Sunday, August 28, 2011

Guild Wars 2 Announces Account Wide Guild Join: My Fix

Yesterday during a Pax 2011 panel the developers from Arenanet announced some news about guilds. The developer proposed that when you join a guild, it's account wide and you can join multiple guilds.

The way the system appears to work is your account can be a member of multiple guilds but you can only be tagged with one at a time. You can change this on the fly, although the exact mechanic is not known.

I personally think this is a horrible idea. Guild pride means something. I am a Council Member of and a very proud member at that. I will never join another guild, and I can't see how this system will benefit guilds at all.

What I propose is that guild leaders be given the option of joining Alliances with other guilds. Where if two guild leaders discuss it, they can together both go and form and alliance. As they see fit they can invite other guilds into the alliance, and when it comes time for raiding, or whenever the members see fit they can tag UP to the alliance, and tag back down to their guild.

This way guilds keep their guild pride, and strong alliances are formed allowing for an even greater in-game community. When WvWvW starts, guilds can tag up to alliance, and use their alliance to take over the same objectives that guilds can.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Obvious Pride in a Game: ArenaNet Developers on Guild Wars 2

Recently I read an article from Arenanet on The Battle of Khylo for the upcoming MMO Guild Wars 2.

One has impressed me so much about the development team for GW2 as opposed to the developers of Rift and SWTOR, is that they actually play the hell out of their own game.

Reading through that blog is like reading pvp strategy from a pro player. They play their game, love their game and it shows in the way they write about it.

Watching the blogs and developers of other games they don't appear to love their game the way the developers of GW2 do. While you'll see publicity type excitement when they are being interviewed, it's how the developers conduct themselves outside of those interviews that matter.

You can see the excitement in the twitter feeds. You can recognize the skill in the way they write about their games. The developers sound like they love their game in a way a gamer likes their game, and it has shown in everything they have done so far.

I am expecting great things from Arenanet and Guild Wars 2. Keep up the good work thus far.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

How many hours a day can we expect from our MMO?

I'm possibly too old school. I have been playing MMO for as long as there was a genre. Since the first one 15 years ago. I was playing MUDS and MOOS before then. I have been online gaming since there was an online game to play.

Having started in UO and EQ, those were games where you could play all day long doing something.

Camping rare spawns, getting rare resources, pvp'ing or hanging out with friends in some meaningful way in game. In player made towns in UO, or out farming some rare something or other, or just exploring in EQ.

Back when MMO started you could literally play all day long, all night long, and you always felt like you were doing something useful, you wanted to stay logged in.

Then came world of warcraft. A game that took all of that and condensed it more than it was. It made doing things a little easier. Of course it could still take hours to do a dungeon. From first manually finding groups for hours, then travelling to the dungeon, then completing the dungeon. You invested a lot of time into the game.

Over the years, they simplified everything. Made everything more accessible. They trimmed all time that was spent doing "other things" taking out the travel time to dungeons, taking out the having to manually find groups in cities. They took all of the extra time out of the genre.

This of course made all the content more accessible to the average, casual user but gave me more down time as everything was being done much faster, it was easier to get bored.

This is the state of the genre now and I wonder if it's time for a perception change. How many hours a day can I expect to be entertained by SWTOR, GW2, TSW, Wildstar, Firefall, or any other MMO being released soon?

I'm old school in that I am loyal to the one game that I am playing, but I am seeing more people who maintain several subscriptions and usually just log in to raid and then log out the rest of the time except for character maintenance. These people spend the same amount per month for a few hours a week and I expect to be entertained for a few hours a day per game I'm playing.

Is the way of the future multiple subscriptions? Or is there a per day amount of time that one can be expect to be entertained?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Can same spec for pvp/pve work in SWTOR?

Developers have kept in mind the different needs players have during their gameplay experience – leveling, PvP, raids, etc. Different builds should be viable in more than one context. Companions will help offset some of the disparities players feel taking their characters into different situations with different requirements (although companions are still not allowed in warzones).
Fansite Summit: CRR Interview with Georg Zoeller

Having such experience in World of Warcraft and many other MMO with both PVP and PVE elements, that quote has caused me plenty of disbelief.

How could a developer possibly develop a game that balanced both aspects of pvp and pve so that players could use the same spec for both? Having not seen the way the skill trees are laid out it is impossible to know for sure but I believe I have theory crafted a way that both could work.

Spec matters to players. There are always optimal specs for every job a player can do. What most average players do not realize is that your optimal spec is more often than not gear dependent and you really don't notice the difference between optimal specs until certain gear levels are reached, or until certain challenges are presented.

The optimal specs, are normally only needed in pve to make up for imperfect gear, and for pvp optimal specs are more often than not actually not noticed until max level competition. I believe SWTOR has set up their skill trees so that your one spec is usable in pve and pvp, and the actual optimal specs won't be needed unless you're on the bleeding edge of progression raiding, or fighting against opponents where the subtle difference and point distribution will matter.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Did Eric Brown mislead investors at the EA Earnings Conference Call?

At the latest EA Earnings Conference Call (transcript):
Brian Karimzad - Goldman Sachs - Analyst
One on The Old Republic, can you help us understand how the capacity management is going to work at launch? What kind of leadtimes you have to add capacity? And how do you plan to manage the effect of people wanting to level up, put their friends together if demand starts to
significantly exceed the capacity out of the gate?
Eric Brown - Electronic Arts Inc. - CFO
Yes, I think we're in pretty good shape to do that. We've got a very aggressive plan to be able to scale multiple millions of users coming into the STAR WARS franchise in service this fall.
We're looking at pre-order campaigns and telemetry coming in from retail as well as online to get a sense of the overall base and it's very strong. We're pretty relaxed about what we're going to be able to achieve there.
We'll be able to scale up and light up new servers on a fairly quick base. We've got a plan to do that over the months following ship and we have a lot of capacity built into that.

But is EA really ready "to scale multiple millions of users coming into the Star Wars franchise" when they have such a limited release?

Stephen Reid recently addressed the "red zone" issue to the fans on the forums:
To all of our fans outside of North America and Europe:

Today we've announced the pre-order details for the initial launch of Star Wars: The Old Republic. BioWare and LucasArts are completely focused on building an exceptional game and an exceptional game service to go with it. Unfortunately, to achieve the goal of an exceptional game service certain territories could not be serviced at launch. This decision was undertaken with a quality player experience as the primary goal.

We are humbled by that level of excitement and anticipation around the world for The Old Republic. As soon as we have more information about additional launches in more territories, we’ll let you know.

We are committed to delivering Star Wars: The Old Republic to BioWare and Star Wars fans around the world, and to growing a truly global community.

It appears that these two statements contradict one another. We have Eric Brown telling investors that EA is ready to handle millions of customers and quickly scale up to meet demand, and then we have Stephen Reid telling customers that because they can't handle the demand, they are going to stagger launch.

Which is it?

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Will non-pvp'ers enjoy pvp in swtor?

One of the biggest draw backs to pvp for a lot of people, is that instead of pvp being like chess, pvp in games like Blizzard's World of Warcraft is more like extreme speed chess. You must react instantly to all moves made and if you falter once you lose. Wins happening in less then 10 seconds hardly give people time to react. Fighting in a system like this this a lot of potential pvpers get very overwhelmed and just quit trying. The Learning Curve was so harsh, that it was hardly worth putting forth the effort for such a short fight.

Then comes along Bioware's Star Wars: The Old Republic and again will be changing the way pvp has worked in WOW, and it's subsequent knock-offs (Rift).

Georg Zoeller, Principal Lead Combat Designer recently said in a post:

Ultimately, for PvE and PvP, we're concerned with classes amortizing their utility, survivability and damage potential over a certain amount time and making player skill and tactical choices the deciding elements in a confrontation. You don't do that by giving everyone the same short term burst potential - that'd be boring.

It is my opinion that this slow down of the pace of combat will actually open up the possibility and fun factor for veteran pkers as well as give all of those that were previously pve oriented a chance to participate, and possibly learn to enjoy the challenge of combat between players.

If you've never pvp'ed in a game previous to SW:TOR, this will probably your best chance to learn to appreciate the rest of the game you've been missing.

I mean come on, it's your chance to be your favorite Jedi or Bounty Hunter or even Sith Lord in the Star Wars Universe!

Thanks to @BraxKedren for the article idea.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Death of DKP

Bioware has officially killed DKP with it's new amazing raid reward system currently called 'Loot Containers'.

'Loot containers' (name is still a work in progress!) do indeed exist and are designed to alleviate the frustration some feel around high-level loot drops.

As it's currently implemented, at the end of a key encounter within an Operation, upon looting a high-level opponent, everyone in the Operations group will get an individual container which has a chance to give you a random piece of loot that's specific to your class. It could be part of an armor set, a weapon, and so on. If you don't get loot, you'll get commendations which can be used to purchase gear.

Please note, this feature is currently in Game Testing and may well be modified before launch.
-- Stephen Reid (Dev Tracker)

This system will solve pretty much all of the loot drama ever had while raiding. No longer will players have to deal with Loot Council, or DKP, or Random Rolls. No longer will pugs have to deal with Ninja Looting raid leaders.

Players will be rewarded for getting through the encounter, and eventually will be able to get all of the items they are after in a reasonable amount of time.

This will allow guilds to progress further into raiding systems than any other MMO so far, and lower the gap between the haves and the have nots.

Of all the systems introduced by Bioware into the MMO Genre, this is by far one of the greatest game changers I've seen yet.

Stephen Reid (@rockjaw) Confirms "Traditional" Tuesday Launch

Stephen Reid today confirmed Mr. Alejandro141614 that SWTOR will be going the traditional route for release. Now keep in mind he isn't necessarily saying 'yes to Tuesday' but this above exchange could very well be interpreted in this fashion.