Show them your O face

I’ve been turning it over in my mind since I heard about it. SOE is adding a new thing to EverQuest 2 that allows you to have your facial expressions – as in the face you are making as you are playing – implanted onto your character, in real-time.

First off, I cannot recall the last time I ever really looked at the face of a character in an MMO while I was playing. Largely this is because every game has gone third person, and with the camera pulled back to get a tactical view of the game the opportunity to even see faces, much less the expression on them, is extremely small.

Second, while I think facial expressions might have a place in role play, most MMOs have forsaken role play for game play so much that you have to essentially stop playing the game to talk to other players. The only people doing any serious role play are the ones sitting in town, not playing the game.

The SOE O FaceAnd that second point brings me to the one subset of players who will likely make the most use of a technology like this: ERP. If you don’t know what that is, it’s Erotic Role Play. Perhaps you’ve stumbled across it before, maybe wandering into a random empty building in town or through some little played alley (for WoW players, Iron Forge is full of “empty” buildings, and the tunnel the tram uses to go back and forth to Stormwind is one of those “alleys”). Or maybe you’ve been slapped in the face with it (for WoW players, go onto pretty much any of the RP servers, create a human character in Stormwind, and then run down the road to Goldshire – or as some people call it: Pornshire). The simple fact is that beyond a person taking screenshots of themselves in various poses to post on Facebook and other places, the people who will get the most use from facial expressions are the people who sit really really close to each other talking in hushed tones.

Does EQ2 really need this? No, not really. It’s a neat toy, but isn’t going to add very much to the game. But now that it exists and can be in the design of a future MMO in the early stages (for example, EverQuest Next, coming from SOE), perhaps it could be very cool.

That said, the guys over at Second Life are probably already looking into licensing this technology. Now there is a game that would get a ton of use out of the ability to show the world your O face.

Dragon*Con 2008: Day Two

A better day of panels… I got to see SOE demonstrate FreeRealms, which, in the simplest terms, is Puzzle Pirates on steroids and crossing genres.  It definitely is something I am going to look into, and at the price (free), why not?

Force of Arms, a mechanized armor fighting MMO being built on the Multiverse system, has a lot of potential.  However, right now, potential seems to be what it has the most of, and everything about the actual game play seems to not be nailed down just yet.

On the other hand, Champions Online, looks like it is going to be City of Heroes squared… at least.  The two gents who showed off the game left me feeling really good about this one.

I took some time to go through the dealers’ and exhibitors’ halls… and it was pretty much the same.  The same dealers with the same stuff for sale, the same exhibitors with the same products.  Oh, there were some new items here and there, but nothing really to blow one’s shirt up.

And then the nightlife began.

The planned events by the Con were fairly normal… and like normal they were hum-drum.  The Colonial Fleet party for Battlestar Galactica was alright, with it’s 80’s soundtrack… it got better when some of the cast showed up.  The Shindig for Firefly was boring.  But later in the evening, the BSG fans had a party of their own on the 10th floor of the Marriott, and those cats know how to throw down.

Yeah, the day is for panels, but the night belongs to the parties… its what the Con is all about.  It would be a shame if they ever tried to move to a convention center and lost the hotel party nightlife.

Sony is retarded.

Normally I would refrain from insulting multi-national mega corporations, but in this case, at least from the perspective of the Sony Online Entertainment division that is over EverQuest, its a fact.

Go read the websites for the warriors, rogues and monks over the past year. Look at every idea they posted on how to bring melees back into balance.


Okay, warriors got new taunt skills. With the splitting of disciplines, all melees got a method to more often boost their damage through their use. Monks are getting (if it ever makes it off the test server) an essentially single target lull to assist in splitting spawns.

Now, do you remember all the other stuff you read? Ranged damage, group auras, directed attacks, etc, etc… SOE is implementing all that stuff too, only not for the people who need it. Instead, they are making a new class, the Berserker.

I mean, why enhance the classes you have when you can add a new one? Why make three classes better and more desirable to play when you can make yet another addition to the already overcrowded loot pool on raids?

When beastlords were introduced, they were nice. You could play in groups and you could solo. But in groups they really weren’t needed. Anyone can DPS, shaman have better buffs… so what to do? Why, give beastlords a unique skill! Lets give them a mana and hit points regen buff that stacks with just about everything. Give them a buff that works as a mass group buff heal. Basically, you see, they introduced a new class, then that class complained that they weren’t wanted on raids, so SOE made them desired for raids. So now we will get Berserkers, and then they will complain that they don’t have a role.. so SOE will find a way to give them one.

But most important to keep in mind about the berserker class, it is designed to do one thing.. attract new customers. At some point, there is an accountant at Sony who doesn’t care what is good for the game, nor what is good for its players, he only knows that a new player shells out $60 for a copy of the game with all the expansions, and that equals 3 or 4 months of an active account. So they want sales, and lots of them, because high sales means they financially buy 3 to 4 months to keep thinking of a way to keep the players playing, to keep them subscribed.

Mark my words. Gates of Discord will be released, and within 3 months, Berserkers will be tweaked, and the other melees will be told “With the expansion behind us, we can now address your concerns.”

Changes, they are a-comin`…

The first round of melee changes went in a little while ago. Disciplines for pure melees (WAR, ROG, MNK) were split into 4 separate timers, partially unlinking them. Hybrids got theirs split into 2 timers, but then they only get 2 high level disciplines.

Some of the less useful disciplines got revamped, like Thunderkick now enhances all kicks for 60 seconds instead of just a single kick.

SOE also introduced the Endurance bar to replace the mostly defunct Stamina bar.

And Warriors got their new taunt skill-spells put in.

At first glance, I was happy I got my disciplines unlinked, but I was worried about the Endurance. However, after playing with them a while, I’m able to juggle 3 of my current discipline – Innerflame, Whirlwind, and Ashenhand – without to much trouble. I don’t sit, and I’m regularly full endurance when its time to use one (except the rare cases when the differing timers line up and I have 2 ready to go at once). Each discipline uses from 50% to 80% of my endurance, but so far that’s no trouble.

On the test server they are still playing around with the rest of the new combat system. The original on test was pure twitch gaming. During a fight, an “opening” would appear, in EQ that was a time bar on a window that said “Offensive Opening” or something like that. Lasted approximately 6 seconds. Or rather, 1 tic. In EQ a tic is 6 seconds, or rather, it is at most 6 seconds. Some of the openings flashed by in under a second. While the opening is counting down, you are supposed to push a button for the skill you want to use, expending endurance for the effect. Some of the skills were quite nice. Rogues got a form of snare, monks got a form of root, extra damage, stuns, attack and armor class debuffs… it was looking quite cool, except for the Whack-a-mole! style gaming they introduced. You had to sit and stare at the screen, and when the opening came, pray you caught the beginning of a tic so that your brain had time to fire off a message to your finger to push the button.

There is still hope though… SOE withheld releasing the new skills in order to make them less twitchy.

In addition to those combat skills, monks will be getting a form of limited use Lull. Should make pulling interesting. But the best of all is, after being successfully feigned for 2 minutes, a message will indicate that the player has been removed from all hate lists. No more /q’ing out of the game! Woot!

So, the end result is.. it looks like they are listening. Pure melees, who were too simple to be balanced, are being made more complex, and several long standing annoyances in the game are finally being handled.

Ideas on hold…

SOE is going to be introducing an all new melee combat system. So, to that end, I am going to withhold judgements and further suggestions until I see what they come up with.

Either it’ll be good, or it might be bad enough that I give up on EverQuest.