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?

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

Legion Professions

Lots of good information is coming out about Legion professions. I was waiting on some solid info before really making my decision — not that I have to make a decision now or anything, but I like knowing where I’m going.

You can find a lot of the information on Wowhead’s Legion Professions guide, but there’s still a bunch scattered around.

Summing up what’s on Wowhead, it looks like JC is the only profession with a statistical character boost with its +600 stat gems. While not a huge advantage, the min/maxers out there will definitely go with any advantage they can get.

I’m going with Engineering and Mining because I can’t see any excuse to be anything else when I’m a Gnome Hunter. Although I can tame mechanical pets by default because I’m a gnome, I can’t imagine not having that theme. Then there’s the awesome Reaver pet companion thing that comes with upgradeable modules. It can fight with you, teleport you, be your bank or mailbox, and other goodies. The Reaver is obtained through an Engineer profession and more schematics are unlocked as you progress. There’s also a turret pet or something that flies around and shoots. Gnome Engineer Hunter with my own mechanic let army? Sign me up.

Professions in general are being tailored more toward the player who wants to invest more time into them. WoD gated professions significantly along the path to the endgame, but that’s going away. I’m hoping that professions mean so much more in Legion than they have in the past. Crafting has really been such a throwaway or little more than a mandatory stat boost that it’s been more obnoxious than fun. Fingers, yet again, crossed.

I Wish Making An MMORPG Was That Simple

I saw an announcement for MMORPG Tycoon 2 and it got my thinking. MMORPG Tycoon 2 is about making and running your own MMORPG. Well the idea once again popped into my head about wishing I could simply make a MMORPG — a real one.

I can’t code. I have the artistic skills of … something with no artistic skills at all. Those barriers to entry are impassable.  I do have one talent: I know what makes MMORPGs fun, and I’m great at seeing the big picture and bringing projects together. If I had a set of tools that basically did all of the coding and art for me, and allowed me to simply create my world, enter in all of my mechanics, develop my own features, and essentially put it all together with a user-friendly interface, then I could easily make my own MMORPG.

Imagine if it was that simple. Imagine if like you see in that MMO Tycoon video you can simply drop your zones next to each other, plop in some art assets, code the orcs to behave a certain way and use X defined abilities, and piece it all together. I feel like I have the millions of ideas for executing an awesome world all up in my head and on the hundreds of pages of design documents I’ve already drafted over the years. Imagine if the tools were $15/month or $100 one time or something cheap rather than thousands of dollars in licenses.

Someone should develop an engine that handles all of this, makes it all super user friendly, and basically lets us launch our own MMORPGs, and charge a monthly fee per user. If I want to form a dev team then I just pay for more monthly licenses. It can’t be that hard (for those people with talent) to develop a program where people can collaborate online and build a world. Just take something like MMORPG Tycoon or Project Spark and make it better and a real MMORPG tool. Dangit, I want to get started now!