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Place Beta Key Offers & Requests Here (Please read before posting)
General Discussion « WildStar
12/22/13 9:30:18 PM
Alas, I, also, am alone in the abyss, lost and wandering, friendless, keyless. My eyes turn upward and I see only darkness, surrounding me the void of empty-handedness. My hope sparks anew a gleeful taunt, but flickers faint and dies, hushed and forgotten, for its frailty washed to the ages and absent ever after. Here no hand reaches, no kind acquaintance become of any toward passerby, but only the black embrace of the teeming throng smothers, drowning out our voices until our plaintive cries stir not even the icy air. Here uninvited we wait, and I among us, hands outstretched. Have mercy.
EverQuest Next: New Classes Revealed
News & Features Discussion « General Discussion
11/26/13 5:20:34 PM
The idea of AAs actually managed to ignite a spark in me where previously my excitement had dimmed down to cinders in the wake of discovering (belatedly) that despite the massive possibilities for combination of classes, characters are limited to eight abilities at a time, four of them tied to, ugh, the weapons.
But AA, that's a step forward. I remind myself that I only had eight spell gems in '99, but I can never shake the thought of the huge spell book from which they were pulled. So many options. I think most of us agree now that a screen full of hotbars is too much, but eight? Just eight? Please at least do better than GW2 if you're going that route.
AA though. AA feign death that doesn't use a spell slot? AA crack? AA pet buffs, aggro drops, mezzes, procs? Now that sounds more like EQ. Show me that stuff and you can give me eight spell slots (with AAs for a few more).
In any event, I think this kind of news is just a step above no news, not that I'm complaining. Really, though, no one was seriously concerned about whether these staples were making it in, and no matter what anyone says I'll be very, very surprised if the first forty doesn't include the full complement of EQ1 classes and EQ2 archetypes.
Seeking Feedback: Mounts vs. Speed Buff Classes
General Discussion « Camelot Unchained
3/03/13 7:15:31 PM
Skald. Would play again. If I had to choose, I'd prefer SBCs to mounts ten times out of ten. That said, basically I agree with MJ's proposals so far. I do have questions, though:
I like the notion that this game (to say nothing of the next generation in general) should dispense with the somewhat entrenched idea that mounts are a perfect place for a money sink. Sure, we don't know a lot of details about what the release economy is going to look like, but an arbitrary barrier to entry for something with a mechanical advantage just doesn't make a lot of sense in a competitive game. I pause to wonder what the parameters for acquisition might look like, though. If mounts are attached to the leveling progression (which is itself a measure of RVR success, albeit on an individual scale), then the need for non-mount parity becomes smaller over the life of a server, since players will arrive to the mount-available level eventually, regardless of how the realm is performing.
That's not really what I think when I think of RVR success, though. I think of it more in terms of "winning" in a realm-wide sense. Success isn't just killing people to make the exp number get bigger. It means sacking fortifications and making intelligent strategic and tactical decisions, and that's something that the entire realm does as a unit. Hell, that's why server and realm pride even exist. So that makes me think that mounts might be better attached to either a game state or a certain accomplishment or set of accomplishments. It's not a badge of honor to reach level thirty. Maybe it is for the first guy, and if the curve is steep it's a badge for the people in the early stages of the game, but eventually everybody catches up. On the other hand, if it's attached to a particular accomplishment in RVR (or a personal RVR achievement-style checklist), it certainly has a risk of moving from a status symbol to a rite of passage: Go grind your mount and then come on back.
I think there's a middle way, though, but I don't know enough about the big picture to suggest what it might be except to caution that it should be reasonably accessible (GW2's legendary weapons are a perfect example of what not to do), not bestowable (i.e., your 40 guildmates can't just go get it for you), but also not inevitable (everybody at level 30 has one). I'm not sure how to do that. I almost think making it a time-locked, personal random world drop would go in the right direction (e.g., the unlock component is a 2% drop from any enemy combatant and goes straight into your inventory without anybody else seeing it, but it doesn't drop unless you've logged x many hours, killed y many enemy combatants, died z many times to enemy combatants, and done w much damage to enemy structures and NPCs), but even then I'm sure there are ways to game that.
Regardless of what RVR success means with respect to mounts, if mounts are strictly the result of success in RVR, does that run the risk of creating a rich-get-richer paradigm? With SBC classes in the game, you have a work-around for the speed advantage: If you're getting hosed by a realm with a bunch of mounts, you need to recruit some musicians. What about the seige equipment though? If mounts are going to be incorporated into that, I think it would be reasonable to implement a counterpart for a realm that doesn't have a strong history of mount-generating success in RVR, i.e., there should be a class (either a non-SBC, non-healing support class--maybe a buffer--or perhaps a tank, just for thematic reasons) that gets the same benefits for seige equipment travel that a mount would provide (ideally better, a la the SBC). If you're faring poorly in RVR, it's going to be that much harder to acquire a mount regardless of what the prerequisites are, so there must be a work-around for the tangible benefits, however inefficient it may be.
In such a way, having success in RVR lessens the need for these two classes (the SBC and the seige-mover) but doesn't eclipse them. Likewise, a realm whose members don't have access to mounts can basically pay for the inequity by giving up party flexibility.
I pray that the RPS design direction MJ has been talking about recently will mean that CC is on its way back, along with meaningful healing, sniping, etc. I agree wholeheartedly with the OP to the extent that CC is one of the first, best tools available to a small force to deal with the zerg. It's not the only tool, but when you give it up, you have to come up with a lot elsewhere to keep things in check, and we can see from most of the efforts since DAOC that, frankly, RVR isn't the same without consequential CC.
Moreover, personally, I just like the idea of CC being something you can choose for yourself as a role. It's a certain kind of specialization that most games either lack outright now or tend to just mash in with something else. I remember being able to be a dedicated CC bot--just as one could be a dedicated healer or tank--and if you were good at it, people knew.
I don't think casting on the move is necessarily a bad thing, but I'm also not convinced it's ever been done properly. I'm not even sure what it would look like done right; I like the idea of there being more variety in terms of class identity, but someone would have to think long and hard about what should be castable on the run, and by whom (i.e., "everything by everyone" is a horrible idea).
I quit spending because of ascended gear.
Right now I don't have the game installed on my machine. That's not to say I'll never play it again, but I'm not spending any more money until something like an expansion comes along that actually justifies opening my wallet. I don't care whether it's balanced, unbalanced, good for the game, bad for the game, or even whether it has WvW consequences. Ascended gear is a bait and switch and an abandonment of the principles that caused me to be interested in the game. So I'm not spending any more money on it.
What the hell is going on with the anti holy trinity lately
General Discussion « Elder Scrolls Online
1/03/13 3:27:13 PM
"There is no aggro system" is, to me, a nonsense statement. There is an aggro system. Any roleplaying game with multiple targets has an aggro system. "Roll 1d4 and attack whichever character comes up" is an aggro system. "Attack whichever PC the DM chooses" is an aggro system (and one of my favorites). More realisticly, "Attack whoever is closest" is an aggro system.
What TESO is probably getting at is that they're not going to tell anybody what the system is for determining aggro, much like GW2 did. I'm not going to get into the merits and flaws of that undertaking, but ultimately I feel like all of the anti-trinity chanting and hand-waving is a smokescreen for obfuscating a fundamental game mechanic that is, whether the player can see it or not, still ultimately deterministic. That doesn't mean there's no element of chance involved (i.e., it might not be 100% reproduceable), but there are factors involved in TESO that determine who is getting attacked by a mob just like there are in GW2.
The difference between these efforts and games like EQ, FFXI, etc., is that ZeniMax and ANet decided to try to keep the player from figuring out how to control aggro. This hasn't worked in GW2, and I think due to the resilience, resources, and wisdom of the crowds involved, I don't think it'll work in TESO either. Instead it will result in a demarcation between the haves (those who figured out how to reliably game the system) and the have-nots (those who didn't), just as it did in GW2.
Now maybe they'll come out and explain what the mechanics are for determining enmity in TESO--I hope they do--but even if they don't, there are going to be formulae involved in determining when and on whom mobs aggro. Maybe it will be simple (whoever is closest), and maybe it will be complicated (2% chance to target a healer who has done >4% damage in the last 4 seconds if hate hasn't been reset due to a hate-resetting-event in the last 12 seconds, else 2% chance to target a non-healer who is within 30 units and has not experienced any hit point change since the last hate-resetting-event, but only if server time is between 0:00 and 4:00 on even numbered weekdays ... ), but it will be something. There will be rules involved. If the company really wants to completely randomize aggro, well, they can do that, but it makes for combat that seems less like fantasy adventure and more like a survival clusterfuck.
There are some legitimate criticisms of the "trinity," but there are also a lot of criticisms that arise out of the way the system has been implemented in the past. They have a lot more to do with the environment that supported the trinity than the actual paradigm itself, and those are the ones that make me struggle to understand how developers--the people who are supposed to be doing their due diligence learning this stuff--are latching onto the anti-trinity bastion without actually addressing the underlying problems. So, treatise time.
1. Legitimate Complaint: "It's not realistic."
That's fair in some instances and unfair in others. I feel like where the trinity is most harmful is when developers fail to exercise creativity when it comes to conjuring realistic mechanics and labels for the way players control aggro. Taunt. Really? Say something bad about a monster's mother, and he'll attack you instead of the guy raining fire on him. That's a little problematic since a lot of these monsters don't speak your language, and even non-verbal cues will only get you so far. Giving a cockatrice the finger isn't going to have much impact on its disposition.
Furthermore, a character with high intelligence, even if he does understand your language and gestures, is probably at least potentially smart enough to know better anyway. To be fair, some games have taken this into account in various places, and I'll grant that, at least later in its development, EQ, for example, was good about creating encounters (but certainly not all of them) where taunting as aggro-generation wasn't a primary strategy.
Moreover, games like WOW have made some strides replacing the old-fashioned taunt mechanic with more dynamic systems. A monster is going to hate you more if you make him more vulnerable to attacks than if you swear at him, for instance.
On this issue, while I will concede that the rigidity of traditional aggro mechanics might be somewhat unrealistic, I wholeheartedly believe that, especially for more intelligent mobs, it is an artifact of AI more than of immersion. The AI has very specific rules in WOW, for example, about how much value is attached to any given action. That's why things like threat-meter work.
Compare that to PVP, and you'll realize that in PVP, in any game, you're assigning threat levels to opponents when you have a choice on whom you're going to attack. In a game like WOW, for example, you're asking things like "Can I get to the healer? If I can, I want to kill the healer. What if I can't? Well can I out-dps his heals on this squishy guy in front of me? Is he even healing this guy?" The only difference between you and the AI mechanic for the game you're playing is that you're smarter than it is, so you make more intelligent choices. You're still abiding by rules. As for less intelligent mobs, well, frankly, they need rules too. Take a critical look at the film The Grey. Aside from the fact that we love to see people torn apart by wolves, it's worth asking from an academic perspective if these wolves have rules about how they hunt. A canine biologist/zoologist would tell you that, albeit perhaps in a loose sense, they do. So should the wolves in my video games.
Ultimately, I think the end result here is that an aggro system should be realistic in the context in which it exists. That is, it should attempt to simulate, to the best of the technology's abilities, the kind of decision a player in the mob's position would make. Taunt should go, but the tank should be able to do something--I don't really know what--that would make a player decide it's worth killing him rather than the healer or nuker.
2. Illegitimate Complaint: "I should be able to play what I want--not be forced to play something to fit a role."
This is something that ANet trumpeted as support for its profession design, and if I'm being honest, I'll admit that during development I was right there in the throng with the rest of them cheering on the innovation. It sounded like a good idea at the time. Hell, it still sounds like a good idea.
The problem is that freedom in choosing a class and party roles aren't mutually exclusive from a design stand-point, and I feel like GW2 did its players a disservice by adopting an everyone-is-a-tank-and-no-one-is-a-tank approach. The approach is problematic because it accepts as a minor premise of its design something that isn't necessarily true. It looks like this (abstractly): "No one should be required for a group. Rogue types can't hold aggro. Thus, no one should have to hold aggro to join a group." [And repeat for every class. I'm not a studied logician, though, so if somebody wants to clean this up using a more correct statement of the arguments, please feel free.]
Wait! Why couldn't you just have given your thieves a way to get, hold, or dump aggro (preferably all three)? The answer is probably that doing that for every profession would have trivialized group content due to the party's ability to move damage spikes among members at will. That's something that's very easy to design around, though. If you don't believe me, you've never run instances in WOW with two warriors, two druids, and a paladin. Better yet, go level in EQ with a ranger tank. [Yes, I realize these examples are pretty limited in their application.]
The point is that not being able to play what you want due to group dynamic demands is a product of class design--not aggro design. "I don't want to tank, ergo no one should have to tank" doesn't really work, though, does it? The mob is going to be beating on someone. Unless you're kiting. ... I like kiting.
I much prefer a system in which "control" to use GW2's re-terming of it, is something that is clearly transparent for players, and an aspect of it should be attracting or repelling enmity.
The solution to this problem isn't doing away with tanking. It's broadening the scope of tanking (and healing), so that every class has a way of managing aggro in a way that is meaningful, and doing the same thing with healing. GW2 would have been a better game if Thieves could ninja tank, Warriors could armor shred (and gain enmity for it), Mesmers could clone tank (reliably), Elementalists could perma-kite while holding threat, Rangers could pet tank, Engineers could reverse kite (by using knockback, not fear), Guardians could heal-tank, and Necromancers could drain tank. Instead, all of those things gain a little aggro, sometimes, and always inconsistently, leaving players to rely on a combination of gimmicks, the downed state, and chance (and sometimes exploits) to control the flow of combat, to say nothing of the game's general damage mitigation problems in dungeons. Nothing could be less heroic than depending on being flat on your ass to manage aggro.
This isn't a cry to tear GW2 a new one, though. That game has enough criticism to be lobbied at it, and I feel like this conversation needs to be broader. As I said, I don't want to get into a full evaluation of the game's pros and cons when it comes to aggros, because beside the fact that I'm speaking in very general terms, it's just unnecessary for the point at large--that point being that playing the class you want doesn't mean that all roles, and the trinity, go the way of the dodo.
3. Illegitimate Complaint: "If the trinity exists, I will always be LFG."
This is a corollary to the last and, like the prior grievance, while valid under current game design paradigms, isn't a product of the trinity's existence as it is weighted class design. To use FFXI as an example (my favorite MMO of all time): in FFXI, when I played (Zilart era), there were three valid tank jobs (assuming proper sub-jobs and depending on your level), PLD, WAR, and NIN. There were four valid healing jobs (almost always subbed WHM, depending on your level), WHM, SMN, BRD, and RDM. There were two valid crack-dealing jobs (mana regen, which was necessary), RDM and BRD. And then there were seven or eight DPS jobs, DRG, DRK, SAM, THF, RNG, BLM, MNK, and sometimes BST. Trouble is, in a party for most levels, you needed one tank, one healer, one crack dealer, and three DPS. You can do the math on supply and demand and see where the trouble comes in.
The result was that it was very rare to find a Pally or a White Mage looking for a group, while Dragoons were a dime a dozen. If you're not familiar with FFXI, if you have any experience with the dungeon finder in WOW you can see the same situation. Queue up as a DPS class and check your time, then queue as a healer or tank. Same shit, different game.
Put plainly, this disparity is a result of the disparity in healing and tanking classes (or specs, if you're talking WOW) compared to DPS. There's just always more DPS. Always has been. The reasoning is probably (I assume; nobody invites me to game design meetings) something like "Well they need three DPS for every tank, so we should make more DPS classes." That doesn't account for the tanking scarcity problem, though, and that's a problem you fix by re-balancing the ratio of tank-capable and heal-capable classes to dps-only classes. More importantly, you rebalance it in such a way that players aren't feeling strong-armed, as in complaint number 2. An example of good design I can offer here is WAR's Disciple of Khaine (a melee healer).
Finally, it's worth remembering that, unfortunately, sometimes you're just going to be LFG. Tank, healer, DPS, or whatever your preferred role, sometimes you're going to be LFG, and as GW2 has shown us, you don't need a trinity for that, holy or otherwise. People will find reasons to be exclusionary whether the game mechanics offer them or not, and that's part of playing games in an online space.
If TESO adopts a "you can't reliably control aggro" scheme, it will be unfortunate because I don't think it will accomplish anything. I think it's fair to say that, regardless of anyone's position on the trinity, what we all want are more immersive, realistic, engaging game mechanics and environments. Some companies are now concluding that that means the trinity is dead, but I think that's a confusion about player demand, and to be honest, I'm not sure I would have been able to make that conclusion if I had not played GW2 myself and seen what a non-trinity system actually looked like (and concluded I didn't like it at all on that front).
The trinity exists in the medium because that's the way the medium evolved (there's a good post somewhere about MUDs and the evolution of the systems, but I don't have the link), and I feel like for the medium to continue to evolve, the systems supporting it have to also evolve. But their evolution doesn't mean extinction, and I'd go so far as to say that if you're going to do away with the trinity, you must supply a functional alternative, because combat in MMO's is deterministic. That's the nature of it; you're playing a video game, and it has rules. The rules don't have to be one way or another, but they have to be applied consistently in order for the game to be fair, and, to the best of a developer's ability, they need to be implemented in a way that attempts to simulate real-world threat-assessment by people and in nature. This is not an exact science, but it is a science, and there's nothing less realistic than a battle plan that amounts to, "Attack any old thing."
Now, sure, we don't have any ecological or military basis for determining how threatening anyone or anything should perceive a person shooting fire from his fingertips, but there are actual rules for strategy and tactics. We know or can discover, in a given situation, between a shoulder-fired rocket launcher and a tank (an actual tank, not some guy with a shield), which is a higher priority target and why. That's real world aggro, and it's something that can be simulated by an AI--and should be. That's not to suggest we have the technology to design a mob AI that can make the same calculations and account for all the circumstantial variables in the way that a battlefield commander can, but we can make an effort.
Moreover, it's absolutely possible to design, balance, and implement game systems that allow players to have a broad range of access to classes and roles in a way that doesn't limit access to content, doesn't shoehorn players into playing things for reasons other than personal desire, and still preserves a system of enmity management that makes sense. That's the way forward. The trinity isn't lazy design; it's conventional design. Abandoning aggro management altogether is lazy; progressing it to the next generation of MMOs is hard. But it's also worthwhile.
The War Z: Servers Under Attack
News & Features Discussion « General Discussion
1/03/13 1:29:38 PM
Am I supportive of attacking people's server infrastructure? No. I'm not, no matter who you're talking about (unless maybe it's a hate group or something--but we're talking broad strokes here). That kind of thing is not something I support, endorse, encourage, or want to see happen, and if you've ever been on the receiving end of a DDOS (I have, as a user of a small system, not on the technical end), for example, you can appreciate the inconvenience and frustration.
But I'd be lying if I said I wasn't grinning over here. Right or wrong, it's amusing as hell, and even though I can't condone the behavior of the people responsible, it's really hard not to see the corresponding Schadenfreude as genuinely karmic.
Tired of the negative.
General Discussion « Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn
12/31/12 7:32:48 PM
Originally posted by Paladrink
There is indeed something to be said for the fact that the company tried to salvage its flagship where most others would have cut and run, and that's something I think they'll be remembered for no matter how the game does. Of course I'm still excited about it, and I hope it launches at a time when not much will be well-positioned to compete--that is, after the last wave and before the next. We'll see.
No matter what, the game will have a legacy, and for the company's sake, I hope the legacy is that they pulled up from a catastrophic nosedive, whether they succeeded in righting the ship or not--rather than that they failed colossally and then poured good money after bad. If FFXIV can recover, anyone can--and that's good for the industry. If they can't, I think it's unlikely anyone would ever try again, and we'll remain in the launch-is-all-things mode for another season.
Reasons why GW1 vets might feel hard done by
General Discussion « Guild Wars 2
12/22/12 3:31:12 PM
Originally posted by SirFubar
That's absolutely correct. However, while I appreciate that the stance is the party line for a reason (of course GW2 is easier to balance than GW1), I don't really accept that excuse after having been burned out by GW2 well in advance of them earning my deep-seated ire with the Ascended Armor fiasco. Did builds in GW1 tend to reduce to a handful of optimals? Sure. By my estimation, GW2 has done the same, the primary difference being that they started with fewer alternatives. If the intention was to reduce the number of gimp/ineffective builds, that was certainly successful, but I feel like it ultimately came at the expense of expression for players who have a strong understanding of the game systems' potentials but nonetheless are willing to sacrifice min-max efficiency for variety in playstyle.
In GW1, my Ritualist could be built a million different ways. Most of them were bad. However, because of my access to a changing sub-class and heroes, I had at least a dozen viable builds for completing content/farming in PVE. If I'd wanted to PVP, I would have had not millions--but at least a handful--of viable options there as well. In GW2, I had a build for my Mesmer. It was optimal for my playstyle. If I wanted to change things up, I could grab another weapon, and change a couple utilities, but I had no real opportunity to make subtle, nuanced changes to the build. I could create additional effects or make myself better or worse at certain things by tampering with traits, but that had only a very small, albeit non-zero, effect on how the character actually played.
Now I can't speak to broad-level viability metrics when it comes to comparing builds in GW1 and GW2, because I simply don't have access to the data. And I'll cheerfully concede that during the game's development, I was one of the ones championing the change in direction, because it really does make sense theoretically, and it looks pretty good on paper. Anecdotally, though, I could spend months on my ritualist and never ever burn out, whereas after only a month and a half on GW2 I felt like my playstyle had gotten stagnant and there was nothing left for me to do to innovate that I hadn't already tried, except roll another alt. That's telling to me, and I think it's symptomatic of the fact that the weapon-ability tie and rigid categorization of other skills is a step backwards.
Like a lot of areas in GW2, I feel like they sacrificed gameplay for accessibility, and in this arena the cost was a lot higher than they thought it would be. To me, improvement could have been achieved by, yes, doing away with redundant abilities, but more importantly, by improving synergy and balance among a large palette of abilities, with the expectation--and this is important--that players will figure out which ability combinations are good, create interesting builds, and discover combinations and levels of synergy that the developers didn't anticipate. Yes, that means future balancing work down the line, but it also allows the players to create their own content, and that increases replayability and longevity, something that GW2 is struggling for right now. Forgive me for speculating, but I suspect that the content-cycle steamroll is already pressing hard on development, and if the game had a systems-level means for players to tinker with it, we would be seeing the balance changes people have been raging about instead of desperate releases of new content every month.
There's nothing that says that abilities if implemented are set in stone. You can code a system to handle refunds if you decide an ability is trash after implementing it, and you can salvage your assets if you plan ahead for that. The art can be reused, the animation can be reused, or, hell, if you've got a competent team, you can actually--!--balance the ability after the fact. That's what they did with GW1, and while it indeed resulted in a patchwork skill list, it also made for a richer meta-game, and to this day I'd take Build Wars over Clones vs. Phantasms.
Yay! Better ways to funnel everybody to the treadmill content that made all of the--eh, screw it; it's not worth it anymore. Smed needs to get it in gear over there.
A tiny nugget more news on EQ: Next
The Pub at MMORPG.COM « General Discussion
12/18/12 10:07:59 PM
TLDR: Brief hype time, long combat pacing, infrequent but non-zero voice acting.
I agree with the sentiment that actiony combat with no downtime is good for playability but absolutely awful for community-building. Sure, voice-chatting guilds is great, but I'm not familiar with many guilds that do their recruiting by giving out their TS/Vent info to any stranger willing to accept a party invite. Sometimes you want to get to know people without having them on voice com, and sometimes, heaven forbid, you just want to listen to some damn music! Having a slower pacing to combat action and a lower level of twitchiness is ideal for that. For that matter, instant and near-instant travel has some of the same issues. I had a lot of good conversations with folks while on auto-follow in EQ1 and FFXI en route from the teleport-in point to camp.
I'm not suggesting that EQN should have five-minute-long-even-with-KEI downtime--after all, some people want to solo sometimes--but GW2, for instance, is way, way too far on the twitchy end of the spectrum (and that's the least of my few but major criticisms for that game). I think it's possible to have time to talk without feeling like the time is wasted if you're not spending it talking.
On the voice acting, I think there's a place for it. Honestly I'd be a little miffed if EQN had zero voice acting. Hell, even vanilla WOW had voice acting, scripted and brief though it may have been. However, I also agree that SWTOR's level of voice acting was symptomatic of their misallocation of development resources to story at the expense of life-sustaining gameplay systems. GW2 had decent acting, but while it's not a major issue of mine with respect to them, I'll admit that at times it felt a little wasted and unnecessary. I don't want voiced conversations as part of the gameplay except in very, very rare circumstances. I do, however, want voice acting as another kind of sound effect.
Here's the deal: If people are playing an MMO, there's a vast and overwhelming probability that they can read. Now, to be fair, some of them can't. You'll have some illiterate or semi-literate folks, and occasionally you'll have a five-year-old (yes--yes you will; that's reality). But nobody's outraged that the tooltips aren't voiced for player accessibility, so I don't feel like every single line of dialogue in the game needs to be voiced.
A few examples where having voiceovers is good in a sandbox: To the extent that you have NPCs, they need to be voiced when they're trying to get attention. Hearing "Hey, you, come'ere!" and the like in GW2 was an excellent tool to direct my attention to an NPC with information to offer, even if the result was that I disregarded it. If you have cutscenes, for whatever reason, you need some voice acting. In a sandbox environment, if you have an event during the life of the game that's going to make a major change as a result of player action/inaction (e.g., the nukes are falling/Bahamut is coming, the floating island is breaking off and rising into the air, the Emperor is being deposed and beheaded), your game should already have the tech to push out the change with some flair. And finally, you need voice acting for a lot of stuff that, while we sometimes take it for granted, is absolutely integral to any game with any NPCs: Eventually somebody's gonna set a village on fire. Ideally it's a player village, but whether it is or isn't, you should put in the time and money to record some quality I'm-on-fire screaming, along with some "OH SWEET JESUS! TIMMY'S IN THAT HOUSE!" one-liners, whether there's any Timmy-rescuing quests or not (hint: there shouldn't be. Fuck Timmy). And of course it goes without saying, you're going to have to record combat grunts for the PCs anyway, so you might as well throw in some extras to show us you care.
Finally, someone mentioned earlier the aspiration that a company would develop their game quietly and then just release it, and I really couldn't agree more. SOE, like everybody else, has paid advertising staff on retainer; they probably have more than one guy whose entire job is to determine what the falloff range for hype from a particular marketing device is going to be, and there have got to be peer reviewed studies of long-term online software interest-generation out there by now. Does the literature really say that talking about your game monthly for five God-damned years before its release date produces a net increase in revenue? Shit, you've got people who were planning to buy the game when you first announced it who have died by the time it came out. --and not even in accidents! You know there were people out there who heard about Guild Wars 2 back in 2007, got excited, then got cancer, went into remission, and then relapsed and died before it came out! I know the development cycle is long, and I want to know what's going on as much as the next guy, but trust me when I say that once you've got the hook in me for a game, the only thing you can do by continuing to trickle out information is lose me.
So on that note, I do want to know what EQN is going to be; I want an idea of the basic model, and sure, I'd be happy to take a look at some screenshots and a video. But I really don't have the time or the energy to get on another hype rollercoaster.
DAoC 2 - Would you play it?
Round Table Pub (General) « Dark Age of Camelot
12/11/12 11:42:44 PM
WOW, necro after necro. Kudos for keeping hope alive.
Anyway, I think anybody who played DAOC during its heyday (myself included) would cheerfully agree that DAOC 2 would be about the best damned thing to come to MMOs since, well, DAOC. Of course I would play, and pay, gladly.
Couple of hurdles though:
First, you have to get the band back together. This, put plainly, isn't going to happen. You take the talented folks who worked at Mythic over the life of the first game--a game that's now eleven years old--and track them all down today, and you'll find a lot of families that have completely relocated, some people in completely different industries. To be fair, you don't have to recruit every Tom, Dick, and Harry that worked on the original, but you've got to at least get the idea people. Jacobs has been out of EA's reach for a few years now, and Firor is working on TESO--which is to say, your competition (and that's as good an argument I've seen as to how TESO might actually be a spiritual successor anyway, but that's a different issue), to say nothing of all the talented designers, programmers, artists, writers, community folks, and others who made the game what it was, both good and bad.
But let's assume for sake of argument that as rumored among faithless rabid MMO fans, Jacobs has lost his vision, and no amount of electroconvulsive therapy could restore his competence as a game designer. So you could--hypothetically anyway--get your dream team of developers and content producers to make this vision the genre tyrant it by all accounts ought to be. And hey, I'm sure since things went so great the last time they worked on an MMO, let's see if we can get Salvatore and McFarlane on this thing too. Cool. Wait; who owns the license? Right, EA. So you've got your hand-picked staff who have all left their current employment, relocated cross-country, and assembled in a holy game design cloister, and they can't even turn on a computer until EA gives them the go ahead. Anybody think they'll sell the rights? Me neither. So you're going to have to license it, and that's an absolute best-case scenario. More likely you're going to end up brokering a kind of McQuaid-SOE eldritch abomination of a deal that puts you basically in the same position Mythic is in today, which is to say, you're EA's bitch. Can't win'em all.
Well, maybe EA is having a good year, their coffers are stuffed due to all the money they're making from SWTO--um, I mean, uh... ... Madden, I guess. I dunno. Let's just say they're happy. So due to the devout consecrations of the DAOC vestals who have been flagellating themselves for the last decade in preparation for this perfect storm of difficulties, God has seen fit to part the waters, and you've actually got a green light to get this thing off the ground. And why not, let's assume EA throws a big fat stack of cash in your lap to boot.
This game is actually going to happen: So what does it look like? If everybody on this one thread on mmorpg.com can agree on what aspects of DAOC should stay or go, I'll sell my house to pitch in on the DAOC 2 kickstarter. I mean, we pretty much all agree that we want Old Frontiers, right? 'cause it was better, apparently, for reasons that are perfectly clear but no one can ever quite articulate. DF stays, TOA goes, and really anything other than DF past Cata goes, right? Surely we all agree that we can't have Vampiirs running around in DAOC 2. Nobody ever liked them, right? Too bad DAOC 2 won't have Warlocks. I thought they were pretty neat... oh well!
So since there's no disagreement, we can count on everybody who ever played DAOC to sub right u--wait, we're having subscriptions, right? I mean, there's literally no basis whatsoever to figure out how to do a cash shop for this game. People have expectations based on the first game about what kinds of things should be accessible without additional cost. And Lord knows we don't want to botch the job like SWT--ow! Shit! Sorry EA Overlords, I meant, um, some other game with a total PR trainwreck on F2P. Well... at least we can go the GW2 route, right? Sell boxes and expansions and then nickel-and-dime folks for convenience in between, right? I mean, we've got to turn a profit on this thing. It's the most anticipated MMO in years. And believe me, they'll pay. Best case scenario, we hit the sweet spot like Riot did and have a sustainable revenue model that doesn't insult our playerbase.
Now you've got your game, your revenue model, and what do you know, you even made the development deadline the EA gods set for you. This is going to be the greatest game that there ever was!
Shit, Titan just came out.
Originally posted by Sovereign1
I agree about the principles that made FFXI successful, and I see shades of them here; I have reservations until I see some group content, but this seems promising. Compared to the alternatives in the same vein--WOW, Rift, Aion, to name a few--I would rather play this game based on this video, all other things being equal.
Having played GW2 and Tera, I'll gladly concede that active dodging has its appeal. It's fun, unique, and innovative, but as others have said, I don't think it needs to represent the only possible avenue for future development of the genre. FFXI and EQ1 had rewarding combat in large part because it moved more slowly and was, for most players, less twitchy. That meant players had time to hold conversations, unlike in GW2 where one's hands are always occupied with abilities, movement, and positioning, even between fights (I can't even call them pulls anymore, and that's a tragedy all its own).
I think animations for such things as dodging are appropriate and needful regardless of whether the dodging is active or statistic-based, just because we have the technology to support that, but I also feel it's disingenuous to suggest that active dodging is somehow more realistic than a dodge-by-dice system. In an actual fight, you can't just jump and roll out of the way of everything coming at you, especially if your opponent has a meaningful weapon. And if there's a fire, you can't just roll around and avoid all damage--it might put you out if you're on fire yourself, but try rolling back and forth in a burning building and you're going to die. I don't say that to criticize any and all active dodging systems, but only to suggest that both systems have things about them that are accurate and things that aren't. If anything, positioning-as-avoidance should have a place in MMO's going forward, but it should never completely overtake all alternatives. Action-oriented combat is in vogue right now, but there are still plenty of us who think Lancer was the best thing about Tera because it meant that often you could just stand still and hold up your shield.
My one criticism with this video is that the quest exp is disproportionately high when compared to mob exp. This concerns me because it seems like, at least at a glance, this would make solo questing a more efficient way to level than grouping in the open world, which was what made Zilart-era FFXI so appealing from a community-building standpoint. That's an easy numbers fix though, and I think those of us who favor that play style have a moral duty to lobby to see this fixed. I don't want soloing to be the easiest way to level for every class. It should be efficient for one--maybe two--classes, but everybody else should get a better gain from grouping up, because damnit, it's Final Fantasy. If players don't have to cooperate to succeed, then all the polish and Westernization in the world won't give those of us who hold XI in high esteem what we're looking for.
How About an Entirely Horizontal MMORPG
The Pub at MMORPG.COM « General Discussion
12/05/12 11:33:00 AM
Player retention depends on the players having purpose. That's not the same thing as progression--but that's an easy way to get there. I understand the OP's desire, albeit perhaps only as a thought experiment, for a game that has neither carrots nor sticks but plenty of pastureland. Like most of us, I've also had plenty of visions for the ideal MMO environment, but an absolutely horizontal presentation probably isn't profitable enough to justify the growing cost of developing a new game. Here's my pet example.
For example, I'd love to see an MMO in which the bulk of the development budget was put into character customization, terrain (but very few structures), and systems in order to support a pseudo-freeform roleplaying environment. Players could create characters anywhere from a small human child to a giant (not too giant, for stability reasons) eldritch abomination, and the people responsible for the "game" could be responsible for templating and categorizing customization options for purposes of effects (e.g., to be overly simplistic--if it has wings from category A, bipedal, has four non-wing limbs, and nothing from Category X1, 2, and 3, then it's an Angel, and Angel-specific effects can target it) notwithstanding the player's absolute liberty with character design (something between Spore and COX, may it rest in peace). Players could be responsible for setting up the social structures and adding architecture to the world in the form of player cities, houses, stand-alone public buildings, etc., and there would be just enough natural flora and fauna (read: mobs) to give players things to hunt, but the risk of defeat wouldn't be the purpose. In fact, the players could determine as part of the character design just exactly how physically/magically powerful a character is, and players would be responsible for minting currencies and controlling their own marketplaces. This kind of environment specifically appeals to me because I have a deep-seated nostalgia for the collaborative writing I did back on the AOL RP boards & chat rooms in the early-mid nineties.
But such a game would never get off the ground without a form of purpose. It could never generate enough players because people would run out of things to do. Sure, starting off it might be pretty big, especially if it marketed well to the target demographic (roleplayers). But if your guild fell apart, you'd be hard-pressed to find a reason to log on anymore. Developers would have to create content for players in order to retain them, and that would divert money from the RP-centric aspects of the game. Moreover, the more liberty you create for players, the more likely the seedier element is going to look for ways to have a field day with your game systems, to say nothing of some players' outright disregard for the fundamental tenets of consensual roleplay (e.g., "Alright, gang; we're now the richest folks in town. Time to fuck everybody over. It's gouging time.") The game just gets more and more expensive, and you have to create more and more systems to maintain a game that's non-exploitable. However, even if you do that--even if by some miracle a developer were willing to pony up to make such a masterpiece run--it couldn't keep players indefinitely because players need purpose. For many of us, the joy of writing is purpose enough, but SOE, for one, knows there's just not enough of us, so even if EQNext ends up being the sandboxyest title since UO, there's going to be ways to make your character better than another one.
Now that doesn't innevitably lead to themepark hell, but it does lead to non-horizontal game design. By all accounts SWG is one of the closest approximations to my vision-game, and as far as its progression design at release, it was pretty horizontal, at least when it comes to gating content. But there was absolutely an element of vertical progression, and as much as we all decry SOE's decisions to repeatedly tamper with the game's basic design (whether poorly implemented or not), I don't think anyone can honestly suggest the game was making the kind of money its investors wanted it to make. It certainly wasn't appealing to as large a player base as it could have.
So I think the best we can hope for from a savvy game developer is a balance. I believe very strongly in the sandbox game design philosophy--I want robust character customization and dense roleplay support, not to mention plenty of systems to provide alternatives to combat-centric character advancement--but I also feel very strongly that leveling up, whether in a whole-character leveling scheme or a skill-based scheme, is one of the most rewarding experiences in gaming. Hitting level 29 on my enchanter in EQ was a phenomenal feeling. The first time I undocked my Dominix gave me exactly the same sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, and this genre is the best situated environment to cultivate both the sense of community-driven passion for cooperation and competition that fuels the sandbox community as well as the drive to accomplish goal-oriented objectives. The trick is for these things to co-exist.
I think in the end, to deal with the OP's proposition on its face, a progressively flat game is probably not something that can stand on its own. However, I think that horizontal-vertical progression is a thing that can be leveraged to satisfy players in multiple camps. Notwithstanding my deep-seated bitterness over monocle-gate, EVE Online's skill system is a perfect example of how you could implement progression into a game in order to give players purpose and still have an ultimately horizontal system of player interaction (e.g., there comes a point in Eve after which, put simply, you literally cannot get any better at flying this particular ship. Your skills are capped, and this puppy will do all it can for you. Now that takes a good God damned long time, but it's within sight of a player who is focused on, for example, being a PVP Drake pilot). The horizontality of advancement is not unlike the card system the OP suggested, in that by making changes to your available options--which is to say, getting in a different ship--you have a whole new stream of advancement that doesn't make your previous investment obsolete, and in fact there's plenty of overlap in places.
That has to be there though. Something has to go there. Non-writers need something in the game to give them their dopamine fixes. That's why we're all playing video games instead of doing our jobs. Sure, killing dragons is fun, but it's more fun if you get a big stack of exp and gold afterwards. Unless he's just in it for sport (which some players would be--but not all), nobody's going to stick his neck out and charge into the dragon lair unless there's a damsel in distress or a big pile of cash nearby.
That's the kind of system that can exist alongside my dream-child game, and it's one of the main reasons that Eve continues to be a bastion of sandbox game design despite the fact that the company running the game is a bunch of unprofessional greed-mongering--ahem, anyway. Hell, if it weren't for Hulkageddon I'd probably consider re-subbing to Eve just thinking about it. It's also the kind of system that moves the OP's suggestion from a realm of financial unsustainability into one of questionable financial stability. That's a pretty major leap.
Originally posted by strangiato2112
Indeed, it is much more of a priority system.
... And that's where the macros come in. I'm presently without sufficient knowledge or information to form a belief as to the truth of the averment that such macros are inefficient or uncommon at higher levels, but that's completely irrelevant to a person who doesn't already have a max-level character. People looking for a new PVE game don't typically already have capped out characters waiting on a server for them.
For those people--people in a position to evaluate the game from the bottom up or from somewhere on the way--the macroing is a huge turnoff. It's the single most significant contributing factor to my decision not to re-subscribe to this game with the release of the expansion. I just don't want to have to chew through twenty levels with two key presses. I'll gladly grant that the soul system is a cataclysmic improvement over WOW's old talent system and a significant innovation in character customization in its own right, but that's not enough to overcome the inescapable fact that, for most players, the most efficient way to level a character from level 1 is to macro as much as you can into as few buttons as possible and spam them. Hell, you're halfway to designing a bot for the game without knowing a lick of programming, and all you had to do was cut and paste.
[Interview] with Colin - huge content updates in the coming months
General Discussion « Guild Wars 2
12/02/12 7:06:07 PM
Well I haven't uninstalled the game, and I'll probably take a look at the patch notes.
But I have no desire to log in anymore. Thinking about the game just makes me sad, and I'll never spend another dime on it. It doesn't matter what they do as far as I'm concerned, because they've exhausted every last shred of good will I had. Too little too late.
The perfect raid size? (Pve discussion)
The Pub at MMORPG.COM « General Discussion
12/02/12 7:02:12 PM
I have a hate-hate relationship with raids, because traditionally they've been associated with the damaging idea that recruiting X other players is something that should be rewarded by in-game rewards despite the fact that it has nothing to do with the game in its execution (depending instead on your personal charisma, social skills, and more often than not in this generation of MMOs, pre-existing relationships when you came to the game).
Getting ten people together and causing them not to screw up doesn't mean you should get better rewards than the guy who can do the same with only eight people. That's not because herding cats isn't challenging--it certainly is, to be sure--but because there's no in-game skill, risk, or accomplishment associated with that feat. For anybody who plays RPGs, it's the same problem as the "roleplay for success with charisma/intelligence, roll dice for success with strength/dexterity" issue that tends to attract justifiable criticism.
If you doubt that this is still a thing, spend five minutes over on the Rift boards and you'll spot a thread or two on the very issue, loaded up with the "best rewards should come from raids" arguments. It's unfortunate that, until recently, GW2 was the most promising effort to tackle this issue head-on. Shame things turned out the way they did.
That (raid perceptions--not Ascended-gate) is not what this is about, though, so now that it's out of the way, let me just say that I think it's possible, however difficult, to create a place for raids in a forward-looking game. The purpose of this design should be to accommodate people who have the preexisting relationships (or form them over the life of the game) and allow them to complete content in one-another's company rather than in segments. It should not be to add another hurdle to player advancement, gate access to content, or create a metaphorical stand-in for a designer's conviction that his or her pet-boss/dungeon/etc. should be super hard.
Having to roll the dice every weekend to see if Leeroy is going to fuck us this time shouldn't be a prerequisite to advancement, but it should be something that I can opt into if Leeroy is a friend of mine.
If this is the philosophy that's going into raid content design--or, hell, all content design--there comes a point where the technology should be able to support a group of arbitrary size. If you want to balance content around class interdependency, I think that's fair, and that would be a reasonable benchmark for minimum group size for content, but nobody's yet made a game with forty classes, one of each of which is required to complete a raid.
Usually you need a tank, enough healers to keep him alive, and enough DPS to kill the mob faster than it kills the raid. So you need one guy with a shield and an arbitrarily large number of healers and DPS. If you want, you can make content that requires two guys with shields, but that only goes so far before things get silly ("Alright, let's get you thirty-five tanks up in the corner over here to keep aggro on these adds. Yeah, I know it's tight, so go ahead and take off all your armor, grease each other up real good, and get familiar. Hold your shields up and you'll be fine.").
There comes a point after which inflating the raid has no meaning, because you're just adding redundancy, or worse, exaggerating aspects of the fight to make it take longer despite the fact that you've added no new gameplay (GW2 had serious problems here when it came to mob HP, even with only five-man content).
I think where the industry ought to be headed is to scaling content with mechanical floors and ceilings (e.g., you can't bring more than twenty people in here because we don't want to have to cap how many dots can be on the mob at once; you have to bring at least two tanks because there will be at least one add midway through the fight). Then if I want to take my five buddies into the Temple of Horrors, we've got the same chance of success, and the same rewards, as someone who brings his ten buddies.
Does this mean content that scales for raids should be soloable? Maybe; I think it's hard to escape that argument to some extent, but it's a lot easier for me to draw the line at requiring groups--and I think required grouping is better for game health also--than to requiring raids--since we've seen enough games where required raiding is usually the end of the line for at least as many players as the ones it causes to stick around.
What's the ideal raid size? How ever many people you have.
So, apparently like many people, I'm taking the dive and getting back into what has been in my experience the pinnacle of my online gaming career.
Trouble is, it's been a few years. Last time I played Chains had only been out for a few months, so ... yeah. I'd like to get some idea of what's changed since then, if anyone can point me to something resembling a faq or just give me an overview.
I've also seen people in other threads asking about the old-fashioned camping parties, and while I share that nostalgia, I'm willing to be flexible (and powerleveled). That said, one of the things I regret most about my time in the game before was that I didn't take the time to level up BST. At the time, that was essentially the only way to solo past level 10 or so, and I've long-applauded that design choice. Is that still true/possible? Or does it matter? Can other (presumably new or significantly altered) jobs solo now? Can everyone?
And finally, where is the population? I know this game isn't as crowded as it used to be, but I'd prefer to be playing in the company of other like-minded English-speaking players who I can expect to still be around in a month. Is there a server of choice these days? I managed a couple of linkshells during my previous tenure, but I can't see trying to do that again, so I'd be interested in joining one if anybody has any recommendations on that front too.
In the meantime, I'm downloading, patching, and remembering the good old days. If anybody can shed any light on my questions or anything else that strikes you as a "returning players need to know this" piece of information, I'd be grateful. Thanks.
I'll always commend them for at least having a forum. I lobbied for them and maintain that it was a good decision. That's industry standard as far as I'm concerned. Of course they're getting heavy-handed now, though. They have good reason; players are furious, and the company is or ought to be in panic mode.
But I'd rather be over-modded by the developer's PR people than by an amateur at guru (or here, for that matter) with a chip on his shoulder. The result is the same for stifling discussion, but on the official forum at least the developer gets the blame for censoring dissidence, as well it should.
The game will last--in a way. Unfortunately I feel like Bioware has backed itself into a corner with its initial design choices, though, and SWTOR will join the innumerable host of games that never recover from an early downturn in player numbers. In an ideal scenario, the game would be adapted to support systems-based gameplay, rather than more expensive content-based development. I think that's the direction the genre is going, but this game sank its capital into the old model, ultimately just a bad bet.
The game also suffers from its IP. Star Wars is a lot of things to a lot of people. I think the most cost-effective thing to do for the life of the game, frankly, would be to make it more like SWG. Trouble is, due to the initial design, that represents a huge up front cost, and due to the polarizing nature of the IP, to say nothing of its previous owner's handling of licenses, any changes to make the game more sandboxy would be derided by KOTOR fans as a departure from formula--and rightly so--and simultaneously derided by SWG fans as too little too late. Nobody's ever going to spend enough to turn this game into something that can satisfy the entire potential player base.
What that means is that we'll see something between holding pattern and aggressive content production, depending on revenue. Neither, however, will turn the game into the powerhouse it could have been, and if I were Disney, I'd already be looking for a new developer for the next Star Wars MMO.