Saturday, 31 October 2009

Real Life Goblins

Yes it's a weekend post, just because I'm so annoyed.
My headset broke the other day. Well, it's been breaking for a couple of weeks now but tape could keep it together somehow. On Wednesday it completely stopped working and it was again that time of the year in which I buy a new headset. Some research later, I decide that the Logitech G35 is a decent choice, closely followed by the (cheaper but unpronounceable) Razer Carcharias. With a raid coming up on Sunday it seemed better to just go to a store and buy it instead of ordering it online. Online is usually cheaper, but how much of a difference could it be?

Forty fracking Euro is how much. Amazon will ship me the G35 on Tuesday or Wednesday for €89,97 while my local electronics discounter wants a whopping €129,99. That's $132.50 and $191.50 respectively. Naturally I went to the next sales clerk and tried to get him to drop the price to an acceptable level. I understand all the stuff of retail stores having higher running costs than online businesses but he seriously tried to explain a €40 difference with that.

Well, long story short I'll have to raid without a microphone for a bit and I'll never buy electronics in retail ever again without checking prices first.

Friday, 30 October 2009

Friday Filler #3

I've been playing a bit of Torchlight lately after seeing Spinks write about it. It's quite a good Diablo clone with a few nifty features. There's a free demo available and the game itself is only €15 or $20 on Steam.

I might write more about the game on a later date, but for now here's an important rule for your game design: Don't put monsters directly on the entrance of a level if your game has loading screens. I don't know how often I've already died in Torchlight due to alt-tabbing or going AfK on a loading screen only for some random monster to eat my character while I'm away. If you have to have loading screens, at least make the entry zones safe. Not everyone has the patience to stare at a rotating hourglass until your game is done loading.

Enjoy your weekend, your regular scheduled content returns on Monday.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Servers, What’s the Point? – Part 2

In yesterday's post I talked about the server structure in MMORPGs, why it exists and why it isn't necessarily necessary anymore. Today, we'll have a look at the question of why it would be good to get rid of isolated servers.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Servers, What’s the Point? – Part 1

We have had cross-server battlegrounds and arenas in World of Warcraft for a long time, now we’re getting cross-server pick-up-groups for dungeons and raids. Games like Aion (and Tabula Rasa and I’m sure others) show us that you can subdivide the population of a region into different channels to make it less crowded while still allowing players to play together. Why are MMORPGs split into servers at all? Why aren’t we all on one big server like in EVE?
Today’s post will deal with the advantages of the traditional server model and try to find solutions for the problems that a one-server world would bring with it. Tomorrow’s part two will then talk about why we would want to condense to one server in the first place and part three (if there is interest in one) will talk about my idea on how such a world could be set up.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Defining Content

There's been a lot of talk on the optimal difficulty level for raids, I even had my own post about it a few days ago. One argument on the pro-easy side is "everybody should be able to see the content." I've countered this in the past with the question of why you would need to see new content while there is so much old content you haven't seen yet. Maybe it's the definition of content that's actually the core issue here.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Friday Filler #2

Another week is over, another trafficless weekend lies ahead. Here's something to read until we see each other again on Monday. Just like last week, don't bother clicking read more. This is all you get today.

  • Klepsacovic over at Troll Racials are Overpowered has interesting ideas to improve WoW's crafting system.

  • Spinks tells us about losing gear progression in WoW and has some very good arguments there.

  • Also check out this slightly older post over at Dragonchasers on the topic of convenience vs immersion.

  • As always, the blogs on my blogroll are the bee's knees. Go have a look.

  • If you need more to read than blogs, I just finished Paolo Bacigalupi's The Windup Girl, quite a nice piece of contemporary science fiction. Be warned though, it's quite dark and somewhat explicit.

  • Thursday, 22 October 2009

    Healer Burnout

    This is a post I've been meaning to write for a while, yet other stuff always got in the way. Casual Raid Leader Starman wrote a post a while ago on why wrath is burning out healers and why healing in wrath isn't fun. His main reason: Fights are too hard for healers. Seriously.
    Now, I just had a post on difficulty and I won't go back into discussing whether boss encounters in Wrath of the Lich King are harder or easier to heal than they were before. Instead, let's have a look on why healers really burn out and whether that happens more often in Wrath than before.

    Tuesday, 20 October 2009

    Levels of Difficulty

    The discussion about whether WoW has become too easy or not is hardly new, but Mimetir, a guest poster over at World of Matticus brought it up again. This prompted LarĂ­sa to write a strong post on how she's sick of hearing people claim that WoW is too easy these days if they haven't beaten all the content yet.
    She is correct in many points and I'll address that below, but here's one thing I am sick of: People claiming that just because there is something left that I haven't managed to do yet, the difficulty is fine.

    Saturday, 17 October 2009

    Endgame Killed the Levelling Content

    Keen over at Keen and Graev's Gaming Blog wrote an interesting post on how current MMO design is too vertical. Content is bypassed quickly in order to get closer to the endgame. When is the last time you have actually cared about gear while levelling?
    A huge part of current MMOs is only there to guide the players to the maximum level where the real game takes place. I know I myself usually rush to the new maximum in WoW whenever an expansion hits. I don't care about the content in between; I don't care about crafting (other than getting that to max level too,) etc. Keen calls this “concentrated action” in a follow-up post. Instead of having a lot of things to do all over the place, we are funnelled into a linear progression path to the endgame.

    Friday, 16 October 2009

    Friday Filler

    My Friday posts (not even to speak of weekend posts) usually get read by a very small minority only - so you won't get a full post today. I have a question for all you healers though - and a blog for everyone to read if they do need more stuff to read on the weekend.

    If you are or ever have been a healer you likely have been bored with that role at some point in time or another. Please post a quick comment on why that was. Well written comments have a good chance to land in a post next week.

    And here's your weekend reading: Keen and Graev's Gaming Blog. I stumbled upon this yesterday and it seems like a good collections of musing on MMO game design. Enjoy and have a nice weekend. See you all on Monday.

    Tuesday, 13 October 2009

    Ze Items, Zey do Nothing

    No, I'm not suddenly a subscriber in the blue Ulduar theory. Clearly gear has a strong effect in World of Warcraft, both on performance and as a motivator. What it isn't, is interesting.
    Most people I've talked to dislike the incredibly unimaginative Trial of the Grand Crusader gear, but the issue I'm talking about is as old as WoW itself. For one, gear isn't very varied (and will be worse with Cataclysm.) But even if it was, the stats would just be very boring and unimaginative.

    Thursday, 8 October 2009

    Utility is Dead (or is it?)

    We've all heard of "bring the player, not the class" and are getting used to the fact that virtually every class and spec in WoW brings some kind of buff to the raid. Not all MMOs handle raid utility this way and in fact WoW didn't always either. I distinctly remember the time where you absolutely wanted a shadow priest or two in the raid for their mana regeneration, even though their DPS was sub-par. Survival hunters were only taken for their debuff and shamans switched groups mid-fight do chain Heroism on a DPS group.

    Wednesday, 7 October 2009

    When Casuals go 2D

    Much talk can be found on the blogosphere about the meaning (and lack thereof) of the words casual and hardcore. Euripedes of Critical QQ wants to abolish these terms altogether while Arioch over on Clearcasting proposes a scale of seriousness instead. There used to be a discussion over at WoWRadio that casual and hardcore don't exist anymore because guilds like Ensidia often spend less time playing than your average raiding guild - just because they are so good.
    Do you see the issue here?

    Monday, 5 October 2009

    Honesty Does Apply

    I've said before that, unlike many other blogs, I will have strict quality control on my blogroll. Well, you might have noticed that the Greedy Goblin just disappeared from it. I used to think of that site as a clever businessman sharing his insights on the WoW economy. In today's post, however, he is proud of using lies and deceit to cheat a competitor out of his money.
    His post, and the comments below it, got me thinking again about what anonymity does to people in online games and how one should behave in such situations.

    Friday, 2 October 2009

    Of Elephants and Tigers

    I linked to an article by Tobold a while ago in which he argued that the MMORPG market might be saturated. It is true, we see various new MMOs launch with reasonably high sales numbers but a very low amount of long-term subscribers. Is Blizzard god and everybody else just fails at making games?