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Just One Moar (formerly: How To Lose Your Life To An MMORPG)

Part diary, part commentary, part news reviews and editorials covering the world of MMORPGs Among many MMORPG:I feature Runes of Magic and World of Warcraft

Author: giantsquid

The Anti Anti-RMT Movement

Posted by giantsquid Tuesday June 30 2009 at 2:39PM
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Last night I started thinking about RMT and how many people seem to dislike it. After doing no research I came up with a theory.

The anti-RMT(real money transaction) movement seems to be made up predominantly of younger players. These teens and tweens, on the surface, argue a lot of false logic to try and draw lines in the MMORPG sand to denote what’s fair and what’s not- with RMT usually on the unfair side.

What’s fair in an MMORPG?

I would think if you can do it, it’s fair- in regards to how the game was built. Any hacking, cracking or general code tomfoolery would be a no-no of epic-fail proportions.

for some fair examples off the top of my noggin’

* Playing 12 hours a day.
* having a guild at level cap power level you to level cap in a week and give you 10,000 gold and the best gear in the game.
* Finding a player much lower in PvP skill than you and camping them to generate oodles of reputation points.

Get the idea?

It’s very hard to find a focal point for determining fairness in large persistent virtual worlds. Everyone has different amounts of time, skill, friends, and so forth. There’s practically thousands of reasons that could effect outcomes.

* Player A may be able to do the first 5 quests in five minutes
* Player B may take 5 hours to do those same quests
* Player C may do the first 2 quests then go PvP then fishing, or crafting, before going back to questing
* Player D may spend 3 hours just chatting with friends

There’s surely not enough letters in the alphabet to cover all the different scenarios that could occur, and it’s foolish and illogical to try to quantify the near infinite amount of possible outcomes.

A common argument for anti-RMT’ers is time. They try to make it sound almost as though the non-payer is some nobel person who chooses the hard route to some MMORPG enlightenment, but we know that isn’t true per the reasons I’ve already listed.

In a nutshell:

These anti-RMT’ers are achievement junkies and although they cry the unfairness route of payers, they are jealous. They care about it because they feel payers are achieving something they are not, and they are trying desparately to concoct scenarios to remove these achievements(that only they are jealous of).

Closing:

I’ve only ever payed once in my F2P career. I paid $50 on Shaiya last Christmas to give Cash Shop items to my fellow guild officers and some of the more regular guild players, and kept a few for myself. I’ve been playing Runes of Magic for 3 months and never spent anything…yet:)

Crafting Is A Niche Too: Give Us Our Game!

Posted by giantsquid Monday June 29 2009 at 3:21PM
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Recently I read Tobold’s post on “Mainstream and Niche Games“, and saw some Twitters from crafters wanting better crafting and it really started me thinking about crafting oriented games.

PvP really is a niche market. Any simple look at a few game’s server lists will show that there are more PvE players than PvP. I’m not really a PvP player but I always pick PvP servers, if given the choice. I view PvP from a sandbox point of view. If it’s available, I want it, because to me it’s another addition that adds more fun to a game. I mostly play Runes of Magic right now, and chose the international Smacht(PvP) server even though I hardly PvP. I want to have the option, even if I hardly participate.

There are some great PvP niche games, and many are free. Shaiya is perhaps my favorite of the PvP niche. Great graphics, smooth server uptime, and a fun massive PvP system pitting up to hundreds against hundreds. Although it is a very serious grind oriented system of leveling, it is still fun.

So why not a crafting oriented niche MMORPG? This has me feeling very left out as a crafter. I can only assume that a crafting niche would be even smaller than a PvP niche. So small in fact, that no one has found it economically viable to produce such an MMO.

However, just like Shaiya and it’s very PvP centric gameplay, it’s not the only thing to do in the game. Shaiya has loads of solo grinding, dungeons, party, and raid content. In fact the PvP zones are separated so one need not ever participate in PvP while playing Shaiya.

Why can’t we have something like Vanguard with its crafting, only the crafting is bulked up, more involved and the rest of the game takes second stage to it? Even if it were to be produced in the free to play market, which would make it a lot smaller than Vanguard?

I would love to try a game that had a craft system like Vanguard or EQ2 that was the center of the game. An MMORPG like that could be quite fun and still contain other elements like questing, leveling, and all that jazz.

Wow, imagine a game that took crafting to an extreme. With hundreds of more recipes and items to be made, enhanced, and sold on a beefed up auction house.

As I currently have limited knowledge on Vanguard and EQ2’s craft systems, I will start with a basic form of WoW’s or RoM’s.

I would first come up with more resources to be gathered.

Perhaps:

* Wood
* Food plants
* Flowers
* Ore
* Stone
* Minerals

Even more types, if I thought about it longer. Then I’d add a system of grades of each, so you could have:

* Brass: Poor
* Brass: Okay
* Brass: Good
* Brass: Better
* Brass: Best

That grade system wood go for every kind of ore, herb, wood, etc…

I wouldn’t forget Skinning to get leathers from mobs either, along with types and grades for each type as well.

That covers a lot for gathering resources. For refining, I’d use a system like EQ2 or Vanguard that I only read a bit about. So during the crafting system enhancements of different types could be added based on a craft skill point system. Enhancements could be added with another large set of ingredients like:

* Salts
* Oils
* gems

Don’t forget yet another set of grades for the enhancement ingredients.

Maybe even a system where currency(in-game gold) could play a part.

Different sets of tools that apply skill increases to help you get better quality resources when gathering too, and maybe even different quality workstations that helped increase your chances of better quality crafted items.

Of course we’d have to have an in-game housing system so we could build the houses. Maybe start with a base one-room house and you can “build” extensions, floors, additional rooms. Thousands of pieces of furniture, maybe you could find or earn better recipes to build the better tools to increase a % chance of getting better grades of resources and refining better items.

Group Crafting or: "Craft Party"

I’ve been talking a lot about crafting(well, why not? I love it). I wrote a post on making a crafting-centric MMORPG, and even followed it up with another small post to flesh out some ideas a bit more.

This post is more of the same, but concentrating on an idea that came while I was drifting off to dreamland.

I thought of trying to integrate(or replace) current gaming elements with a crafting based element. I started by thinking of how a player party works.

If you could have a special group(or party) recipes that would be complete with level requirements and profession requirements but also require 2-5 players being in a party to craft.

* 2-5 players formed into a party
* each player in party requires a copy of special party recipe, and the required craft skill(s)

Let’s start with a basic 5-man party and run down some ideas I came up with

So you have your party and your all gathered around the correct station and you all have a copy of the recipe and meet the skill level requiremen(s).

* Anyone in the party can start the process by opening up your profession/tradeskill window. Simply clicking on the recipe will run a check to see if you are actually in a party and everyone meets the requirements. Where a new Craft Party window will open for everyone in the party.

I think it’d be neat to have a craft skill point system like in EQ2 or Vanguard, so let’s say that’s already in this imaginary MMORPG.

* With the Craft Party window open you will need to check with all party members to coordinate your efforts. Once everyone is ready, you can hit a button that says “start”, on the window.
* One the process is started a bar appears that slowly fills up depending on the difficulty and/or level of the item being crafted.
* Let’s say, for this example, you are working on a mid-level chest armor, that would result in a blue piece, thus the timer for this would be one minute.
* The timer starts to tick across as the party is now “crafting” the item. As the timer progresses, there will be a percentage change of difficulty which will open up a new smaller window randomly for one or more of the players.
* This new window would represent complications, and will only give you, one of the other players, or even multiple players at the same time, a few seconds to click a button to overcome the complication
* The complication will require a certain amount of extra “craft skill points” from each member that is required to overcome it. If they do not have enough points, then the complication stays and the item will have flaws(it could still be a good item). In addition to extra craft points, some of the complications may require additional numbers of one of the indgredients(so make sure to stock up)
* There will be an opportunity, toward the end of crafting to add any enhancements based off of players professions(if 1 or more players have a profession that allows gem making or alchemy, this part of the progress bar will give you a small window of opportunity to click to get enhancements added)
* Enhancements will be treated the same way, with random complications throughout that need all players attention.

Now this was a basic thought I had. I know it’s not that original or complex, or maybe not even as fun as it could be, but I like the idea that I’m shooting for and just need to flesh it out a bit more.

Also, I know what you’re thinking. Who gets the item? or does each member get the item. Well, I thought about it, and so far my idea for fun, risk, gambling, and so forth was that only 1 item gets made, unless all party members have enough of the required resources, and craft points.

So here is where I’d backtrack and say as soon as the craft party window opens, and before you click start, each player will have a small box to input a “bid” taken from their pool of craft points.

This leaves a fun gambling aspect. You need to guess how much you can bid to win, and still have enough points to actually get through the process and any unforeseen complications.

What about if you only have 2 people, or 3 people in the party, instead of 5?

I was thinking there could be a grade scale to determine the outcome. Say you have 5 grades. So the item will only be grade 2, if 2 people craft, etc….

Sure it would drive people to only want to do it with 5 people, but I don’t think it would stop smaller parties from crafting. You just need to make all items worthwhile.

I mean, as it is, there are better drops than others, but not everyone goes for them? Player psychology, time restraints? I’m not too sure but if craft party recipes are special to begin with, a lower grade one will still be better than a lot of solo crafted ones.

Oh, how I can dream…

    -Jeremy Stratton

How To Lose Your Life To An MMORPG

Give Players What They Want: Single-Player MMOs

Posted by giantsquid Sunday June 28 2009 at 6:48PM
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I’m working on a larger editorial about what players want or expect from an MMORPG.

In a nutshell people want a one-player game with many options.

A majority of the F2P MMORPGs that I’ve played try, in some fashion or another, to force you into group play. This method has resulted in a niche market. Most people don’t want this, which seems to be slightly ironic or at least contradictory to the old argument about people wanting to go solo in a mult-player game.

A guild mate of mine once told me:

“In the end, MMORPGs are very selfish games.”

I have constantly pondered this line, from time to time. I have come to agree with this statement. People want to do what they want to do, when they want to do it. You can’t have group play with everyone sharing that mentality, at least not in the strictest sense.

People don’t raid because they have fun in group play. Take out any prizes or high level gear drops and replace it with a chest that, when opened, says:

“Congratulations, you’ve learned how to enjoy the experience of playing with others, have fun with that good feeling, bye.”

That doesn’t mean that everyone shares this mentality either, but do you think there’d be enough people to warrant the amount of different group raids currently in most big MMORPGs?

Most people want a single-player game that provides options to jump in and out of different elements. In fact, most people don’t like to feel limited in any way. The more options the better(assuming they’re all well designed options).

    -Jeremy Stratton

How To Lose Your Life To An MMORPG
 

"Emergent Gameplay"

Posted by giantsquid Saturday June 27 2009 at 4:30PM
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Well, I guess it’s official. Emergent Gameplay is the term for unintended uses of items or mechanics in MMORPGs.

Player Made Books In Everquest 2:

I found the term on Tradeskill Perspectives, a blog by “Domino” who in her (?) own words:

Currently, I manage all aspects of the tradeskill systems within EverQuest II, as well as assisting with general content design. Opinions expressed in this blog in no way reflect those of SOE, and are strictly my own, etc. etc.

She (?) stated one example of emergent gameplay in EQ2 was that players were using the new player made books as building blocks to build structures.

Runes of Magic:

I remember when guild castles were implemented. Being like a house instance that you could decorate with furniture, but having an outdoor courtyard, some guilds were building giant staircases reaching up into the sky using the bookshelf item. It was quite fun.

I’m also currently trying to herald a petition to get player made books into Runes of Magic(without much luck).

What other emergent gameplay have you noticed?

I’ve never run across anything in WoW to speak of, but I did come up with my own semi-alternate use for books in Everquest 2.

Sony Online Entertainment could possibly build a marketing campaign from something along these lines.

If they used the player made books to cross over between people who read the printed real life books and people who play Everquest 2.

Take an upcoming print book and “print” a sample chapter pre-release only in-game using the player made books to attract fans of the books to play the game and attract people who play the game to read the books.

Depending how successful the marketing of this is, SOE could make it a campaign like “Kids Need To Read” which could get parental support or cooperation.

There’s also always a possibility to have a partnership with publishers to publish pre-release sample chapters of other author’s fantasy work.

Closing:

I love emergent gameplay. It’s a challenge reminiscent of game testers who look for bugs in games. After forming this post, I definitely want to jump into WoW and RoM to specifically look for more emergent gameplay.

    -Jeremy Stratton

How To Lose Your Life To An MMORPG