Tuesday 31 May 2011

Like a rabbit with chilli up its arse

At the moment when it comes to MMO gaming, I’m leaping around like a rabbit with a chilli up its arse. Despite the fact that I actually have far less over all MMO gaming time than in previous years, I currently have 4 online games that I am actively playing, albeit in relatively small chunks each. An hour here, 20 minutes there, maybe even an evening there, boing, bloody boing I go.

Warhammer Online
This is clearly my main game again, as it’s the one I’m spending the most time in and also enjoying the most. I’ve been playing my Disciple of Khaine a lot, which has been quite entertaining really. He was L36/RR24 last week and I know the sensible thing would have been to stay in Tier 3 and get his renown rank up to 70, but to be frank Tier 3 sucks badger balls. Too much dull arse RvE as people try to blast their renown rank up with minimum effort. So thanks to about an hour in Land of the Dead and 2 war tracts, I hit level 40 and got stuck into Tier 4 RvR. It’s been fun and its amusing to see how insanely good the DoK career is, allowing me to contribute reasonably well and even heal successfully in scenario premades straight away.

Other than that I’m switching between my horde of other alts and of course my Chosen. I am loving the Chosen again... It’s been great fun I must say and whilst the game still has a great many issues, it is in a fairly comfortable place right now. For me at least... Anyway, as ever I’ve got lots to say about WAR and will be doing just that in the very near future.

The number 2 (and I don’t mean turd) in my gaming time, I am still liking RIFT a lot. I don’t however do any PvP in it anymore, there’s not much to be found even on a PvP server and well, it just can’t compare to WAR in that regard. The PvE is exceptional though and I’ve been doing a weekly dungeon run session with the guys from our Kill Frenzy RIFT guild and thoroughly enjoying it. I’ve also been dabbling a little with a Defiant Cleric on another server and have really enjoyed doing the rifts and events in Freemarch. Doing my PvP in WAR and my PvE in RIFT has left me feeling rather contented with both games, playing them both for what they are good at.

World of Tanks
Not really an MMO, it’s a lobby with instanced scenarios and to be honest has more in common with Counter Strike than it does an MMORPG. It is a really enjoyable game though and I can’t recommend it enough as a free to play game. It does have a fairly harsh learning curve at first I would say to anyone just starting it, stick with it, upgrade your tank and learn its role. Once you get the hang of it you’ll have a great time, as long as you like tanks of course…

APB Reloaded
I was one of the poor suckers that bought the original game and was then shafted when Real Time Worlds went BOOOOOOOOOM! I hadn’t been that impressed with how it played and then I got burnt by the game closing, so I was in two minds about whether to try out the new F2P version. I have to say I am really glad I did. It has been MUCH improved from the original simply by the new developers making it so that where you aim your gun actually has relevance to if you hit your target and the car handling is way better than before. APB is an extremely entertaining game; it’s not the full PvP carnage you may expect, but when on missions against other players and in teams it can be hilarious. Example of a classic moment I had the other day…

I was on a mission and for whatever reason I was driving like crazy through the streets with a car full of criminal players chasing me. They were hanging out of their car shooting mine up with machine guns, my car was getting battered and I was in serious trouble. As my car started to smoke I leapt out, the car rolled on, the criminal’s car came alongside it, unfortunately for them exactly at the moment I opened up with a shotgun into the back of my own car… The petrol tank must have got hit, because it exploded in a BIG way and with the criminals right next to it, the explosion took their car out and killed them all! I cackled with glee in real life. :D

So yes, APB Reloaded is another F2P game that I would say is well worth a download. I’ve no idea on its longevity and I personally will only dip in and out casually, but as a free game? No reason not to try it out.

Thursday 26 May 2011

Mythic monsters

Having to rush this post as I've got a RIFT dungeon run tonight, so sorry for any spelling issues...

Today mythic have some info for us about, amongst things, the Sigmar's Tide event. It includes a new scenario set (as predicted) in the Bright Wizard College and some open world RvR activities to do. The scenario includes some kind of monster play feature as players can gain control of a fire elemental type beastie. When looked at purely in the context of a live event, this all sounds pretty good. Of course players are already ignoring that context and complaining that this isn't anywhere near the amount of new content or changes the game needs.

And they'd be right. But this is about the live event and we don't know what is (or isn't...) getting announced at Chicago Gamesday which it appears will be a month after this has already gone live, so sounds like I've got that one wrong and perhaps they do have something more than this to talk about. I'll not be getting hyped about it mind you, I remain wracked with doubt. So despite this the event itself sounds good.

Also we can see in that first post that 1.4.3 goes live in June. The only mention of what it includes is a new accessory set. So, uhm, ok. Have to wait and see if 1.4.3 brings us anything to care about or not.

And then finally we have a new dev discussion about monsterplay, or as Mythic calls it, Play as Monster. This leads me to feel a little uncomfortable about where this could end up. Aside from the incredibly bad idea, sorry... the INCREDIBLY BAD AND BLOODY STUPID IDEA of having Skaven playable for both factions instead of Lizardmen for Order, the implementation has not worked out very well at all and isn't even vaguely popular. People wanted new playable races and classes, not temporary skins with a few abilities, that you can only choose to use occasionally. So the thought of more of this is not in any way appealing.

Sure I guess there are ways it could be made a bit more appealing, but it will never, EVER, be as well received as actual new races and careers. Mythic need to HTFU, admit they got it wrong and do it properly. Sorry Mythic, I wub you guys and all, but that is the reality of how utterly mediocre the Skaven turned out and the only way you'd really improve it. For now it remains a missed opportunity of E P I C proportions. I've no idea where you'd get the money to sort this of course, but it really could be so much better if monster play was dropped.

Wednesday 25 May 2011

New Poll: Dare to dream! What would you most like to see in WAR?

Over on the right hand side ==>

Go vote, lets see where that takes us.

Tuesday 24 May 2011

Hot air in a windy city

As you should have heard by now from Mykiel and Werit, this year Mythic are making an appearance at Gamesworkshop’s next big event in the US; Gamesday Chicago. Some are of the belief that this will be to herald big news for WAR, something of the scale of a true expansion or 3rd faction.

I wouldn’t get too excited.

Obviously I would be delighted if it was something of such magnitude, but I just can’t believe that it will be. I think it is far more likely to be about the Sigmar’s Tide event and we get a single new dungeon or instance, or I suppose it could possibly be the return of Fortresses, but whatever it is I really don’t think it’s going to be that exciting in the grand scheme of things. I’ll just settle for something fun and a little bit new, as to expect much more is just asking for a big letdown should nothing truly significant turn up.

I don’t mean to sound negative, just trying to stay grounded, but with WAR’s current lack of funding, backing and advertising, it’s best to aim your hopes low and then anything else is a bonus.

Of course if Mythic were to deliver some proper OMG big news, then it would be a coup of epic proportions and I will pray at their chaos altar. Though just the aforementioned bonus would be nice.

Monday 23 May 2011

In their world, everyone is a winner

In my recent post about DAoC2, I mentioned that if DAoC 2 were to ever appear, while I think it would be very successful, I don’t believe that it would be a WoW beater and in fact neither will any RvR or PvP based MMORPG ever. So what’s my reasoning behind this?

It’s really quite simple. People don’t like to lose. 

Games were not created to favor the loser. It is strange to think people are sitting in video game design classes and dreaming of games that punish the victor, even if those designers are not the best gamers. Especially as games become more involved and advanced, those playing will spend days or even weeks working past what is giving them trouble.

In a PvE centric game like WoW it’s completely possible to play the game for years and always win. You will clear the dungeon, beat the bosses and emerge victorious. Even if learning new raid content and having to spend a few days wiping on a boss, you can be assured that you will eventually beat it to a pulp. No matter how difficult a particular PvE challenge is, a player knows they have a 100% chance of beating it should they put the time and effort in. You also know that you will have it on farm status at some point in the near future. Whether you win or lose is entirely down to you.

PvP and in particular RvR is very different. They might not like to admit it, but even the biggest epeen waving prick loses fights in RvR and bloody often too. I know because I’ve seen them lose :P Situations will arise that are impossible to win, it doesn’t matter how well you play or how well you’re prepared, you will lose and there’s nothing you can do about it. At some point your elite warband of doom will ride round a corner and straight into 4 warbands of OMFGZERGDOOM from the enemy faction and BLAM! You lose, simple as that. Sure, you can put up a good fight, get some kills, stay alive a long time and perhaps claim a moral victory, but it will still boil down to you respawning. Battles and campaigns will be won or lost and whilst you can influence the outcome, you cannot decide it with 100% certainty.

That huge mass of casual players that in reality bulk out the big name game’s subscription fees don’t want the results of their valuable gaming time taken out of their control. They want to consistently achieve and have a sense of progress; they need to be in control. They log in, do their daily quests and log out, safe in the knowledge that they’ve taken a step further towards item A, B or C. They do a dungeon, they want item X, but if they don’t get it they know if they go again and eventually they will. And hey, they still got a token/plaque/whatever, so no time was wasted, the winning end result is inevitable. They don’t want to log in and get their arse kicked for an hour and come out of it with nothing and have no guarantees that this won't happen again tomorrow, or every day for ever...  where’s the fun in that? What a waste of their precious time and I don't mean that sarcastically at all, because yes time is precious. And while I say this regarding casual players, it also applies to a great many more hardcore gamers, they will quite often be even more demanding of constant and reliable progress. What they are winning is relative to their different goals in-game and the time and effort associated varies, but the expectation of consistent winning crosses the boundary of casual to hardcore players.

Whereas the dedicated RvR gamer is far more comfortable with just taking part in the challenge itself. They of course will also be interested in character progression and winning their campaign, but they will also revel in those moral victories where the only reward is a smile, a bit of epeen bolstering and perhaps some banter. To play RvR games for a long time means you must have accepted defeat and enjoy what may turn out to be impossible challenges. Perhaps they are playing for the fun of the fight itself and the utterly valueless epeen internet glory.

I don’t mean to imply that the RvR gamer is better than PvE gamers in any sense, it’s just people have a different set of desires, levels of patience and just what they’re willing to accept and enjoy in life. The majority of people want to win and given the choice between two good games where one supplies reliable victory, but the other you are only able to influence a result, then obviously more people will opt for the fun victory. For most people that question would be a total no-brainer.

Just look at EVE, a game that is rampant with RvR in the form of player run Corporations battling each other for territory and power. EVE is an extremely well made, very high quality and all round excellent game. On the pure quality stakes I would say it can comfortably stand next to any other MMO. It also has regular FREE expansions. Yet, it isn't even vaguely close to WoW's sub numbers. It's just too harsh for most players. You can get your arse kicked, have everything you own destroyed or stolen and the perception amongst non-EVE players is that this happens all the time and there's nothing you can do to stop it. Which is potentially true, it's the nature of these type of games and as EVE's infamous history shows, no Corporation is invincible... That's a horribly risky style of gameplay for most people. The masses want their win and in WoW, RIFT and other PvE centric games everyone is a winner!

So then, what'll it be for you? The taking part or the winning?

Me, I like a bit of both.

Thursday 19 May 2011

The classic MMO that you said needs a 2 after it's name

Recently I put up a poll to see opinion on which of 4 classic MMORPGs deserves a sequel. I was tempted to have a larger list, including the likes of Asheron’s Call, City of Heroes and so many more, but for me the games on the list are the ones I consider the big 4 genre defining MMOs. They are the classics that really laid the foundations for the modern MMO and proved to developers that online gaming was going to be big, serious business. It could be said that it was these games that led to World of Warcraft, certainly EQ and DAoC did. Also whilst they may be some of the oldest games out there, they are all alive and kicking today and are far more active than you might realise.
The poll finished:
63% Dark Age of Camelot (2001)
25% Ultima Online (1997)
7% Anarchy Online (2001)
3% Everquest (1999)
Firstly there is something to acknowledge regarding this poll that will have influenced the results. Despite me writing about whatever I feel like at the time, my blog is seen by most as a WAR blog and as such has readership associated to a particular style of MMO gaming. That style being games with a focus on structured openworld faction based PvP campaigns; where the PvP has purpose and impact on the game world. So I’m sure it’s not really a shock that Dark Age of Camelot was a clear winner, as this is without any doubt a poll with a slightly biased audience, but we should also remember that a great many of us WAR gamers also played and loved a lot of other games; including the classics in this poll.
And whilst we all know DAoC can stake a claim as the master of structured realm vs realm PvP, don’t fooled into thinking DAoC was the only game to do this. Ultima Online has (or had, I’m not sure all of these systems are still properly active) multiple PvP systems including: Chaos vs Order, Player driven community/guild based openworld pvp and an extensive 4 faction system where the game’s major cities could be captured and taken control of. Anarchy Online is also split into factions, with a pretty cool storyline where rebel factions are battling the Omi-Tek Corporation’s dictatorial government. Everquest, well, its split into different races, but the game was in my mind utterly focused on PvE grinding and I found it’s PvP to be purely about ganking and griefing. EQ was clearly the inspiration for WoW and AoC’s PvP servers… Yeah I hated Everquest. I tried EQ after I’d been playing UO for a while and crikey it was horribly dull in comparison. Still, it turned out to be the biggest influence on the entire genre, so my loathing for the game doesn’t matter. ANYWAY, yes indeed, DAoC is the master of RvR, but it’s not the only game to have RvR.
I think though that this poll (and the bazillion of forum and blog posts elsewhere about this) does demonstrate that within the community there is a real desire to get back to the broader RvR concepts that DAoC personifies. Huge open zones that are fully PvP enabled, with PvP objectives for the structured campaign, but that also have PvE scattered throughout the same landscape. Effectively a game centred on hybrid zones, packed with character, atmosphere and purpose. Small scale skirmishing, large scale raid combat, keeps, fortresses, relic raids, siege weapons, frontiers, true enemy territory, all of that. Also a game where neither the PvP or PvE feels like an afterthought, which is something that to my mind no MMO has managed since.
So DAoC 2 then, sweet, sweet DAoC 2…. For so many of us it is the dream MMO, the game we still hope one day will get made, but most likely won’t and will continue as the biggest missed opportunity in the land of MMOdom. It has been argued that WAR is effectively DAoC 2. It’s not. Rumour is that WAR was made with a directive for it to NOT be DAoC 2, how true that is I don’t know, but it does make sense. Why WAR isn’t DAoC 2 is a whole other and lengthy post that I may write one day, but lets just take it as a given for now. We are talking about a true DAoC 2; with Mids, Hibs and Albs battling it out in a massive world. There are many factors that make a sequel for DAoC so desirable and I could write and write about them, so instead I’m only going to mention one. I’ll leave it to you folks to comment or blog about others.
You may think I’d say RvR, but actually I’m going to say that the setting was an inspired and brilliant choice. By basing it around the legends of King Arthur and Camelot, combined with the Norse sagas and Irish myths, it tapped into a comfortable familiarity within us. Almost everyone knows and likes one of these legendary themes, so the game never had to convince anyone of its lore and atmosphere being good, since you already know it is. I’ll always remember the day during the beta that my friends and I ended up on Salisbury Plain and discovered Stonehenge… We were all wetting ourselves with excitement, we KNEW this place in real life and now we were there fighting giants. We discovered tombs underneath and the excitement continued. This sort of thing runs throughout the game, almost everywhere you go there is a legend or location that you will have heard of.
This flows all the way into the quests and storylines in the game. DAoC is packed with huge stories, masses of NPC conversations, all running through these familiar themes. All within a massive world, with weather, properly dark nights and one where you often actually had to travel to get places. If you’re not interested in PvE or a game’s theme at all then you could of course ignore it all, but should you have any interest in PvE or the setting you’re in, then DAoC delivered flavour and atmosphere on an epic scale.
So what about you? Why did you vote for DAoC? What makes it so worthy of a sequel?
There is one thing though. If DAoC 2 ever materialises, it will never, ever, be a WoW beater. No RvR or PvP based MMORPG ever will be, which is something I’ll be posting about soon. I do think though that it could be a highly successful game and would become the premier PvP game with ease, but only if Mythic stuck like glue to everything that makes the original such a landmark in MMOdom.
The big question is of course: Do Mythic plan to (or have they already…) start working on it?
It would be easy to assume after WAR and with Bioware being focussed on Star Wars that this is very unlikely. Easy to assume…

Wednesday 18 May 2011

For use in trolling posts

Music videos so bad they're actually awesome sauce.

She's mad bro


Don't pee your bed bitches

This might be handy for the Karak Norn forums.

BTW I apologise for the abuse your eardrums just took.

Monday 16 May 2011

Abandon hope all ye who enter here

Karl Franz's response to a visit from the Jehovas was perhaps a little extreme.

Those of a negative ilk may have thought this post's title was going to lead to a misery post. Quite the opposite actually, it's just a reference to the above screenshot. This weekend on Karak Norn there has been a seriously OMFG huuuuuuge battle for the Chaos Wastes. I was there for about 3 hours tonight, but I've got a feeling it may have been going a LOT longer... For the last hour or two both keeps had their doors destroyed and it was both factions trying to balance attack with defence.

Our return to WAR continues to provide much entertainment. Large scale crazy huge batles, plenty of small scale roaming and fast popping scenarios. Me like.

Tuesday 10 May 2011

A return to WAR; first thoughts

I'm back playing WAR and I am back enjoying playing it. This is good. The latest patch has greatly improved the horrible gear and renown balance situation that 1.4 introduced. It's not perfect by any means and there is still far too much influence from gear and RR on a fight's outcome for my taste, but it's acceptable again. I say "for my taste", but it's not something I really expect from a MMO to do differently, the whole gear and ever increasing stats thing is utterly ingrained in the genre. At least it is in the mainstream games, there is the odd exception where the main factor is a player's skill, but not many.

Anyway, tangent done... so yeah WAR plays much better again and my alts that got ruined by 1.4 are once again playable. Well, mostly. Obviously characters between about RR25 and RR50 are total shite, but they shouldn't take long to get up to more meaningful levels. It will be a shitty, dull, leeching grind to do so mind you (assuming the characters were already 40).

The thing is, the RR issues were MY main problem with 1.4, but that doesn't mean they were for everyone. The campaign, zerging, small RvR lakes, the terribad Skaven implementation, buggy PvE and the lack of new content of any meaningful magnitude all remain exactly as they were.

So while my immediate first impressions of my return to WAR are good, I wouldn't want people to think suddenly everything is sorted. Mythic have fixed (probably as best as possible in the circumstances) one of the biggest flaws of 1.4, but they still have a lot to do. Sorry, make that a LOT to do.

Saturday 7 May 2011

A message for the KILL FRENZY!

Regarding WAR I have this to say:

Oh yeah, you know what to do.

Thursday 5 May 2011

Poll up on the right

Go vote ---->

I'll be putting up polls every week or so, the idea being it will prompt some posts and discussion.

Wednesday 4 May 2011

Viable desirable MMOiable

Over the years of MMO gaming I've often found myself having to reconsider how I spend my gaming time and what game to stick with. Having a fairly normal adult life outside of gaming will always impact on what is both viable and desirable from your MMO, and with life's ups and downs those things can be subject to repeated change.
When I first started playing RIFT, my real life situation gave (or forced upon, depending on view) me a lot of time with not a lot else to do. So I hammered RIFT pretty hard and found it easy to achieve the type of gaming I enjoy. Whilst I lead a fairly casual guild in overall attitude and my personal gaming times can be erratic, when online I always play in a relatively hardcore style and expect to do well and have constant progression. In RIFT, like any PvE raid focussed game, this does require a lot of uninterrupted time spent doing instances. For a while that was working fine for me.
But things change and I now have a lot less spare gaming time, certainly I have a lot less "uninterrupted" gaming sessions. The reasons for this are all good and in no way is this meant to be sounding like a complaint or MMO geek withdrawal, it just means that what is viable and desirable has changed.
Whilst RIFT's PvP is not ticking my boxes, I am a player that likes a bit of a mix of PvE and PvP. I do really enjoy the dungeons in RIFT, but the problem is that this type of gaming is just not viable for me right now. Most times that I’m logged on I can’t be sure if I’ll be on for 10 minutes or 2 hours and whatever the time is there’s a good chance that I’ll have plenty of AFKs. Clearly that rules out doing instances or raids, other than the 1 night a week I’m on for solid amount of time. I had hoped that the dynamic rift and invasion roaming PvE would continue at level 50, providing drop in and out casual content, but unfortunately it doesn't because the invasions are not impact-full enough on the world and the rewards do not compare with dungeon and plaque (token) loot.
Actually that’s the biggest disappointment for me with RIFT, that the rifts and invasions that were so dramatic and dynamic whilst levelling become so utterly redundant in the endgame. If I was in charge of RIFT that’s the primary thing I would be sorting out, giving the games bloody name meaning for the endgame. Yet, I don’t want this to sound like I’m totally down on RIFT, because I’m really not. It is an exceptionally well made, very polished and enjoyable MMO, it just loses what for me is one of its brightest sparks at the climax and crucially, the time sink focus doesn’t fit my current lifestyle.
So my RIFT account remains active, but this obviously also means I have had to start considering what to play as my uber casual drop in and out game. Of course I could play single player games, but I like the social element of MMOs, as well as the long paths they give us to progress along. For me the things I desire most from an MMO right now are:
-Openworld PvP that isn’t just ganking crap.
-A sense of progression.
-Varied and intesting classes.
- Flexible, drop in and out gameplay.
One of the reasons I played WAR for so long was that it is an incredibly friendly game to anyone who's gaming time is broken up into random chunks. And of course WAR is the obvious choice today, with friends still playing it and its easily meeting most of the above desirables. As such I have resubbed for now and will take this opportunity to try out the recent gear balancing patch. I’ve only been on a couple of times so far and things certainly look promising gear gap wise; I was very pleased to discover my mid range renown rank Choppa is playable again. Potential there for sure, on a personal level anyway.
Many other things that people (probably justifiably) consider WAR’s big problems remain unaddressed. With what for all intents and purposes looks like a future of practically zero investment; the games long term prospects are dubious at best. The “good stuff” that was reported to be coming didn’t materialise at all (fixes don’t count, sorry) and it’s hard to remove that stagnant stench that surrounds WAR. I’ll be writing up thoughts about WAR’s future, dev discussions and things like the scenario tweaking in the coming weeks, but initially the big question for me is a simple one:
Will I have fun playing WAR again? Because after all is said and done, that is really all that matters.

Tuesday 3 May 2011

Back from a mini holiday, now what to play first?

Dunno why I put a question mark because it turned out to be World of Tanks. I was on the beta ages ago, and quite enjoyed it, so now it's out properly I figured I'd give it a spin. Whilst it's not an MMO in any sense (its more like Counter Strike with tanks), it is free to play and I'd recommend anyone with a passing interest in metal behemoths from WW2 should try out. Be warned though that you can't group up with friends unless you are a paying subscriber... which I'm not and have no intention of becoming either. For free its great fun, for a monthly sub fee? Hmm there's no proper persistant world, so not worth it.

Next on my agenda is sorting out some RIFT stuff with Kill Frenzy, more on that soon, then perhaps a dungeon or two and what will probably be some regular yet random smatterings of WAR. The brief look I've had at the lastest patch felt a lot a better, though clearly it won't address everyone's issues. Anyways, gotta go cook dinner. Back soon.

About Me

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Half man half pixel. Music obsessive, likes a drink, occasional bastard.