Pantheon: Great Game or Soulless Shell of Ideologies?

Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen had its first debut of sorts. Brad “Aradune” McQuaid showed off a very, very (I’m seriously, it’s disturbingly early) version of Pantheon. About 20 minutes into the video I really started to wonder if showing gameplay of the game this early was smart. I’m from the generation of MMO gamers that can look past graphics and animations, but I was struggling to look past the free Unity assets. Have a look below.

Let’s cut to the chase. I subscribe to the ideology. I’m a fan of EverQuest — the hardcore version — and I liked Vanguard (the earlier version, and what was actually finished). I like Brad’s overall vision of MMORPGs being actual RPGs and feeling like a virtual world. I like the old school mechanics: death penalties, difficulty, class identity and interdependencies, etc. If you read my blog, you know that’s who I am.

What I’m worried about here is whether or not Pantheon can actually take that ideology and build it around a game that’s actually fun. Mechanics aren’t enough. Without polish and a talented team to execute those mechanics around something playable (a game), you get nothing more than a generic D&D parser.

The idea of where Brad wants Pantheon to go sounds great, but right now Pantheon doesn’t look fun; In fact, it looks like it lacks a soul. I need to see that the team can deliver the game behind the ideology before I can get excited.

Gnome Hunter Hype

Friender the Mechano Wolf

Okay, I’ll admit it: I’m hyped to play a Gnome Hunter in WoW’s Legion expansion.

Here’s why:

  1. Gnome are the best race in WoW.
  2. Hunters are the best (at least my favorite) class in WoW.
  3. The flavor of pets, quests, and playstyle will be overwhelmingly cool.

A few months ago, I posted about wanting to play an Orc Hunter because Rexxar. That’s when I first learned about melee hunters (survival spec) and the idea carried with it a certain nostalgic flair.  I could be an orc wielding a giant polearm with a great pet, but that was quickly overshadowed by the idea of a tinkering gnome with mechanic pets.

After turning my attention to gnomes, I began debating what tradeskills will be best in Legion. Turns out, JC isn’t going to be the strongest after all. The JC gems are going to be BoE, and unique (1) which means anyone can use them. I’ll go Engineering and Mining. Engineering to craft awesome pets, Reavers, and gadgets; Mining to get the ore to do so and sell.

Then I recently found out about the really cool quests for Hunters. I think all classes (even professions) will have unique quests that send you to different places and have you solve puzzles. They remind me of the old school Rhok’delar quest. I was the first Hunter on my server, and I think in the top 5 in the world to do that quest. It was a huge deal. I was so proud of that accomplishment (still am), so the idea of having neat quests to do sits well with me. I’m a fan of the true ‘quest’ part of these quests.

iron juggernaut gnome hunte rpet

One of these cool quests involves getting Friend the Mechano wolf from Gnomeregan (pictured at the top original source I think from EyeoftheBeast.com).  Solve some puzzles, avoid being 1 shot, and you got him. Another quest involves the Siege of Orgrimmar and building your own Iron Juggernaut. They come in multiple colors and involve actually making the pet which is neat.

My Gnome Hunter plans include rolling a fresh level 1 Gnome on Fenris server right when the patch goes live. I’ll level him up to 60  using heirlooms and dungeon runs, then from 60-100 I’ll use my level boost. You couldn’t pay me to do 60-100 again on questing. I don’t have it in me. Using the level boost from 60-100 will raise my tradeskills instantly to the pre-Legion cap — another thing I wouldn’t want to do manually.

Decided on your class for Legion yet?

Clash Royale Creators Sell For Big Hay Pay Day

SuperCell Bought By Chinese Holding Company

I read up on this little buy yesterday. Chinese holding company Tencent is going to buy SuperCell — creators of Clash of Clans, Clash Royale, Hay Day, and Boom beach — for $8.6 Billion now with the ultimate price tag on SuperCell being around $10B.

I’ve read some kerfuffle over the buy and people being scared that it means big changes are going to come and the game is going to be ruined, etc. I don’t know about that. This is the same company that purchased Riot Games (creators of League of Legends) back in December of last year. Tencent hasn’t touched them since. They seem to be in the business of buying companies that run themselves well and then sitting back to make money. Smart choice if you’re buying companies like SuperCell and Riot Games.

Clash Royale is still going very strong. I still play daily and I’m up to 1900 trophies now. I feel fairly confident in my play style. I think my card levels are holding me back, along with having no legendaries and going against some people with 2-3 of them. I haven’t spent a dime though, so I haven’t contributed at all to SuperCell’s cash reserves. They’ve done a great job of making Clash Royale good enough to keep playing as a freebie.

The value of a company with 4 games that are truly quite simple is astounding. It speaks to the market of handheld/mobile gaming, value of F2P done well, and simply making great games.

You Can Start By Being The Best (Or Trying)

Sorry guys, we had a great last week with all of the E3 news to comment on and then I went dark. I once again blame my rising side business and desire to spend some free time actually playing games.

I have a bit of a cross-dimensional post for you today. As you guys know, I work in marketing. I work with a decent number of clients (~150 give or take depending on the season). I’m responsible for the marketing strategies for most of them, as well as my company. We do a lot of work on the internet with advertising, building websites, growing brands, getting leads and reaching new audiences, yada yada. I started to noticed a trend these past few weeks.

Client: “How do I rank for ‘best doctor in Los Angeles’?”

Me: “You can start by being the best doctor in Los Angeles.”

Client: “Isn’t there something else we can do instead?”

Here’s another one from today.

Client: “How come so and so is higher than me in search engines?”

Me: “So and So has built a brand. People talk about him more on the internet. There are news reports, blog posts, tweets, facebook likes, newsletters, comments, and conversations going on about So and So. Google and ‘the internet’ are able to parse So and So more naturally and understand that So and So sells better widgets. If you want to be first in people’s minds (and in search engines) as a widget seller, then you need to be the first widget seller that comes to mind when people think about your industry.”

Client: “That sounds expensive.”

Yeah, so internet marketing sucks when you work for an agency that will take anyone on as a client. Other than that important lesson (Really, pay attention kids: Avoid agencies. Work for a company. Avoid internet marketing.), I tied this back to games while on my commute home. Screw you 91 freeway and caltrans.

This is one of those painfully obvious posts, but in my mind it comes together all eloquently and epiphany-ish.

Presentation matters. Building a brand matters. Building a community matters. Having a quality product matters. Blizzard releases a me-too product and obliterates even the thought of failure in people’s minds. No one is even thinking, “is Overwatch good?” or caring that it’s a straight up copy of so many other games. Why? They are gods at what they do. They build a masterful product (even when it’s copycat), brilliantly position that game in the market space, and print their own money on the roads they pave for themselves. I needn’t go on.

Why do some Kickstarters for games fail? The game could be phenomenal. The idea could be even better than Warcraft. Did you present it the wrong way? Did you make people care? Or better yet, SHOULD they even care? That’s one people skip far too often.

Fooling people doesn’t end well either. You can pretend to be something you’re not, slap on a beautiful facade, wow us with your graphics, and even have a team of marketing savants drum up all sorts of demand. 2-3 months later everyone quits playing, bad mouths your company, and you play catch up for the next 6 years making F2P games or doing licensing deals until people are willing to forgive you at our sheer boredom.

We’ve seen a transition away from companies making great games to companies making games they think a large group of people want. To me that’s as absurd as my client wanting to be perceived as the best before actually/even trying to be the best — or worse, knowing he will never even try but wanting to fool people into thinking he is anyway. It’s backwards, and it will fail.

In hindsight I think this made a whole lot more sense in my head, but hey this is where I dump my thoughts.

WoW’s Legion Expansion Will Be a Long One

Blizzard lost all trust with their players back when they said they wanted to release expansions every year, then said they wanted to do more content (then didn’t and went a year with no new content), then said they wanted to do expansions faster again. Well now it seems they’ve yet again flip flopped, but they’re at least admitting anything they say will sound hollow.

At this point, I don’t think that yearly expansions would be the best thing for our players – Ion Hazzikostas, WoW Asst. Game Director

Ion also went on to say that they plan on focusing on more patch content and building on current stories to keep players entertained. In other words, we’re going to have Legion for a long, long time. Hopefully they can keep the content flowing in order to keep players interested.

How do you guys feel about longer expansions vs. more expansions in general (not just WoW)? I think I like the idea of more patches and rich content in a longer expansion cycles as long as the expansions are truly major “expansions” to the game itself and how it’s played over just adding more content. Expansions should never be patches. That’s something Blizzard has nailed pretty well. Every expansion feels like the game is being overhauled or taken to the ‘next level’.

As long as I — the player — never feel bored without something to do, I’m fine waiting a reasonably longer amount of time for a big overhaul. I prefer that over feeling like I don’t have time to do everything I want, or feeling like everything I’m doing is just going to be wiped out from mudflation or a change of direction. For example, if I played WoD when it launched and was really beefing up my Garrison just to find out that in a few months that expansions would be meaningless, I probably wouldn’t care about my Garrison.

P.S. Content =\= Achievements or Pets