Friday, October 31, 2008

Invasion continuing

I took a hint from Tobold's comment on his own post about the Invasion epics and took my lv62 (I checked...) Tauren Druid off from dusting and -after a while of tweaking and addoning- took off to hunt some Lich King Minions.

Only to notice that the event is steered only to lv70's and guilds in which lv70's take care to equip their lv65+ up and rising members.

The mobs are all lv69-lv71, the highest being the rares. And I got pwnd, heavily. Ok, I could scratch their skin a bit, and when I pulled accidentally one, I just ran amidst of the other players and ... scored a kill, as they finished the mob! This happened twice, because I felt it was cheating, big time.

Then again, taking into account the events progress, it might not have been. Every minion which gets killed damages the crystal, the main focus of the event, and when it's damaged low enough the 'repairmen' get summoned. So in a way the party clearing the event area benefits from all minion they kill. And to lv70 only the Necrotic Runes matter, not the exp the mobs give.

Whatever the case, I would have preferred to see some variation in the mobs, just for the sake of making this event available for wider range of people. Even the way that if the 'landing zone', the area around the crystal, is unattacked or just appeared, the initial mobs would be of lower level to accomodate us not-so-well-versed in the game, and their stats would get better the more they are harvested. At this point of the game, it doesn't matter a bit how difficult the mobs are thought to be, as the toons harvesting them have most probably pretty high end gear to compensate. I mean, I saw the palladins, mages and hunters cut the minions down faster than my druid could say cheese. And that's pretty fast.

My only hope is that the next stage of the event is more of a WORLD event like the zombie infection. People in my Alliance levelling guild didn't even know about the Necropolises except the one outside Stormwind nor about the invasion even. They had been wondering what the skulls meant in their maps.

That's the kind of guild my Alliance toons are, and I like to help them to learn the game, the lore and the guild. And for them I wish -mainly- that these events were made applicable for all players, not only for the burned out lv70 raid machines looking for change. Damn, they have the dailies already! Blizz could make them more varied!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

When expectations are not met

Title actually describes the varied reactions of people towards the WoW zombie infestation and 'Invasion' world event. Tobold wrote about it in a pretty nice way, and the comments on that post really show how different views people have on this.

I'm mixed. When I entered today with my Horde lv62 druid to run through the Halloween event quests, zombies and zombified players ruined the fun. Then again, when I entered the game with my lv16 Alliance warlock, I had the time of my life. And in Friday I had a blast running Stockades as a zombie with my lv45 warrior and my brother. Absolutely hilarious session with loads of 'BRRRAAIIINS'-shouting and fury. 

This difference in experience got me thinking the reason.

It's all about expectations. About the activity you are about to engage with. About the fun you are about to experience. About the entertainment. If these expectations are not met, but are altered in a way the player cannot change, the reality doesn't conform with the expectations and most probably the overall experience is ruined. If you go to a movie to see a light comedy and end up watching Coen brothers' "Fargo", I bet you are not going to be very happy. Fargo is a great movie, but it isn't exactly light comedy.

I loved to play as zombie on my lv16 toon, because there were other people engaging in the similar activity. It was a bliss, and I could easily get away from it. My expectations were different with my horde toon. I expected to be able to do the Halloween quests -for the achievements, I admit- but was denied of the fun. With the Ally warrior I expected to be running as a zombie and eating brains, and it was hilarious.

This can be taken a step further. Players are like any consumers in that they are ready to tell different things in surveys than what they really want. AoC was marketed as a completely different experience than WoW, and players were jumping in joy. In the end, it proved to be too different, causing the game to be next to abandoned (yea, yea, nevermind the technical issues etc. It's a simplifying example, ok?). War didn't even try to change the mechanics, but made the change in the way the game was played. And was very much easier to digest.

We are slaves to our expectations. When they are not met in full, we feel cheated.

But I also came into a conclusion with the world event. I just love the unexpectedness of them. Nevermind the fact that the Invasion is in fact aimed for the bored level capped people: I couldn't touch the Lich Kings stormtroopers with the Druid (well, I could but not solo). Never the less, I had fun with the fact that everything had to be taken as it came.

I'm off to see if I can contribute in the Ally side. CHARGE!!!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Next big one to look foreward to

I told earlier that my brother (the rogue) got married some weeks ago. The ceremony and the celebrations were as great and pompous as should be, needless to say that the bride was handsome and the groom beautif... the other way around, naturally.

I met an interesting person over there, who is deep in the tabletop miniature gaming. And I learned an interesting piece of information from him. I haven't checked the RPG news for this, but apparently there is coming a Warhammer 40k RPG sometime soon. I'm sucker for WH40k, the original small group skirmishes in the original rules, so I started drooling right away.

While driving to work today two things just clicked. Will we see WH40k MMO someday? Now that Mythic has excelled an excellent PvP game in WAR, what is holding them from creating similar from the 'other IP' of WH40k?

Imagine: you start as a Marine in training. Or an Space Orc. Like in the original set, where there were no Genestealers, Necroids or anything. Just the Marines and Space Orcs. And other greenies, naturally. Ok, not the Squigherder, but almost all others.

The specialisation would be the arms to which the character would specialise: Power Glove, Power Sword, Heavy Flamer, you name it. Bolter would be for all. And the similar on the Greenies side.

Unleash the havoc and see! We have WAR in Space!

The thought went on. The Marines could be confined to troopships, to travel to distant planets to combat. Add Chaos Marines on one planet (new expansion!). Add Tyranids. Add Eldar.

And you have a soup. With spoon. And baquette.

The RvR would be of domination of a planet. The planets could be servers, from which you could travel to another (provided your faction has a landing zone cleared).

I'm having wet dreams already. *drool*

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Oops! There goes a week and a half!

Woopie. Didn't think it would take this long when I left for a short Autumn vacation. I was away for a week and then I had one hell of a headache for three days. And nights.

What a bliss it is to be without constant pain. It's really one of the minor things you don't notice when you are ok. But when the pain starts to bother your everyday life, it easily destroys every joy you have in your day. For me it effectively took away my playing, as I couldn't sit and watch the screen even for ten minutes without hoping to die.

I had enough time to check the 3.0.2 patch of WoW. And after an hour of play (including the darn addon scherade) I can say that I love the new Achievements. If only I knew what I can do with the Achievement points... they are a pointless e-peen enhancement, I think. But it would be nice to be able to use them for something. Like the Honor points, for example?

I'm also a bit torn about the Blizzard style of making the achievements tied so tightly to whole of the content. There are only few meaningfull achievements that cover the Old World content, but combined with Outlands (later Northerend) they yield concrete rewards. To me this seems that Blizzard is enforcing people to purchase TBC and WotLK... coercion which I do not like. But like any good addict I'm going to comply with this.

I have been having good, clean fun with the browser based MMO I mentioned earlier, The West, which has already launched the third world for players to explore and conquer. The frontier life has never been so fun and furious. And the best part of it is the fact that the quests and jobs take real time to complete. I can put my character to dig graves for 2 hours, play something else during that time and return and reap the benefits! What an easy way to make things work.

A comment on the 'news': people are already burning out from WAR, nothing major but Tobold already quit, Hudson is having difficulties to motivate himself to only WAR and some other CoWs have claimed similar things. To me it seems to be the forerunner's dilemma: there is always something new and spanky around the corner. It was AoC, then WAR, now Fable2, next Fallout3 then WotLK... and they all fight for our gamers' spare time, not giving nor yielding for the others. And the forerunners have to be in the front line, experiencing it all before others. Are they the Explorers or the Achievers in Bartle?

Oh, and obviously the next 'Big One' is also around the bend: Star Wars: The Old Republic. Or SWTOR for short. Will it be the next hype mill ála WAR? Time will tell, but for me the combination of BioWare, LucasArts and Star Wars is really something to keep eye on. Especially as they promise Story-driven MMO, in which every decision counts and converstations have multiple outcomes... Did I mention something earlier? I think I did...

Anyhow, I'm back, maybe twice or three times a week. Time to run.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Are bloggers the trendsetters?

After reading several blogs from my blogroll about the copying/tweaking issue risen by the Tigole post in WoW Forums, a thought surfaced. Just like a slowly growing irritation in the back of the mind, the thought had formed itself into a solid being after I quit my lunch. And -like all good reasons to write- it compelled me to hear it's call and write about it.

Being the newcomer to the MMO's and especially blogging, and generally being one of the followers of trends rather than the trendsetters, I'm a bit slow and late. I rather am late and safe than early and apologetic. And I take my time to consider things before making a decision.

But it seems to me that majority of the active bloggers aren't. People seem to make their decisions pretty fast, take their stand and defend it with fervour rarely seen in real life. When Age of Conan was about to be launched after so and so many delays, it was the flavour of the month: each, every and then some bloggers readily discarded their other chores and booked a trip to sunny Hyborea. Only to return later 'in the wait of the next gen mmo'.

Weeks before the Open Beta of Warhammer: The Age of Reconing launched, the buzz was already there, and as the early entry started, the blogosphere was full of entries of WAR, it's mechanics and how fun it was to bash real player characters in the scenarios. Well, honestly speaking this is still going on, even though there are some reports already that this may have been just the initial rush to the new, greener pastures.

And here I am. Newcomer to the MMO's, befuddled by the buzz and hype on the next great shiny MMO, hearing how the game I'm just now playing is 'old news' and 'so passé'.

Of course, the buzz before the launch of AoC or WAR was mainly due great marketing, but the voice of the blogosphere -especially in the small niche of MMO players- turns the tide for better or worse. The enthusiastic reviews of the game and it's mechanics are sure to suck players who have nothing to complain in their current game to the next big hype.

The sad part is the fact that no-one seems to remember that there are still newcomers to the older game. Especially in this case, where WoW has been around for 4 long years and the ones who have been burned out by overdoing the content have gotten their friends, spouses, siblings and youth interested. The bloggers -the über-gamers- show clearly that the newcomers are noobs because they do not understand how inadequeate the game of their choice is. And the newcomers clearly feel it as the MMO of their choice -if it's not the current flavour of the month- is void and empty, without the MM part of the whole definition.

I have played, on and off, for a bit over two years, mainly WoW. From the beginning I witnessed the terrible urge of people to level up the content to the cap, to 'enter the game'. And all the while I have been wondering the reason to that, as I have not had the possibility to participate in the 'end game grind'.

Instead, I started to enjoy the game the instance I started to play the content. When I decided I want to read the stories and find the longer story lines.

The more I'm wondering the terrible rush to the cap currently, because I'm encountering more of the newcomers to whom the basic concepts of the game are completely lost. But they are convinced that they have to level up as fast as possible, nevermind the content or the scenery.

Sure, the great majority of the players have their toons capped and are at the top of the pecking order when the WotLK launches. The more the newcomers to WoW will feel obliged to level up as fast as possible, and the less they will understand their class or playing in groups when they reach the cap someday.

During that time the bloggers who have overplayed and burned out by WoW will blog about WAR, their accomplishments and bewildering thoughts on how much better their gaming experience is than what it was in the earlier game.

Till the next flavour of the month comes with a bang and boom.

Fallout MMO? Starcraft MMO?

Who knows, but the next one is lurking already.

Are you ready?

Copying on copying

I had just a brief run on WoW yesterday, only to notice that I really hate when I have to wait for the battleground to start. The thought occured to me already last night, but it condensed while I was driving for work: if you can queue for scenarios from anywhere in WAR, why can't that feature be copied to WoW?

And how on the spot I was. Seems that the great minds think alike. But then again, I had commented on copying from WAR already in another fine blog.

But not to delve into the issue Syp so nicely pointed out any more than to say that from merging the best ideas and most working concepts of the former generations something beautifull will emerge. There will not be any leaps in MMO's until the technology moves on to new ways to play or poses new ways to interact within the game or UI. The generic concept will be the same: player creates -or is given- a character, alter ego if you please, to venture in a make belief world of fantasy/science fiction/fable and progress through the content. What could change except the outlook and perhaps the way this concept is presented? Majority of the whole 'new game' would be copied from the former ones anyhow.

It's not the copying I would be worried about, but the quality of the copying. If some crucial element is copied fully, but executed more poorly than the original, then it's something to worry about, as then the original idea of the concept must have been lost by the copier.

The only way to 'copy right' in MMO's, movies, tv-series, programming etc. is to copy the concept and make it work better. With the 800lb mammoth gorilla as the benchmark, how could you not copy the most renown parts of it?


I just noticed that I don't know how to play Warlock. And I'm not sure I want to know how to play one, either. I have never been too keen on the pet classes anyhow, and to me this is just one of those. I'm willing to stand at the back seat, keeping people alive, or at the front row getting up close and personal. But not inbetween, like pet classes seem to be.

I'm out for the day.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Recent activities

First of all, I have been surprised that I have been linked to... and quoted by someone like Zubon from KillTenRats. That in itself is a merit, but let's not settle for that.

What I've been up to? Nothing good, sadly. Ran a half a marathon in the weekend, where my only aim was to run the whole distance of 21 km. Well, I did, and now I'm trying to cope with the sore and stiff muscles. Which are slowly getting better, thank you.

Haven't been on WoW, except for a couple of WSG's with my gnome-lock. I surprised myself of being in the middle of the roster in each of the battles, being only lv14 among the lv19 twinkies. I think I should be really proud of myself, being the PvP hater that I am. I still do not quite understand why should I bother, as all the stuff I can purchase with the tokens are available only at lv60? Will that limit be set higher at the dawn of WotLK?

Most probably we'll be having a brotherly questing tonight, or tomorrow. Maybe I will get some ideas from that for new posts. Though I have some on my memory stick, I haven't been able to finalise them for publishing. Maybe later...

Instead I have been spending my few online minutes in some other ventures. Got invited to the Beta of Freaky Creatures. Because it's Beta under NDA, I'm not saying anything about it. The other things I'm involved with are browser based games Molehill Empire and The West. First of which lets loose your inner gardener and some garden gnomes, while the second is a brand new browser MMO set in... well, Wild West.

The West is still in development and it's getting new features all the time. It has the same sort of idea as Star Wars Combine (damn you Werit for inducing this on me!) in the use of time, that jobs really take time in real and there is only so much you can do in 24 hours. The central focus of the game is the founding and building of a city, which is populated with players. This brings up the social aspect, as there are four character classes available: Adventurers, Dueler, Workeres and Soldiers, all which have crucial skills to benefit the city. In a general sense, you have to have players who deal with construction, others for resources and some for protection. It seems promising, but let's see what happens when the game matures.

So far I have been having fun in The West.

Otherwise the time flies, especially as the real life keeps the speed up.

But like Jack wrote: "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy...", there has to be games and fun every now and then.

Every day. Azeroth, here we come. *grin*

Friday, October 3, 2008

Role in MMO

Role in MMO

I would much rather write about player character’s role in MMORPG, but it has come obvious from several instances – not least from my earlier posts – that the RPG part of the current MMO’s is non-existing. They are MMO games, almost having “stress on the games”. But I have started to wonder about the role a typical player wants her/his character to be, and the recent blog entries on WAR have given me more ground to this.

Up until late I have been advocating my ‘perfect MMO’, which would have quests and NPC interaction which would affect the outcome of the character’s personal development. Multiple choice interaction, in which your decisions would change the outcome of the ‘discussion’. Railroaded quests in which your input would change the outcome of the quest, even turn the quest the other way around (Save the princess – encounter the princesses mother – kill the questgiver – be crowned as king). Well, railroaded would be too strongly put, but you get the idea.

Now however I have come to the conclusion that it’s all depending on the participation and role which the player wants to take. I’m a sucker for stories with strong hero’s and anti-hero’s. And as a human assumption I have thought that so are others, too. But the recent WAR outrage has started to make me doubt this assumption.

In EQ2 and WoW (which I have played), the player is lead to believe that the character is bound for great deeds and is the hero: the quests are posed to the character as the main hero and protagonist, the praise is given to the particular character for accomplishing a deed and so on. The player gets the zest that ‘I am The Hero of this story’ and starts to act like one. That is the assumption of the game developer at least in the Old World content. The content driven part of the game.

If there was an all and out war in WoW, each and every player participating the foray would depict a hero in the legend. At least that’s how I would depict the incident. And because of that it’s impossible to launch all the player characters out against the Scourge, for example, because there would be no armies to command. Like Heroes usually do.

In WAR (which I haven’t played so far), where the war is everywhere, the presumption is completely different: the characters are soldiers fighting for their faction. And this is where it becomes a different bowl of porridge. The players assume their role as warriors for a cause, and are not in fact expecting to be the heroes or the protagonists of the great storyline. Of course there are the PQ’s and Lairs and all, but as far as I have understood, the original position of the character is that of a warrior.

And it seems that a good lot of the players prefer to be fighting as footsoldiers against other footsoldiers in a large army instead of competing to grow up as a hero.

All this being said, I doubt that the player enjoying the status of a soldier would enjoy my perfect MMORPG. It would be too much to ask for a person preferring to be ordered and fighting to take the position of a hero in training and make decisions that would later on prove that s/he might not be suitable to be the warrior, but a healer instead.

Roles and role models are difficult. What is your role and who is your role model?

That is a tricky question, I think.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Matured out MMO

I'm not sure if the title describes the content best, but that's what comes to my mind on my yesterday evening's roamings in WoW.

I finally got around and joined a 'newbie guild'. So far I have been avoiding guilds like a plague, because I know I commit to them till the end. In Horde side I have been in three guilds so far: first one was temporary till the second one was formed. Second one died out. Third one is on another server and is still keeping me as a member even though it's been over seven months since I have actually played my horde characters.

Horde guilds have been mature. Both in real member age and in the mentality. Set for a job.

Now on the Alliance side I have been in one earlier. It was closed down as the GM moved to another server. Well, boo-hoo, there was no activity in the guild anyhow. So I was more than cautious when I was presented with the current Guild. Newcomer oriented; low level entries preferred; guidance, instances and boosts scheduled; and so on.

After first hours I was sold.

The GM really is practicing what he's preaching. The members are -especially the higher level ones- helping each other out. And the instance runs, both boosts and normal, are really scheduled, but that's not excluding the spontaneous ones. Which means that with over 80 characters in the guild already, there is no real need for PUG's as there is always some people around to run instances with.

Of course the level range is more difficult to accomodate.

But. There is always the 'but'. In this case it's the enormous drive of the newcomers to push through the content to the 'end game'. I ended up helping a lv12 to complete a quest which has the level recommendation of 18. Well, I got a quest for reputation done while at it, but it made me feel bad. Another newcomer to the game insisted, really, that I should give him money so he could repair his gear and continue playing. And later insisted that I should help him to do the same quest as the other one.

No manners.

This only shows to me that the publicity of the end game content being the game has paid out. People coming to the game for the first time are rushing through the content to see what the fuzz is about, not understanding that the fuzz was originally about the content they are neglecting!

I'm afraid that WotLK will be a sad occasion for WoW as we know it, both game and lore wise.

Then again, I had some real fun in the game yesterday, roaming around Loch Modan and Wetlands with my lv40 warrior. I know, I know, not much of a challenge, but I really got into the role of explorer and mentor. I helped at least three or four players to achieve their goals while just being around, I chatted at /guild about levelling and helping people and over all, I was enjoying the helping part more than the playing itself. Which consisted mainly killing dozens of Ogres at the north-eastern corner of Loch Modan area. I'm missing that one crushed crystal from the ogres to complete that 'last mission' in Loch Modan...

I'm camping over by the caves, so I'm ready right away I login.

Ram mount, here I come!