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Being a raid leader was just practice

I used to think that running a raiding guild back in the Molten Core and Black Wing Lair days took a lot of preparation and coordination. We would have to crank out all kinds of food and potions, coordinate arrival times, make contingency plans, adapt to changes in attendees, figure out who to invite and not invite, and deal with all sorts of drama. I would spend hours and hours making sure everything went just right.  Turns out I was simply practicing for planning a wedding.

I’ve still managed to squeeze in some gaming time despite having my days filled with work, venues, and excel spreadsheets out my ears for everything from food to invitees. I got into the Heroes of the Storm Technical Alpha! I’ve played only a handful of matches but I’m really enjoying the gameplay. It’s simplified DOTA. Heroes of the Storm reminds me of those Hero Arena games I used to play back in the custom games for Warcraft 3. Lots of fun and I look forward to playing it more this weekend before giving even more thoughts on the game.

My Barbarian in Diablo 3 Season 1 is still coming along quite nicely too. Something about spreading my playtime very thin with D3 gives me a renewed sense of love for being able to log in, get loot, and kill lots of monsters. In one morning I went from not being able to do Torment 1 to being able to clear Torment 4 with ease. All it took was a few runs in rifts and I got 3 set Ik, 3 earth, a Bovine bardiche, and Lut socks. Now I’m leap quaking everything to pieces.

Graev picked up Civ Beyond Eearth. I’m going to watch him play it for a bit today (tomorrow?) and decide if I want to get myself a copy. If you’ve tried it by the time you read this post feel free to give your impressions. I’m eager to hear if dropping the $49.99 is worth it. Graev actually saved a bit by using some deal Green Man Gaming has going for 25% off. We’ll get our impressions up soon — Graev seems to be reviewing games like crazy these days.

I’m just glad all of the MMOs out right now suck. If something like Camelot Unchained or EverQuest Next was out I’d be really hurting. I remember every year I’d go back up to college after a nice summer break and a new MMO would launch right in the first week of classes. This is good karma coming back to me now. Best drought ever.

Does this mean we can have Warcraft 4 now?

warcraft3

Just looking at this makes me want to re-install.

Now that Blizzard officially cancelled Titan, a game they never officially announced, does this mean we can have Warcraft 4?

Blizzard’s Mike Morhaime says they’re not going to work on another MMO at this time. They’ll continue working on stuff like Hearthstone for sure, and now my hopes are as high as possible that they’ll finally decide to go back and try to revive the strategy genre they helped define. What about Starcraft, you say? Warcraft strategy games are so very different. Warcraft 3 specifically focused on a very small unit count in order to maximize micromanagement. Hero units created a significant mechanic that I haven’t seen used the same since. They feel like night and day to me — and I’m good at Warcraft strategy games and horrible at SC.

In a way… I’m excited to see what Blizzard does now. I don’t want Blizzard to focus on MMOs.  Less MMOs the better. Bring on the other games that’ll actually deliver a full and complete experience!

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.