Weekly Wyrm ~ Mar. 8, 2014

WoW Ysera ImageThis was a refreshing week in WoW, although I’m still working on getting keys set up and Add-Ons installed.

WoW is saving screenshots in low-quality JPG by default (see image), so I had to fix another thing in my .WTF file along with the horrible camera distance. “WTF” is an apt name for WoW’s initialization file.

I’m enjoying the mix-reviewed Cataclysm expansion so far because Hyjal is a Night Elf area. Elune be praised! There’s temple music and peaceful beauty ruined by flaming horrors. The usual.

Cataclysm offers two big starting zones, unlike other lesser-endowed MMOs that cope with player congestion through phasing, making the package seem bigger than it is.

I’m looking forward to exploring the mostly-underwater zone, Vash’ir, cited by Rift players as a mistake that WoW players hated. (I.e. Trion should be wary when designing Rift’s water world.)

Vash’ir is also a zone steeped in Night Elf lore. So yay for more elf love.

Rift F2P. WoW, And Selling Levels

Christopher Coke penned a well-written article on Rift F2P last week. I like Coke’s literary fizz. At first I thought he was Justin Olivetti under a pen name. That’s praise.

I agree that WoW made it “open season” on selling levels, and that Rift needs to do the same thing. A lot of players didn’t make it through Storm Legion. I normally complete quests like a slack-jawed rodent, but I didn’t make it. Leonore remains L58. I’m not saying I need to skip two levels. I’m saying Storm Legion was tedious.

On the other hand, selling levels is a club to the face of people who played lots of hours leveling alts and maxing crafts. It opens a can of worms.

That’s a “nebulous” problem with F2P, to use Coke’s word, and a problem Coke’s article hints at. Store sales are replacing gameplay, now including questing and leveling. Once the shine is gone from getting everything you want instantly, you’re going to lose interest. It’s that simple.

Meanwhile, the game company has your money. Will you buy the same perk again next time? Or will you say “been there, bought that?”

Someone in Massively comments said “Trion is hooked on the cash shop crack pipe now, and they can’t put it down.” That’s an apt assessment. We’ve had robot mounts, squirrel mounts, mounts from Defiance, and parakeet mounts since Rift F2P. The newest bird is a spectral budgie.

What’s Rift’s next mount flavor of the month? I’d ride a personal shirtless dwarf. I’ve heard they have spectacular endurance. Peter Dinklage has this kitty’s vote for the throne.

Elder Scrolls Online Add-Ons: Situation = Failure

When MMORPG reported this week on the state of Add-Ons in Elder Scrolls Online, this kitty was dismayed.

Zenimax is taking a strong stance against mods that give “clear mechanical advantages in competitive situations.” They also seem to extend this to PvE endgame by saying: “We do not want those who aren’t interested in using an add-on to feel compelled to do so because they cannot remain competitive without them.”

This raises the spectre of PvP directly affecting PvE, and telling players how they have to play is never a good thing. Raiders will want DPS meters, at the very least, especially when it’s difficult to tell in ESO whether people are hitting things when they swing.

For example, WoW doesn’t appear to have a built-in map coordinate display, among other things. I had to install one. Coordinates are a must-have “advantage” in PvP, so if WoW followed Zenimax’s philosophy, no one would have coordinates. Good luck with that.

I find the Elder Scrolls UI frustrating and in some ways unplayable. It’s fine that some people like it, but forcing people to play a certain way is a negative for the game. If Zenimax follows a suppressive mod philosophy that supports their minimalist mandate, that’s depressing.

South Park: Stick of Truth

According to reports, Obsidian made a great RPG out of an unlikely IP. I enjoyed Angry Joe’s glowing review of this game, for which he awarded a rating of 9/10 with a seal of approval. I won’t play Stick of Truth because I can’t play as a girl. It’s that simple.

If you made it this far, please have a cookie, mister. Happy gaming.

Quotes Of The Week

Just saying, but it would have been nice to play a girl as I am like, you know, a fucking girl. Maybe this option was absent just to avoid Sexual Harassment Panda.

– Lucy Orr, ‘Mommy got me an UltraVibe Pleasure 2000 for Xmas!’ South Park: Stick of Truth (Review)

There’s nothing wrong with kick-ass heroines, as far as I’m concerned, but I do agree that it is wrong for them to be the only representation of a ‘strong female character’.

– Francis James Franklin, Strong Female Characters and Other Heroines

About Silverangel

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6 responses to “Weekly Wyrm ~ Mar. 8, 2014

  • commenter formerly called wumpus

    “there is a fundamental difference in the way of thinking and the way you need to design games [when you take them free-to-play].”

    NO! No there isn’t. If you make all your content f2p, then maybe there is. But it is quite possible to use other methods: I like to claim DDO’s “large free starting areas, a la carte after that” is strongly reminiscent of the old Apogee/Id “get 1/3 of the game free, buy the rest” system. Id quickly grew out of the garage and became a major player this way.

    The difference between designing a subscription or a la carte game and a pay2win (or pay2Bcool) game is that the customer keeps paying because the gameplay is worth it (the newb dose is always free, once you need harder stuff pay up). Once the revenue is no longer strongly coupled with content/gameplay, management will see content=cost, store=revenue and the game’s death warrant will be signed (no explanation for constant monkeying with mechanics. That’s just something from Dilbertland. I suspect this only happens after an IPO/corporate buyout).

    I’m not sure when I will start playing another MMO, but before I start I will be fairly careful to check just why the “publisher” expects me to pay. I want a game that expects me to come back for more gameplay. I suspect that most publishers are going to build around the farmville model – get you to play to avoid watching your character[s] fall behind (and lets you pay to avoid playing the game). One of these days I will have to login to LOTRO and clear all my bouncing mail out (I am an online hoarder), and after that decide if Mirkwood really calls.

    Oh, and a Elder Scrolls game without mods? With an already ideological-based UI? Let me be even less impressed than the sudden need to undo 50 months of design in the last month.

    • Jackie

      I’m not sure where you got that top quote, since I didn’t say it in my post? Still, a good point. I think Keen and others would agree with you. If your game is worth playing, it doesn’t matter what your model is, and if it isn’t worth playing, the same. Your game is going to fail anyway.

      “Oh, and a Elder Scrolls game without mods? With an already ideological-based UI? Let me be even less impressed than the sudden need to undo 50 months of design in the last month.” – There will be mods, but supposedly restricted so they can’t be so good as to be necessary to be competitive. Good point about making big changes at the last minute in ESO. It’s a little scary what they’re doing, unless they are simply taking options that were available as contingencies.

      Does D&D still have contingency spells? Those were pretty nifty in Baldur’s Gate.

  • comenter formerly called wumpus

    It was in Christopher Coke’s “well-written article on Rift F2P last week.” I guess I just had the page up and didn’t realize I left out the source. My point isn’t that the model makes the game, just that the model drives development. A good game that just gets hobby horses and no development (um LOTRO, that’s you) is not on a good trajectory no matter how good the underlying game is (to be honest, I have no idea why Turbine doesn’t feel you need to be awake to play LOTRO. That is a separate issue that seems to be a part of Dilbertland). Eve could probably be restored from backup if a volcano takes out CCP and simply play forever as is; LOTRO really should eventually get to Mordor.

    Good to hear about the mods. DDO doesn’t have any, and I’m sure I would have missed them. I can’t see how LOTRO’s give an advantage (except in not carrying around a full supply of junk due to dailytasks, or perhaps knowing the right cycle due to combatanalysis). We can only hope that this type of thing is enough. I understand why they were afraid of the “I win” mods that seem to be “my first mod” in other ES games.

    I’m pretty sure 3.5 has contingency spells, but I’m also pretty sure that DDO leaves them out (with the exception of a cleric autoraise spell that was less than ideal, no idea if it survived the “trait tree” fiasco). I suspect that they will be in D&D Next, but that might be one of the things that they tone down casters enough to make the other classes playable.

    • Jackie

      Oh, right. I’m sorry Wumpus, really in a funk right now and not paying attention. I need to take a step back from everything again. You’re right the model drives development, from my perspective right off a cliff. It will be interesting to see how LotRO goes, and whether they can come back with something that can reverse the downward momentum. Another reason not to launch a LotRO expansion this fall is a bunch of stiff competition, with Wildstar, ESO, WoW’s new expansion added to the mix, and EQ Next dog-piling on at some point.

      Tone down casters? The goddess frowns on this horrible notion!

  • Wilhelm Arcturus

    The problem with Trion selling levels for Rift is that I am not sure it have enough levels in the game to justify it yet. EQ, EQ2, and WoW are selling levels to boost people into the latest, or close to the latest, or soon to be the latest content. (I still don’t know what LOTRO is doing, selling people a level 50 boost, straight into the need to buy Moria. Or maybe it is just that simple.)

    If you sell a level 50 boost in Rift, you basically skip all of the good stuff and put people in the Storm Legion doldrums. I ran four characters to 50 pre-SL, but couldn’t get even one to 60.

    If they had another 10 level expansion headed our way, I would say boost to level cap the way WoW has and let people end game a bit and otherwise fill in the cracks. But with nothing on the horizon, boosting to cap sounds a bit like buying your way out of playing any more. And in F2P, that also means out of buying any more.

    • Jackie

      That’s a good point. I meant to suggest a L60 boost in Rift, since they do have another expansion on the way. So it’s just a catch-up to everyone else card, which in Rift is important like WoW due to the raiding endgame, unlike LotRO, which emphasizes the story. Rift putting out the new souls independent of the expansion surprised me. So how are they monetizing the expansion now? My Rift news reading has slipped. Still, expecting people to come back and finish up Storm Legion is easier said than done, as suggested by your “couldn’t even get one to 60” comment, 🙂

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