Archive for the ‘Ranting’ category

Thoughts On WoW Complaints

June 21, 2011

HatersGonnaHate01

Haters gonna hate

I just wanted to talk a bit about some of the complaints that people level against WoW. I’m not currently playing the game, and I understand that most of the hate is just from burnout and not from actual dislike of the game, but it bugs me when people bash one of the greatest MMOs ever made in order to justify the fact that they’ve just grown tired of it after FIVE years or more.

It’s all about the loot!

First off I just want to say, yes it is. World of Warcraft is all about the loot, it’s the reason most gamers continue to play even though they have no social ties to the community. It’s the reason most players do dungeons, and it’s the reason most raiders raid. Sure, there are those who raid merely for the companionship but they are merely finding their own way to enjoy the content provided, not the reason provided by the developer.

So why do I think this argument is asinine if I am willing to admit that it’s true? Simply because it is stupid to assume that World of Warcraft would be anything BUT a loot based game. Are there MMOs out there that are not focused on loot? Yes. Are there MMOs out there that do not make gear obsolete as you get the next piece? Yes. But you don’t pick up a Tim Burton film expecting bright and cheerful environments and happy fun time feelings. On the same token you don’t pick up a Blizzard RPG, the makers of Diablo, a game whose sole draw was obtaining tons and tons of new loot, expecting a game with very little focus on gear. It’s just people liking MOST of the game, and wishing parts of it were different. That’s fine, but you can’t fault World of Warcraft for your unrealistic expectations.

You level too quickly. You can’t experience the content at the appropriate level.

This is one of those arguments I can almost agree with. Leveling in WoW post Cataclysm is so fast you can shoot through several zones without even noticing, especially if you que for Battlegrounds or Dungeons while running around questing. I can understand people being upset that, sure they can go back and do those quests but it’s going to be trivial and they aren’t going to enjoy the questing as much as they would.

So why do I think this argument is flawed? It’s simple really: You can turn off XP gain in World of Warcraft. There aren’t many MMOs I’ve played that give you the option of turning off XP gain, but WoW did it. Sure it was for another reason, namely PVPing and Twinking, but it’s there. The only problem with this is that you won’t be able to que for Battlegrounds while XP capped. Well, you can que, but you probably won’t be getting any pops as you’ll be que’d only against others with their XP turned off. Still, if you feel like you are nearing the end of a zones level range you can take a quick trip to Orgrimmar, cap your XP, then head back out and finish up the zone before restarting that XP bar and continuing on. Just because you are too lazy to utilize the options given to you doesn’t mean you should fault the game.

It’s a roller coaster, I can’t go anywhere and do anything like I can in games like DarkFall or Ultima Online. It feels like they’re holding my hand the entire time!

This is the worst argument I have ever heard against World of Warcraft. The belief is that, just because there ARE quests and quest paths through zones that you MUST obey them, or be subject to some unknown, but obviously horrific punishment. World of Warcraft in no way restricts your movement through MOST of the world, it is just as open and open ended as many games people usually reference here as being better.

How can I say that when the quests guide you through the easiest paths? Because nothing is making you follow the quests. In Ultima Online I can create a character and immediately go to almost anywhere in the game. I can do the exact same thing in WoW. I can already hear the arguments: “But in WoW there are levels that restrict you. Sure you could GO to Blasted Lands at level 1, but you’ll die almost instantly.” My counter? The same is true of Ultima Online, it’s just not as obvious. Can I go anywhere? Yes. Will I survive for more than a second against a mob that has far higher combat skills than me? No. Just because it’s not a level doesn’t mean it’s not a barrier to content. Same with the questing. Just because quests are in the game, doesn’t mean you have to do them. Go off the beaten path, explore and kill whatever you feel like killing on your way to the level cap. Feel the game is too easy? Try fighting mobs two or three levels higher than yourself and see how easy the game is.

The community is terribad!

I can’t deny this one at all. I can suggest that you find a more friendly guild, a group of players that’s in it for fun and friendship and not the ‘Epics’. They’re out there, but you need to actively look to find them. Sure you’re still going to have to deal with the rest of the WoW population, but I find getting into a good guild and then turning off trade and general chat goes a long way toward making me feel like I belong.

World of Warcraft has ruined MMOs. All MMOs coming out are trying to be like WoW and they suck because of it.

This is one of the dumbest arguments I have ever heard, and even the smallest amount of research or knowledge completely negates it. World of Warcraft was based off of the, at the time, most successful MMOs out there: Asheron’s Call and EverQuest. From the zone breakdown to the controls to the gear to the combat. Blizzard just made a streamlined, polished version, exactly as Trion World’s recently did with Rift. Due to it’s ties with Warcraft, it’s cartoony graphics, and it’s ease of play WoW gained a lot of players, more than any other MMO at the time. Then something happened, a force of nature that no one could predict or manufacture saw WoW gain Millions of subscribers. No one can really say why, it’s just one of those things. So what’s killing MMOs? Everquest actually.

At the time Everquest launched there was really only one other combatant: Ultima Online. In EQ you had everything we see in MMOs today: Obvious zone progression, large raids, massive grind and a leveling time that prevented any new players from even seeing their friends for years, if they ever made it. Over in UO we had a massive open world where, even as a total newb like my current character is, I can travel with my guild for all the end game raids and actually provide SOME help. UO had an amazing crafting system unlike anything I’ve seen yet, with dozens of crafting professions at launch and even more now. You can sculpt marble and stone to make decorations, or make furniture for your house, or kegs to store alchemy potions, or a thousand other things, and you could just decide one day that you want to do something different, and start working on lowering your swords and raising your magic skill with that very same character. Sadly the industry followed EverQuest, not due to it’s gameplay features, but due to it’s pretty 3D graphics. Ultima Online and games like it were left behind because your average gamer prefers graphics over substance, and that will never change.

I do however have one major complaint of my own.

WoW has been out for over five years now, it’s seen three expansions, and it has received almost nothing new. Sure, new zones and gear, but for a game that’s been out as long as it has to blatantly ignore the cries of it’s players is just sad. The following is a list of things that really should have been in the game by now:

Player Housing

Appearance Slots

More Classes

Dynamic Events

Useful crafting (Not only for end game but for leveling/decorating/fun)

New Player Skins (Seriously, after seeing the Goblins I can’t even look at the older races. They’re fugly at this point, while everything else has been improved.)

New Player Models (Not necessary with new skins, but good God the WoW characters are fugly now. Make it like EQII where you only see them if you check a box in the options, for the older computers out there).

More Secondary Professions (such as gardening, or raising your non-combat pets so they get bigger, maybe breeding mini-games for mounts or something).

Probably a lot more I haven’t thought of, or can’t think of off the top of my head now.

Advertisements

Paying for Advantages–Re: Tobold

May 30, 2011

itemshop

This is going to be a response to Tobold’s article “MMORPGs are too cheap”.

Tobold claims, as the title suggests, that MMO’s aren’t charging as much as they should be. His defense of this stance is that the ‘average American’ spends around $58 per month on hobbies, and that MMOs only charge about $15, maybe $40 if there was an expansion that month. He then goes on to say that people respond negatively even to the very idea of paying more, such as in a cash shop where the player can purchase items.

If you’ve been following Tobold for a while you’ll see that recently he’s been battling for the acceptance of paying for advantages in game. He says that it’s not that big a deal, and that it’s youthful naivete that prevents us opponents of the idea from accepting what is obviously right. He believes his age has brought with it the wisdom to know that it’s alright to charge more for MMOs, and to sell items that give you an advantage inside.

He also likens MMOs to stamp collecting, and says that no stamp collector would be angry if another guy spent more money, and thus had a better stamp collection, so why should we care if someone spends more and has a better MMO experience. He then says, and I quote: “The whole argument against people spending money on MMORPGs has a whiff of communism. Everybody should be equal, and nobody should be allowed to stand out through money, even if he worked hard to get that money.”

BULLSHIT. First of all, anyone NOT currently living in the cold war would understand that if it worked out perfectly, Communism is an amazing way to run a country. The problem with Communism is that it NEVER works out perfectly, because people are greedy and evil. Knowing that, Communism is a stupid idea because it just can’t happen right. That said, of course people who have worked for more money should be able to spend it and have an advantage, however, all of that should be IN GAME. What you did outside of the game makes no difference, you want money and power inside the game world? Work for it like everyone else. Excel and become ‘the man’ if you can, but you don’t get to cut in front of the line because you have more real life money.

Why not? Because let’s not forget what an MMORPG is. It’s a virtual WORLD. One that humans created and one that has the ability to be far more fair than the real world. Why would we allow, if we can help it, the corruption and evil that infests our normal lives to seep into the one escape we have? That’s not how it works, because YOU are not YOUR CHARACTER. If you enter this world, and shoot past everyone else in skill or luck and become massively wealthy, you should be able to use that to gain status or power in the game, but you shouldn’t be declared Governor of California because you have a level 85 Shaman with more gold than the entirety of the rest of the server. Just the same the Governor of California shouldn’t be able to start playing my game tomorrow, and start bitch slapping me that very same day, even though I’ve put in time and effort. That’s got a very totalitarian feel to it if you ask me.

The only people who say that ‘money can’t make you happy’ or ‘MMORPGs cost too little’ are the people that HAVE the money to spend. I’m a struggling college student with a wife and debt. I’m LUCKY that I can afford to pay for a $15 sub a month for both me and my wife. Most of my computer equipment comes from my time in the Navy too, so it’s not like I’m spending much on my hobby. In fact, according to receipts, I spend about $40 a month on hobbies. That includes two subscription fees, one for me and one for my wife, and $10 for whatever comes up. So no Tobold, MMORPGs don’t cost too little, and if you REALLY want to just ‘waste’ your money as you claim in your blog, then I’ll send you my address and you can start just sending me the extra you’ve got.

Until then, try not to ruin my hobby just because you no longer want to put in the work.

I REALLY Want To Like Vanguard

May 23, 2011

2011-05-21_00006

Flying around the Isle of Dawn on a pegasus. Good times.

Due to the recent problems with SOE they gave me a free 45 days of Vanguard: Saga of Heroes. Before this I had only ever played the demo, and never gave it a serious try. Well, after just over a week of gameplay I think I’m done with the game. Is it because it’s a bad game? Nope. So what’s the problem? Well, first why don’t we cover the reasons why I want to love Vanguard.

-Things I Love About Vanguard-

Three Spheres: Character progression in Vanguard is split into three spheres. Adventuring includes your usual questing/killing mobs. Crafting is just what it sounds like, and Diplomacy is a collectable card game. Each of these spheres levels independently, and theoretically you could get to the level cap in Diplomacy without ever attacking a mob. You’ll get quests for all three spheres, depending on your level, and each sphere can be a lot of fun.

Leveling Speed: The leveling in Vanguard is MUCH slower than something like WoW, and I play MMOs to level. Once I get to end game I get bored quickly and start a new alt, so making the initial leveling take longer is something I can really get behind. When you consider the fact that each character has three spheres to get to level cap, this increases the leveling time exponentially, and really sends you out to explore the world.

Interesting Classes: Oftentimes MMOs have only a handful of classes, and they usually are pretty standard fair. A warrior, paladin, some kind of rogue, a non-magic ranged dps and a mage and priest. Vanguard has some truly unique and interesting classes, like the Psionicist.

Crafting is Amazing: Seriously, I used to think Everquest II had the best crafting in the MMO space, but I’ve changed my mind after delving into it on Vanguard. Not only can you level crafting completely independent of adventuring, including gear that looks cool and has stats effecting crafting, but each time you craft anything you gain skill. Once you’ve gained enough skill new abilities become available to use, if you have the right tools that is.

The Isle of Dawn Story: I can’t speak for the entirety of the outside world, but the story inside the Isle of Dawn was interesting, much more so than any MMO story I’ve run into yet. It had surprise twists that changed how things were playing out, especially if you read the information you get from the Diplomacy quests and Diplomacy itself.

Size of the World: The outside world, once you leave the Isle of Dawn, is vast. I mean, seriously you aren’t going to get across it anytime soon. It’s so big you’re given a mount right away in order to allow you to get from place to place in a good amount of time.

Different Places Are Different: What the heck does that mean? Simply that when you go to a new country in this game it really is a different country. You’ll have to learn entirely different crafting styles appropriate to the region you are in.

Defensive Target: I’ve loved this in every game I’ve ever seen it in. There is something amazing about being able to target an enemy while also keeping a friendly targeted for heals, hots, buffs etc. There’s no excuse not to have it in this day and age, and Vanguard has it.

Multiple ‘Energy’ Bars: Each class I tried had two energy bars, mana and stamina. When I use a melee ability it drains stamina, but if I cast it drains mana. It makes a lot of sense, but I haven’t seen it in many other games. Usually you get one type of energy, often mana, and that’s used for all of your abilities.

-What I Dislike About Vanguard-

Graphics: First off I know some people like this style of graphics, but I find anything with the ‘SOE style’ atrocious and just ugly as sin. The character models are a mix between EQ and EQII, both of which have some terrible character models, and that makes Vanguards characters truly awful to behold. From their massive shoulders to the odd stance they are always in, from the textures to the animations the characters in Vanguard are FUGLY. The landscape isn’t much better. It’s well designed to be sure, but the art department apparently couldn’t afford anything but fired SOE terribad artists. The worst part about the graphics is what I like to call “PS2” lighting. Many SOE games, including EQ, EQII and Vanguard, have what I like to think of as early PS2 lighting. It’s flat and does nothing to warm the world. It leaves everything 2 dimensional and boring, and I hope it doesn’t invade “EQ Next”.

Diplomacy is Frustrating: I’m OK with failing sometimes. I don’t like to, but it makes the winning so much sweeter. My ideal form of diplomacy in Vanguard would be designing a deck out of hundreds of cards and having it used in ALL diplomacy missions, with maybe a backup deck or two for those few types of battles my deck just can’t handle. Instead you are given a handful of cards, and every parley starts the same: Click diplomacy option, start match, get smoked while observing what types of cards they use and what their Bullshit cards take to fuel, then building a deck around that, then failing and refining until you win, then doing the same for the next parley. Imagine having to spend twenty minutes, and several deaths, for every mob you fought in a game. It’s horrible, and it’s designed horribly. A good idea that just wasn’t implemented well.

It’s Dying: I know people throw that around a lot in the world of MMOs, but Vanguard really is. According to the official website, the last update was over a year ago, and that was a hotfix. They simply aren’t developing ANYTHING new for the game, and while that doesn’t stop me from enjoying the content already there, it does make it feel like my achievements are less permanent.

The Combat Feels…Off: I can’t really explain this one too well. The basic idea is that it feels floaty. I’ll kill mobs, only to have them finish whatever animation they were doing, even a long casting animation, before falling to the ground. You press the button for attacks and it doesn’t feel responsive, and sometimes the graphic shows your cooldown as over, but the button won’t press for another few seconds.  The running and jumping feels just as floaty, but it’s the odd lag in the combat that gets me most. It reminds me of the same laggy feeling LOTRO first had with it’s combat, which has since been improved, if not fixed completely. At least in EverQuest II the combat feels gratifying and forceful, especially when you complete a combo and get a big animation for your spell. Vanguard just falls flat in this area.

-What Does This Mean?-

Well the three biggest parts of the game, Adventuring, Crafting and Diplomacy, are great ideas. I just don’t happen to like the implementation of two of them. I really enjoy the crafting, but that’s simply not enough to keep me involved, especially without an Ultima Online style economy. I wanted to enjoy Vanguard and play it till end game, but I couldn’t last more than a week. Sure, it might pick up, but the core of the experience isn’t going to change anytime soon, and I’m not going to keep playing a game I’m just not really enjoying in the hopes that it will magically become enjoyable for me.

I won’t get rid of the game from my hardrive, at least for the rest of the 45 days I got free, and I may give it another go as I try to get farther in the game, but I simply doubt it. I’ve got other games to play, and other MMOs to play if that’s what I feel like. For instance, I’m currently re-downloading EQII for my free 45 days of that game. Let me know what you think/thought of the game in the comments.

See you all around.

WoW Premium Content Dungeon Finder

May 19, 2011

scrooge_mcduck1

Mike Morhaime in the Blizzard offices.

This will be a relatively quick post. I just wanted to address the idea that Blizzard put out on their official forums, this premium content dungeon finder. In case you haven’t heard you would get the ability to invite Real ID friends to party with you, even if they are on another server. That way you and your friends can all go dungeon running together.

That’s a great idea, and something the forums have apparently been clamoring for. What’s the problem? Well it’s going to be premium. That means you will need to pay extra for the ability every month. You might think “well, $2 a month isn’t bad for something this great!” and you’d be sort of right. The problem is that Blizzard hasn’t announced the price yet and if they are willing to sell a sparkle pony for more than a monthly subscription fee, well you might be seeing an extra $10 charge a month if you want to play with your friends.

Still don’t think it’s THAT bad? Well, maybe you’re right, everyone needs to make money. I certainly don’t begrudge any company doing what it has to do to stay in business. So why don’t I like it? If Blizzard came out and said “Look guys, I know you think that we make a ton of money with this game, but in truth look at all these bills associated with running the game, and in the end we’re barely holding on, so we need something to make some extra money.” If that happened I’d be the first person to resub to WoW and pay the extra, just to help out a company that has given me countless hours of enjoyment over the last 10 years.

That however is not what is happening. What is happening is Activision-Blizzard making more money than any ten people could count in a month. WoW alone makes them enough money to probably give their entire staff a million dollar bonus every year and still be rolling in it. So what’s going on? Well they know you’ll pay for it, and greed has always run capitalism. They’re making trillions, and they’d like to make trillions plus $10, just to add to that profit margin, and that’s disgusting and greedy.

I know some people will defend it by saying that it’s just how businesses are, and that every business wants to make as much money as possible. To them I have one thing to say: WHY IS THAT AN ACCEPTABLE ANSWER? I don’t want to live in a world where my life and the lives of my children are meaningless to our faceless corporate masters, and neither should you. Now is Blizzard going to create a dystopia? No. But is it ok to just accept outright greed and the obvious hatred big corporations have for their customers just because “that’s how it is”? No. I for one am glad I have unsubscribed from WoW, and I don’t think I’ll ever be going back.

See you all in whatever game I happen to be playing at the time! (As of this writing I am currently enjoying the MMOs: Vanguard, Rift and Champions Online).

Rift…Set…Go!

February 26, 2011

AmunPose1

Amun is my tanking Warrior on the PvE Deepwood server.

As anyone who is even remotely interested in this blog already knows, Rift launched on the 24th and I’ve spent every moment of my free time playing. In fact, the only reason you’re getting a post is because they’ve brought the shards down again to do some quick fixes. I love that Trion is willing to fix things quickly.

Both me and the wife are sitting at level 17. She’s a healing Cleric, human style, while I am a tanking Warrior of the Dwarven persuasion. We’re having a blast, and it’s a great combo for any MMO. If we run into a Rift, a Greater Rift, or an Invasion we have no problems. I throw down some initial AOE aggro moves, then settle into alt smacking everything around me while she heals. He constantly add people as well, so if you are on the Deepwood server we’ve probably already grouped together once.

I haven’t had a chance to do any dungeons yet. They start at 17, so we are waiting until 18 to go, in order to give ourselves some leeway. I did try the Warfronts, and just as I feared being level 10, you are utterly useless. I chased this level 19 Cleric around the map, he never even healed, just let me whack and miss the entire match. So we haven’t gone back, but being level 17 we’re ready to take the plunge. I just really wish Trion has taken a que from WoW and made the PVP brackets 5 levels instead of 10. That is the best change to WoW PVP I’ve seen since the game launched, and I had hoped Rift would follow suit.

I did however have a pretty epic moment. Due to the massive amount of people in the 10-20 zone there are tons of invasions and rifts going off all the time. This WILL clear up as you level higher and the population thins out, which is good because at the moment it’s almost TOO much. Almost. Anyway, we were participating in one of the zone wide mass invasions, and we never get to help take out the final boss. He’s always too far away for us to get it. This time he spawned nearly on my head. He was a level 20 elite raid style boss, and I was only level 16. I managed to tank him for the entire 15 minute fight, only loosing aggro a dozen or so times throughout. I managed to get it back, and even got a couple of people in zone chat telling me I did a great job tanking, which felt pretty damn good.

One thing I’m furious with though is the racial abilities. Every race gets some kind of movement increase, such as the group aoe sprint humans get, or the 15 second cooldown short duration FLIGHT that the High Elves get. What did Dwarves get? I can fall a bit farther than everyone else. Gee, that’d be fair if the entire game was played on a cliffside. Jumping off a slightly taller cliff and almost dying is only slightly better than doing it and dying, and it’s far behind an AOE sprint or a quick cooldown flight option.

The other race that got screwed, but to a lesser extent, is the Kelari. They basically get to turn into ghost foxes. This doesn’t increase movement speed, which sucks, but it does allow them to walk almost on top of aggroable mobs and not have them aggro. This does increase the speed with which you arrive at your destination by allowing you to bypass a ton of fights, but it’s still only slightly better than nothing.

All in all, I’m having a friggin blast playing, and I can’t wait to get another level and get some dungeons under my belt. I did manage to get my Mining to 75, and my Armorsmithing to 75 as well before logging off. My Runecrafting is only at 51, so that’s not that good, but it’s not too bad.

What is an MMO?

January 29, 2011

RiftMageFront1

Back in 1997, when Ultima Online released, MMOs were a fledgling genre. No one was sure if they would succeed. Hell, no one even knew exactly what constituted an MMO. Of course there would be a persistent world for the players to interact in (in the case of Guild Wars that persistent world would just be the city and the player hubs), and character progression would be included as that is the basis for all computer role playing games.

So, in 2011 has the genre become a more solid entity? Do we understand exactly what makes an MMORPG, let alone what makes a GOOD MMORPG? The answer, I feel, is no. Right now there seem to be two categories of MMO gamer. The first is the old school MMO player, the guys and girls who cut their teeth on AOL Muds, Ultima Online, Everquest and the like. These people will take every opportunity to let you know that they’ve played UO or EQ (much like I’ve done above, and right here, and probably below this too). The second is the player who got drawn into MMOs because of World of Warcraft. These are not necessarily still playing WoW, and it’s these people who are often the most likely to rant and scream about how terrible WoW is.

To that first category, which from here on will be referred to as Old People, todays MMOs are missing that spark that made UO and EQ great. No one is exactly sure what it was that made them so great, but everyone has a theory and they won’t hesitate to share it with you. From the more sandbox nature of UO, to the neverending grind/socialization of EQ, players will talk about how much more ‘alive’ the old MMOs were.

The second category, which I have dubbed Noobs, doesn’t have those old school games to warp their perception. Often these people have only ever played WoW, or if they have branched out most of them haven’t been able to enjoy the other MMOs out there. Why? Because for them WoW IS MMOs. They may have stopped playing it because 3 years of any single game is enough to drive someone insane, but WoW is still their basis for comparison. To these people the more social aspects of MMOs take a backseat to their personal progression.

So which of these people are right? Neither really. The Noobs (forgive me for the name Noobs, it just fits when compared to us Old People) believe that an MMO that forces them to group up is a failure, while the Old People will scream about how the old games, like EQ, were far superior to the new games because they forced you to group up and interact with people. Coincidently they will be playing one of the new games and NOT one of the old school MMOs.

Now that I’ve grossly over generalized an entire group of people, let’s get to what I think an MMO is, and what I want to see in an MMO. The first thing is that we need the basics: persistent world, character progression. That’s the basis for an MMORPG. Sadly most companies making MMOs, ever since the early days of EverQuest, decided that the most important thing about making an MMO was keeping their players playing for as long as possible. This has resulted in the dreaded EQ year long grind to the level cap, the 40 or more man raids, and the horror that is rep grinding.

When do we put up with shit like that in our single player games? If I picked up the new Dragon Age II and it told me I needed to grind the same quests/mobs for a few months before I could fight the final boss it’d be the first game I brought back to a store and demanded a refund for. So why do we accept it as part of an MMO? For the same reason millions of people play FarmVille. Is it tedious and ultimately pointless? Yes. Does it take hours out of your day just to do something you get no enjoyment out of? Yes. Does it also allow you to space out, like vegging out in front of the Television, while at the same time interacting with friends and feeling like you are accomplishing something? DING DING.

So MMOs, since the beginning, feed on our basic want to improve ourself, while at the same time allowing us to sit around and space out, grinding away on mobs for rep or xp. Was it fun in Final Fantasy XI to get a good group of Linkshell mates and just grind mobs for hours? It could be a total blast if you had the right combination of people to chat with, but you know what? I could get that in a damn AOL chat room too. A video game should not have a caveat like: Sure the gameplay and story are boring as shit, but I get to chat with people and compare myself to others as I play! A video game, of ANY genre, should above all be fun to play.

I’ve recently been reminded, thanks to several blog posts and friends playing DCUO, exactly what I always wanted in an MMO.  Ever since I first started playing Ultima Online I realised that I wanted a video game with a persistent world. That has yet to happen. Instead we’ve gotten repetitive grinds, whether quests that are meaningless kill quests or straight grinding for rep or XP. There is very little ‘game’ in current MMOs. I want the basic concept behind games like Demon Souls multiplayer aspects taken to the extreme.

I want a single player experience wrapped in an MMORPG. Give me an 80 hour single player RPG like Dragon Age, then make it the same persistent world that everyone else playing the game is occupying. Let me hit the city and see thousands of players walking around, doing quests, shopping or just chatting. Don’t give me bullshit quests just because you’ve decided it should take me a month to get to the level cap and you need more quests to fill up the time. Treat it like Dragon Age, where most quests are either directly involved with the main questline, or if not they are epic on their own.

Then what happens when you’re level 20, at the level cap, and you’ve finished with the 80 hour storyline? That’s end game baby, time to do some end game dungeon runs and start raiding just like everyone else. Don’t let it end there either. I don’t need massive expansions every year, but instead I should have DLC constantly. Perhaps a five or six hour story once a month, and perhaps a new raid or so every two months. Then the expansion hits and the level cap is raised to 30 and everyone levels up and gets ready for end game again.

So what’s the difference between that and current MMOs? Removal of the boring stuff. Should you have to go spend a while gathering herbs for potion making? Yes. Should you have to spend three weeks grinding daily quests to get your rep up with someone so you can get one piece of enchantment that you need for raiding? No, that’s done ONLY so that you spend more time playing and thus more time spending money on the game.

Does an MMO need to keep me playing nothing but it for three years? No. But it should be fun while I am playing it. When did we start accepting bad design and purposefully gimping our playing experience just so the company making it could (theoretically) make more money. It seems stupid to me, but I write this while waiting on the PVP que for WoW to pop, so it’s not like I’m voting with my wallet here. Still, it means The Old Republic could be exactly what I’m looking for.

OnLive is the Future

January 15, 2011

OnLive1

This is the future. Not so much now, but in the future.

  I believe that, within the next five years, OnLive will be the premiere way to purchase PC games. Within the next ten years it may be the ONLY way to purchase any PC games that aren’t indie productions. This will seem crazy to almost anyone out there, but just hang in there while I explain my reasoning.

PC gaming has seriously been hurt by piracy. Now I won’t go so far as to say that piracy is taking so much money away from PC game developers that they don’t feel it’s worth it to release PC games, but instead I imagine it’s the fear of piracy that permeates the business of video games. This fear causes most publishers to demand that any game they publish be heavily DRM’d, which costs a ton of money and does literally nothing. In fact, the best DRM they’ve come up with, Ubisoft’s “always need an internet connection” DRM, was cracked pretty quickly.

Publishers and developers aren’t the only problem either. It’s not just pirates that are costing the publishers and developers money, it’s the average user. How so? How much money do you suppose Ubisoft spent on their DRM service, including development, implementation, and server costs? Probably a lot more than they should have. How did the average gamer react? With fear, hate and distrust. I was one of these people, so I can’t exactly say it was an uncalled for action, but it did cost the publisher tons of money. More importantly it added to their belief that PC gaming was not a lucrative market. I mean hell, if they even try and prevent piracy their regular users will damn near riot.

So where does OnLive come into all this? OnLive is the PERFECT DRM service. If PC game publishers were smart they would be supporting OnLive with every ounce of their advertising money. Why? Think about the way OnLive works. Not only do you have to download a program, but you have to open OnLive to do anything. How is this different than Steam? I have Steam up and in the background at almost all times, but with OnLive I have to commit. The program opens full screen and immerses you in the experience a lot more than other PC game stores. Of course that’s a small part of it. Consider also the fact that it’s almost impossible to pirate a game if it was released only on OnLive. This isn’t a “you need an always on internet connection” DRM that you can hack and turn off. In fact, you have no files of the game on your PC and you never will. You would need to hack into their servers, change the files there, and somehow make sure they didn’t find out and just change it back. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I can’t see a way to pirate this on a large scale.

So we’ve effectively stopped PC piracy, given players an Always On DRM that they can’t really get mad about, and provided a great way to market a PC game, due to OnLives amazing “spectator” mode. So what’s the problem? Well first of all, no matter how good your computer is you can’t turn up the graphics. Given a big push from publishers and developers though people could learn to forgive this flaw. Would hardcore PC gamers be upset? Yes. Does any company care about hardcore gamers, let alone hardcore PC gamers? Probably not. The other problem is the lag. Now I’ve been playing OnLives free week of games (not all of them, just the ones available from there subscription service. That means mostly ‘meh’ ones right now) and I’ve rarely noticed any lag. When I do it’s usually a little choppy for a few seconds, and then I’m back to gaming. Of course I am limited as to what I can do in the background while I play. I mean I won’t be running torrents (another win for every industry), but I also won’t be downloading anything at all, which can be a serious pain.

In closing I think that, in the future, we will see OnLive or a service much like it rise up to take over mainstream PC gaming. Almost every company out there has given up on PC games in retail unless it’s a Blizzard game, so brick and mortar stores aren’t going to care. Within five years, if the industry is smart, OnLive will become the new console, turning the pain in the ass of developing for literally billions of different machines into a simple, one stop shop console experience that is almost impossible to pirate. Of course, to really kick this off they might have to work with the internet providers to possibly provide a “gamers tier” internet option where, for an extra $20 a month, you have a much better internet connection.

What’s the biggest problem with OnLive as I see it now though? Prices and selection. Their selection is alright and getting better, but their prices keep me from buying anything. They sell old games for full price, and they almost never have a sale. Even when they do it doesn’t come close to Steam’s sales. I know they don’t have the user base to be able to work those deals yet, but it really is a deal breaker for me. I mean I’m giving up my ability to play the game offline, or to change the graphics settings, and I’m ok with that. But if I’m paying full price for it, I might as well buy it from Steam with a huge discount and the ability to play offline.

What do you think? Have you tried OnLive at all? Now is the perfect time, as they are having a ‘free play’ week. Hop online and give it a shot, then tell me what you think in the comments.