Tag Archive for WoW

The Great Divide III

More than levels and more than lore, you know what divides players from other players most?  The players.  And nothing divides players faster than giving them exactly what they want.

People look back at EverQuest and they make fun of the difficulty of the game.  In fact, they often laugh it off as not being difficult at all but instead as being imposing or broken or wasteful.  They look back and remember (or just hear stories about if they never actually played in that era of MMOs themselves) dying to a rat and they belittle the experience.  Killed by a rat?  And why is my hero killing rats anyway?  But you know what?  They weren’t rats.  They were large rats.  They were giant rats.  They were diseased rats.  Even if the name of the monster was just “a rat” the thing was the size of a large dog.  And those weren’t beetles you were killing, they were fire beetles.  But people complained.  It was too hard.  Leveling was too slow.  There weren’t enough quests.  The spawn times were too long.  The loot didn’t drop fast enough.  Raids were too big and required too many people.

So, later generations of games have given players everything they asked for.  Easier fights (I’ve actually played WoW characters up to level 30 without ever dying), faster levels (I have a level 39 character that was level 33 three days ago, and that was in just 3 or 4 hours of playtime, maybe 5) and quests… good gods are there quests.  Dozens of them.  You can’t swing a dead rat without hitting a score of floating exclamation points.  I haven’t run into a spawn time greater than a couple of minutes, even for elites and bosses (raid instance locking doesn’t count).  My bags are so full of good loot from mobs and quests that my only choice is to vendor most of it because it’s too common to be worth selling to other players.  And I don’t need 65 or 100 people to kill a god anymore, I just need 9 people to go with me, maybe 19 or 24.

The one thing players don’t need so much anymore?  Other players.

I’ve mentioned before that I recently returned to WoW to try to play with some friends.  Haven’t actually played with them much, in part because of level disparities, but also because our schedules don’t seem to line up very often.  Doesn’t matter though.  I don’t actually need them to play.  In fact, playing without them is faster.  No problems of people being in different phases or on different sections of quest chains, no issues of level problems, and I can get fast and easy exp, gaining a couple of levels a night, fighting monsters that in no way actually have a chance in hell of beating me as long as I keep mashing my attack keys.  Hell, I have a druid who’s gear is so out of whack (and this is all found and quested stuff, I haven’t bought anything from the auction house) that I play with no fear of ever running out of mana.  Most of the time I play in cat or bear form, and between fights I pop out to normal and heal myself, then back to melee.  The wife’s hunter is even more insane.  The speed at which she kills means she rarely ever needs healing at all.  When we play together, I don’t even bother staying in normal form.

I’ve tried to play with other people, but it’s actually hard.  Grinding exp from monsters isn’t worth it, and finding people on the same quests is a losing battle.  I could queue up for dungeon runs, but that’ll just put me in a random group with random people who I will likely never see again.  Back before I quit the last time, I was in a guild, and we had guild chat and a vent server and it was very social… except for the fact that none of us were actually playing together.  On the same server, sure.  Sometimes even in the same zone, but grouping up always slowed somebody down.

At least in EQ, the only people slowed down by grouping were the quad kiting druids and wizards, fear kiting necros, and the occasional AE or charm kiting bard.  Even that isn’t true anymore as I actually saw with my own eyes a cleric soloing even con mobs the last time I returned to game, and not kiting either, he was standing toe to toe.

Now, don’t take this as railing against solo players.  While I personally don’t enjoy doing it, I do realize that it is what other people want.  I mean, WoW has 12 million players not because that many people suddenly realized they wanted to play MMOs.  It’s because that many more people were able to play the game because they didn’t need to actually have other people to play with.  And there is nothing wrong with that… except that many of these people refuse to acknowledge the impact that their style of play has on people who do want to group and play with others.  The impact is in server resources and population make up.  In older games where the majority of people were wanting/needing to group up, finding groups was easy.  These days, with the majority of people not wanting to be reliant on other players, finding groups is hard.  So much so that Blizzard actually had to make cross server instances possible and a group finding tool just to alleviate the pressure.  The issue now is that for many of the people who want from grouping what used to be an integral part of grouping (the social interaction and bonding), the LFG tool is an empty gesture.  It solves the symptom of not being able to find a group while completely destroying the ability to bond with those players.

But how do you solve that?  Again and again on this blog you’ll see me advocate the single server design for games because I whole-heartedly believe that the best way to solve player problems is to allow the players to solve their own problems.  If finding better groups is as easy as travelling to another part of the game world that is a much better solution that trying to get different game worlds to be able to share a player pool for certain kinds of grouping.  However, given that at this point Blizzard, and most game companies, can’t redesign their entire server structure to be a single server design, what then?  Free server moves?  That seems like the best possibility, and perhaps put a lockout so that a player only gets one free move every 90 days or something, and if they want additional moves they can pay for them.  If I meet cool people in the dungeon finder, I might move to their server if it were periodically free, but I can’t see myself ever paying $25 to move a character based on the interaction of an hour or two.  Nor would I pay $25 to blindly move to a random server in the hopes of finding more people to group with.

Once again, though, looking forward at new games, I’m less enthused about wanting to play them because of the divisions between players.  Even in the Rift betas that I’ve been playing in, I’ve got friends playing on 5 or 6 different servers playing with subsets of their own friends, and none of us are playing with all our friends, or even have the capability of playing with all our friends without creating characters on a bunch of servers, on both factions, and maintaining characters at several different level tiers.

Sneakin’ Around: Love Unfair to Men

Most of the last week or so, I’ve spent it partaking of the Love is in the Air events all around Azeroth.  LiitA (not to be confused with Lita or Lita) is World of Warcraft’s version of Valentine’s Day.  There are a series of daily quests where you can spritz people with perfume/cologne or throw bonbons at them, give a lovely charm bracelet to the leaders of the cities, and there is an investigation line of quests that leads to a daily involving fighting some guys and blowing up a wagon.  If you are over level 75, there are other quests, but I’m not, so I haven’t seen them.

In any event, I’ve been doing the single daily item I can do, the spritzing or beaning people with bonbons, and then keeping my eyes and ears open for people selling the charm bracelets (which I cannot make because you have to kill people to get charms).  I earn the Love Tokens very slowly, but I’ve earned enough to buy a couple of rewards.

I’m very disappointed in the dinner suit that men get.  Women get a dress, which looks more like négligée, that is quite sexy.  Men, on the other hand, get a dinner suit, that actually looks more like pajamas.  Not sexy pajamas, but a lame button down shirt and pants combo that I’m pretty sure people don’t actually wear except on TV shows.  Why can’t men get a suit that looks more like a bare chest and sexy boxer shorts?

Of course, I suppose I can’t complain too much.  I mean, it could be worse…

I know, I know, your eyes, your eyes.  Have a scouring pad for your brain.  It won’t help.  Trust me.

Level 19, and handing out charm bracelets to world leaders…  Ain’t love grand?

Anticipation 2011

So far, I’m looking forward to only one game this year.  And it isn’t Star Wars: The Old Republic (which, personally, I think is going to “fail” insomuch as MMOs fail by not beating WoW and allowing the company to pass out money hats).  Last year, despite owning many games, all of which I really wanted to play, I only played one game a lot (not alot), and that was Red Dead Redemption.  Even though I’ve never been a big fan of the Grand Theft Auto series, something about RDR just clicked, and it was probably the setting and tone of the tale.  I played it all the way through, I played the multi-player for many hours, and I bought all the DLC for it.  It was the best game of the year.  Well, maybe a tie between it and Minecraft.

I’m going to call it already, and say that the best game of 2011 is going to be L.A. Noire.  I mean, just look at this…

I don’t often get super excited about games.  I try to keep my expectations low or at least reasonable.  But it just isn’t possible here.

What about you?  What game are you eagerly awaiting?

Sneakin’ Around: King of the Road

Ahh, life on the road.

I knew this is what life would be like when I started down this path, but the reality of it smacks you in the face sometimes.  I crawled all over Westfall, uncovering the entire map, and managed to only find maybe four or five quests I could complete.  Redridge Mountains proved to be better with nearly a dozen quests.  And then it’s off to Darkshore, where there were a few quests to do and then the majority of the zone is locked behind kill tasks.

The daily quests help, of course, being able to earn 2k exp every day keeps my spirits up.  And then there is the Valentine’s Day event… which unfortunately includes killing, so I can’t participate fully. *sigh*  Time to head back to dwarf-land and goat-town, I suppose.

However, my decision not to kill for cash leaves me plenty of time to study the markets, buying goods from people who just want quick cash and reselling them to people willing to pay more.  I can sell copper bars for 7 gold a stack, but people will put them up for anywhere from 3 to 5 gold.  When you add in the market manipulation with my own mining and herbing, it totals out to over a hundred gold in my pocket – and that’s after I bought myself one of those engineered tackle boxes and a couple other nice bags.

I also managed to fish up one of those books that taught me how to find schools of fish, so that will be a lot easier from here on out.  Level 16 and moving…

Sneakin’ Around: Flowers, Fish, Ore and You

Gone Fishing

I'm no mage, but look at me cast.

One of the main reasons I returned to the idea of leveling without fighting was because Blizzard added experience rewards to mining and herbalism.  That isn’t to say that I gain exp entirely from those activities…

Each race in the game has a progression.  Humans do their starter area, then Goldshire, then the logging camp area, and then they move on either East or West.  Night Elves move through Teldrassil toward Darnassus and then they’ll hop the boat to Darkshore.  And so on.  Being that I’m skipping every quest that requires killing, I have to keep rotating through the progressions and picking up the handful of delivery, exploration and true collection quests (true collection being where you get items off the ground or out of boxes and not from the lifeless corpses of your enemies).  And since I’m traveling a lot, I pick plenty of flowers and mine a bit of ore as I go.

The quests that I do get are quite exciting.  And dare I say, more exciting than when I do them with other characters.  For example, in Dolanaar a night elf asks for me to retrieve an Emerald Dreamcatcher from the Starbreeze village.  The village is swarming with furbolgs, and I have to sneak my way into the building where it is, and then wait for just the right moment to retrieve it.  There’s no time to hide again because I’ve been spotted, so I make a run for it.  With furbolgs right on my heels I dash through the village and onto the path and eventually they give up hope of catching me.  Later, I would pull a similar trick to deliver hearthstones to trapped miners and dig relics from the ice for the dwarves of Dun Morogh.

Of course, I don’t spend all my time picking flowers, mining ore and sneaking into buildings.  Sometimes I go fishing.  In Stormwind there are even people kind enough to have a couple of quests for me that involve catching fish.  And I also spent some time tracking down people for the Lunar Festival.

Level 12 and climbing…

The Pig And Whistle.

Forget it, Jake. It's Old Town.

While bumming around in Stormwind, I decided to ask a guard what inns I could stay out in the city.  They gave me two fine choices, one in the trade district and one in the dwarven district.  Neither of those was what I was looking for.  Both locations are extremely crowded, being near the auction houses and all.  Lots of foot traffic and spell casting at all hours of the night.  I needed something quiet, away from the action, so I headed to Old Town and there I stumbled across a lovely little place called the “Pig and Whistle Tavern” and while not strictly an inn, and clearly not considered one by the guards of Stormwind, they were willing to let me hang my hat there, and with some fine brews on tap and good food from the kitchen, I think it will do quite nicely.  It helps that it’s a stones throw from just about everything I want out of Stormwind.  And even though I’m not overly fond of WoW’s in-your-face puns and pop culture, this one I like.

Sneakin’ Around: The Newbie Experience

From the very first moment, the humans asked me to fight.  But I have put aside my weapons, and I turned my back on the abbey and walked away.  This was a very hard decision, because the entire starting area for humans is locked behind that first quest.  Most of the quests, if I recall correctly, involve fighting anyway.  As I left, I was given the quest that pointed me to Goldshire, but everything there is too high level, so I decided to spend some time in the inn to earn exp bonus, that way what little I do manage to find will be used to the fullest.

The inn in Goldshire is a wretched hive of scum and villainy… or rather a wretched hive of people who will ERP scum and villainy with you for the right price.  I was aware of ERP.  I knew it existed.  But on other servers you mainly find people hiding in the tram tunnels speaking sex to each other.  But Goldshire is filled with naked people, or people as naked as the game allows them to get.  Bare chested men and women in bikinis abound, and calls fill the air looking for people of all sorts.  What the hell is a “college RP group”?  Are they teaching people to RP or are they RPing that they are in college?

The following day I decided that perhaps only humans were so demanding of violence and I headed for dwarf town.  Also, some of the ERP chat was creeping me out.  From both the dwarves and gnomes, they expected the same violence.  But like the journey to Goldshire, they provided quests to get to Karanos.  The night elves would be a little more forgiving… or not.  The Draenei?  Ah, yes!  They wanted me to collecting things (that weren’t in the hands of others) and give out medicine.

At some point along the way, I also managed to get mining and herbalism, and sometimes I even earned experience from using them (I suspect there is some powerleveling code in there because at one point I got 50 exp from a plant, then later after I leveled in the same area I got 54 exp).  And once I attained level 5 and got sneak, I was able to even take on some more quests that had finally opened up.

So, it seems my early levels will be filled with travel, not exploration (because I know there is a level floor on those, I wouldn’t get any exp visiting higher level zones), but making a rotation of the starting areas, harvesting and questing.  I’ve made level 7 so far, as it’s actually getting easier.

I also learned I have to be very careful of quests.  Things that appear to be something I can solo sometimes result in the game giving me a “pet” who will kill things.  Sadly, Kaens now has a single kill on his stat sheet because of one of these.  We’ll have to see if I can keep it at one.

A Week of Tweets on 2011-01-23

  • So the wife and I ended up back in WoW and on the Moon Guard server where we spend out time howling at the moon and dodging ERP requests. #
  • Hit me with your list of Must Have WoW Addons. Go! #
  • Is it wrong that the first guild event I'm organizing on my worgen is titled "Scott Howard Memorial Bastketball Tournament"? #teenwolf #
  • Idea: An RP WoW group called The Hand. Pollex, Secundus, Medius, Annularis and Minimus. #
  • I feel old when people say they "grew up listening to" bands of the late 90's and early 00's. #
  • $20 Amazon.com Gift Card for $10: http://bit.ly/i6Tkuh via @addthis #
  • Unpossible! #
  • I trust people to do their jobs, and it bites me in the ass every single time. #peoplesuck #
  • If you try to call me, do not reach me and do not leave me a message, you have failed to pass the buck. The ball is still in your court. #
  • Quicktime took over all wav playing in IE. How do I get it back to using Windows Media Player? #
  • Fingers crossed. #
  • The absurdity of tanking lies in that calling an opponent names in no way would stop them killing the healers and damage dealers. #
  • So, my site's RSS feed just decided to switch from full text to excepts without me changing anything. W.T.F. #
  • Finally relented and took down the tree. Christmas is truly over. 🙁 #

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Sneakin’ Around

Kaens

Kaens, human rogue

Years ago I tried an experiment that I originally titled “Sneaking Sixty” and then after the Burning Crusade released was retitled “Sneaking Seventy“.  I had to give it up because exploration exp got killed at some point so that you couldn’t walk a low level character into a high level area and get gobs of exp for surviving the journey, and there just weren’t enough quests to get the job done.

However, with the release of Cataclysm (actually I believe it was in one of the patches leading up to it), they’ve added experience to mining and herbalism.  So, since “Sneaking Eighty-five” sounds less cool that the two previous incarnations and because I’m certain the level cap will continue to increase, I’m reviving this experiment as “Sneakin’ Around”.

On the Moon Guard server, Kaens, a human rogue, will endeavor to make his way through the World of Warcraft without killing anything.  He’ll ferry documents, deliver messages, fish, mine ore, pick wild flowers and explore the world, all without a weapon in his hand.

Of course, upon logging in, I am faced with a dilemma: the very first quest is to kill things.  So now I must decide, can I just forgo the entire newbie area or will I need someone to “assist” me through a few quests to get me on my way?  The answer… next time.

Looking for People

Wolfshead made a great post about chat in MMOs.  I often find myself agreeing with Wolfshead.  We seem to come from the same place in that EverQuest got a lot of things right about building communities and having players be social while they play.  Anyway, that’s not what I want to talk about because, honestly, if you read his post, that’s how I feel.  But along side the chat discussion is a discussion on the Dungeon Finder in WoW.

In the comments, however, Tesh used the word/phrase “self-professed” and it got me thinking, and I commented as well.  In most games, we have to trust other people when they tell you what they’ve done or where they’ve been.  Well, not so much anymore… with gear score and achievements and bind on pickup items, people don’t have to trust you, they can inspect you or check your Armory profile and verify it.  People used to have to be social, now they don’t.

Anway… back to the Dungeon Finder.  The truth is, Blizzard named it properly.  You select the dungeon or dungeons you want to do, you select your role in the group, and then you queue.  You are finding a dungeon.  EverQuest had an LFG tool.  Looking for Group.  It was poorly named.  It should have been the Look for Experience Points tool, because that’s how many people used it.  They didn’t want to make an effort to find a good group, they just wanted to join one already formed and then soak up exp.  However, because of the nature of EQ, while Exp might be what you were after, what you got was a group since getting Exp often meant sitting in the same place with the same five other people for hours.  If you didn’t talk and socialize, you had better at least be excellent at playing and making the exp, otherwise you might get kicked from the group.  But in WoW, you use the Dungeon Finder to find a dungeon, you then do the dungeon and then you are done.  Then you use the Dungeon Finder, ad nauseum…

What I really want is a Looking for People tool.  I don’t want an objective and a role, I want a funny guy who plays with style and makes playing the game more fun than grinding the floating bags of exp and loot.  The tool should be half a personality test, and matching should be made on more than just people going to the same place.  A chatty guy should be placed with a group that wants a chatty guy.  And so on…  I know it would be a pain to build, and some people probably wouldn’t want all those options, which would be why you’d hide them.  The main screen could be as simple as the Dungeon Finder: where I want to go, what I want to do.  Then, under an Advanced Options or Social Options or Fine Tuning you put another screen with a whole mess of check boxes and/or drop downs that allow people to self select a narrower group of people.  The defaults would, of course, be Any/All and then those who wish could go from there.

The first option I’d add?  The ability to say, “Only pick people/groups from my server.”  You know, the people on the other servers in the Battlegroup might be great people, but I’d rather play with people who, if they turn out to be great people, I can play with on a regular basis.

Dragon*Con 2010: Day Three

Day One, 8am post… Day Two, 8am post… Day Three? Not 8am.  We’ll get to that in a minute.

Today I’ll be work the Guild Q & A with Vork and Zaboo and then I’m done.  The track has a few nifty things for the MMO-inclined like a Global Agenda panel, EVE Online, City of Heroes, a session about guild management and more.  Then of course, we have the Kingdom of Loathing party tonight, which was great last year so I’d expect it to be great again.

Now, let’s talk about Day Two… We had almost 600 people show up to see us show off Cataclysm.  Then nearly 200 to hear Sandeep Parikh talk about The Legend of Neil.  180 came to hear about the best WoW Addons.  At 5:30, we did the WoW Meet & Greet with fun and prizes, which I don’t have numbers for because I worked the camera instead of the door.  This was such a blast, especially the dance content due to the insane guy who actually did the WoW Troll dance.  Then we had over a hundred people for a second night of machinima.  And then… At 10pm we opened the doors on our MMO Gathering of Heroes.  I don’t have any final numbers, but I hear over 1,000 people dropped by throughout the evening.  We danced.  We drank.  We danced some more.  I stumbled back to the room around 3am.  It was a great day.