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the Lonely Altar

I don't play "games", I play MMORPGs! This is where I talk about them!

Author: Tierless

#35 CU Races Make Me Uncomfortable

Posted by Tierless Monday July 29 2013 at 5:26PM
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We asked for it didn’t we? We wanted unique, outside the box, different, not WOW....well just looking at the races of CU, the rough concepts by the way, Team CSE is more than happy to give it to us. Feeling a bit uncomfortable? You should be and it’s better for CU if you are.

Naturally, as is often the case with people, when we get what we asked for, but it doesn’t fit the idealistic vision in our heads we tend to get a bit ruffled. I’m not going to lie. I don’t love all of the race concepts. Some of them are making me VERY uncomfortable (butt wings;) but all of them are getting a reaction and an increasing amount of respect.

Those aren’t just race concepts were seeing folks, that is artistic freedom the likes of which this genre hasn’t seen in YEARS. Instead of hearing “copy WOW but slightly different so we don’t have to deal with legal and MAKE SURE it appeals to AS MANY people as possible, we don’t wanna lose a sub because of the art”. They are hearing DON”T MAKE IT LIKE THE VERSIONS WE'VE SEEN BEFORE!

OMG what a concept! Make it unique, make it different, make it CU! The benefit? Anytime someone sees that kind of concept from here on out players will think of CU. They become part of the CU brand. Not that I’ve NEVER seen something similar to some of the race stuff, but bear with me here, I’m comparing to the extremes of the genre. Honestly, when is the last time we saw race concepts be pushed this hard, this publicly?

I respect the artistic liberty that these races are being created with. They aren’t pushing the envelope, they are pushing a case of envelopes! This is a brave move, for an MMO that needs funding. Fortunately for us CU HAS funding. We paid for it, they got the cash, now they can push us as much as they would like, and thats a good thing. (obviously not if they send us off a cliff) But this is pre-EVERYTHING. It’s all open game so why not push it as much as you can, we have years to tweak it.

That is something that we have been missing in MMOs. They’ve become so big and so expensive that every single decision that MIGHT lose ONE single sub was killed on the spot. No chances were being taken anymore. KS has given the artists their freedom back. FYI if any of you are scoffing at the idea of games as art, well, please close this window out right now because I’d rather you not read my stuff ya hear? Games are ALL elements of art combined into a liveable (when done right) world. What a beautiful thing!

FREEEEEEEEDOMMMMMMMMMMMM!!!!!!! (sorry, Braveheart moment their)

Oh KS, you sure do know how to make an artist smile don’t you. Like them, love them, or hate them, please for the love of MMOs respect the brevity that goes into chancy design decisions. And like I’ve said countless times now, don’t worry, we have 2 plus years to beat up each others ideals of what the finished races should be like, look like, act like, jump like, sit like, etc.

Right now, sit back and dare CSE to push you to uncomfortable places you’ve never been; expanding your ideals in the process. A wise person once said something to the effect of, if you're not making someone uncomfortable, you're not doing anything worth remembering. I’m bored with comfy, it’s time to feel alive again.

So I say this to you CSE and one Mark Jacobs. You shocked me with the veil stealth concept, you’ve made me uncomfortable with some race decisions (butt wings ;), what next? You raised us a quarter, well sirs and madams, I match your quarter, and DARE you to raise me even more. Will CSE take me up on the wager, I think so, and I can’t wait to see what else they can make me feel uncomfortable with next! This is why I jumped on the KS/CU wagon! This ride looked too fun to miss, and so far, it has been and we’ve only begun to scratch the surface!

#34 When did Atlas shrug?

Posted by Tierless Wednesday July 24 2013 at 7:58PM
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I started this as a forum thread but realized my reply ended up being pretty long. I put this here, not to get blog hits, but to avoid the TLDR posts. I’ll put the bullet points in the thread here :

http://www.mmorpg.com/discussion2.cfm/thread/390886/page/1

Like most things in this world rarely does 1 single event cause significant change (for some reason we people always tend to look for 1 reason) I think it's many things combined with timing.

WOW has been dropping subs for years only getting them back with Xpacs. I think that made a lot of industry folks say "ok this model isn't working unless you keep new content coming at them". GW2 ran with this idea but most companies can’t afford that kind of grind so they needed a game that allowed players to make content for themselves. Nothing does that as well as the sandbox (either PVE or PVP or both).

AAA after AAA tried and failed to clone WOW. SWTOR being the biggest and best example. After SWTORs epic fail I think the industry execs that demanded WOW clones pulled back. It also confirmed that MMO fans do not crave being the hero and living out scripted cutscenes because lets be honest, no MMO has done that better than SWTOR yet it still failed. The players that want that get it from single player RPGs because frankly they do it better than an MMO can, even SWTOR. Funding for big MMOs probably decreased as a result, but the amount of oversight decreased as well. This gave MMO devs some more freedom to make something new again. With less funding came less fear of taking a chance and came smaller dev staffs  which makes for more creative freedom.

3 games. GTA, Skyrim, and Minecraft. They showed that if you make it, if you give the players freedom, they eat it up and they retain. They have become extremely successful and they are more virtual world like than the last several MMOs have been.

MMO fans have become almost mob like in regard to themepark hatred which is unfortunate because if themeparks kept evolving along the lines of the Everquest games we might not have seen wow like subs but we would have seen the industry keep progressing up hill slowly. The MMOs would have been higher quality over time. Instead WOW popped the genre early, misguided expectations and sent it in a devolved direction. If Rome didn’t fall we would probably be 50-100 years more technologically advanced that we are right now; if WOW didn’t succeed the MMO genre would be 10 years further along that it is now. Instead it stagnated for 8 years and nearly drove it’s entire fan base away.

Back to US. Few have become many and thanks to social media our voice has been louder than ever before. Companies have finally been forced to listen and realize we're not the "miserable minority" we have become a LARGE chunk of the genre.

Due to the above things the climate was ripe but we needed something to make the final push. Enter Kickstarter. “Put your money where your mouth is, your just a minority of unhappy old schoolers that views your old MMOs through rose colored nostalgic glasses” Timing was perfect for KS and more importantly KS confirmed that we are not a minority, we are a majority, a majority that started with these games 10 years ago and have matured into adults willing to use our own income to create the virtual worlds (both PVE and PVP) we desire.

Seeing the kind of cash we have thrown on KS had to of made MMO devs take notice. Many of the devs that helped lead the big AAA games decided to start their own companies to make games that have creative souls again. A crazy new concept arose, give them what they want, and they help you fund it! I still can’t believe it myself. It just sounds crazy. It’s sad in a way. We have been so unhappy for so long we took it upon ourselves to make the games we’ve been begging for since a few years into WOW (when the smarter folks realized they weren’t evolving, they were keeping us on the wheel and occasionally letting us roam around-in maze before putting us back on the wheel).

Recently I remembered a conversation with my friends about WOWs first expansion. We hoped it had housing and guild halls, more aesthetic stuff, a large open zone and border land PVP lakes. LOL. Well it took 7 years and lots of failed games to finally start evolving again. I can honestly say I haven’t been this excited about the future of this genre since 2005.

#33 Final Fantasy RR, Firefall, GW2, Darkfall, CU and Crafted Economies, Oh Boy!!!

Posted by Tierless Monday July 22 2013 at 10:27PM
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What a few weeks it’s been. I did some Final Fantasy Beta. I did some Firefall Beta. I did some GW2, and I ended up back in Darkfall (always swore I’d never do that after the way DF1.0 went down).

FF-RR was an ok game. It had some nice things and if you're a FF fan I’m sure you love it. If it was BTP I would pick it up. For the sub, meh, its just not what I’m interested in for an MMO right now. I want an open world, a crafted economy, and lots of consequential pvp. I’m sure FF will have a lot of fans, it’s just not my style of MMO.

Firefall was also ok. It was too FPS for me (I’m old), but I thought it looked great (love cell shading) and played well, I just didn’t get the open world feeling I prefer and other than Star Wars I’m more of a medieval MMOer than a Sci-Fi MMOer (but dont you EVER question my love and desire of all things Star Wars and outer space!).

GW2 continues to pump out content for PVEers. I’m sure the park crowd love it, but its just not my thing. Why have an NPC election? Have a player election. Why have NPC invasions? Have player invasions. The RVR drew me to GW2 and I thought they might make the game more consequential over time but instead they seem content to pump out more meaningless scripted theme park stuff under the guise that it’s a “living story” and it changes via our actions, and it will permanently change the game! No, just no. In UO we could change the game. In GW2, we can pick a or b and ride the rails.

Don’t try that clever marketing stuff on me, I am far far too seasoned for that stuff any more (most of the time ;)! Their main players seem to love it and their Casino model seems to be working (gotta keep those whales) but, again, I’m looking for something different and meaningful again, not scripted. I’ll probably always jump in GW2 when I’m very bored or wanna kill a few minutes, but it will always be my second class MMO until a better freebie comes along. I really enjoy some aspects, but the lack of consequence and meaningful PVP always prevents me from really getting into it.

So far I’m pretty impressed with DF 2.0, especially the variety of crafting and how it overlaps. I also like the way you earn XP then pick which things you want to put the XP into. It’s the closest game to a proper sandbox we have, and it’s pretty fun (given I’m only a week in so I don’t know a lot about the game yet). I’m most impressed by the game world itself. It feels like a giant world to live in. I feel small and insignificant (in a good way) and I dare say it might just be the best MMO game world I’ve ever played in with SWG a close second. I wouldn’t mind CU having a similar world, similar crafting, and a similar leveling system. I think CU could learn a lot from GW2 and DF, take the best of each and make them better. Throw in lessons from DAOC, SWG, and UO and you just might have teh GOAT MMO to save us all! Hype, type, hype, type more, hype more!!! CU WILL BE THE GREATEST SANDBOX OF ALLLLLLLL TIME!!!! CU WILL HAVE THE BEST NPCS OF ALLLLL TIME!!!...

...Sorry about that, I guess I’ve been on the EQN forums too much. I didn’t think an MMO could ever have more hype or zealots than SWTOR, Star Citizen, or CU, but I was wrong. This EQN phenom is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Its sad that we are all so MMO desperate that we are willing to trust SOE and hype based on 2 insanely over hyped statements! Sad, but true. Even my little black heart is pounding away (or maybe its my iron deficiency acting up) impatiently awaiting the word from SOE, hoping that EQN really is a sandbox, and really is Everquest like, and really does help this genre turn back in the right direction.

Speaking of the right turns, why don't devs make player crafted loot resource drops to chase rather than loot drops to chase? I understand that it’s probably more insta cool to get a phat lewt rather than a phat ingredient to make phat lewt (and the first option requires no socialization) but crafted economies that help suck players in and retain them. I truly believe that even if a game like GW2 went into a craft based economy it would be better for them long term. Sure you would have people on forums complaining about “GW2 isn’t casual anymore, I have to talk to others, I have to know a crafter, I have to be a crafter” etc. but long term I think it works far better for an MMO, its retention, its playability, and it’s fun factor.

Visiting player shops or talking to crafters is something park players claim to hate but I’ve been on forums long enough to know the majority of stories don’t start with “so I was doing a scripted thing” they start with “so me and this guy, or these guys, or this player I was talking to”... Player crafted economies play right into the good kind of social interaction that helps us take away more than a scripted reaction from our MMOs. It helps us form social groups and those groups help retain us. Not to mention it takes crafting and crafter retention to a whole new level. I’m glad CU will have a craft based economy, more MMOs should consider it.

 

#31 The Casino Content Model

Posted by Tierless Monday July 15 2013 at 4:40PM
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So my CU brethren, what do we prefer? Less frequent large expansions every 6 months to a year (or longer), or more frequent content additions every month or 3?

In the old days I spent months obsessing about what gems massive expansions would bring, but in reflection it appears most of the time what they brought was too much of a “good thing”. They changed the game too much, too fast, and they sent it into a downward spiral, don’t believe me? TOA? NGE? Trammel? Must I go on? Change is something everyone says they want, right up until you give it to them...Then again it’s not entirely our fault, I mean, change is only good when it’s good change right? I can’t say any of those X-packs were considered good now or then (although they may have been considered a good idea at the time ;).

On the other hand we have the energizer bunny of the genre, GW2. A-net seemingly has a small army of code gnomes that work around the clock pumping out content for GW2 every 2 weeks! I assume they require little to no sleep and are rewarded with bread and water every time they finish new content...

A-net might not be able to out spend ya, but they will outrun ya. They are setting an incredible pace aren’t they? This approach is simply genius for a FTP. It’s better to keep FTP players in YOUR FPT game by continuously giving them new stuff to do rather than relying on the hope that they come back in 6 months to a year for a “big” expansion. I say “big” because I have to lol at what is considered “big” nowadays (really Blizz, 5 levels isn’t an Xpac, it’s an afternoon).

It’s smart, hard to compete with, and works in favor of their pay model. Keep players in, keep them paying, like a Vegas Casino (give em free drinks, keep em playin). Don’t EVER let them leave because if they do they might spend all their cash elsewhere and never come back to spend with you.

The quality of the content can be debated, but personally I like the idea of more frequent smaller updates much better than expansions that have the potential to ruin my game. Mess up a little update, no problem, fix it. Drop an X-pack like NGE and your game has been so bastardized that it’s forever altered. Undoable, unsaveable.

Speaking of SWG, like many things in the genre SWG might have invented the mini patch model (strictly by accident). SWG launched with so much missing and unfinished content that for the first few months or even years of the game the players got to look forward to the gradual expansion of the missing features as they were finished and patched in.

We got to start out with crafters having very basic items then over time the technology got better. Original movement was running, then came mounts, then speeders, then swoops, then multi seat swoops, then space travel! Every new patch shook up the game (mainly due to it being untested or unpolished). It was frustrating, but it was also exciting! If you left and came back you might miss something! It might take you weeks to figure out the new FOTM, to get the right gear, to do the right spec, to catch up with what you missed!

Giant X-packs cost a lot, they take forever (stagnate the game), and they seldom live up the the hype. They seem to either change the game too much too quickly and “break” it or they do too little and players rage about paying for 5 levels... Frequent updates keep the game feeling alive, keep us excited to play, cost less, take less time, and are rarely game breaking (and if they are you can easily undo them). The risk vs reward (aka boon vs bane ;) of big vs small content updates alone should drive devs to avoid massive Xpacks like the plague!

Who would ever want to deal with one of those big nasty things?

They scare me o.O

For the player I guess it all comes down to personal preference. Do you like having a small piece of chocolate every day, or an entire candy bar once a week? I like my MMOs like my chocolate, in a constantly refreshing drip of sugar addicted goodness that keeps me juiced into the MMO of my choice!

 

#30 Quests and Levels are unnecessary in modern MMORPGs.

Posted by Tierless Tuesday July 9 2013 at 8:09PM
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I remember the old days, log in, start swinging. Kill until you get killed or come up against something that requires running. Hope you trigger rare spawns, drops, or other roaming random chaos.

Quests? Quests are for single player RPGs. If I wanna be told I’m a hero by a bunch of scripted NPCs I’d play those (they do it better anyway). This is an MMORPG. I play these games to be among other players. To interact with them. To meet them. To explore with them. To fight them. None of that requires “quests”. Like all of you I was born with a magic quest maker, it’s called “imagination”. If I really needed the sense of “questing” I would make it up myself. In a way I always have.

I would often imagine having feuds with certain NPCs. In SWG Jawas were KOS. My character hated them! I had a long standing feud with some Tuskens after they ambushed and killed me as a youngling. In WOW if a murloc crossed my path it was as good as dead. Entire murloc villages fell to my character. I do exactly what scripted quests tell you to do, I just cut out the annoying wall of text in the middle. It just slows me down and (like most quests in MMOs) makes me anti social.

Truthfully I have never liked written quests in my MMOs. I was perfectly happy with the SWG system of go here, kill this because we want it dead, get paid. I never needed any more reason than money. From my perspective quests were the things you did to snag some easy cash and get some XP. They weren't an “experience” they were just a means to an end. The end was always what I played for. It was at the end that the game really started and I could put all this “leveling” time sink stuff behind me.

If I built an MMO every single character would be max level on day 1 . They would be given points to distribute to make that character unique, but they would be “leveled” as far as unlocking moves and such. Skills like strength and endurance would level over time depending on how you play. Your skills with weapons would also increase as you used them. Neither of those stats would make you capable of 1 shotting a day 1 player, but they would help hedge the fight in your favor.

(but Tierless, you just said you didn’t want levels, then said you would have levels for stats)

Levels (as they are in MOST modern MMOs) server as carrots on sticky, they isolate players from the whole, they force friends to separate, they make content exclusive, they are not in the best interest of a social game. Slight stat increases over long stretches of time (long enough that people don’t even try grinding for them) do none of those things. They tend to be forgotten about until once in awhile you see a message that says you increased one. WOW like levels are as outdated as quests. They are a way to keep you on the wheel just a little longer. They give players a status to look down upon other players from.

Leveling is cool the first time, after that, let us make max level alts please. Repeating the same lame stuff over and over is just annoying. Besides, once I’m alting I’m doing it to max out that class to have it should I want to play it, not to re-experience leveling. Again, leveling is just the annoying thing I have to tolerate because it’s easier than finding an innovative way to keep us paying for a  bit longer.

I’m not joking, I’m not trolling, and if you like levels and quests it’s fine with me. I just don’t see how in 2013 the genre hasn’t figured out something better, or just got rid of them. They are both unnecessary if you make your game right but making your game right is probably where most of the “modern” mmos go wrong. They don’t make them to have a circle of life based end game that keeps players invested long term (see EVE). They make them to have a finite leveling experience to sell the box (see SWTOR). But I’ve already covered that before haven’t I.

#29 Kill 10 chaotic rats

Posted by Tierless Sunday July 7 2013 at 9:38PM
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I killed ten rats in WOW, then I killed 20 boars, 50 scorpions, 30 alligators, 60 lions, 3 zebra and 200 murlocs (I hate that noise). I killed from the Orc newb zone, up through the barrens and into Ashenveil (where I was promptly ganked by a gang of pretty Elves). I didn’t do any of it for quests or loot. I did it because I like triggering random stuff in MMORPGs. In fact one of my favorite things to do in an MMO or even a single player game is to step out, pull out my weapon, and start killing until I come up against something that I can’t beat (ideally a rare something).

Why? Hope. My hope is that whatever MMO I am playing has something unique or interesting or special that I will encounter/trigger. I hope to run into a special spawn, a special boss, a rare uber mob, rare resource, secret cave etc. I’m looking for something random and exciting. Something that I don’t see coming. Something chaotic!

If your game can reward me with some random chaos I have no problem mindlessly killing rats. The problem is that games have become so scripted that I get punished for deviating from the path! If you don’t act like a good little hamster and stay on that wheel you can’t keep up with the other hamsters. In fact, you get 0, nothing, not a single reward for bravely going where no hamster has gone before. Not even a sense of exploration because the game zones have become soo tiny they resemble mazes more than worlds (I”m looking at you SWTOR, GW2, WOW). I’d love to feel tiny and insignificant in an MMO world again...

MMOs have become the overprotective parent that never allows their children to learn or grow due to fear of them hurting themselves! Enter random chaos in CU. Oh how I long for random acts of pain and suffering. Random instances of loss and defeat. Random happenings that save me and aid me. I really don’t care if they are good, bad, or ugly, I just want to enter an MMO and feel like anything can happen. I want to log in thinking that every single playtime could be different than the one before because the Dev Gods on the mountain like to meddle in our business. They like to throw chaos down upon us to test us and see how we react. We might stumble, we might fall, but eventually we will join them in the Sun...and it’s their job to knock us back down again.

That is the stuff that keeps my MMO blood pumping. Spells failing right when I need them? Fine with me. Being defeated only to get a random godly rez from the great beyond, heck yeah I’ll be telling my friends about that one! A storm breaking out and lighting our town on fire? O-M-G that would be an experience worth remembering! Picking one of 3 scripted options, all of which have 0 real consequence or effect on my character...not so memorable.

Randomize all of it! Make it so we never know what will happen, make it so every log in might offer us something to tell our MMO friends about! Make it so we fail and have to pull ourselves up again! We can handle it, were tough enough, were determined enough, were stubborn enough, were old school MMO enough! Forget Camelot Unchained, Chaos Unchained is what I’m looking forward to!

 

#28 Questioning Class Balance, F' Class Balance!

Posted by Tierless Monday July 1 2013 at 9:40AM
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Balance is nearly impossible unless you have 1 single class, with identical locked stats, with identical locked weapons, with identical skills, and 0 variation. Basically an old school FPS with 1 weapon option is the only way to truly balance classes in an MMORPG. But that removes a lot of the “why” MMO fans PVP in MMOs rather than FPS style games, the depth and the ability to feel like you “made” your character uniquely lethal for yourself.

So how can we get MORE, not entire, but MORE balance in an MMORPG? Easy, you don’t. Forget balance. F’ balance. F’ it with a giant e-spoon! Balance is boring. If our lives were in perfect balance we would all be sitting around bored outta our minds wishing for a bit of chaos to pop up and remind us that we are still alive.

Personally I miss being on the battlefield and seeing the OP flavor of the month step out and either A. (if I have a group) targeting them to humble them or B. (if I’m alone) Throwing every snare and de-buff that I have at them then running away before they can get to me.

I’m not saying I like MASSIVELY OP classes, but I do enjoy the rotating door of class balance resulting in some classes that are obviously more lethal (which soon become FOTMs). Maybe it’s the alter in me? Maybe it’s the thrill seeker? Maybe it’s that I just love chaos? I’m not sure, BUT, if I was CSE I would seriously consider secretly giving some classes a bump every other month just to create more imbalance, then later bringing them back down to normal while bumping a different class.

If you haven’t noticed my strategy to counter things like corruption or imbalance is never to make it more illegal, it’s to embrace it, make it legal, then try working with it. Why? Because those things are part of human nature. No matter where you go people will be doing those sneaky things. Rather than pretend they don’t happen and let them go crazy with it, it’s better to acknowledge them and regulate them. Look at prohibition if you don’t agree with me. All it ever succeeded in doing was making criminals richer (some of them even turned their crime families into presidential families /wink).

So back on track. Balance, who needs it? Not me, WITHIN REASON. I don’t expect every single class to be perfectly in line with one another, and I don’t want them to be, but if we come out with a single class that can 1 shot all the other classes we have a problem (even my “longer you live stronger you become” idea would NEVER go that far). Being 1 shot is never fun, it’s anticlimactic and it makes you think “what was the point”. BUT if it takes a couple of other classes to beat you that might be kinda fun. If it takes a VERY skilled player to overcome you that is interesting (and makes them into a hero). If you jump on a FOTM only to have it secretly nerfed next month making some other class slightly uber that might create just a pinch of chaos.

“But Tierless, purposely making one class better isn’t fair! /ragequit”

I’m sure a lot of players think that concept is insane/game breaking/unfair. Well, I got news for ya, I’ve played MMOs for 10 years now, and I’ve never seen one that was perfectly balanced. Balance is a lie, there is only nerfing and buffing.

Through buffing, I gain strength.

Through strength, I gain power.

Through power, I gain victory.

Through victory, my chains are broken (unchained BAM! ;).

The nerf bat shall free me.

MMOs are all unbalanced. We can pretend they aren’t and try for the impossible (perfect balance) or we can embrace imbalance and make it an interesting part of the game (again, within reason).