DAoC was about PvE

In yesterday’s post about Crowfall I mentioned long-term goals and driving factors for why players should care. What makes someone wake up at 3am to defend a relic? Why should I care if I lose my keep? Many games creating a PvP system these days seem to look to DAoC as an example. WAR, GW2, ESO, and Crowfall all have the keep capturing mechanics and really did/do borrow heavily from the system. While they miss many features like proper character advancement in PvP, map size, and the nitty gritty details of how sieging should work, etc., there’s one bigger picture key ingredient they’re all missing: A focus on PvE.

DAoC was about PvE. The game long-heralded as the best RvR/PvP game of all time was driven by the players caring about PvE and how their characters performed outside of the frontiers (where the realm war/RvR took place).

DAoC had relics which increased your character’s stats and damage. Owning these was paramount and the goal of RvR was typically to try and push hard enough that you controlled the keeps necessarily to make the relic vulnerable. To make players care a bit more about those relics, the realm controlling most keeps had access to the best PvE zone in the game: Darkness Falls. Darkness Falls was the best place to level characters, get gear (that wasn’t player made), and earn money.

I have memories of being in Darkness Falls grouping for Legion and hearing the announcement that Albion was advancing and taking our keeps. We bailed out as fast as possible and rushed to the frontiers to defend or retake our territories in order to keep our coveted Darkness Falls longer.

Player made gear was typically the best back in the day. You weren’t going to earn that gear by PvPing. PvPing gave you realm ranks and points to buy new abilities which made you much stronger, but you still needed that player made gear. Player made gear, like all gear, wore out and broke over time. There was always a need to earn money which meant PvE.

Perhaps I should have started with this, but getting to level 50 was through rigorous PvE. Leveling wasn’t quick (before people macro’d and abused the leveling system like they do in every game). Leveling could take months to reach 50, and you weren’t a ton of use before level 50 out in the frontiers. Leveling through PvP wasn’t an option, and the silly “scaling” systems of today (another way for these games to ignore Pve) did not exist.

Although the “end-game” of DaoC was PvP, and one could PvP the entire time they played (after reaching level 50 and gearing up), the core of the game still maintained a healthy focus on PvE. The key isn’t to ignore PvE or come up with systems to avoid it. The two play-styles needn’t compete against each other. A great game can and perhaps should utilize both in harmony.

Bringing players back to older MMOs

Today I want to pose a question to our readers: What would it take to get you to go back and play a MMO?

I was thinking about this when I read a statement from the GW2 devs saying something like, “Don’t count us out yet.”  My personality tends to feel sympathy for others and I put myself in their position.  A year and a half ago they were at the top of the world.  Their beta was going strong and all the hype was focused squarely on their game as the next big thing.  Their team was probably larger, their spirits high, and their future bright.  Now you won’t find GW2 being talked about because it’s last year’s news, it’s no longer the game everyone plays.  The general consensus may even be that GW2 is a good game, but the fact remains it has slipped.

What about games that are even older?  EverQuest 2 and Vanguard are still being updated with content, still making the news (maybe even more than GW2) yet I know their populations are smaller.  They are 6… 7 + years old?  Yet I personally believe they are both good games; arguably some of the best.

What would it take for a game like that to bring people back — to bring YOU back?  I’m genuinely interested in your opinions.  Is it even possible for an older MMO to get people to play?  I think about solutions like the Station Pass where you pay one subscription and get access to every game a company makes.  That works when a company like SOE has a large portfolio.   Veteran rewards are often used to keep people playing but rarely to bring them back.  Going F2P works short term (SWTOR) but doesn’t really work long-term.  Maybe an active game constantly developing new content and truly showing progress?  Even then, why would I go back and play something like GW2 when I can just wait for EQN, WildStar, or ESO?

If you’re someone who goes back to older games I am interested in hearing why.  I think there’s a door here waiting to be unlocked that will really help a lot of companies keep people interested in their games. I’d love to see the industry stop transitioning together to every new title.

I really do want every game and studio to see success.  The more real options we all have the better off the entire industry becomes as competition increases quality and the entire industry flourishes.

PSA: Water levels in MMOs at an All-time Low

We’re facing an epidemic here, people. Over the past several years vast quantities of water have been rapidly disappearing from our online virtual worlds. We’re already at the point where you cannot find a body of water that is more than knee-deep. If we don’t do anything to solve this crisis– Yeah, this bit is going on too long… But really, where has all the water gone? Some of my fondest memories in MMORPGs have been related to water and now it seems like most games don’t bother with it at all.

SWTOR Knee Deep in Water

Water in SWTOR never goes above the knees.

First off I should probably mention that large bodies of water are terrifying. If you don’t agree then you are a crazy person. You don’t know what kind of crazy, messed up stuff is going on down there. Giant sharks, huge kraken things, slumbering old gods, male water horses that give birth? It’s a freakshow, man. And no, I do not have an irrational fear of water that stems back to a horrific family vacation on a house-boat. This shit is legit. On a more serious note… Water can be really frightening but also very exciting. Back in EQ I LOVED raising my swimming skill and exploring underwater locations. When I got the water-breathing spell I was happier than the fat kid in school on pizza day. Of course I was that kid, but that’s neither here nor there.

WoW did do some pretty good stuff with water, and GW2 tried (though I think they missed the mark), but aside from that I can’t really think of another game that has really done much at all to create a real underwater experience, and that’s a real shame. Underwater zones offer the opportunity for some more interesting encounters and tense situations that you don’t normally find on dry-land. It really doesn’t have to be underwater, either. Navigating the ocean on your own ship and suddenly being ambushed by water monsters that leap onto your deck would be AWESOME. Even better would be some kind of giant sea creature, leviathan or kraken dude wrapped around your vessel. I mean, dang… That sounds like it would be so much fun but nobody wants to do it. I won’t go into detail about how many games have promised me boats and straight-up LIED to me. It’s a sore subject around here.

It really bums me out that water is pretty much only knee-high these days. Maybe I’m alone in this but I want the danger and excitement of sailing the open seas, exploring under-sea ruins, and stabbing some fish dudes in the face.

MMO Crafting

MMO Crafting

Having your crew craft for you fits the setting really well, but the execution and implementation falls back on the waiting game mixed with WoW’s material combining simplicity.

MMO crafting hasn’t seen a lot of innovation for quite some time.  In fact, I think crafting has slowly been sliding to a worse state or neglected entirely by the latest generation. The complexity, depth, scope, involvement, and opportunity (I think most of those mean the same thing) of the SWG and EVE era are all but gone.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but that depth has been replaced with tacked crafting that is repetitive and mostly meaningless.

Crafting in a contemporary MMO falls into two categories: (1) Throw in the mats and press combine, and/or (2) Passive, waiting game.

WoW’s throw in the mats and press combine has been shared across everything from LotRO to GW2 and SWTOR.  The light mini-game style of Vanguard and EQ2 is only a variation on a theme.  Then there’s this fixation on ‘professions’.  If you want to be a Leatherworker you probably have to be a Skinner.  It’s very prescribed, very scripted (everyone makes x widgets before getting to the next tier).  Crafting is about leveling and ‘maxing out’ and obtaining recipes, and if you’re lucky they throw in some whack-a-mole gimmick to distract you for all of two seconds.

Crafting in almost every MMO for the last 8 years has been a selfish endeavor.  People craft for themselves because there’s one or two good recipes they hope to get one day.  Most of the time it isn’t about the items at all, but the bonuses associated with that profession.  Few people craft for others, and few games restrict people so that you can’t craft everything — do everything —  for yourself.

I’d like something new and more creative.  I want to see crafting involve more customization, more free-form individuality.  What if MMO crafting was more like Minecraft where we put things in and shaped the items ourselves? Why can’t we have a system where no two items are alike, and I can experiment and become well-known for the way I make the weapons?  I want crafting to impact the ecosystem.  I want the world to change because Legolasers crafted something magnificent and suddenly we find ourselves having to adapt.

Crafting can be about more than making items.  Trade can shape the world.  Someone should start innovating on what should be one of the most influential and powerful game mechanics rather than forgetting about it or tacking it on at the end.

Camelot Unchained’s Building and Mining Systems

Camelot Unchained is getting closer to their goal, but even closer to their deadline.  I’ve pledged, and I think a lot of our readers have pledges as well.  CU’s building, and in a way part of its crafting, system was revealed recently.   Personally, I would have lead with this information.  This is huge.  In fact, this is indeed unique and revolutionary, and something that really needs a lot of attention.  I think Camelot Unchained’s building will be at the forefront, at the very core, of everything players are fighting for in RvR, and everything players are working towards.

Why fight to win in RvR? Simple: Finite Resources.  What do you do with those resources?  You build whatever you want in a system that resembles Minecract.  Watch the video below.

CU Mine OwnershipI have my concerns.  These past few days my thoughts have been centered right on the necessity of guilds, and one of my all-time biggest complaints about modern PvP games has been this elitist jackassery that we see in games like GW2. There are these big guilds who think they are God’s gift to the game and they the only ones allowed to own, do, or lead anything.  There becomes this stigma and unwritten rule about taking an area or even participating in PvP if you’re potentially taking the spot of someone else who for some reason ‘deserves’ to be there more than you or should own a keep because victory is more assured if that guild owns the area.

I’m worried that the mine locations in Camelot Unchained will be treated with this same inevitable elitism.  I’m calling it right now; if I roll up to a mine that Wart’s guild has built around and I start tapping away, I’m going to get grief for taking resources away from Wart’s guild who, for some reason, think they own the thing and have a claim to the resources inside.  Just because a mine doesn’t run out right away, that doesn’t change the nature of the typical entitled elitist.  I see on the list that mines can be claimed.  If individuals or guilds claim mines, this will be a disaster that will destroy realm pride and unity.  I still need to be convinced this isn’t destined for epic failure.

The building system sounds awesome, though.  Placing each cell individually the same way I would if I played Minecraft has me already thinking up ways I’d build a base.  Being able to roll up on an enemy’s base and break it down into raw materials introduces this entire new way of getting the crafting side involved.  If a player just wants to set up a house/shop and sell weapons, he or she can do so.  But if a crafter wants to be apart of the combat, they can roll up to a siege, or participate in the salvage operation.

My mind is racing with creative possibilities for this system, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself and start imagining things that CSE isn’t capable of doing.  So for now I’ll just take what they’ve said in the video and know that it sounds like a ton of fun.  I have my doubts about the mines and their faith in humanity, but maybe there will be a way to keep people in check.

If you haven’t already, consider pledging.  Camelot Unchained needs your help to get funded because without it we’ll just have a bunch of ideas and no game.