Balancing Zergs & GVG Mechanics

albion-online

One of the biggest issues with Albion Online, and most PvP-based MMOs for that matter, is that larger guilds have a solid, inherent advantage.

  • Larger guilds control more territory for a longer period of time.
  • Larger guilds have access to more resources, more often.
  • Larger guilds will have the best crafters because those crafters can source all of their materials from others.
  • Larger guilds ultimately get to experience the game to its fullest.

I do not believe in answering this problem by simply saying, “Then join the big guilds.” I’m also not advocating that big guilds not exist. I do believe people should be free to join whatever guild they wish. What I want to see, however, is a bit more equity in the game’s design.

I want to look at a few solutions and their pros/cons.

Limit Participation

This is implemented, or at least was last time I checked, in Albion Online. Let’s say you have a battle going on for a guild castle or something. Your guild can have 100 people in it, but the battle for that objective may only allow a 5v5 or a 10v10 or whatever.

On one hand, this equalizes the ability for large guilds to zerg out the little guilds during a territory struggle. On the other hand, it ruins immersion and can cause reverse frustration for people in large guilds never being able to participate. Is that bad? Perhaps not, since it may cause guilds to be smaller in general to avoid sitting out or benching people.

Remove objectives which cause or promote a zerg-centric play-style

Having a very small or limited number of holdings on a relatively small map or concentrated area leads to large groups of people fighting over territory. Promoting, which can really be called ‘rewarding’, groups of people for sticking together in large groups will — obviously — lead to people moving around in large groups. Downside here is that you lose that ‘epic’ sense of battles if you create a world dominated by small encounters.

Decrease Black Zones -> Increase Yellow Zones (Albion Online specific)

The overall point here is that more of the game can take place spread out in an area that isn’t dominated by the 1% rolling around in large numbers. This increases the relatively safer areas where players can still get resources, but not be afraid of losing them when ganked by 100 guys.

Item ‘insurance’ when outnumbered

I think EVE does something like this, right? I may be mixing them up with something else. But what if players couldn’t lose items if zerged? 20 people killing one person? They get nothing. This forces people to want to fight fair fights, otherwise they get nothing. I think there’s merit here, but easily exploited.

Eliminate Guild Vs. Guild altogether and have Realm vs. Realm

This allows for multiple guilds to more easily combine together to fight the other side vs. guilds — run by players — dominating. And that’s really the problem here. People will say, “oh just get 3-4 guilds together to take out that bigger guild!” Yeah, sure, okay. Have you actually tried that? When individual interests are at stake, people stop working together. United interests drive cohesiveness.

Remove resources from these areas and simply turn them into e-peen conflicts

This may be my favorite option of all. I only care about this because the resources I want are stuck in the areas where the large guilds are zerging their territories. Take out the resources and let them have a Call of Duty fight. Let them earn combat points from battling it out. Implement a few anti-zerging options, but let the crafters still work hard at gathering materials without having to worry about gathering them amidst the 500 people zerging each other. Otherwise, it’s simply too broken and unbalanced in favor of the zerg.

Adventure Log Update on Games I’m Playing

I’m slacking hard on blogging. Honest truth here is that I have a lot of games I’m enjoying right now. So let’s dive into an adventure log update!

Keen’s Adventure Log, stardate 2/10/2016.

Final Fantasy Explorers

I’m really drawn into FFE. Graev and I are having a good time taking out Eidolons and building up our characters. This is one of those weird situations where I know there’s no story, I know there’s not true ‘end’ to the game. Things just end when I feel like I’ve gotten the most out of making a character and I want to quit. I’m playing a Dark Knight right now, but I think I want to switch over to Red Mage. Something about chain casting and doing more magic with a balanced sword-wielding class seems fun. I’d feel more useful and less one-trick pony, though a DK’s one trick is to do a ton of damage.

A few of you asked about multiplayer. The multiplayer work where you turn on multiplayer mode in your singleplayer game. You then can choose local co-op or multiplayer co-op. You can make a room and have others join it, or join someone else’s room. These are like lobbies. You can password your room and let your friends join — that’s what we do.

Albion Online Closed Beta InviteAlbion Online

Really, really falling hard for Albion Online. Despite so much about the game being centered around GvG combat and taking territories, I find myself harvesting and crafting. What I’m worried about is the benefit of zerging. Zergs will win everything. Zergs will control the map, and despite it being huge it’ll still be that way. Zergs will feed crafters and outperform a solo crafter, or even a crafter backed by a group of friends or group of 10-15. It’s all about numbers.

The more I play, the more I realize there’s still a ton left to do to fix the balance. I think the devs know this. For example, crafting really is borked. To truly master one line of crafting would take like 2 years, but to get that far in combat takes 2 months. While needing to make crafting easier, they can’t make it something anything can just do on the side, otherwise they’ve ruined crafting. The entire game hinges upon how they balance this out. Please, PLEASE, get this right.

I’m about to upgrade my house and add more laborers. I’ll write up on those sometime here soon.

EverQuest

Every day I come home from work, go to the gym, and then log into EverQuest. It’s my routine. I think to myself, “I’m going to get a group and play!” Then I can’t find a group for 20-30 minutes. I get frustrated. I log off. None of this changes my desire to group. I -WANT- to group. I’m playing a Cleric FFS… It must be my schedule. I’m trying to play around 5:30pm Pacific time. Am I too late? Too early? It’s becoming frustrating enough that soon I’ll come home and go straight to Albion Online or FFE.

Final Fantasy Explorers Review [3DS]

Final Fantasy Explorers

Take the classes and abilities from Final Fantasy with the basic gameplay from Monster Hunter, and you get Final Fantasy Explorers. The premise of the game should be very familiar to Monster Hunter fans. Your goal is to advance your character by running quests, crafting better gear with drops, and mutating abilities. While really not even close to MH’s depth, FFE strikes a chord with me that MH wasn’t able to — FFE’s pacing is way more my style.

Basic Questing / Gameplay

The game takes place on an island with diverse areas/tilesets to explore. The main hub of operations where the player upgrades gear, obtains quests, and advances the very thin plot is in the town of Libertas. From Libertas you can accept quests to go out and slay summoned monsters, bosses, etc., in an overall effort to gain more crystals. I guess you might say it’s Crystal Chronicles meets Monster Hunter.

FFE OdinThe questing system is straight forward. You get to accept one main quest and any number of sub quests. The main quest is something like “Go kill Ramuh” and a subquest can be to use a certain ability during the fight.

Combat is much more intuitive for me than MH. Although deep enough to incorporate positional attacks and skill shots, the interface and execution are easier. Hold LB and RB opens up submenus with X, Y, A, and B for each. So you can basically bookmark 8 abilities, a basic attack, sprint, and item menu. This is way easier than having to remember combos, and it works so much better too.

Battles play out much like a standard RPG or even MMORPG in real time. Combat mechanics include tanks, heals, boosters, and damagers with a variety of ways to execute each. Monsters fight back using the typical, though a tad unoriginal, mechanics too. You’ll see lots of AOE attacks, charging monsters, and ‘get out of the red circle or instantly die’ mechanics. Despite being a little contrived, they work.

FFE Classes

Classes & Abilities: FFE has lots of them

Knight, Monk, White Mage, Black Mage, Dragoon, Paladin, Thief, Ninja, Red Mage, Time Mage, Bard, Hunter, Dark Knight, Beastmaster, Geomancer, Machinist, Alchemist, Sage, Blue Mage, Samurai, and Freelancer. Those are your class choices in Final Fantasy Explorers. As I mentioned earlier, there’s a variety of tanks, heals, dps, and boosters (buffers) to play, and a variety of ways to satisfy each play style. Want pure burst dps? Go Machinist. Want a traditional Tank? Go Knight.

I like how the abilities, in some cases, can be used cross-class. I can use Cure on my Knight to help heal myself in a pinch. Eventually you can master a class and obtain access to additional weapons and abilities.

Mutating and upgrading abilities adds a whole new level of customization. As you use crystal surges (special abilities on timers) you can then use other abilities that, when used in tandem, spark a mutation. Mutations can stack and build custom abilities. Let’s say you use Guard during a mutation opportunity and it adds Haste. This creates a NEW abilities that will give you both Guard and Haste at the same time. It’s like ability stacking, and you can ultimately walk around with all of your abilities no longer basic simple skills but mutated abilities. The customization here is overwhelming, but if you simply focus on making abilities you think are cool and useful then you’ll get by just fine.

Single-player & Multiplayer

Graev and I have been playing FFE together almost exclusively. Multiplayer works flawlessly without any lag at all. Final Fantasy Explorers works great solo, don’t get me wrong. You can create monster pets to act as a companion and do just fine in the game solo, but I think the true spirit of the game is best felt in multiplayer with up to 4 players.

FFE teamwork

Again, combat is designed for that typical ‘group’ gameplay. Graev is playing a Time Mage with lots of support abilities and heals, but a healthy dose of damage too. Remember, you can customize your character quite a bit, so he has made a character that fits his style. I’m playing a Knight (standard tank) until I unlock either Red Mage or Dark Knight. I think both of those sound most fun to me.

Teamwork and synergizing together, planning attacks, etc., are all beneficial in FFE. We did a boss fight against Ifrit and realized we hadn’t properly planned. Neither of us came in with the abilities we’d need to synergize a good combo or to output enough damage. Fixing that issue, we defeated Ifrit again in half the time.

More to Come…

There’s a little much to put here in a review. You know me, I like to keep these short and to the point with a bit of info to satisfy your questions and whether or not you should buy or skip. While FFE’s scope is easier to grasp than MH, the depth is there for at least 100 hours of gameplay. I’m going to try and rig up a way to stream FFE and/or record a video so that you guys can see it in action from my perspective.

I highly recommend Final Fantasy Explorers. Go into it expecting a game all about playing interesting classes and beating bosses. This is a game about grinding for loot drops to craft that perfect weapon, customizing your abilities to make your character feel just right, and simply enjoying to thrill of the hunt. Just don’t expect a plot — there really isn’t one — or anything close to a traditional Final Fantasy game. But trust me, you won’t miss it. Looks for whatever videos I can come up with soon as they’ll answer more questions and provide more insight into gameplay.

P.S. I highly recommend you purchase FFE on Amazon. Gamestops are sold out, and Best Buy laughed at me. Amazon had it to me in 2 days.

EverQuest Upping EXP Rates for Progression Servers

everquest-phinigel-xp-rates-up

Daybreak announced the details of the upcoming February EverQUest update. Most notably, experience rates are going to improve.

So, Experience Is Better?

Yes. After this patch, the overall experience gains on Phinigel, Ragefire, and Lockjaw will be better, while making leveling up via fueling Lokar To`Biath’s alcoholism or Xelha Nevagon’s coleoptericide less effective.

Ragefire and Lockjaw experience will still be slower than live servers, but faster than Phinigel.

The references to alcoholism and coleoptericide are for quest turn-ins. People have been amassing quest turn-in items and finding it’s faster to shoot up in levels by buying your way than playing your war. Clearly not in the spirit of EverQuest, unless we’re talking about belts.

I won’t complain about the increase to exp. Although I’m definitely not among the group who feels the exp is unplayably slow, I do wish I could get a little bit more progress each night in order to make my pre-kunark goals. I know one of my friends felt less inclined to log in because of the exp rates — that’s exactly the opposite experience Daybreak wants people to have, though it does make me curious to see their profit maximization calculations for potion sales vs the subscriber curve.

My fingers are crossed that this change will make finding a group easier. That’s really all I care about.

WTF is Daybreak doing?

I really have no idea what Daybreak is doing. Let me rephrase that; I think Daybreak has no idea what Daybreak is doing. At every turn they are showing how NOT to behave as a video game company.

Announce you’re working on Everquest’s sequel, launch a tangent EverQuest project that fails to live up to its promises and even become a game, then pretend EverQuest Next doesn’t exist.

Announce you’re building the spiritual successor to SWG, launch it as a zombie survival game, couple weeks later turn that game into a King of the Hill/Battle Royale wanna-be (abandoning the survival side), then a year later announce you’re splitting it into two games…

H1Z1: Just Survive is a persistent, open-world zombie survival game.

H1Z1: King of the Kill is a high-intensity last-man-standing shooter.

So you launch a game that has two modes. You abandon one mode, chase the other for a year, then try and resell both separately later. Huh. On top of that you drive urgency to sell more of the existing copy before it’s too late and you have to buy both separately.

And if there wasn’t already an epic mountain of reasons why you should distrust “early-access” gaming, both of these titles are being launched as “early-access.”

Get out of here.