Tobold's Blog
Sunday, July 06, 2008
 
Open Sunday Thread

I'm on holiday, so every day is like Sunday, and I nearly forgot to post this open Sunday thread. What are the sujects you would like to discuss?
Comments:
1. Any updates on WAR? Has Mythic given any indication on whether they are on schedule?

2. Am I the only one underwhelmed by D3? It just seems like such an outdated style of RPG compared to a good MMO. It was great in it's day, but that day has passed; at least for me.

3. Anyone following the development of Stargate Worlds? I'm not, but I'm curious if it looks to have potential.

4. Anyone following the development of Champions Online? I'm not, but I'm curious if it looks to have potential.

5. E3 is coming up. I wonder if we'll get any big announcements. I predicted that SOE would soon announce Everquest 3, and I wonder if it might happen at E3. God knows that SOE needs a hit in the worst way and maybe they can capitalize on Blizzard's slow development cycles.
 
You could talk about "Some data on Age of Conan European servers population".

You can finde the original entry in http://classygamer.blogspot.com/2008/07/some-data-on-age-of-conan-european.html

And the answers of FC http://classygamer.blogspot.com/2008/07/age-of-censorship.html

It shows how AoC is getting empty!
 
adding on to =##=... i was very excited by the D3 news, that is, until i reinstalled D2 and too became extremely underwhelmed. My distaste for D2 was not a matter of graphics, as i regularly crank down the settings in modern MMO's to maximize my performance.

Instead i was underwhelmed by the general gameplay model, and yes, i gave the game enough time before finally doing my uninstall tonight. For lack of a better method, i will just list the problems that i saw:

1) The quests. Not the storyline that accompanied them, but rather the quests themselves. Like many things in D2, the quests themselves are inherently not fun. Yes i was able to find small amounts of enjoymant working my way through them with my necromancer on normal mode for the sake of progressing the story, but that incentive is out the window in nightmare and hell mode. So why did i clear the den of evil twice more in nightmare and hell? That is part of my next point.

2) The "end game". By level 35 or so i could honestly say that i had entered the end game stage of diablo 2. That left me with about another 50 or so easily attainable levels with nothing left to do except repeat the exact same content through two more difficulty levels... dozens of times. D2 is perhaps at the same time the most addicting game i have played in a while, and also the least fun game. One minute i see myself in a game called Baalrun-01 and 2 hours later i am joining Baalrun-37. Why did i kill Baal 37 times? So i could gain the 10 levels i needed to be able to efficiently solo Mephisto. So there i went, off to do mephisto runs hoping vainly that some item might drop that would improve my gear or be tradeable for better gear. At the upper end, levels become so difficult to gain that they are not even important any more. The only way to improve your character is to get better gear. If that means killing the exact same boss monster for 4 hours a night, you do it. When does this process stop? Head to my next point.

3) The sense of satisfaction (or lack thereof). Hooray! on MephistoRun23 i finally got that Shako helmet i was looking for. Now what? Well, the only thing i needed it for was that +50% magic find so i could have even better chances at loot from Mephisto. Lets equip the hat and create MephistoRun24.... Really the satisfaction of finally finding the item u need is so unclimactic its laughable. It really amounts to doing a /roll of 100 on trash drops in WoW or LoTRO. Who cares, next mob. Oh, and what happens when you finally get that last item you needed to fully gear out your character? Well, you could either turn hundreds of runs into THOUSANDS and recognize that there is truly nothing left to do in the game, you could roll a new class to do the exact same dull quests 3 more times as you use a new animation to dispatch your enemies, or you could choose the seemingly popular route of unistalling and letting the cd's gather dust until blizzard announces a new expansion...

Now who's to say Blizzard can't make a D3 that does not involve beating the same content to death for WAY TOO MANY hours? Is it possible? sure, but i have to wonder if they know how when their cash cow WoW at times fails to be fun when replayed.

At this point it should be clear that i am unimpressed with D2 and do not expect all that much any more from D3, but i would like to go on to make another point. Correct me if at any point i misinterpret you Tobold, as i am not revisiting your previous posts, but rather relying on my memory from readin gthem. If i recall, You proposed two mechanisms to "improve" MMO's including scalable difficulty (based either on group size or group preference) and constant dps across all classes (so as to make things like pvp more fun for tanks/healers and to give those two roles a boost in # of players). After looking back at D2 it strikes me that, low and behold, these features are at the core of the game. Games themselves are in effect 8 player instances in which the user can select the difficulty (normal, nightmare, or hell). Additionally, whenever a new player joins the game/instance the stats of all enemies increase accordingly. Now, how can D2 do such a thing while in WoW that would be impossible (have fun you two priests taking down that Uber Mob that is scaled to withstand two hunters)? The answer is that each class, in their own way, can deal roughly the same damage. Every class has basic AoE's/attacks that do pretty much the same thing just with different animations. The Necromancer takes down 20 mobs at once with corpse explode, the sorceress does it with frozen orb, the amazon does it with her lightning thing, the barbarian uses whirlwind, the paladin spams hammers, etc. Not only does this level the playing field in PvE (though i must point out that the sorceress is by far the most heavily played class because she can quickly teleport to bosses, thus increasing the rate of farming), it also makes for a pretty fair PvP fight. With equally overpowered skills a fight becomes more or a less a test of who can click the fastest.

So this is where i am confused. Tobold, you have asked for a system in which the classes are balanced and dungeons scaleable etc. But Blizzard has obviously used such a method before, and clearly they did not carry it over to WoW. That can only lead me to believe that they, in their infinite wisdom, recognize some fatal flaw with the system that you did not anticipate. I can honestly state that, in my recent experience, the easy to form group / selectable difficulty / easy loot system is not only very little fun, it is also utterly consuming. It amazes me how i continually joined the next baalrun despite the fact that every "not fun" alarm was sounding loud and clear in my head. Perhaps though, this system may actually be the best way for GAMERS if implemented properly, but i always have to think: maybe blizzard really does want these high end dungeons to be difficult because they don't want us to experience all the content. After all, the moment i acquired my last piece of gear in D2 i erased the game off my hard-drive. That is absolutely unacceptable player behavior for a company that wishes to use a subscription-based model.
 
haha that turned out longer than i thought. /wrists :P
 
more random crap from me hehe type of Inventory, does size or weight limited inventory storage actually add to a (mmorpg)game? I just feel size-limited is simple and works/
 
[You could talk about "Some data on Age of Conan European servers population".]

Maybe it has something to do with summer holidays. Doesnt MMO population usually hit a low in those weeks? On the other hand, i actually stopped playing AoC and froze my account. Although i accept a newly released MMO to be a little bit uneven and unfinished, AoC could have used some more time imo. After playing it for a while, i also realised i just like cartoony graphics and ancient old auto attack mechanics a lot more (as in WoW or WAR). I actually rejuvinated my WoW account to get my dusty old hunter ready for WotLK..
 
Please write about Age of Conan and it is actually profitable to polish MMORPGs before launch.

Will AoC, even in this state (I canceled after the test month) be a financial success for FunCom?
 
Because of the interest in your Shandalar mmo proposal, I suggest that we use a cooperative approach in fleshing out the design.

I'm not sure of the best technique for doing this but perhaps you could periodically pick a design area (e.g. combat, crafting) and call for comments on how this should be structured.

You would be the sole judge and pick the best ideas to incorporate into the fleshed out design.

Eventually, we would end up with a detailed design that all would have had some part in.
 
Here's what I don't get. Age of Conan had an open beta and yet people still went into the game with blinders? How could so many folks play the beta, like the game enough to buy it, and then quit less than a month later? Did they honestly believe that every problem they found in beta would magically go away once the game went live?
 
I've been hearing that Age of Conan is a lot more "finished" at the early levels. Most of the people who love AoC but then quit do so at level 40 or 50, when they hit a content-less grind wall.
 
regarding AoC, I never played the beta, I quit at lvl 49, not because there was no content at that level nor because of the low frame rate(55fps on low settings), but because the economy was pathetic, Epic weapons going for 22s, Crafting again was pathetic, buggy and a waste of time; There was nothing to gain from playing endgame PVP. Character class design was nothing new.
 
People's thoughts on SWGEmu?

wow!/Bow.Cow()
 
In response to the Diablo 2 poster describing the boredom, asking if giving all classes DPs works, etc.:

The diablo 2 mechanics you ask about (Every classes being able to DPS, scaling instances, etc.) seem to be relatively minor reasons for why the game gets so boring after awhile. (I feel the same way about it, after Guild Wars and WoW there's no way I'm going back.)

Some things I think that make D2 so boring:

1. Low class interaction (A multiple person game feels more like several people killing stuff on their own in the same area, rather than several people working together.)

2. Nothing to do but level up and find items. (Even more than WoW. I'm guessing Wow's game design owes something to this part of D2, as well as the everquest model.)

3. Lack of places to explore (The world is quite small, and linear.)

4. Really bad balance: Wow, guild was, AoC, etc. all have balance problems, but they are not as bad as what is found in D2.

5. The skill system, which squeezes people into using 2-4 or so skills, which limits the amount of effective characters.
 
A slightly silly post listing immersion breakers (most of these are acceptable for gameplay/fun reasons of course.):

1. In WoW, the lines in the ground dividing one type of zone terrain from another. These are quite interesting, like nothing I've seen in the rest of the world. it is truly amazing how the terrain a the north of the barrens produces a line of moisture and temperature that causes leaves and trees ot grow to the north, but dry grass to grow to the south.

2. The fact that while NPC's can apparently walk out into the middle of the wilderness unharmed to supply us characters with quests, I have to fight my way through hordes of difficult enemies to reach them.

3. The fact that the world is filled with difficult monsters in the first place. I know that, in WoW, the leaders of stormwind are incompetent, that the Draenei haven't had time to fully settle the islands yet, etc., but it does seem odd that the side I'm on has so little control over the world.

4. The small size of the world: while I can walk all the way through the biggest cities of the world in 15 minutes or so (perhaps less), Such a time will only get my through the smallest towns of this world.

Strangely, the larger areas seem to avoid this issue better than the smaler ones, even if they are proportionally as small compared to the actual world as smaller areas.

5. The lack of farms or other food gathering. I am amazed at how efficient the orcs are at growing food, from just 3 or so apparently empty pig farms and a couple fishing villages, they can feed an entire nation of people. (though one which is much smaller than it would be in the actual world, and this is assuming they don't import.)
 
I liked Paul's idea. Seems like a pleasant series of topics to delve into. We should all theorize an mmo together. It might be fun.
 
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