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Vanguard better, but still belongs to SoE.

Posted by godpuppet Wednesday July 2 2008 at 5:50AM
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This slogan really irritates me, the only limits are your own, wtf? reminds me of zombo.com

 

In the light of AoC's abysmal effort, and the recent flood of Vanguard fanboi threads, I decided to give this dieing donkey another go. I unfortunately graced this game a year ago and as a result I felt the effects of its initial failure. I remember distinctly its main problem was performance, requiring you to have a beast of a machine to run on medium settings with no lagg and it was Brad's furvent belief that bad performance wasnt down to any fault of the game, but everyone elses computers, so I quit.

A year on however and im pleasantly surprised.

Upon initial login im faced with a near perfect frame rate, "fantastic" im thinking, SoE are actually LISTENING for once! But then it dawns on me, that in the years time since I last played it, ive upgraded my graphics card and memory. I would be interested to see just how much of an FPS the new client has over the old client on the same older hardware.

At any rate, I tweaked the game up to ultra settings, minor hitching, but thats becuase of my shit memory. Visually the game is how I remember it, bland and boring. The Animation is hitchy and in some places amusing (goblins flip staffs around like its a circus trick), gameplay wise, I find myself falling asleep. However I will praise Brad's design choice of having three gameplay archetypes, when you get bored of combat, you can go do some crafting or diplomacy, it does add a level of grind distraction.

I noticed the old EU server is now an international server (there is no EU server), whether this was becuase of low pop im not sure. Also they've reduced the options in character creation, whereas before you could edit players faces, now you have a selection or 3-4 standard faces and you can modify parts of the body + hair.

It wasnt long before I hit my first bug. I think its around 3 hours into the game and its a pretty annoying one as it effects a key quest line. Players in local were polite and suggested I send a petition, so I did, then I waited 3 hours for a response, nothing came, went to bed, got up the next day and a GM contacted me around noon. No qualms the GM fixed my problem, but the fact all GM's are in the US (im EU) is slightly annoying, I have to check times so I can work out when I need to be online to get a GM response.

Since then ive found numerous bugged quests, from the mug quest in the docks, to crafting and diplomacy bugs. They are far and few between to be honest, but they do exist. When you arrive at the docks you notice the NPC's that have fallen through the floor (and have been that way since beta). Simple things like this really should have been fixed months ago, but then I think to myself, its SoE, what do you expect?

One feature I really liked was the Rift system, its a teleportation system, like griffons. You talk to an NPC, choose the location, pay a sum and you teleport. It makes getting from A - B in the game much easier.

Over all, ive tried to enjoy this game but it just isnt fun. Most of the gameplay is solo as there are very few players around, and when there are players around they dont seem to be able to communicate. I seem to recall most group quests are at 20+, however I dont think ill make it that far as im bored already.

Ive reached level 15 with my character (in all three archetypes), Ive mildly enjoyed the game. Its just a shame the game wasnt this playable back when it released. But I cant play this game anymore. The gameplay is boring, theres very little player interaction and the bugs and glitches make it frustrating at times.

More then anything, I think its the fact that SoE is running this game that drives me away from it. Every flaw, problem and mistake is amplified in my own mind, reminding me of their previous errors in prior games which eventually led to even worse decisions. It eventually brings me to the conclusion that, if SoE do become successfull with Vanguard, it will be patched slowly, new content will only come out on yearly expansions and they will only seek to milk it for as long as they can. And thats if it goes well, if it doesnt go well, it will either get shelved with a minimal dev team or have some horror like patch called NGE unleashed onto it.

SoE just make me think, meh...

Sorry Brad, but I cant pay for your game, and its becuase of this bloke.

Dark Age of Camelot CAN be Revived!

Posted by godpuppet Friday June 27 2008 at 11:20AM
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For many, Dark Age of Camelot is a genre classic, having been released just after Everquest, it made a dramatic impact on MMORPG's and secured a place in a relatively new market. However despite its longetivity, its subscription rate has dropped dramatically in the last three years, despite having released three new expansions and no end of trial offers.

For many players, Dark Age of Camelot, provides meaningful PVP in a non instanced enviroment. But for many others, especcially those new to the genre, its a complete grindfest.

Theproblem is, from the moment you start the game you feel the grind, its unavoidable. In the trial version of the full game you have three methods of leveling as a new player:

1# Grind mobs at static game world locations.

2# Do Tasks, which consists of running to an NPC, finding a mob, then running back to said NPC.

3# Do Instances, which consists of running to an NPC, running to static instance entrance, clearing map of mobs, complete said goal in journal (kill all/kill named/kill X of X), return to NPC, repeat.

Its horrific, for a new player coming into a new game world, you want to be gripped and excited from the start. What makes this grinding especcially bad is the lack of other players.

Unless your on a Classic server, higher levels can automatically level to 20 when they start their character, this may sound great to somebody who's already made a gazillion characters, but this has a knock on effect on the amount of players new players can interact with. Further more, the few players that havent maxed out yet are making alts prefer to solo, why? Becuase its faster XP, which again has a knock on effect on the amount of players to interact with. So in the end, with the coupled effects above, then the problem that so few new players are actually filtering into this game, your faced with only one outcome; a long solo grind to 50 and frankly people dont pay for that shit.

I dont like to use the word grind lightly, becuase its not necessarily the monotomous process thats the problem, its the lack of distraction (read my blog on the Grind). Infact I hold firm to the belief that DAoC CAN be revived to subscription levels prior to 2005 and not only that, it can be done easily with little modification to actual game content.

How?

Three years ago Funcom embarked on an curious experiment, by making the original version of their game free to play (no expansions) they hoped to boost their MMORPG's popularity and in turn boost the number of subscriptions. In my experience it was a great success, players flocked to the game, and not just "F2P gamers" as one might expect, but all player archetypes, the community stayed civil despite predictions and most importantly the influx of players boosted player interaction making the gameplay (which is largely group based) MUCH more enjoyable.

I just wish I was able to get hold of subscription statistics for Anarchy Online but they dont appear to have been submitted, therefore the knowledge of AO's success is from personal experience due to play before and during the F2P program. If anyone wishes to dispute that, I'd be happy to debate, but from my experience it was successful.

Its my belief that this same program, could be used in Dark Age of Camelot. Allow players to play the original game for free! Heck, throw in Shrouded Isle too so that graphics are slightly improved. Just as in AO, players would flock to try out this Subscription MMORPG turned F2P. Those that enjoy it and want to progress further in the game can buy the expansions (at a reduced price) and assume a subscription.

What could it cost Mythic, especcially now when Warhammer is in the pipeline and players are just looking for something to keep them busy for a few months. A one ditch effort to get subscribers in their dieing game is better then no effort at all. In AO, this revived the title for atleast three years, and while its popularity has died down now, they still get new players on the F2P program.

This program would bring players into DAoC and provide greater player interaction and greater chance of finding groups, contributing to grind distraction. Player retention would improve and more newer players would hit the max levels which has a knock on effect to the high end RVR (which I hear is suffering on some servers).

This wouldnt be enough to completely revive this game, but it would be a start and it would contribute. Mythic seems to have spent all its time making 1-50 content easy, people dont play games becuase they're easy. People expect a level of difficulty that implys a challenge and gives a feeling achievement once the goal is accomplished. But thats something completely seperate and im deviating. I will however, go into that in Part 2.

Mythic, I cannot emphasis this more:

Make DAoC Original FREE!

Grind = Over Firmiliarity

Posted by godpuppet Wednesday June 25 2008 at 5:16PM
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"WoW like any other MMOs has the grind fest..."

 

So many times have I heard this complaint. Ive heard it said of the classic style korean MMORPG's to the newest to release on the market. What irritates me the most is people havent caught onto the fact that repetition is the nature of the genre.

Complaining about it is as asinine as complaining that the sun shines in your face.

The fact you level from 1-50 is repetition, you are simply gaining numbers (XP), so that you can achieve a higher level, so you can kill more monsters, for more loot and XP. Its a cycle and it is what defines the genre. It is in itself a complete and utter grind.

The true trick behind MMORPG's is the developers ability to distract you from this leveling system. You want to level, you want to get more loot, but you also want to get involved in the storyline and the game world. By presenting a stream of interesting and compelling quests, areas to explore, and players to interact with, your interest is piqued and as a result leveling becomes a sideliner.

Thats why the first character you play in any MMORPG will be the best experience you will have in that game. Make an alt and your just redoing the same quests, conversations and gameplay sequences you've done before, and thats where you lose the magic.

Everything is over firmiliar, those sights you would stop to see to gasp and awe at the sound effects, become little more then passing scenery. Eventually you find yourself doing quests as fast as possible JUST for the XP and thats when you hit the grind.

It is the beauty and the curse of MMORPG's, games and perhaps everything in life. Once you've done it once, twice, three times, to do it further becomes monotomous repetition and even a grind.

Some feel the grind sooner then others, if you feel it from day 1, chances are the game isnt for you. There are older games that in todays standards are a horrendous grindfest, but go back to its peak and it would be considered the standard and at the height of the genre. 

A MMORPG becomes a grind when you are over firmiliar with the content.

People have to accept that at some point all MMORPG's will become a grind, its as much an eventuality as cutting yourself will cause you to bleed.

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