

And that was talking LotRO in 2017.

Posted in Lord of the Rings Online, MMO design, Rant | 3 Comments

In case you needed a reminder why devs and the sane laugh at Gevlon

This is overall a pretty funny post, and gets better in the comments section.

Dear devs, how many players do you think you would have in your MMO if you follow this logic:

I farmed 8 hours yesterday evening in one spot in a game, and then bought my friend an ingame house with the gold…..am I botting? am I RMTing?- Anon (Gevlon talking to himself again?)

Pretty standard thing that happens in an MMO right? A dedicated player spends a large chunk of time enjoying your game, and then goes on to do something social with his friend, because they are both playing an MMO and not an sRPG. The above happens hundreds if not thousands of times every day in EVE, and likely millions of times in all MMOs.

Let’s see how Gevlon would handle this, shall we?

Yes, you are RMTing: you gave in-game wealth for some real world value (even if that’s not cash but some favor that your friend will return). Yes, I would negwallet your friend (take the house away) and suspend you for some time (assuming it was the first case). – Gevlon

First, it’s nice that Gevlon is redefining what RMT means to fit his insanity. Always a good first step when trying to make a point. “The sky is blue today.” “No, its green!”. “Um… no, I’m looking at it right now, it’s blue…” “I call that shade of color green, so I’m right, the sky is green! And also most likely involved in RMT!”. 2 months later, links to above as ‘evidence’ that everyone recognizes the sky is green.

Second, I love how not only is he punishing one person for playing an MMO, he is going after two. That’s the kind of extra stupidity that makes Gevlon worth reading, while also being example 1 billion of why no takes his ideas or suggestions seriously.

Bonus round: Who wants to sign up for this awesome MMO and pray you never get hacked (because MMO accounts never get hacked, right?), have your hacked account used illegally (again, that never happens), and then have Gevlon put your real name out on the internet for your future employer to Google, to say nothing of your now-banned account and future CC issues?

make accounts more personal. Demand credit card number for every account with a minimal monthly payment ($1-2) to make sure it’s real. If you ban, ban the credit card. Ban the computer ID too. Was his brother used the same computer and was paid with the same credit card? Too bad, at least he’ll have a talk with his cheating little shit brother.
– publicly shame exploiters. Just put it in your ToS that banned people will be listed with their account name and credit card number among the “exploiter” list. Also, hang their characters in the main city in-game for everyone to see.

Posted in MMO design, Random, Rant | 10 Comments

Short burst gaming

I got 61 hours out of Dying Light, and at a cost of about $25, that was a good purchase in terms of gaming value. I got 9 hours out of Convoy, and at a cost of $3.50, that was also a good purchase in terms of gaming value. But I don’t view the two in a similar light, because in order for a Convoy-like game to fill the same amount of gaming time as a Dying Light-style game did, I’d have to find 6+ of such games, and that discovery time is also a cost. Not to mention the risk that any of those 6+ could be a stinker.

I bring this up for two reasons. The first is that it generally reinforces my preference for a good MMO like EVE. EVE is constant, and while the amount of time it fills month to month might vary (in a war, fun new feature, some big project), its at least always an option and always fun.

The second reason is a reflection on Steam and mobile gaming; lots of small, cheap games, even if they are good, aren’t as great as one larger, potentially more expensive quality title IMO. I saw potentially more expensive because both Clash of Clans and Clash Royale are ‘free’, while also being two of the better games to come out, on any platform, in recent years. But generally the price of a big great title like Fallout or Skyrim is higher, and I’m perfectly ok with that if the game itself is not only good, but good for an extended amount of time.

Also while I do value a good shorter game, like say This War of Mine, I’d never put it ahead of a title I enjoyed for far longer. How could I? I mean, I don’t play games I don’t enjoy for long, so it’s not like I’m going to slog through 40 hours of something just to say I did it, or, god help me, for blog content. No, if a game isn’t fun, I stop playing it, whether that’s in the first hour or after 20, so a game that I can rack up 60+ hours in must have been doing something really right.

Right now on my desktop I have a half dozen titles that are all decent but short experiences, and it’s somewhat draining. The most recent was Forts, a fun-enough game that I played through the campaign and have messed around a bit in multiplayer. But with multiplayer being so hit or miss based on other people, and just the general time commitment vs fun that comes from that, it’s not a long-term title, just like Convoy or Beholder weren’t.

So I’m looking forward to the big releases. I need another Elder Scrolls game already! I’m really hoping Total War: Warhammer 2 is great. And hey CCP, can you give us a reason to go to war again? Thanks!

Posted in Clash of Clans, Clash Royale, EVE Online, MMO design, Random, Rant, Steam Stuff | 3 Comments

CoC and CR update time

Mobile gaming update time.

In Clash Royale, 2v2 mode has received some interesting variations. We recently had an event that was 2v2 sudden death, meaning the game ends when the first tower goes down, and the game starts in double elixir time. It was a lot of fun, especially when you are on the positive side of a win just seconds into a match (graveyard+freeze was really strong).

CR is in a good spot right now in terms of the meta as well. Night Witch is very popular, but I don’t feel she is broken, just strong. Both my main decks (RG and Golem/Graveyard) remain viable around 4500, and each deck is starting to max out commons and get rares to level 10. I’m also one golem away from that card going to level 7, which is pretty exciting. Our clan continues to knock out clan chests and events quickly, and while we do rotate out 4-6 inactives each cycle, our core is very solid and extremely active.

On the CoC side, I just recently watched the clan war championship (very long video, recommend skipping around to the attacks), and it was amazing to see how different the meta is at that level vs our own, both in attack comp and base building. It reminded me of watching the LoL championship, where you are watching a game you yourself play, but the play is completely different. My guess is the Th11 vs Th10 strat of dragons+clone will become very popular, as it seems incredibly strong as a 3-star attack.

Speaking of Th11, my main account just recently leveled my final defense at Th10, so all that’s left is a few Barb King levels and a whole bunch of walls. My plan is to finish the King to 40, but then go Th11 regardless of how many walls are left. My other account just maxed all walls at Th9, and I’ve got a few levels of the King to go. Once he is 30, that account will go Th10, which I’m guessing will be right around the time I hit Th11 on the first account.

On the Builder Base side, I’m still really enjoying that game mode. It’s a lot of fun to attack, the upgrade pace feels much more relaxed, and balance seems very solid. I’ll go from getting a 100% in one attack to getting 40% on another, and sometimes I still win those 40% hits because my opponent got even less vs my base.

Across my two accounts, both BB6, one has max barbs and level 10 baby drags, while the other has level 11 archers and minions. As mentioned, I’ve gotten 100% results with both, while I’ve also seen both fail horribly. I’ve very much looking forward to having a few more troop options maxed, as well as having more of my defenses near maxed as well, as I think the meta will really shift at that point and executing the right troop combo vs the right setup will be very critical.

Our CR clan is generally full, but I can make a spot if requested. The CoC… clan has two open spots, so feel free to apply and just mention the blog. In both games the clan name is “Supreme Cream!”.

Posted in Clash of Clans, Clash Royale, Inquisition Clan, iPhone | 4 Comments

Appreciating great voice acting

I generally like voice acting in games, and view it as a plus most of the time. Yes, you do occasionally get voice acting that is so bad it detracts from the experience, but from the games I have played, that is usually the exception and not the rule. Today I want to talk quickly about the voice acting behind the main character in Dying Light, Kyle Crain, because I truly love it.

The voice is done by Roger Craig Smith, who has a long list of stuff he has done on IMDb. What I like most about his work as Kyle is the balance between ‘tough guy’ voice and actual human. Kyle isn’t a superhero, but at the same time is very capable and not a pushover. The voice acting nails this perfectly, and gets me to enjoy the story that much more.

Some examples: Early on you are forced to do a few missions that hurt the local people. Kyle is conflicted, but still follows orders. Via intimidation, he gets the locals to do what he wants, without the situation escalating into a bigger problem. Later, he mends some of those fences with people in very believable ways.

Another situation has you looking for someone, only to find a zombie lair beneath their house. You get what you need from the house, but when you find what has happened to the person (zombie breeder), Kyle keeps the details to himself and only tells the person who sent you to find them that they are dead.

Similar interactions happen when Kyle has to confront a zombie child, who when you first encounter them are legitimately disturbing (as is the way you kill them). Kyle reacts accordingly, and that reaction adds to the horror of the situation, without feeling overly campy or like a ‘gotcha’ shock moment setup.

The main game was great overall, with far more examples, and The Following DLC has also been excellent in terms of story and how Kyle reacts to it all. As mentioned before, Dying Light is a great game, and the work Roger did as the voice of Kyle is a great cherry on top.

Posted in Random | Leave a comment

WoW is gankbox, EVE is not

And the gankbox discussion continues. What I find most interesting about all of this is that it reveals just how little most people understand about MMO design, or even what they themselves want in an MMO.

Let’s talk about the root of the issue as it relates to EVE; that when you die, you lose your stuff. That kind of design is already fairly rare in MMOs, what with soulbound items being very common even in games that do allow some form of PvP. But not only do you lose stuff in EVE, the game takes 50% of what you lose and destroys it, with the other 50% being left behind to be potentially looted by someone else (or the wreck can be blown up for a 100% destruction result). Other than the brief time I pushed Aventurine to implement this system in Darkfall (lovingly called the ‘SynCaine tax’ by the community), I’m not aware of any MMO that has this kind of mechanic. In old-school UO, when you died, you dropped everything. In Asheron’s Call you dropped an item, but nothing was taken by the game. DAOC you lost nothing.

The game taking 50% of what should drop is a core sink in the economy, and given that EVE has not only the best economy in the genre, but no other MMO is even remotely close, and you would think more MMOs, especially sandbox ones, would have learned this from EVE’s tenure as the top sandbox over the last 10+ years. But here is where the lack of understanding kicks in.

For many, both players and designers, the economy in a game is only important to those who care about it, be they crafters or market watchers. That, of course, is terribly wrong thinking, as the economy impacts everyone, or at least should in a good sandbox MMO. A miner cares about the economy because without it, his efforts might be pointless (how many MMOs exist today where basic crafting inputs or outputs have basically zero value? That’s a game with a terrible economy.) A PvP’er cares about the economy, both because of how much it costs him to replace his ship, and also the value he is killing/destroying from someone else. Explorers that hunt rare sites for rare items can only continue to do so if those items remain rare, and that can’t be maintained without a properly balanced economy. I think you get the point. Without a solid economy, many core systems in an MMO collapse, and this problem is poorly ‘fixed’ by resetting everyone over and over (level increase, or expansion with more powerful items).

Then you have the definition of the term ‘gank’ itself, which originally meant a PvP encounter where one side has zero chance. PvP combat was defined by there being an actual fight, while a gank is a one-sided slaughter. Why the ganked occurred is secondary, and not really part of the definition. Easy examples of a gank are a high level WoW character killing a lower level one, or a gate camp in EVE catching a single pilot. That the gank in WoW accomplishes nothing but wasting someones time, while the EVE gate camp might be for strategic reasons doesn’t change the fact that both encounters are a gank rather than PvP combat.

Now lets bring back the Massively definition of a gankbox:

Gankboxes are sandboxes that place such an emphasis on unrestricted free-for-all PvP that ganking comes to dominate the entire game, to the detriment of the rest of the world design.

Does ganking dominate EVE? Not even close, considering the vast majority of ships destroyed are from PvP combat (fleet battles, low-sec roams, etc) rather than ganking. But even if we ignore that fact, ganking in EVE isn’t a detriment to the rest of the design, it a benefit. Without that sink in the economy, the game itself would collapse. I could easily argue that vanilla PvP WoW servers were far more of a gankbox than EVE has ever been, and this is easily supported by the fact that Blizzard made significant changes to the ruleset to ‘fix’ the problem (no killing of flight masters or quest givers, for example).

So if you have ever raged against an expansion or update resetting your progress, what you are really upset about is that your MMO of choice has a broken economy. Maybe ask the devs to allow some more ganking to fix it?

Now excuse me, I’ve got to get back to multiboxing my ratting carriers in ‘dying’ (with record profits) EVE, while watching CNN, the news networking ‘dying’ while having its highest ratings ever. Might also pre-order Albion, since they are offering an industry-first pre-order bonus. Oh how outrageous of them!

Posted in Asheron's Call, Combat Systems, Dark Age of Camelot, Darkfall Online, EVE Online, Mass Media, MMO design, PvP, Rant, Ultima Online, World of Warcraft | 8 Comments

EVE: Goons still winning

As reported by CCP and written about at TAGN, despite Goons being ‘defeated’ during WWB, we are by far the most active alliance/region in terms of both mining and ratting, and it’s not even close. Delve alone is more active than the next 5 regions combined, while if you combine Delve and Querious (another region we basically own), those two are more active than the next 8 regions combined.

This is especially important because unlike basically every other MMO, where making money is trivial because most people don’t care about money after a certain point, in EVE since day one having more ISK is always beneficial, both individually and at the Corp/Alliance level. Our leadership knows this, and in part thanks to WWB, has increased the focus on that area. The results are pretty clear to see.

Related to this, CCP identified an issue with the overall money supply, in that carrier and super carrier ratting was too efficient (it was/is). This was nerfed, along with another round of nerfs to Rorq mining. Many saw this as a Goon-focused nerf, since we are kings of those areas, but they were wrong. Sure, the nerfs hurt us, but they hurt everyone else more. Why? Because Goons are better at adapting to change than just about anyone else thanks to our leadership.

As the old saying goes, the scoreboard doesn’t lie, and right now Goons are winning EVE. We recruit a lot of people, we retain those people, and those people becoming productive little bees faster than other pilots in other alliances. As I said at TAGN, right now I don’t think another WWB event is even possible in Delve. Between all of the citadels, and our now massive super/titan fleet, I don’t think the rest of EVE would be up to entering the meat grinder that is current-day Delve. The old issues with the alliance prior to WWB have been fixed (thanks Lenny), and we are stronger/better off today.

And when CCP fixes the balance issues around attacking/defending space, our war machine will be ready. Good times ahead!

Posted in EVE Online, Goons, Uncategorized | 13 Comments