Interesting Stuff 8/1/2008

Illinois Passes MMO Cancellation Bill – This is long overdue. Companies that make it a huge process to unsubscribe to their games and services should not be allowed to do business ANYWHERE. Illinois passed a bill into law that requires all games to have a “Cancel” button on their website if they want to do business in that state. Having to call in or send a letter via letter was bad but I think it’s equally offensive to go through the arduous process like that which Blizzard forces upon their canceling subscribers. If I don’t want to play your game then your survey and attempt at begging me to stay with promise of a brighter future is asinine. This was all accomplished by a guy who called his Rep… I guess the system does work.

Blizzard will have achievements for StarCraft 2 and Diablo 3 – Via a unified “Blizzard Account” Blizzard plans to take their achievement system in WoW one step further. I see this as nothing but the ultimate ‘carrot on the stick’ and epitome of Blizzard’s lazy autopilot development. Shovelware content at its finest. But hey, it will be polished right?

DVD: Stargate Continuum – Graev and I watched Stargate Continuum on Tuesday. I thought it was great even though I’m slightly disappointed that some of the things I wanted to see were left out. I won’t ruin the plot for you guys but I have to say it needed more Jack and Baal. Watch it.

Paul Barnett’s Top 11 Lessons From Warhammer Online – Definitely worth reading if you find the mmo industry fascinating like I do. Again, Paul is brilliant at what he does. My favorite quote from the whole thing: “…believers are wonderful people. I hire less talented believers over talented heretics every time. Three-star ability with five-star drive is how you want it. The other way around leads you to hell.”

  • “I see this as nothing but the ultimate ‘carrot on the stick’ and epitome of Blizzard’s lazy autopilot development”

    Really? Seems to me they are giving the people what they want.

  • Achievements are a clever way to take things that people normally do, reward them for it, and hopefully distract them from the things that should have been in while artificially prolonging the game.

  • I’m so tired of people constantly bashing on WoW and Blizzard.

    Seriously I don’t go around saying:

    “warhammer is going to epicly fail don’t play it, BOO IT SUCKS!”

    or

    “warhammer is just stealing idea’s from everyone and the company should just die in a fire for existing!”

    Please leave one of my favorite games and company alone, will you?

    None the less, best wishes to Warhammer and everyone going to play it. I’m going to enjoy my time as well as you. Just in a different MMO called WoW: WotLK.

  • @Hazzerd: I’m trying to find those statements you just quoted, alas I can not. Ah, it’s because no one said them. There’s a fine line between stating an opinion about dislike for something and bashing. I think achievements, like the ones found on Xbox Live and coming to WoW (and all Blizzard games), are silly – and I’m well aware that millions love them. Blizzard has proven to me many times that they are lazy developers – one need only look at WoW’s development time line to see my point.

    And before the trolls jump on this one, I find the same to be true in all games whether it be LOTRO, WAR, WoW, or Gears of WAR. I think the “kill 50 of this” or “Jump 50 times” or “collect x of this” or “beat the game on hard”, etc, achievements to be, well, uninspired.

  • @Keen

    In fact many people say those things I quoted. I’m just tired of people saying things they have no idea about.
    Blizzards lazy? Not really, actually not at all. You have no idea how hard they really do work, nor do I have any proof that they might just be screwing around in their offices. I do know they deliver the best PC games known to man.

    I’m not trying to say any of these things in a crude or mean way, I really do wish the best of WAR. Just don’t say things you have no idea about.

  • I think my comments have gone over your head Hazzerd. I’m referring to the way in which they develop their games.

    Example: PvP in WoW.

    Blizzard promised world pvp with a pvp system full of progressions, siege weapons, and the like. Time passes and no such system arrives. We’re then promised battlegrounds. Time passes and no such system arrives. We’re finally given a pvp system with ranks and the result is a horrible implementation. Time passes and they revamp the system and add battlegrounds. Turns out they’re easily abused and the ranking system becomes worthless. I’ll fast forward and skip the part where gear from PvE comes into play. Finally Blizzard finds a pvp system that works for them… Arenas. Ahh the ideal style for Blizzard. Why? Because to add content one need only add more rungs to the ladder and add better items.

    It’s 2008 now – the game launched in 2004. I hear there’s going to be open pvp in the world again. Hopefully they haven’t gotten too comfortable designing their content on treadmills. That will spell disaster for their open world pvp and the vicious cycle will start all over.

    *edit* to further clarify, they’ve fallen into a pattern of lazy development designed around treadmills where they simply extend the carrot on the stick just beyond the reach of players every so often to keep them running faster and faster. This applies to their PvE and their PvP.

    Does it make sense to you now?

  • @ Hazzerd – I played WOW for two years and absolutely loved it. Up to this point, it was the greatest computer game I have played. But that doesn’t mean the game is immune from criticism. There is no doubt that WOW is feeling the pressure from WAR and instituted its achievement system as a kind of response to WAR’s Tome of Knowledge.

    Does WOW “borrow” ideas from other games? There is no question it does. Is WAR “borrowing” ideas from other games? Yes. But this is not necessarily a bad thing, in fact to a large extent it is very positive to borrow the good stuff and ignore the bad stuff.

    I loved WOW. But the game has some bad flaws. Perhaps it takes a while to understand this. It took me two years. Again, that doesn’t make it a bad game. But there is nothing wrong in pointing out the flaws. After reading Keen talk about games for many months, I get the sense he has a pretty good idea about what he writes about.

  • @singlemalt

    I like your reply better.. heh

    But to keen, I agree WoW has it’s flaws. What game doesn’t?
    It is after all, their first MMO. When the day comes and WoW’s 11,000,000 subscribers and growing falls, Blizzard will go on and announce their secret “next-gen MMO” they keep talking about.

  • Hmm…I am confused over the statement of Achievements.
    The “Ultimate” carrot on the stick for achieving..
    Isn’t this in other games as well?

    Traits for LOTRO
    AA for EQ2
    Titles for Guild Wars
    Tome of Knowledge for WAR

    So, why is WoW any different than EVERYONE else?

    I agree with Werit. Right now the number one item for Xbox live besides multiplayer happens to be Achievements.

    EVERYONE wants this.

    But, Blizzard is lazy by doing this..?

    I would not call it lazy, I call it “Business Savvy”.

  • I also wanted to add I read the lovely Paul post…

    And I just do not get what is “brilliant” about this guy. Maybe I have been irritated with him since seeing him on X-Play staring at Morgans boobs the whole time blathering away.

    Example of said blathering from the Interview…

    ” World Of Warcraft is to MMOs what The Beatles are to music, Barnett said – WoW made prior MMOs irrelevant. But you can’t be The Beatles. If you try, he quipped, you will “…end up as the Monkees.”

    He contradicts himself in the same set of words, and still makes no sense.

    WoW is to MMO’s what the Beatles are to music.
    Ok…making sense…WoW is huge, the Beatles are huge.

    WoW made prior MMO’s irrelevant.
    Huh? Why state this after the previous sentence…
    If we take it in that context, the Beatles made prior music irrelevant? I would NOT call people like Elvis, or other musicians of the previous era “irrelevant”.

    But, you can’t be the Beatles
    WAIT! But, he just said they were the Beatles of MMO’s…

    If you try, you end up as the Monkees?
    From wikipedia
    In 1967, The Monkees sold more albums than The Beatles and The Rolling Stones combined.

    I guess WoW is The Monkess…I know I sure would want to be.

    This guy is NOT that brilliant!

  • @openedge1: Read the 2nd paragraph of comment #5.

    And maybe in a couple of years you’ll be able to understand why Paul’s comments are brilliant.

  • Bah, i’m so sick of WoW’s fanboys and their hurt feelings.
    If that stupid treadmill is so good, why the hell aren’t you playing it right now? Blizzard’s feeding you well, you’re gonna have “content” to burn thru for at least 1 more month. i don’t understand why all the whining.
    Now, shoo! Off you go, and may we never see you again.

  • I dont like achievements in any games, I did them on Portal and then realized “Hey, im wasting hours doing things semi-perfectly for no real reason” and just gave up, TF2 was different… I got them just as I played, no additional perfection necessary other than some off the wall playing (bonesawing 5 people with an ubercharge undeployed was extremely fun).

    For the most part they are boring, arbitrary, and require you to go WAYYYY out of your way to accomplish, such as Blizzards “World Explorer”, do you know how many little areas are in the middle of NOWHERE that youll have to explore for this achievement? Swim south for 5 minutes in Tanaris to reach that tiny little island, wooo!

    Blizzard is putting in achievements, because it IS a carrot on a stick, and while it feels good to get achievements, those gamers who are not infatuated with gamerranks (lol mediocre at WoW! but never played Starcraft!) will see them as they are… wasteful annoying timesinks that youll go after simply because you have nothing better to do.

  • I quit WoW about four times and I barely remembered the survey. Banning it with a law seems like an awful idea not only because it’s a great way to get feedback, but I’m not a big fan of banning things with laws to begin with.

    Why do people hate achievements so much?

    I guess I have trouble understanding why people hate truly optional game mechanics, because when I hate a truly optional game mechanic I just don’t do it.

  • Hi! Long time no comment on my part…I do have to say I am impressed with the dedication you have with your blog and the neverending quality of the comments by your readers as well. I have all but given up on WoW myself and don’t see myself going out to get WotLK when it is released.
    I have been enjoying myself immensely in Age of Conan lately. Just wanted to stop by and say Hi and take care!

  • @Keen: You may not like achievements but many people do. I am not a big fan either, but should Blizzard develop for me personally? Probably not.

  • @Keen

    If WAR is as scatter brained as Paul though, then I will know what the game will be like on launch.

    I can only hope it is good, as DAoC has only been a moderate success, and EA is putting all their eggs in this basket. And then we have EA, who we know how well EA and MMO’s go together.

    All I see is another PR train wreck happening though. I just hope it does not derail in the end.

  • Barnett’s list was pretty intriguing, to say the least. A lot of the stuff he says actually makes sense.

    As for WoW, it’s a grind in every sense of the word. Leveling is heavily reliant on doing a boundless amount of rather senseless tasks. Raiding is centered mostly around gear; you can’t kill Boss Y without farming Boss X until Items A B and C drop. PvP is exactly the same! You can’t kill a rank 2000 team until you farm hundreds of Rank 1600 teams for points, so you can get the PvP gear. The fact that they added Achievements to the Level/Reputation/PvE Gear/PvP Gear/Arena Rating/Profession grinds isn’t unexpected, but it’s not encouraging… that Blizz would take a game in that direction, and possibly drag SC2 and D3 in the process… *shudders*

  • Doesn’t WAR have achievements?

    Considering how many non-gamers WoW brings to the table (Many millions have probably never played a serious computer game before they joined WoW), they will probably like achievements so makes sense to me.

    I haven’t played WoW in 17 months, the grind after 70 was not interesting to me. However most MMOGs are just that at end. Hopefully WAR isn’t but who knows until you really get there.

  • @Sean: Hey 🙂

    @Popcorn: Yep, WAR has achievements. As noted in comment #5 second paragraph, I think the same of WAR’s achievements as I do WoW’s or Xbox Live’s or any game. They’re meaningless to me and nothing but timesinks meant to artificially prolong content. In many cases they’re meant to distract and mask the lack of real content and unlockables in-game.

    Let’s look at Team Fortress 2 as an example. Why must I complete 32+ silly achievements in order to unlock a new gun? Why can’t my skill unlock me that gun or my progress in the game? Why must I light 1,000 people on fire, jump around in circles 3x, and then fireball taunt?! (A slight exaggeration)

    In WAR’s case there is this one achievement in particular that Josh Drescher mentioned where it gives you a title for clicking your character a certain number of times. I consider that to be a silly little “oh” factor. This is a lesser-evil achievement. Once the game comes out I’m sure I’ll find more greater-evil ones. Achievements like some of the ones in TF2 and WoW are downright ludicrous. They’re nothing but cleverly disguised grind treadmills meant to keep you playing without realizing why.

  • I am wondering about WAR and tanking? I have typically played a tank class in most MMOs, however most have been PvE. So how does tanking work in an MMO geared mostly towards PvP?

  • I agree with Illinois. I remember I had to have my parents (yah i was really young) cancel a credit card in order to cancel my EQ account.

  • I must have cancelled and resubscribed a dozen times across my Wow accounts by now.

    Wow may have many flaws but an “arduous process that Blizzard forces upon their canceling subscribers” is not one of them.

  • @Werit:
    Nice vid. Really has me amped for WAR.

    @no one in particular:
    Now that I got a look at it, I will admit that maybe the whiners were right in one aspect; WAR’s visual aspects look surprisingly similar to WoW’s, even the skill descriptions. However, that doesn’t mean it’s “copying” or “cloning” it… I’m sure I could list a lot of games that have similar art styles.

    I have a feeling that what WAR will do right is what I’ve always wanted WoW to do right: balance the PvP aspect of the game. Blizz has been trying to do so for quite a while, but WoW was initially balanced around PvE. Completely reworking WoW to be truly balanced, at this point of its life cycle, will be nigh impossible to truly do.

    I’ll definitely be trying out WAR to say the least. It looks quite polished considering it’s still in its beta stages.

  • @Danath Correct. I was referring to how Blizzard’s system was just as arduous even though it didn’t require me to send in a letter or make a phone call. I think that it’s equally wrong to put people through this long cancellation process. A simple “yes, I’m sure I want to cancel” is good enough for me. (one thing SoE did right, imo). Maybe Blizzard has refined the process but back when I had to cancel there were 20 questions and an essay (I kid you not, they wanted me to write out why I was quitting).

  • Makes logical sense to me Paul. Your clarification is how I read it anyway.

    “And they wonder why I don’t go to GDC.” ZING!

  • “Are you really, really sure you want to cancel your account? You do realize that by canceling your account that you are going to be considered a loser by all your friends. Yes, even the 8 million subscribers in Korea, the 1 million Europeans and even the 1 million of your fellow US citizens that you don’t even know personally will consider you weak and beneath contempt. Why not take a month or so and reconsider? You are potentially making a life altering mistake so why not think a little more about it. Perhaps consult an older and wiser person, one who realized that WoW is the closest thing to true happiness that most mere mortals will ever experience, and see what they think about your misguided attempt to save a mere $14.95 a month. So for now, to protect you from yourself we are going to do away with the pesky Cancel button. Thank you for contacting Blizzard and have a nice day!
    PS. If you do decide to go forward with this insanity, you will have to call 1-900-ILL-SUCK and speak with one of our customer service reps to make your decision final. You will be billed $9.95 a minute for the call.”

  • I’ll agree if WoW achievements prevent you from doing somthing until you get them then yea, they are a worthless grind.

    from what I read in WAR, they are just things you get without even realizing you are working towards them which is a good way to do it.

  • LOL Drakorn…nearly snarfed the soda I was drinking I was laughing so much reading that…

    I am actually currently playing AoC and reading some unfortunately comments within those Forums about a number of billing issues from folks who have cancelled their accounts.

    My personaly opinion is that these games are entertainment albeit, long and arduous journeys to get them to market, and as someone once said, “you can please some of the people some of the time, but you are never going to please all of the people all of the time.” Therefore, the unfortunate reprocussions is that, generally speaking, most MMOs have a relatively short life expectancies. However, the impressions that a company which operates one of these MMOs can etch into its market can last forever. So, whether your MMO has the life expectancy of a fruit fly or of a giant tortoise, never bite the hand that feeds you.

  • If I may…allow me to quote Air Supply without offending anyone?

    “You’re the meaning in my life. You’re the inspiration….”

    Thank you K and G. I had given up hope that you were the true fanboys of Warhammer. Until today.

    My faith has now been restored and I will shout your message to the masses.

    Your loyal servant,

    Jason (resident drunken idiot of Channel Massive)

  • @Keen: but as I recall (ok, it was a year and a half ago), most of the fields were optional.

    I can’t begrudge a company for trying to identify the main reasons people are quitting (and thus not paying them any more money).

  • I tried to skip it all but it wouldn’t let me. (Shrug) Some could have been optional. A lot of people are getting caught up on this though when I simply pointed at Blizzard’s process being the next step and equally as arduous when the big picture of what ‘should be’ is a simple “yes I want to cancel”.

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