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WildStar’s Core Softens as they shrink the ‘Quit Wall’

Remember the “WildStar is super hardcore bringing back the old school attunement and they won’t back down!” mentality? Remember when I called B.S. on that one? Turns out I was completely right that within a matter of months WildStar would begin the process of casualization and reducing the barriers to entry into their end-game. [Patch Notes]

The first steps they are taking are to reduce the requirements for attunement. Now all it takes is simply doing the bosses instead of having to achieve a certain rank on them or do it in a certain amount of time. The previous requirements were ridiculous, and just thinking about them was the easiest way for most people to just quit. I did.

I’m coining another phrase guys: Quit Walls. Carbine built a massive quit wall. People reach the wall and they quit. It’s a natural breaking point where Carbine essentially gave players permission to quit their game if they couldn’t climb over and reach the other side of the content. The quit wall was a really nice way of saying, “Remember what you did from 1-50? None of that matters. Climb our quit wall or GTFO.” I’ll write an entire blog post on this soon.

I’ll say it again: You CAN NOT build a game around “hardcore” raiding anymore! Not even World of WarCraft was designed to be that way when it launched in 2004. Even today, the “hardcore” raiders are a very, very small percent of WoW’s overall player population. The themepark model started with WoW, evolved into a raiding model, then devolved back into an accessible themepark model. If you’re going to release a generic themepark MMO, at least do so following the template that won’t lead you to closing servers.

WildStar will go F2P. There’s nothing Carbine can do to recover from the players they lost. All they can do now is slow the bleeding and one day go F2P to entice an entirely different group of people to spend money when no one else finds the game fun enough to pay monthly for it.

 

Dear SOE: EverQuest Next and Landmark

Dear SOE,

I’m one of your original players back from the EverQuest days. I played the original EverQuest for many years, and I have continued to follow and play just about everything you’ve released. I am a true fan of the EverQuest series and have been eagerly awaiting and watching for all things EverQuest Next. I’m writing you to express my concerns regarding the direction I see you taking this beloved franchise.

My confidence in EverQuest Next is faltering. Development for Landmark has come to a weird crawl, and when something new is announced or implemented it’s taken in a bizarre direction that none of us really expected. I started playing Landmark back when it was all about the adventure of exploring a world, finding resources, and building things. Now the Landmark name is becoming associated with awkward live streams, building contests, and …. battle arenas?

I feel like you do not truly know what Landmark is supposed to be anymore, and as a result neither do your fans. Players like me, the original core fans, saw what we wanted to see months ago and stopped playing and testing because of the lack of communication aimed at keeping us interested in your progress. The focus was lost and shifted more towards this amalgamation of appealing to a different demographic and testing marketing tactics.

I’m not sure what has happened to the EverQuest brand over the past year. I feel like the brand is truly being mismanaged. What used to be a highly-regarded fantasy MMORPG brand portraying a very dignified and mature approach to building virtual worlds is now feeling like a ‘hey look at me, I’m the class clown who will dance and tell fart jokes to get attention!’  I have to be honest… I’ve stopped watching the live streams unless it’s just Dave Georgeson or Terry Michaels or Steve Danuser on the screen, taking themselves seriously, talking about real game-related things.

I have a question for the older crowd at SOE — the men and women who love(d) the older EverQuest games — Do you guys believe in the game(s) you are making? Are these the games YOU want to play? I’m starting to question that… and it concerns me.

Hope is not lost. I’m not jumping ship. I’m still a megafan. I just need to see more from you guys showing me that EverQuest Next has substance and isn’t just another game being made for the MOBA or minecraft generation of kiddies — heck, at this point I just need to see that the game is still going to release; Some out in the blogosphere think EQNext is going to be vaporware if Landmark can’t get its act together and H1Z1 takes off.

Gaining back the confidence of the core crowd of EverQuest fans is going to take a big change in the way you convey information. Utilize your website more and release written material with well-made pages, images and clear descriptions of features — things we can get excited about. Pull back on the reins a bit with the silliness in your live streams and ways you interact with the public. Get us excited about being in Norrath again. Leverage the nostalgia factor! No one from the generation and market you’re currently targeting knows or cares about the name EverQuest, so you’re going to have to either make people care by doing something huge or get the true fans of the name to start doing it for you — you won’t get that without convincing us that you’re still making EverQuest.

EverQuest Next needs to feel like it has a clear direction and vision behind the game. It has to feel like an EverQuest game. Landmark lacks that entirely right now, and as a result the general consensus among fans like me is that it’s floundering.

Thank you for creating worlds I have loved to live in. I respect and admire many of you. I want to be in your world again, just show me that you’re creating something I can care about.

Survival Games Need Survival

h1z1 zombie survival

I’m really looking forward to SOE’s upcoming zombie survival game called H1Z1. With MMOs completely failing to live up to what I want in a persistent world that I can log in to for hours and days on end, I’m really starting to crave a great jump-in-jump-out persistent game that won’t require the commitment but will still provide a meaningful experience. H1Z1 is looking like a great candidate.

One of my biggest complaints with survival games in general is the player’s complete lack of regard for anything around him. When you spot another player there’s no reason to let that player live. Kill that player immediately because he has stuff you want — the goal is to get stuff. Here’s why it’s so easy to kill other players in DayZ:

  • Zero environmental threat
  • There’s really nothing else to do but kill other players

h1z1 base building

Survival games have to incorporate reasons to let other players live and not simply kill them on sight. Zombies or nature itself has to be a greater threat. Seeing a zombie should terrify the player so much that if another player runs by the two of them desperately want each other’s help. People should want to gather together to pool resources and survive.

Common goals are important. Surviving can be a common goal. Crafting and trading can also be common goals. Communities can form around the idea that players go out and find things and trade amongst themselves. Creating a base can be a common goal.  If there is no common goal then the goals will be created by the individual, and chances are that goal will involve killing everyone else out of boredom.

As alluded to already, there has to be more to do in a survival game besides killing zombies and other players. Eventually players will tire from shooting NPCs and turn on each other. Base building is a really cool idea if given the proper attention and fleshed out to be a meaningful and rewarding goal. Whatever features are added, there needs to be depth to these games or else they’ll simplify to the least common denominator: Trolling each other.

As my chosen title notes, survival games simply need survival. Animals, Zombies, weather, sickness & disease, fatigue, hunger, thirst, shelter, etc., can all be elements of surviving. What the player is having to survive against can still include other players, but if the environment isn’t a huge part of survival then the game is simply PvP.

You know what isn’t great?

I decided to make a post similar to my cross-buy topic except this time I’m just complaining about stuff… so probably not so different from that post. Obvious stuff like DRM and DLC will be skipped over since I must have already mentioned them at some point before.

Proprietary Hardware

I’ve been playing my Vita a lot lately and my memory card/stick/whatever is almost always full so I’m forced to juggle content. You’d think it would be as simple as just buying another, perhaps larger, memory card but for some reason Sony decided to go with proprietary cards and jack their prices way, way up. A 32GB memory card for the Vita costs anywhere from 60-80 dollars and that’s AFTER the price dropped from 99 bucks. That’s just straight up ridiculous since you can get any other 32GB card for under $20. I feel like I can’t buy more space simply out of principle. Even slow-to-change Nintendo doesn’t do this crap but Sony seems to really enjoy doing this since they did the same thing with the PSP.

Another annoying thing is when devices have proprietary cords. I know Apple used to do this all the time but I haven’t owned an Apple product in years so maybe things are different. Right now next to my main gaming location is a bundle of cords, including extension cables. I think I have the largest amount of USB extension cords ever. Anyway, right now I think I have about six different cords but there used to be a lot more before I finally trimmed it down one day. Luckily a lot of different items can be charged via USB so that cut down on the clutter. Somewhat unrelated but what’s the deal with all the USB variants. I have like three extra adapters that I have to keep handy just so I can charge stuff.

Single Save Files

You don’t usually see this a lot but I find this especially irritating. One of the biggest offenders is the Pokemon series which only allows for one save file per cart. That’s just plain crazy in my book. Obviously it’s done to encourage people to buy both versions of the game rather than share one copy. So if I felt so inclined to do a specialty playthrough of the game I’d have to delete my save file with hundreds of hours playtime and specially bred pokemon (Interesting aside: I spent way too long trying to remember the past tense of breed). These days there’s usually some way to store your Pokemon between games except, from what I last remember, I think Nintendo is charging a recurring fee for that. This isn’t just limited to Pokemon though since some console games do it as well.

Poorly Designed Save Systems

Saving your game is done in many different ways. Some games let you save anywhere while others may only save between checkpoints, levels, or some other form of auto-saving. I think that you should be able to save whenever you want since feeling locked into playing is never a good thing. I’m not sure why more games don’t let you do this. The only thing that I can think of is maybe they don’t like save-scumming but that should be left entirely up to how the player enjoys playing.

The problem with some games is they save your progress in a crappy and undefined way. Not every game lets you manually save and I’m sure Keen can attest to the amount of times I’ve said “I have to wait until I see the auto-save animation” or something similar. It’s another way that you can feel forced to keep playing and some games seem to have no clearly defined moment that triggers an auto save. I can’t exactly remember the title of the game but not too long ago I remember playing something that only auto-saved and even then I would lose some progress every time I loaded the game up. Truly maddening.

Pre-order Bonuses & Exclusive Content

This kind of thing didn’t use to bother me but it’s gotten really bad over the years. You used to get something like a poster or some kind of knick-knack for pre-ordering a game but then it turned into bonus content for the game. I really do not like feeling pressured into buying a game if I’m not sure about it. That’s usually how they get me to buy stuff, by using some piece of content to lure me in. I’d feel compelled to pre-order or risk never getting that specific item/object/whatever. I have learned to resist the urge over time since most of the bonuses never end up being worth it anyway but they sure seem to be upping the ante lately.

Then to make things worse there is retailer specific pre-order bonuses which is a total crap. There is no way to get every bonus unless you buy multiple copies or cheat the system somehow. Sometimes they later offer the content for download, either free or paid, but often it’s something you wont see. Oh, it would also be great if they stopped putting embargoes on reviews until after the game has already shipped. Doesn’t always happen but it’s pretty telling when it does.

Another issue I have with in-game content is when they tie stuff to collectors editions. That wouldn’t necessarily be so bad if the price and level of ridiculousness in CEs/LEs wasn’t constantly rising. These things are just getting stupid and I’m always dumbfounded by all the people who drop $150 or more on a bunch of junk and clutter. Of course I’m a gigantic hypocrite as evidenced by all of the collector’s editions and related paraphernalia cluttered to my right (Picture not shown). I’m still bitter about the Destiny CE…

Season Passes

Oh right, DLC… I wasn’t going to mention this.

Warlords of Draenor Could Save Warcraft

The cinematic for World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor was revealed yesterday proving once again that Blizzard is the king of both cinematics and hype.

hellscreamWow! [pun intended] My mind was racing with possibilities after watching. Grommash (Grom) Hellscream was supposed to drink Mannoroth’s blood and bind the Orcish Horde to the Burning Legion. However, it appears to that Garrosh (son of Grom) was able to escape prison and travel back in time to alter events. With Mannoroth dead and the orcs bound to no one, Grom can become warchief of a united orcish horde under the Iron Horde banner.

In a perfect world, this concept could completely wipe out everything we learned from Warcraft 3 and World of Warcraft.  The thought sends nerd chills down my spine! This could be an opportunity to undo many bizarre choices and almost deus ex machina the entire series back to a point where we can have an amazing RTS series again with a story much truer to the heart of Warcraft.

Unfortunately, I think the plan is for Grom and Garrosh to go through the Dark Portal (seen at the end of the cinematic) and invade the MODERN day Azeroth rather than the Azeroth of their time. So technically, this wasn’t a time travel event as much as an alternate dimension or parallel universe. What a horribly wasted opportunity! I want to see an Azeroth where the Iron Horde’s technology (The Kor’kron Iron Star (spinny ball of death thingy)) allows them to conquer most of the Azeroth prior to the events of WC3 and how the world there adapts. Sounds like a great RTS to me.

I consider myself a fan of Warcraft. I don’t like where WoW took (and is taking) the lore, and I’m not a fan of the MMO side anymore, but I’m still an avid fan of the franchise. Hopefully the coming events allow Blizzard to make a darker, grittier, Warcraft focusing less on the touchy-feely-cutesie stuff and more of orcs pillaging and conquering once again!  Warcraft: Orcs & Humans Azeroth! I want to see Warcraft return to its roots.