Archive for the ‘World of Warcraft’ Tag
Alright, MMOs. I have a small bone to pick with you. Why is it deemed absolutely necessary by the playerbase at large to have to watch videos of a dungeon or other encounter before you can attempt it? Seriously, where is the fun of pure discovery? Of being able to figure a puzzle out on your own?
I’m not a fan of strategy guides, either. If I’m going to use one, it’s only going to be after I’ve got far enough in the game to where it doesn’t make a difference and to satisfy my completionist itch. But reading it beforehand or watching all of these videos BEFORE you do an encounter? Isn’t that just plain cheating?
“Hey, look! We beat the boss by doing exactly what this video told me to do! We also beat it by using this exact skill build somebody else figured out!” … Are we just playing games for other people, now? You let somebody else do 90% of the work, and then you perform your role like an automaton. Really, there is no self-accomplishment in that. Is there no pride in figuring out a tricky puzzle yourself?
When you go to the movies, do you have to first read every spoiler about it you can? When you read a book, do you just skip right to the ending? Why does it feel like nobody likes spoilers, but everybody still wants them. How essentially having the game played for you is fun doesn’t make any sense to me.
The only points I will concede is that it saves time. Also, since probably everyone else in your group has cheated and watched every video, too, you’re at a social disadvantage and will stumble over your feet while everyone else is acting like a pro, mimicking what others have done before them.
So, fine. I get it, and to not look like a fool, I’ll watch the stupid videos to appease the gaming elite. It just really irks me that this laziness is the social norm and these games are designed that not following these mores hurts not just you, but your team as well.
My solution: A solo version of a dungeon. Don’t give great loot for it’s completion, or really give a huge incentive, but allow people to use it to see the story and practice the mechanics of encounters without having to resort to these out-of-game videos. Since loot is pretty much the only real reason players run dungeons to begin with, why not give an option to those who just want to see the story? So, for example, a dungeon can have a “solo” mode, a “regular” mode, and then whatever “hard” or “epic” difficulties you want after that. I’d have no problems running a dungeon on solo a few times to learn the encounters, and if I get a few random drops and some experience along the way, all the better! I could still make some character progress and be even more ready for the group encounters. But more important, I’d feel like I’d accomplished it myself, instead of just having it handed to me by a video or guide.
Have faith that your players aren’t lazy and actually enjoy a challenge, and you will see returns on it.
P.S. – To it’s credit, the only MMO this really doesn’t apply to is Dungeons and Dragons Online. They already have this system in place. I don’t know if it’s in 100% of their dungeons, though, but it’s a great idea that I feel could do the rest of the genre a big service.
Obviously, I don’t play World of Warcraft anymore and don’t really intend to get back into it in the future, but I must say their decision to make their mobile offering free is a stroke of genius on their end, and their timing simply couldn’t be better.
The World of Warcraft mobile app is exceptional. It adds the ability to access the auction house, chat with your guild members, check server status, talent calculators, character profiles, etc. Making it free makes it easily the best MMO mobile app on the market, and I’m sure they’ll see plenty of returns on this move. Awesome and well played. (Other developers take notice… having a mobile app for your online game may not be really important now… but that will be changing VERY soon.)
It’s like watching a tennis match. On one side, you have Blizzard with it’s mega-hit veteran World of Warcraft. On the other side, you have ArenaNet with their unproven rookie, albeit with foundation shaking talent, Guild Wars 2. In the past, when other games have released, Blizzard it seems never batted an eye. And why should they? Just look at their still staggering numbers.
But Blizzard is taking a look at Guild Wars 2, and it’s staring it down. Now, I may be a little shaky on exact details, but here are a few events and counterstrokes that I can remember:
1) ArenaNet tells the world that Guild Wars 2 will launch in 2012 – Blizzard counters by offering it’s players a free copy of Diablo 3 if they purchase a year’s subscription.
2) ArenaNet gives a release date for Guild Wars 2 – Blizzard plans to release a huge content update in preparation of Mists of Pandaria on the exact same day, including the anticipated talent tree changes.
3) ArenaNet will open it’s servers tonight around midnight for official opening of headstart access – Blizzard makes a previous unpopular subscription mobile app which includes guild chat, auction house access, and numerous other perks 100% free.
Possibly ArenaNet’s placement of their game’s release just happens to almost coincide with the September 25th planned Mists of Pandaria release, but a month is a LONG time in this genre, and a month is more than enough time to see the inevitable dropoff from Guild Wars 2, so release dates seem to favor both sides (and you can see why Lord of the Rings Online has decided to stay as FAR away as possible, now shooting for their Riders of Rohan release of October 15th).
Is there really a winner and loser in all of this? Financially, yes, both companies and their investors are closely watching. To us gamers… no. We all win. I’m sure Guild Wars 2 will launch and be everything people want it to be and more. Mists of Pandaria will launch and also be a much welcome addition to the Warcraft family.
Seeing these manipulations, though, I can’t help but feel a little like a puppet. What will be the next release that’ll pull our strings across the stage? I guess we have to keep watching the show to find out.
When I was younger I remember sitting around my friends basement, eyes glued to my friend’s huge cathode-ray tube television set, controller in hand, staring intently into the upper right hand corner of the screen. Periodically, I’d glance to one of the other corners, though this tactic was frowned down upon as you would be able to discern your enemy’s location. The trash talk was thrown like candy from an Independence Day float, and the pizza and Mountain Dew seemed to never end.
This was my first foray into the world of PvP gaming, and man was it sweet. The feeling of trouncing your best friends into a James Bond-approved submission, showing almost superhuman reflexes and coordination necessary to end up on the top of the PvP rankings.
Compared to today and the plethora of MMOs I play, I could really care less about PvP. What the heck changed?!
It all comes down to gear. Equipment. Virtual swords and armor.
When I first started playing World of Warcraft, I remember when they first introduced the battlegrounds. Areas set aside with objectives to capture or defend, with or against your fellow man. Finally, in a setting that wasn’t Terran Mill and Southshore we could show up those Alliance kiddies in proper Horde fashion! I was excited the first time I jumped into a PvP game… and I was dead in seconds. Huh? It ended up being that I was too low level. So, looking at the way PvP was set up, I needed to come back when my level ended in a “9″ in order to really compete. Level 19, 29, 39, etc. In the level 20 – 29 range, if you weren’t level 29, you were useless. It wasn’t even worth trying as the chances of making a contribution were slim to none.
At level cap, it was slightly different. Everyone was the same level and had the same advantage… but not quite. Those who had the time to raid three or four nights a week would be wearing armor that was nigh impenetrable, or wielding weapons that would stop you in your tracks. Those who played PvP more got better and better gear. It got to such a point that it seemed entirely futile. If you weren’t the right level, you were at a disadvantage. If you were at the right level, but didn’t have the gear, you were at a disadvantage. So, then, what is the point of even playing PvP if you have to be beaten down for 200 matches just to finally get the tokens needed to compete?
That sounds… fun?
The level of time and punishment needed to obtain even a semblance of equal footing just looked more and more insurmountable. So in today’s MMOs, I don’t even bother. I’m not a raider, so I’ll probably never see the best items needed, and I’m not willing to be teabagged over and over again just to finally be on the same level. So for this reason PvP, for me and a lot of other gamers, is pointless.
However, the times are changing…
On the Rift forums, it was announced that Trion is testing the waters of more competitive PvP that is based on equal stats. You want to win? There are no advantages. You need to outperform your opponents with skill and tactics. Their motive for switching to such a format could be the pending release of Guild Wars 2. PvP in the original Guild Wars was very skill based. Teams, with coordinated skill combinations, would compete with the same resources. If you went into PvP at level 2, you were bumped up to the max level. Those who acquired more skills obviously performed better, but that’s just because their toolset was more diverse. The number of skills you could use were still equal. PvP in Guild Wars 2 will be a very similar style.
So if you take away that grinding of gear or tokens needed to PvP in the first place and put everyone on equal footing, just like in the style of Goldeneye, PvP becomes a lot more fun. It feels like Guild Wars 2, and now Rift trying it out, are showing they don’t just want PvP to be something for the small population elite. They’re taking a page from the shooter genre and showing that they want it to be enjoyed by everyone.
Those who are organized and good at PvP will still dominate and those who were just relying on overpowering gear will be humbled. This may be the change needed to bring MMO PvP back to being a fun part of gameplay for many. I know I’ll be giving it another shot.
I know it wasn’t too long ago that I published a post all about how Diablo 3 was blurring the lines between a single player game and an MMO and I concluded it with this statement: “When all is said and done, the answer to whether Diablo 3 classifies as an MMO is really ‘No’.” I take it back. When I said that, I was under the assumption that the primary arguments were an auction house and “Always-On” play. Yes, an auction house needs a lot of other players to make it work, and Always-On play does make multi-player gaming a lot easier, but really, Diablo 3 has let loose the final trappings binding it to the single player genre.
I apologize for being mistaken before, but Diablo 3 IS an MMO.
Pfft… anyone can memorize that…
May I submit to the court a few pieces of evidence that clearly show that Blizzard has finally taken the final steps and have crossed the MMO boundary that they have been stumbling toward the entire time. First and foremost, a very strict No Cheating policy.
Now, in a game that not only has an auction house, but one where you can trade real money for in-game items, preventing players from cheating is a necessity. If one could create cash and items from thin air, then the concept of trading items in the form of an auction just makes the entire process futile. So, yes, I agree, cheating should not be allowed. This keeps everything fair between all of the players partaking in the auction house.
I want to go down on record as saying I’m not a fan of cheating in games, either. Game guides, boss videos, the whole nine yards, I consider it all cheating. But really, a game isn’t just about being fair to others. Since when do we all play a game for the same exact reasons? One time, while I was playing World of Warcraft, I wanted to pick up all the backstory from Warcraft 3, but I wanted to do so very quickly. So, every level I played, I cheated and gave myself full invulnerability. This wasn’t because I couldn’t get past the levels on my own, but I wanted to see the full story, and the sometimes hour+ levels were just getting in the way. So by cheating I was able to see every level beginning, every piece of dialogue in between, every level ending, and every cutscene. Having cheat codes allowed me to see the game’s full story in a quick, condensed manner. Did I get a huge sense of accomplishment? Of course not, but that wasn’t the purpose I was going for. Cheating in single player games allows players to explore the game on multiple levels and fairness never even comes up in the equation.
However, you cheat in Diablo 3, which does not claim to be an MMO and what happens? You get BANNED. Banned! Done! Thanks for the $60! Now maybe you will learn your lesson! Next time maybe you’ll think before your single-player game is taken away from you! This truly is the end of an era, isn’t it? Will we be sitting on our front porch years from now, playing our brain-embedded Google contact lens gaming system, telling our grandchildren about how we had “Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Select Start” practically programmed into our muscle memory? You know what those whipper-snappers will say, too, right? “Jeez, gramps, lame! I bet you couldn’t even feed your family and put down “World of Warcraft 5 Player” as your profession on your taxes!” (To which, you know you must reply “Get off my lawn!” to keep your retirement home street cred)
For all the ladies out there… who wouldn’t want the romantic heart of Griswold? Only $4.50!
My second piece of evidence is one that has been brought up before, but it needs a solid repeating: A Real Money Auction House! This… well, it honestly scares me a little about society. Not for the sellers, mind you, the sellers I can see this as almost being a genuine source of income (Taxes and all!), and so one could, if one knows the system first, end up making back the couple of Jackson’s needed to get the game in the first place, after taxes of course. (Why do I keep bringing up taxes? Well, as my good friend has so adroitly pointed out, not only are you held liable for reporting ALL income gained from using the auction house, but if you get any money back through PayPal, they are obligated to report that income to the IRS. If you don’t claim it, but Paypal says you do… well lets just say that you might want to get your paperwork in order for a forthcoming audit.)
Anyway, for players who ARE making some extra scratch from Diablo 3 I say “Awesome!” A good friend of mine even recently said that in a few weeks, he’s been able to net himself about $20 off of items sold in the auction house. You know, he was able to do what the alchemists of old tried to do and failed miserably… create gold from thin air. He was able to, using Diablo 3′s auction house as a medium, turn a digital axe he found by the pure luck from a random number generator, and was able to sell it to someone else for more money than you could sell an old lamp at a yard sale. Wow. If this doesn’t make your head spin and show you exactly how much Diablo 3 is changing the face of gaming, then you’re really not paying enough attention.
Now let me go ahead and fire up Final Fantasy X, get a nice drop from this giant bird-like creature and… wait… I can’t trade it for some Taco Bell? Oh that’s right! There are no other players to trade anything to! To have that kind of market, you would need a lot of players… a Massive amount of them, one would say, and the storefront better be an Online entity. A Real Money Auction House can really only exist in an MMO setting. Too few players or too little exposure to it, and the destruction of foreign policy and the world’s litigation won’t be worth the cost of having it in the first place.
Seriously, if you haven’t read this… you need to.
Finally, for my last piece of evidence, a quote from Blizzard’s own mouth, that Diablo 3 lacks a “long-term sustainable end-game”. Sustainable end-game? This right here, aside from the huge other two pieces of information, just seal the deal. Now, having a replayability factor is very good for a game. It allows you to play the game through a second or third time and play with a different ending, or a different playstyle. But to just come out and say you’ve attempted to make your game with a “sustainable end-game”? Sorry, guys, just come out now and admit that Diablo 3 is an MMO. Admit it! If what lay for me at the end of every game was a treadmill-style gear grind just to be able to play more and more dungeons, I think I’d give up gaming forever. If you watch a movie… it has an ending. If you read a book, it has a final page. If I play a board game, there is a winner and a loser. If I play a single-player game, I want to be rewarded with an epic ending cutscene! (I guess by not having a solid ending, they were hoping to avoid the Mass Effect 3 fiasco). But it comes down to this… no ending, no single-player.
In conclusion, in the case of the Players vs Diablo 3, I hope you find that with the evidence strongly presented here to you today to find Diablo 3, with it’s strict No Cheating policy, it’s Real Money Auction House, and an admittance of the attempt for a “sustainable end-game”, that Diablo 3 should stop trying to pull the wool over it’s clients eyes and just admit that alongside World of Warcraft, Diablo 3 is Blizzard’s second MMO.
I rest my case.
P.S. – It sounds like if Diablo 3 can’t find itself a very good sustainable endgame solution, that it might end up…… getting burned.
He often used to say there was only one Road; that it was like a great river: its springs were at every doorstep and every path was its tributary. “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door,” he used to say. “You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no telling where you might be swept off to.” – J.R.R Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
This passage is how I feel as I begin to write the first entry of this blog. Trepidation, fear, but also excitement. First and foremost, thank you for taking the time to stop by. Let me introduce myself. My name is Mike, and I live in a small suburb of Philadelphia where I live currently with my wife of almost two years and a quite plump cat. To be honest, its a good life we have.
In my spare time, I do a ton of activities, from following sports, to fixing computers, to playing Ultimate Frisbee, to my primary hobby: gaming. I play a variety of every style of game, but I especially like MMOs. For those who do not know what I’m talking about, an MMORPG, or MMO for short, is a Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game. Essentially, its a game where you develop a character in a setting that is filled with hundreds or thousands of other players all doing the same thing. It adds a dynamic to your standard video game. Instead of going into the dungeon alone, you can grab friends or complete strangers and tackle the dungeon together. You can buy and trade items from other players in a shifting game economy. You can lose yourself in conversation and end up doing nothing more in a gaming session than just sitting in the game’s main city.
I first became interested in MMOs with the game that is currently sitting on the top of the MMO hill, World of Warcraft. I played it for about 5 years off and on. The world of Azeroth boasts huge numbers. The latest figures state a gaming population of about 10.2 million players. Relatively, thats comparative to the size of Haiti, or the 82nd largest country in the world. Huge. However, to me the game over time lost its lustre. I fell in love with the genre, but out of love with Warcraft. I started to read MMO blogs and news sites, taking in all that I can and then expanded my horizons with many more games… Guild Wars, Lord of the Rings Online, Star Trek Online, Fallen Earth, and Dungeons and Dragons Online just to name a few. Because I play so many games, I have taken on a very casual, exploratory style of play. I take my time, I like to see what’s in the corners of a zone, I like to climb that hill, I like to go into that forest or cave just to see what’s there. I like to jump from game to game, too. In a sense, I’m a MMO nomad, a wanderer. This blog will not mainly be about MMOs but will also focus on other games or just anything related to gaming in general.
Yet, I feel it’s time to take my relationship with MMOs to the proverbial next level. For years, I’ve been a consumer, reading articles and opinions, listening to MMO podcasts, and taking every quest and event the developers could come up with. It’s now time to take all of that MMO experience and give it back to the MMO community. I’m what is considered a “casual” player. I’m not into the big time consuming endgame raids, I will never give up my life to play, I just fit the MMOs in where I can. This is a universal style, though. To a degree, everyone is “casual” at some level and it is this perspective that I write from.
The last class in composition I took was way back in high school. I am not a writer by trade, as I’m sure you can tell, and do not expect to make a living from this. I write because I feel passionate about the genre and feel that I can make a difference. And if you have the ability to make a difference, then why not do so.
Most of my entries will not be as long as this one. They will mostly be thoughts or ideas or observations I come across in my gaming travels. I plan on periodically releasing a gaming journal, chronicling my explorations, including all the many screenshots I take along the way. Hopefully you’re as big a fan of screenshots as I am.
Again, thank you very much for coming to this site and for taking the time to read my scribbling. If you have any suggestions for entries or feel like getting in touch with me, please do so either through my Twitter account or email me, you’ll find my contact information below.