Gaming Massively

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


I was recently reading a post on Bio-Break about strategies to revitalize Warhammer. And I got to thinking about the shiny-chasers - you know, the gamers (I fear I may be one) who chase each new game, try it, become disillusioned, and leave, never to return. And I wondered about the chances of revitalizing a game, using strategies aimed at the gamers you originally lost. I think it can't be done that way. I think a game (an MMO, to be precise) gets one shot to get the hardcore gamers, and ninety-eight percent of them blow that chance. But it seems like we're now seeing some methods for revitalization that are working - moving to a free-to-play model, for example, brings in a whole group of people who won't pay $15 a month, but who might pay something. And it brings back a small percent, I think, of the original wave, who come because they can (it's free, right?) There's also the Eve method of revitalization, which isn't really a method, nor really a revitalization - they just keep going, and after a while people come because, let's face it, people like polish, and polish takes time, and if you just keep at it long enough your game will acquire polish (assuming any level of competence and assuming you don't completely destroy the game (Star Wars Galaxies, anyone?)) But I'm not sure that expecting the people you attract at the beginning of the cycle to come back is ever a good plan - but then, I'm not totally clear you ever wanted those folks in the first place - WoW certainly seems to do better with care bears.

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I'm so afraid

So the guy behind some very cool films has signed on to do a Warcraft movie. Sam Raimi did the evil dead films, and more recently (and more sadly - they were crap IMO) the Spider Man films. They're talking 2012 (just in time for the Olympics!!) for the movie. I'm... dubious, but who knows - could be a laugh riot!

Labels: ,

Friday, December 19, 2008

MMO Economics redux

Wow - Tobold just pointed me to a blog called the WoW Economist. This guy likes numbers even more than me. And that's going a ways. It isn't as interesting to me as secondary work using the data this guy is generating would be, but it certainly is good data.

Economics in WoW, and the other levelling games, is interesting - I remember this with Pirates of the Burning Sea especially, where as people levelled up the markets evolved. Of course, PotBS wanted to have a completely player driven economy, whereas WoW has a much more command-and-control economy, where, for example, items can have value one day, and be valueless the next (because they can no longer be traded). Economics on sharded games are also interesting, because what's rare on one server may not be on another.

I think, in part, that's what makes Eve Online so exciting - having an economy where every player has access to the market makes for a much more interesting economic game (and part of most MMOs is the economic game - the auction house in WoW wouldn't always be packed if this weren't the case - people buying low and selling high - hopefully to better effect than the real world of late). Even with a giant bug in their economy, Eve has had a tremendously interesting economic game.

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


This posting of animations of the 'Bush shoe throwing incident' on boing-boing, with WoW graphics (and Maliki marked as 'AFK') made me smile a lot. The Matrix one, while not MMO related, is also quite amusing.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I'm back

Well, I took a little break from the crazy Lich King overload, though I read there are scads of world events taking place, which I approve of. It's too bad they're so technically difficult to do - I had expected WAR would have a more fluid feel to its world, but everything resets there, too. Anyway, some non-Lich news:

APB has new info out, indicating they are actually listening to their players (well, possible future players, I think). I'm interested in this game from a technical standpoint, although I'm not sure the real world cops and robbers theme is my thing.

A post over at /random addresses the question of how to tell your teammates they suck. I don't think it quite goes far enough, as a little politesse goes a long way in my book, but it's an interesting read.

Jumpgate is reporting over 150K beta signups, for whatever that's worth. I'm in the process of signing up right now, and you can do the same here.

I was also reading up on Free Realms, which has posted a handy 'What is Free Realms' video that, I think, did a fine job of telling me that I was too old for it.

Finally, on a slightly unrelated note, I wish to point out the making of a Schadenfreude Pie, complete with cute children doing sinister laughs.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Monday, October 27, 2008

attractions of the Lich King

As we approach the release of the new Warcraft expansion, I have to admit I feel the pull. There have been a plethora of changes since I played, and obviously more coming down with the new release. And I have to admit, it's an entertaining way to waste time. I suspect I'll be able to resist by inertia, but I certainly do feel the draw.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, October 12, 2008


I can't believe BlizzCon is here and gone! When they first started trying to sell it, I was huge into WoW. Now I can barely muster enthusiasm for [unnamed beta]. WAR seems to have stolen a little bit of thunder with their 750K announcement (and really, why else would you announce a weird number like that, other than trying to get WoW's thunder?) I'm a little surprised at the numbers, actually - I would have thought a huge number of people would have tried it out (or is 750K huge? Maybe WoW has screwed up my perspective).

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Glider, round one

Well, phase one of the Warcraft v. Glider lawsuit is over. Glider lost. But more interesting are the future legal issues. From the article: "At issue will be whether MDY broke the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act and whether [Glider software creator Michael] Donnelly will have to pay the damages from his own pocket." It's interesting, because the penalty was six million dollars, whereas, if the article is correct, only "100,000 copies of the $25 (£14) program" were sold - which would mean the total take was $2.5 million. Ouch.

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

AoC etc

Well, the reviews for Age of Conan continue to roll - Tobold has done a good overview of the reactions (along with his comments on what, if anything, it will matter to WoW).

I have to admit that my most recent gaming has been Rock Band, rather than an MMO. AoC does nothing for me. WoW is pretty dead to me as well - I'm going to try to meet some commitments for running a few more evenings before I quit, but I think once I'm out I'm out for good. We'll see. I might be leaning towards Eve Online, but I might also just try new stuff - there should be a new round of betas to do, if I go looking.

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, May 12, 2008

WotLK news doesn't help

So this weekend a landslide of new info came out about Wrath of the Lich King. It wasn't enough to stop me from cancelling my subscription. If the folks I've been playing with lately can come together to do a regular run, I may do one more six month hit, but I haven't played in a long time, and don't know that I'll have time once we move this summer.

I may take a break from it until I see a game that makes me think there's hope on the horizon, or I may try all the free games and trials and such. We'll see. All I know is, all I see in WotLK is more of the same, which isn't working for me right now.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, April 24, 2008

WoW and the elections

Comedy Central has a fun post up detailing what each presidential candidate has that appeals to the various classes in WoW. There's a great photoshopped image of each candidate's toon (I think Hillary wins that one, although McCain is strong too). My favourite plus: Mages like McCain because of his "wizened old coot-like visage."

(via Massively and Ten Ton Hammer)

Labels: ,

Friday, April 18, 2008

WoW is the new Second Life

What's that you say? A conference in World of Warcraft? What fun! Apparently between sessions on virtual worlds and the like, they'll do raids. The swag bag apparently includes cash, and a pet. Cool!

Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, April 14, 2008


Massively has a post up on a new game called Saga, which looks (from the trailer) absolutely amazing. It's a Real-Time Strategy style game, in which you control armies in real-time. The post notes that this is what the author had expected World of Warcraft to be, which is reasonable, but I expect Warhammer 40K is a better candidate for the massive army control game.

All the same, it got me thinking about WoW, and what an interesting game it would be if, like in D&D, after a certain level you got a follower (or followers). In addition to making the PuG unnecessary and allowing for raiding (to an extent), the PvP could be amazing.

I kind of wanted Warhammer to be like Saga in their RvR play, at least, what the trailer says the play is like. From what I've seen I don't think that's going to happen. By the same token, from what I've seen of Conan nothing like that will be involved, though I don't think they ever claimed it would be. I expect what's going to have to happen is all the games now in beta will be released, and then someone will start developing a game which incorporates all the features they have, and that generation of games will be amazing.

Of course, it's an MMO, so in theory, they could re-develop. But I don't see any sign that, for example, Blizzard is going to make their game better, even though they could. Just milk it 'till it dies. It's sad, but that seems to be the way it works.

Labels: , , , , ,

Friday, April 11, 2008

woot! WoW silliness

If you haven't heard, it's time for more stupid level 1 stunts.

Mark your calendars now for the upcoming Big Red Kitty/Ratshag event: The Running of the Bulls. It will be Saturday, May 3 (Tres de Mayo?) at 4pm (server time - I think 11pm GMT) on the Cenarion Circle server.

This is what virtual worlds were made for!

Labels: , , , ,


There are reports that Wrath of the Lich King has gone into alpha testing (NDA must not be working), and this has reopened the question of whether WotLK will be the same as BC - 10 levels, more content, and the old stuff gets abandoned and forgotten. There's a thread on the official forums where, between the usual crap, people make some good points about what could be done to make it better. I think Tobold pointed me to the original post by Random Battle, titled "abandoning content with gusto" which seems to sum it up admirably.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, March 31, 2008

define: game

Warning: Philosophy ahead.

OK - you were warned. There's an article up over on the New York Times about new 3D chat rooms with avatars, etc. WoW is explicitly mentioned in the article. But of course, in an online chat room there's no game.

But there are avatars. And a virtual world.

How many of the rules of the game have to be set down by the developers before it's a 'massive game' instead of a 'virtual world' or whatever the term of the month is? Because if the answer is nearly zero, these chat rooms, like Second Life, will qualify.

That said, I've never thought second life was a game. Or at least not a fun one. It has crafting. It has player housing. In fact, if they could open up some kind of facebook API it could even have minigames.

And let's be fair: why do you keep going back to your massive game of choice? Is it for the PvE? Maybe sometimes, but I honestly think the split is more often on the side of the social aspects of massive games. So what happens if you start with social, rather than with game? At what point does it become a MMORPG from the other side? Everyone is role playing in an online environment. The only question is the word 'game'.

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

end game

Very briefly, because others will say it better: why doesn't the 2.4 patch offer anything but end game content? I think there is a strong possibility my main will never even make it to level 70, but that doesn't mean I'm not interested in new content. I've got toons at several levels - new content wouldn't hurt there, either. Why not some new level 10-20 raids? stuff like that? Argh!

Labels: ,

rollin' with the poxes

So I can't remember if I mentioned it or not, but I decided to give the Pox Arcanum group in WoW a go. We're still getting things around - actually getting a group of five people who can run things together is quite challenging. But I'm hopeful things will work themselves out.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, March 3, 2008

the weekend

Hooray for beta testing. Obviously I can't say what I did, but I can say that the weekend was interesting. I also managed to get attuned to Molten Core in an impromptu session Friday evening, which was fun - I love blasting through content. We headed in to MC once we were attuned and promptly wiped. Well, wiped or ran out.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, February 29, 2008

BlizzCast 2

I see the new BlizzCast is up. If, like me, you don't do podcasts, you can also read the transcript on the Blizzard website. I have to say that I didn't see anything that interested me much, but it has some WotLK stuff and Starcraft stuff, if that's your bag.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Revisiting the tank

Keen and Graev have posted an interesting essay on why the tank sucks in PvP, and what can be done to fix it. The thing that really caught my eye:

Immunities and resistances. Two incredibly overlooked and underutilized factors that should make all the difference in the world. Crank up the magic resistance and physical defenses on a tank. Allow them to run in to the thick of things and use their taunts. There needs to be a big enough change to the resistances that no one will think "root/mez the tank". They should be saying "OmG move! Here comes the tank!".

It's been a while since I played D&D, but even I remember that if you made your saving throw, you could resist a spell. I don't know how it works in the various games currently available, but I'm pretty sure that in my mind, fighters should resist fear spells and tear through roots pretty quickly.

I'm also wondering about mass in games with collision detection - if I'm a little guy, and a big guy comes running at me, I would expect to be pushed back. The knockback I've seen in WoW isn't very impressive - I'm sure it could be done better.

Labels: , , , ,

pox arcanum

I mentioned earlier I had run across a group of bloggers who had formed a guild to level together. As bloggers do, they started a blog. From the sounds of it, the plan to pwn is working nicely.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, February 25, 2008

over the top

I'm not sure, but I think AFK Gamer is unimpressed by the hardcore players who want their 'name to sparkle and the ground glow at their feet' to show how much better they are than casual players.

Labels: , ,

Monday, February 18, 2008

levelling, ensemble

I ran across, courtesy of the game dame, a plot on outland bound to create a guild of alts, with the intention of levelling them up together. It's interesting, because I remember how much people hated that Dungeons and Dragons Online required groups to quest, and now all I (and apparently others) want out of an MMO is running in groups.

Anyway, the post inspired me to go back to my alt, a warrior, and level her a bit, with an eye out for deadmines with some others alts in my guild.

Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, February 4, 2008

not dead

I'm not dead! Merely on holiday to London (not hellgate, just plain old). I've just gained access to some more game that I can't talk about, so obviously that won't be providing content.

On my end, a break from WoW has been nice, but I'm not sure how thrilled I am to go back in - I'm not sure I'll make it to 70 without some serious raid help from my guild. On the other hand, PvP is still appealing, so perhaps that's the direction I'll be going.

Anyhow, keep watching this space. And in the meantime, chew on Tobold's what an MMO will look like in 2020.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, January 20, 2008

ZG redux

What a difference the level cap increase makes. We blasted through Zul'Gurub with nary a wipe, and hardly any close calls. Realization number one: that is a heck of a long dungeon. We stopped after about half the bosses and 4 hours. But it was entertaining - I am reinforced in my belief that raiding is the part of the game I enjoy the most (or perhaps rather that doing anything in a group is more fun). Now, unfortunately, I have to grind rep in order to actually claim the prizes from the items I picked up inside. And I hate, despise, detest, and generally disdain grinding rep.

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, January 18, 2008


Finally, finally, finally I'm at a level in WoW that I can actually run something with my guild. Tomorrow, if the spirits smile on me, I'll be in Zul'Gurub with 19 of my guildmates.

It's been an interesting, frustrating climb to level 58, and has shown me one of the major weaknesses of the game mechanics World of Warcraft uses: once people are done with a section of content, they're done pretty much forever. Even though, for example, Black Wing Mountain has fun content that is certainly replayable, people have moved on - they're in Outlands now, and for the most part they are not coming back.

I don't know what the solution is - others have suggested the only game that would be totally replayable is PvP, or that PvE stuff should scale (to each according to their abilities, if you will). I like the idea of a PvP where everyone is equal, so a guild could run it together, but I know there are other opinions on that. Either way, the company that solves the endgame problem will most assuredly be very successful.

Labels: , , , , ,

Friday, January 11, 2008

19th Century MMO?

My wife and I were discussing why there aren't more MMOs based on 'real-life'. She suggested, for example, a game based on the Napoleonic wars. As we discussed it, it became clear that many of the game elements World of Warcraft introduced could work very well for a game based in history (or in the present day). Because time is more or less fixed, you could run things through a little bit at a time (the armies are here, etc.) You could even stage 'events' where the actual battles would take place (since really, the war was a whole lot of maneuvering and very few days of pitched battles).

We also discussed how interesting the social side of a game set in this milieu could be - with a bajillion readers of romance novels and/or period pieces, why not have the game set in the upper class social world of the 19th century. The key statistic, then, would be your reputation, rather than health or stamina (although stamina could be used for, for example, the ballroom or the drinking hall). Levelling would include such traits as promotion within the government. You could grind rep with particularly influential people. Etc. It fits very well using the basic mechanics already well established in other games. And the audience, interestingly, is completely new - which either means great success, or great failure....

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Saturday, January 5, 2008

not dead

Merely on holiday. I've been reading a bunch, but haven't seen anything that really struck my fancy too much. It's funny how much I don't know, even about the game I actually play (WoW). A big debate has been going on about how PvP gear is better than PvE gear, and so people grind PvP even though they don't like it, etc. etc. I only recently figured out that the badges I got from PvP were worth anything. I certainly can't have an opinion yet on the high-end gear. I love the fact that when people talk about the casual players, they still don't mean me, as I'm apparently more casual than they can conceive of.

For the most part, this has been fine - I don't have to worry about end game, as I probably won't get there before they extend it out another ten levels. But if, as has been asserted, the minority hardcore are the ones driving development, I wonder if the next generation of games, which seem to be taking their cues from the 800 pound gorilla, will be completely unaccessible to me. Which implies it will be the third generation when things really get interesting. I just wonder if, for example, WoW will be able to adapt when the new types of games start rolling out.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, December 13, 2007


I made it to Outlands, finally. I think we bought BC around July, and I'm just now getting to the content (not counting my level 10 Draeni warrior). I find the whole concept of an expansion rather bizarre, at least the way WoW is doing it, where every expansion brings another ten levels. It obviously adds a little bit more to the endgame, but for the most part people seem to cruise through the content to get to the raids anyhow. Wouldn't it be better to simply work on new dungeons and such, rather than creating a new continent? What I'd really like to see, of course, is changes to the world every so often. Show me the advance or retreat of the enemy. Even better, of course, would be to let me participate in the advance/retreat of the enemy....

Anyway, I'm not actually at the level I need to be to run the BC content - I simply went to train up my leatherworking. Which for me has always been one of the major attractions of the game.

Labels: , , , ,

been a while

I've been hammered at work, which has led to a little blogging hiatus. This doesn't mean I haven't been reading like a fiend, though. One of the things I've been meaning to comment on since it came out is a post Tobold did on the question of avatars. I have to admit, I'm usually more or less on the same page as Tobold and his readers, but in this case, I was completely out of step. It had never occurred to me that you could have a game without an avatar. One of my complaints about WoW is the fact that the gear isn't customizable enough - why can't I change the dye, and make the green cape blue? It's such a basic concept. So to see the very existence of in-game fashion debated blew my mind. I would argue that in-game fashion is an aspect of the social part of gaming (just as fashion itself is an aspect of a society). Without it, you lesson the social cohesion of the game, and thus the strength of the game as a whole (if we are agreed part of that the attraction of an MMO is the social features).

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

and more...

More on the Activision / Blizzard deal at, of all places, business week.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, December 2, 2007

holy cow

That's a lot of money:

Activision and Blizzard have said they will form "the world's most profitable games business" in a deal worth $18.8bn (£9.15bn).

The BBC has full details.

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

something for n00bs

Massively pointed me to an article on How Stuff Works titled How World of Warcraft Works, which is an overview of massive game technology, using WoW as the example game.

This isn't exactly what I had expected when I clicked through. I had expected a tutorial for people who hadn't played massive games before.

Given that WoW is now doing TV ads (with Mr. T and William Shatner), some sort of primer is probably going to become necessary. I learned the game by watching someone else play, but I imagine the ads are targeting an audience that doesn't have that experience (or rather, more likely, they're targeting the parents of an audience that doesn't have that experience). As the industry matures, instruction may become less necessary, but right now I bet there are a lot of people looking for serious guidance.

Actually, that was my experience with Tabula Rasa. Obviously I know more or less how an MMO works, but the details are important, and I found the intro section simply didn't offer enough guidance on those details. At least, I assume there were details I was missing - the alternative is that combat was really terrible, and I find it hard to believe that the main point of the game wasn't polished.

A game doesn't have to be dumbed down to have a good tutorial - one of the NDA games I've played has a very good tutorial, I thought. But if you want to bring in people who find your game through a flippin' TV ad, you better have something!

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

still moving forward

I made it to level 50 with my druid in WoW last night. It was pretty exciting, as it allowed me to max out my balance skills, and now I can summon treants to put the smack down on my enemies, which is very exciting - I love seeing them maul my enemies.

Rereading that sentence, I wonder if I should get Conan when it comes out. I wonder if there will actually be the sounds of 'the lamentations of their women' in the audio track (that's from Conan the Barbarian, if you're wondering).

Anyway, despite my more recent successes, I have been feeling a bit down on WoW lately. I'm afraid my guild is a bit too 'level 70' for me right now. We'll have to see if it continues. I'm pleased with the new levelling system, which makes for faster progression, and I like the fact that there are a lot of new quests. But I can't shake the feeling that all I'm really doing is trying to get to 70 so I can do instances with my guild. Which is a shame, really, as I think the content isn't bad at my level - merely a little lonely. It'll be interesting to see how this resolves.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


One of my guildies had the dreaded WoW won't update problem with Vista this morning. As you may or may not be aware, WoW needs to run as administrator to launch the updater, otherwise it just dies - no warning, no request for upgraded permission - just dies.

I don't know if this is game designers not knowing how to design for vista, or if it's a design flaw in vista. Either way, add it to the list of annoying things about upgrading (is it an upgrade if things don't work as well?) your OS.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

WoW updated today

As I'm sure you've seen somewhere by now, patch 2.3 is going live as we speak. A lot of people have complained about the level 20-60 speedup, calling it a dumbing down. My personal pick for the dumbing down award goes to the UI update (as detailed on WoW Insider): "Game objects that you can interact with now have a glow around them and their name over them. Wow! No more searching for twenty minutes just to find that little switch you have to click on." Now, I'm not necessarily saying I enjoyed some of those quests, but I'm not sure this is the best solution. I would have said a simple color tweak was a better fix in many cases, or making the quest text more clear. But in the end, I'm sure I'll like this, as I'm a lazy gamer, when it comes down to it.

Labels: , ,

Friday, November 9, 2007

Dell laptops

I wanted a new rig so I could play WoW on my laptop, so I hunted around for small laptops (I have a 17 inch now, and it's too big to be on my lap) and finally settled on a Dell Vostro with an nVidia 8400M card. It arrived yesterday, and that was when the nightmare began.

Labels: ,

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Too much AoE

We ran Zul'Farrak last night, again. I think I've been through three or four times now, and I still don't quite know how to play it. It's interesting how different the game play is when you play solo versus when you are playing with a lot of other people - my AoE is a bit too potent until the mobs have been reduced to about half their life, but I'm not really inclined to sit on my hands for half the fight. Clearly I'm missing something, which I'm sure will turn up eventually. The up side, of course, is that I can just ask my guild.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


Following on my post last week involving alternate endgame options, Tobold posted the question as to whether or not you couldn't just skip the levels altogether. Massively picked up on his post as well. In my original post I said no, because people like the feeling of advancing. The comments on his post seem to back this up, although there were some interesting variations - a lot of people noted that FPS basically is a MMO without levels.

I often find I enjoy doing the quests which follow sequentially - there's one in WoW where you run all over the planet trying to find a missing diplomat, and another where you have to head to someone's hometown to find out more about them. Those sorts of opportunities for storytelling often work without levelling. And as LotRO has done, you could add a title by your name when you complete a complex chain.

I also liked, and yet was frightened by, the person who suggested a game in which the only skill-ups were the ones you actually learned for yourself. How to pick a lock, in a lock-picking mini game, or actually memorizing the prayers which heal people, or whatnot. The idea of a mini-game for certain skills is appealing - I can see it for the rogue and the fighting classes, e.g. Others I'm not so clear on - mages, I suppose, could have verbal and somatic components that had to happen at a certain time. But that doesn't really appeal (though if I could do it with a WiiMote I might find it more entertaining).

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, October 25, 2007

lies, damned lies, and...

WarCry has a post about low population realms in World of Warcraft, which links to a forum post by Drysc on the official forums, who points out that some of the realms people think have low populations actually don't.

Which obviously depends on how you define a low population.

Is it the total characters on the server? The total active characters? What about horde/alliance balance? What about level balance?

Maintaining all of these things, while accounting for massive churn, is a pretty complicated thing - one which I don't think the setup WoW has chosen is necessarily able to effectively address. Or rather, it might be able to address, but only with seriously active intervention, which I don't think we're seeing right now.

Hopefully future games are keeping an eye on this, and figuring out how to deal with it (if they're lucky enough to find themselves in this spot).

Labels: , , ,

Monday, October 22, 2007

population density

There's an interesting post over at Voyages in Eternity which asks what the preferred population density of a city should be. This ties in nicely, as well, with a post Tobold did this morning asking how to deal with falling server populations in WoW. Both of these, in some way, address the question of ideal population density in a game. Of course, they aren't identical, as the problem in WoW is that many quests are group quests, and those can't be done if you are all alone in an area. There does exist a way to combine the two questions to a degree, as you could set up NPC adventurers that could help you with group quests.

I am of the opinion that cities should be as densely populated as a 'real' city would be. This is especially true if there is going to be player housing. Random scripted events between citizens makes the game more fun, IMO. I like to see that the metalworker is stopping by the bakery for coffee before heading to the forge.

This holds true for quests, as well - I hate the fact that the quest villagers simply wander around in straight lines or circles. Hate it. Introducing cyclic events in those quests makes them more interesting - if you do the quest three times, and every time the people are in different places, going about their business, it makes it just a bit more challenging - and interesting.

The poster over at ViE notes that empty towns do "make it easier to 1) maneuver through the streets and not become distracted/lost, 2) find what or who you are looking for, and 3) highlight 'important' NPCs and other PCs, as opposed to those that have nothing to directly offer to the ongoing activity of the character". But this implies that the end game is the goal, whereas for some people, all those little side notes are just as much the goal. It depends on whether you are end-game focused. Certainly if I were creating a character for crafting, I would love to be able to set up a shop, or befriend a shopkeep, and know that the populace at large were buying my things.

And don't get me started on the shops in WoW where there isn't even a shopkeep. Argh!

Outside of towns, it gets trickier - it's much harder to believe you're doing an awesome quest that only your heroic character can do if there's a queue to get in to the instance, and a mob of folks hanging out waiting for other party members. But you do need people to pick up group with. And chat with. Etc.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

farming and rep

Female Gamer has written a post title Farming is Boring, which addresses the rep system WoW and apparently LotRO have decided to use, whereby you earn reputation with a community for each of their enemies you kill, and since you need a lot of reputation to get their super-duper-awesome thing, you end up killing a bajillion of their enemies in a pointless rep grind.

What makes more sense? Well, think about it - do it like your favourite book or movie. You live among them, get to know them, do a big quest for them. Since in the game world 'living among them' and 'getting to know them' is synonymous with doing quests, then the most sense is to have quests, little and big, that relate to the tribe or town in question. Simple stuff - 'can you find my sheep' or 'Timmy fell down a well' or whatever. And frankly, some of the stuff should be irredeemable. Kill the chieftan, forget ever getting their help (except through some crazy 'I rescued your new chief's son from some absurdly powerful enemies' type quest - and even then there should be factions in the town who will never trust you).

Either way, in addition to being boring, earning reputation exclusively through killing is a bit morally dubious, isn't it?

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, October 8, 2007

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!

Spent a good part of Sunday doing happy druid things. Leveled to 41 (finally!) and ran Uldaman one and a half times (had to bow out the first time for some IRL stuff. My druid has all his talent points in nature, but now I'm starting to rethink some of the early points - a couple spells and effects I'm now wishing I had. One thing I'm very happy with is hurricane, an AOE that I put to good use (some in my guild might say too much use) on the run. Raining down lightning on half a dozen giant scorpions is good for the soul, I believe. As my guildies recently ran me through Scarlet Monastery as well, I'm suffering an overabundance of powerful weaponry, and I'm going to have to decide which I like better relatively soon. Do I take the big hammer, or the big spell damage?

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, October 3, 2007


One of the things I do like about online games is their ability to be seasonal. Right now it's brewfest time in World of Warcraft, and they've set up some amusing little quests and visuals to add color to the game. It's not really something you could very easily do to a traditional game, and I think it's something that will be taken advantage of even more in the future. There are actually a lot of opportunities in this area - a game which is supposed to take place in a certain real-world location could tie in to local forecasts, for example.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, September 28, 2007

up and coming

Keen and Graev have a post, which Tobold has responded to, on an article up at Yahoo which tries to guess what the next big MMORPG will be. If you are currently not up to snuff on who the up-and-comers are, reading these will get you a long way there.

Weighing in on the topic itself, there are a number of good features that certain games have created that haven't been all rolled into a new game. The current batch don't seem to be doing it either - Lord of the Rings is perhaps the closest, and they don't seem to have the right ideas to move forward - I think they may be too focused on WoW as a model. Too many of the others seem to be ignoring the fact that people enjoy doing things other than killing in-game. Really simple things like fashion and player housing have been ignored for far too long. See Tobold's post responding to Trinity for more on this subject.

Labels: ,

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Getting started

I decided to celebrate my druid reaching leatherworking 300 in WoW by following up on an impulse I had earlier to create a massive gaming blog. I don't play nearly as many games as I read about, but I spend what can only be called an inordinate amount of time thinking about how the games ought to work. So this blog will most likely be focused much more on the theoretical than the practical, although it will probably take its cues from newly implemented features in various games. And we'll see where it goes from there.

Labels: , , , , , ,