Archive for December, 2009

The tragedy of the noob

Some of you might remember I did a series of posts on theorycrafting(part 1 part 2) and how people would get the wrong impressions and messages out of it. For those who weren’t there the general idea was that a lot of players are following guides and websites like Elitist Jerks like they’re holy gospel. Two days ago I was witness to how these websites can completely screw up a new player experience and expectations. I want to apologize first for not screenshotting the entire conversations. I don’t seem to have that reflex others have to screenshot funny bits of texts so I’ll have to relate this from memory.

So it’s monday night and myself and two friends are doing chain heroics. Them as the healer/tank combo and me as a 3.5-4k dps. We got all our bases covered and we are downing heroic after heroics.  As time and heroics passes we start doing weird things and the chat becomes ever so crazier. After all once your on your tenth heroic in a row you need a little something not to go completely crazy. Toward the end of the night we got Utgarde Pinnacle and got teamed with two low geared dps. We told ourselves that it was only Pinnacle so my 3,5k dps should be enough not to make it drag too long and we started chain pulling the place.

Now this is where it gets a bit funny, our hunter in blues and green who was putting out a brave 1k dps said in party chat that our 44k hp tank should remove its christmas hat and put on his real helm or we could have a stupid wipe since he was obviously not defense capped with his red hat. To say I was a bit suprised would be an understatement. Normally this is the kind of stuff I hear from overgeared kids who keeps whining about how we all suck. The tank told him that if he could steal agro from him he’d put on a real helm and we kept pulling. We get to the first boss fast enough and the hunter once again speaks up to tell us how to beat the encounter… we told him that we were overgeared enough just to rush the boss but he insisted he read on Tankspot the best way to kill it. By the time he was finished typing however the boss was already dead. That’s when I realized there was more to this hunter than an elitist kid. I started to talk to him in tells to figure out what was going on.

The tragedy of the noob

Once upon a time, HunterDeath, our hunter began playing a game called World of Warcraft. He had read about it before and knew it was a good game but paying monthly for a game seemed odd to him and he wasn’t convinced. One day he saw a movie called Zombieland and when one guy in the theater screamed Colombus was playing WoW he tought that if the game had made it into a movie he was missing something out so when he got home he bought the game and started playing. From day one he was hooked and he spent all of his free time together with the new love of his life. As he got up the levels, decked out in all kind of weird, mismatched gear he started running instances and he was told in no uncertain terms that he sucked, that his spec was wrong and that he did no dps. L2Play Noob!

So our hunter took the comment to heart and figured he might really learn to play after all. So he hoped on the internet to learn about all those new strange words like tanks, dps, damage meters, rotations and all the others. He found the websites and the guides everyone refered to and he started studying them like their would be an exam once he got to level 80.

Fast forward to last monday and our hunter was on his second day as a brand new 80 and it was also his third heroic only.  Since he had read that hunters could pull 5k dps in blues he was expecting to be able to do the same and he was really depressed not to get the same results. He admitted to me he tought about rerolling, that maybe hunter was not the best class for him. He did not understand yet that Elitist jerks is called elitists jerks for a reason and that the 5k dps in blues might be exaggerating a little, hell! he was probably lying.

I spent the run explaining to him that 1k dps in greens and blues in a heroic when you’ve been 80 for only two days was rather good. That I’ve seen people in epics pull less so there was no need to worry. I told him to enjoy the heroics instead of watching a dps meter.

The moral of the story? Try to remember it’s a game and that we don’t need to take it so seriously.

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Happy holidays!

Just a quick update to wish you all happy holidays. My brother got me TF2 so I suspect I’ll be getting owned in the following days but such is life.

I’ll try to write something more substantial soon!

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Help a zombie

Lately I’ve been playing a lot of Left 4 Dead 2. Sadly I have to admit I pretty much suck at it. Yesterday I even got to impress ReR from Multiplaying in a game of versus with my noob skills. We were unable to dent the survivors as the infected and when we were the survivor we would get pwned as soon as we left the safe house. As far as L4D2 is concerned I’m pretty much the definition of a noob.Okay, I’m not that bad… I can do the campaigns in coop and single player and sometimes in versus I do have my moments of genius but I still need practice, a lot of it.

And you know what happens most of the time when you’re a noob in these games? You get kicked… Off the top of my head I got kicked for not having a mic, accidently shooting a teammate who ran into my line of fire, missing a shot with the boomer, getting jumped on by a jockey and a few more times for reasons completely unknown. I’m fine with getting killed because I suck but getting kicked is pretty aggravating. It’s hard to get better when your not being given a chance to.

I see the same thing in WoW and others MMO too. Whenever there’s a noob in a group or someone who’s not as good as the rest they often get kicked, called names or any other jerk behavior. For example, we had a mage with a green (uncommon) gem equiped and he got kicked for being a noob and being lazy. I got kicked also right after for not voting with the rest of the jerks. I mean what if that mage is a new player who just got to 80? Maybe he doesn’t know better, maybe that’s the best gem he could get his hands on at the time. Your not helping anyone by kicking him.

The story of Baub

Years ago in vanilla WoW we convinced a friend of ours (Baub) to start playing WoW. He rolled a priest and worked his way up the levels until he was high enough to do Scholomance. Another friend, a tank, was so happy to finally get a healer that we decided pretty quickly we would run Scholomance until we all got our tier 0 head-piece. So we go into Scholo with our new healer who’s not even 60 yet and soon enough we start dying, and dying and dying again. We quickly figured out that it was because Baub wasn’t removing diseases.

“Get your thumbs out of your arse and remove diseases! You see that little icon called “cured diseases” ?! It’s there for a reason. USE IT!. It’s your job!” Says the tank.

“But I never had to remove disease before. I didn’t even know you had one.” Says Baub.

“Wtf noob! Learn to play!” reply the tank.

Needless to say Baub didn’t take quite well to the whole exchange and he was pretty pissed at the tank. He wasn’t arguing that he needed to remove diseases, simply that he had never done it before and he needed practice to learn to do it well. And I agreed with him. Today he’s a star healer.

A few days ago we were all in vent and Baub starts screaming. “Damn noob DPS! God these guys sucks. They’re dpsing all over the place and this damn warrior is not moving out of the whirlwind. Arghhhhh!!! Hate them so much.” It went on like that for an hour. After his run he started complaining about all the noobs in the game who don’t know how to play but at some point I reminded him of his noob days and how he felt when he got called out on it. I told him quite plainly he was acting like an ass and that maybe the “noob dps” only needed to be told what to do instead of just screaming at them.

The moral of the story

I am waffling pissed and tired of this damn intolerance that seems to be everywhere. It seems that as soon as someone is good enough in a game they feel they have to right to scream at everyone not to their standards. They expect everyone to know everything they know, have read every single website, do top dps, never miss, etc… etc.. They seem to forget all those run where they got one shotted by a boss because they din’t move and that they were praying no one noticed and kicked them.

There’s not a single player out there who logs into a game telling himself he’s going to suck and that he’s fine with it. Everyone wants to improve and we all believe that we can succeed with enough practice. Instead of screaming at people for not being good enough try helping them instead.

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LFG player survival guide

Something funny is happening in the WoW right now. With the new LFG system a lot of people  are discovering what it means to PuG. And I find it incredibly funny to see all those people complain about the noobs, jerks and general stupidity found in our glorious PUGs. Me, I’m been pugging non-stop since WoW came out. Strange play schedule, bad luck with guilds, a desire not to wait for the shinnies to be handed out to me plus the fact I’m playing as dps most of the time means I’ve pugged a lot. So much in fact it’s scary. The new LFG system is not creating new problems as some people seems to think it does but it only shows better the pain that is pugging.

So for all of you out there who are now having to leave the comfort of your guild groups for the cold darkness of the pug here’s a quick survival guide to the type of people you will meet in Pugs.

Mr. Fast: This guy has been holding a number 2 for the past week. He needs to go NOW and he needs it done NOW. Buffs? Switching spec? waiting before pulling? You can forget about all of these. This guy will pull mobs every 5 seconds without checking to see if the last pull is done. If he’s your tank you will either get done in record time or you’ll crash. If he’s a dps you might as well kick him now to save yourselves a wipe, he’s going to quit anyway right after the first wipe.

The happy couple: Most often a tank/healer combo they will spend the run typing in party chat to let everyone know how much they love one another and how great the sex is. Makes you wonder why you are still playing this game.

The jerk: Most often a survival hunter without a pet he will make sure everyone else gets the worst experience ever. He will melee as a priest, tank with a warlock and tell everyone else they suck and don’t know how to play. He keeps a record of how fast he gets kicked after the 15 minutes buff has run out. So far he’s at 0.2 sec. Don’t think he’s dumb, he has years of practice at making people miserable.

The LOL-mom: A special kind of noob she oozes kindness and cookies. You want to be her friend and she makes you feel all warm and fuzzy. She will tell the best jokes, knows all the variations of smilies and will  LOL at even you most corny jokes. The only problem? She will put out 300 dps in enchanted/gemmed iLevel 245  gear. But hey, the cookies smell good at least.

The avatar of death: He’s tall as a mountain, arms as big as tree trunks and decked out in gear  you can only dream about. The poor man has to run a few heroics with the “mortals” to pick up a free gem or two for his new legendary axe… for his offspec… At first mistaken for Mr.Fast until you realize he’s putting out 8k dps and one shotting mobs. By the time your done casting your first heal all the mobs are dead and he’s moving to the next pack, the tank following behind in case he’s needed. Your also pretty sure he just killed that caster in the back only by looking at it. Enjoy your free badges.

The social: Everyone want to finish the run as quickly as possible but he’s really interested in socializing.  Identified when he asks everyone where they come from and gives his MySpace address. Probably emo also.

Mr.Internet: This guy knows it all and read it all. As soon as the run begins he will comment constantly on how bad you all are since it’s well-known that since patch B.4 warriors need to be tanking with a polearm you noobs. He’s too busy typing and checking forums to play so expecting him to end up below the healer on the dps meter.  Will leave if there’s a wipe since he can’t be associated with losers like you who don’t know how to play. Your secretly hoping a plane will crash on his house.

The believer: He actually believes people are doing their best and that if he takes the time to explain and be understanding the run will be smooth and fun. Might be doing hard drugs and/or be a hippie.

The gestapo officer: Before the run starts he will inspect every member of the group for spec, gear,gem,enchants and glyphs. Should someone be under his standards he will call him out, tell him he’s a lazy noob and leave the group. Never actually finishes an instance because no one is good enough.

The badge-ninja: A melee dps, he will /follow the tank and go afk, hoping no one will notice he actually doesn’t do anything. If left undiscovered he will get free badges without even playing the game. Once discovered make sure to leave him standing in the fire and feign surprise when he comes back.

The silent type: He (or she?) will never say a single word the entire run. He/she is really competent and should the rest of the group perform okay you will finish the run in record time.

The hardcore noob: If there’s anything that he can do wrong he will. He will get lost in a straight corridor, pull the end boss by only stepping in the instance, fall through the floor, dps in healer spec, etc… Unlike  the Jerk he doesn’t do it on purpose but at least you’ll have an interesting run.

The ADD kid: Incapable of typing more than 3 letters and standing still. If you can get past his annoying behavior you might be able to finish the instance… maybe.

The cat: This death knigth went afk and his cat jumped on the keyboard. Even if the dk is moving around like he’s really crazy his dps actually improved since the cat took over.

The well-adjusted competent gamer: These are just like fairies and unicorns, they don’t exist.

The screaming vet: For some reason he reminds you of the drill sergeant in Full metal jacket. He will scream at you during the entire run for every little mistake you make. The worst part is that he’s right.

/AFK: This guy will be afk the entire run. He’s off to the bathroom, cleaning the dishes, taking out the trash, saving kittens. Just 4 man the instance be done with it.

I have to admit I had a lot fun writing this. The hidden message here is if you want to enjoy pugging don’t take it too seriously.

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DangerLands incoming!

Image reduced to fit the blog size

 A few days ago one of the developer of DangerLands, a MMO developed by a very small indie team, left a few comments on this blog to present their game and also invited me to  contact them so I could get more info on the game and talk about it here.

Before going further I want to say that of course I know they are doing some PR (public relation) by getting the word out on their game and I’m fine playing along. I’m happy to support small developers who are trying to make their mark and make something happen. Instead of just looking at the current state of things and complaining about what is wrong( as I tend to do) they actually made something and they have very bold ideas. I love that.

So, instead of reviewing their game as I did other games here I will do things differently this time. There’s a few reasons for this. The first is that their game is still in Beta and it would be unfair to threat it as a finished product. They are still working on it and improving a lot of things based on user comments so it would be unfair for me to come in and say there’s a few bugs for example. The second reason is that I have a unique opportunity here to talk about the developement of a game with the game developers as it progress. Since I love talking about this subject I think it would dumb of me not to take the opportunity.

So there will be three posts(might have more later) to present you DangerLands. The first one being this one where I present my first impressions without imput from the developers. The second post will be an interview-like post and the last one will be my comments and impressions on the game so far.

Finally I will also do this putting on my developer hat instead of my “loud-mouthed fan” one. I  truly wish for their game to succeed and I feel that by giving comments from a professional perspective (I feel weird calling myself that) it might help them more than just raving and ranting about things.

The very first impressions

When trying to sell software the very first impression you give off will make the difference between having people look at your game or simply close the browser and move on. Just like in an interview you have to give off the best impression and convince everyone that you are the “one”. That without you their life is meaningless and pointless. Only by picking you can they have any chance of having a fulfilling existence. Exaggerating?? Barely.

The very first thing I heard about Dangerlands was on the Multiplaying website talking about an indie MMO being developed for iPhone. iPhone MMO?? OMG!!!! Someone actually crazy enough to try it! So right away I started googling like mad and found the forums/website for Dangerlands. I looked at things for a few moments and then walked away.

Yeah, the first impression I got wasn’t very good. What I saw was a grey website, showing pictures of blocky legless characters who looked somewhat like legos. The textures looked like something out of a N64 game, everything was pixellated and rough angles. To be blunt I tought it looked like a college student project that wasn’t very serious. Probably something they were making on their own to challenge themselves without really thinking about releasing it.

Of course after seeing a few other mentions on Multiplaying.net and realizing that Dangerlands was actually a serious project I looked at things with new eyes and realized that it was a game still in developement with two people working like crazy to make it happen.

Remember my post on front-end vs back-end? When I talked about front-end selling a game and back-end making it succesful. This is a perfect example of this. If it wasn’t for Multiplaying.net keeping talking about Dangerlands I would not have given much thoughts to the game. In this case the front-end(the website) did not do much to make me interested in the title.

Winin asked me in mail to offer my suggestions for the website and I want to do it here so everyone can comment and help them too. Based on my work experience here’s what I would improve for their website.

Just by looking at your website, someone should know what you are about.
This is the first and probably most important rule of website design. Only by looking, not even reading, the text someone needs to know who you are and what you are offering. Someone in design told me that an average user will look at your website for less than 5 seconds before deciding if it’s worth his time This means you have 5 secs to sell yourself.

Currently the Dangerlands website does not do that. What I see is a grey forum, not an MMO. To give an example of how things can be done just look at other MMO websites. Blizzard directs you to a splash page with a single image and a caption to tell you what the current new feature is. Then the website oozes medieval fantasy game. The lettering, colors, and top images tell me clearly that this is about a fantasy adventure. Aion uses a lots of whites and space to give an airy feeling to their site (less obvious with the current Christmas theme however), important when your game features flying as one its main features. Another example is Wizard 101 with his bright colors and light text is aimed at a more children audience. They also get you right into the game since they know kids won’t have the patience to search around a website.

Simple choices, deep content
When building a website intended to give information about software you need to be able to find quickly what you are looking for. This means clear and simple options to find where to go. Once the user makes a choice you give him more detailed content without overwhelming him/her. The general rule is that the deeper you get into the website the more detailed the content is. This way the user can choose how much information he wants to see. He sees as much as he wants to.

They got this part down over at the Dangerlands website. Few links but with clear purpose and I know perfectly where to click depending on what I want to know. The lore section could use a few divisions and a FAQ page would be a nice addition but hey it’s not that bad.

Internet explorer, Firefox
If you want your website to be seen by the most people it’s considered essential that your website displays well in both IE and Firefox, no matter how much you hate Microsoft. I’ve seen a few things pop-up weird in IE.

There’s a few more little details I could write about but it would be nitpicking. I know the guys are working on a new website design and I’m pretty confident they will get a lot of things done. My main advice would be to get someone who’s specialized in website design to get a few things together like themes and CSS(style sheets) custom-made to represent DangerLands.

Once again I want to congratulate the devs and thank them. Overall it’s an awesome result for a small team who’s in beta and with our feedback things can only get better. The sheer audacity of making a game for portable devices like iPhones is worthy of our admiration. I’m reserving my impressions about the actual game for later when I actually have time to sit down and mess with the beta and ask the devs a few questions since I want to get my facts straight.

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