Thursday, February 25, 2010
I'm so deep into Allods Online. It's just that fun change from WoW, not least because I'm levelling again and in a new lore and surroundings.
I can easily drop in and play for 1-2 hours, get group content done on the fly and be amazed by the crooked humour the designers have put in the questlines. And drop off, only to continue later on. It's not light or easy compared to WoW or EQ2 or any other game I've tried: the quest stories have enough detail in them to make an equal comparison with the two forementioned games.
The plea I mention in the title comes out of this urge to compare everything to WoW. The general chat of Allods Online is filled with comparisons on this and that aspect of WoW, with the nazi-card equivalent of shouting out that "This is just another WoW clone, this and that is copied from WoW". Meaning that a war ensues.
My plea: Could you people take a step back from the game, cool down and stop making the utterly unnecessary comparison. Stop crying that the game -be it Allods, Aion, Fallen Earth or any other game out there- is a copy of WoW. WoW wasn't the first one, and many aspects of WoW are copied from other games. The whole Warcraft-series is a rip off from this and that source. Ever come to think about the green colour of the Orcs? THAT'S FROM WARHAMMER MINIATURE GAME!!! Tolkien's orcs are from brown to black, not green. And there is a story why Games Workshop's orcs became green after a short while in production/marketing. Go find that out and then talk about green orcs being original in Warcraft!
Every game is a compilation of things from earlier ones, the utilities which have been noticed to WORK properly and/or being better than earlier versions. The same goes to movies', tv-series' and all entertainment as well as in technology. There are only so few completely new concepts created and only so often. And most of them are based on something that has been around already for a while.
So instead of whining and crying out that this game is a WoW clone, stop whining and start playing. Allods -just to mention one- sure has the same kind of UI as WoW, but the mechanics contain some pretty clever innovations. Instead of whining and calling names on people trying to enjoy the game AS IT IS, start playing the game and enjoy.
It helps a lot if you shrug off that mantle of WoW when you login to another game, really.
It may even make the change... enjoyable?!
Monday, February 22, 2010
On the other hand, WoW is 'just' a refined and fine tuned copy of EQ and so on, so enough of that. Every success is based on two things in entertainment: forerunner or pioneer and the one refining the concept to a success. Just think about it (Cyndi Lauper -> Madonna for example...).
Needless to say, I enjoyed immensely of the game. The main concept is similar to WoW in that there are two opposing factions, with similar classes though different races. The race and class combinations are very much restricted, something WoW is shrugging off currently. But it works exceptionally well in the game: the combinations bring depth to the races and give a 'face' to both the class and the race.
But Allods doesn't copy only from WoW. In the races there are no copies from WoW as such, but the Elven race is direct rip off from EQ2's Feyfolk with their clumsy wings and floating 'walking'. The game has copied at least the Auction system from EQ2, and I sure hope that they have done the same with the crafting and the crafted gear's functionality. Haven't hit that far yet, but the work of Disassembler (crafting profession which disassembles gear to components for other trades... clever!) seems to follow the similar train of thought as the one in EQ2.
The devil is in the detail
The overall playing experience is a lot like the one in WoW. Or in any other current MMO. The combat system is very responsive and effective, the special effects of the spells and the animations work like a charm. Did I say already that the game runs flawlessly for me, even though I'm playing over at the US servers? Much better than WoW did back in the day I was playing beyond the pond, I might add!
But the fun part is that even though the combat system is the same (push 1-2-1-3 ad nauseatum) there are teeny weenie details which make this a bit more. For example, the mages have a special Magic Amplification skill, which grants them a special buff or debuff everytime the amplification of a school (fire, frost, lightning) is used or stacks 5 times. This can be a life saver in a tight situation, or may as well be your downfall. The other classes seem to have their own special systems to cover, so it's worth to try the classes through to find more about them.
The other thing is that all the gear and your character stats tell you what stats are important to you, and the stats screen gives you visual clues on the status of your stats. No more thinking over what would be best, just deciding over whether to take this over that!
The devil is truly in the detail, and this trend goes deep down into the game.
Irony or dark humour?
What I fell in love with the most in the game is the dark ironic approach the designers have taken on both sides. Mind you, I have played only to level 6 on the Legion and to level 8 on the Empire, so I haven't seen much of it yet. But the promise of something special is there.
On Legion you are ushered to an abandoned Allod (isle floating in ether) and as the races in Legion are all the 'good' races like Elves, Gibberlings and other 'shiny people', the ironic twist of the thing is that most of the starting quests are very much underlined 'Kill 10 rats' type quests. The result of which is that the starting Allod for the League is a slaughterhouse in which the lovely creatures of Light are killing every other living -and unliving- creature they encounter. The drastic contrast of a lush birch and elm forrest and the people running around killing everything is mind numbing. Sadly this is passed by by most of the players trying to level up as fast as possible (thus killing more and faster...).
On Empire, the start of a new character is total rip off from The Chronicles of the Spellbound, even to the point that the character is the sole survivor from the Astral Ship attacked by a Astral Monster... After which you will find the character torturing war prisoners for the good of the people, killing rats and slugs and finally emerge to a romantically pictured Soviet city with all the pompous statues and monuments of the Heroes of the People. The pictorial references are those of 1930-1950's Soviet propaganda posters and reality, with the quests living up to this premise: the character will place bugs into peoples' houses, interrogate and catch surrogates, find smugglers with questionable printed materials and so on. The whole thing lacks only the Father Sunshine (Comerade Stalin) from the scene to make it perfect. All this is emphasized with the cyrillic Russian posters and signs on the walls and by the fact that the characters and NPC's outside the actual storylines speak Russian!
The whole concept has been thought very well and it is concise and complete. Like Petter said in one Buzz about this game, you really want to go deeper into the plot to see if the corruption and fake facades really give in later on and if there is a more sinister truth to both sides out there. The atmosphere is excellent, save for one thing.
Now the game is new, not even officially launched yet. That should be kept in mind. Yet there are already people who have the right to call other people asking for information "noobs" or "retards". There are already elitists who really make it sure you get how much better they are.
The worst part of the current zone (local) chat is the constantly revolving circle of WoW discussion. How the game is a WoW clone, how WoW is better in this or that, how WoW is so bad about almost everything and so on. It's like the Nazi-card in any other conversation: it just keeps coming up and doesn't go away.
However, the community is very much bustling and helpfull, and you can get people to group with you just by suggesting it to them: the quest objectives are sometimes hard to take on by yourself and the kill ten rats areas are very crowded. Grouping helps to overcome this as you get your kills from all the kills your group does (as in WoW and any other game) and in certain open world bosses it's a must to have a HUGE amount of people doing the kill, anyhow (like the League's Dark Soul quest... we had 24 people to make it... at lv6!!).
What really amazed me was the amount of questions people had about the quest objectives clearly stated in the quest description. Not only does the game's map show you the location of the quest objective, it also tells you what kind of objective it is (combat, pick up, discussion). Still people were asking for help on how to complete/find a quest objective! Have we been taught to get everything on a platter already? No need to do anything in an adventure game or RPG?
A lot of the questions were such that people could have come up with the answer just by fiddling around with the map, quest texts or the interface. Too much of things to overcome in this age of instant gratification for some, really, even though the game is as simple as it gets.
If you're bored or looking for a change after playing WoW, EQ2 or any other MMO, Allods has a lot to offer. It's simple, familiar and very smoothly running game with a lot of tongue on the cheek humour and references. It's deeper than the surface might suggest, I just hope this promise holds till the level cap later on.
Being F2P, a lot depends on the Cash Store: what and how highly priced items will be. For now, as a free game, I could see this tapping on the 70% of the WoW trial drop outs, and a lot of people fed up with other MMOs over there.
I think Allods has a lot to it. I suggest you try it out yourself.
PS. I'm playing on Nezeb server with toons like Copranull, Copratwo (on Empire) and Ding (Ding/Dang/Dong, a gibberling trio), Copraner and Gruthmog (on League). I suppose all my toons from now on will have that Copra tied in somehow, but ask to be sure.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
I mean the requirements to join a PUG raid or instance through the /2 Trade calls.
"LFM weekly Anub'Rekhan, need 1 tank, 1 healer, dps. Achievement and GS check."
"LFM ICC10, achievement (pref for first 4 bosses) and GS 5.1K minimum."
Like what on Earth -or on Azeroth- are people thinking? Those are real calls, I'm afraid. Yesterday I saw a similar one for the current weekly on our server, Razorscale Must Die. To which I got myself, amazingly, only to learn that it's a very simple fight in the current gear levels (I have 2 piece T9, only, and it was easy), not something to call for an achievement or gearscore!
So has the need for fast, easy runs gotten too far? I think so. The ones calling for achievements, outrageous gearscore and incredibly overlevelling companions are in fact looking for the instant gratification for their time/effort. The same as the gogogogogo heroic runners.
If possible, people should take a step back and really think about it. How rewarding is it to down a boss which doesn't even have a slightest challenge?
I bet these people wouldn't do the grey quests, either, even if they are a part of the Loremaster achievement.
There are no badges to earn.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
For me the tank is the goal keeper. He's the one who states that the 'Buck Stops Here', taking care of the rest of the team and securing that they can do their job properly and as easily as possible. Tanking is simple and easy in principle, requiring only some sense of spatial awareness on top of good sense on the skills in her/his disposal. The gear is a nice addition and brings more survivability to the mix, but it's not the thing that makes a tank, really. It just makes the job easier by far.
The part of the DPS is actually the hardest, when you think of it. The DPS are the rest of the field players, the front line assault team creating the damage to down the mob or boss. What makes the job of the DPS hard is the fact that the threat the tank is generating has a limit, while the limit of the damage DPS is generating is much higher. The most of the problems in tank losing aggro isn't from her/him being a slacker, but the DPS being too eager to shine in the damage meters. The thin line between 90% aggro and aggro break should be the DPS's concern, not necessarily the tanks, because the tank can do only so much to remedy that. Instead of staring at the damage meter, the DPS should stare their threat meter. And keep themselves out of trouble by not stealing the aggro from the tank. In a good ice-hockey game the players make sure that the goalie has as little to do as possible: the same should apply to the tanking and dps. The DPS should take care that the Tank has as little extra to do as possible to ensure smooth run.
Actually, the healer is not playing in the hockey field at all, but is at the back, handing out the drinks and keeping the tank up and the DPS doing their part. The gentle rub from the healer to the dps should be enough to keep the game rolling, not the stitching or rubbing the sores of the over aggressive player. Healer is the most important piece of the puzzle, even though her/his contribution is the least easy to measure.
So why do I love tanking?
It's staying on top of the game, doing your best to keep the encounters rolling smoothly and doing your best without a measurable meter to track you down. DPS is fun and furious competition in reaching as high as possible in the damage meter: the competition and measurable success makes it so much fun in it's own right. When the DPS takes their aggro generation seriously, even a less well geared tank can do their work in a heated situation. As long as the aggro doesn't go wild and the tank can concentrate on keeping the mob/boss on her/himself, the game flows smoothly.
As a tank you are your own critic, you are the only one who can really tell how to improve and how to do the thing you do so well even better the next time. It's not about perfecting the rotation, or about perfecting the button sequence. I love the fact that I can analyse my performance on my own, find my own lacking skills and find remedies for them.
The worst part in the current speed running of the heroics (when you have gotten that far in the game) is the fact that you really cannot learn anything from the runs. The DPS is acting like a ice-hockey team's primadonna, doing everything on their own, without worrying about the rest of the team and complaining about the performance of the rest of the team when they encounter problems. The healers are yawning through the instances until the fore mentioned primadonna strikes an odd chord and gets almost killed. And there are only so many 5 man instance bosses who can cause problems to a decent geared tank anymore, as long as the healer can take it without falling asleep.
I believe the instances would run even smoother and provide more fun, if people would just remember their spot and follow the cue of the tank. It really doesn't hurt to be polite and play as good as you can in any group you may encounter.
It really pays later on. One way or another.
Monday, February 15, 2010
I mean the players getting cockier and less class-clever along the time. Sure, Blizzard has stated that 30% of the people running the trial continue beyond that, but what about the next hurdle taking the people off the grind? It's not the levelling, not at all. It's the -now a bit softened- hit of hitting the level cap. Suddenly the railroading stops and you are faced with the gearing grind, no direction, only requirements.
And after that, when the new player has gotten into heroics (too much too soon IMO), s/he must start to wonder why people call her/him noob. Isn't dps supposed to pull and kill? Isn't healer supposed to beat the living daylights out of the mobs, competing in the dps meter? Doesn't 4.5k Gearscore mean you are a great player?
I learned a couple of days ago that my GS is a bit over 4.8k, and I'm not going to change that unless I get myself to raid. I'm content with the two set bonuses I have, both in Devastate, which is the bread and butter for the current tank. Naturally -as we're talking about warrior tanks- this is just a part of the rotation, but still, Devastate is the skill of the month, or at least as long as the PvP people get to the point that it has to be nerfed, like our Warbringer and Shield Slam were. I can see that this isn't going to take long.
The more people are ushered up at the constantly increasing speed, the more complete newbies will surface. People who haven't had to learn their class, or do not have to understand the mere basics of their class. For dps, anything goes, as long as they deliver the damage.
It's not that simple for us tanks, nor for the under-appreciated healers, though. Why? We have to live with the cocky, full of themselves dps'ers, who cannot take a single thing without reverting to a litany of abbreviations.
Hunters stacking INT and SPI, rogues pulling, mages blaming the healer after they get killed (but no wipe)... The seeds of destruction are already planted, and as Cataclysm is aimed both for the old gamers and for the new audience, we will see even more of the same. Or even worse.
This can be seen already at the cap: Already the LFG ICC10 announcements require achievement, spec and gearscore. Even the latest raid weekly on our server, Anub'Rekhan was called for with the requirements I mentioned! Naxx starter raid, with this gear composition you have at lv80? As far as I know, the current, newly dinged lv80 has better gear than the ones who cleared Naxx the first time it was introduced in Northrend. And now people are skipping Naxx, Ulduar and even ToC to enter ICC directly.
Thinking this from the newbie tank point of view (my point of view, newbie because lacking raid experience), I cannot see a new aspiring tanks emerging. They will most likely be alts or new mains of players who have seen the game this far already and are willing to sacrifice their sleep for others.
You see, running as tank -or a healer- through random heroics isn't a task for faint hearted.
So the future I see is bleak because of the players that will come to the game. Not because of the game itself, but because of the clueless players who whine the game to be changed to something that suits them better. You know, the know it alls who cannot play their class, even if you drew a roadmap to it.
Eh, maybe... like me?
Friday, February 12, 2010
"LOL, omg I just pwned that n00b when I told him to STFU and ". Abbreviations of phrases are a rather common thing in MMO's. But do we always mean what we type or better said do we always realize what we are saying?
The content of the abbreviations are often 'lost in translation'. Sure, most know what the abreviations actually stand for, but never really think about it when using them.
Just for laughs, count the amount of LOL's, and you see in the chat, and try to estimate how many will actually be 'Laughing out Loud', 'Laughing their ass off' or are 'Rolling on the floor laughing' (I still have trouble understanding how somebody can type while rolling on the floor laughing btw).
My best bet is that not too many actually will have performed any of the actions for which they often even use caps to write them. The content of the combination of letters has become completely lost and those words are now just used as expressions of fun, not really showing how funny you thought something was.
The 'Laughing abreviations', however, are not that bad. Sure it removes part of the feeling you can get with players, but in itself it's seemingly harmless. STFU and OMG on the other hand is not.
OMG can be seen as one of the most 'vague' expressions in chat. Oh My God to me refers to rather severe expression of astonishment and/or disbelieve. However, people use it for all kinds of reasons. From 'normal' day to day affairs such as 'omg I just walked past an undead' to semi-rare occasions such as "omg did you just see that horde guy walking into the alliance "' to severe astonishment "omg, did he really just pull a Leeroy on us?". A rather wide range if you ask me.
Last night I was in a pug, wiped, got a new dps and healer and the first thing the dps said was when he entered "omg" nothing more, no explanation, nothing. So in my mind I was going "What does he mean, did he just hurt his pinky finger with his knife, or maybe he hadn't noticed, before joining, that one boss was already down (and now he knows, will he leave?), or was he just so much in awe of my uber 1337 outfit" Ok I made that last one up, but still...You don't know, and can't know as the meaning of the words have become completely lost.
These are just a few of the many abbreviations that are used around almost all MMO's. How many people do you think still really realize what they are typing instead of just using the abbreviations that have completely lost their meaning.
The example also shows that it has become more and more difficult to interpret others. Personally, I always 'hear' the entire sentence in my head instead of just the abbreviation. The awareness of the sentence in that case can hit pretty hard. can be one's standard response when the tank misses one mob, but for another it can be a serious accusation. I take everything personal and with that, I make it much harder on myself than it might be meant.
I for one grow a bit tired of asking what a person is referring to when they OMG, to find out its something referring to me, and if I need to do something about it...
So what is your way of 'dealing' with the abreviation madness?
Monday, February 8, 2010
What I've noticed lately -amazingly- is the fact that Titanium and Titansteel have dropped in price considerably. No wonder really, as they are the 'old news': Primordial Saronite is the new Titansteel, so the MUDflation takes its toll. The same has happened to the crafted gear which used to be around 2k just a month ago. They are around the material prices currently, making the crafters very sad trolls everywhere. A little point I wrote about in the Nomadic Gamer last week, or at least a tangent to that post in a way. Everyone wants to be the hero so no one cares about the ones wanting to be the master crafter. Because everyone IS the master crafter already.
The flipside of this top heavy game is the fact that the lower and especially mid level crafting materials are constantly rising in price. There is a known threshold at the crafting materials around the last levels in Old Azeroth and around the last levels of Outlands. Clearly the reason to this is the fact that people are skipping those last areas so totally that the gathering of materials from those areas is forgotten.
The implications in levelling new crafting skill through AH becomes pretty pricey around the middle of the craft's levels. And that's the area the AH game is the most interesting to me.
I don't fancy the overcompeted glyph market, nor the Netherweave bag market. Sure, they are the fire and forget markets with possibility to create fast and fabulous wealth (and I'm not that fast and fabulous... nor bored). It's the snatching the few underpriced mats from the market and flipping them to more proper prices that makes me tick in a way. Sure, I craft some from time to time, but just to fill the holes I see in the AH listings, mainly for enchantments and bags, but that's just some extra.
Now, if someone would explain to me why people are still buying the vanity pets from AH, the pets which are sold in Dalaran? The vendor sells them for 40g a piece, but you can sell one in AH for anything from 70g to 120g.
What is your way of putting some extra cash into your character's pocket?
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Nevertheless, I have read more than one comment and post over the blog-o-sphere about how the low level instances have been nerfed still to make them more acceptable. I don't get it: first Blizz makes the instances more accessible to the people by the introduction of the new and improved Looking for Dungeon tool, even granting the extra reward for completing a random one with random people. But to nerf the content, still?
Maraudon was a pain in the behind, I agree, and I posted about it way back when my main was at level 50. It has been 'broken' into four 'wings' or areas I hear. Wailing Caverns I wrote about earlier, too, and stated that it has been nerfed so hard that it didn't even bring a sweat on the sub par geared group of the 'proper level range' and Shadowfang Keep is a joke at the moment.
Why nerf the content they made more accessible to all? Are they really so anxious and eager to get everyone up to level cap and kill Arthas/Lich King before they unleash Cataclysm over the old levelling content?
Why have they taken the challenge off of the old instances?