The stereotypes, they do nothing!

The past week or so, I have been playing on a few different servers. My friend Jeremy started playing WAR again and tried joining me on Dark Crag, but he really hated the Open RvR rules. So we looked at the other servers and their populations and gave Volkmar and Phoenix Throne a try. Phoenix Throne seems to be the most balanced and heavily populated Closed RvR rules server for WAR. It’s also an Role Playing server.

When I played MUSHes, man, it was nothing BUT role play. That was why you played. The whole RP thing never appealed to me in a more modern graphical MMO, though. I think that most people playing on RP servers are doing it to try and escape annoying, petty jerks. Maybe some of them role play … but I don’t see much of it. Just some people talk like Greenskins and don’t use normal grammar and spelling.

And now, to the point. Today I had to stop playing for a while because I felt really angry over the people on Phoenix Throne I was in a scenario with. Obviously, as destruction, we were not doing so hot in T1. The scenario chat was constant arguing and yelling at each other. Sarcasm, insults, etc. I found myself thinking that over on Dark Crag, the “immature script kiddy” server, I never really saw this kind of stuff going on. Everyone knew they were there for one purpose, to win. And yelling at each other does not win a match. And if you really can’t stand it, you leave.

I guess I expected more from the mature, role playing server crowd. My mistake.

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Ignorance is the name of the game

I spend way too much time reading blogs about WoW, WAR, and pretty much anything related to MMO’s at any level. Obviously everyone has their own opinion, and I am no different.

I understand the people who are into nuts and bolts of a specific game. These people are the theory crafters and mechanic explorers. They don’t wonder if things are “good” or “bad”, they are looking for “how”. The truly great people in this mindset can see a big picture, large trends, that are all built on the little, tiny nuts and bolts of how things work.

I also understand the complainers. The frustration and the heartache of how things can really suck. I empathize with these people quite a good deal. This entire blog stemmed from my dissatisfaction with being a guild leader. My frustration with World of Warcraft when it came to the higher level (social) game. I would like to think that most people in this category are driven by the idea of “I want more.” I know I want things to be more fun, more engaging, more consistent, more well designed. I’m not content to see a game and say, “It’s good enough.” Because that’s just not possible.

And, lastly, I see a group of people who are just fine with things. They have mastered their game, wether it has problems or not. They are blissfully content to love their game. They wonder how anyone could question how fun and awesome their game is. The most dedicated and pure form of these people are not the fan boys. Fan boys will argue with you. These people, at their hight, will ignore you. Because, that’s how they accept the game they play. Ignorance is bliss.

I think we all pop around between these three in our times playing games. Leaning towards one or the other. Everyone of us living in our own little hell. At least one of those three types dresses up their hell nice and has Ikea furniture in case anyone ever visits.

Im n ur data, killing yur stereotypes.

An interesting read over at Ars Technica today.

My favorite classes in college were socioloy courses. And part of sociological work is getting your hands on data and trying to form the data into useful conclusions. It’s part data mining, part theorizing, and mostly all crazy. And this is no different in my eyes. You get the data and you compare reality to what people say. You can come up with some really interesting correlations.

Like, how average the average MMOG player really is.

Ok, I’ll bite on “Seven Favorites”

Syp over at the Gameriot Blogs posted a list of seven favorites about Warhammer Online. And, me being a little lazy, took the time to write some of my own down.

Favorite Zone

So far, the T2 Open RvR areas of Elf-lands are my favorite. I really like the rocky crags of the Shadowlands section of the zone. The fog could be rendered better, but it’s a nice touch.

Favorite Race

Man, this is a tough one. Right now, I’ll say Dwarves. And I don’t even play Order actively. Something about their design and look really appeals to me. The tough little annoying jerks I know they are in PvP is also a draw.

Favorite Career

Again, a touch pick since I really am drawn to several. Shaman has a very cool mechanic that draws me towards playing them. But, at heart, I suspect I’m an aesthetics guy and I really like the look of the warrior priest. But, in the end I’ll give it to the engineer. Dwarf plus turrets and guns is a win.

Favorite WAR Feature

Keeps. Period. Taking a keep, while not the best implimentation, is my favorite part of the game. Defending or attacking, I love the entire concept. I know keeps are in need of some real re-design, but this is where the rubber meets the road for a PvP game.

Favorite Skill

To me, this is like asking for my favorite fork or knife in the kitchen. Uh … all of them? I use some more than others, but I don’t have a favorite. A skill is a skill is a skill … right?

Favorite Scenario

Having never made it past T2 (YET!), I’m limited in my choices here. I’ll say Mourkain Temple. Mostly because it’s a simple scenario, yet few people seem to really play it at it’s face value. Not to mention that since my main career is a sorceress, it’s a great scenario for AoE spells. Muhahaha.

Favorite Live Event

I’m not an event person. I actively avoided logging into WoW anytime there was a holiday event, so I’m not partial to these at all. But, the most recent Night of Murder was really low-key and very well done. These events that are really “icing on the cake” and not a whole other slice of cake I feel obligated to eat are my … uh … cup of cake.

It’s amazing how much my likes and dislikes seem to be contrary to where I spend my time in the game and what career/race I play. I’m a little surprised.

The Warhammer Online Tier 2 “Sweet Spot”

I have not been veraciously playing WAR like I played WoW. I log in, I play, I log out. No big deal. And those sessions have slowly payed off. Aside from playing better and mastering my class more, you earn influence for the open RvR sections of the game. So, once I hit class rank 18 and realm rank 18, I had tons of blue and purple gear to pick up from the warcamp rally masters.

You could look at this as a grind, no different than grinding purple gear in WoW. Except, I did this guildless without any real dependency on twenty four other people. All pugs. Just playing the game. I like that.

Things I’ll try to remember when I am making an MMORPG.

This is a list of things I want to see an existing or new MMORPG address. Some of these are totally pie-in-the-sky ideas and I know they aren’t easy to do. That’s ok, because having an idea and trying to do something creative is very valuable. More valuable than just rehashing the same old stuff.

No server shards. This might well be up there in fantasy land, but I don’t want to have to re-roll, or pay to transfer a character in order to play with my friends. I don’t want to have to coordinate friends playing on my server. My character data can’t be more than a couple kilobytes in size, so there’s no reason it can’t really exist on every shard at one time.

No crafting. Don’t even bother. Unless you are making Barbie Dress Maker, being a seamstress should not be how I spend time in the game. Sewing, farming, fishing, and making armor are all things boring people in town do. Don’t make me do it.

Levels aren’t mandatory. I know, I know, everyone is doing it. But don’t limit yourself. Think about other games out there and how they handle character growth. Levels aren’t inherently evil, but you don’t have to just make me grind out eighty of them to let me grow my character. Honestly, I have other things to do.

Have a vision and don’t lose it as you grow. Think about combat and how you want it to flow. Is it fast and brutal? Is it slow and methodical? Is it somewhere in between? If you can visualize how you want the game to feel and play, you can keep true to that vision. This, in turn, means the people who like that vision will want to play your game, and they’ll keep playing as long as you don’t suddenly get amnesia and forget what made people fall in love with your game.

Be better at theory-crafting than your players. Do I need to elaborate on that?

Don’t hide your game from me. That is, let me in on the secrets so I can play the game as well as I want to. Don’t make me have to reverse engineer your game to be good at it. I don’t want to “discover” your game. I want to play it.

Don’t make me run places. Seriously. I understand that you want your world to seem HUGE and EPIC. But holding down the “w” key or using auto-run is not fun times. You should also be sure that no one ever has to run back to a previous town for five minutes to just finish a quest. That’s really frustrating.

Graphics should be good and consistent, but they don’t need to be amazing. I know the flash makes good screen shots and makes people go “ooohh” and “aahhhh”. But after three months, when people have turned everything down so they can deal with twenty five people on their screen casting crazy stuff, it won’t matter so much. Better to spend that time adding depth and color to the world, instead of shadows and bump-mapped surfaces.

Do you want player opinions? Make your game client gather the data. I would rather answer questionnaires in the game every month than know that your number one source of player input is a bunch of jerks posting in all caps in the forums. I think I die a little bit inside every time I visit forums these days.

Gear isn’t character growth. It can be important, but it should always be secondary to skill and character ability.

If your game is about grouping up with people, I want to see options and features. If your concept of a guild is a banner over a character’s head and a chat channel, you’re doing it wrong.

I think that’s it for now. Sometimes a good list is a good venting.

Does it even matter?

Recently, many blogs I read have been making some comments about Warhammer Online subscription rates.

And, I have to ask why this matters. EVE Online, which I consider to be a great MMO with a vibrant and active community doesn’t even have 250,000 subscribers according to MMOGCHART. Those charts also say Planetside never had more than 60,000 subscribers, and I sure had a lot of fun playing Planetside for a couple years. If you subscribe to the monkeysphere theory, anything over maybe 500 people is just not going to matter to you as an MMO player.

There are, really, only two ways the numbers can influence the game. One is psychological, and the other is an indirect quality of the game. People might abandon the game under the concept that the game is not reaching it’s intended 500,000 subscribers. Or that the game isn’t as succesful as World of Warcraft. The more realistic impact is that the game is that the drop in subscribers based on estimates means a cut in services and support from Mythic.

In the end, though, I don’t think that the difference between 300,000 and 500,000 will matter when it comes to the game. If it’s fun, play it. If it’s not, don’t.

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