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BadSpock's Logical Conclusions.

My random thoughts about MMORPGs. A bit of critique, suggestion, debate, and insanity. Enjoy.

Author: BadSpock

Switchblade early review

Posted by BadSpock Monday December 31 2007 at 11:15AM
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So I got a new wired Xbox 360 controller for Christmas.

I got it because I'm too dumb/lazy to keep a charged set of batteries in my wireless controller. With the number of hours I sit playing Halo3 and Mass Effect, I was going through batteries too quickly.

Having a wired 360 controller also gave me the opportunity to try out Xfire and Switchblade to play World of Warcraft with my 360 controller.

It sure is interesting...

Takes a bit to get used to, but I've found the default controlls are the best.

A,X,B,Y are your buttons for action bar keys 1-4. You can then press and hold the right and left trigger to get action bar slots 5-8 and 9-12. Takes a little getting used to, but it works.

The left bumper is the same as a left click, and the right bumper the same as a right click.

You tab target by clicking down the left stick, and jump by clicking down the right stick.

The left stick moves you forward and backwards as well as strafes. The right stick controls the cursor. In order to move the camera, you have to hold down the right bumper and then use the right stick.

I've found you need to turn auto-loot on so that you just have to right click (right bumper) once on a corpse to loot it.

I haven't touched my level 70 toon nor have I done any PvP, dungeons, or raiding... but playing a few of my lower level alts using Switchblade is a blast.

It completely changed the "feel" of the game. For anyone who is bored of WoW but just can't stop playing and enjoys leveling up an alt, I'd recommend Switchblade. It's fun, it's different, and it's actually functional.

I don't know how it'd work with some classes tough. Like pet classes, you'd have to set up a button or two on your action bar to have your pet attack and/or use abilities.

Do I recommend Switchblade for "serious" WoW play? No. But for simple questing/grinding etc. it really does allow you to "kick back and put your feet up."

No, I don't work for whoever makes Switchblade and/or Xfire... just thought I'd share my experience with Switchblade and recommend it to anyone with a spare 360 controller. 

Anywho... Happy New Years!  

How NOT to promote your favorite MMOG

Posted by BadSpock Wednesday December 26 2007 at 5:03PM
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How NOT to promote your favorite MMOG:

1. "On the other, a bunch of PvE-loving weaklings, still suckling on the tit of their over-tolerant parents while they contemplate moving out of the basement next decade." Insult your audience, smart! *NOT*

2. "But in general I think they are destined to be less popular simply because it takes more brains and innovativity to be succesful in sand box style MMORPGs. And sadly since MMORPGs have become mainstream now it means that the average player has the brains the size of a peanut and want everything easy (read casual) so they wont be succesful in something that requires mental capacity and dedication so they wont play it." You want people to come play your game after calling them all idiots?

3. "EVE however, IS successful, but it is also a niche game for the simple fact that 1) The IP is not widely known, and 2) The gameplay isn't simplistic enough for the "average" gamer." Further insulting the "average" gamer.

4. "The graphic ain't that bad, I guess that you're blind? but everything else does suck." Translates to: "My opinion is better then yours! RAWR!"

5. "Your loss for having bad taste." "Your opinion isn't as good as my opinion!"

6. "Graphics? horrible? are you colorblind? maybe you have no sense of art, or color theory, or design ability or artistic cognitive thinking or extrapolation." "I use big words to insult people!"

7. "b/c WoW is for kids and alot of us dont like to deal with kids in mmorpg." I hate children! F the fun our youth are having! They don't deserve to have fun! Fun is reserved for snotty adults!

8. "Fact is, WoW was only successful because it was an entry level MMO, the next big hit will definitely be a more complex one, but developers haven't realized that yet. Asians and kids are the other reasons." Translation: "WoW is too simple for my COMPLEX MIND! Oh, and I also hate Asians and kids." lol

9. "Honestly, all the new jacks think WoW is where it began, and thats another big annoyance, sorry.... your crap game isn't nothing, and regardless of the population, the game will never flourish like old school mmos." I really LOL'd at this one. Flourish like old school MMOs? What?

10. "I think the main reson is that most devs see that WoW has 9 mil subs and assume its becuase thats what everyone wants so they try and emulate that. [in other words they are lazy]" "We shouldn't look at what works, but instead reinvent the wheel every time so that we aren't accused of being smart!"

Just a few examples I found around MMORPG.com

I may get in trouble for this, but the point is...

Think before you post.

Bashing on everything but your game, name-calling and blatant insult to people who play other games, and racism/sexism etc. etc. don't do ANYTHING to further promote your MMO of choice. In fact, they actually hurt it. I know when I see stuff like this, it makes me glad that I don't have to share my virtual space with people who obviously have no clue what is going on beyond their own noses.

To end, my favorite example of how NOT to promote your favorite MMOG -

11. "I was looking for a guild (perhaps to get into the beta) and realized that all the guild that seem to be interested in darkfall have flaming gay names.

Usually, these guilds have some sort of emo name that includes a reference to 'shadow', 'darkness', or something; and has some sort of paradoxial word like 'reverie', 'saga'.

Either that or just something like 'chaos', 'mayhem', 'damnation'. Think chaos space marines from DoW and you have these guilds all figured out.

Sometimes you get a gay guild that has taken it in the rear so hard and so many times that they decide to use a word like 'order', 'republic', 'nation'.  This is to try to sound orderly, so people think they have jobs and wake up at 6am every day.

Where are all the cool guilds? Are there any mature darkfall guilds?"

Yes, because I'm sure a "mature" Darkfall guild would just LOVE to have someone so MATURE and TOLERANT as you.. hahahha..

A helping hand...

Posted by BadSpock Thursday December 20 2007 at 1:53PM
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I'd like some help, some good opinions from my fellow MMORPG.com players.

I need to play a MMO. It's true, I'm a MMO addict.

I'm currently re-subbed to WoW, I haven't touched my level 70 raid-geared toon, I've been fooling around with an Undead Rogue on a PvP server and a Dranei Hunter on a PvE server.

I'm currently active in Tabula Rasa, but I cancelled the sub and it is set to expire somewhere around January 7th I think. I have a level 16 Commando and a 15 Ranger.

I have LOTRO installed (high res client) but don't have a subscription. I've downloaded the trial and tooled around with it... 3 times I think. Never got past level 8 or so.

I have EQ2 basic purchased and installed, but am not currently subbing. Got a warrior (cat person) up to level 12 I think before I cancelled the sub and stopped playing.

My problems -

WoW - burnt out on high end content, don't have the time nor will to go back to raiding. PvP is pointless and just a gear grind. The prospect of leveling up a new toon is interesting, but to what end?

Tabula Rasa - Fun and interesting, but I really can't play for more then 2 hours or so at a time without becoming bored. I find it hard to have the motivation to log in, knowing that in 2 hours or so I'll get bored and log out.

LOTRO - Haven't really seen anything that makes it "special" or stand out from the crowd. Combat seems very slow and painfully boring. The classes seem really limited. Monster play intrigues me, but is it enough to justify a subscription?

EQ2 - Loved it at first, but it got very bland and stale. I hate the character models, the cat person and lizard guy are the only two I can stand looking at.


EVE - I enjoy it, and actually would like to check out the new client... but playing EVE requires such a commitment of time and effort, I'm really just looking for something casual and fun.

I'm hoping/praying for Beta invite into AoC and WAR (who isn't) and I'm really, really hyped for WAR. I know WAR is going to end up the next MMO I play.

So I guess I'm just looking for a MMO to pass the time until WAR and/or AoC comes out. Problem is, I'm not too big into any of the MMOs that are currently available!!

I need help. Which game from those listed above should I play until WAR / AoC is released?

I've got Halo 3 and enjoy it from time to time, but at the skill level I'm at, every game is very competitive and playing gets me really high strung... I need games to relax not raise my blood preasure. I've got Mass Effect, and it's awesome, but I've already played through the main campaign once, and am finding that the side content is really quite stale and unimaginative in comparison to the main story.

Please leave me your pick and why you picked it in the comments sections, I'm very grateful for any/all comments.

So, to sum it up, I need a MMO to play for the next few months or so till WAR and/or AoC come out. I want it to be something fun and casual, yet not completely pointless and stale.

This is the million dollar question everyone seems to be asking, so maybe by helping me, ya'll can help each other and help yourselves!

Thanks!

Having fun yet?

Posted by BadSpock Tuesday December 18 2007 at 6:10PM
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There are a lot of blogs and forums threads on this site about various aspects of MMOG's. I've stopped trying to use the term MMORPG, even on this site, because I feel some games listed on this site (and truly some gamers who frequent here) have lost sense of what a MMORPG is. But, that is a discussion for another time....

From my experience, the "Big Three" topics of conversation that are the most controversial on MMORPG.com are:

1. The "Grind"
2. PvP
3. Sandbox vs. Linear / Class vs. Skill

But I've had a realization. It all simply comes down to a little thing called "fun."

The main problem, is that people don't find the same things fun. That, and people will have their fun at the expense of other people's fun. Like JB said about different "flocks" of people colliding.

So how do you make a game that is fun for everyone? If you know the answer, you are probably very, very wealthy and the head of some major game development studio. If so, good luck to you.

So anyway, we'll take this from my perspective, one bullet point at a time.

1. The Grind:

I've always considered the "grind" to mean quite literally that players are not having fun. Grinding, to me, means that you are doing something, usually a repetitive task, as a means to some end rather for the intrinsically fun value of the task itself. This can easily apply to homework, work, travel, and of course our favorite, MMOG's! 

Nearly everything in a MMOG can be considered a grind if players don't have fun doing it. Asking for developers to "eliminate the grind" is nothing more then that individual asking for the devs to change the aspect of game play that they personally don't find fun. You can't eliminate the grind. 

Some think it's fun to kill mobs over and over and over watching their XP bar inch away. Some don't find it fun and call it a grind. Some think doing quest after quest is fun, others don't find it fun and consider it a grind. It's all perspective if you think about it.

However, some aspects of the modern MMOG are intentionally made to be repetitive. Why? So that you're subscription will be lengthened. Is this a bad thing? Yes. Does every dev do it? Yes. It's a basic limitation, no matter how big the dev studio, no matter how much money and time they have, they can only create a finite amount of content. Even randomly generated content has its finite limits, because the randomness is derived from variables; variables with finite limitations.

You simply cannot ask for more. All you can do is ask whether or not you are having fun with whatever the content happens to be, and even if you aren't, if the end-goal is worth the "grind" or not. If both the answers end up to be "NO" then you have to realize that your time with that game should be over. Plain and simple. Not having fun anymore, quit playing.

2- PvP:

PvP is also completely about fun. Some enjoy ganking and griefing, this is fun to them, so if the system allows it, they will do it. Being ganked and griefed isn't very fun for most (if any) so if they can avoid it, they will. It's having fun at someone else's expense. And you have to ask yourself then, is it worth it? Is your personal enjoyment worth ruining someone elses enjoyment? That's a question only you can answer.

Things like FFA vs. Faction vs. Guild vs. Realm etc. etc. are just options... some find certain varieties fun, some don't. Personally, I like FFA PvP when it is under the context of good role playing. I like Faction/realm based PvP for the feeling of being involved in something greater then myself. I like Guild PvP for the commradery that developes between guildmates. 

No one way is better then any other way. Just like some find player looting fun, others don't. Permadeath fun for some, worst idea ever for others. 

PvP is the biggest culprit when we talk about "flocks colliding." Some like structured, balanced, and fair PvP. Some like dominating others. Neither are bad or good, nor make you a good or bad person, it's just simply that those that find one type fun tend to not like the other kind I've noticed. 

The answer? I've always thought the answer was "choice." Give structured, fair, and balanced PvP to those who want it, but also give more chaotic and free-for-all PvP to those who want it. I'm talking about server types. As I beleive it was T0nyd said, if you find yourself on the wrong server, you have no one to blame but yourself. 

Point is- It's not about carebears and hardcore, PKs and anti-PKs etc. etc. PvP is just so tricky because there is always a winner and loser. PvE the "loser" is the game systems, when you kill a mob you aren't killing another living, breathing person as you are if you kill someone in PvP. It's about having fun, and the fact that it's almost always 99% of the time more fun for the victor then for the defeated.

3-  Sandbox vs. Linear:

The classic debate. Class vs. skill. Sandbox vs. Linear. Generally speaking, many see the two as different sides of the same coin. They go together; sandbox and skill, linear and class. 
What it really comes down to, of course, is fun. Some like the freedom to explore, wander off the beaten path, and invent their own content. Some like to be shown cool and fun things to do. 

That's it. I think of it this way. You are either going to a amusement park like Six Flags or  you are doing something else. 

Let me clarify, you go to Six Flags expecting to do certain things that you know you are going to enjoy. Of course, only if you enjoy amusement parks and rides.
If you don't go to Six Flags, you can do anything else. Go to the park, play basketball, hang out with your friends, spend time in the toolshed on your hobby... etc. 
Will you have as much fun as if you went to Six Flags? If you like rides and roller coasters, chances are, if you go to Six Flags you are garaunteed to have fun. 

The same is true in linear vs. sandbox games. If you like being shown things to do, and find those things enjoyable and fun, then you will enjoy the linear game. If you like the freedom to be able to do whatever, and know that you'll be able to enjoy yourself and have fun doing whatever, then you will enjoy the sandbox game.  

I really hope that made sense.

I see all this endless debate back and forth about the "grind" and about PvP and about skill vs. class and/or linear vs. sandbox... And people debate as if their brand of fun is somehow MORE fun and enjoyable then the other persons, and they just CAN'T see how the other person can't agree with them?!

But, as with all the truths in life, you'll find that the answer depends greatly upon your particular point of view.

Now, one thing I will acknowledge is that the vast majority of recently released MMOs and those in developement seem to cater more towards one side of the spectrum. The other side feels as if they are not being properly represented. This is perfectly natural and I truly sympathize with you. 
Unfortunately it's all numbers. The "majority" likes things one way, so the minority is all too often overlooked. Sadly, there is no answer nor clever statement I can make that will change this. You simply need to hope/pray that a developer creates a game specifically for the minority.

However, creating a MMOG with the intention of only appealing to one particular audience, and shunning the support of the majority is not a financial move that many will be willing to make given the immense costs of designing and operating a MMOG. Sorry.

So are you having fun yet?

Is a Hybrid MMO possible?

Posted by BadSpock Thursday December 13 2007 at 3:52PM
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Is it possible to create a MMO that is a pure hybird?

Both sandbox and linear?

Both PvE and PvP represented fully?

Both class/level based and skill based?

With both player skill and gear/equipment held equal?

If it is possible, would we want it?

I have asked myself these questions a lot lately. Before, when I was creating my "Perfect MMO" blog entries, I attempted to further devuldge my theories on these questions and their answers, but I must admit, I was very long winded.

Writing a novel in each blog entry is not a way to keep people viewing, many only skim anyway.

I know it is possible. I'd like to think I came up with some very good ideas on how to do this, but that's not the point of this blog.

I'm trying to keep it short, but it seems that many on this site are split between two opposite viewpoints.

A MMOG has to be PvP focused or it's a PvE "grind" game. A MMOG has to be purely skill based or it's "the same level/class crap." A game has to have "twitch" combat where player skill matters or it's the same old "grind for gear" game play and unbalanced classes...

Is it indeed possible to have a perfect mixture of the two opposing viewpoints? If it is, would we want that? Would we play it?

Everyone has their own opinions and theories and ideas, but just imagine for a second a MMOG that was split perfectly down the middle between the two opposite viewpoints.

What would it be like?

Please leave thoughts in the form of comments. I'd like to see where the MMORPG.com community defines the "middle ground" because we've all heard (without end) the pros and cons of the opposing viewpoints numerous times before...

Forum posting 101

Posted by BadSpock Wednesday December 12 2007 at 4:01PM
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I'm so sick of all this B.S. from the extreme hard-right side of MMO gamers.. the so called "hardcore."

They were around in the early days of the MMORPG. When games were a lot more tough and unforgiving.

They are now the very loud and very vocal minority. They feel as if they are right and all the new MMORPG players are wrong or stupid or weak etc. etc.etc. They feel that they are special because they've been banging through MMOs for a long time. You are not special. You are the minority.

Truth is, the genre has changed. Some of us old school MMO vets like me have changed with it and learned to enjoy the more casual aspects of our favorite MMOs.

You "hardcore" seem to cling to the bygone days of old, somehow expecting that they'll come back. They won't. It's plain and simple. You have ONE game in development that promises to be an "old school" experience, and most would consider that game to be vaporware with no real chance of release.

Besides that, there is one game out there that is still "hardcore" and follows the old school set of rules, EVE, and I know a lot of you enjoy it. Great, awesome, I'm happy for you. 

Now shut the f*#$ up.

I know there are a lot of newer MMO players that defend their modern-generation games with just as much zealotry and bias as you "old school" vets who do nothing but spit the same trash as the three posters before you did. (McDonalds, Brittney Spears, Chinese Gold farmers anyone?)

Seriously. Get over it. Play EVE, hope for Darkfall, or move on. All this WoW bashing and "carebear" crap and "linear sucks this" and "linear sucks that" bull sh!t is annoying, childish, and just plan stupid.

If you really are so "mature" and want games with more "challenge" that take more "intelligence" then you should learn to post with intelligence, maturity... or is that too challenging?

The younger generation MMO players are just as guilty of immaturity and stupidity as they exhaustively defend their MMO of choice from the "hardcore" zealots.

I know it won't end, I know ya'll don't care. You enjoy bickering back and forth about this that and the other thing, pretending as you type behind your anonymous screen name that you are more wise and intelligent then the poster before you, as if your opinion carries more weight.

So what's the problem?

One problem is that people are far too passionate about the game(s) they love and the game(s) they hate. You can't blame them though, spending so much time and money to play the same game for months/years takes dedication. Of course we are passionate about something we are so dedicated to.

But honestly, think for a few seconds before you write some hateful or just plain ignorant post about about a game you don't like. And please, please learn to attack the arguement not the poster.

"You're argument is dumb" is 10000x better then "You're dumb."

I enjoy the spirited and intelligent debate I find on MMORPG.com forums. Though, it's becoming more and more rare. I also use this site to catch up on the latest news and information regarding the genre of games I love so very much.

I understand that people need to vent sometimes. And often, we vent in a public setting (like an internet forum) in order to find relief from our frustrations/anger by sharing a common viewpoint with others. It's one of the reasons why people post on forums in the first place.

Just please make sure to rant/rave in the appropriate game forum, and please do try to understand that just because you think a certain way, doesn't mean others do to.

Be respectful.

This is to both sides of the fence. The "hardcore" and the "carebear."

We are all guilty of being little sh!t heads on these forums. I know I have been.

In fact I am guilty, right now, of venting on a public website. Throwing my thoughts/opinions onto this blog page for all the read and criticize if they so choose.

Any time you put something out there for the public to see, you face the risk that it will not be well received.

You can only hope and pray that those who disagree respond in a constructive, intelligent, and mature way..

I see less and less of it these days on MMORPG.com

We have all been disapointed, we have all been let down, we have all hoped and dreamed and had these ideals squashed down. Many at MMORPG.com have become jaded, we have been wronged... and we have our right to be upset and to cast our frustrations outwards for all the see....

But also remember that we have all had great times, enjoyable experiences, and good friends in MMORPG games... we wouldn't be here, at MMORPG.com, or playing the MMORPG genre if we didn't.

That's all I got.

Making sense of it all

Posted by BadSpock Wednesday December 5 2007 at 3:07PM
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So I just read the latest dev journal from the guys over at Spellborn..

You can find it here - http://www.tcos.com/sbforum/viewtopic.php?t=12168

Just wanted to highlight some key points, and discuss them a bit via my blog.

"What if a goal said that the combat experience should be “dynamic and realistic”? Really dangerous terms and they sound like something players will want. Dynamic as in, mobs will pick the weaker target during the fight, make sure there’s no healer in the back, finish off players with low health, ignore players who are good at dodging and so on. Realistic because you want a bear to be a bit slower then a tiger, but have more biting strength. Swords to cut and maces to break bones, but where’s the limit?
I’m sure a couple of you readers now think “cool, yes I want that, of course, who doesn’t”, yet most MMO’s you enjoy work with very transparent aggro systems. Having these complex ‘dynamic’ and ‘realistic’ systems in place, combat could become very chaotic, unpredictable and especially, not a fun player experience at all.
So it needs to be translated to something transparent and somewhat predictable. Players want be able to anticipate moves, create strategies, want to know what kind of reaction(s) they can expect from their actions.
In general, players enjoy it if they can achieve real control over the fight. This doesn’t mean that the behavior should be dead-on like:
-‘hit the mob, get aggro, mob won’t go anywhere else’.
But rather an enhanced version of these simple mechanics. It’s one of those cases where less can indeed be more, in terms of player experience. So, let’s apply that on the above behavior.
-‘hit the mob, get aggro, mob will go to another target if previous target keeps being healed’.
Although this is ‘dynamic’, it’s far from the poohah-dynamic AI you read so much about on game box covers and feature lists, but will in fact add a great deal of gameplay. Let’s add another little simple rule.
-‘hit mob, mob checks which nearby target is the weakest and aggro’s, mob will go to another target if previous target keeps being healed’.
Simple additions which can already cause countless of ‘dynamic’ combat situations. Because these rules are rather basic, players will be able to predict the behavior after a couple of encounters, so they can be expanded with more of these basic rules.
Some designers prefer to add chances here and although I think some use of ‘chance’ can make the experience a lot better, excess use of it will make the fight chaotic and eventually destroy the fun all together.

So, should fights be predictable? The basics, yes, to a certain level, even though it makes the situation not so super-dynamic-high-realism. It will create a better, more manageable user experience and players will be able to estimate what can happen…to a certain level. "

This is simply genius.

I know there are those that are going to disagree, they'll read this and still want the totally dynamic combat that El “Selachii” Drijver describes in this article...

And to some extent, I do agree. I would like to see more variety and "chance" type events.

Currently, modern MMO use things like resist to add that "dynamic" element. You try and mezz/root/polymorpth mob X but it resists the spell, instantly changing the situation. Unfortunately, this is usually countered by a simple re-casting of the mezz/root/polymorph spell.

Threat levels and mob aggro can be controlled be experienced players. Again, they throw in resistances to spice things up a bit. Some monsters are immune to Taunting effects, so Aggro must be more carefully managed. Other monsters have aggro drops, starting the aggro/threat process all over again during the fight...

These things are what Drijver talks about as "Simple additions which can already cause countless of ‘dynamic’ combat situations."

Now imagine if these types of things were randomized. In encounter number one, mob type Z is normal, mob type X is immune to stun/mezz/root/polymorph effects, and mob type Y is immune to Taunts. Then in encounter number 2 mob type Y is immune to stun/mezz/root, mob type Z is immune to taunts, and mob type Y is normal.

Some say they'd want this kind of "random dynamic" but the majority would just find this annoying. You'd never know what to expect. While this may be interesting, requiring spur of the moment, lightning fast reactions to changing situations, is it really worth it? These can of course be fun, but every encounter? Every time? 

There is a reason Drijver works in the video game industry and we don't.  

Players want fun and varied content, they want a bit of variety and chance; they want a "dynamic" nature to their games... something unexpected they have to react to. In a MMO, reacting to changing situations is the primary qualifier of the "skill" neccessary to succeed in a MMO.

But they also like being confident that they know what to expect, knowing that they've "learned" how to handle the situation and feel in control. They like to win.

What do ya'll think?

Would you really, honestly like a fully dynamic mob AI system in place for combat? Or would you rather see more advanced and varied versions of the AI reactions we already know?

However, a great portion of this is dependant upon the existence of the "holy trinity" of class structure. Aggro and such only matter if you have tank/healer/dps combo to have to worry about aggro. But if you abolish the holy trinity, what do people do in groups?

I see this in Tabula Rasa. My only experience grouping in TR was just zerging through. No structure, no organization, and no cohesion. It might change in later levels with more specialized classes and thus require you to diversify your groups... But I see this as a prime example of group play without defined group roles. It's chaos. As Drijver said,  "Having these complex ‘dynamic’ and ‘realistic’ systems in place, combat could become very chaotic, unpredictable and especially, not a fun player experience at all."

From my grouping experience in TR, I'd have to agree.

Now you have to understand that I take most of my group AI experience from WoW. Each class has a defined role in a group, each class has their set of abilities that are available in a group environment. WoW grouping in instances/raids is about controlling the situation. Assigning different group members to different tasks on every pull. Rogue saps this, Mage sheeps that, Warlock banishes this, Hunter traps that... etc.

The most important part is knowing what the enemies you are facing are capable of. Which mob is a caster vs. melee, which calls for reinforcements, which summons, which runs when low on health, which is immune to this effect or that...

But once you learn a pull or encounter, generally, it's the same every time. Depending on your group composition things might change slightly, but in general mob X will always be sheeped first, mob Y will always be trapped, and mob Z will always be the one the tank picks up...

WoW actually has a very impressive variety of "simple additions which can already cause countless of ‘dynamic’ combat situations," but what more could it offer? 

What more can be offered before the AI becomes something that is "not a fun player experience at all?"

I'd like to hear the thoughts of my fellow MMORPG.com fanatics. Please be constructive and avoid flaming! Thanks.

 

Ultima Online - The Glory Days??

Posted by BadSpock Monday December 3 2007 at 12:34PM
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There are a lot of misconceptions about what old UO was like, and what/why people thought was so great and good about it. It's true; there were a lot of great things. The skill based system, very low dependence on gear, housing, the easiest and fastest travel ever, etc. But a lot of really bad stuff too.

 
There is nothing honorable or competitive about ganking. It doesn't "teach" you anything; it's not an experience that you learn from... it's you being killed and having no chance to defend yourself.
 
Pre-Trammel UO, you had to grind your skills on training dummies until they were maxed from that, I think you could only get to 25 out of 100 or so... and grind your attributes like strength on mining random rocks on the very outskirts of town, so you could still run back into town if you saw a red and spam your "Guards!" macro...
 
Nearly everyone who "knew" the game would start out with 50 points in Anatomy and 50 points in Magic Resist. Or 50 in Resist and 50 in Magery if they wanted to be casters. Why? Magic resist was one of the hardest skills to gain, and Anatomy was the slowest of the combat skills. So you'd grind training dummies up to 25 or so as soon as you started out, unless you started w/ Magery.
 
And then you'd wait for the monster attacks on the city, so you could build your skills on mobs without leaving town. Then, once you did all of that for a long while, brought your skills up to the 60-80 range, you might have been able to survive going out of Brittania and fighting the red gank squads who had been around since Beta, because they didn't reset Beta characters...
 
But if you went solo you were toast anyway, so you had to find companions. Which wasn't always easy; remember this was the "old days" there were maybe a few hundred people at most online at once during "peak hours" per server.
 
Trammel was the best thing to happen to UO, and anyone who says otherwise is probably an @$$hat ganker d-bag. Factions PvP was the second best thing, because it brought people back into Felucca and gave them meaningful PvP.
 
People seem to forget the UO was one of the most "carebear" games ever. They allowed macroing, or didn't have the tech to stop it. You could grind your combat skills to maximum in a day. Because the game was 2D, and most of the pathing the AI did was so horrible, there were a few spots in dungeons where you could just sit and kill mobs over and over and over without any real risk to yourself.
 
Many remember that the only real way to grind your Magic Resist was to summon Blade... what were they called... Blade Storm maybe? in your house and just let them attack you while a friend bandaged you until they despawned.
 
Travel was a joke in comparison to modern MMORPGs. Anyone could carry and use a Rune book to mark your own instant teleportation spots. Every dungeon, towns, your personal house, etc. Instant teleportation, for just a few Reagents. If you didn't have the 25 Magery skill necessary, you could easily buy a spell Scroll that would cast the spell for you. It was cheap. Also, no restrictions on mounts, and you could pick up a horse for the WoW equivalent of 80 copper.
 
Or, train your Taming ability up to about 25 (took 5 minutes) and get yourself a Llama to ride.
 
There were no instances, but there also weren't thousands of people on the server at the same time. You'd go to one of the "premium" grinding spots in a dungeon, and at worst I think there were maybe 10-15 people already there. I swear 90% of the time people just hung out at the bank in Brittania.
 
You could become a bard/musician/tamer combo and clean out an entire dungeon by yourself. Tame a big dragon or two, then use your music to have all the monsters in the dungeon attack each other and your dragons. You didn't have to do any work but run around and pick up all the gold.
 
There were SO many things that were 100000000% more "carebear" then any modern MMORPG like WoW has.
 
When they added the Factions PvP, it was amazing. People were going back to Felucca and the PvP was awesome. Territorial control of every city and town in the game... 5 waring factions. It was awesome. We fought for pride, for honor, for our Faction. There was no uber loot or real ranking system (they kind of hide a ranking system in place... kind of) it was all about being able to own people and say "my Faction controls all the major towns. I am awesome."
 
I played mostly on the Atlantic server, but I also played a lot on Siege Perilous. Skill gains were much slower, and there was no Trammel. Also, you'd be capped at how many skill gains you could get in a day, so it was painfully slow advancement, no grinding/power leveling.
 
I RP'd as an orc of the Shadow Clan, a red murderer.... We took over a NPC orc fort and made it our home, put up a few houses buy it, but the Fort was our base. Other guilds would come try and take the Fort, but we'd spend time practicing and honing our strategies. Because there was collision detection and the game was 2D lol we could easily do what we called "krimping."
 
Because of the 2D nature of the game, four players could surround another player, north south east and west, and the trapped player couldn't move. So we'd surround an enemy player and beat him/her to death, then "krimp" the next target.
 
We wouldn't just attack random players. We weren't gankers. We'd hide along the major roads and jump unsuspecting players. We'd demand they pay "tribute" and only attack if they didn't pay up. We didn't ask for much, we didn't need it, it was more of just a RP thing... I spend 90% of my time on that server in and around our fort, training my skills on the random NPC orcs that would spawn, and defending our base from attack. We were allied with a Vampire guild to fight the humans.
 
By the way, you could only be human in UO, so we'd wear Orc helmets or masks and RP the part of an orc because we couldn't actually "be" an orc. Same with the vampires.
 
We had a code of honor, we were murderous orcs, yes, but we wouldn't just gank people randomly. I have NEVER seen any PKers in any game, ever besides us that could say that.
 
So yeah, UO had it's great moments, but was also a very flawed and simplistic game. Obviously, I miss certain aspects of it, but it wasn't the "perfect model" for a MMORPG.
 
I'm glad the genre has moved away from games like UO, though I miss a lot of the freedom that the first (and really only) great sandbox game had.
 
It was a simpler time. It'd never work again.
 
Anywho... That's all I got.