WoW Classic: L2Rouge nub!

The level 10 rogue quest asks you to get a document off a certain NPC. Being dumb, I just assumed this meant killing the mob, as you do in most quests. As I was doing this solo and at level 10, when I attacked said mob, his 3 additional helpers that spawn killed me. Fine, whatever. Run back, use all buffs and potions, manage to kill the special NPC, run away from his 3 spawns. Return to loot the corpse… no quest drop. WTF?

Ask in area chat for some help, immediately get another rogue that comes over to help me out. Fight the NPC again, kill him, kill the spawns. No quest drop. WTF. Other rogue asks if I used pick pocket, a rogue-only skill.

Huh?

Read the quest text again. While it doesn’t hold your hand and explicitly state “Use pick pocket you idiot gamer!”, it strongly hints that you should, you know, be a rogue and steal the item out of his pocket.

Feeling VERY dumb, I go back in, stealthed, and pickpocket the npc, getting the quest item. If you do it right, you also don’t agro him, so no helper spawns that kill you.

It’s a perfectly designed quest really. It makes you play a rogue in that classical ‘sneaky stealthy stealer’ archetype, it punishes you if you don’t, and it DOESN’T reward you for using brute force. Simple, but brilliant.

Classic is fun.

Posted in World of Warcraft | 1 Comment

WoW Classic: Old Blizzard game design still shines, new Blizzard management still exists

This morning I was able to play WoW Classic a bit between work meetings, as thankfully the queue issue had not yet picked back up. I fully expect that tonight I won’t be able to get in again, but we will see. I was able to get to level 5 on my human rogue, going through the initial starter area and ending in Goldshire.

It’s obviously very early, but playing just felt right. As the video in the previous Classic post talked about, there is a sense that all of this content was created with a passion, and that passion shows in all of the little details that bring the zone together. Yes, the quests are very simple kill X of this, collect Y of that, but that’s not so much a problem as it is a core feature of basically any RPG. And there is a good reason that questing format is still being used after dozens of years; it works. It’s not a problem that needs fixing. In fact, when a game features too many overly complex quests, it can feel burdensome. There is beauty in the simplicity of those quests, and how while doing them you can focus more of your attention on the tiny details of the world you are playing in.

This is all especially true in a themepark MMO like WoW, where the core gameplay loop is simple and enjoyable, but the real ‘meat’ of the game is the social aspect and doing all of your activities in a virtual world, rather than alone in an offline RPG (or in current WoW, which is an online but basically a solo RPG with chat spam). Again its early, but I don’t think that fundamental design, that WoW eventually moved away, is a relic of the past, or something that isn’t applicable today. Classic being enjoyable, for me at least, isn’t just about the nostalgia, its mostly about the fact that Vanilla WoW was a really fun MMO to play. The graphics have aged, sure, and some of the UI elements aren’t up to todays standards of good design, but the core gameplay feels right, and it works.

Quickly on the subject of the queues and how Blizzard messed up. By now we all realize that “you think you do, but you don’t” (dude has Mittani-levels of smug in that video too, on top of being comically wrong) should just go on J. Allen Brack’s tombstone, which he will need since he should also be tossed out of his office as president of Blizzard (not an actual death threat, relax), but even Blizzard’s answer today about the queues, and how they didn’t want to open too many servers early is idiotic.

First, if you have to open dozens of additional servers PRIOR TO GO LIVE, you suck at estimating. I get having to open a few more servers for the most popular type/region, but that’s not the case here. Across the board they needed a lot more of everything, which is just a reflection of horrible planning. Had the original server list been twice what it was, at least, so many of these initial problems would have been resolved.

Second, considering this is the second time WoW is being ‘released’, and that it’s 15 years later, how is Blizzard still not capable of having a smooth launch? A queue that is 4 hours long might as well be the same thing as the servers being offline, especially if even those who are in-game are getting kicked out when a layer crashes. I understand that the first day is unique in the number of people trying to log in, and that everyone is starting in the same zones, but still, its 15 years later! Technology has evolved, you should have better hardware and tools, and, most importantly, you are now a massive mega-corp with practically unlimited resources launching what is surely going to be the biggest ‘release’ of the year. Of a franchise that is the very reason your entire company is so big to begin with. FIGURE IT OUT!

Posted in Rant, World of Warcraft | 14 Comments

WoW Classic: Day one is 100% exactly like the first day of WoW in 2004!

And by that I mean Blizzard, 15 years later, still doesn’t understand the basics of how to not get in their own way, and I’m sitting in a queue 18k deep that is going to, at best, get me into the game in 4 hours. Mind you, we rolled on a server that was part of the THIRD wave of new servers!

Hey assholes, I’m pretty sure I DO WANT THIS, ALONG WITH THE REST OF EVERYONE ELSE TRYING TO PLAY!!!

Remember when the original server list of Classic was like 6 servers? And its now what, 50 servers? 15 years Blizzard. 15 years.

Posted in MMO design, Rant, World of Warcraft | 7 Comments

LoL TFT: Man I suck, oh wait I’m awesome!

Tonight we sit in a queue to play WoW Classic, but today I want to talk about the roller coast ride I just went on with LoL TFT Ranked play. It started at around 80 points into Plat 3, the low point was 70 points in Gold 1, and ends (for now) back in Plat 4 with around 80 points.

The fall was rough. For about 10 games I felt like I had no idea how to play the game. Team compositions never came together, or they did but the key items didn’t. Or I’d start very strong towards a composition I normally don’t like (like Nobles), only for that composition to completely fall apart when a key piece (Kayle for Nobles) never arrives. Then you tilt, try to force things, and it just gets worse. I dropped back into Gold because That 10 games was a bunch of 7th and 8th place finishes. Bad times.

The next day things were the mirror opposite. 3 straight wins. Not 3 games with a top 4 finish to gain LP, but 3 straight games where I dominate and gain massive amounts of LP. That kind of run makes you feel like a genius.

Here is a nice stat tracker site that shows a graph of LP gains/losses, along with a limited match history. Classic is going to cut into my TFT time for sure, but the game is far too much fun to completely drop. I’ve also really been enjoying a few PUBG matches most nights, but that is likely going to get reduced too. Oh yea and I need to finish Pathfinder: Kingmaker at some point ‘soon’…

Posted in League of Legends, PUBG, World of Warcraft

WoW Classic: Lets keep it hard

The hype train continues to chug along towards the release of WoW Classic. I’m excited. I created my characters to reserve names, and while doing so, some of that original WoW magic came back, even just in character creation. It’s hard to explain because normally I’m not a big nostalgia guy, but I spent A LOT of hours in WoW during Vanilla and into TBC, and then likely an equal number of hours cursing what WoW has become once WotLK was released here on this blog, so I’m more emotionally invested in this than just about any other game.

Blizzard recently put out this video, which has some of the original developers playing Classic and offering their feedback. Even in the initial 10 seconds, I go from a happy nostalgia spike of seeing the Collectors Edition box (still have that in a closet) to a ping of disgruntlement seeing Arthus, Mr. Death-to-Vanilla.

There is a lot of talk in the video about how WoW in some ways happened by accident (they didn’t really know what they were doing, because back in 2002ish no one knew what they were doing in terms of an MMO), and how it was a true passion project. In some ways I think this is what you MUST HAVE to make a good MMO, and that being a veteran MMO dev is as much a negative as a positive. If you get ‘too good’ at it, the end result lacks that charm and feels too formulaic, too ‘by design’. In some ways an MMO needs to be somewhat of a mess that doesn’t completely come together, because that gives the players a lot of ‘what if’ situations. They don’t always work out for the best (plate armor with +Int in WoW for example), but I don’t think those are the things that actually drive people away.

The section about what characters they want to play, do they play what they originally did or go a different route, hits right at home. I feel like I should roll a warrior to be the main tank, because that’s just what I do in an MMO, but I ultimately rolled a rogue because hey, something new. I’m guessing by the 10th wipe on Onyxia because our tank can’t hold agro I’ll be wishing I had rolled that warrior, but whatever…

That deadmines section of the video? Ooof, right in the nostalgia breadbasket. Same deal with the clip of the first gryphon ride. Same man, same.

All that talk of ‘whatever initially grabbed you, grabs you again’ and how the ‘magic’ is still there? I mean, you think you want that but… yea you do want that huh? Who could have guessed! The conversation around how the world is the main character? They might as well have been saying “time to list the reasons why current WoW is a dumpster fire and why Classic will work”. I’m glad they are saying it, but I also wish they had said it prior to WotLK and not marched WoW down the welfare epics and ‘dumbed down’ state it got to. “Let’s keep it hard” they said. I agree.

Side note: Funny how in 2019 we are calling 2005 WoW ‘hard’, because in 2005 one of the major selling points of WoW was that it was so easy, it was accessible to casuals compared to all other MMOs at that time. WTF does that say about the current state of the MMO genre, and more importantly, when Classic explodes into a huge hit that connects with people well beyond the initial 3-6 month wave of nostalgia, what will THAT mean for the genre going forward? I mean, will we start seeing WoW Classic clones? And do… do I actually want that to happen?

Posted in Rant, World of Warcraft | 20 Comments

WoW Classic: We are playing on Skeram (updated 8/17/19)

Reserving character names is open now, so it was time to pick a server. Initially we had a few different choices, but with queues being insane and a some servers being destinations for streamers or Brazilians, Grobbulus Stalagg Skeram ended up being the choice, alliance side.

So if you plan to join us, get a character created, join our discord, and wait around until the servers are up for good. Plans for the guild are somewhat tentative, but most likely we will be aiming for raiding once people hit 60 and get geared up. We won’t be aiming for server-firsts or anything like that, as the core we have is made up of adults with annoying things like kids, responsibilities, and in some rare cases social lives.

Edit: Updated 8/17/19, instead of Grobbulus we will be playing on Stalagg, a EST PvP server, still Alliance.

Second Edit: Updated 8/26/2019, instead of Stalagg, guild voted for Skeram, still Alliance.

Posted in Inquisition Clan, Site update, World of Warcraft | 4 Comments

Fig investment in Pillars of Eternity 2 comes to a close

On August 2nd I got an email informing me that my Fig investment into Pillars of Eternity 2 is completed, and the end return is 52% (IE, for every $1000 invested, people only got back $520, so every share lost $480). Not great.

The investment is over because Microsoft bought out Obsidian (the devs) and the publishing rights to PoE2. For the rights to PoE2, Microsoft paid $315,000. This all suggests that PoE2 didn’t sell very well, and that Microsoft doesn’t foresee future sales being awesome either. Considering I made this post about PoE2 and Fig, yea, I’m a bit surprised at how poorly it all went (the money doesn’t matter because I’m still Darkfall rich, but it is a bit of an ego hit).

If I had to guess why, the #1 thing was the setting. A classic fantasy setting of castles, villages, etc, like what PoE1 had, is going to perform better most times than a high-seas/pirate setting. Personally I liked PoE2 a lot, but I can fully see why casual RPG fans might glance at it and decide to pass. Also while I thought PoE2 was good overall, it did have some controversial/questionable features, mainly the ship-to-ship combat. That’s a bad area to have people question in a pirate/sea themed RPG….

All of that said, the 52% return suggests PoE2 sold less than half of what PoE1 sold, which is pretty bad. As the linked post states, all PoE2 had to do was come close to PoE1 to be a good investment, and while the Microsoft buyout likely cuts some future return out, I doubt even without Microsoft that PoE2 would have ever broke even, regardless of how many years passed. It didn’t help that the DLC for PoE2 was, at best, very meh. Maybe the poor sales hurt the plans for the DLC, but it’s not that hard to release passable extra content for an RPG like this; just give it an additional ‘chapter’ after the ending, ala Baldur’s Gate 2.

So end my Fig investment. This failure doesn’t sour me on the whole platform, but it will now take a title that REALLY grabs my attention to get me to invest.

Posted in Random, Rant, Site update | 5 Comments