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The General Store

A collection of articles created by me regarding anything that has some faint relation to an MMO(s).

Author: Nalestom

Shouldn't I Be *Dead*?

Posted by Nalestom Friday February 20 2009 at 4:53AM
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I've seen it all too often, both in professional and novice MMO's. You're fighting in a high-level dungeon, barely holding off mobs that are 4-6 levels higher than you, and for that large difference, you're doing pretty good. You're dealing out quite a bit of damage while staying out of trouble just enough so that you don't annoy the healer. Suddenly, you find yourself dead, and you aren't sure what happened. Did a member of the opposite faction sneak up behind you and snipe you with an arrow? Or did a mob spawn off to the side of you?

No, you're tank and healer experience a bout of lag, therefore transferring all of the aggro over to you. And your 500-HP butt couldn't withstand a blow without keeling over.

The healer endlessly apologizes, complaining about the modem and the ISP (Internet Service Provider) and everything that could have possibly interfered with his connection (Meanwhile, the tank is still warping around the zone because of his lag). It's fine, though, because you lost a measly .5% (Yes, that is a decimal point in front) of your total experience, which is nothing compared to what you were getting per kill. You'll probably earn 10 times the amount you lost just by killing a single monster! Plus, you didn't lose any of your treasured gear, and you respawned at the beginning of the zone. A simple minute-long walk will bring you back to where you were fighting, and then all will be well.

My point? In most MMO's, the death of your character does not carry a high enough price (Unless your cause of death is from another character through PVP. In that case, all that is affected is your kill/death ratio and PVP ranking, whatever that may be).

So, what would an ideal death system be? Well, one of the best death systems I have seen so far in my history of gaming is actually from RuneScape. While I may sound like a complete idiot for even mentioning anyting good about that game to some people, I ask them to think about it. In RuneScape, death holds a very high price. You don't lose experience, you don't lose any levels whatsoever, but you do lose all of your beloved items that you carried with you except for the three most valuable items. So, while that highly expensive weapon that you just bought may be safe, almost all of your precious, valuable, and good-looking armor is lost unless you are able to find your body and recover them.

However, the games we shouldn't idolize for their death methods could be Everquest I and II, World of Warcraft, Adventure Quest, Dragonfable, etc. I know for a fact that (with the exception of World of Warcraft, as I have only played the trial, so the death system may or may not change in the later levels) each of these games do not take away anything important except for a little bit of experience or perhaps nothing at all. The only real penalty is having to walk all the way back to where you died at and revive there to continue fighting.

The reason I am ranting on and on about this is that I am tired of seeing people who regard death as a "minor annoyance" in a game. Death shouldn't be realistic (for example, when you die, it counts as a permadeath, and you have to start over from scratch) but it should be highly undesirable for anybody of any level. They should lose something important to them, like an item, or perhaps even a hefty amount of experience, for those higher-level players who farm enough money to replace anything.

I highly advise the developers of MMO's to rethink the "traditional" death system and come up with a more substantial price to pay for those who love to die. After all, death isn't death if you don't "die".

 

Pitting Ourselves Against One Another -- Player vs. Player Combat in MMO's

Posted by Nalestom Sunday February 8 2009 at 9:04AM
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For years, game producer's have attempted (and, as far as I know, have failed) to create an ideal, "perfect" Player vs. Player (Referred here as PvP) system, one that caters to all playstyles, whether it be casual or hardcore, "run n' gun" or strategic, or anything else you can think of. One that has a perfect ranking system that can't be abused and truly determines your ranking based on the skill of how you fight, not just your kill/death ratio. However, in all my 10 years of MMO gaming, I have yet to see a system that could be described as "perfect" or "ideal".

There are many reasons why so many PvP systems in some games have miserably failed. Some producers created systems that were wildly complex and hard to manage. Some producers created a system that was too simple, one that was based upon kill/death ratios, and the only rewards you were given was a title next to your name. Some producers were lazy, and just threw in PvP to please it's audience and assure them that there would be PvP servers. Some producers didn't put a lot of thought into it's PvP system.

Which raises another question. Look around at your most popular MMO's (Everquest II, World of Warcraft, Guild Wars, Warhammer, Lord of the Rings, etc.) and analyze their PvP system. Most of these games have separate PvP servers for those who want to take the extra risk and be in a dangerous environment constantly. However, it does appear as if these games were not made for PvP.

And they weren't. It's very obvious, just from the structure of the game. You have the same old quests, the same old characters, the same old zones, it's just that everything you do has a certain risk to it, and you have to be much more aware. You can't set your character on autorun across the continent, go pour yourself a drink, and expect to still be alive when you come back.

Therefore, my conclusion is this: If anybody wants to experience a truly thrilling type of PvP, one that is newcomer-friendly and unabusable, then they need to play a game that has been structured around a PvP system, and has kept PvP in their mind through every line of code. As far as I know, there is only one game that is currently being developed as I described above, and that game is Jumpgate: Evolution. So far, the PvP system looks excellent and very well-planned, and I will be camping the front door of my nearest Best Buy on the day that it comes out. Or the mailbox. It depends.

More information on Jumpgate: Evolution can be found here: www.jumpgateevolution.com

The Best Failing MMO

Posted by Nalestom Sunday February 1 2009 at 2:11PM
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Recently, I have read news that NCsoft, the publisher of Guild Wars, is completely dropping it's sci-fi MMORPTPS (Massively-Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Third-Person Shooter) Tabula Rasa. Intrigued, I decided to download the now-free game to try it out, as I had nothing to lose, but as I would later find out, lots to gain.

The overall concept of the game was very well designed. NCsoft managed to perfectly blend the concept of an MMORPG and a TPS (Once again, Third-Person Shooter). The game has the skills/attributes/classes side to it that comes with any other MMO. You have certain skills you can level up, and experience point system, a class tree, and equipment that affects your attributes and the damage you deal/take. However, they also add a TPS side to it, giving players access to a wide range of different types of guns. In normal MMO's, the weapons you are given are the same with each player. If you give your sword to another player with the same character, he will do the same damage. However, in Tabula Rasa, it is not only a "who has the better weapon" situtation, but also a "who knows how and when to use their weapon" situation. If you want to win against anybody, you have to know how your weapon should be used (for example, you should know not to attempt to kill somebody at point-blank range with a rifle) and in what scenarios it should be used (for example, don't use a rifle when there is a group of enemies attacking you.

There is a slightly different "feature" as far as quests and the overall storyline goes. In most MMO's, there is a separate storyline to each little zone. In Tabula Rasa, the storyline in each little zone tie together. A minor feature, but one worth noticing, especially since games like World of Warcraft and Everquest don't have one big storyline.

 Overall, this game is definitely worth downloading and trying it out, especially if you are a fan of both FPS' and MMORPG's. After all, since it is now free, you have absolutely nothing to lose, and quite a bit to gain!