Chat Boundaries

EverQuest was, as I’ve described before, really just a bunch of chat rooms with this mini-game of fighting monsters strapped to it.  In each room, or zone, there were several chat channels.  Local or say was distance limited, get too far from someone, twenty or thirty virtual feet, and you wouldn’t see their chat messages.  Then you had shout which was zone wide, and ooc (out of character) which was also zone wide, and auction which again was zone wide.  You might wonder why they had three channels that were essentially functionally the same.  The answer is in the second channel, out of character.  Shout was intended to be for things you wanted to say to the whole zone which was in character, or role playing.  OOC was for talking about min/maxing and last night’s baseball game.  Auction was for trade chat, selling items or offering to buy items.

The best thing about EQ was that the players did a fairly good job (on my server anyway) of policing that.  People talking about baseball in shout were asked to move to ooc, and they usually did.  This let players have control over how they interacted with the game.  If you wanted to role play, you simply turned off ooc and all the other players could chat about baseball and you’d never see it.

In recent years, as the MMO genre has grown, with millions of people playing games like WoW, and games dropping the in character/out of character conventions, the boundaries of chat are gone.  Every channel in most games is full of every kind of chat (except role play, which is getting pretty well crushed under the boot of “fun” which an ever growing segment of game populations appear to equate entirely with playing whack-a-mole and collecting loot).  Take Fallen Earth for example.  I love playing the game, but only after I filtered out both the New Player and Region chats to tabs I could hide because it was non-stop streams of spoilers and data and whining.

Of course, I’m not just lamenting lack of channel etiquette, but the loss of the RP in the MMORPG.  Many people these days appear to approach MMORPGs like they are just another way to spend some time.  They log in, they fight some monsters, they complete some quests, they level, and they log out.  Somewhere in there, perhaps, they chat with some other people.  Though with the increasing emphasis on solo game play in modern MMOs, playing or chatting with other people isn’t something most people are doing.  For me, at least, I’d love to see the return of the “out of character” channel, if only as an acknowledgment by the developers that there is a dividing line between in and out of character.

The Instance and The Bench

Reading this post over at Clockwork Gamer got me to thinking about why raiding in most recent MMOs never excited me.  Back in my days of EverQuest, when I would lead raids, I often would take anyone and everyone who showed up.  Some of my “raids” were silly, intended to train people for raiding.  I took five groups into the Mines of Nurga (before they revamped the zone) and made them form up groups, main tanks, pullers, heal team, etc.  Just like a huge raid, but everyone was around level 30.  Many of those same raiders would show up later when I started doing Epic raids, smaller hits for pieces to Epic Quests.  Places like The Hole, City of Mist, etc.  Of course, I also lead some dragon raids, and some Hate and Fear, Chardok, a few bits in Velious, and even some Planes of Power raids.  It was all great fun.

The only raid I never got off the ground was the Plane of Sky.  The reason for this is that the islands in Sky gave out random numbers of keys, and the zone had a very very long respawn time for most spawns.  In order to take a large raid to Sky, you needed to use complicated corpse summoning to get from island to island.  It was easier on a small raid, but small raids, due to the difficulty of the zone, needed to be very regimented, certain amounts of certain classes.  I’m sure its not so hard now.  Sky can probably be single grouped, or even done as a duo.  But “back in the day” it was much more difficult.

In EQ2 and WoW (and other games), raids are often (always) instances, with caps on how many people can go.  One thing I never like to do is bench people.  If a personal is capable of surviving the raid, I’ll take them… I mean, seriously, I did raids in EQ with 90 people.  Of course, in EQ2 and other more graphically intensive games, I couldn’t imagine 90 people being in the same place and having the game be even playable.  Even WoW can struggle.. just try going to the auction house in Ironforge. (I might be showing my age here… is the auction house in Ironforge still crowded?)

I seriously don’t like the idea of raid caps.  Having 25 people show up to fill 24 slots… I’d rather not.  Over in this thread at the Nerfbat forums, I put forth the following:

I’m all for removing hard caps on content. I realize that a developer may want to design his content to be optimally experienced by 5 people, or 25 people, but it really sucks as a player to keep running into the wall because I have 6, or 29, friends and we have to repeat content not just for the loot, but simply so people can experience it. Game devs should consider ways to remove hard caps and instead reward soft caps. Design the content for 5 people, but allow any number to go in, however have the reward scale upward as you approach the “optimal”. That way, people who want to min/max content for the best possible reward can do so, but also people who just want to play can experience it as well without having to jump through extra hoops just to play with their friends.

I’d love to see a game at least give that a shot.  And I wouldn’t even mind going back to the flagging model of EQ, where you could bring any number of people to the raid, but only X number would get the flag.  You’d still have to repeat the content, but at least you could repeat it with the entire raid group instead of playing musical chairs mix and matching your raiders in order to be able to do the raid with only X number of players.

Maybe.  Someday.  Perhaps.

Back to my comic books…

As you may recall, I have a collection of comic books I want to unload. eBay won’t let me do it as I want to, and rather than spend time and money splitting the sets out to sell them in parts, I need another service.

If anyone knows any online auction place that will let me set up something for sale at around $5,000 minimum bid, let me know.

My Comics and eBay.

First off, let me say this. I’m selling my comic book collection. Over a number of years I bought and read comic books. I loved them, and if I had the money, I would love getting them still. So now, after having enjoyed these comics, I have 14 long boxes full of them and they take up space.

I have a list of most of what I have here. And if you want to make me an offer, please do so.

Next: eBay sucks.

I tried to go and place this collection up for auction. Repeatedly the site would give me errors and then erase everything I had done. And they some sort of add policy that states in order to sell something, you must be able to buy it. I tried to put this collection up for a minimum bid of $5,000, since to someone with the time and contacts its worth about $10,000, and it tells me I don’t have $5,000 worth of credit.

I mean, if I had $5,000 I wouldn’t need to sell my comics.

Sometimes I just don’t get it.