Tag Archive for game

Allow me to retort…

Ten Ton Hammer’s WoW site has posted The Top 5 Reasons World of Warcraft is the Best MMOG.

JuliusAs the title of my post says, allow me to retort.

They say: You are never alone in Azeroth

But you are alone… so very alone. Sure, every zone on every server has players in it, but most of them won’t talk to you, largely because they don’t need to. With the game being so eminently soloable, why bog yourself down with socializing? WoW has become the epitome of the alone together, or together alone, style of play. If you aren’t in a dungeon or on a raid, all those other people are just background.

They say: Endless content means endless fun in Azeroth

Even more, they say that most games give you a single quest chain that goes from zone to zone. Easy to hold against a new game… but WoW is nearly seven years old. And still… have you played it recently? While there may be many zones to choose from that are appropriate for your level, especially after Cataclysm, there still remains only 1 real quest chain to progress you through the story of the zone. Skip some quests and others won’t unlock, you have to start at the beginning of the zone and play through or else all is lost. And once you get to the top, unless you like starting over and forcing yourself to play classes and races that weren’t your first choice, you’ll start repeating content, endlessly. Welcome to the grind, leave your fun at the door.

They say: The value for your money is insane compared to modern standards

All MMOs, even ones that aren’t WoW, are insane values for your money. Once you’ve bought in to the $15 a month fee, you can play as much as you want. The question really is, what sort of value are you getting for your time? They choose Netflix to hold it up against, and for pure money, if you still subscribe to both disc mailing and streaming, WoW is cheaper. But if you go with just streaming, because honestly if you are a real MMO player then you’ve got a DSL, cable or other high-speed connection, now Netflix is half the price. And what will you do in WoW? Dungeon Finder? Battlegrounds? Like with the previous item, unless you like playing Alts, you’ll be repeating the same content over and over. With Netflix Instant, on the other hand, as long as you don’t crave watching only the newest releases, you can watch movies and TV from all genres. A little horror, some action, a romantic comedy with the significant other, a TV show you missed that all your friends say you should have watched, cartoons for yourself or with the kids, documentaries, and so much more. If you want, you can even repeat content over and over on Netflix. Every December I watch a couple dozen Christmas movies on Netflix, I’ve seen them before, but they’re still good. Value is where you find it.

They say: There is nothing like community

I can almost agree here. WoW’s community is HUGE. Which enables you to find a niche of it you enjoy, surround yourself with them and isolate yourself from the rest of the people who are out to ruin your game. Don’t want to play with spoilers? Too bad, the community is going to ruin that for you unless you play alone with all chat turned off. Want to role play? Better get on an RP server and then find a group or guild that likes to RP the same way you do or else you’ll find yourself at the butt end of jokes or power players. And for Pete’s sake, stay the hell away from the cesspool of the official forums… unless you like that sort of thing, in which case, go, join in, and accept that other people will hate you. Want to raid? Be prepared to play their way and install the add-ons they demand. Oh, and while we are on add-ons, what about PlayerScore… the add-on that lets people judge you before they even get to know you. There is nothing like community, but there is nothing like community. This is one of those strengths that are weaknesses deals.

They say: The game is the most complete experience available

The game is polished for sure. That’s what Blizzard does best. And leveling is easy, whether you want it to be or not (you might enjoy the low-level game, but you’ll need to repeat it with other characters, be overpowered for it, or actually consciously disable your experience gain to play it). And the classes are all well-defined and have their own flavor and niches… all which boil down to tank, healer, dps. The dungeon finder works by putting a tank, a healer and 3 dps characters together. And when you use it, forget about actually seeing the dungeon. Go go go! If you stop and smell the roses, you’ll find yourself booted out of the group. In the end though, I can’t disagree with this final point. WoW is the most complete experience available. It is filled with tons of good and tons of bad. You can enjoy it, and it’ll break your heart. It is fun and boring. It is everything you want, and everything you want to avoid, all at the same time, mostly because Blizzard wants to cater to everyone, despite everyone wanting something different, some in direct opposition to each other.

In the end, you should decide for yourself if World of Warcraft is worth playing, and I say this even to the people who are playing it right now. It is easy to play, almost, one might say, addicting. But ask yourself, “Is this really how I want to spend my time?” If it is, that’s fantastic! Do it, no judgments, as long as you’ve made that decision consciously and with forethought. But if it isn’t, do yourself a favor and step away, cancel (actually cancel, don’t just “not log in” while still paying for it), try some other games or some other activities. Make sure that if you are playing WoW it is because you want to play WoW, and not just because you haven’t taken the time to think of something you’d enjoy doing more.

There. I’m done preaching.

Too much carrot, not enough stick

You might have noticed a lack of my Sneakin’ Around and other WoW related posts.  I’ve cancelled World of Warcraft again.  The truth is that I absolutely loved playing in a strange way, but not enough to feel like a $15 a month charge is money well spent.  But what really drove the nail into the coffin was the constant feeling like the game was broken.

It isn’t broken.  Not really.  But I play MMOs for two things: community and immersion.  The enemy of both of those things is leveling.

It was almost impossible to play without leveling at an absurd rate.  The experience rewards for quests are so out of whack that I can’t finish a line of quests, finish a story, without being horribly overpowered by the time I read the final mission.  That boss who is supposed to be hard to fight isn’t when I’m now three to five levels higher than him.  My other option is to chase quests that have the most challenge and ignore the story.  Abandoning quests just because they go green made me feel bad.  “Hey guys, I know was helping you with your problem, but, ah, I’m gonna move on to the next area now. Hope things work out!”

And lets not forget that unless my friends and I played dozens of alts, we could almost never play together because missing a single gaming session could leave you five or more levels behind your friends.  Slow leveling of old games never felt like work to me, but constantly playing catch-up in an attempt to just be able to effectively group with my friends did.  I supposed I could do what most other people do and just accept the fact that we’ll even out at max level, but the prospect of playing for 85 levels as filler until I get to the real game doesn’t entice me to want to log in.

The reality here is that Blizzard has seen that people are generally happier when they are “progressing” and rather than allow people to actually work for and earn things, they just lowered the bar so that you practically can’t log into the game without gaining something.  And most people seem to want that.  They’ve become reward junkies, the constant dinging of achievements and levels and other random things bringing them joy.  But to me, it’s all empty.  I’ve got over 50 levels and dozens of achievements on one character, but I look at him in the armory and don’t feel any attachment to any of it.  I didn’t really earn it.

That isn’t to say that there aren’t hard earned achievements in WoW, there are plenty, at the high end.  However, the 85 level escalator to get there is full of Fool’s Gold and cubic zirconia.  And I think escalator is the right word to describe the ride.  You get on and it is pushing you forward and if you’d like to stop, you can’t, but you can stay relatively still if you run backwards, working against the flow.

Where am I going with this?  I don’t know.  I really don’t.  I only know that playing World of Warcraft simply doesn’t get me what I want from an MMO, and I don’t think any of the offerings coming down the pipe will either.  I want a game, where I’m playing the “real game” from the moment I exit the tutorial, and I want that real game to have as few restrictions as possible, to let people make their own rules.  A guild should be a guild because the people want to be a guild, not because raids require X number of people with Y number of tanks and Z number of healers and a DPS output of greater than N.

Back in my EverQuest days, I used to tell people all the time that it’s “not just a game”.  And maybe that’s what I want most, to feel like it’s more than a game, and WoW, with its flashing lights and rapid rewards feels very much like just a game.

Space Pirates And Zombies

And that isn’t just the title of this blog entry, that’s also the name of this game.  Space Pirates And Zombies (S.P.A.Z. for short) is a top down shooter.  It isn’t your traditional zombies, but hey, it looks fun.

Right now you can only buy it from Impulse, but hopefully there will be other options (like Steam!) at a later date.

A Week of Tweets on 2011-05-15

  • Is it safe? #
  • @Majiesto Finaler Destination. in reply to Majiesto #
  • Rolled out a new feature at work today. Nothing exploded. It was a good day. #
  • Stake Land needs to come to a theater near me. #
  • "That new show.. on HBO.. Musical Chairs." "Game of Thrones?" "That's what I said!" #
  • Is it Friday yet? I want to go to the concert already. #
  • Yesterday my blog had a huge spike in traffic… someone linked to my Urban Dead post on Something Awful. #
  • Internet Explorer 9 is out… you can stop using IE 6 now. Please. I'm begging you. At least go to 7, or 8, or Firefox, or Chrome… #
  • "Be the strange you want to see in the world." #
  • The problem with the heat in Atlanta is that there is no beach to enjoy it on. #
  • Tonight I will be seeing my favorite band in the world. http://j.mp/kYha89 #bte #
  • Exclusive features in a game by platform or by retailer probably make some people happy. None of those people are gamers. #
  • Well, there's a feeling in the air, just like a Friday afternoon. Yeah, you can go there if you want, though it fades too soon. #
  • Squeeeeeeeee…. http://yfrog.com/gy9ahaej #
  • Concert was incredible. It's so much fun watching people do what they love. #
  • It's party time. #

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Stop with the grouping already!

In MMOs, I am a strong advocate of grouping.  However, even though I often think that people who want to play a game with thousands, or millions, of other people and NOT play with them is a bit silly, I’ve never faulted a game for allowing that style of play (though I will fault them for making solo play the “best” way to play in every aspect – I’m looking at you, World of Warcraft, you and your game from level 1 to 85).  I am, at the core, all about options.

Facebook Grouping

Forced Grouping?

That would be why this makes me so mad.  Plenty of people out there use multiple social networks, and to make things easier they try to link them together so they can make one update and have it show up everywhere.  Facebook has decided that they would like to marginalize certain types of this synchronizing.  If I click that link that says “See 19 more posts from Twitter” it will expand and show me around 2 days worth of Twitter updates, completely out of their proper order in my feed.

Now, I understand, on some level, what Facebook is trying to achieve.  People who play games are often inundated with “spam” from those games and so Facebook decided it would try to clean things up by grouping updates from Applications.  Twitter is an Application.

The fault here is that there is no option to not group updates from Applications.  This is what I get, forced grouping.

There are solutions.  I can use an application like TweetDeck, which posts the same update to multiple sources directly.  But then I need to install TweetDeck everywhere, including my phone, in order to get the same functionality.  But that only solves it for my updates.  The dozens of other people I know who use the Twitter Application will continue to be grouped.  It would be better if Facebook game me the option to choose if Applications were grouped.  Better still, let me choose per Application if I want their updates grouped.

Hopefully, Facebook will get their heads out of their asses at some point and fix this.  If they don’t, it’ll just be one more reason I find myself drifting away from Facebook…

Project Zomboid

Project Zomboid

They're coming to get you, Barbara.

Really like zombie survival games but tired of so many of them being shooters?

Project Zomboid might be right up your alley.  An isometric RPG set in the zombie apocalypse.  Build defenses, search for food, fight zombies.  Decidedly hardcore (they maintain that you WILL die eventually, there is no “winning” or happily ever after), this game of shambling undead is one I’ll be keeping an eye on, which shouldn’t be too hard considering they’ve got the game blog plus three developer blogs and a forum.

With any luck the game will support some form of multiplayer, which might end up making it the game I’ve always wanted to play.

This has the potential to be awesome.

Motivation

You might have noticed that the last couple of weeks have been filled with half-hearted posts and automated reposts of things I’ve tweeted.  Sometimes I just can’t think of anything worth saying, and other times if I think of something worth saying I just can’t find the energy to say it.

Still, at other times, I have something I think is worth saying, but I’ve said it so many times before that I’m running out of new ways to say it without repeating myself.  This has been pretty much the reason for my lack of posting lately.

When it comes to game design, I’ve pretty much said the same thing over and over for years now.  Games like World of Warcraft are fun, but they do not excite or engage me.  I want more story (and by that I mean more put into the world for me to discover and use in my story, not to be confused with clicking through a story someone else wrote – or worse, sitting and watching cut scenes of stories where I don’t even get to participate – in my view EverQuest had more story that most current games), and I want grouping, and I want less focus on levels and gear and racing to the “endgame”, and I want a slower pace that allows me time to interact with other players while playing as opposed to button mashing extravaganzas where I have to stop playing in order to talk to people.  And if a game needs to have voice chat it should be in the game, not a 3rd party tool (or ffs integrate some damn controls through your game’s UI so that I don’t have to alt-tab out to join chat with people).

At this point, my gaming talk will probably fizzle out and just be the random post now and again about a game I’m playing or something I’m doing (or if I win the lottery, the game I’m building), so I apologize in advance if the posts I do make don’t interest you.  Since I’m no longer motivated to ramble on about game design, I’ve got to seek out other motivations…

More to come… I hope…

Random Daily Adventuring

As I have returned to World of Warcraft, I have become taken by the daily quest.  To many, this is an old mechanic, but when I quit the game these were just called “repeatable quests” because you could do the exact same quest over and over again.  But the daily quest mechanic has evolved and now, for example, the fishing guy in Stormwind actually has several quests which rotate.  You get to do one per day, and the one available changes from day to day.

Imagine if we took that design a step further.  What if, instead of entering a town and finding the same five quests every player finds every day, you were to just find five quests?  If you entered town on Monday, the baker, the weapon smith, the bartender, the fisherman and the captain of the guard would have quests.  But if you came in on Tuesday, the baker and the captain of the guard would have the same quests, but now the other three available quests would be the potion master, the stable boy and the inn keeper.  And by “quests” I mean “tasks” because that’s what they are anyway.  The majority of quests in a game aren’t the type they expect you to hold on to and work on for months, weeks, or even just days.  They expect you to take the quest and then finish it within a single play session, maybe two.

And not just quests for single players.  Quests for duos and groups, even daily raid content.  Call it a midway point between current quest design and Rift’s “abandon quests to fight random events” design.  I think it is worth further thought.

What I Read

I don’t maintain a blogroll here, or even links of any kind to other sites unless they are within posts.  However, in a fit of narcissism I decided that I would post a list of links to all the sites that are contained within my Google Reader.  So without further ado, presented here in alphabetical order, and in one giant ugly paragraph, is what I read:

.: Cedarstreet :., < witty title >, A Next-Gen-MMORPG, A Softer World, A Tree Falling in the Forest, Anyway Games, Applied Game Design, Basic Instructions, bbPress Blog, Bio Break, Brass Goggles, Brea Grant, Broken Toys, Clients From Hell, Coding Horror, Corvus & the IGDA, Crabapple Cove, Critical Distance, crowdSPRING Blog, Daily Dragon Online, daspetey, David Wellington, DESIGNER NOTES, Digital Diary Detailing Datamancer’s Deeds, Digital Gaming@Dragon*Con, Dinosaur Comics, DOGHOUSE, Don’t Fear the Mutant, Dragon*Con MMO, Dragon*ConTV, DragonCon, DreamHost Status, Eating Bees, Elder Game, Epic Slant, Ethos Incarnate, Experience Curve, Felicia Day, Fidgit, Fullbright, Fun in Games, Fun in Real Life, Game Design Concepts, Game Design Reviews, GARY WHITTA, Geek Girl in Training, Grim News, Grumpy Gamer, Hark, A Vagrant!, Heartless_ Gamer, I HAS PC, ihobo, indexed, International Game Developers Association Board, into survival., James Van Der Memes, Karnatos, Kieron Gillen’s Workblog, Kill Ten Rats, Killed in a Smiling Accident., Kung Fu Monkey, LevelCapped, Lost Garden, Man Bytes Blog, Middle and Up, MMOData.net, Mobhunter.com, Moo Tang Clan, Mumble, My Name Is Michael, National Novel Writing Month – Breaking News, Nerdist, Nerfbat, Netflix – New choices to watch instantly, Netflix Community Blog, Not Always Right | Funny & Stupid Customer Quotes, not much’a nothin’, On Beyond Zebra, One Of A Crowd, Online Games Are a Niche Market, Only a Game, Over00, PARA ABNORMAL – the comic, paulietoons, paulneuhaus.com, Penny Arcade, Picture’s Up, Play Like a Girl, Popnarcotic, PostSecret, Psychochild’s Blog, PvPonline, Quarter to Three, Radioactive State, Rands In Repose, Raph’s Website, Real Life Comics, Running With My Eyes Closed, Scott Hartsman – Off the Record, screen play, Script Frenzy – The Beat, Sexy Videogameland, Shakefire.com blogs, ShrinkGeek, ShutterDreams, Smed’s Blog, Stylish Corpse, Surviving The World, Symptom of a Greater Cure, T=Machine, Tami Baribeau, Teaching Game Design, Terra Nova, Texas State Word, That’s a Terrible Idea, The Ancient Gaming Noob, The Banstick, The Brainy Gamer, The Celtx Blog, The Common Sense Gamer, The GameDev Project, The Grouchy Gamer, The HoneyComb Engine, The Internet Crashed, The Mod Squad. Blog., The Oakstout, The Oatmeal – Comics, Quizzes, & Stories, The Office of Letters and Light, The Official DreamHost Blog!, The Psychology of Video Games, The Word of Notch, This Side… Down, Tish Tosh Tesh, Tobold’s MMORPG Blog, Twitter Blog, Undead Labs – News, Van Hemlock, We Fly Spitfires – MMORPG Blog, Welcome to Spinksville!, West Karana, WIL WHEATON dot NET: in exile, Wolfshead Online, WordPress Development Blog, Words from Ward, WorldIV, xkcd.com, You Got Red On You, You Might As Well Be Unemployed, zen habits, Zen of Design, Zombie Reporting Center

Make of this what you will.

I’m on a Boat

I'm on a boat.

Everybody look at me 'cause I'm sailing on a boat.

I always hated Thousand Needles because the race track was just so stupid.  Some people think Cataclysm has done a lot wrong with World of Warcraft, but look at me… I’m on a boat.

The last time I wrote about my worgen it was over here, January 14th and I’d just made my way out of the starter zone which left me at level 12 or 13, I forget.  Maybe it was 14.  Doesn’t matter.  What matters is that as of last weekend, just five weeks later, I’m level 47.  Sure, you say, “Five weeks?! Why aren’t you at, like, 70?” but keep in mind, this is 47 without really trying.  I’ve spent much more time on my rogue who doesn’t kill, and so really this is level 47 in a total of 72 hours played.  And at least half of that is standing around chatting with people, role playing and browsing the auction house.  I’ve made it to level 47, heard the DING! of a level gained 46 times and I feel absolutely no sense of accomplishment whatsoever.  Every time the rogue makes a level I feel like I’ve conquered something, like I’ve crested another hill.  With the worgen, it’s more like, “Shit… I leveled again?  Didn’t I just level like twenty minutes ago?  Well, fuck, all my quests are green, and where did all the exclamation points go?  Did I outlevel another quest hub before I finished it?”  I feel like I’m missing the game, like I’m being pushed toward some end game, hurried along so that I don’t have a chance to get bored or to notice whether or not I’m actually enjoying playing.

In a few levels I won’t have anything left worthwhile in Thousand Needles.  The kills will be trivial, and the quests will be all gone, and the only real herb here is Stranglekelp, which gains me no skill and people aren’t even paying much for these days, but I suspect that I’ll return here because it’s the only place my River Boat works.  And ultimately this is where my biggest conflict with WoW comes in… there are some really cool and awesome places in this world, and you don’t get to stay there.  Why can’t I spend my days on the river fighting pirates and monsters?  I mean, I suppose I could, but the game doesn’t support it.  There are daily quests for fishing and cooking and other things, but why doesn’t each quest hub have a couple of dailies to making hanging around even mildly interesting and rewarding?

Not to go off on a tangent, but face it – this entire post is a tangent (a nice Friday sojourn off into rant land), but with the advent of the daily quest, why isn’t this mechanic used everywhere?  We all know that killing monsters is a pointless pursuit in WoW, they’ve hamstrung the exp on them so much, and quests are where the action is, and daily quest exp scales with level, so why not have a handful of quests in every hub where you can get one or two a day and continue to level doing whatever the hell you want?

No.  Instead, I have to make yet another zone useless and leave it to probably never return.  The empty husk of a world that necessitated The Cataclysm in the first place.

Oh well, at least for now… I’m on a boat.