Quote of the Day: Cracked Explains EVE Online

Actually playing [EVE] is like being one of the attackers in the Battle of Helm’s Deep: Something awesome is happening, but most of your life has been boring drudgery and now you’re going to be killed by characters who’ve been here longer.

That pretty much sums it up for the majority of people who have played, are playing, or will play the game. That’s not to say its not a great game, it is. But its also a bit of a meat grinder with a siren’s call.

The rest of the article details ways that videogames are going through great lengths to screw us. Wilhelm will be both impressed that STO’s lockboxes made the cut, and disappointed that it only came in fourth on the list.

Quote of the Week

This time of the year really heats up for me, vocationally, so I apologize for the lack of posts.  I still have another post on Project Gorgon to pop out, and some other things floating around, but they will just have to wait.  For now though, I got  a chuckle from bhagpuss‘ comment on TAGN’s latest EQ2 nostalgia offering:

 

One thing you could never accuse SoE of is consistency, which is almost top of the list of why they’re my favorite MMO developers.

 

I thoroughly agree with SOE’s inability to handle any sort of consistency, but I’m not sure that is quite what endures me to them.  I suppose its the almost puppy-like sense of enthusiasm and the way in which the entire group seems to consist of “FIRE, AIM, READY” people, which is very much part and parcel to my personality as well.

Great Posts…something or other

I lost count.  And I’m too lazy to look.

Anyway, I was checking out The Ancient Gaming Noobs 2011 MMO hindsight post and followed the linkage to BioBreak’s “Six Steps SOE Needs To Take…OR ELSE” post.  And it was really good.  And so I recommend it to you and I have a few comments.

My first comment is that on Syp’s list, it looks like SOE has already taken steps towards two of them.  # 3 (Do F2P right) is apparently on the horizon, as every indication is that Vanguard will finally go F2P in the coming year – and with new content to boot.  But the key here is that they seem to be ramping up into it rather than doing it yesterday.  And I think it will be a great move.  Vanguard still looks very pretty, and at this point, is now playable on many, many, many more systems than it was playable on when it was launched…what, almost 5 years ago?  And there is a host of untapped content there.  Not to mention some of the conventions that we now expect (healers who melee to heal) are ones that Vanguard helped pioneer.  Plus, flying mounts are already in the game.  And #4 on the list (Keep experimenting with EQ) is also a go, with EQ getting its new expansion and an overhaul of the UI to bring it into (almost) modern paradigms.  Speaking of which – that may be one thing that gets *me* to try EQ again.  I’ve romped around in the original Norrath a grand total of two months, despite many months of Station Passes over the years, mainly because I had difficulty doing anything other than wandering around, killing the occasional rabbit (it could be said that this is not far from the original game’s content…).

My second comment is that, while I wholly agree with #5 (Acquire an Existing Franchise), I’m not sure what they have to choose from.  To plug a favorite here, ArchAge is still looking for a North American publisher…but do you want to acquire a triple A fantasy MMO when that is what you are currently developing yourself?  Should SOE buy out the troubled EVE Online (at least then crazy changes to the game would be less unexpected, right)?  The Repopulation, when you are almost done with PlanetSide 2? What other options are there?

My final comment is that I wholly disagree with #6 (Corner the Kids Market).  My son is six, and has played the tar out of Clone Wars Adventures.  And do you know what he is eyeballing now?  The Old Republic.  I had to fight him for playing time on the Beta Weekend.  Yeah, I know, I thought that was too young myself, until I remembered that at age seven, I was comfortably ensconced in my dad’s swivel chair, at his desk, “engaging in tactical level combat on the Russian Front.”   The problem is that IP’s are static, for the most part, but kids are dynamic – that is, they grow up.

What SOE really needs is to pioneer an intermediate step between Free Realms and WoW.  I know we all think WoW is simple – and it is – but that is knowledge earned after many years of MMO inundation that our kids don’t have.  I played a lot of tactical combat, and it was fun, but to be blunt, I sucked at the game.  The only time I ever won was when I used the editing button to swap my stack of 9 T-26‘s for a stack of 9 IS-3‘s…in a mid-war campaign.  For the curious, yes, my dad was pissed…and he still almost won.

 

Seems legit.

 

So what if instead we looked at something even more simple.  Something without using a full set of multiple toolbars.  Something where the entire game could be played with just the mouse and WASD.   My son is doing fine in starter areas because he can right click to use the base attack – but after a few levels, everything falls apart because he has to leave WASD to find 1-whatever, and then jump back again.  Left click = talk or attack depending on the mobs status.  Right click is your block (tanks) or special move (heal).  Both buttons at once charges your special meter, or is a third attack?  Leave out the “W” and make “S” for forward movement.  Adopt Guild War’s paradigm of only 20 levels, with each expansion being a self contained storyline.

In any case, cool stuff.  H/T to Bio Break / Syp.

Great Posts V…or is it IV?

H/T to DarthHater contributor Dover for putting together a nice article about some things that MMORPG’s could bring to the table to enrich their gaming experience.

Though DarthHater covers SWTOR and the article references it, this article holds true for all future MMORPG’s, and says alot of things that I think are not only good, but necessary, if the MMORPG genre is going to hold up in the market over the next decade.

Just So You Know

The next two weeks are going to be pretty nutter around here for me.  I have a ton of work to do and family life is still off kilter as my wife continues to recover from surgery.  Sadly that process is taking longer than normal – turns out there is a good bit of secondary nerve damage in her leg as a result of the surgery.  Nobody really wants to blame or sue anyone, but its just been difficult to get a handle on her pain and find ways to get the nerve regenerated.  Because of all this, I’ll still be posting, but at a reduced rate.

Until then, I’m following the unfolding Derek Smart/Alganon story with high interest.  I even updated my Alganon client to see what changes they have done since they have gone F2P for the time being.  However, in an odd deja vu moment, I seem to be unable to play.   Poor Alganon, will it ever get it together?

I also want to give a hat tip to this great post, I’ve been meaning to do it for awhile.  And when you are done, check out this great followup to that great post.

Great Posts V + Final STO Open Beta Thoughts

I’m trying to remember the last time a blog post made me laugh out loud.  Its been a long time, if ever.  So deserving of my version of the pat on the back, such as it is, goes to Potshot as he describes the continuing adventures of his crew on the USS Boursalt.   Maybe one day, I too will get to venture forth against the OrionPirates with its brave crew.

***

Meanwhile, over elsewhere, The Ancient Gaming Noob ponders lifetime subs.

I think I’ll be going the one year route myself I think.  The odds of me playing a game more than 16 months are slim (16 months is $240/$15).  EQOA, my first MMO is the only one I’ve ever lasted that long in (over two years).   WoW is a close second (13 mos), and EVE is third (prepaid to 12 mos).  So I know a game I really enjoy will last me a good year.  I know enough from Open Beta to know I’m going to be playing initially more than a month or two, which means I’m willing to take the bet that $10 a month for a year is not a bad deal.   Even if I only play 8 mos, I break even to be honest.

I will say that the enticements for the year and lifetime sub are laughable.  STO does not lend itself to alot of alts, and if the Beta is an indication, you will be getting 3 character slots.  Moving to 5 is…meh.  And the Borg character is a “whatever” moment.  You can easily build such a character without the lifetime sub – several of the characterstics it offers are duplicated elsewhere – same mechanics different fluff – but all anyone but you sees is the mechanics.

I’m still stunned at the hate poured out onto Cryptic.  I wish I had done a year or lifetime for Champions.  I like their design style and thought process.  Hey – don’t worry!  If STO is as bad as those who dislike Cryptic say it will be, I will be joining your ranks shortly…

The upside of the Open Beta was the game itself – its fun, it has some room for RP elements (more important to me than I indicate in my blog I think).   Its very stable as a client, and while it needs more polish, its pretty much ready to go…on the Federation side.

The downside – the Klingon side is a mess of non-existence (I went to five consecutive systems before I found one that worked last night), and the PvP system needs alot of work (though the play itself is fun).   Ground controls are still sluggish in response time.  Bridges are…as Potshot points out so eloquently…not what was hoped for.

In any case, I’m looking forward to Friday.

Great Posts IV: Why Alliances Fail

Of course this also covers why guilds fail too, but it was written very well and without alot of the bitterness that creeps into other posts of a similar nature.  Have a read:

Securitas Protector, EVE – Mag

The only thing I’m not sure about it punishing people for not doing alliance fleet ops. Of course I’ve never been involved in the wholesale takoever or defense of a region.  We can’t even seem to lock down a long system by ourselves, so Liberty’s stakes were obviously much higher.

But I do think this is where assigning people roles in the corp or alliance can be helpful.  Or perhaps a schedule – Alliance members commit to patrol in fleet one night a week, etc.   I have a feeling long term players of EVE are people who have to take some initiative on their own to continue to advance and enjoy the game.  So I am loathe to punish people who might be out doing just that.  But if you can harness those players who are still looking for direction by giving them some plans or corporate/alliance goals to be working towards…well.

Example:  I was mining last night.  I know my alliance wants to really crank industry up to help with PvP ship losses.  I’m happy to give to the cause…if I know what I should be giving and what its going for.   I could turn over a blanket amount, but I’m not to that point of trust in our leadership yet.  However, to hear: “hey we’re trying to crank out a line of battlecruisers to improve our pvp wing, please donate 10% of your refined ore to the corp hanger” or something along those lines…well that draws the alliance in closer and gives me a purpose and a warm fuzzy about my help.  Which in turn equates to me sticking around longer.

Anyway, enough rambling.  I expect to start some industry this week, so expect a post soon about my first industrial cash influx…or lack thereof.  (-:

Great Posts III: Hardcore vs. Casual

Over at Stylish Corpse, Ysharros asks what the dividing line between hardcore and casual is.

Its a great question, and I think I have an answer (note the “an” as opposed to “the”).

Hardcores aren’t there to have fun (bear with me here).  At least not the fun intrinsic to the game itself, but perhaps fun sourced at what gaming allows for – a place to shine in competition.

Example: I know a guy who maxed every character class in WoW, maxed loot drops, perfected every raid strategy, etc.  Last month he moved to EQ2.  He stayed up 24 hours straight to do betrayal quests and hit level 30 in his first day.  Less than 48 hours later, he was at 40.  To him, EQ2 was not fun because it was EQ2, but because it was an opportunity to compete, and he wanted to win.

He was hardcore – don’t forget that hardcore in this frame of reference is not a defined noun, but an adjective.  And it modifies “gamer.”  Casual players play games, hardcore players play games to win.   They play games as a means to an end.

If I’m right, this explains the simmering tension and sometimes hostility associated with the hardcore/casual divide.

Casual players do not understand how a gamer can lock themselves into a single game and play it over and over, sometimes ignoring large parts of the game as designed to focus on perfecting a single element or subskill relative to that game.  Hardcore players do not understand why casual players are so unmotivated, lazy and uncaring.

Casual players do not understand why Hardcore players would pay $15 a month for internet game competition when they could easily get internet game competition in copious amounts for free.  Hardcore players wonder what kind of idiot would pay $15 a month for such a rich and detailed competition and then refuse to compete. 

Casual gamers wonder why these people are invading their fantasy realms and demeaning them by treating them as just another game.  Hardcore players wonder why these people treat these games as somehow special or different from any other game they pick up off the shelf at Buy N Large.

Or, to somehow dissolve the divide into an easy stereotype, while still being fully aware of all the advantages and disadvantages of doing so, let me sum it up for you:

Casual players = relationship oriented.

Hardcore players = task oriented.

I knew that psychology degree would come in handy one day.

More on Chaos later.

Great Posts II

If you want to see some festive goodness, head over to Wall of Text, where br3ntbr0 has uploaded fantastically informative video walkthroughs of some of the classes.

Also, I think I solved the great mystery.  AoC was 16/3 in terms of days right?  Well with the preview weekend, WAR ends up being 9/4/2.  Yes that’s 4 days less total, but it also devotes 4 days to rewarding loyal customers through the Preview weekend for the Collector’s Edition people, and the first 50k people excited enough to type in their pre order codes.  And I think they get a pass on 4 less days since it looks like they won’t need them to have the game in good shape for launch.

I wondered why Mythic had not gone one better as they have been, and it turns out they had.  They had just done one better in a way I hadn’t thought about – taking care of the people who take care of you.