Tobold's Blog
Friday, February 19, 2010
 
Some short answers

Time flies, it's already Friday and I haven't answered all the questions from the open Sunday thread yet, plus I got some mails I haven't blogged about. So to clear my to do list, I'll bunch all the short stuff in this one thread:

Void from A Green Mushroom asked about unfinished games, which are the rule rather than the exception in the MMORPG business. I think the answer as to why that happens too often is in Scott "Lum" Jennings' post on MMORPG legendary failures: Scope. If you don't define very well from the start of the project what exactly you want in the project and what not, you'll never be able to "finish" it. Case in point: Blizzard is still answering questions about when they'll add the housing they promised in 2004. If they had more clearly defined their scope early on, people wouldn't expect that part to still "get finished".

Nefastos comments on tanks having the hardest job in PuGs, because not only do they have to play their own role well, they are also expected to lead the whole group, know the instance, and set the pace. So he wants extra rewards for tanks. Blizzard was considering extra rewards for group leaders for the Dungeon Finder (another announced feature that never made it into the final scope), but dropped the idea because they couldn't guarantee or measure whether whoever signed up for that extra reward was actually a good leader. Extra rewards for tanks pose the same problem: While the tank being the leader might be the general rule in pickup groups, I did play in groups where the leader giving the instructions was somebody else. Then the tank getting an extra reward for a job he didn't do is somewhat unfair.

Bernard asked about my views on the "limited attempts" system, but I kind of answered that in yesterday's post: The current raid circuit is defined by having to learn generic tasks, not by having to play your class very well. Thus the difficulty increase from one raid dungeon to the next is going up by not very much, and people can go directly from heroics to the hardest raid dungeon in the game. Limited attempts was an artificial crutch to prevent people from beating the last dungeon too fast. Didn't work, and Blizzard removed them from normal mode.

Gravitiy sent me a link to his Allods Online review, plus a link to screenshots at Keen and Graev showing players lining up in an orderly queue to stand in line to do quest objectives. Hmmm, I think I better wait before starting to play this. While queueing is obviously superior to killstealing, it still points to some fundamental flaws in population distribution.

Finally Solidfaith already some time ago sent me a link to an article in a Korean newspaper about the Korean supreme court ruling that exchanging the virtual currency of Lineage for real money is legit, because that currency is earned by skill, and not by gambling. That is in line with other courts in Asia ruling on virtual property rights. American and European courts on the other hand seem to consider virtual property to not exist, and follow the opinion of the game companies that any virtual property belongs to them, not the players, due to copyright. While that sounds somewhat less enlightened, it also means that I don't have to pay taxes on my glyph business (now sadly defunct anyway), so I'm not sure I'd actually want virtual property rights.
Comments:
showing players lining up in an orderly queue to stand in line to do quest objectives.
I remember doing this with Zalazane when PvP-RP servers launched. TBC's dynamic adjustment of spawn rates was a godsend, even if it made things somewhat hectic when NPCs respawned right after they were killed.
 
While that sounds somewhat less enlightened, it also means that I don't have to pay taxes on my glyph business (now sadly defunct anyway), so I'm not sure I'd actually want virtual property rights.

Every so often you read a blog post and find something funny, serious and new to you. Thanks :)
 
"Nefastos [...] wants extra rewards for tanks."

But we do get extra rewards. They're called "instant queue". I'd say that's pretty much the most valuable "extra reward" in the current game.

Not to mention that most tanks I run into when I go as DPS do not "lead" in any way beyond making sure we find the way from the entrance to the exit. Sometimes not even that. So, as Tobold questioned, how do you quantify/verify the validity of the "extra" claim?
 
"While the tank being the leader might be the general rule in pickup groups, I did play in groups where the leader giving the instructions was somebody else."

It would also lead to a mad rush where everyone would apply to be the dungeon leader, including people who have neither the knowledge nor the talent or even have ever been in this dungeon before. The chance for the leader doing a bad job (and get rewarded for it) would increase incredibly, as would the hate of the rest of the group against that guy.
 
Yeah the "dungeon leader" doesn't do crap mostly.

I don't really want extra rewards for tanks (I speak as one); I like being in demand. A bunch of half-assed jokers who are only tanking for the extra emblem will dilute my oligarchic status and increase the odds of some jackass getting mouthy because he's frustrated with all the C grade tanks he's been dealing with.
 
With respect to the Korean Court ruling wouldn't this open up further legal presidence for a subscriber of a MMO to sue the developer if they deleted gold or somehow drastically changed the economy of said game?
 
It's funny, I would say atleast once a week I read a post on here that could easily be answered if people had started playing MMOs in 1999 rather than 2004.

Sony released a group leader experience tree for EverQuest around 2002 with the Alternate Abilities. The group leader earned EXP which gave them abilities like marking mobs prior to pull or other stat bonuses to the group.

You could have the Dungeon Guide get points for a boss that is killed and a bonus for completing the dungeon and maybe for not losing any group members, sort of like EXP. Then the higher the level the Dungeon Guide is you could give small bonuses to exp or gold for the group.

Being a Dungeon Guide wouldn't be the key, just having a good one in the group. You could always set it up too so that the group could vote on a DG after the Dungeon starts.

By no means simple, but WoW isn't the first game to implement bonuses for the group leader.
 
The current raid circuit is defined by having to learn generic tasks, not by having to play your class very well. Thus the difficulty increase from one raid dungeon to the next is going up by not very much, and people can go directly from heroics to the hardest raid dungeon in the game. Limited attempts was an artificial crutch to prevent people from beating the last dungeon too fast. Didn't work, and Blizzard removed them from normal mode.

No no no! Icecrown demands knowledge of your class abilities/skills _in addition_ to that terrible "strafe out of fire" that you hate so much. Anyone who can perform "generic" tasks but can't do any effective DPS or healing is going to wipe their guild on Festergut, maybe Saurfang, etc. And there is _nothing_ generic about Blood Prince Council, Valithria, or Blood Queen.

And of course gating achieved its goal. While certain guilds beat the encounters the day it came out, hundreds of others exhausted their attempts. It separates the 1% from the 5-10%. The reason the gates were removed were because the rank-and-file guilds (like 50% of the WoW guilds incl. mine and yours) are just now barely _reaching_ those encounters, let alone conquering them.

I'm not going to make one of those blanket "don't write about things you haven't seen" comments since they generate a lot of Tobold aggro but ... you should join your guild's ICC run sometime if you're free, if they're further than 4/12 the fights get pretty crazy and interesting for a regular guild.
 
Paying taxes on my WoW gold means I would have to calculate depreciation as deflation continues with each expansion. No thanks! :)
 
Tobold, I'm curious why you think knowing your class is not important, and less important than it has been previously.

There should be easy group content and it might as well be 5-mans. They should not need guides. Even if it's challenging it should be clear from the game what you need to do, rather than requiring a person to teach it to you.

Tanks and healers have a little more to worry about when they get to the instance. DPS have a lot more to worry about before they get to the instance. Ultimately tanks and healers can learn the fights, but DPS can never "learn" to have tanks and heals available.
 
Tanks do have a hard job in instances, but it is what they signed up for. If they don't want the most difficult spot in the group they can always go respec.

On the other hand I would love to see an alternate talent tree for group leaders with group centered abilities. Epiny pointed out that EQ has had this for quite some time.
 
"Limited attempts was an artificial crutch to prevent people from beating the last dungeon too fast. Didn't work, and Blizzard removed them from normal mode."

Actually, they worked perfectly. If you go back and read Blizzard's statements, they followed the intended timeline to remove the attempts perfectly. It was never intended to last forever, merely to slow down progress so that the new ICC raid "lunch" would be eaten slowly and more satisfactorily rather than gulped down too fast. It's probably the most successful attempt at balancing gating and progression yet, I expect to see more of the same in Cataclysm.

I also hugely agree with what Ben said, to claim that you don't need to know your class very well for ICC as it stands now is, well, wrong.
 
Tobold, are you still planning on trying Allods after hearing about the insanely high prices for the cash shop?
 
I'm certainly planning on playing Allods for free. Might not even want to buy anything in the item shop, regardless of price.
 
I think the cash-shop prices are actually an error, like they've added a zero. I expect the prices will be fixed shortly, and go to a more normal range.
 
Surprisingly, and sickeningly, the Allods cash prices were not an error. Thats' failure incarnate, which is a huge shame since the game is really great.
 
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