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TERA’s F2P Conversion Full of Misinformation

I’m going to rant for a few minutes.  I watched the video announcing that TERA is going free to play, and I heard Brian Knox (on behalf of En Masse Entertainment) make a statement that completely contradicts their situation and the reality of this industry.   Brian says that the reason TERA is going F2P is because the MMO industry has changed for the better.  Those two things are simply not true.

TERA is not going free to play because the MMO industry is changing.  TERA is going free to play because no one is playing, and they are not making enough money to pay their bills.  There is no reason to change things up, risk damaging the public’s perception of their product, all because the “mmo industry is changing.”  They’re going F2P because they don’t have another option to survive.

Stating that the MMO industry has changed for the better is asinine.  En Masse’s own product can’t stay above water and has to make a huge change to the game’s design philosophy in order to survive in this “better” landscape.  Instead of relying on a model designed to prosper when players are successfully enticed to keep playing, they change to a highly exploitative business model with  high burn and churn rates. And unless you’ve been living under a rock, not playing MMOs, or happen to be one of the few people who love what’s happening in the market, most games are having to do what TERA is doing, and that is usually followed by a ton of layoffs. But the industry has changed for the better, right?

Obviously they’re not going to speak poorly of their own product and they’re going to say how going F2P is only going to improve their game and not change it in any way.  Obviously they have to somehow make the best out of a situation where they change or die.  Just don’t believe for a second that they’re changing because things are going really well for them.  I can’t stand when devs spin a change to F2P in a way that misinforms people.  You can watch their ridiculous announcement trailer after the break. [Read more…]

Seeking info: No Loot Containers in SWTOR?

I just received some startling news today.  According to multiple sources, the loot container system, as announced by the developers (in a forum thread that disappeared), did not make it into the game.

In normal mode raids, loot is automatically assigned to a random person that can use the item.  It doesn’t matter if the item is an upgrade or if the person already has said item, it randomly goes to them.  This can not be turned off.

Hardmode and Nightmare modes allow this feature to be turned off, making the loot system identical to WoW.

What the #!$% happened to the loot container system we were told about?  If it was subject to change, I never read anywhere that they weren’t being implemented.  What happened to everyone in attendance getting a bag, and in that bag you could find a piece of loot or some tokens?  What happened to the idea that everyone putting in the time and showing up has something to show for it?  The current system is GARBAGE and I can not believe that we haven’t seen more outrage over a system that randomly passes out loot to people.

Loot containers were one of the reasons I was sold on SWTOR.  I thought the idea was a major step forward in promoting the enjoyment of raids.  Now I’m completely uninterested in raiding and will likely cancel my account if all I have to look forward to are raids that are no better than WoW’s.  What’s the point?

If I sound pissed off it’s because I am. I was looking forward to something this whole time just to learn at the end (when I’m level 50) it isn’t true.  I don’t like feeling deceived.  I don’t like idiotic design decisions.

Can anyone provide me information on the SWTOR raid (operation) loot system?  Do I have my details wrong?

When addons go way too far

I’m not a fan of addons and I’ve never shied away from saying I wish they would all be banned and the default UI’s improved.  Among the many problems they cause, I didn’t give much thought to how they could sink to a whole new level of awful.  I’ve always been appalled by the prolific use of the Gearscore addon in WoW.  It assigns a number to you based upon what you are wearing.   Based upon that number, people judge you.  That’s it.  That’s all they have to go on.  You were a number to everyone around you.  Oh, you’re a 4,000?  Sorry… we really need a 4200+.  It became so widespread that I even downloaded it and used it because it was -required- to give people your number (which they would check) just to do anything.  On one hand it’s nice having a quick way to see where you’re at gear-wise as a benchmarking tool, but on the other it leads to bigger problems like those that follow…

Gearscore is now known as “PlayerScore” and it’s owned by TenTonHammer.com.  I equate TTH to the slimy used car salesman of websites.  For a while they were one of the “trusted” sites in the MMO community.  I actually watched the site grow from nothing to what it is today.  Now I won’t even allow them in my Firefox Noscript — that should say a lot.  They go out of their way to make their website a miserable experience to all but those who pay them money via this “premium membership”.  They throw ads at you left and right and withhold content and exclusives that other websites give for free to all but those who are paying them a subscription.  Users of “PlayerScore” are called “customers” by the folks at TTH — It’s right on their website in their FAQ.  They then entice you to become a premium member.  It’s disgusting (This tool’s comments say it all).  They’re attempting to monetize on their newly acquired addon (illegal) in such a way that skirts the line so that they’re not shut down.

Aside from my personal distaste for the new owners, let me point out why this addon is taking it way too far.  You can now rate other players with a thumbs up or thumbs down system.  Don’t like them? Rate them down.  Lose a piece of gear to them? Rate them down.  Just feel like arbitrarily rating people down?  Go for it!  Feel like boosting your rating?  Have your guild boost you!  It’s the most rediculous system I have ever heard of and it’s catching on.  Soon it will be, if it isn’t already,  “What’s your score?  7500?  Okay cool.  Let me check your feedback online.  Give me one moment. … … .. I see you have sixteen negative ratings.  Sorry, we’re full.”  Don’t think it will happen?  Don’t kid yourself.  It’s taken even further than that.  The addon scores you on its own based on how you do in PvE and PvP.  It gives you a score for those.  It also scores your guild and gives it a rating based on various criteria.

This addon does nothing but pass judgment and provide players with the opportunity to once again degrade the game by assuming an addon has the ability to actually reflect the player and their abilities.  “Who is best at raiding in your guild” or “Who is best at X in your Y”… awful.  Players should still be capable of determining these things on their own.  This is, after all, one of the few things that games like WoW still have… the ability for you to interact with others to perform the repetitive tasks of raiding and grouping.  Gone are the days of interacting with others by getting to know them, but we’re not so far gone that we can’t think for ourselves.

I’m issuing a call to action to Blizzard and any other company facing similar abuse:  Ban this UI addon (and others like it) and investigate Ten Ton Hammer’s participation in your addon community.  Blizzard already expanded their own item level (iLvl) default system in-game.  Expand it a little bit more to reflect some character statistics and we’re set.  We don’t need any more of these horrible addons and their shady owners making things worse.

I won’t use this addon for myself or my guild.  I’ve already encouraged several friends and guild members not to use it and some have already uninstalled it.  I suggest you do the same.

APB’s Failure and why I think it’s a good sign

I’ll try and make this brief.  To me it’s really quite obvious why APB failed.

  • Realtime Worlds is full of people who have no clue how to run a business.
  • They had delusions of grandeur.
  • They were/are liars.
  • The game ended up being terrible.  The wrong game, at the wrong time, for the wrong audience, simply made entirely wrong.

The style of game that APB was trying to be does not work in a MMO or even psuedo-wanna-be MMO atmosphere.  This idea of lobby based “massively multiplayer” shooters needs to forever be put in a draw and locked away.   The setting does not work either.  Modern gangs with machine guns and this idea of bringing Grand Theft Auto to a fully realized MMO setting does not work unless you actually do it!  No one has ever even come close.  Either get it right, knowing you’re getting it right, or stop trying.

If you fell for the lies and bought a copy of the game or were sold on the hype are are let down then you really need to spend more time studying what does and does not succeed in this industry.  There are games that really do look good and fool people.  I get fooled all. the. time.  APB never looked good.  There were red flags everywhere.  The attempt at stopping people from talking about the game during the first week of its release, ads over VOIP, their wonky payment model, the smoke and mirrors of trailers that showed zero gameplay that wasn’t scripted, and on and on and on. APB never left that “ehhh” stage for me.  It felt entirely too iffy.

If you’re not convinced, read the blog entries from one of the employees.  Parts One / Two / Three

This leads me to one last thing.

First, it’s a raw deal that people lost their jobs.  I feel for you.  I am not, however, in the least bit remorseful that a company is going under and a game closed down.  This needs to become a regular occurrence.  A lot more games deserve to be shut down and a lot more companies just as bad or worse than Realtime Worlds need to go under.  The sooner these bad companies with bad games dwindle away the sooner the quality will go up.  We’re being inundated with crap, saturated with mediocrity or worse, and being forced into complacent or backward-moving thinking.

The gaming industry is really a weird example of how the proliferation of new gaming companies is not a good thing (and not serving as true competition) for a market that is so clearly undefined.  More companies making more games is not proving to be better for the player because instead of competing against each other to make the best games possible, they’re realizing they can all jointly stop caring or copy one another and that anyone can get into the “game making” business regardless of whether or not they have a clue or $100 million.  It’s getting ridiculous.  Hopefully APB is just the beginning.

I’ll say it once again: There’s going to be a crash;  Maybe just a mini one, but a crash that shakes things up and gets people realizing it’s time to start moving forward, not backwards.  I sound harsh, I know.  I just do not see any reason why companies or their employees should be rewarded for producing garbage.

In related news, can Epic Games (a company that does not suck) possibly make the game any better?

Cryptic + Next D&D Game =

Bad idea!

This was a really long time coming and I’ve been sharing my distaste over the idea on our forums and with others for several months.  Cryptic is making a D&D Neverwinter multiplayer coop game.  This will be like NWN but set in the new 4th edition rules after “years and years” have passed.

I don’t care if it’s not a MMO.   Cryptic simply does not have the ability to make good games.  They lack the basic understanding of how to make a game fun and engaging.  There’s no need to go any further and explain the plethora of individual failings seen in their games — they’re simply not any fun.

Let’s talk about another issue.  If this is a multiplayer coop RPG game with up to five players… isn’t that kinda what Neverwinter Nights has been capable of being all along?  I played NWN with Graev and another one of our friends through the full game and its expansions.   Are they going to support it on a platform of sorts to create an experience closer to Diablo’s multiplayer instead of a server browser?  This Gamespot article/interview mentions connecting to a server to create a session for you and/or your friends.

Jack Emmert says: “We’re trying to create new sorts of games that we call “OMGs” (online multiplayer games).”

GENIUS!  Pure genius Jack.  There were singleplayer games then massively multiplayer games.  How could we have missed that middle step?!

Personally, I don’t know what to make of what Jack Emmert or the articles are saying.  Jack thinks that MMO’s are persistent zones with instances attached to them.  He says so right in that gamespot interview.  I don’t even know where Cryptic is going to go with what the rest of the world thinks of RPG’s.