Trending Games | World of Warcraft | Overwatch | Project Gorgon | Bless

    Facebook Twitter YouTube YouTube.Gaming Discord
Quick Game Jump
Members:3,752,557 Users Online:0

Show Blog

Link to this blogs RSS feed

Jaded like Guild Wars: Factions

The ranting and rambling of a guy who has grown up on the MMORPG genre for 8 years, and still plays in spite of the general garbage on the market.

Author: Lord_Vayde

WTB Community Elements!

Posted by Lord_Vayde Saturday October 6 2007 at 1:15PM
Login or Register to rate this blog post!
So I'm sitting here in FFXI (yes, I caved and resubbed) looking for a
party that I haven't found in four days now (I never said it was a
cakewalk...) and in my endless hours with nothing to do but watch
T.V., run in place, and do push-ups (Well, at least all the time spent
not playing gives me a reason to not be sitting on my ass all day),
I've been thinking about classic EQ1. In part because FFXI resembles
it so much, and in part because EQ2's sexy lure gets to me with each
passing moment of non-partied boredom. Coincidentally we're having
this exact same discussion in my linkshell chat right now.


Whas on my mind right now is the community elements in EverQuest that
simply have not existed in any game beyond it. Elements that, while
sometimes inconvenient or imbalancing, I believe added an important
dimension to the game and making it much more of an online experience
than simply partying with 4 or 5 other random people to accomplish

The first of these would be the auction house system. Or the bazaar.
Or player vendors. Whatever your game calls it, I don't think there's
a single game in the genre right now that does not offer this feature
in some way, shape, or form.


Was it really so painful to pass through East Commonlands, hit up the
tunnel, socialize with the market and bargain in real time? When was
the last time you looked at the name of the seller in WoW's auction
house and sent them a tell asking if they'd trade for such and such
item or if there were any other deals that could be worked out?

Yes, it was a pain in the ass to be in EC hawking your wares when you
could be going out and having fun, but it was also an enjoyable
experience -a t least for me. It made me feel like the world actually
had people who interacted, and a living, breathing market. Hell, you
even had the typical bazaar "thieves" that would come by looking for
anyone who was foolish enough to make a trade without checking their
bag space. That, and putting a piece of platinum on the ground
followed by the use of "Minor Illusion" was simply amazing.

The other prominent feature now lost to the sands of time would be
buffing. Yes, we still have buffs - but for what? If I, as a warlock,
can cast a shield every 30 minutes that ups my spell damage, and can
only cast it on myself...why do I even need the spell? Why not make it
a permanent state on my character? It seems pretty useless to have
durations on a lot of self-casting buffs. The buffs that we can cast
on other people in this day and age are also very limited, mostly
within our own parties - buffs that usually don't carry over after
leaving the party.

Yes, buffs were imbalanced in some regards. A mage with clarity 6 vs.
one with Breeze was obviously going to have a huge advantage, but it
wasn't like the other mage couldn't simply find a friendly enchanter,
ask nicely, and get his own c6 - I don't even remember a single
instance where I was forced to pay for my buffs, though I would always
donate. So yes, these buffs made some encounters easier - though most
were simply quality of life issues. SoW for a long journey? Clarity
for reduced downtime? The more ridiculous buffs like damage shields
and health regens always had a short duration, as should be
appropriate...but why remove the former? It promotes player
interaction, provides quality of life, and can also be an economic
trade in and of itself.

Anyway, those were the two big ones on my mind. Feel free to add more
or dispute these in your comments!

~Vayde out.

FFXI - Love, Hate, and About 2 Hours Looking for Party...

Posted by Lord_Vayde Thursday September 20 2007 at 1:30PM
Login or Register to rate this blog post!

That time has come when I address the one game still up and running (and isn't plagued by old age) that I can say has made it into my top "2", those two games that you kinda linger around knowing that you really like both of them, but absolutely can't put your finger on which you like more.

I'm pining to return, but can't bring myself to resubscribe just yet (still waiting to see what happens with the WoW situation, even though its an inevitable reverse-snowball effect) - so instead I'm going to take the opportunity to bitch, moan, and somehow still find the room to praise this enigma of a game that is Final Fantasy XI (or as I like to think of it: Squenix's Last Decent Unmilked Product).

For those who are unfamiliar with FFXI, it is an MMORPG based on the popular franchise of Final Fantasy, with all the expected components. Well, not -all- of them, but certainly some major staples - job types are consistant with most everything you've seen in past FF games (White Mage, Black Mage, Summoner, Dragoon, Thief, etc.), monsters are completely recognizable (Malboros, Mandragoras, Sahagin, Tonberries), and the major recurring "bosses" or otherwise "famous story characters" are there - Cid, Bahamut, Ifrit, Shiva, etc.

The only thing that really changes, much like the rest of the franchise, is the storyline, the world and it's denizens.

Well, that and the combat system. No random battles here, its much like any other game you play where you see monsters in the field, engage them, and yadda yadda. Some people dislike this - personally, I think its a necessity of an MMORPG.

-Anyway-, the game is very appealing. It starts out with some fancypants cutscene that introduces you to your starting city and leaves you to learn exactly what the hell you're doing, however anyone familiar with MMOs shouldn't have a difficult time (unless they're stuck on keyboard controls, which can be confusing). You go out, you level up, you get some crystals to sell. The game is -very- similar to the original EverQuest in many ways. Exp loss on death, quests aren't obvious (nor do they reward massive experience points), and the world is big and dangerous. All things that, in my opinion, are very nice to have.

The game also features something called "Missions". Now, if you've played a Final Fantasy game before, you know how you get told something is going on, and then run around pursuing that something with awesome cutscenes, blood-pumping boss battles, and more. The online counterpart is no different - however the story is a bit difficult to pick up on from the start, and in truth it moves rather slowly until the higher levels (and because it is so top-heavy, its very difficult to view the game as truly 'Final Fantasy' before about level 20, something I do criticize the game for). Once you discover the story however, you'll find that it's as rich and exciting as some of the better games in the series (in my personal opinion, I believe its the best one - it just requires that much more effort to play through.)

The combat is fun, if slow - however the speed allows you to make much more tactical decisions. I find often that while playing my summoner, I may choose to use leviathan's Spring Water instead of a Curaga spell, in order to save myself the aggro. Yes, thats right. I now have situational choices again, something that I haven't had since the games of the early decade.

There is but one, singular complaint I have with the game - something that causes me to drift in and out of loving and hating it...and that one thing is...

Soloing is Nearly IMPOSSIBLE

If you didn't catch that, I'll type it out once more: You cannot, by any means, solo -efficiently- and -effectively- to gain experience.

Note that I specifically said that this is only true for gaining experience. You can, in fact, solo easily for some world bosses, trade materials, and other such things. You can also solo from 1-10 with ease (albeit slowly for some jobs), and you can solo enemies with certain jobs at higher levels for some miniscule experience (100xp every 3-5 minutes versus 250-300xp every 2 in an efficient party.) - and a single job, BeastMaster, is capable of soloing from 1-75, but suffers from being completely useless in many party situations.

To be honest, I dont see it as that big of a problem. Rather, the larger problem is that you can't simply group up with one other person and do a healer/tank combo, or even go triple and throw in a good damage dealer. You actually have to up and grab the full six person party, the appropriate symbiotic jobs, and then run out to claim a camp spot and pull enemies there. Its very much like the old EQ system, but thats just it - of all the things that made EQ good, this was not one of them. Sure, I love being able to take the time to socialize with my party instead of running around on a wild goose chase, but theres plenty of time to do that at other points in the game. Instead, I'm stuck waiting some nights literally upwards of 2-4 hours before I'll get a party invite - and I play a summoner, the only other class that can heal decently next to a white mage. That means I have only one class in front of me on the "party priority" list, and yet it doesnt seem to be my luck that I get many opportunities.

There are some other complaints I would have about the game - imbalanced pvp (but the pve is great enough to make up for this), long downtime (imagine classic EQ sort of regen rates, and only while sitting), and difficult process of obtaining currency.

There are also some great things about the game, they are constantly adding unique content and mechanics and innovative ideas that you won't find anywhere else. The game has enough depth that I could play it for two years and still not have seen or done a majority of the content. The story is wonderful and the people who do play it are often very nice, as you can't expect to survive in a difficult, party-based environment if you aren't polite and dont know how to play your class.

Overall, its just a matter of whether or not you can tolerate the downsides. Personally, I can, but only in small doses. I'm sure I'll flesh out those last 9 levels sooner or later - when that happens, I'm not going to have to worry about that party system any longer...but until then, its like this big dark cloud looming over my head, scaring me away from returning to the game that, in all honesty, at the end of the day, I love and think is an awesome piece of MMORPG ass.

Vayde out, gonna go ogle me some FF screenshots.

Trivializing Old-World Content, Read: Shooting Yourself in The Foot

Posted by Lord_Vayde Sunday September 16 2007 at 9:12PM
Login or Register to rate this blog post!

So I'm sitting here with my now-reformed WoW guild (because there doesnt seem to be anywhere else for us to go), afking on some random hill in Terrrokar, and I keep thinking...

...why bother? Anyone who has played World of Warcraft to 60, or even just read about the game, knew what kind of a pain in the ass process it was putting 40-man raids together and running the same redundant content over and over again in the hopes that the loot you needed would drop, and you had enough DKP to win it over the 5-10 other people of your class or archetype.

To make matters worse, there was only that one dungeon until you had farmed enough gear from it that you could tackle the next one, which only served to outdate that old one unless you felt like running it for fun.

With The Burning Crusade, we were introduced to plenty of new dungeon content with lower caps on the numbers needed to raid, but Blizzard still couldn't get out of this "Progression" ditch. So now, not only were we still stuck dungeon-grinding only to dungeon-grind some more (without being given choices in which dungeon we -were- grinding), all the work spent doing that dungeon grinding at level 60 was tossed out the window at sight of the first quest green.

...and it's happening, yet again, with Wrath of the Lich King. Yes, Blizzard has stated that we can expect the itemization from 70-80 to be a similar comparative power increase as we saw going from 60-70. Well, if 200 spell damage was godly at 60, and my character who hasn't touched an epic from anything post-Karazhan has 1.2k at bet is we'll all be running around with 40k hp and +5k spell damage after the first or second ten-man instance in Northrend. Call me a cynic, I call it a history lesson.

The point I'm really trying to get at with all my incessant bitching is that this idea of farming a single instance only to gear up for another one is wrong, and raising the level cap to make all the work spent doing that obsolete with gear obtained through solo play is even worse.

Call me a fanboi, as I'm going to take one of my "favored" games from my last blog as an example (and yes, I'm going to address this game specifically in the next post), but Final Fantasy XI had it's last level cap raise when, five months after the US release? So in the now two and a half years following that, we've seen two expansions with a third making its way this winter, and not one of those has even breached the concept of either raising the level cap or trivializing the content of the preceding expansions. Yes, thats right - you'll find just as much of a challenge from the missions in the original Final Fantasy as you will in Chains of Promathia or Treasures of Aht Urghan.

The reason for this is twofold. The first is that Final Fantasy is not a dungeon-oriented game, the focus is on completing storylines with your party and doing the battles involved with those storyline missions. The second is that Final Fantasy isn't afraid to make you go down a few levels. I'm not talking about the exp-on-death system, I'm talking about the "Burning Circle" effect - where certain fights have a level cap, and instead of denying you a place in that battle after a certain level, it simply forces you to fight at that level. Sure, WoW could implement this - say force everyone to go down to level 60 the moment they enter Molten Core. No, bad idea. FFXI can get away with it because the majority of those fights are for story purposes and not for "epix". I know I would be pissed off if I was forced to fight old content at a lower level and the reward was simply getting gear that I had no use for the minute I left that instance.

Now I know WoW will never see any innovative content. I've come to terms with that. I also know that the system will never escape this "progression / loot / rinse + repeat" mentality that only a braindead Planes-of-Power fan could base an entire endgame on, however if they insist on forcing us into that position, why not at least stop with this level cap nonsense, and just pile the new instances and gear on top of the old ones? Okay, so we need MC gear to down BWL, BWL gear to down AQ, AQ for Naxx, and then Naxx for Gruul -> Mag -> The Eye, etc. Without the magical ten levels that kills off the first half of that process.

No...wait...I already know the answer. The reason you'll never see that in WoW is because the end-game is so dull that you get more fun from rolling alts, and to force those alts to have to play through -all- that end-game when the time comes would simply make all the pissant prepubescent boys flock to the forums bitching up a storm. Oh, I guess that isn't such a change after all.

Well, there's always another solution - do what FF does and let your character keep it's major achievements while being able to switch amongst jobs fairly freely. *grumbles* Ah, if only my guild could tolerate the forced-grouping environment.

/rant off, Vayde out. I think my heart shrank three more sizes tonight.

Blogging the First: What the Hell Happened?

Posted by Lord_Vayde Friday September 14 2007 at 2:49PM
Login or Register to rate this blog post!

So I'm now stuck in that blank limbo between games - I'm sure we all know what it feels like, whether it came after EverQuest's strongest features died, or Star Wars Galaxies launched it's NGE, or maybe just the friends who made an older game bearable left for greener pastures, leaving you to fill that void with fancier graphics and animations.

We have all experienced that exodus when the time of one game ends, and we must seek another. Some of us have even experienced an almost nomadic trait, where we will go from one game to another in a period of mere months or even weeks, only to be dissatisfied and try something else in the hopes of getting that next "MMO fix".

Older gamers might even notice that in this new generation of games, its a much more common occurance for people to up and leave - that is what I intend to address in this first blog of mine...


The Evolution of MMOs: More Choices, or Less Depth?


What the Hell Happened?


The year was 1998 and EverQuest had just been released. Okay, scratch that.

The year was 1999, and my friend had just convinced me to pick up a copy of EverQuest, which had just unleashed it's first expansion: The Rise of Kunark. I was young and beautiful then, about twelve or thirteen or whatever age it is that eigth graders are. I wasn't really a fan of the RPG genre, but I was an artist at heart and I always enjoyed creating things and watching them come to life. I think that is what really got me interested in EverQuest, was the possibility of becoming this character in a vast fantasy world and creating all these stories and adventures to share with my friends.

Yes folks - that was the magic of EverQuest for me. It wasn't that the game was my first MMO, or that it was all new. I assure you, in the many years after EverQuest I have found similar joys in the worlds that actually provided for them, but somewhere down the line the MMORPG genre became less about what it was that we, the players could create for ourselves, and more about simply playing a game of someone else's design. These worlds of infinite possibilities slowly declined to become console-quality games with the added feature of a subscription fee and enough loot that would take you hundreds of attempts to get that they could ensure you'd actually pay that subscription fee, regardless of the game's real quality.

Let's take a brief look at the games that followed EverQuest, we'll do a three year period for each, so we have 1998-2001, 2001-2004, and 2004-2007. I think this is the appropriate way to classify gaming "Generations" between "Classic", "Old" and "Current".

In the 1998-2001 "Classic" Period, games took awhile to develop and computers werent really advanced enough to handle complex systems or graphics. This resulted in developers having to come up with other ways to capture gamers - Ultima Online is a great example of this. It had that isometric DIablo 2 style camera (with much lower quality graphics), but it was a damn well put together game with all the freedoms you could ask for. The content was there, but the players had the freedom to create their own and really live as a part of the world.

EverQuest followed suit, and introduced the concept of a three-dimensional world while at the same time, due to the lack of technology at the time, being unable to deliver features like the player-designed homes and cities that UO offered. Still, the game was very open ended - as the infamous Brad McQuaid has touted (and I'll give him this much), if you saw something in the world, you could absolutely get there. Think back to all those times you were lost in the ocean, all those times you stumbled across something mysterious and new. Sure, it was a pain in the ass finding your way around and dealing with the corpse runs, but there was that extra dimension to the world - that it wasnt just there so you could level up and raid, it was there so you could be a part of that world and experience it as any person who exists in that world would. There was also the vast array of spells and abilities that really had no use in combat, but had other purposes - such as faction altering illusions that gave you access to otherwise restricted areas and quests. No other game has even touched on this kind of depth.

Asheron's Call had some other unique features (although the game was met with less enthusiastic reviews due to poor graphical quality, unimaginative races, and very unfocused content) - but it was very fun being able to build a character how you desired, having to research new spells yourself, as well as some unique things like writing your own books and throwing them on the ground for other players to discover, or having "mock duels" by being able to cast (harmless) offensive spells on friendly players and have it look like the real thing. Small, seemingly pointless features like this that really give the game that extra freedom.

Anarchy Online is the last famous game from this era - the first Science Fiction MMORPG, and perhaps still the best designed one to date (what few there are). After Funcom ironed out the many errors post-launch, this game blossomed into what I personally believe to be one of the most skillfully crafted MMORPGs in the history of gaming. The game had an expansive outdoor environment (which made use of zoning, a popular and somewhat necessary feature back then) with zone lines that weren't pidgeonholed into random mountain passes like EQ's were, as well as giving us "content on demand" with the mission system. It introduced factional pvp as a major part of gameplay without restricting players of those factions from interacting in other capacities, and it also introduced the first social elements ever to be found in MMO gaming - social clothing and in-game bars and restaurants. This provided players with some small amount of content that actually said to them "Hey, you dont -have- to constantly be gaining exp and chasing after loot!".

While writing these paragraphs might make these games sound like the Holy Grail, the truth is that each and every one of these Titans of Old has succumbed to some great failure that dooms it from ever appearing on our hard drives ever again.

EverQuest's focus soon became the constant raid/gear mentality and the game's greatest strength(expansive, challenging world) became a thing of the past. Asheron's Call failed to ever provide the necessary focus or diversity to gain a strong following, and Anarchy Online allowed itself to launch numerous broken, unjustified expansions while also falling prey to it's own elderly engine.

So now that the horribly long stuff is out of the way, lets move on to quite possibly the worst period of MMORPGs - the lull of 2001-2004. What were some of the abysmal failures to be released in this time period, not counting the hundreds of asian grindfests? Horizons, Earth and Beyond, The Sims Online - for the most part, this period of gaming was used primarily to try and mooch off of the success of EverQuest with half-assed, buggy, unfinished games. Still, there were some gems of this time.

Star Wars Galaxies, a mid-2003 release, certainly wasn't the most well-put-together game, but it gave back something that had been lost since the release of Planes of Power a year or so earlier - it gave us freedom and choices. We were returned to long-lost concepts like player housing and cities, as well as the ability to mix and match skills from various professions to create a character to our liking. We all know what became of this one, but it had it's moment in the limelight for certain.

Final Fantasy XI came a little later in 2003 (at least to America), and is still going strong. This game too built on some of the better features of EverQuest, such as a large cohesive world and very strategically-oriented gameplay. Travel times can certainly be a bitch, and the game's greatest weakness is the lack of soloability, but at the very least the players who have made it to the top did so by not being complete douchebags to their teammates, and knew how to play their class. This game has also released numerous new innovative systems that keep players involved, because no matter how much you play there is always going to be something you simply have never experienced. This is probably one of the only MMORPGs that has not gone downhill with age, but merely exists as such a niche game that it can never truly enter the popular market that World of Warcraft holds. It also lacks some of the freedoms given to us by EverQuest, but in return offers a wonderful storyline deserving of the Final Fantasy name.

Anarchy Online also had it's golden age here with the release of the Shadowlands expansion - an incredibly well designed addition, however it became something of the game's "Jumping the Shark", which was only further reinforced by the release of Alien Invasion later on.

Thats really about it for this period of gaming, but to sum it up it was an emulation of the wonders of the early days, while slowly inching its way towards what we see now...

...the 2004-2007 period of "Massively Multiplayer Online <wtf did this mean again> Games"

Really, I don't even need to go into what games were released during this period. We had the Vanguard fiasco recently, and aside from that we have EverQuest 2 and World of Warcraft - which at their core may as well be the same games in "Difficult" and "Novice" respectively.

Both games are very focused on one thing - having a job to do, and getting it done. There is no time for extra features like travel times, socializing, or toying around with unique spells that aren't combat-related. Yes, I am aware that EverQuest 2 addresses these things a bit more heavily than World of Warcraft, but it is much more of an afterthought than an actual gameplay mechanic.

There really isn't much more to either game than play a class with specific abilities that simply get upgraded as time goes on (rather than stacking on new abilities for new strategies), level it up off a shopping list of quests, and then raid, raid, and raid some more until you get some new raid content to keep you busy.

This is where MMORPGs have hit a brick wall - they are no longer vast, free worlds to explore. They exist to be levelled in, to gear up in, and to raid in with no concern for the actions you take beyond "Well, if I get the sword, that means I dont get the dagger." And sadly the older games that offered more expansive options and depth have grown ancient and almost unplayable. As the genre sees more games being introduced, combat is becoming faster-paced, gameplay is becoming focused on said combat, and anything "extra" that might distract the player or make them feel more like an actual part of the world than a generic hero is being forgotten and left out. Player ownership is no longer defined by the homes we build and the stories we create, but by the "server first kills" and the "lifetime pvp" numbers.

Thus concludes my first rant, with a bit of insight as to how the genre has developed and why its so damned difficult to feel at home in a game anymore. I know I left out a few games (CoH/CoV/EVE/GW), but there are plenty of more blogs to come that will go much more in-depth into this phenomenon, whether you people like it or not ;)