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Paragus Rants

Rants, reviews, and interviews from an MMO veteran and guild leader.

Author: Paragus1

Rant: Gold Spammers

Posted by Paragus1 Thursday September 25 2008 at 3:23PM
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Rant: Gold Spammers

"They should be kicked down a burning flight of stairs covered in broken glass and AIDS."

These were the words a guildmate of mine recently used to describe his feeling towards the parasites of the MMO genre we have all come to know and hate, the gold spammers. Every major MMO in the last few years has been infested with the likes of these scumbags. It doesn't matter if the game is big or small, these blood-sucking leeches are ready to offer you their dubious services in order to make your gameplay experience a more enjoyable one.

They always seem to find you. Most commonly many of us will receive the random tell from a gentleman with an almost unprenouncable name, probably generated from rolling his face over the keyboard. These worldly scholars mysteriously also seem to share the same commanding mastery of english language. In more recent games like Age of Conan, they could be seen shouting in general chat and filling your in-game mailbox with advertisements. Hell, even some MMO based websites find their forums and blog sections infested with these dingleberries clinging to the ass of the genre. For only few measly dollars, they promise to introduce you into lifestyles of the rich and stupid of whatever virtual world you find yourself inhabiting.

2-Sided Problem

On one side of the coin you have to deal with how these people directly effect the game. To the honest player, they are an annoyance first and foremost. Often times they can obstruct the gameplay of players. Gold farmers who gather the money will identify an area that enables them to generate the most wealth per hour. This can in turn lead to bottlenecks in these areas which often times are places that normal players will have to pass through during the natural order of progression. If left unchecked over time, the flooding of gold into the online economy can often time lead to inflation driving up the costs of items sold between players via the auction house.

The other side of the coin is the fact that players are to blame as well. These spammer would not be in the business they are in if it were not profitable. It is profitable as long as players are willing to take the low road and shell out real life cash for in game cash. Let's say a farmer buys a box for $50 to play the game, and manages to send an advertisement to every player on the server one time before being banned. In many cases, that farmer only needs to find one or two players willing to do business to justify the $50 for the new account that gets banned.

The Solution

Most MMO's that are infested by these shortbus-riding window-lickers are proactive about trying to shut them down as fast as possible. Final Fantasy 11 was notorious for having tons of gold farmers, but oddly enough, no spammers. The reason why they don't bother the player I am guessing is due to the fact that Square-Enix has been known to wipe out thousands of accounts at a time. Anyone who has ever played this game knows how hard it is to get to a level to make money so I can only assume they fear the time investment in releveling in this old challenging MMO.

I want to take some time to talk about Warhammer online as this seems to be the hot topic at the moment. Mark Jacobs at Mythic has expressed his feeling towards this in a recent blog entry where he says...

"I hate gold sellers/spammers. No, that’s not strong enough, let me try again. I HATE GOLD SELLERS WITH EVERY FIBER OF MY BEING."

I think I speak for most of us when I say that we feel the same way. Nobody would shed a tear if these people decided to take a bath with their toaster, drank a bottle of Clorox, or took a leap down a slip-and-slide naked while carrying a scissors... but I digress.

Mythic has literally had the gold spammers invade Warhammer Online right at launch. The good news is that Mythic has put themselves out in front of the problem right away to face it head on, in a very transparent way. The first thing they have done is make it very easy to report the spammers. They have also built into the game's mailbox mechanic a waiting period between sending mail to players of 20 seconds. This helps prevent the kind of mass mailings that Age of Conan still suffers from. When bans do come down, players have been receiving pop up boxes that have become somewhat comedic letting the players know certain players or sometimes entire guilds have been banned. I actually read a thread today where some people were actually complaining that the ban pop ups where just as annoying as the spammers, an argument which may get amplified over time. It was also pointed out to me today that Mythic has a counter on the War Herald site showing the number of bans handed out so far.

It's good to see that the devs of all MMO's are fighting back. Mythic seems to be leading the charge right now, so we will see how steadfast they remain as their game grows in popularity. Money is so easy to get in Warhammer right now, and other than buying a mount, I don't see the demand for gold to be high enough to justify paying for it. I hope fellow WAR players will realize this and make it unprofitable for them to spam us in game.

One final note, a part of Mark Jacobs blog did jump out at me and raise an eyebrow that makes me question some of the other devs out there...

"I’ve been offered “a piece of the action” both personally and corporately in the past if I will either turn a blind eye or help them in their actions. This would have netted me and/or Mythic a very, very tidy sum, far more than we would see from box sales. My answer was and always will remain the same:

Go to hell."
 

Paragus

Co-Leader of Inquisition

www.inqguild.com

Rant: Server Queue

Posted by Paragus1 Monday September 22 2008 at 2:50PM
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Rant: Server Queue

The release of Warhammer Online has brought us something we haven't seen in a very long time besides good PvP, and that is the horror of server queues. I was lucky enough to pick probably the highest pop server for my guild to play on, but also unlucky enough to be faced with some of most serious queues of all of the servers. Now given at this point, we are only about 1 week into the games servers being brought live, but this seems to have become a hot button issue for many people finding themselves on crowded servers.

The downsides of queues are obvious and can be very annoying. All you have to do is read your forums of choice to hear the whining of people who are stale about this issue. People coming home from work and having to wait upwards of 30 minutes or longer to be able to log in. We have even had some guild members report that the queue was so long that they weren't even allowed to join it! They then have to spam the join button in hopes of getting a spot in the back of the line. Now imagine going through all of this to get in the game, and then have a crash to desktop sending your ass right to the back of the line again.

Now that being said, the existence of queues obviously mean the game has sold very well. There are rumors swirling of over 1 million boxes sold right out of the gate, something that not even World of Warcraft to lay claim to. Also the queues may be a foreshadowing of the success this game may come to reap. We haven't seen this sort of demand for an MMO since World of Warcraft was released years ago, which we all know has had subscription numbers soar over the 10 million mark over the course of its lifetime. I am sure the people over at Funcom are envious of this, the one problem their game does not have. At least if Mythic loses 50% of their subscribers like its competition it will still be on good shape.

As a guild leader, I intentionally wanted to pick a server with a high population because I have experienced what it is like to play an MMO on underpopulated servers in a variety of games. There is nothing worse then playing an MMO, especially one that revolves around PvP, and finding yourself having to go out of your way to find a fight.

Warhammer Online seems to have a lot of emphasis on the scenarios for the time being, hopefully this will change once people level up. The good thing about the high population is that there is almost always a scenario going on. There are reports that on some of the lower pop servers that the scenarios are taking longer to start up, even worse if you are playing Destruction. I can tell you as an Order player I often times find the scenarios popping up too frequently, not giving me enough time to finish my quest.

Mythic also seems to be aware of the problem and understands that nobody wants to have to wait to play. They have come up with what I think is one of the most interesting ideas to try to persuade people to try another server. Shortly after the population problem on certain servers became evident, they copied all of the characters from those populated servers to specific underpopulated servers. In past MMOs, we often would have to wait ages for devs to open up a character transfer option. When the time finally did come, players would have to go through a transfer process that quite honestly is a pain in the ass. Mythic's solution seems enticing because they are telling you that if you want to switch your character is already on this other server ready to go.

One problem still remains in the fight against queues. On my server which still have queues, they have already done the cloning option for transfers, and they have also announced that my server is set to the maximum the hardware will allow. So where does Mythic go from here? The hardware is maxed and the transfer option has already been used.  Now don't get me wrong, I am more than willing to tough it out. I expected this, and to me it is a price worth paying to get to play on the server I am on. My entire guild is in it for the long haul, there is nowhere else we would rather be. I know for a fact a lot of the other guilds on my server have adopted the same policy as well.
 

It makes me wonder if we are all playing a giant game of chicken against each other as players to see who has the stomach to ride this thing out. Players who are not attached to large guilds may have to really start evaluating their server decisions on whether or not it is worth the wait to play. Perhaps in the end everyone is hoping Mythic will come up with some way to upgrade the hardware to allow more players. It's been a hell of a week Mythic, hopefully something will happen to help alleviate the situation, or maybe we will keep playing the waiting game. Only time will tell.

 

Paragus

Co-Leader of Inquisition

www.inqguild.com

Rant: Potential

Posted by Paragus1 Thursday September 4 2008 at 2:33PM
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Rant: Potential

How many times have you seen a forum post or an article comparing MMO vs MMO.  If you have been around this genre for any length of time you have no doubt seen it time and time again.  One of the most common arguments used to try to justify the failings of an MMO debacle is the argument of potential, which I mentioned in my very first article about Unfinished MMOs.

I wanted to take some time and finally try to put this word to rest once and for all when it comes to this genre.   Potential is defined as the following by dictionary.com:

1) possible, as opposed to actual
2) capable of being or becoming
3) a latent excellence or ability that may or may not be developed

All of these definitions have one commonality, a separation from what could be compared to the reality. This is key to countering the potential argument that desperate fanbois will cling to like a life-preserver on a sinking ship.   Am I the only one to notice that when the word potential shows up next to an MMO, that the MMO in question always turns into a debacle?   Look at some of the biggest disasters in the industry and think about it.

Asheron's Call 2 was the sequel to one of the most innovative games, yet Turbine practically threw away everything from AC1 except the names on the world.   Dark and Light had potential to change the way we look at games, and that it did as the accusations of unethical business practices became rampant.   Brad McQuaid "vision" and "next-gen" MMO baby Vanguard culminated with its developers being taken into the parking lot and fired just in time for SoE to come in and rummage through the debris.   Funcom will forever be known to many as Failcom (go to www.failcom.com for a laugh) after giving us a game with the best graphics and music, but a side order of mismanagement, poor customer service, Exploits, and Undocumented Patch Notes.

 

 

3 Facts about the Fiction

1) Potential swings both ways.  If things have the potential to get better, they also have potential to be a debacle.   The history of this genre has shown us that games will try to justify their subscription to a game on the chance it could get better, when more often then not the potential they cling to favors the chance it will yield copious amounts of fail.

2) Potential comes with a cost.  Most of these games require you to pay money every month to play.  How much are you willing to pay to see the game get where it could be, or should have been at release?  Let's face the facts here folks, potential is a mythical promised land that you hear is out there but nobody has ever found.  It is not a valid argument or a legitimate justification for paying some assclown devs for a hot steaming pile of shit.  It is no more real than the Tooth Fairy, Santa Clause, Brad McQuaids "vision", or Funcom's state of the game letters from the director.

3) Potential also comes with an expiration date.  Look at some of few exceptions where a game actually did pull its act together.  Anarchy Online was so bad when it came out, that the review should have been posted on ratemypoo.com.  Today it remains one of the complex MMO's ever created, but after hitting the expiration date.  The expiration date is when people are tired of paying for hope, and if that hope ever does come, there aren't enough people left playing to matter.  We see the same thing now with Age of Conan.  At a certain point, any headway made will be meaningless when players find themselves standing in empty servers, and with MMO's on the horizon that actually have what is advertised, it may be very soon.

We need to stop using potential as an argument. It is the first nail in a failing game's coffin, and something a fanboi clings to like a life-preserver to try to justify the belly full of bullshit they willingly swallowed. We as subscribers need to stop paying for what simply isn't there. When we stop paying for hope, and start paying with reality, they will be forced to deliver what they promised or fail.

Paragus
Co-Leader of Inquisition
www.inqguild.gom