Multitudes of Smoke

The thoughtful ramblings of a space goat and his alts.

Archive for the ‘MMO’ Category

Thoughts regarding Massive Multi-player Online Games

Warlords of Draenor – My Thoughts

Posted by Smokimus on December 9, 2013

I will absolutely play “Warlords”, but the announcement left something to be desired. I can’t put my finger on exactly what it was that I’m missing. It feels as though the expansion is really set-up to be a large content patch as opposed to something we should spend $40 bucks buying into.

I know this is in no way a unique opinion, and I’m not claiming that it is.

I heard this view point most well put in the Azeroth Roundtable podcast (by Ben, I think). This whole expansion seems to be trying to “set-up” something else, possibly the next expansion, and I’m not sure that feels so great.

I will say, however, that I am intrigued by the Garrisons. This step to player housing sounds like a great idea and if anyone can pull it off successfully I believe that Blizzard can. The rest of the announcements at Blizzcon were kind of “meh” IMO.

As “Mists” winds down I hope they can continue to make good on their promise to deliver content more quickly. If Warlords isn’t in beta in the next couple of months (end of Jan/early Feb.) with a release in early summer, I think there will be an acceleration of subscription losses and there won’t be any amount of “neat” content that will bring those that leave back.

Advertisements

Posted in MMO, Thoughts, World of Warcraft, WOW | Comments Off on Warlords of Draenor – My Thoughts

Who Needs LFR?

Posted by Smokimus on June 20, 2013

With the announcements of virtual realms and flex raiding, it seems to me that the WoW developers may be setting us up for a replacement for LFR. These two new features, if they work well, when considered together create an environment that may be similar to what we saw in the “Wrath” days, with an active 25 person pugging environment, but without the potential for loot drama.

Here is my thought process:

First, I don’t think that they want to have 3 different lockouts. This would go against the development path that they’ve charted since Cataclysm. There is a certain portion of the player base that would feel compelled to raid all three lockouts every week (LFR, Flex, and Normal/Heroic). This would lead to burnout by a good portion of this group, which would lead to a continuing decline in subscriptions. I’m sure that the powers that be would not want that. So one must go, and I think that one would likely be LFR. This is the raiding structure that is experiencing the most “toxic” player behavior.

Second, as I understand it, characters will be able group and join guilds across these virtual realms. This will allow guilds that are struggling to fill their normal raiding slots a larger pool of people to access and thereby have a greater possibility of completing their raids in guild groups.

Finally, when you combine these two systems you have an environment where you are going to be able to form pug raids from your own server and across your virtual realm that has the real potential to bring back some of that community feeling that seemed to be lost with the introduction of dungeon and raid finder.

Who knows Blizzard consistently finds ways to surprise us.

Posted in MMO, Thoughts | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Taking The RPG Out Of MMORPG One Step At A Time

Posted by Smokimus on July 6, 2010

Or why the implementation of “Real ID” may be the most stupid thing ever done by Blizzard.

Don’t many people play an MMORPG to escape from real life?  Isn’t this type of game supposed to be a refuge from our real life drama?  Doesn’t having your real name pop up anywhere while in game remove whatever emersion there was?  Don’t most people, while in game, go by the name of their main character?

When “Real ID” was announced, I didn’t really pay much attention.  I figured that it would be nice to talk to friends or guildies when I was playing alts on different realms or other Blizzard games.  When it went live, I knew enough that I didn’t care to participate as I don’t see the point of everyone knowing my real name (I don’t use my real name in real life, so why would I want to use it in game) as I don’t interact with any of them outside of the game environment.  Also, isn’t one of the first “rules” of internet security to not give out your full name?  Not a big deal to me at the time, would have been nice, but not necessary.

I could choose not to participate.

I so chose and I believe that many/most people also chose not to participate.

Then “Official forum changes, real life names to be displayed”.  Are you frick’n kidding me?  So, in order to post on the official forums, the hub of the game’s community, you will have to display your real name when Cataclysm comes out.  Apparently, they are out to destroy the usefulness of the forums under the guise of eliminating the trolls.

Many may believe that the forums are useless as they currently are, but I would disagree.  When I started playing, the forums were the first and in many cases the only place where I went to look for information on how to progress my character.  This was very noobish. I know, but I still think for information on leveling the various professions, it was the best place to start as there were some great guides put out by some very dedicated community members.  In cataclysm what will the incentive be to do this?  So that some asshat can go all nerdrage over some advice freely given and start to cyber stalk the person outside of game?  No thanks.

The law of unintended consequences cannot be violated.  What happens when some freak gets hung up with someone in game and proceeds to track that person down as a result of the information they were able to get from Real ID?  What happens when that freak gets violent?

As stupid as it may sound, I think this (unless changed) may be the beginning of the end of WOW as we have known it.  Much more than the pets or the sparkle pony, the whole of Real ID strikes me as some very poor implementation and design of something that could have been great and expanded the WOW community, but will instead shrink the community and be a very large negative to the game.

The problems of Real ID are correctable (allow for aliases, invisible settings, character specific opt-in), but it doesn’t seem as if Blizzard has any concern for these and is going to go full bore ahead with whatever their plans are.

What say you?

Posted in MMO, Thoughts, World of Warcraft, WOW | 2 Comments »

Jumble O Thoughts

Posted by Smokimus on June 17, 2010

Wouldn’t that be a great character name?

There has been a lot going on around here. Real life happens. I guess.

Raid Changes

I don’t think the additional rewards conferred upon the 25 man raids in Wrath have been warranted. There I said it. I got that out of the way. Now you know where I’m coming from.

It is certainly the case that it is harder to get 25 people together than it is 10 people. However, it is only harder for 1 person, the raid leader and it is only marginally harder at that. It is not 250% harder. For the 24 other raiders, there is no difference between what they have to do to get ready and what their 10 man raiding counterparts are doing. Everyone still needs to be repaired and have pots and buff food. They need to know not to stand in the goo or to stand in the goo (depending). They need to know how to DPS, heal, or tank depending on their role. These skills don’t change because one group is larger than the other. Sorry, I just don’t think that it is so much more difficult to run in a 25 man raid that it justifies giving such significantly greater rewards to those who do. If 10 mans are at all easier, it is because many people are running them with 25 man gear and are able to brute force their way through them with the higher stats. Thankfully, this is scheduled to change in Cataclysm.

Summer Doldrums

It is abundantly clear that people are slowing down their in-game time. It’s harder to get raiders to show up; RDF queues are getting longer; and some traditionally heavily trafficked farming spots are much less populated than previously. In game, we are experiencing the double whammy of Summer Doldrums and Pre-Expansion Malaise. People just aren’t that in to it right now.

This is completely understandable and I don’t think it represents a failure on the part of any party (Blizzard or the Players). It just is.

Unless you want to level a bunch of alts up to 80 or reach the gold cap or some other character goal, there really isn’t much left to do. We’ve been there and done that. No amount of filler content (see Ruby Sanctum) is going to get people to spend any more time in game at this point. We know that whatever gear or doodads we get now will be obsolete when the expansion comes.

I think Blizzard intended to have Cataclysm done some time ago, clearly however that didn’t happen and it appears as though there is a long way to go before it will come out. While this is a problem, I don’t think it is a failure on their part. A game this big that has been around as long as it has is an incredibly complicated enterprise and every adjustment has an impact on everything else. You are not going to have a bigger change than what is happening to WOW in Cataclysm. The stakes for WOW are incredibly high. If they don’t get it “right” a lot of people will leave and they will leave in a hurry never to come back. Blizzard knows this, so there is going to be an extensive testing period for the expansion and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a release come after Blizzcon. I think Blizz is willing to sacrifice a few months of subscription fees (from some) in order to make Cataclysm better, so that you will want to buy the expansion and re-up your subscription for another year or two when it does come out. I truly hope this is the case and I understand that to some this will seem like wishful thinking.

Have you seen this SWTOR trailer? It looks awesome. I do hope to get into the beta for this when it comes out. A trailer is not a game, however. We’ll see what develops between now and Beta/Release.

Posted in Cataclysm, MMO, Thoughts | Leave a Comment »

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

Posted by Smokimus on May 3, 2010

Change of any sort is almost always met with cries of impending doom.  The potential changes to raiding in Cataclysm appear to be no different.

In case you’ve been under a rock, Blizzard is seriously considering the homogenization of 10 and 25 person raids for Cataclysm to the point where the only noticeable difference between them is the number of people in the parties (i.e. 10 or 25 people).  They are even likely to have the raids share the same lock-out.  I think these changes are very positive, but I’m selfish that way (I raid 10s and don’t have the real possibility of raiding end-game 25s).

From various vocal quarters around the WOW community, this homogenization is being met with much indignation.  Many seem resigned to the fact that guilds will break-up over this change.  This may be so. However, what gets confusing is these people will say that they don’t play for the shiny loot.  They just want to play with their friends.  While this is admirable and all, it is confusing because the announced changes aren’t doing anything to prevent them from playing with their friends.  Blizzard isn’t removing 25s, like they did to 40s between Vanilla and BC. Blizzard is just making 10s more equal to 25s.  The complainers, in my mind, while indicating that they don’t play for loot are considering changing their preferred play style as the result of loot changes.  25s aren’t going to be considered “special” any more and they aren’t going to do them because they aren’t “special”.  What about the friends they so desperately want to play with?  How good of friends are they if you don’t want to play with them because you aren’t going to have access to the elite super special pixels of shiny WOW loot?

It seems to me that many who are complaining have some degree of misunderstanding about the situation they are in at this time.  I would argue that the “friends” they have wouldn’t be around now except for the opportunity to get loot, and that they may want to reconsider their definition of friend.  I believe their concern/agitation at this proposed change is the direct result of a light being shown on the truth of their situation.  In their heart of hearts, they know this to be the case.  Those players that they’ve been thinking of as friends are just people who want the shiny special pixels and when those aren’t exclusively available through their elite raiding guild they will go elsewhere without a second thought.  Maybe they recognize this, hence the consternation, but I think they should attempt some introspection about the situation before proclaiming the sky is falling.

The best post I’ve seen on this is from Ava @ Tales of a Priest.  She is in a high-end/elite raiding guild (Dark Nemesis) and is willing to take a wait and see approach.  She’s been there and done that and I think she has a good deal of credibility in this area.

Are 25s harder to organize and keep together? No doubt.  Logistics aside, are 25s harder to complete than the corresponding 10s? No.  I think in many cases it is much harder to consistently achieve in 10s because missing one person from your regular group in 10s is significantly harder to make-up for than missing  one, two or even three  people from a 25s group.  For this reason, I think it is perfectly reasonable to have 10s and 25s share the same loot.

I know your waiting with baited breath, because this post hasn’t gone on long enough, but I will make a future post about what I think Blizzard is hoping to accomplish with this.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

(turn and face the strain)

Ch-ch-changes

Don’t want to be a richer man

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

(turn and face the strain)

Ch-ch-changes

Just gonna have to be a different man

Time may change me

But I can’t trace time

(David Bowie)

Posted in Cataclysm, MMO, Thoughts | 2 Comments »

Why SWTOR Won’t “Kill” WOW

Posted by Smokimus on March 19, 2010

I’m an MMO noob, but I don’t believe that the Star Wars: The Old Republic will come at all close to meeting the projections the developers have laid out for it.

I like light sabers as much as the next person. I’m a Star Wars fan from the beginning. I saw it 8-9 times in the theater when it was released (1977) and I saw the next two movies 4-6 times each in the theater as well as had every action figure and vehicle that I could get my hands on. (Episodes IV – VI, were great.  Episodes I – III, blew in almost every conceivable way).  When I heard that there was going to be a Star Wars MMO, I instantly thought that that would be awesome (I didn’t know about Star Wars Galaxies and that is probably a good thing).  My opinion regarding this is changing drastically.

As I’ve said before, I’m new to WOW and MMOs in general (1.5 years), but there are clearly some things that WOW is doing very well, regardless of what the QQing trolls say.  You don’t have millions of people paying $15/month if you don’t.  Many of these things are going to be difficult for SWTOR to do in a manner that is sufficiently different from WOW to pull the player base away for any length of time.

One word may say it all – Variety.   In WOW there are 2 factions, 10 races, 10 classes with 3 specs each that can be put together in a multitude of ways.  Most players have multiple toons with different combinations of all of those variables.  Additionally, there are three very different roles that are available for group play: Tank, Heals, DPS.  SWTOR doesn’t seem to have near this amount of variation.  In fact, SWTOR seems to be very binary.  You are going to be a Jedi or a Sith.  I’m sorry.  I don’t believe that anyone is out there chomping at the bit to be a Bounty Hunter or any of the secondary classes that will be available.  You are going to play the Star Wars MMO to be a light saber wielding force using bad ass. (full stop) That is the appeal of the whole Star Wars universe.  This seems analogous to WOW if the only choice was being Horde or Alliance Death Knight and that would be very boring after making it through the starting zone on your first character.

I’m sure that SWTOR will have better graphics and better sound and some wonderful bells and whistles as compared to WOW.  However at the end of the day, what keeps people coming back is a variety of things to do and ways to play.  I believe that much of the QQ in WOW is the result of people feeling that the variety is diminishing and that everything is becoming too similar.  That may be the case. I’m not in a position to be able to judge that effectively. I do know that I have 11 different toons in WOW and not one of them seems the same as another one and any one of them could be my main.  I don’t think that is going to be possible in SWTOR, at least from what I’ve seen thus far.

Posted in MMO, Thoughts, World of Warcraft | Leave a Comment »