Thursday, February 26, 2015

Currently Playing Updates

Here's what I'm currently up to:

World of Warcraft

I'm pretty much only doing the weekly garrison quest with Coriel. I've also stopped messing around with the garrison buildings. I debating doing the legendary questline, but haven't come to a decision about that yet.

For some reason, I rolled a random Blood Elf mage and got to level 5. I'm not sure if I will keep going with it, or even why I started it in the first place.

The Old Republic

My raid team has gotten to 2/10 in Hard Mode operations (1/5 Ravagers, 1/5 Temple of Sacrifice). I'm not sure what fight we'll be working on next. Gearing for Accuracy is a huge pain in this expansion, and it really isn't helping that Sniper set gear seems to not have any.

Otherwise, one major change Bioware made was to add Companion gear to the Weeklies. So I've been slowly working on kitting my companions out, especially the droid companions. Previously, droid gear was fairly annoying to get. One interesting side-effect of this change is that I roll on very little gear in ops. It's not worth the time and effort to get gear for companions from operations anymore.

I'm also leveling a Bounty Hunter, about 2/3 Dark Side and 1/3 Light Side. Professional but a bit ruthless. I'm currently on Taris.

Final Fantasy XIV

I've decided to try and get my Relic Weapon for the Paladin class. I'm currently working on the Atma book stage, and have a grand total of one book complete. ... I don't think I'll get this done.

I took a look at the new Golden Saucer stuff. It seems pretty fun, but I'm not really into mini-games.

Diablo 3

For Season 2, I started a Monk and got to about level 25 so far. This time around, I'm trying to play in public games with other people. However, I think the matchmaking buckets are now too small, since you now have to match on difficulty, character level, and story progression. So it's pretty hard to find people.

What are you up to?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Are PvE Players Overly Entitled?

I was reading the Crowfall comments on Massively OP, and I was struck by the attitude of the more strident PvE players. There was a lot of complaining that the game was PvP, and it wasn't PvE. At this point, are PvE players becoming overly entitled?

Let's look at the major MMOs currently running:

Primarily PvE - WoW, SWTOR, FFXIV, Rift, GW2, Wildstar, ESO, TSW, EQ2, Neverwinter, LotRO

Primarily PvP - Eve Online

It's not even close. There's one major MMO which is focused on PvP. Pretty much everything else is focused on PvE.  It seems really uncharitable of PvE players to feel aggrieved that a new game is focused on a different audience.

Of course new game devs are going to try and make PvP games. That's the under-served market. It's the market where you don't have to compete with the behemoths.

I'm a primarily PvE player. I have to admit that there's a ton of options for me. My biggest problem is choosing the MMOs I don't want to play.

I kind of feel for the PvP players. If you want an MMO where PvP is more than a sideshow, you're basically limited to Eve. And if spreadsheets in space isn't your thing, you're out of luck.

For PvE players to complain about the current situation is just being churlish.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Crowfall: Kickstarter, More Thoughts

Crowfall announced its Kickstarter today. It is already more than half-way to the goal, which means there's a very strong chance it will be successful. I backed it, as I am always in favor of games that try new things. And Crowfall is especially good in that it is set up to try many new things as new campaigns with new rulesets start up.

The other interesting thing I saw was Crowfall's rules for Faction campaigns. There are three factions: Order, Chaos, and Balance. Very archetypical factions. But the win conditions are amusing. Order and Chaos win if they have the most points at the end. But Balance wins if Order and Chaos have roughly the same amount of points.

It's a very neat way of keeping the factions level, while also adhering to the lore. The only issue I can see is that the equilibrium selects for Balance. If Order or Chaos is dominant, Balance allies with the other. But if Balance is dominant, Order and Chaos cannot ally to defeat Balance. Allying only plays into Balance's goals.

Still, though, we'll have to see how it plays out.

I think Crowfall's Achilles' Heel is going to be performance and responsiveness. I know I harp on this a lot, but in some ways, performance is more important than all the creativity in the rules and game design. Games are a tactile experience, and a successful game must "feel" right when you're playing. You get that wrong, and your game dies.

Also, I think the developers should stop referencing Game of Thrones so much. It's kind of weird, in the "they're going to get sued" sort of vein. I'm not a fan of GoT [1], so it's a turn-off for me.

1. The problem with killing off all the characters the reader cares about, is that the reader is left with a book filled with characters she doesn't care about.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Account Sharing in the Mythic Race

Congratulations to Method for getting the World First Blackhand kill!

However, World First races would not be themselves without random drama. The drama this time around revolves around account sharing. More accurately, it's around the practice of transferring characters between unrelated accounts. Essentially, in order to stack classes at the very edge fights, edge guilds sometimes transfer geared alts from one player to another.

This is a clear violation of the Terms of Service. As well, Blizzard recently made an example of a couple prominent streamers for doing something similar, handing out permanent bans. So naturally there is a call for Blizzard to do the same thing to high-end raiders who transfer characters.

The argument in favor of punishment is straight-forward. Rules are rules. This practice is against the rules, and thus should be punished.

The high-end raider argument is actually rather interesting. They argue that though the actions are against the letter of the rules, they are not against the spirit of the rules.

Account sharing is banned for two reasons. First, it can often cause customer service issues. Anna uses Betty's character and then disenchants all her gear. Betty complains to customer service. The second reason is that account sharing and character transfers are often used for "boosting". Betty gives her character to Anna. Anna then power-levels the character, gets a high PvP rating, or gets a Mythic achievement for Betty. Betty is able to enjoy the rewards of such achievements, without putting in the work to earn them.

The high-end raiders point out that neither of these reasons apply. There won't be any customer service issues. There is also no boosting going on. Before the transfer, there are 20 players. After the transfer, there are the same 20 players in the raid, just one is on a different character.

They also point out that the secondary effects of a "zero tolerance" policy might be negative. Guilds might start requiring that players have and gear up even more extra characters. Or they might start to sport larger rosters, with a much larger bench that is only brought in when class stacking is required. This bench, of course, would drawn from the guilds directly below them, and they in turn would need to poach more people from the groups below. All this just for an extra ten or fifteen people who barely get to raid.

I find myself torn between the two arguments. Rules are rules, and it is essential for the rules to be applied impartially in a game. Yet at the same time, I think the high end argument is essentially right. What they are doing is not the same underlying negative behavior the rules were meant to guard against.

My Solution - Disallow Class-Stacking

My solution, as normal, is extreme. The root of the problem is class-stacking. So let's disallow class-stacking in Mythic. Mythic already has one strict restriction requiring a maximum of 20 players.

Let's add another restriction: a raid can have a maximum of 3 characters of any given class in a Mythic instance. Three druids, three paladins, three monks, three warlocks, etc.

This cuts off class-stacking at the knees. Mythic is already for the most experienced and skilled players, so another restriction is not going to faze them. It reduces the number of alts required by the high end, maybe even making life a little easier.

Then Blizzard can stop turning a blind eye to account sharing or character transfer at the high end. The rules could be applied impartially.

Friday, February 20, 2015

WoW Videos: Welcome to the Deadmines

Here's another classic WoW video by Adrian Drott, Irdeen, and Jessie Cox: Welcome to the Deadmines.

This is from before the revamped Deadmines had been revealed.

It's from the Rise to Power contest back in 2010. That contest produced a lot of good videos, including Greyfoo's Scarlet Toy. I'm not entirely certain why that contest in particular was so productive. Perhaps the topic was just restrictive enough to fuel creativity, without being too constraining.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Crowfall: Guineceans, Physics

Crowfall released some more information today: a couple of new archetypes and some information about physics.


I've mentioned before that I don't like short races in most MMOs. For some reason, the trend over the last few years has been to make then nasty, evil creatures.

Crowfall unveiled their short race, the Guinecean Duelist, based on guinea pigs, it looks like. I really like the background story they gave them. It makes them almost noble, and genuinely good and fun. More like Reepicheep from Narnia, rather than goblins. This race just felt like a breath of fresh air to me. I don't normally play short races, but I might make an exception for these guys.


Crowfall also revealed that they are attempting to add real-world physics to the game model. This includes collision, as well as momentum. If they pull this off, it will be very cool. However, it will be interesting to see if they can actually pull this off in a server-based PvP game.

As well, real-world physics has a lot of potential for griefing. The physics model includes projectiles, so it includes the possibility of friendly fire. One thing I do like is that the devs have outlined a plan where they can "fall back" on different options if it turns out that friendly fire causes too much grief. This plan includes turning friendly fire off entirely as the last resort.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

MMOs to Play Again, Someday

I've been wandering across MMO sites that have been discussing different games. I see some stories for some games, and kind of get an urge to play them again. Though I probably won't because of the lack of time. Then there are some games which I played, and have zero desire to try again.

Would Play Again

TERA - It's still the best and most visceral combat out of all the MMOs I've played. But I don't think the surrounding elements have been improved.

The Secret World - Every time I see people raving about the content in TSW, I get the urge to play again. But then I remember the combat, and how lackluster the performance and responsiveness was.

Defiance - I found Defiance pretty fun. Just not fun enough to keep going.

Elder Scrolls Online - Again, lackluster combat killed this game for me. But I do kind of regret not getting to max level at least and seeing the story.

Not Interested

Rift - I'm not really sure why I don't want to play Rift again. I can't really point to anything the game does poorly. I even had a max level character, before the expansions. Yet I have zero desire to play Rift.

Lord of the Rings - It's just too old for me. It used to be in the "would play again" category, but then I downloaded it and started playing. Fifteen minutes later I couldn't take the graphics and performance anymore.

Age of Conan - another one which I kept thinking that I'd like to try again. Then I did, and got reasonably far leveling before I couldn't take the control scheme anymore.

What MMOs would you like to give another chance?