Archive for November, 2009

ToR fanboy wishlist

Warning, this post will go deep into Star Wars geekery. You have been warned.

There’s three things that turned me into a geek when I was young. Video games, fighting fantasy books and Star Wars. I was 6 I think when I saw the first Star Wars and it burned into my mind an image so strong that all I could dream of was to become a rebel pilot to fly an X-Wing right into the Death Star trench. I wasn’t big on the Jedi, my heroes where the more gritty pilots, Han Solo and Boba Fett. Guns where so much better than swords. Over the years I’ve always fed the Star Wars geek inside of me. I’ve read books, comic books, encyclopedias, rewatched every movie to the point I can quote them by heart, played and still play Tie Fighter, the greatest Star Wars game ever made and have hours upon hours of tabletop roleplaying done in the setting.

As I got older however my interest for the pilots of Star Wars shifted to something darker, the Empire and over time the Sith and most especially Emperor Palpatine(played by the awesome Ian McDarmid). If you know the Star Wars mythos Palpatine is the greatest Sith of all since he actually succeeded in taking over the galaxy only to die later the way all true Sith must die, betrayed by their own apprentice.

Thanks to Syp, I learned that the Sith Inquisitor class in ToR(The old republic) will have a specialisation that is a master of lightning and control. Oh yeah!! I can get my Palpatine on! It’s official now! This game went from “will probably be awesome” to  “I need it!!! NOW!!!!”. But as a loyal and dedicated fanboy here’s my wish list of features to Bioware, please get my class right!

Murder my master
The “Rule of two” is not yet in effect at the time of the Old republic but still, murdering your own master to show your superiority over the old fool is an important milestone in any Sith life. It should even be part of the quest chain to specialize your class.

Betrayed by your apprentice
Any Sith worth anything will die betrayed by his or her own apprentice. History will only remember you if die this way. It is the most important sign of success among Sith lords. Of course you’ll crush the weakling for even thinking about killing you but deep down inside you’ll know you did something right.

Make force lightning awesome
Since throwing lightning is our weapon of choice when it comes to dealing with trouble it needs to look awesome! Please abstain from goofy looking skeleton electrocutions.

Give us an ace in the hole
If anything defines a Sith lord besides looking awesome is that they are devious in the extreme. Palpatine would go to great lengths to make sure everyone tought he was old and weak but he did cut down 3 jedi masters in as many seconds when it came to it. I want to have that little something I can pull out that nobody expects.

Awesome evil look
I don’t want emo-evil look with lots of makeup and moppy hair. I want good old evil black robes. It doesn’t need to be complicated but it should radiate dark side.

Allow us to be truly evil
And last but not least allow us to be truly evil. I don’t want evil-light, I want pure, let’s burn the galaxy evil.

So dear  Santa Bioware, I’ve been a good boy this year, I bought Dragon Age and even some DLC for it. Please bring me good Sith gameplay next year.

Read Full Post »

First of all a happy Thanksgiving weekend to all my readers from south of the border (I’m canadian). Not much to say right now since I’m still stuck without a computer. It’s been five whole damn weeks since I sent my computer in for repairs and I only just learned now that the fix will be done as soon as they get the new card delivered. I can swear to you that it’s the last time I take a warranty on computer parts and that I’m having it assembled by someone else. Next time I’m buying the parts and assembling it myself.

If I’m lucky I might get it tonight if not it’s going to be a whole other week…

So just a quick update to let everyone know how it’s going. Also, I’ve been asked for my XBox Live name so here it is: HLono . If you want to add me feel free to but please send me a message also so I know who you are since I usually turn down invites from people I don’t know.

Read Full Post »

Can we all be friends?

Yesterday I shouted at the hardcore complaining that casuals are ruining the game for them. Mojeaux quite rightly commented that it’s normal that my limitations (time) will dictate  what I can and cannot do in a MMOrpg. After all if I only put 15 minutes of play a week I should not expect to be able to do the big raids. This got me thinking a lot and even lost some sleep as I was writing and rewriting this post. I have no less than 6 posts half-written because of this!

There’s a problem right now in most MMOrpgs, the nerfing of content to make it more  accessible to the “casual” crowd. Most companies have figured out that making the game easier and less grindy = more subscribers = more money. And a lot of hardcore players, and some casuals are horrified that their beloved game is becoming easier and trivial. Encounters that took weeks to master are now taken down in a single night by a half asleep noob.

I believe the root of the problem is bad game design but first let’s look at 5 types of  gamers you will encounter in MMOs.

Poseur hardcore: These guys are hardcore only to show off and show the more casuals that they are better than them. They are the ones clamoring for exclusive content because it reinforce their superiority over others. They probably have sad lives but at this point I don’t care.  I simply cannot stand this attitude.

True hardcore: These guys are in it for the challenge. For them the whole point is to do  the most insane and crazy stuff. They want difficulty for the sense of fulfilment they get for doing the hardest stuff in the game. The constant nerfing of content is killing them since they feel it lessens what they accomplished.

Casual hardcore: The group I’d consider myself part of now. We’re pretty much the same as the “true hardcore” except we want to be able to do the content at our own pace. We are not interested in the content being nerfed since we want the same accomplishment as the hardcore. The nerfing is killing us too.

Casual: These people are mostly doing their own stuff. Most of the time you barely notice they are there and they don’t disturb the game. They want mainly to be able to experience different content but are not interested in completing it. When it comes to raiding they want a raid where they can go but have no need for the whole raiding experience. A simple entry raid or two is enough to entertain them.

Poseur casual: And they are here again! Same as the “poseur hardcore” but for some reason they can’t get into raiding. So they’ll amass rare pets and mounts and make a point of  showing them off to you. They are the ones clamoring for ever easier raids since they panic at the idea that someone might have a mount they don’t.

See something interesting here? Besides the 2 poseur groups the three other ones can live together easily. None of them want content nerfed, and the casuals just want to do it at their own pace. There’s nothing in there that lessens the hardcore since everyone has to do it the same way. In fact, if it was not for the nerfs the 10/25 raids of WoW would  work perfectly for everyone. Tiered difficulty where everyone can move along according to their schedule. We had that in BC and it worked wonderfully. 

Testing a player organisational skills, bad game design

I wanted to talk again about time management but I realized it goes deeper that this. Try to remember if you can Everquest of Vanilla WoW when we needed 40 peoples to raid. Back then the main difficulty to raid was not the encounters but rather how good you where at finding the right guild, fitting enough time in your schedule and finding 39 other people of the right classes.

According to the game designers raiding is supposed to be about working as a team and mastering difficult encounters. Organisational skills are part of the equation of working as a team but they went overboard with this. In an effort to make things difficult the only way they figured out was this, requiring a lot of people and time. So to raid you needed to be able to sit in front of your computer for extended period and find other people who tought like you.

And it was rightly pointed out as a bad idea. At some point down the road Blizzard realised that to be difficult an encounter didn’t need to be about organisational skills but could be about the actual difficulty and complexity of the encounter, as they did in BC.

The answer?

The answer is really simple. They simply need to keep the experience the same and stop nerfing stuff or providing shortcuts. In short, make the raids take less organisation is fine, but keep them the same for all. This way I may take 6 months to complete something  a hardcore player did in 1 but everyone had the same challenge and experience.

We nearly had it perfect back in BC, they need to go back to that model and keep the 10/25  man scheme of Wotlk and we’re good!

Read Full Post »

Elitism denied

To prevent the monkey from bursting your eardrums the direction has taken the liberty of firing a few tranquilizer darts beforehand. Thank you for your understanding.

I was happy this morning, well-rested, good breakfast and the sun was shinning. This all changed rapidly while I was doing my morning rounds of blogs and forums. One of the hot  topics is still the changes in WoW regarding the next patch. To be more precise the changes to the newest raid that I’ve already talked about. I was reading a well-written post nerd rage about how Activision has taken over Blizzard and ruined everything good in WoW to cater to casuals. This got the blood pumping a bit because I am very tired of elitist kids who have nothing to worry about besides playing WoW and complaining how the “evil” casuals are destroying everything. Then I started reading the comments and a reply  caught my attention:

I’ve been arguing for a long time that casuals don’t deserve the same experience as people who devote more time and effort,..

I think something in my brain tilted at that moment because I then brutally murdered the person sitting next to me.

I may have imagined that last part.

Deserve???? What makes you think you deserve anything you little brat! What have you done that is so incredible that we need to bow down at your feet? You’ve risen the dead? Walked on water? You save puppies from fires for a living? God!!! Get over yourself!

Let’s talk first about what makes the difference between a hardcore and a casual in the sense that most people understand it when talking about MMOs. A hardcore player is someone who is doing top end content on a regular basis and who is very well-informed about the mechanics of the game. And how do you do both these things? Time.

Besides a desire to do said content, the main difference between a hardcore and a casual player is how much time they have available to devote to the game. Many players like me would love to play “hardcore” but can’t because of real life and other interests. So basically the arguments boils down to this :

Because I have more time than you to devote to this game I deserve more content than you do and you don’t deserve access to the content I have already completed. You have to play the same way I do if you want that.

Or to put it simpler:

Playing WoW, ur doin it wrong!

Access to content

Before bringing up the “I pay 15$ a month” defence of the casuals (wich isn’t false in itself), let’s talk about access to content. The main point of the casuals since WoW launched is  this:

I don’t want to be penalized for having a life. I want the choice of whether of not I want to raid and not be locked out of content because I can’t/ don’t want to commit to a raider life style. Real life will dictate how much time I can give to WoW, not the other way around.

Here’s the main point a lot of hardcore players seems to be missing. Casuals don’t want to have content handed over to them or made easier, they want access to it. Just like I have access to Arena. Hardcore players get way more out of it but I still can choose to participate if I want to, I have access to it.

Raiding however doesn’t work that way. If I want to have access to the latest dungeon I need to find a guild who can complete the lower tiers of content. If I don’t I am stuck. And to find said guild, which will almost always be hardcore I need to change my real life schedule around that, something I cannot do. Thus I don’t have access to the newer content and I don’t have a choice.

I’m not asking for easier content, nerfs or any other change to the content but there’s need to be a way for me to have access. Blizzard did that with the changes in the latest expansion wich made sure I can get on my own gear appropriate to start raiding at the current tier if I make the effort to farm it.

To all those who say I don’t deserve access or the same rewards I ask again what have you done that makes you deserving of exclusive content? We pay the same price each month and like I said the only difference between us is time. You do get rewarded for it too by getting to do hard modes wich leads to better gear, exclusive mounts and titles. The very thing you asked for in Burning Crusade.

I fully agree that Blizzard could have found another way, that the latest expansion isn’t that great and that the constant nerfing of content sucks. But I’m also really happy that for once I’ll get to at least see the big bad boss without having to kiss my life good-bye like I had to back in vanilla WoW.

Edit: For the new readers of this blog I suggest you go check out this post also wich is a follow up to this one where I address a lot of the comments here.

Read Full Post »

Are we all lying hypocrites ?

Way back in june 2005 I started playing a game called World of Warcraft, when there was no flight path to camp Taurajo and Dire Maul was all new and shiny. I was all young and innocent, had a troll warrior who I leveled up to 34 with a shield and a one-hander thinking a shield spike did good damage… I was a noob without any knowledge of how things truly worked. I had played UO before but skipped Everquest so it was all new to me. I did not read blogs, forums or anything and Thotbott was the best source of knowledge I knew of. Over time of course, I found myself seeking more information and found the forums and blogs, asked questions, gave comments and just like everyone else gave my opinion on what I tought was working and not working in the game.

If you follow blogs talking about WoW you know they intend to put a maximum number of attempts each week you can try to kill a boss. For example if you can’t kill boss X in 5 tries then your done for the week. Also, they are adding a buff that will increase over time to make the raid easier and more accessible. Both Larìsa and Spinks have written excellent posts on the matter.

Going back to my little story from the beginning I used to be a hardcore player who couldn’t commit to a hardcore raiding schedule. I wanted really bad to go down all those big raids but I just couldn’t commit 6 hours raiding 4 or 5 times a week wich was always happening too late it seemed. I was one of those back in 2005 that argued that raids should not take 6 hours, that 40 people for a raid was unreasonable and that I should not be penalized because I had a life. I eventually did the hardcore, 7 days a week raiding for a short while.

Well I wasn’t the only one saying Naxxramas being seen by 1% of the player base was ridiculous and Blizzard listened. When they released Burning Crusade they dropped the raids to 25 mans, made the raids and instances shorter and generally improved the game in ways the player wanted to. Fast forward to the current patch and I can’t help but see the recent changes as a way to answer player complaints.

Limited number of tries? Helps makes the hardcore feel more “elite” for a longer time since the less advanced guilds will take many more weeks to complete the content. Also, puts the  emphasis on skill instead of bashing one’s head until success. For the more casual? It puts a limit on the torture of long raids where you keep wiping on a boss your raid as no chance  of taking down. Helps limit the maximum time a raid can take.

Buff that makes the raid easier after a while? Gives a chance to every player to finish the content and protects the hardcore achievement of being able to do it without the buff. Not unlike current achievements where you get a mount for not dying.

In fact if you look at every single patch and expansion you can see Blizzard answering players complaints and concerns. Some patches are successes but others like the Argent tournament are disasters. The point here is that these changes are brought by “us”, the players. In many ways we dictate how the game will evolve and the current WoW is no less that the sum of everything we asked Blizzard to do.

That’s why I’m wondering if we’re not hypocrites with the complains. Sure it’s a given right for us to complain about a game, especially one we keep paying 15$ a month to play but at the same time we are complaining about what we asked them to do. Yes, the game is probably  too casual now but we all asked for that. At least I know I wanted them to make it more  accessible and more casual at one point. Wether or not the latest change will be for the  better or worse for the game only time will tell. But I’ll try to stay quiet if it’s “too easy”.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »