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Gaming and Life, Rants and Raves, now with 30% more loot!

Author: TesterNGS

"We Listen to Our Players" ...Really?

Posted by TesterNGS Wednesday August 27 2008 at 2:34PM
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                    "We Listen to Our Players" ...Really?
"We listen to our players" is becoming a mantra among MMORPG community people. From Age of Conan to City of Heroes, with each new patch some representative comes out and says that something was done because of community feedback. I contend that this, to some extent, is just simple pandering to the community designed to make us feel like we matter.
The developers have a plan for their game. It is poor practice to not know in what general direction you wish to take your product. You don't develop a millions-generating service by the seat of your pants or the will of the community (EVE may be the exception). Therefore, while the developers may use community feedback to determine which features get worked on first, or which low-hanging, easy-to-implement fruit gets plucked, anything radically outside of "the plan" likely won't get any attention.
On one level, the developers simply can't help but to add things that have been suggested by a player. Read the suggestion forums for your favorite game and you'll find a huge number of ideas. Players want everything, from "More content" to "I want blue fireballs"; anything a player could want from a game has been suggested by someone, somewhere. The developers know this, and so it is easy for them to say, no matter the feature, "Yeah, we're adding XYZ to our game - the COMMUNITY asked for it".
But let's say that the developers really do let players direct the course of their game. Would you really want the subscribers dictating the direction of development?
Subscribers are already paying a monthly fee. And if they've stuck around long enough to worry about making suggestions or filling out surveys, then chances are they will stick with the game no matter what, unless something like a Star Wars Galaxies style New Game Experience comes around. Anything new added to the game, as far as a loyal subscriber is concerned, is just a bonus. You don't want these people telling you what to add to your game.
Why? Because they've already been sold. Because there could be CORE problems with the game that, for some reason, the loyal fan chooses to ignore, or just doesn't see as a problem because they really like some other aspect of the game. You don't draw more people to your product by asking your biggest fans how to make it better. This is why you are often asked to fill out a "How can we make it better?" survey when you go to CANCEL a subscription to a MMORPG.

On some level, the developers DO listen to the players - if an outcry is big enough and general enough, then they'll have to act (like the issue in FFXI with certain Notorious Monsters). But as far as day-to-day development is concerned, I think it is dangerous to let your players have too much influence, but its ok (I guess) to make them THINK they have an impact - it gives us warm-fuzzies.

This is all not to say that player feedback isn't worth something. I've seen some really good player-posted ideas. All I am saying is that when a developer says, "We've listened to the players," that you should take it with a grain of salt substitute.

A Weekend of WAAAGH!

Posted by TesterNGS Monday August 25 2008 at 5:02PM
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                   A Weekend of WAAAGH!
I had the opportunity to play in the Warhammer preview weekend and I have to say I was impressed, with some reservations. So please, sit back, relax and read a beta preview from an unpaid, unaffiliated blogger, and be enlightened. :)
The atmosphere was the first thing that hit me when I got past the (kind of clunky) character creation. Mythic has done a good job in making the starting areas feel like they are embroiled in a war. This is primarily due to heavy NPC activity and the driving war-beat soundtrack - RvR and Public Quests don't hurt either. From the get-go, WAR feels like war.
The graphics are what I would expect from a current MMOG that is interested in keeping framerates high. The visuals are colorful enough to avoid the mud-hued dullness of EQ2 or some Conan zones while not being cartoony. Each race and class has a distinct style and flair. Shadows and lighting help ground your character to the world, but don't expect Age of Conan levels of technical fussiness. Some faces and hairstyles are really ugly, but overall, the visual quality of WAR is high enough to be pleasing while not crippling your machine and forcing you to play with all the options turned down.
The design of the game world is also very strong. Big landmarks, like a burning windmill, to small details, like books and bottles in an out of the way tent, help make the game world feel complete. The Public Quest areas are always special - one PQ features a giant who swats aside trees before attacking the players. Another has NPC raiders landing on a beach via longboats. And another still takes place in a ruined fort-like area, complete with broken towers and walls - all three of those are in one area! There is always something interesting to see in WAR (at least in the starting areas) and Mythic has done a good job of directing you via quests and content to their points of interest.
Once you look past the eye-candy, however, the core gameplay of WAR is not so new. That doesn't mean that it is BAD, but once you get beyond the fun Public Quests, occasional RvR, and interesting locations, you'll eventually realize that you're still fighting your foes by pressing a few key abilities. You get new abilities early and often, and that helps, it's just not the revolutionary step that some gamers may have wanted.
However, the visual flair of combat helps to keep it interesting. Animations are nice and some particle effects are really cool - Mythic did an EXCELLENT job with the fire effects. But, this could just be MMO-honeymoon syndrome for me. We'll see how much I like it after a few months.
The interface is also really good. It feels cluttered at first - there are all kinds of bars, buttons, and indicators - but the game does a decent job of slowly introducing them. The three things that I like the most are:
Quest indicator - the mini map and the world map shows where you need to go to finish a quest. Areas are outlined in red and NPCs are marked with waypoints. It cuts down on the run-around. Don't worry about missing something because the game tells you where to go. Again, the superb world design ensures that you always see the interesting areas.
Group options - WAR has made grouping easy. You see open groups when you enter an area. You can set your party so that it can auto-accept anyone who wants to join - or you can lock it up. And since you are gently introduced to group quests and RvR from the start, it becomes very natural to just join a group. There is a lot less of the weird broadcast-send-a-tell-wait-for-an-invite kind of thing.
Tome of Knowledge - if you've read about WAR then you've read about this. It really is that good. It tracks everything. It lets you review where your character has been and what they've done. It helps fight the disconnected feeling you get from most MMOGs - the feeling that YOUR character is just a grunt in an army of clones. With the Tome, your character has a history.
There is always something to do in WAR. You can run PvE quests while waiting for an RvR scenario. You can break up your kill tasks by joining a Public Quest - it really is just that easy - just walk into the area and you're involved. You can explore the zone to uncover all the Tome of Knowledge entries. Or you can forego the PvE game all together and just level up solely through RvR.
There is one thing I wanted to mention about RvR, something I was guilty of at first. At first blush, I though WAR was going to be too PvP-focused for me; I'm not a huge fan of PvP. But I have found that the PvE game is just as developed as you'd want it to be...and that I kind of enjoy the RvR aspect of WAR. Its just so natural. It flows well with the rest of the game. No waiting at an NPC or scheduling a match. Just go fight the WAAAGH!
No, WAR isn't a perfect unique little flower - like all MMOGs it borrows what works and tweaks the rest.
No, I have not played the game all that much, but so far, I've liked what I've seen.
No, WAR isn't totally polished. Monster pathing is currently off and some animations and textures are just plain bad.
But, yes, I'll be playing Warhammer Online.

All Points Bulletin - What CoV Should've Done

Posted by TesterNGS Friday August 15 2008 at 2:48PM
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All Points Bulletin - What CoV Should've Done

There isn't a whole lot of information available about the upcoming cops and robbers MMOG: All Points Bulletin (APB). But one thing they have mentioned looks like something that City of Villains should have done years ago.

APB is building content around the players. You see, in APB you'll play either a criminal or a (law) enforcer. From what I've read, what will happen is that a criminal player will, for example, rob a bank. This action will trigger an alarm - an All Points Bulletin - that enforcer players can respond to. The enforcer will show up and attempt to foil the robbery. Not only is this a wonderfully contextual way to trigger PvP, it also helps sell the good vs evil vibe of the game...something CoV utterly failed to do.

This very thing could have been done in City of Villains years ago. Villain players could have just decided to attack citizens or destroy things, which could have triggered impromptu missions for hero players. Heroes could have had the option to go after the villain-players, thus creating great contextual PvP! And by allowing villains to rob, destroy, and cause chaos, all of a sudden you've solved one of the biggest gripes players had about CoV from the start - villains not feeling like villains.

But alas, the developers fell short. Instead, they decided to shut villains off in their own seperate game. Only story text and the gritty scenery of the Rogue Isles told CoV players that they were different from the heroes. And the PvP zones did a poor job of creating the good vs evil conflict that should have been at the core of the CoV expansion.
Just a thought.

[CoH] NCSoft Just Doesn't Get It

Posted by TesterNGS Monday August 11 2008 at 2:21PM
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NCSoft Just Doesn't Get It

The City of Heroes forums are abuzz with the news of a survey being conducted on behalf of NCSoft. To the CoH faithful, this survey is the Beam of Light From On High, a promise that their cries for change have been heard; it basically asks them which major feature they want the most. Long-requested enhancements like power customization, the ability to take your hero villain-side and vice-versa, and a custom mission creator were mentioned in the survey, causing much excitement in the community.

To me, it sounds like NCSoft is trying to turn City of Heroes into the game it should be at this point. Under Cryptic's rule, CoH was stagnant, with only the lowest-hanging fruit being plucked and implemented. Now with NCSoft's cash driving a new hiring push, the developers can finally work on "The Big Things" that (to them) would make the game better.

But NCSoft just doesn't get it. Power Customization won't make mission maps any more interactive or interesting. A new archetype won't suddenly make the game's bad guys more engaging to fight or the end bosses more memorable. Allowing players to create their own content will only flood the game with half-assed unprofessional junk. City of Heroes needs remade from its very CORE; it doesn't need more tacked-on shiny object fluff.

You see, the central flaws that makes City of Heroes so boring to play has nothing to do with customization or archetypes. It has everything to do with how repetitive missions are to play, how brain dead the bad guys are, and how limited players are in their abilities.
Missions are lame from start to finish. You are given a mission by a static, boring NPC who, despite the fact that they order around superheroes like delivery boys, are no more visually interesting than the building in front of which they stand. Then, you run off to the "super secret hideout", which happens to be unguarded, and enter what seems to be a small brick building only to end up inside a HUGE warehouse. Then you are treated to mindless, purposeless, fantastically nearsighted clumps of baddies, each spawn of which you attack in the same manner.

Apparently the developers are happy with this, since it hasn't changed in four years.

But how else could the game be? I mean, your character is so limited that the developers have to dumb-down the gameplay. Contrast CoH with WoW, where players have many unique and situational powers. That allows Blizzard to create content that utilitizes the many abilities of each class, which allows for a diverse array of encounters. In City of Heroes, most fights can be won by: Tank -> Debuff -> Nuke, even boss fights. And they don't want to change this? They really think that adding another Archetype will suddenly make the game's content fresh and interesting? The feel that letting players choose the color of their attacks with breathe new life into the world? Seriously?

And then there are the visuals, another point of failure for CoH.

Now, the new stuff looks pretty good, especially the costume parts. The old zones, however, look like utter crap. Seriously, how much concrete did it take to build Paragon City? Talk about dead space. And why don't buildings cast shadows? Is Paragon City in a bubble - the weather is always the same. And zones? Come on, its not as if the zones in CoH are so crowded, interactive, or huge that you MUST have zoning. All of this adds up to a feeling (FOR ME) that CoH is technically and artistically behind the times when it comes to the public spaces.

City of Heroes, at its core, is an old Honda. Cryptic and now NCSoft have done the equivalent of adding new wheels, a stereo, and a huge racing wing while ignoring the engine and transmission. NCSoft, its time to rebuild your old junker, and you better do it before the new cars show up in DC Universe and Champions Online.

A Real Battle: Improving Tabula Rasa

Posted by TesterNGS Monday May 12 2008 at 3:40PM
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A Real Battle: Improving Tabula Rasa

I tested Tabula Rasa and played a month of retail before I moved on. I recently reactivated my account so I could check out how the game has improved. What I found was a mixed bag of pleasant surprises and still-needed changes.

Tabula Rasa is certainly a better game than it was a few months ago. The game runs better and the developers have taken away some annoying game play elements - such as awarding assault and defense tokens for individual Control Points. They've added new consumable items and, most notably, an Auction House. Lightweight changes such as these will not, however, make TR a better game in the long run. Even major additions promised since beta - PAU's, Command Opportunities, and expanded PvP - are merely feature-list fodder; real change is needed.

Tabula Rasa has a few major problems (in my opinion) that, if they were addressed, would greatly improve the game.

* The "war feeling" is lacking. There is no sense of a battlefront in Tabula Rasa. Everything is scattered everywhere. Bane drop in all over, to be opposed by only a handful of AFS soldier NPCs who otherwise mill about without rhyme or reason. Where are the large offensives, planned strikes and counter strikes, and so forth? It doesn't make sense that planet-wide WARS are fought on a squad-sized scale. Control Point assaults and defenses just aren't enough.

The above willy-nilly approach to the war prevents players from making any kind of impact beyond the Control Points. You can't clear an area to safely get through because you'll just get randomly spawned on by bad guys who have the ability to drop in wherever they want. How can anyone win a war against an enemy who can literally teleport in behind your defenses?

Furthermore, it is absurd that AFS and Bane NPCs do so little damage to one another. I know its that way for a reason - so they don't clear each other out - but it also cheapens the war-feeling. To me, its ok to let NPCs slug it out. Let the NPCs wage the large-scale war. Players are more like operatives, taking specific missions and only mixing it up on a large scale when we want to.

* The second biggest thing for me is the extreme lack of variety in the game. There are far too few weapons and abilities available to the players. This results in a very limited number of ways to attack the game's challenges and a lack of customization for your character. I'm not talking hair style or armor color, I'm talking about equipping your character with weapons and abilities so that you can more strongly customize your playstlye within the classes the game provides.

* The final thing I see wrong with Tabula Rasa is the fact that the game abruptly forces playstyle changes upon its players. This is especially apparent at level 30 when you train in your final class. For example, as a Recruit, then Soldier, then Ranger, most players use Rage in combination with a ranged weapon specialization (thanks to a lack of viable alternatives). But once you change to Spy, your class-defining playstyle changes to MELEE strikes from an AMBUSH position, which is almost totally opposite of what you were doing before. And if you go Sniper, then instead of charging in, machine gun and Rage ablaze, your class-defining playstyle involves a more methodical long-range attack. Why teach one playstyle for 29 levels only to totally change it up later on?

Some people may enjoy the change, but I think a better way would be to give players more options in lower-tier classes that clearly support a particular playstyle in which the top-tier classes specialize. For example, I would like to see more skills in the Soldier and Ranger class that support melee and stealthy game play so that once you graduate to the Spy class, you know the ropes and can build upon what you've learned before, and truly come into your own with the Spy's powerful and specialized abilities.

Tabula Rasa has a good base from which to build, but if Destination Games decides to focus on City Of Heroes style TACKED-ON FLUFF additions without first addressing the CORE feel of the game, then Tabula Rasa will remain a four-server wonder that'll have a hard time holding onto players when new MMORPGs come out.

A New Graphics Engine?! *Yawn*

Posted by TesterNGS Thursday January 24 2008 at 3:04PM
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A New Graphics Engine?! *Yawn*
If you read you no doubt know that Funcom has announced that they are going to use the graphics engine from the Conan MMOG to power the visuals in Anarchy Online.
I don't know about you, but a graphics update won't spark my interest in any game if the gameplay isn't there first. If all a game needs to be a smash hit are shiny visuals, then why hasn't Vanguard taken over the MMOG world? Not many people would accuse WoW of having cutting-edge graphics, but it somehow manages to score millions of subscribers. Good looks help, but gameplay is king, always.
If you ask me, the demo video that showcased the new graphics wasn't that impressive. You had the same old world but with fancy lighting and water effects. Big deal. The geometries still looked low-poly, textures were still bad, and the design was still needlessly full of dead space. You can paint an old car, but underneath its still an old car. We'll give Funcom the benefit of the doubt and assume that they'll revamp their zones later on.
In any event, props to Funcom for updating an old game. I hope that EVE and now AO have started a trend in MMORPGs, because there are games out there that are actually good that could use a graphical overhaul.

Creating Rewarding Gameplay

Posted by TesterNGS Thursday January 17 2008 at 2:18PM
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Creating Rewarding Gameplay
One thing that plays an important role in keeping me interested in a MMORPG is rewarding gameplay. I don't mean loot rewards. I mean a game that is rewarding to play, that gives you a sense of accomplishment, that lets you learn and apply what you've learned. For me, learning how to play is one of the most enjoyable things I can take from a MMORPG.
I think that's why I change MMORPGs so much. New games are uncharted gamer territory. They are full of new systems to learn and new skill to gain as a player. Sadly, most MMORPGs are too similar to one another to provide ample learning opportunities, so I end up unsubscribing once I realize how limited they are. Maybe that's why my list of "Played MMORPGs" is a mile long.
Games are unrewarding when they are limited. Limitations make the game repetitive because you end up doing the same thing over and over again, and after a while, there is nothing left to learn. No new skill to gain as a player. No sense of accomplishment to get by tackling a new challenge with your game-knowledge. To use a metaphor, its like being asked to cross a river and the only tool you're given is a raft; once you've crossed the river, what else is left?
In MMOG terms, we are asked to kill a monster and we are given a handful of skills/spells/weapons. That works for a little while, until the monsters, skills, and weapons begin repeating theirselves. As a player, on perhaps a deeper level than some folks pay attention to, you are stagnant. You gain NOTHING as a PLAYER. You've reached the top of your personal skill ladder. You've (far too quickly) exhausted the game's learning opportunites. You get bored. You unsubscribe.
How do you fix this? How do you continually provide players with ample learning opportunities that will keep them engaged and enjoying the game, all while keeping the limited resources of developers in mind? I've written far too many (ignored) posts on far too many beta test forums to want to write them here, but the short answer is: Variety.
Do you expect players to be engaged in a game where all you need to do is press a couple buttons to be effective (Warcraft)? Do you expect players to enjoy bowling through clumps of lifeless NPCs in yet another repetitive mission environment (City of Heroes)? Why do you think players will be happy with a game that has huge gaps in the acquisition of new skills and abilities (Tabula Rasa)? How is fighting the same recycled bad guys, but with more hitpoints and damage output, an engaging, rewarding experience (Final Fantasy XI)?

But I must be crazy, right? Those games I mentioned have a lot of subscribers, so what gives? Well, I'd argue that no game has really gotten it right, in my opinion. And if somehow one did get it right, it'd be a smash hit. I'd also argue that WoW has gotten it more "right" than the others, but that's another blog post.
Variety is king. Variety provides learning opportunities. Variety keeps players (well, me) interested and engaged because you are more often gaining skill as a player and experiencing different situations in the game.

Another Sub Bites the Dust: Tabula Rasa

Posted by TesterNGS Monday January 14 2008 at 3:08PM
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Another Sub Bites the Dust: Tabula Rasa
I cancelled my subscription to Tabula Rasa.
One reason why I quit was because of my experience with NCSoft tech support. I couldn't play their game for two weeks after an update made the game unplayable for me. They took me through a series of patches, utility downloads, report writing, and speculation. When I had the chance, I discovered that a BIOS update may fix the problem. So a little research on my end fixed an incompatability problem they introduced into their game. Did they offer to compensate me for the lost two weeks? No. Are they going to use the fix *I* discovered to help other customers? You can bet your a%# they will.
The other reason is because, for me, your character in the game is far, far too limited.
First off, tiered class systems have gone the way of the dodo in other games - EverQuest II took them out more than a year after they went live, what does that tell ya? People want to be their final class sooner. None of this bulls#$t like, "Oh we're slowly branching out so you get a feel for what class you'd like to be." What a load. Tiered class systems are a lazy way to make you feel that the game has depth. A better way to do it is to let players choose their class at the start and then build upon the class by awarding new skills and abilities. World of Warcraft does this, and yanno, they have like MILLIONS of subscribers.
But instead, TR forces you to slog through a gap of 10, and then 15, and then 20 levels where the only things your character gains are new ranks in their small number of existing abilities. What genius thought of this? Wasn't TR in development for like 6 years? You'd figure there'd be more to this game.
And its not as if the rest of the game is so compelling that you forget how crappy the classes are. The fast pace of combat does hide the game's flaws to an extent. But when you're level 40 and your weapons look and sound and operate just like they did at level 15, then I call that a problem. After a while, the best thing you have to look forward to is getting a new piece of armor or a weapon with marginally better bonuses. No new skills or abilities. No new or different way to attack the game, just different numbers on your laser rifle. Yawn.
Will these damn games EVER get better? First, Brad "EverQuest" McQuaid tried to force his ridiculous Vision on the gaming community. Now Richard "Ultima" Garriot tried to tweak the status-quo with fast combat and a sci-fi theme, but he failed to provide a game that, for me, makes you care about your character enough to keep playing. Even the old pros have fallen short. It'll be interesting to see how Age of Conan and Warhammer fail to "change the MMO world" by slightly tweaking the boring gameplay of previous games.

No New Games for 2008! (for me)

Posted by TesterNGS Thursday January 3 2008 at 3:20PM
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No New Games for 2008! (for me)

This year I resolve to not buy any new MMORPGs.
The past few years have shown me one thing when it comes to my favorite genre of games: few MMORPGs are released with what most people (well, me at least) would consider a complete set of quality features.
Gaming is big business, but when business becomes more important than quality and entertainment, then you've lost touch with what games are supposed to be all about. Recent games, like Tabula Rasa, have spent a very long and expensive time in development, but what did the game have when it went live? Combat, partially implemented crafting, barely supported PvP, shallow classes, and....? Now NCSoft expects its subscribers to fund the continued development of the game - they call them "Free Expansions". A more honest way to put it would be, "Stuff You're Paying For That Should Have Been Here At Release."
Some people may say that it is unreasonable to expect a complete game upon release; the very nature of MMORPGs is that they evolve and grow over time.
Call me crazy, but when I think of a game growing, I think of a greater variety of existing content, not, "Hey, we added an Auction House!!" I don't want to pay for stuff that should already be implemented. I WILL pay for new quests, items, classes, spells, zones, and other expansion content. I will NOT pay for "catch up" content, where a developer scrambles to add features that should have been there at release.
This year I won't purchase a game that isn't, to me, feature-complete. So essentially, no new games for me because I don't think the industry will change its ways. I'll just keep an eye out for free trials, and wait for games to mature before I subscribe.


A MMORPG Holiday Dinner

Posted by TesterNGS Wednesday December 26 2007 at 3:24PM
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 A MMORPG Holiday Dinner

World of Warcraft: Ok, I have everything ready. The guests should be arriving soon.
EverQuest II: Merry Christmas!
WoW: EQII! You look like you're wasting away - how'd you lose all the subscribers...err, weight?

EQII: Yeah, I've been on the SOE Diet, its great! Hey, I brought my dad, EverQuest Live. Is it ok if I sit him in a corner? No one pays attention to him anyway.
WoW: Sure, there is a chair over there. Oh, I think I hear the doorbell. Welcome, EVE! How have you been?
EVE: Not bad, you know, just mining ore, and hauling ore. Then warping a lot. Then mining more ore. Hey I just got a facelift, what do you think?
EQII: Looks good. Was it a difficult procedure? My plastic surgery made me look...well, like plastic.

EVE: Not too bad, just ruined a critical file. But it was "free" so I couldn't complain.
Lord of the Rings: Knock, knock! Hi everyone. Woah! Hey, my wallet! Stop that EVE!
WoW: EVE, please don't gate camp the door.
EVE: Sorry. Old habit.
EQII: LotRO, could you leave your hat on - you look a lot like WoW without your Hobbit clothes.
LotRO: Sure. Nice spread you have here WoW. All my favorites!
EQLive: Oh sure, WoW has everything, but none of it is very good.
EVE: Who said that?
LotRO: I dunno.
WoW: Hey everyone, Tabula Rasa is here!
Tabula Rasa: Please, call me Richard Garriot's Tabula Rasa. Hi everyone!
EQII: Hello TR, what have you been up to?
TR: We just moved in not too long ago - they've been building our house for, like, 6 years! But look at all we have to show for it: combat, half-assed crafting, and an auction house!
EVE: ...impressive, do you charge full price for all that?
TR: Of course, my parents need to take more 20 million dollar space trips after all. Hey, who's that at the door?
Age of Conan: Shh, no one can see me yet, I'm in BETA!
WoW: Oh hi, Conan. What did you bring?
AoC: BOOBS AND BLOOD AND PVP! A brutal barbarian world with lush jungles and big weapons! (TM)

EQII: Oh, ok, the kiddie table is over there. *points*
WoW: Hey, City of Heroes is here! CoH, you look exactly the same as you did three years ago! How DO you do it?
CoH: My parents dropped me a lot when I was little. But I have new foster parents and they promise not to abuse me. Hey, nice place you have here, WoW. It's different. I'm not used to different things. Is there a warehouse or sewer I can sit in?
LotRO: Sewers? That's a good idea. I think I'll use that.
TR: Hey there old fella, I'm Richard Garriot's Tabula Rasa. Some family members of mine used to work with Ultima Online...
EQLive: Buzz off, rat-tail. Don't you have more gaudy crap to put in your house?
EQII: Look who's here - its Star Wars Galaxies! What did you bring?
StarWars Galaxies: Hi everyone. I was thinking that all this familiar, traditional stuff is really boring. We should change it up! Pine trees are so hard to get. How about a nice new maple?
CoH: I don't do new and different.
SWG: ...I figure we could call it the NHE - New Holiday Experience!
EVE: Hey WoW, a big bus just pulled up outside.
WoW: Oh no, its the Korean grind games! They're all three-quarter views!
Lineage 2: Hi all, I hope you don't mind - I brought some friends. Anyone want to buy some gold?
WoW: Sure! I mean, no! Woah, what are your friends doing, Lineage 2?
L2: They're in your kitchen, grinding your foods. Hi, Conan, how's it going?

Vanguard: Hey guys, sorry I'm late. I was busy selling my VISION to some hardcore players. They didn't get it, so I made fun of them. Damn carebears.
L2: This is a nice spread, WoW. How long did it take you to make?
WoW: It took a while. I had to camp the store for 3 hours getting some base materials. Then I had to grind speciality stores for some rare spices. After that, I had to schedule a raid to get enough people here to cook all the food. I had to bid all my DKP to get the turkey!

VG: That's nothing, my VISION is a dinner that takes a week just to get the ingredients for. Sure, my VISION may be unpopular to 99.5% of people, but I can't be bothered by such facts.
LotRO: Can you give me the recipe for that stuffing? I want to copy it for my subscribers...errr, my family.
TR: Where's my seat? I don't see a place card with my name.
WoW: Its right there. It says, "Tabula Rasa".
TR: Oh, haha, well, if it had read, "Richard Garriot's Tabula Rasa", then I would have known. Quite a lot of stuff here. It would take me at least three years to add this stuff to my spread.
EQLive: Back in my day, games were released with more FEATURES! Not just combat and crafting!

VG: Combat and crafting are enough if they are difficult. Our VISION is to make everything hard so that only true gamers play our game. And by true gamers, I mean people who have nothing better to do but grind for 6 hours a day.
CoH: I wish I had good features. Are costume pieces considered features?

AoC: Pixelated knockers are features!

L2: Forgot to mention, that's a huge driveway you have out there, WoW.
WoW: Yeah, its for all my subscribers. It could be bigger, but most of them ride bikes or work in sweatshops. All right everyone, dig in!
EQII: That was pretty good, WoW. But somehow I feel...empty.
EQLive: You were always pretty shallow.

TR: Are you talking about me?
WoW: Well, that dinner was just to prepare you for the next dinner. And once you consume the next dinner, you need to move on to the 25-man dinners. After you've spent 100 hours eating dinner, I'll put out expansion dinners which will make all of your old dinners obsolete.
CoH: Sounds like more of the same to me, and I know a lot of about "more of the same".
VG: This dinner wasn't nearly hardcore enough. You guys clearly don't know what true dinner is about. Its about challenge, grinding, and lots of grouping. Screw enjoyment, I want to chew LEATHER for my dinner.
TR: You should have people call you, "Brad McQuaid's Vanguard: Saga of Heroes", that way people know what kind of ego maniac you are.
CoH: I know some ego maniacs.
WoW: All right everyone, thanks for coming. Clear your calender for the same time next year - you know us, we never do anything differently! Happy holiday