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All Posts by Eindrachen

All Posts by Eindrachen

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38 posts found

The answer to the question starts with another question: What all do you get for your $40?

The level cap thing is bunk.  Level caps don't actually cap progression; it's just a way of establishing the upper limit of the game content.  And any number can be arbitrarily inflated; if they get to level cap 100 after a few more expansions and decide we need more, they'll raise it higher.

So we ask ourselves, is the amount of actual content worth it?

They are completely redoing the old zones, allowing flying, putting in zones for all four elemental planes, and adding however many other instances they feel we should have.  This includes redoing the quests and whatnot from levels 1-60.  That right there is a lot of bang for the buck.

Add in Path of the Titans, and the inevitable new BG or two, another outdoor PVP zone, two new races, and probably work on the next heroic class or two (nothing confirmed, just comments that they want to work on them "soon"), and we get a bit more "stuff" out of the mix.

My feeling is that Cataclysm, if it delivers the content it seems to be promising, is well worth the $40, if you already play WOW.  If you don't like WOW for any reason, I doubt "more of the same, but bigger" is going to impress you.

I'll be buying it, yeah.  It still entertains me, and I've got my mileage out of previous expansions.

Still don't know about that sparkle pony, though.  If I had a full list of alts on my "home" server, maybe...

Instancing is pretty much a neccessity.  It reduces server loads, and does a great job of reducing griefing of certain types (like kill-stealing).

But there will always and ever be a love of the great open outdoors.  I tried EQ2 for a while.  While the instancing wasn't the only reason I quit, it was definitely a significant factor.

(Sorry for the double post.  MMORPG.com's new comment system sucks hard.  They need to either fix it or fire the guy who came up with the thing.  It's auto-subbing when I hit space.)

I think that Blizzard won't give up subscription fees, because those help pay the overhead.  Power, rent, etc.  You use subs to keep your ship sailing.

They'll use RMTs to help pay for the cost of new content, though.  I can see future expansions easily paid for with a small infusion of cash with new mounts, pets, heirloom items, etc.  Nothing that would really rob end-game content, just give nice things to existing players and a hand up for newbies.

It's basically a perfect business model: you'll never need cash on-hand for projects, just a new RMT item to bankroll them.  Your subs keep the lights on and the ramen noodles cooking in the break room.  There's no "risk" because all you can do is waste RMT money on a failed project; you can always scavenge more money from more RMTs later, maybe fire failsauce programmers and the like for wasting money.

But there's a catch: you gotta sell this to the customers.  If you make a whirlygig and nobody thinks they are worth buying, doesn't matter how good of a deal it is.

That interstellar debris is why most all the starships in Star Trek have some kind of deflector dish/screeen/thing: it projects a weak force field that is there mostly to deflect that debris.  It's not that useful against something with sufficient mass, or against focused energy weapons, but it stops the little stuff.

I'm no Trekkie, and even I remembered that much from the show.

This topic is way too sticky to get into without delving into some pretty intense topics.  Perhaps we could go deep into psychology or even sociology, find a primal need to conquer through brute force that has been largely suppressed in modern society.  When was the last time you had to pillage and raze another village just to eat for another week?  When was the last time your tribe had to go wipe out that other tribe over a well or some other vital resource?

And this is just some idle armchair speculation of the issue.  I am very confidant that it goes much, much further.

As far as saying we feel nothing based on what we see in a video game, that's sad.  Not because I think it makes others heartless or anything retarded like that.  I think it is sad because it remains one of the reasons that games can't be more than cheap, disposable entertainment for the masses.  As long as people don't try to project into the game even a little bit, or suspend disbelief enough to analyze how they'd feel in similar situations, they'll never find a game that actually engages them like great works of literature, movies, etc. can.

But, whatever.  To each their own.

Anyone who thinks that the "sandbox/themepark" debate even existed when EQ came out is either hopelessly out of touch with history (and/or reality), or they are so focused on trying to argue against "themepark" games that they have essentially discarded with facts and have opted to rely mainly on opinions.

So which is it?  Is the OP fracking insane, or just plain ignorant?  The world may never know.  Or care.

The reason we can't "make" some of these companies do what we want is because they already have the government backing them through the use of contracts.  Comcast and Time-Warner exchanged some of the markets they provided service for a few years ago, so that they could each shore up in a given region and centralize better.  Now, Time-Warner generally provides to the northeastern U.S. (as I understand it), and Comcast pretty much dominates in the southeastern (and/or southwestern) area.

Various factions have been trying for over a decade to profit from the popularity of the internet.  The government attempted to impose taxes on the use of it a few years ago.  More recently, the ISPs themselves have threatened not only to cap our total amount of usage of their wires to play our games and illegally download stuff, but to even restrict what sites and services we even have access to.  So far, none of this has worked, but it is only a matter of time before someone cooks up a really good scheme, sells the right people on it, and we'll suddenly find ourselves with a fenced-in internet.

Hate politics all you want.  I sure as hell do.  But don't stick your head in the sand, expecting it all to work itself out.  Government has a tendency to overprotect people through regulation.  And I think the last four years of corporate shenanigans have pointed out that no private company will ever have our "best interests" at heart as opposed to lining their own pockets.

You don't have to be an activist to not want stupid things to happen to you.

Originally posted by Predator160

The truth is...the MMO genre is dying a slow and painful death, it seems like every new MMO is more boring, more generic, hypes more, and dissapoints more too. This downward spiral of crappy MMO after crappier MMO started with Horizons IMO. And everytime a player cancels his subscription to Generic RPG Online, Shao Khan from Mortal Kombat (aka wow) goes "Your soul...IS MINE!"


 

MMOs have supposedly been "dying" for 10 years now.  Saying something like this is about as pertinent as saying that we'll have faster-than-light space travel eventually: the time frame we're looking at is excessive to the point of exclusion.

MMOs are just the lastest incarnation of the the old MUSHs, MOOs, MUXs, etc.  In time they may evolve into a new type of game, or maybe just change up the terminology.  But the idea of multi-player online role-playing games is, for better or worse, here to stay, in one form or another.

Sad as it is to say, opinions aren't facts.  You may think there's no MMOs worth your time, but that's not my problem, or the problem of anyone else out there still plugging away at MMOs, either as players or developers.  When the internet goes offline (or becomes Skynet, you know, whichever comes first), then I'll worry about the future of MMOs.

Until then, I'm kinda glad AOC got some new life back into it.  PVP and all other mechanics aside, it's a setting that I've always kept a closet fascination with.  The old movie (and the B-movie spinoffs like The Beastmaster and The Sword And The Sorceror) always did capture my imagination for the "barbarian fantasy" genre...

Spot on article.  I concur with almost everything said.

Sadly, these companies get away with it due to an old saying:  a fool and their money are soon parted.

Man.  Some of the comments about economics, politics, and other topics truly defy reason or common sense.

Let's see.  We've managed to compare this RMT thing to everything except other games at nearly every turn (with a few notable exceptions), including comparing the running of an online game to the running of a fast food joint.  We've suggested that we should change our entire government and/or economic system in order to limit the pricing of the products and/or salaries of the personel involved.  And as always, every contrary opinion or position has called into question a person's relative intelligence, education, and even moral philosophy, so that we can judge a person wholly by their attitude about this one, singular issue.

Congratulations, folks.  I think you've just about reached the proverbial gutter of debate here.  Please, do not allow me to stop you, though.  The sheer amount of hate and stupidity being flung like so much feces from one side of that ditch to the other has blotted out the sun, in true Battle of Thermopylae style.  It is becoming awe-inspiring the depths to which this whole thing has sunk, and the speed with which it got there.

If anyone else wants to sit a ways off and have some popcorn, I'm currently taking bets on how long it will take until someone makes a cliche reference to a certain historical facist organization, on either side of the argument.  Unless someone already did that, in which case we can see how long before out-and-out character attacks against posters start that require moderator action.

/popcorn

I generally agree with the article, though I have some asides for it.

The charity angle is a pretty thin cover for the RMT move.  Lots of companies donate more proceeds from the sale of specific items to assorted charities.  If people actually cared for a given charity, clicking on websites and plugging in credit card info is ridiculously easy these days.  Anyone who thinks they are getting these pets for anything but personal vanity is, quite simply, fooling themselves.

This doesn't mean charity is bad.  Just that we need to be clear that Blizzard is not simply doing this for the children here.  They're doing it to sugar-coat the RMT move.  It's nice that they are initially donating some of the sales to charity, but that stops after Dec. 31, after which it goes straight to their pockets.

However, I do agree there's a lot of fury over something that hasn't yet seen any actual implications.  Saying that non-combat pets affecting the achievements is a big deal is just plain bunk.  Until the non-combat pet achievements give me 310% speed flying mounts or epics, I find it difficult to drum up much sympathy for those crying "Wolf, wolf!"  The reward for collecting non-combat pets is... more non-combat pets.  Hmm.  Don't see how a little skunk that likes to hump black cats is really hurting the game there, folks.

If Blizzard crosses the line from non-combat pets and maybe heirlooms (basically worthless to sell for real money except to first-time players anyway) into actual superior/epic gear and/or emblems and badges, I'll be glad to grab a pitchfork and a torch, and help you all lynch them on every forum, blog, etc. on the web.

Until then, I'll be keeping my tinfoil hat handy, just in case...

Man, so many conspiracy theories.

Let me break out my tinfoil hat first, so that Blizzard can't use their brain wave machines to subvert me!

Argh!  Too late... feel myself... slipping...

No, wait.  That's just a headache.  Must have been from slamming my head repeatedly into my desk from reading some of the crazy things on this here interwebs.

Seriously, though.  Some of what I've read in this thread alone smacks either of insanity, or demogogy.  Calm down.  Take a breath.  The world hasn't stopped spinning despite all the other "mistakes" Blizzard made with WOW thus far (and trust me, there has been a litany of game-breaking errors according to previous years' doomsayers), and I doubt it's going to stop now.

When it's time to worry, then just quit the game and feel good that you'll be doing your part to hurt Blizzard where it actually hurts most: their bank account.

Otherwise, I suspect they aren't much hurt by anonymous criticisms on a message board when those same critics keep shelling out money each month to play.  If you pay to be offended, you forfeit the right to complain about it.

The truth is, the "hardcore" guilds tend not to last that long.  Everything is great as long as the entire guild is focused and determined.  Once a few folks start to burn out on the game, or have personality conflicts, or otherwise don't want to participate, the guild falls apart.

After years of playing, the only guilds I see that endure are the social ones.  The guilds that have diverse interests, who PVP as much as they do raids or heroics or even soloing, who do fun things other than just mindlessly grinding out the hottest new raid instance, and who actually bother to level up new recruits and help them get to end-game, these are the folks that last for years.  While most guilds don't seem to last forever, I've watch the guilds with more diversity last years longer than those who just get together to do one thing, be it raiding, PVP, or whatever.

But more than that, the players in such guilds tend to stick with WOW longer without burning out, and tend to jump right back to the same guild or a similar one when they do take a break.  Seems like as much of an endorsement of a more relaxed attitude when playing the game than anything else I could think of.

Which is why I keep playing: I don't focus-lock onto content.  I run in raids when possible, do heroics, dailies, BGs/WG, trying to fulfill achievements.  Having something new to do/see is good for one's appreciation of the game.

Whenever you find someone actually comparing their personal character or virtue to others based on the video games they choose to play, just remember this one bit of philosophy:

You can not win an argument with an idiot.  They'll drag you down to their level, then beat you with experience.

You know, I wasn't even gonna respond to the OP.  I mean, feeding trolls are bad, mkay?

But considering that they managed to get some responses of dubious intellectual quality, some on the same level of ignorant or just plain stupid as the first one, I gotta hand it to the OP for having a perfect sense of how to stir up the pot and make otherwise sensible people act retarded on yet another MMO forum.

Part of me is amused at easily people's emotions are moved on the internet, while reason and common sense are routinely ignored..

Part of me is greatly depressed and saddened by the same thing.

Oh, well.  Back to Brewfest and Onyxia.

Game on...

The Underbelly articles, to me, are probably the best reason to visit this site.  It's always easy as players and customers to complain; once we've seen the tough side of actually working on games, it's hard not to somewhat sympathize with folks on the other side.  Working in IT, I already did.  It's been nice to see regular people starting to think more about what it's like for the folks on the other side of their screens, though.

I feel sure there will be many other insightful MMO articles by Sanya Weathers in the future, and I look forward to reading them.

Here's the real problem with getting hung up on "the customer is always right" idea.

I was sitting at my brother's house the other day, just playing a game and shooting the breeze with some of his friends about WOW.  After thirty minutes of back-and-forth about PVP, I came to realize that we all had different opinions about what precisely should be done to improve it in the game.

I thought to myself later how good it was that nobody at Blizzard listened to any one of us too much.  Can you imagine trying to make a game based on the dysfunctional, schizophrenic, fishbowl views of a bunch of rabid gamers?  Such a game can not exist, ladies and gentlemen.  Oh, you can try to make yourself if you want.  But it is telling that nobody has done so after a decade and a half of MMO gaming.

"The Customer" is, to put it bluntly, crazy.  He doesn't know what he wants from day to day (or month to month, or year to year), and trying to second-guess him is an exercise in futility.  The very best you can do is to try and make something more simplistic to appeal to more and more people, and just hope that they'll form their own interest groups out of it.  You can even give them a few different rulesets on a couple of different server types, leading to the classic PVE, PVP, and RP setup.

Wanna know the best part?  We're our own worst enemies here.  You want to get what you want?  Fine.  But that takes compromise, something none of us seem to be willing to do anymore.  We can't find common ground between "carebear" and "hardcore" players because neither side wants to give up anything they want to get any of it.  It's all or nothing, and consequences to the game be damned!

Many people commenting on Sanya's article totally missed the point.  The company has to give us a stable, functional game, yes, but they don't cater to every passing whim the customer has.  Their only job is making the product work, and in this case upgrading it in as sensible a fashion as they can to please the majority.

In a way, the irony is highly amusing: we play these games to play with other people and use teamwork to accomplish great things, but when talking about ways to improve the game we totally fall apart and can't even agree on the simplest issues.

Oh, well.  Maybe one day, I'll get housing in WOW.  (Hey, they said they had no plans for flying in old world content, too, and look where that went...)

I generally agree with the article, but I suspect that Blizzard already is on to some of those things.

We already know that they are going to revisit the old dungeons for new end-game content, and you won't be needing Caverns of Time to do it.  For example, I could totally see a new Shadowfang Keep run where, after the death of Arugal in Grizzly Hills, a new "evil" worgen arises to try and subjugate the "good" worgen and/or kick the Forsaken/Scourge out of Silverpine once and for all.  With Deathwing and Ragnaros back (the latter apparently moving to Tanaris, I think was what I heard), that reopens all kinds of possible story tie-ins to entire range of Blackrock Mountains instances (and they apparently are adding a new one there, too, just for new end-game).

So I'm totally not worried about new instances made out of old ones.  Considering how huge places like Blackrock Spire and Blackrock Depths are, my only question is what kind of ridiculously-overpowered crap they'll be flinging at us.  Half fire elemental dark dwarves?  Maybe some half earth elemental black dragonspawn?  I see lots of possibilities; all you have to add/change in the game are mobs, because the architecture is already totally done.

By the way, this is going to be great for outdoor PVP, I think, because with that many opposing faction members in old stomping grounds, they'll probably get a wave of nostalgia and go knock over the sandbox in some town belonging to the enemy.  I think we'll see at least a slight increase in outdoor PVP during prime time raiding hours.  If Blizz was smart, throwing a few outdoor PVP objectives in a few extra zones wouldn't hurt our fun out there, either.

Housing is something I've totally bought into the idea of.  I hate to say it, but EQ2 had the correct model of what to use it for.  It's not just some neat thing to sink gold on.  You can use it for trophies of past glories, hanging your first epic or legendary on the wall, rather than just melting/vendoring/deleting to make more room.  You can also use housing as a business endeavor; allow players to buy extra banking space, counters to sell crafted goods from, and links to the auction house, and it'd give us tools that would greatly enhance our enjoyment of things.

Guild housing is a good idea, and we should definitely look to City of Heroes as the model there.  Not only are guild bases for crafting and decoration, but guilds can schedule meaningful PVP attacks on one another.  In COH, there are even guild-based items housed in the base that provide buffs to the guild.  While this shouldn't be a huge thing in WOW (don't want a riot about "unfair advantages" or anything), even something that just provided PVE advantages could make for a huge difference.  For example, if a Horde guild seized a relic that gave all members a 5-10% damage buff against dragons or elementals, an Alliance guild would totally love to break in, steal it, maybe smash their mana loom or kitchen while they're at it.

Regardless of exactly what housing is used for, it would add a lot of opportunity to the game.  If Blizz has the capability server-wise to add it, doing so as soon as possible can't hurt them.

Varying the look of gear (not just color, either, but actual appearance) is something else that's a good idea.  But I think we should be taking it a step further: allow crafters to actually choose specific gear models for their crafted gear.  That, along with gear respecs, would enormously improve customization in the game.

Overall, I'm pleased with the pace of development.  They don't want to release everything all at once; players get burned out just as fast, only they'll have nothing new to maintain interest.  And keeping people interested in your product is a huge part of keeping market share.

Good article, and one that can be expounded on somewhat.

The utility of feedback isn't just sabotaged from the customer end.  While customers do tend to give crappy feedback ("I like this class, so make them capable of doing everything and I'll be happier"), we also have to consider the flaws on the other side of the screen.

What flaws?  Let's say a lead developer has a certain notion of how raids should work.  They put some folks on a design they want, then go out to get feedback on it.  But if they aren't objective enough, they start skewing their viewpoint on the feedback.  If feedback is negative to the new design, they start looking for reasons for the negativity other than poor design on their part.  If the feedback is positive, they will frequently refuse to put the design through rigorous testing to make sure nothing really bad will come from it.  They sabotage the customer feedback this way by not remaining objective themselves

Or let's say that a certain developer believes a class is imbalanced and wants feedback on it.  But the developer never bothered to play the class themselves; they only take second-hand accounts of what the class is doing in the game to base a decision on.  No matter whether the reaction is positive or negative, they make a poor decision because they aren't getting any actual face-time with the class, just using other players to gauge the extent of the change.  They sabotage the customer feedback here by being less informed on the issue than the customer is, and that's just plain not acceptable (after all, we're paying them to be professionals so we don't have to be).

Blizzard and SOE have both been infamous for being somewhat sloppy about checking their data in a timely fashion, and often seem astonished when the data supports something the community has been trying to tell them about for some time.  The fact is that you often see better math skills posted on the official forums at times than you see in the patch notes when some change is made, and that's just shameful.  I don't expect devs to be perfect, but some of the seesawing being done in many MMOs these days is getting ridiculous.  If they don't have the supposed math skills needed for programming computations of this nature, why were they hired in the first place?

Perhaps that is what we need in Quality Assurance departments in these companies: a division between customer feedback, and hard number crunching.  Get some sociologists working on the customer end, do some questionaires, see if they can pick up the signal out of the noise on forums and such.  Then get some folks, ideally programmers and mathemeticians, to look at the numbers being debated, see how things add up, and if not find out why.

One last thing that might help is if some of us customers stopped acting like $15 a month meant that these people had to do what we told them to do.  We should also be a bit more objective.  Is a class overpowered because they beat another one?  Or is there a defect in the loosing class that needs to be addressed, rather than nerfing the other class?  Is something "challenging", or is it really just too difficult to the point of stupidity?  We're paying to play a game with other people, not above them.

I think if we were more realistic about what was going on in a game, and the companies were more interested in being more careful about analyzing potential issues, we'd get amazingly better results.

There are problems and advantages to both class-based and skill-based systems.

Class-based systems provide a tighter framework of character roles for the developers.  Healers may have some options for offense, but they are built mostly to be healers.  DPS may have some options for tanking or healing, but they are mostly there to cause damage.  By limiting the role of each class, you give the player a better idea of what they should be doing, and how, and allow them to compare to the others doing the same thing for balance purposes.

The disadvantage is that class-based games are wholly group oriented because every role has to have someone there to make up for their deficiency.  This basically means no one-on-one or two-man PVP, because you can't go out without the minimal tank-healer-DPS team and expect to survive longer than a few seconds.  I've seen this happen in outdoor PVP in various games a great deal: a bunch of DPS get out there, but can't kill a tank because they aren't getting to a healer who keeps the tank alive long enough to put down all the DPS.  This also causes solo PVE in such games to have issues; some classes will be able to easily solo content, others may struggle.

Skill-based systems provide enormous flexibility in the game.  Players do whatever they darn well want to, consequences be darned.  They can opt to go with melee DPS and some healing or protective ability to keep them going.  When progressing through content, they take the skills they need without worrying if they need to get help with something, promoting more individual playstyles.  PVP is much more dynamic, because you don't know if a target has certain skills or others, leading to a lot more tactical variety.

The disadvantage is that skill-based games tend to lead to homogenous gameplay; once a specific combo of skills are perceived by the players to be must-have for certain kinds of gameplay (like PVP), they universally train in those skills.  For example, if physical ranged DPS is perceived as superior to magic ranged DPS, then the skills for physical ranged DPS will be taken by an overwhelming majority of players.  Additionally, skill-based gameplay causes such individual playstyles that group-based activities are very difficult to develop in the game, outside of masses of mobs that are fought individually.  Because nobody has to play a dedicated role, there are fewer such characters dedicated to a single role. 

There is no magic cure here.  Both methods have flaws that cause problems eventually.  Both systems have been found in games that are wildly successful, and both are found in games that have sunk hard.  The question is what is the best system for various players to use for their chosen playstyle.  For some players, skill-based is the way to go because they aren't interested in role-based content.  For others, class-based systems help give them a focused approach to the game so that they know their place in a group and how to perform.

Neither system, however, is perfect, and trying to both trumpet the virtues of one system while villifying the flaws of another is counterproductive.  It would be more helpful to find ways to improve both systems.  Skill-based systems are called "sandbox" games, but even a sandbox needs a limiting container or it's nothing more than a mess that washes away in time.  Class-based games need to give some secondary builds so that when not in group-based content individual players have better options for surviving PVP or other things alone.

In other words, instead of trying to say that cake is better than ice cream, maybe we should scheme a way we can all have our cake and ice cream together.  Then, if someone doesn't want cake or doesn't want ice cream, it's a choice and not a mandate.

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