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The staff of gets together to bring you some behind the scenes insights on stories, the industry and the site itself.

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Contributors: BillMurphy,MikeB,garrett,SBFord,Grakulen,

Community Spotlight: Player Run Events

Posted by MikeB Sunday December 30 2012 at 6:15PM
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In this week's Community Spotlight, we focus on the thread, "Giving Players the Ability to Run Events" by halobump.

I was thinking about the role of a GM and it occured to me that it seems to be something that doesn't get used much when in actuality it could be a fantastic tool to use for an MMO world.

Sandboxes would suit this very well, but could also be implimented more into other subtypes as well.

How do you think about it? Or not really that bothered?

How does the community feel about player run events in MMOs? Read on to find out!

Inf666 offers a bit of a pessimistic (or realistic?) take on the subject:

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1. It will get exploited to hell. Start a small event for your guild and spawn easy to kill monsters with good loot. Since your guild knows what is coming, they can equip perfect gear.

2. It does not scale well. You have 5000 players on your server? An event incorporates 50 players? For every player to be able to participate in an event every day you will need 100 GMs per day per server. With redundancy lets say 200 GMs. How will you get that number of players to act as a GM without a reward?

3. A mass of events will result in players losing interest fast. What would you rather do: Go into a dungeon with a chance to find an uber sword or play the same event with no reward at all for the 10th time?

madazz is more in favor of it:

It's a great idea and worked well in UO. Depending on the type of event a GM would help too. But yeah, its not the same anymore without the GM doing cool random fun things.

nariusseldon doesn't have a lot of confidence in his fellow player to pull cool things off:

I highly doubt it will be fun. Most players are not good content creator.

I am not opposed to trying the idea out though .. although i have little faith in it.

Player run events have been done in quite a few MMOs, some with dev supported tools and some without. Oddly enough, one of my first experiences in Star Wars Galaxies was a player run event where a bunch of newbies basically all got together and went on a big hunt on Endor. Given our lack of combat skills, the results were quite hilarious to say the least.

Later, SOE threw support behind many of these player run events by giving players tools to spawn a variety of props, mobs, and the like, in order to really bring their concepts to life. These sort of events were a regular thing in SWG and other MMOs and I feel they add great value and sense of community to the game. I'd love to see developers really throw their weight behind these player-driven initiatives and bring some of that back to the forefront.

What do you think of player run events? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

Community Spotlight: Buying at Launch

Posted by MikeB Sunday December 23 2012 at 8:12PM
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In this week's Community Spotlight, we focus on the thread, "Is Buying a Game at Launch a Bad Idea?" by Talonsin. Talonsin is re-evaluating things on this front and seeks input from the community:

Are game companies teaching us that it is wrong to invest in new games right away?  My example is The Secret World.  If you purchased the game at launch you paid $50 and then if you played a second month you paid another $15 for a total of $65 for two months.  Last week the game was on sale for $15 and is now free after that.  You also only need to pay $5 every 6 weeks to keep up on DLC’s.  It has also happened with many other games, I’m not picking on FunCom.

It just seems to me that gaming companies are continuing to show us more and more that their products only have value for a few months followed by a sharp decrease in worth.  It is also showing us that if a person does not care for cosmetics, then lifetime subs are way overpriced as that money could buy points for the actual game content for many years and probably longer than you would actually play the game.

I am currently thinking of starting a New Years resolution for 2013 and not buy any new games until they have been out for 6 months.  Think of all the things this saves you from, classes you trained for getting nerfed, first month server queues, high priced/low level items on auction house and terrible bugs following launch.  Sure I don’t get in on day one and level with people but on purely financial and entertainment value, at least to me, it seems that game companies continue to show us that waiting 6 months is the best idea.

Quizzical agrees with the notion of waiting a bit:

Yes, buying a game at launch is a bad idea.  It's much easier to manage an online game if there is a steady stream of new players over a long period of time than if everyone who will ever play jumps in on launch day.  So it makes a lot of sense to charge a premium to be the first ones in, and then get rid of that premium some months later.  Games also become more polished as bugs and imbalances get fixed after launch, so you not only pay less if you wait several months, but you get a better product, too.

How long to wait really depends on the game, and I don't think a hard and fast rule of 6 months makes sense.  A few months is plenty for some games, while some others are such a mess at launch that they need years to get fixed up.  Many games will never be good enough to be worth playing, but you don't know which ones those are if you jump in on launch day.

azzamasin would rather be in the game at launch day:

I woudl much rather get started in a game from the ground floor then come in at a later point in time.  In fact theres not one MMO I joined after release that I lasted for longer then a few weeks as opposed to starting at release.

Besides for me, the anticipation and hype of discovering a game that fits your needs is half the fun.  As opposed to joinging after release based on some others testimony *which I never put any stock in what so ever).  I enjoy following a game from announcement through alpha and betas till release.

Volkon offers a middle-of-the-road approach:

Depends on the game. I bought GW2 way before launch and haven't regretted it for a moment, it's nice being in the game from the (pre)beginning and seeing it grow along side you. However, other games may not provide a positive result for many people. Just be sure you know what you're getting into as best as you can instead of leaping blindly into whatever some ad or forumite claims is the next best game ever.

I guess I have a bit of a weird situation. Being in the gaming press I often get to check out the upcoming MMOs extensively before they go live, so I generally have a good idea of whether or not I am going to enjoy the final product. With that said, this 'advantage' of mine really isn't much of one anymore. There are often ample opportunities for gamers to get into betas these days and sample an upcoming MMO. Beta tests are often treated as marketing nowadays, so these betas are often little more than a demo of the final product.

I say, if you think you find yourself interested in an upcoming MMO, just give the beta a shot as close to launch as possible and make your decision from there. Maybe the game seems like a good fit but could use a couple months of polish and you can hold off. Maybe the game is as pure awesome as you'd hoped it would be and you find yourself convinced it'd be a great day one buy.

Of course, with the advent of free-to-play, this all may be moot. If you can just download the game for free on launch day then there really isn't anything aside from your time and bandwidth cap (if you have one) to consider.

Community Spotlight: Voice Acting

Posted by MikeB Sunday December 16 2012 at 10:58PM
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In this week's Community Spotlight, we focus on the thread, "Poll: Does voice acting make the game better?" by Axehandle.

We all have either played or at least heard of the debacle of the massive amount of voice acting in swtor and how that went down with the community but is it such a terrible idea to have that kind of voice acting and cut scenes in Mmorpg's?

Id like to hear the opinions of the community on this specifically what went right and wrong.

Ambros123 doesn't feel it is black and white:

It isn't such a black and white answer.  Voice acting can improve upon the story as one doesn't have to read every text in order to understand whats going on and thus makes the games story a bit more immersive.  However it does not mean it can make up for shallow or piss poor stories.  SWTOR went way overkill for every single damn thing being a cutscene.  They should have kept it to the class story lines or like in GW2 it was strictly with dungeons and personal stories.

EAWare did a great thing with the whole dialogue options in groups and really all MMOs should try to emulate.  Vocie actiong needs to be done in moderation.

mmoDAD feels VA is a total waste:

Voice acting, IMO, is a waste of delopment time and money. Moreiver, it locks the quest into place. For instance, if a dev wanted to add to it or change it later, he would have to start a whole new acting scenerio.

Also, it makes the game disk req so much more.

Questing in general needs to be revamped. Atm, it's boring. People just speed right through it, hit "M" for map, follow the arrow, pick up the item or kill goblin, return the item, and omve on to next quest. All of it is boring

Torgen wants voice acting, but not necessarily in every quest:

YES! But not every quest has to be fully voiced. The most important quests (story quests, epic quests or whatever) should be fully voiced and for side quests it is enough if every quest npc only says one or two phrases but not the whole questtext.

It just makes the world so much more lively and vibrant!

I'm at a point where I've been spoiled by great voice acting in so many games that I find voice acting to be critical to the experience, whether it's a singleplayer game or an MMO. However, bad voice acting can actually make things worse, but this is true for any sort of acting, whether it's poor acting on film, in an anime, or any other genre of videogame.

How about you? Share your thoughts with us below!

Community Spotlight: The Meanest Thing

Posted by MikeB Sunday December 9 2012 at 6:19PM
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In this week's Community Spotlight, we focus on the thread, "What's the meanest thing you've ever done in an MMORPG?" by mmoDAD. MmoDAD offers his own 'confession' to kick things off:

I've been a pretty good player. I don't cause too much trouble.  The only thing that came to mind is the following:

In EverQuest II, when you lost your Internet connection while in game, your character would remain in the world for a few minutes with a title stating "Link Dead" above the name.

I played on the World PvP server. Depending on the zone, the lowest level player I could attack could only be one that is 2-3 levels under me (unless a player attacks me first - then it doesn't matter). I created a guild called "Link Dead" and sat my character in the oppoising faction's n00bie zone. n00bs thought I was afk; they thought they could get a free kill. The second they touched me....   BOOOYAAAH! 1-SHOT!

What other mean things have we done? Read on for some highlights!

Betaguy lived up to the whole Dark Jedi thing with his evil deed:

I was a high ranking officer in a guild for over 4 years and one day, spent all night and day (during the holidays cuz' I knew it would be scarace) cleaning out all thier houses and guild hall of items. I had twelve accounts (<

kadepsyson offers an example from EVE Online:

In EVE there was this one person whose character was new, and they were asking for money to replace a ship they lost when their ore was stolen and they didn't know they were being can flipped.

I sent them a contract saying it was a gift of money.  The contract was labelled by the game as a gift, but the way that it worked was it took 100 million ISK from that player and gave it to me.  I contracted them to give me money.

They were very confused, followed by saying something along the lines of "you took my last everything"

Another time in EVE i happened across a POS owned by a corporation consisting of one person.  There were no defenses, and it was a small tower so relatively low HP.  I declared war on the corp of one man, and he didn't log on the entire two days I spent burning it to the ground.  It took two days because of the reinforcement thing.  Anywyas, I stole the labs, and repackaged them in a station.  Turns out he had been researching some BPOs, including an Obelisk (freighter) original blueprint, and several for capital ship components.  I came out 6 billion isk ahead.

A day or two later he logged in, but this was after the war had already been retracted and concluded by me.  He stayed on for about 15 minutes.  He's still on my watchlist, but I've never seen him log in again in the couple years since then.

Aralith has quite a few classic EverQuest examples:

Back in EQ there were so many ways to do mean things.

Money had weight. You could convert platinum into a ton of copper pieces. Hop on your mount so that it didn't weigh you down, then go give it to a begger. The begger could not move and if they did move, it was very slowly. And if they hit even a slight drop in terrain, they died from falling damage.

You would go get higher level weapons and give them to low level orcs in the noobie area. The orcs would actually equip the weapons. Then watch low level characters get one shotted.

There was a chest piece you could get in later levels that you could use to give to low level players. It really was a decent piece of twink gear but it had something like -50 or someting hitpoints. You give that to an orc. A new character kills and loots the chest piece. If they equipped it, they would die because new characters didnt have that many hit points. The best part was that  when you looted your body, it would automatically equip the chest piece back.

Ah, and now it is my turn! This is incredibly juvenile and I'm ashamed to admit it, but back in Star Wars Galaxies, I was bored running around the Krayt Dragon graveyard while wearing one of these silly headdresses you could find in the game and some poor fellow happened upon me. This fellow asked me what I was doing all the way out here alone, so I explained to him that I was doing a ritual required to unlock the Jedi class (this was before Jedi were ever unlocked for anyone).

That ritual?

Run around and through the Krayt Dragon skeletons while wearing this silly hat and then fight the Krayt Dragon as a Teras Kasi Master and use one of the moves to "dropkick it in the throat and cut off its air supply".  According to my ridiculous explanation, this would kill it instantly. If performed exactly like this, he too would unlock the fabled Jedi class.

He believed me.

Yeah, I was a bit of a troll back then.

Random SWG guy, if you're reading this: I'm sorry!

What's the meanest thing you've ever done in an MMO? Share your tales with us in the comments below!

Community Spotlight: Complex Crafting

Posted by MikeB Sunday December 2 2012 at 7:30PM
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In this week's Community Spotlight, we focus on the thread, "Will we ever see complex crafting again?" by bigsmiff. Bigsmiff asks:

I started crafting in SWG and I am now ruined with all other MMO's. After dealing with the complexity of SWG's system, I can't find anything else that is even close. In SWG, I would spend a whole day doing nothing but scanning for resources, putting down harvesters, checking my factories, crafting items and then doing my vendor work.

Do you think we will ever see anything like it again?

How's the community feel about this issue? Read below for some highlights!

Keushpuppy adds:

 i hope so.  one of the best i have seen for crafting was a game called Horizon. game was bad but crafting was awesome. not only could make anything but there was no auction house. All the bigger cities had a local consignment/market house. So to make money you made different items for the different races then went around and stocked your markets. some things sold better in different towns then others. you made every thing all the way up to and including the houses, buildings. there were masons. carpenters roofers all needed to finish a building to you had to do a lot of bartering with skills unless you made lots of gold. adventurers made good gold just harvesting drops from kills for crafters or you could make a dedicated harveter to gather and make money. to bad the game suxed when trying to adventure / fight.

Rydeson isn't too optimistic:

I honestly doubt we'll see another game with crafting detailed and challenging..  EQ2's was fun, as was SWG.. Both were steps in the right direction, however both had some major mistakes as well..  From where I sit, more and more of this MMO genre just wants simple arcade hack and slash, and couldn't care less about fishing, cooking and crafting of any serious level..  As with another thread, a complex or serious crafting profession is more in line with creating a WORLD, not a game..  The content locus seem to prefer games moreso then worlds.. In fact, if done right, a solid mmorpg would be almost almost impossible for a locus to devour, because the world would be everchanging.. :) 

theAsna makes the case that 'complex crafting' isn't necessary for a variety of reasons:

I don't understand the point in crafting (actually I do, as a non-combat activity). Thus I doubt there will be a need for elaborating such game aspects in the future. Especially with all those contradicting requirements/expectations different players have.

Let's face it. In a themepark MMO this is just a waste of dev and player time. With all those restrictions on tradeability it's mainly useful to the crafter himself. Additionally better equipment can usually be found while doing group content and pvp. Anything you can possibly sell for a profit is a nice perk, but it will not last forever (this is hardly the case because of a high competition between crafters).

I understand the rationale behind rising resource requirements for higher level crafting recipes. In the beginnings it might have been used to keep stuff rare (which doesn't work in an MMO environemnt in the long run). It was always a timesink. Later it turned more into a moneysink, which is a remedy for a big flaw. Namely being able to increase in-game wealth indefinitely (leading to mudflation).

How does crafting look like most of the time?

1) You have to acquire crafting recipes.
2) You collect ingredients
3) You craft the items for which you know the recipes (requires steps 1 & 2).
4) Repeat step 3 to increase your skill with the crafting profession and raw material gathering skills.

There is nothing creative in this process (except for trying to optimize the crafting process). You can't experiment (i.e. use alternative ingredients and see what happens then). You can't determine how the crafted item looks like.

The creators of MMOs used equipment as an additional motivational factor (carrot on a stick). By this they made crafting obsolete, especially since other in-game activities offer better rewards. Equipment doesn't really last a long time. After gaining a few levels you usually can throw away your old stuff. Why craft at all under such conditions?

If equipment would last longer it would help. Of course some players would start to moan that they don't get rewarded as often as they'd like for playing a game. Crafting doesn't really need to be complex or difficult or time consuming. It would suffice to make standard equipment (with the chance on a few extra traits while experimenting with ingredients). Other in-game activities should also give standard equipment as reward. Why not allow the players to design the looks for their items themselves? Fashion trends change over time. So players would be constantly engaged in crafting (at least the dedicated crafters). Trade restrictions are really getting ridiculous in those games as well.

Developers complain that they don't have the resources to create all the content that players crave for. Why not let the players care for such in-game aspects themselves?

I honestly used to hate crafting, even back in  Star Wars Galaxies. Oddly enough, over the years my interest in crafting has grown considerably and now I pine for the days when crafting was actually interesting. I was really hopeful that BioWare's spin on crafting with Crew Skills in Star Wars: The Old Republic would end up being useful, but it really didn't. Most developers seem to add crafting as an afterthought these days, often with the sole purpose of giving a particular class something to do to add value to his character. I'd like to see crafted gear and items fill a real purpose in an MMO and serve as the backbone of a vibrant MMO economy.

Will we see that again in an AAA MMO? Maybe. There are games like Firefall, which place a significant emphasis on crafting. So perhaps it may be true that the notion of 'complex crafting' is down, but it just may not be out -- not yet!

Let us know your thoughts on complex crafting in the comments below!