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Friday, March 31, 2006

Live Update 22





We interrupt your regularly scheduled Friday humor to bring you these leaked Live Update 22 patch notes.

Live Update 22

***Headlines***

-Expansion reward: Receive a new ability for owning Kingdom of Sky: Oneshot cheapskate!
-Norrathian Merchants have improved services! "Dealer" and "pimp" merchants added.
-Revive now has 100% less movement!
-Nerfs for some of your favorite classes!
- Guild level 50 mounts have been implemented.
-Chuck Norris banned!
-Whiners have angered the gods!
-Illusionists get new illusions...Not!

***Veteran Rewards***

-If you own Kingdom of Sky on a PvP server, you gain a new ability: Oneshot Cheapskate. This allows all those who own Kingdom of Sky to kill players without the KoS expansion in one shot, regardless of level, from 30 meters away. All classes get this ability, except for Illusionists and Coercers, whom we obviously hate.


-It's our way of saying: "Buy the expansion already, you cheapos!

***Merchants***

-New "dealer" and "pimp" merchants have been added to Norrath! See Dealers to get a wide array of drugs that enhance your abilities, make you chat for hours about yourself, or turn your screen display odd colors. Beware, some may be habit forming.

-Pimp merchants sell a commodity called "hos", to meet the uh... needs of lonely males and females of Norrath. Hos will follow you to your inn room, and give you a "buff". Beware, though, to put a rubber sheath over your magic wand, for a new Plauge is rumored to be sweeping the land. And stay away from the guards, as they have been alerted to these new vendors.

-Merchants now sell even more items that no one will ever buy! Thrill to pickaxes that give +3 to mining! Boggle at out T1 drinks that give 0.6 to your fav stat! Get to L60 and pay 999999 status points for a L30 weapon! Pay huge amounts for armor that is worse then you'll find in the noob yards dropping off snakes!

***Kingdom of Sky***

-Penny Dreadful will now complain to anyone who comes near about how terrible her graphics are.

-Anyone under L20 who manages to harvest all the parts for the Droag collection quest will receive a new title: The Careful.

-On PvP, any time a player is Killed by someone 40+ levels above them in KoS due to the no lvl limit, the killing player will automatically /moon the dead player, who gains a new title for 15 minutes: the Owned.

-Level 70 Adventurers will now get all their AA points instantly, since there's wayyy too much to do at L70, and we really want them to make an alt.

-All clouds have been given a silver lining.

-A number of creatures in the Tenebrous Tangle have decided to become vegetarians, and have taken up Poker and Sudoku. They will no longer attack, but will play Texas Hold'em for plat.

***Desert of Flames***

-When in the Poet's Palace, you will now be subjected to awful poetry submitted to SOE by 13 yr olds about how uber their toon is.

-When in Desert of Flames, you will get an XP bonus for flaming other players in level chat, ooc, or shout. Extra bonuses for using the words noob, u teh suk, and weaksauce.

-Genies will now grant you 3 wishes. Unless you are an Illusionist wishing for decent illusions, in which case you will get delevelled to 1 and zoned to Permafrost.

***The Bloodline Chronicles***

-Heck, we just got rid of all the traps entirely. Just please, PLEASE buy this adventure pack! We'll give you veteran benefits or something...

***Achievements***

-Shaman: Your pets now do 5 DPS instead of 4, and had their life increased by 2. Also, Mystics and Defilers have different color dogs. Happy now?

-Shaman: Yes, we know both classes share the same AA tree. Hey, we're busy here, too. You think we have time to make a separate AA tree for every class? Ask Illusionists how much free time we have.

-Enchanter: Mana Flow is now no longer 100% useless. Uselessness has been reduced by 30%. See, we care about you guys!

-Druid: New animal forms have been added! Cute Little Bunny is chosen if you have no weapons equipped, and Drunken Bumblebee is given if you have a beer stein in hand. Also, we've taken away all your animal procs, as we've heard they were too "cool."

-Predator: Bounty has been made 60% more useless. Now it is only triggered if you beat a Red heroic triple up by yourself, and gives a whopping 35 copper. Now you can buy those arrows you've been saving up for!

-Rouge: Pick pocket will now have a 50% chance of giving the caster "lint", which can be given to Hwal Ruckstaff for a new quest, "Huge ball of lint."

***Player vs Player***

-The old gods of Norrath have come back, annoyed by all the whining on the PvP servers! Any players using the public channels (level chat, ooc or Shout) to call for nerfs, complain about being 1-shotted by someone 8 levels above them, call the devs "jerks", etc, will be stomped by the angry foot of Cazic-Thule.

-In a similar development, worship of the strange god "Chuck Norris" has been banned. Anyone who starts talking about Chuck in the public channels, about how there's a fist behind his beard, yadda yadda, will be put in chains in the middle of the Overlord's execution plaza, where players can pelt them with fruit bought off our merchants. In addition, they will be changed into Enchanters.

-Carnage PvP, formerly City PvP, will now be called Gank PvP, to better reflect its nature. Players will be able to flag themselves in a city, then wander Norrath with higher level friends, so they can attack and flag their enemies. In this way, L50s can kill L12 players and still get status. Exploit? No sir, everything is working as intended.

-Getting killed 5 times in PvP without a kill by you now grants the following title: "Teh Suxxor."

-Defiler: Defile will now do naughty things to unconscious players and corpses. It is, after all, Defile.

-We are aware that adepts for the opposing alignment are dropping from mobs. These are not useless. You can sell them for a whopping 3 silver. Still, we have listened to your complaints. All opposing alignment Adepts and masters can now be used as tradeskilling components in recipes for padding of chairs and beds.

***Gameplay***

-Reviving will now make you unable to move. This will enable players to kill each other more easily, and reduce hunting times. Bring some smores for the Spawn camp!

-Group lotto will now let one player win 99% of the time, as long as they can't actually use the things they find.

-Killing mobs of your level will now give even better items that are 10-15 levels below you. Hope you decided to roll an alt.

***Items***

-Bows and ranged attacks now do crazy amounts of damage on auto attack. Somewhere, Paladins and Shadowknights are crying into their fluffy pillows.

-Shimmering Wand of Glass will now break the 1st time it hits in melee. Hey, it's a glass wand. C'mon now.

-Armor from Armor quests have had their mitigation and stat bonuses reduced, since they were nearly as good as the armor you would find at L12. In addition, all AQ's have had their quest difficulty increased, since people are finishing them before they hit Level 30.

***Tradeskills***

-New T7 tradeskill writs are available for Tailors and Outfitters. You can now craft clothes for the various Blacktalons in the Barren Sky! They may have feathers, but they're still naked.


- T6 advanced recipes for Carpenters arrive! Not! Haha, got you there. Excited weren't you?

***Guild Rewards***


-Mounts have been added to lvl 50 guilds. Choose between a Gnome disguised a Jester or a bearded female Dwarf. (Price: 900k Status and 32pp)

- You can now purchase suffixes! Males can now be The Uber and females The Uberess!

*** Mounts ***

- Mounts no longer autosize to match your character! If you are a Gnome with mount envy, you can now ride the Elddarian Charger with pride. The same goes for the modest Ogre. If you prefer a more compact ride, then hop on that pony you've been dreaming of! We here at SOE know that size does matter!!!

***Zones and Populations***

-Every Qeynosian revive spot on PvP servers now has an army of 20 guards protecting it. To make things fair, Freeport now has no guards at all, except for one guard at the Crossroads who only attacks Freeporters.

- Lord Nagalik is now a squirrel. A very angry squirrel.

-The door to Everling's bedroom is now locked, with a "Do Not Disturb" sign on the doorknob. We hear his girlfriend is up visiting from college.

-The Freeport Militia has decided to give up fighting, and take up needlework.
See any militia members for great tailored aprons.

-Anguis the dragon had moved from Antonica to the Commonlands as she finds the taste of Ogres more to her liking.

-Halls of Fate should now only take 45 minutes to complete, as we have rid the dungeon of the trash mobs and left only the named mobs.

***Combat***

Healer Changes:

-Priests now do damage in combat.

Scout Changes:

-Scouts with Evac will now automatically evac when they are down to 5% life. (PvP servers only)

- Scouts no longer have de-aggro abilities, in order to balance their aggro control with mages.

Wizard Changes:

- Wizards can now wear chain armour! We find that this will help with soloing!

- Wizards gain a new spell: THE UBERTANK. Casting this spell now gives wizards the HP of a 70 Lvl Bezerker, The Avoidance of a 70 Lvl Monk, The Healing power of a 70 Lvl Cleric, The Combined Parry , Deflect, and Riposte of all the Scout Classes at Lvl 70 and Shapechanges the caster into either Queen Antonia Bayle or Lucan D'Lere with all their abilities as well depending on the caster's faction. Once the spell has completed and the Duration is over the caster gets reduced down to 1 hp but with the Mitigation of Lord Nagafen, shrinks down to the size of a mushroom is rooted in place and can only communicate with the words "Help Me...Heeeellllppp Meeeee!"


Coercer Changes:

-All charm spells now last for 30 seconds on mobs, a 300% improvement! Player charms still last 1 second.

Assassin changes:

-Slaughter had it's range reduced to 1m, and only effects one mob.

-Assassin pet rats will now nibble enemies for 1 dmg, making them tougher then Shaman pets.

Illusionist changes:

-None. Suck it up!

Ranger changes:

-Ranged attacks now automatically oneshot anything 6 levels below you.

***User interface***

-There is a new command, /owned, which will show you who throttled you last, and how much they hit you for.

- Pizza time! /pizza is back and better than before! Now you can choose /pizzahut or /pizzajohns.


***

This post was truly a team effort. When I asked for submissions on the Aggro Forums I didn't expect to get so many great replies. I ended up writing only a line or two myself because there were so many great ideas. Thanks to Warm_Machine, Warith,
Jaipehg, Sela, Wargut, Glyson and Gnume for their contributions. And special thanks to Teh Chunt for his great entry which is the majority of the post. You can check out this thread to see who contributed what.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Virtual Economies in MMO's





Gnume Awldewe from the Aggro Forums wrote a research paper on Virtual Economies in MMO's. I thought it was a great overview and I really enjoyed it. So here is the link to the .pdf file. Also, here is the original forums thread where a bunch of us posted links to help out.

***

Speaking of economics, if your personal economics are hurting, you might want to check out the free Planetside Reserve program. Plaguelands has the coverage. Now, this idea was announced previously as I told you back in January. But the actual release of the program has gotten pretty good play in internet circles. I've seen mentions of it on many of the sites and forums I frequent. I'll be curious to see how the numbers turn out and what effect, if any, this has on the game's future.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

EQII Nerfed By Great Wall






From Pacific Epoch:

"Sony Online Entertainment's massively multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG) EverQuest II (EQ2) will end operations in China on March 30, reports Sina."

Wow, that was quick...according to the article the game never got out of open Beta in China.

I have no real idea what happened. Do you want to blame it on Gamania, the Taiwanese company who was handling the game in China? Or perhaps on WoW's popularity in China (they did have
this spiffy commercial)? Or maybe the localization efforts made? Or was it just that the game itself did not appeal to Chinese audiences? No clue here...I just don't have enough information.

It's weird because I remember reading about SOE going to extensive efforts to localize the game, including changing some of the quests to reflect the folklore and mythology of the country. But I can't find that link now and I don't know if it was China specifically.

Well, Everquest suffered a similar fate in China, closing operations after only a year, according to the article. So perhaps it is just this style of MMO that has issues in China. It is rather different from the four Asian MMO's I have tried for brief time periods.

Maybe the entire gaming population of China is too busy
with this MMO. Who can compete with that?

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Live Update 21






I didn't comment on this one when it was on test or when it was released. But I will now anyway.

I thought the release was probably the "sloppiest" I have seen thus far of a Live Update. There were problems with reviving and with pets. But okay, it was fixed quickly (although the servers came down and we were booted and locked out from a raid zone). And SOE's technical track record is pretty nice with EQII in my opinion. So let's move on.

Remember when I
complained about the comparison tooltips? It turned out that more people who commented on that post liked them then didn't. Okay, fair and I'm glad to hear it. But still, I think I had a point about being able to turn them off. Well, soon after a coder from SOE posted a way to turn them off with through a command or editing the .ini file. But now, even better, it's in the options. So those of us who like them and those of us who don't can all be happy.

One thing I'm not happy with in the Update is the change that auto-boots you from a Griffon, Carpet or Cloud if you don't move in 10 seconds. Why? Well, you all probably know about the cloud bug in KoS where you are on a cloud and you never move or only move after a long pause. And seriously, I'm amazed that it hasn't been fixed. But since it hasn't, let's make the best of it. At least before this Update a lot of times your cloud would eventually move if you stayed on it. Now you are booted. And I ended up having to travel to another island first to get to the one I wanted to get to.
Crazy. It was mildly annoying before. Now it is outrageous.

The zone reuse timers are absolutely fantastic. Not only a great idea but well implemented. The merchant changes were nice too. I also love the ranged auto-attack upgrade on my scout. The fixes to AA's seem cool as well.

Mentoring in PvP was taken out (except for instances) before this Live Update, but okay, since they put it in the notes I'll address it. You never realize how great something is until it's gone. I don't really mentor or, er mentee, much on PvE because the people I usually play with are all at or near the same level as I am. But in a more casual Guild like Aggroculture, lack of mentoring really killed our night when there were only a few on and the level range was varied. I completely understand there was an exploit (though I tend to think there is one on the PvE servers too). But fix the exploit and don't take out the whole system, if possible.
Blackguard says they are trying to get it back in, so that's something.

One change I'm ambivalent about is the group lotto results. It was fun to watch at first. But I think some game mechanics should be opaque and not transparent (I'd actually like to see a ton of other stuff be more hidden but that's for another time). Do you really need to see loot rolls? I can't figure out the rationale behind this change. Is it to satisfy the complainers who think they're somehow always getting the short end of the stick? Well, they will probably still complain. I don't dislike this one (I have the loot notes in my combat text window so I never really see them) but I don't really like it either.

For more comments
check Quylein if you haven't already.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Koster Departs SOE





I first read this rumor on Plaguelands which linked to Kotaku. Only it isn't a rumor anymore according to Gamespot. Raph Koster and SOE have parted ways. And here's Raph's own post on the news.

While I suppose you can take this as a negative for SOE in losing what is definitely a well-known name in the industry, I wonder if they feel that way internally. To the best of my knowledge, Koster was no longer working on SWG. So what exactly did he do from 9-5 at SOE? Upcoming games, perhaps? I honestly have no idea. But I imagine he drew a larger salary than your average game designer. And, on the other side of the coin, he was probably frustrated or bored without a game to have a direct impact on. So I have to think this move makes sense for both parties.

As for Raph Koster, people are clearly divided on their views of him. Many basically idolize him and view him as a great games philosopher of sorts. Then you have those who blame him for SWG's faults and think his reputation is largely undeserved.

Since I haven't really played all of the games he worked on, I'm going to stay out of that fray for now. I did read A Theory of Fun and that was certainly an entertaining and enjoyable book I would recommend to people curious about basic game design concepts. I have the book on my coffee table and even non-gamers love to pick it up and browse it. So for putting together a book on fun that is, itself, fun to read, I do give Raph credit. But I'm not going to connect being a good author and illustrator with being a great game designer. I'm not saying he isn't either.

If Raph is going to start his own game development studio I will let him stand or fall on his own merits. If that happens, there will be no real outside influences to blame or to take credit. If the game is great I will praise it. If not I will trash it. I do wish him luck because I want to play great games so I hope he makes one. If he goes to another game company (Bioware rumors abound) then it will be a bit harder to tell whether his impact is positive or negative.

The rumors which preceded the announcement also had SOE losing the Lucas license for SWG and Bioware (KOTOR remember?) getting a license to make a Star Wars game. I don't think those rumors are worth commenting on. I honestly don't believe them though I may just be naive. But there's now
an official denial.

***

Quick Note: Aggroculture and EQ2Daily's Brownie Troop had their first staged battle on the PvP server along with some friends from United Alliance. It was a great time and I'd like to thank everyone who attended. Unfortunately, Aggroculture definitely lost the war but did stage a stunning upset in the final battle. I was also defeated in a solo match by Leko, the leader of the Brownie Troop but Aggroculture's Falik (aka Quylein the Mage) managed to down Rotacidare in their bout. It was all a great example of how fun PvP can be. Screenshots here and here.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Friday Humor: Life on the Other Side






What is life like for a game designer? Probably long hours, but besides that. Here's my look behind the curtain...

Forums: Why can't I solo? This game promised soloing.

GD *adds more solo content*

Forums: Argh! There's no group mobs in this game!

GD *adds more group mobs*

Forums: We burned through the raid content in 4 days - what a rip off!

GD *adds more raid content*

Forums: Why do you hate casual players? Why? Whyyyyyyyyyyy?

GD *takes gun from drawer and stares at it lovingly*

Forums: OMG Samurai are so overpowered!!! This game is the suxxor. Pay2play beta lol.

GD: Hmm. Maybe Samurai are overpowered. Let me run some numbers. Yes, it does look like they have a slight edge in certain situations. Let's correct that.

Forums: OMG why U nerf Samurai?!! Account CANCELED.

GD: ...
***
Hmm. Maybe that's unfair. Perhaps it's something more like this:

Forums: There is an exploit with certain spells stacking.

GD1: Hmm. Sounds complicated.

GD2: I'm about to get lunch, this one is all you.

GD1: I'm not touching it. We have a release date in one week. It could screw everything up.

GD2: So say it's working as intended.

GD1: Hmm. We've been using that a lot lately.

GD2: Okay, then call it an "emergent system."

GD1: Genius. What's for lunch?

***
Ever wonder why so many upcoming games are generic fantasy MMO's? Maybe this scene will shed some light as Idealistic Designer meets with Mr. Money to try to pitch his dream game.

ID: Okay, you're going to love this. The setting is Victorian London with mystical overtones. The game really relies on social interaction.

MM: Hmm, yeah. Have you ever heard of World of Warcraft? It has over five million subscribers. We want to go with a sure thing.

ID: But this idea could really set us apart and-

MM: Listen, focus groups have told us that people like elves. Love 'em. Ever hear of Orlando Bloom? Get with the program here. Double the elves equals double the subscribers.

ID: Okay, I guess we could revamp. Let's take the general gameplay and move it into a fantasy setting. We certainly have some unique ideas-

MM: Speaking of ideas what are your views on character customization?

ID: Ah, well, I'm glad you asked. You see, we believe in a high detail of character customization so players can feel unique and connected to the game.

MM: Ah, good. So you're in favor of breast sliders?

ID: Uh, I'm sorry?

MM: Breast sliders, you know. Can you control the breast size of female characters in your game?

ID: I suppose that is one element of character customization...

MM: Good, good. I'll just assume it is a slider with a high maximum point. Now how sexy are these female characters?

ID: Well, they will portray a heroic feminine form.

MM: By heroic do you mean sexy?

ID: Er, I guess.

MM: And the clothing? What is its SQ?

ID: SQ?

MM: Come on, get with the times. Sexiness Quotient!

ID: Um, a ten?

MM: Great! Are there dragons?

ID: Yes, big dragons.

MM: Hmm. What about PvP?

ID: Well, we were going for a more cooperative experience.

MM: Cooperating on the ganking, eh? Great we love PvP. So does our market research team. Okay, let's get serious. What are you views on real money transfer?

ID: Oh, don't worry, we're strongly against it. We have many safeguards planned.

MM: Sure, sure, we don't want anyone else making money on our game. But you will let us sell special items and stuff to players for cash, right?

ID: That wasn't our intention. You see the integrity of competitive gameplay dictates that-

MM: Let me stop you there. Do you know how big real money transfer is in Asia?

ID: Yes, it's big. But I've played a lot of Asian MMO's and frankly I don't like them. I don't think that model is the way to go.

MM: So you're a racist?

ID: I'm sorry?

MM: You hate Asians is that it?

ID: Of course not. My wife is-

MM: Good, good then we're agreed. We'll use real money transfer. I can see it now...WoW plus RMT equals profits. Sweet profits. Do we have a deal?

ID: Sure.

And a game is born....

***
But maybe that's a little unfair. Let's take a look at a different pitch from a different point of view.

MM: So, what is your game about?

ID: Yes, exactly. What is it "about"?

MM: Yes, I'm asking you. What is it about?

ID: That all depends on your perception.

MM: Right. But what is it basically about?

ID: It's not about classes. Or levels. Or combat. Or competition. Or items. Or what the uninformed would call "games."

MM: Let's try this from another angle. What does a player do when he or she logs on?

ID: What can't they do? With restrictions removed there are no limits!

MM: I'm just not getting this.

ID: Ludology. Puppies. Mudflation. Rainbows.

MM: Now you're just saying random words.

ID: Are they? Typical stuffy businessman with no Vision.

MM: Listen, I'm willing to take risks. But you have to give me something to go on.

ID: Metacommunication. Tulips. Magic Circle. Cheddar.

MM: Ah, now I see.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

What's In A Word?





As an English major and someone who writes professional documents all the time, I never expected to indulge in the perceived madness of internet speak. But, wow, did I sink quickly into that linguistic mire.

It started with "lol." Ah, the gatekeeper word. Can you blame me? I mean how are you supposed to convey laughter in an MMO? Sure, you can write "haha," "hehe," or the more popular "heh" but that doesn't really get the job done for some reason. When I first said "lol" I told myself I was using it ironically. But at this point, all traces of irony are gone. I've turned into a pretty bad offender, shortening "though" to "tho" at times. And while I've never said "rofl" (well I probably have) I do use my own variant "lolol" when something is extra funny. I'm sure I picked that up somewhere (probably from a typo) and I know it sounds stupid. But I like it.

Now, obviously, a lot of this type of language use originated from the internet and is hardly restricted to MMO's. But you do have MMO-centric slang too, such as "woot," "ding," and "afk." I put "uber" in this category as well even if it isn't quite as MMO-centric. Then you also have what I consider MMO technical terminology such as "kite," "nuke," and, of course, "aggro." There are also some acronyms like PITA which I suspect are used more for the purported cleverness of the acronym rather than anything else.

I've noticed a slight decline in the uses of the words "woot" and "ding" but maybe that's just my personal experience. I just don't see them flowing forth that freely any more and they're starting to sound a bit archaic, like saying "bravo" at a sporting event. Well, they're still in common usage, but I just see them diminishing in use. I'm not sure why, perhaps all words run their course.


In a similar vein, I only ever see "uber" used ironically: i.e. "We're so freaking uber," (as a joke when failing to kill a mob) or "Check out Mr. Uber over there with the 28 master spells listed in his bio." Maybe that was always the usage. I don't know. It's sometimes intentionally misspelled as "ubah" for perceived comedic effect as well.

"AFK" on the other hand is as popular as ever but that's a bit different because it is near essential to accomplishing its purpose. I don't see "AFK" ever going out of style. I could do without the occasional "bio" addendum to it. Just my personal taste. "Grats" is another one that I see having staying power, though maybe not to the degree of "AFK." Note to the people who make macros which say, "*Grats on your achievement*" and just spam the macro whenever someone levels: stop. Better to say nothing at all and it's obvious.

Another thing I've noticed is that while
YTMND fad language makes its way into WoW, I haven't really ever seen it in EQII. I'm referring to things like, "o rly," "l2play," and "(blank) is serious business." Maybe that's just because a lot of WoW users are YTMND visitors and vice versa. Or perhaps a larger number of subscribers just leads to a greater chance of fad carryover. I'm not downplaying YTMND, I happen to be a huge fan who knows every fad. Same goes for SA, another huge source of internet fads. I'm a tremendous SA fan. I'm just making an observation.

Well, I write some of these non news-specific posts over the weekend and since then I was on the Nagafen server in EQII. There, on the level 20-29 channel, in the span of an hour, I heard the entire history of internet fads from the venerable "All Your Base" to the quasi-recent "Chuck Norris." Literally. I'm not going to draw any conclusions about what that means at this juncture, just stating reality.

Obviously, some internet fads and the resulting catch phrases are so powerful they cross over between games, such as the infamous Leeroy Jenkins.

I've come to accept MMO slang and even embrace it. I see four reasons behind the general usage of MMO slang:

1. As I said earlier, a method of expressing things which are difficult to express through text. Also, a means of convenience for shortening words.

2. Societal influence is also a clear factor. People tend to talk like their peer groups. People that are into punk, hip-hop or computers all tend to have their own form of dialogue. And even amongst a tightly-knit group of friends, certain slang tends to find special use and catch phrases become popular and burn out. The same is true in MMO's. We tend to talk, or type, like the people we spend a lot of time with in an effort to be accepted into that peer group. It's just human nature.

3. A means of expressing personality. Without facial expressions and normal speech it may seem hard to get a grasp on a person's personality. But the use of MMO slang and emoticons sometimes helps us convey our personality and get a feeling of the personalities and even moods of others.


4. It's amusing.

I haven't seen that many new slang words coming into play outside of the occasional fad. Maybe that's due to the incursion of Teamspeak and Ventrilo and we'll never really see many new slang words. I've been catching myself saying "o" a lot lately and that probably annoys people. I don't know where I picked it up. I just use it in reply to statements as a shortening of "oh" as if that's not short enough. Maybe it comes from the aforementioned "o rly" fad but I tend to think it's a derivative of "o i c."

We may also see very specific and situational slang arise. Someone did inform me of the new word, "Qoob" for noob from Qeynos. As I said, quite specific and probably quite limited in usage.

Nick Yee put together this
MMO Lexicon which is great but I'd like to see someone do a deeper study someday. If one hasn't been done already.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Obligatory FanFaire Post





If you don’t know that there’s a FanFaire coming up in Atlanta on April 6-8, well, I’m telling you. Here’s the website and schedule of events. You can also get an in-game item by pre-registering which is pretty cool. No word yet on if it's a Murloc pet. Just kidding.

This will be the first FanFaire I attend though I did hit the Community Summit a while back and had a great time.

I’m sure the costumes, live quests and other stuff is fun but for me the biggest draw is the chance to talk EQII and MMO’s with other fans face to face. And, of course, to pump the devs for info on upcoming changes and projects.

So, if you’re going, make a notation to your schedules for some late-night drinks and chatting with Aggro.


Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Quick Hits From the MMO World





Even though I play EQII I still like to keep up to date on various other upcoming MMO's. Here's some short news items from the makers of virtual worlds.

From the Quality Brand Name Category:

Bioware throws it's hat into the MMO field with
this press release. Yeah, yet another MMO. Who cares? Well, I do. I always thought part of WoW's early popularity was partially due to the great reputation they had as a game company. And Bioware's rep is excellent. Consider: Baldur's Gate, Neverwinter Nights and Knights of the Old Republic. Not bad, eh?

On the negative side, they don't own the rights to Fallout as many people assume. Bethesda does to the best of my knowledge. Nor did they make the incredible Planescape: Torment - Black Isle did. But on the positive side, they also didn't make the underwhelming KOTOR 2, Obsidian did. So I think Bioware has a pretty nice reputation overall.

The MMO itself? No details as yet. But the
employment page for Combat Design Lead on the MMO states that "Familiarity with fantasy role-playing games is a must." So draw your own conclusions there.

From the Not Learning From Others Mistakes Category:

I'm excited about the Age of Conan MMO. It sounds like a fun game. But I was a bit underwhelmed to see they are using the old EQII archetype structure. By that I mean in Age of Conan you don't pick a general class (Warrior, Thief, Mage or Priest) until level 5 and then don't pick your final subclass until level 20. You can check out the
full class tree here and more general information on the class structure here.

Now, EQII used to use a similar system. But at least they realized their mistake and I think we're all the better for it. Starting as a particular subclass just adds so much more replayability and fun to the early levels. Who wants to go through the same 20 levels over and over as generic Thief or Fighter? Pointless. But then again, the entire first twenty levels are single player anyway (you don't enter the "MMO" part until level twenty) so maybe it's not a big deal. And hey, how can I stay mad at a game that promises a "drunken brawling" mini-game.
Seriously.

From the Sticking With Their Strengths Department:

The official site is up for
Mythic's Warhammer with some screenshots. More information is available on Warhammer Alliance and there's a dev tracker. You'll find that Mythic clearly plans to play to its perceived strength in DaoC, Realm vs. Realm combat. So if that's your thing and you're a Warhammer fan you might want to keep an eye on this one.

From the Alternative Business Model Department:

As mentioned by Karnatos on the
Aggro Forums, Shadowbane is now free. Not a bad option I suppose if you like PvP and are looking for a MMO fix without spending a dime.

From the Trying Something Different Department:

Runescape is working on an MMO called
Seed with a cel-shaded look that promises no combat, character classes or standard quests. Instead it empasizes player cooperation and interaction, an advanced NPC AI and a world that can be changed by the players.

GameSpy has some early videos for you to
check out.

That's it for this round, but there's always plenty of MMO news so perhaps I'll do one of these posts from time to time.

Oh and by the way, when I
complained a week back about the lack of a print MMO magazine...well, I spoke too soon. And apparently, it wasn't even the first one.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Join The Army of Darkness!







While I like to keep my main character pretty private so I can get unfiltered opinions and enjoy anonymous play, when the PvP server opened up I decided to let all the Aggro-haters get a fair shot at ganking me. So if you don't like my latest blog entry, just try to take me on Nagafen, if you can. I'm in as Aggro so I shouldn't be hard to spot.

Of course, if you would rather play with me rather than against me, I am hereby inviting you to join Aggroculture, our
forums guild on the Freeport side of Nagafen. Yes, slay goodies with me and other Aggro Forums luminaries at no extra charge. We enjoy a friendly rivalry with EQ2Daily's Brownie Troop Guild from the Qeynos side.

It's a really casual guild and there's no pressure on members. I've only reached level 20 and some members are higher, some lower. I'm still focusing primarily on Kingdom of Sky on my main. We're just all about having a fun time and doing battle with Qeynos.

I've left behind my wild overnuking ways to become a peace-loving troubador who will stab you repeatedly once your back is turned while singing a song about the glories of Freeport. I'm still learning the class but enjoying it greatly.

If you wish to answer this call to greatness, register for the
forums, introduce yourself and tell us your in-game name. As an Aggro Me reader, you can't be all bad. So if you're not a complete dope, we'll make sure you get an invite to Aggroculture. For the glory of Lucan!

Friday, March 17, 2006

Friday Humor: Luck of the Irish






As your friendly neighborhood Aggro heads out to celebrate St. Patrick's Day with a pint of Tier 7 Guinness, I leave you with a few silly Limericks and Toasts:

Limericks

There was a young wizzie with plat,
But he needed a nice pointy hat;
He jumped for the chain,
Missed - what a pain!
Now he is a wizzie that's flat.

A man had brain power quite minor,
And his knowledge grew finer and finer;
It at last grew so small,
He knew nothing at all,
So he was hired as a game designer!

Once a young noob went inside
The Down Under and promptly died;
The Qeynos Guard quickly raced
To decide on the case,
And ruled that it was "sewercide."

There once was a Swash with a knife,
Who loved traveling on clouds more than strife;
His hand hit the space bar
And he soon fell quite far;
But casting Escape saved his life!

There once were two devs that did
fight,
And the land shook well into the night,
The Pirate did harry,
But Moorgard did parry,
And now we know who's in the right!

There are some
podcasters who stoop,
To creating a weak Brownie troop.
They served the forces of good,
But they misunderstood,
That Aggroculture would turn them into duck soup.

There was a fierce troll from Big Bend,
That the Teleport Spire did send;
But the Spire did wreck,
And now his neck is in Nek,
While the Bonemire holds his rear end!

There once was a lad from South Q
Whose Limerick stopped at line two.

Toasts

May the Mender never earn a copper out of you.

May you revive and return before your group even knows you're dead.

May your guildmates respect you,
Aggro neglect you,
Your gear protect you,
And xp groups accept you.

Always remember to forget the xp debt which passes away,
And never forget to remember the vitality which comes each new day.

May the most master chests you wish for be the least that you get.

May your troubles be as few and far apart as an Ogre's teeth.

May you have always have fabled gear, a clear conscience and enough silver in your pocket for a T7 drink.

Sláinte!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Crafting Adventure







When Wargut started a thread on the Aggro Forums entitled, "Doomsday is Coming...Aggro Will Craft!" I was obviously intrigued. Me craft? Haha, how ridiculous. But wait, to finish two heritage quests, very high level crafting is necessary? Hmm. There's already a double-digit page thread on the official forums. Illucide recently weighed in with an official response you can read here. Basically, there are no plans to change the quest structure.

Pros

This is a nice idea for those who have taken the time to reach the pinnacle of both adventuring and crafting. It will reward that effort and the combination of skills is fun and adds diversity to the quests.

You don't have to do every heritage or signature quest in the game. If you don't like crafting just skip this one.

Cons

This is a horrible idea because making crafting a requirement is just wrong. Crafting is nice as an option, but it should never be a roadblock to the main gameplay, adventuring.

This type of thing will encourage macroing and botting.


I tend to swing a bit to the Con side of the argument. One major issue I have is that many people I know like to do their crafting on alts. So they may have both a level 60 Warlock and a level 60 Provisioner. Just not on the same character. So this must be even more painful for them because they have done all the work.

If this is an incentive to try crafting, I'm not buying it. That many levels is just too much and I'd rather do other stuff at the moment.


I am more swayed by the argument that this is just a special quest for those who are masters of both fields. That I can kind of see. But my issue there is that there are a very limited number of total heritage quests in the game, especially in the two expansions. So any more than one such crafting requirement quest per expansion is going too far in my book. Let's say there were ten heritage/signature quests total. If five had crafting requirements I think many, many people would have a problem with it. If one did I think there would still be those who had an issue but I would personally discount them. It's just a matter of degrees and two quests with crafting requirements in this expansion is a degree too far for me.

With that said, it doesn't bother me too much. There are quite a few heritage quests I walked away from because I didn't feel like doing them. I wasn't collecting 100 ore or whatever for that dwarf in Antonica. It wasn't the end of the world that I didn't get his work boots. In fact I'm proud of it and I often like to stop by and show him my latest footwear.

On a somewhat related note I did like what SOE did with the Nest instance by mixing in a dash of crafting.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Random Notes





Being away from EQII for a handful of days a few things crossed my mind that I will share with you in a somewhat disjointed fashion.

1. I've never enjoyed the game so much as I have lately. Now, KoS is really quite good and I've heard people in-game who almost never have anything nice to say about SOE be very complimentary about it.

But on a more personal level, this just happens to be my favorite period in an online game. I know a lot of people really like raids. And there's a good reason for that, they can be a lot of fun. I like raids as well.

For me, though, nothing compares with exploring new zones, doing fun new quests, fighting different mobs and gaining levels with a static group of good friends. In my opinion, that is the most exciting part of the game. I'm not saying the people who love raids are wrong and I am right. I think it is totally a matter of taste.

I just love these golden days. I know it can't last forever. No one can continually pump out this quality content to the degree where there are always new zones to explore, new quests to complete and new levels to gain. And even if they could, I would eventually fall behind my friends in levels and the population of the game as a whole would probably be too spread out. So I am just savoring this time. And as much as I enjoy the action on Nagafen, what's going on in KoS right now is just too great for me to miss.

This feeling isn't totally based on what SOE did with the expansion, though they did a great job on this one (I'm not saying there aren't flaws either - more on that soon). But that fresh feeling is just a great one and I really enjoy the social dynamic of a smaller group. I've never missed the game so much as I did this past long weekend.

2. As big as the WoW sparked explosion in the MMO genre has been, the reality is that most people still have zero idea what you're talking about when you start in on the MMO stuff. And trying to explain the fact to people that you write a blog about an online game is just so hopeless it is not even worth trying. Playing an MMO is something you have to experience for yourself. I think the genre as a whole still has incredible room for growth. I can't predict the direction that growth will take place but I hope it is a good one.

What started this whole thought process was looking for a magazine at the airport newsstand. I looked over all the gaming magazines and realized there wasn't one (that I know of) dedicated to MMO's. I can't count SOE Worlds because that was apparently a one time deal and only focused on SOE games. I started thinking about whether an MMO magazine could make it. But then I realized the only time I ever buy a gaming magazine is at airport newsstands. When I'm home I prefer to get my gaming news from blogs and websites. But I guess the viability of print gaming magazines is a debate for another day.

Anyway, I did pick up a magazine. I grabbed the Offical Playstation mag only because it had a playable demo of Okami. But as fate would have it I can't escape SOE. They are apparently doing a game (probably a launch title) for the PS3. It's part of their Untold Legends series which started on the PSP. It will be the usual hack and slash dungeon crawl but they actually hired a writer for the story this time (Keith Baker) and the storyline does sound much better from the snippets I read. The producer of the game, Andy Sites (who also worked on EQ, Ruins of Kunark, EQII and DoF) had this to say about utilizing the SOE experience in online gaming:

"OPM: You're working with a team that has a lot more experience in online than the average console team has. Can we take this to be an indicator of online plans?

AS: Um...yes it is, but I can't discuss the specifics. We're not making an MMO, but we're definitely leveraging our online programming and design resources."

3. The constant system software updates for the PSP truly annoy me. I updated my PSP system software when I purchased the Virtua Tennis game. Then, knowing I wanted a new game for a three hour flight, I picked up Popolocrois which is the only real RPG around for the PSP. Of course, you know where I'm going with this one. Once I was in the air I found out I couldn't play the game at all because I needed to update my system software once again. Ugh. It couldn't have been that long ago that I updated it for Virtua Tennis.

Yeah, I should have tried it before I left. Yeah, I should update my system version periodically. But come on. It's a portable system I use mainly when traveling. Luckily I had saved the long final case of Phoenix Wright for such emergencies so the flight was a joy. But it's just another reason I currently prefer the DS (the overall quality of the current software titles being the main reason).

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Reblogging Myself

Okay, I just got back from a short trip and don't have time to write a fresh post. But I'm going to repost one of my old posts because I haven't heard much on this subject and I think it bears repeating.
---
When I first started playing EQII, I really enjoyed HO's. Even when soloing, they add some much needed spice to combat. There is an element of chance and it at least makes you feel as if you are doing something strategic.

In groups, it's even better. For one, it's really fun to do something as a team. Sure, we all play our team roles in group, but we kind of do it independently. HO's are something that really requires working together. It is a great feeling when you pull off a Heroic Opp and even better if it is one of the more difficult ones. What's more, it rewards static groups, something I really enjoy. In my old static group, someone would just say "Fate" and we would immediately pull off the Luminary Fate HO like clockwork. It made me feel like we were a great team and the game was rewarding us for that.

But, like certain other gameplay elements (hello empty Arena how are you today?) I've mentioned in the past, I feel like HO's have suffered a bit from neglect. I have two issues here. First, I don't feel enough care has ever gone into balancing and rebalancing HO's. I also don't feel as if they scale enough with level. It would be nice to see the super-rare ones just a bit more frequently as well.

Second, and more importantly, a little innovation with the HO's would go a long way. I would love to see HO's change as you level up, not necessarily every level but maybe every ten or twenty levels. When my group is at a higher level, we should be able to pull off different and new HO's. I really think this would keep it fresh and exciting. At the very least there should be new HO's with every new expansion. As it stands now, I do not see people getting that excited about HO's anymore, though I still use then while soloing and they are still useful in group.

To summarize, it's a good mechanic which has the potential to be great with a little work. But I think this point is open to debate so I'd love to hear what you have to say on this subject.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Friday Humor: At The Movies






In honor of the Oscars, which were awarded this past Sunday, I thought it was a great time to turn my attention to the movies. Let's take a look at how some famous movie quotes might have went if everyone was playing an MMO:

Jerry Maguire

/ooc: Healer, lv 48, master spells on most heals and buffs, good player lfg.

Jerry: You had me at healer.

Network

Turn on your computers, log on to the forums and post in as large a font as you can: "Devs, I'm nerfed as heck and I'm not going to take it anymore!"

Casablanca

In all the groups, in all the zones, in all the games, she walks into mine.

Dirty Dancing

Nobody puts Baby in the fourth raid group.

On the Waterfront

You don't understand. I could have picked a different class. I coulda been a tank. I coulda been a raid leader, instead of a generic dps, which is what I am.

Karate Kid

Miyagi: First lesson - make pristine iron bar.

Daniel: But I don't understand...what does that have to do with adventuring?

Miyagi: Enough talk. Make iron bar, Daniel-san. Subcombine on. Subcombine off.

A League of Their Own

Are you crying? There's no crying in PvP!

Ferris Bueller's Day Off

This is my ninth fake linkdeath this raid season. It's pretty tough coming up with new excuses. If I go for ten, I'm going to have to crash the entire server.

Office Space

Dom: Peter. We need to, ah, talk about your DKP reports.

Peter: I know, the alts. Bill and Steve talked to me about it already.

Dom: Ah, Peter, did you not get the Guild Mail?

Peter: I got the Guild Mail. The problem is I just forgot this one time and I've already taken care of it so it's not really a problem.

Dom: Yeah, it's just that we're putting alts on the DKP reports, so if you could remember to do that from now on, that would be great. All right!

Napoleon Dynamite

You know...skills. Like DPS skills, healing skills, tanking skills. Skills. Groups only want people that have skills.

Dumb and Dumber

Lloyd: I need that named mob for a quest.

Mary: It's 30 levels higher than us.

Lloyd: So what would you say the chances are of us killing that mob?

Mary: About 1 in a million.

Lloyd: So you're saying there's a chance? Woohoo, incoming...

Wall Street

SOE/Blizzard: The point is ladies and gentlemen that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit.

Brokeback Mountain

Jack: I wish I knew how to /quit you!

Computer: Why don't you just try logging off once in a while?

Feel free to add some of your own in the comments. I'll be out of town for the next few days so probably no post till Tuesday or Wednesday.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

PvP Comments





PvP just brings about a totally different range of emotions. You will feel frustration as you are trying to finish a quest and end up getting ganked. But on the other hand, you will never feel so thrilled as when you turn an ambush into a rout or when a well-crafted plan comes to fruition. The feeling of defeating other players just lends a whole new element to the game.

You always have to be careful of what you are doing and aware of your surroundings. You can never just relax and grind away as you might on a PvE server. And while that intensity is not for everyone, it certainly adds a degree of excitement. You do have to have a lot of patience and you can't let yourself get too upset every time you are killed, because it will happen a lot. But I don't find the penalties too severe.

The EQII world seems to be working well for the PvP setting. It definitely doesn't feel out of place. And most of the fights I have been in have been very exciting. I have seen many different classes be successful at PvP. It's great that you can gain xp through PvP and dinging with a PvP kill was an awesome feeling. I happen to be enjoying KoS a great deal and spend most of my time there, but it's hard not to log on to that PvP server every night.

The barrage of changes you see on
this page shows you that the devs are taking an active interest in this server and are refining and changing the rules. I may eventually have some negative or positive comments on the ruleset but I need more play time.

I was going to put forth some tips for PvP but every one I thought of was covered in
this excellent thread so be sure to check it out.

Also,
Podcast 20 from EQ2Daily is PvP oriented so you can check that out as well.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Zones of Evil





I first wrote this post a while back as a general comment on MMO design, but after playing on the PvP server as an evil character I added some EQII specific comments at the end.

This is one of those ideas I'm not really sold on myself, but I'm throwing it out there anyway. It's applicable to every MMO I have played.

What's the deal with the zones you start off in as an evil character? It is always some drab place with a dull color palette that looks like it has been beaten severely with the ugly stick. It almost always looks poverty-stricken.

To me the whole concept of evil is that you're going to do evil things (i.e. steal, betray alliances, ambush other countries, abuse your workers) for the point of amassing vast fortunes and power. Sure, the "worker areas" should look like cesspits, but there have to be some zones which display the vast wealth of the evil upper class. The whole draw of evil is: "Forget your morals and you will become rich and powerful!" It's not: "Forget your morals and you can live in a mud hut." And why can't evil people have a little architectural taste and artistic appreciation?

In my opinion, if any zone should look economically depressed, it's the good zones. They have to do things the right way by sticking to their morals. That means working harder to accomplish goals while still staying true to their principles. And the setting should reflect that. Stormwind in WoW looks like Disney World. Sure it's easy to be good if you have a place like that to live in.

The counter argument would be that good zones should look pretty and bad zones should ugly for purely thematic reasons. Any opinions?

Okay, on to my EQII specific comments. It's funny because I originally disliked the evil starter zones. But now I enjoy them. I think I was just lost and disoriented at first. And they are a bit tough to navigate for a newcomer.

There is no way the person who did the Qeynos zones is the same person who did the Freeport ones. They are just too fundamentally different. I'm not just talking about the color palette or the NPC's. They just feel like a totally different city, have markedly different layouts and create a completely different atmosphere.

Sure, Temple Street is a claustrophobic maze of alleys. But it accomplishes the goal of creating the feel of a real city very well. And it's so different from say, Castleview Hamlet, that it's like playing a different game. While the Qeynos zones draw on fantasy tropes (a hobbit shire, an elven city in the trees), the maze-like slum of Temple Street is a valid fantasy setting as well. And it affects your mood and enhances the feel of the game.

So maybe my philosophical commentary was invalid, though I think I still think it kind of makes sense from a general perspective.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Let Freedom Ring





Some mild KoS spoilers herein.

I mentioned freedom of movement in my beta impressions for KoS and I thought it was time to touch on that subject in a little more detail.

For as long as I can recall, all PC and console games have frustrated me with that classic gaming cliché, the invisible wall. You know what I'm talking about. Take an old RPG like Shining Force, Phantasy Star, or Final Fantasy. There's always an invisible wall, and plenty of them. Your hero may be able to slay a hundred dragons but yet can't climb a steep hill or even push through a dense forest. Game designers use mountains, forests, water and the like to limit the player's freedom of movement. This is true of MMO's as well and even the base EQII zones. You can't really climb those mountains in Everfrost. You can't even scale the steep boulders in Nek.

But KoS removes those limitations with gusto. The obvious one is that you're free to jump off any island you wish. There are no restrictions there. But less obvious are the rocks and small mountains you can climb in the TT, for example. When I first saw those I never thought I'd be able to climb to the top. But I can. If you see something in KoS and wonder, "Hmm...could I jump to there or get there somehow?" the answer is that you probably can. The paths to zones or areas are seldom a straight line. There is also some of the climbing stuff (with climbing animation) from DoF that is used. But it's not overused. You really have to play the expansion to see what I mean. Movement is finally part of the actual game.

I've just never played any game where the movement feels so real and for an MMO that is a high compliment. It also brings about some cool mini-games. We all probably know of the one in TT where you make that awesome freefall to the Hidden Refuge. I've done it several times and I just find it exhilarating and fun.

But that's just a start. There's a giant chain in the Barren Sky which becomes sort of a jumping and movement puzzle as you try to scale it and make your way to the top to visit a quest npc. I died three times. But, wow, my heart has not pounded that hard playing EQII for a while. Now, I don't want to see EQII go crazy with the jumping puzzles. It isn't a platformer. But having one or two sure adds some nice variety. And even better, I think there are multiple solutions to this movement puzzle (cloud jumping anyone?). But I've died enough times so I'm not verifying that.

Here's another little mini-game I'm not sure can be won or not. Sometimes when you take a cloud in the TT (from Gazer Island I believe), you pass over a tiny floating island with no mobs or trees or anything. Let me stop here for a second to say that jumping off of clouds and griffons is fun and awesome. It just again makes travel and movement much more interesting. I do it all the time in Antonica on the PvP server, making a dramatic entrance into enemy territory with a watery splash to avoid ambushes. But okay, my question is: Can you jump off the cloud to that tiny island in the TT and survive? More importantly, can you stand there and mess with people? I died when I tried but maybe I'll try again. If anyone succeeds in this quest let me know, because that would just be great.

Even if you can't accomplish that minor feat, my premise is the same: The movement in KoS is far above anything I've ever experienced in an MMO and just makes the entire game more fun to play.


Edit: But speaking of movement, I hope that cloud bug is fixed soon.

Monday, March 06, 2006

DC Comics MMO Update






I've discussed the DC Comics MMO that SOE is working on previously, so I thought I would update you on some news.

I came across
this press release on Kotaku which states that famed comic book artist Jim Lee is going to be working on the game. Now my first reaction was just, "Oh, it's just a publicity thing. Grab a big comic book artist for the PR." But then the following things happened:

1. I remembered someone telling me a long time ago that Jim Lee was an EQ player. I searched long and hard and found
this old post I did on Curt Schilling, with a comment from Krones saying Jim Lee was an EQ player. So that's a big point in Lee's favor. (By the way Schilling is still doing a great job flying his EQII colors and representing his guild as you can see in this picture).

2. I searched a bit more and found that
Jim Lee did an EQ comic book. I've never actually seen or heard about the finished product, but another point for Lee's gaming cred.

3. I came across
this interview from a link on the always helpful and informative EQ2Daily News page. Now, if you read that interview, you will see that Jim Lee is not just working on this game, he's working really hard on it.

So, okay I am now convinced that Jim Lee is a great guy for the job and that he is honestly spending a lot of time on this game. I think that's great and I believe his talents will help the art of the finished project immensely.

But I'm still not sold on the concept. Remember, we're talking about three superhero MMO's. As I said in
this post, that just seems like a lot. I mean City of Heroes rocked when I played it. Okay it wasn't that deep a game, but I think it fit the genre well. Will superhero MMO's ever be more than a niche market? Well, I suppose a niche market is okay in this growing genre.

This isn't a game I'm personally really excited about playing. But on the other hand, I am absolutely intrigued by how they plan to design this game. The same thing goes for Brad McQuaid's Marvel MMO. Will it just be City of Heroes with a DC or Marvel setting and characters? I guess that would be kind of cool, but not really an earth-shattering thing. Or will they try to stick to more of an Everquest template? Will they introduce equipment that drops from mobs? I don't know that such a move would make sense.

They have a high bar to reach in terms of travel because CoH's travel powers were simply awesome. I've been trying to think of some other way I could improve on the game design of CoH and it's been hard. As I've said before, secret identities would be really cool though I'm not sure on how to implement that in a fun fashion.

Well, I'm quite curious about this game and the Sigil one so I'll be checking in on the progress from time to time.

Friday, March 03, 2006

/Played: 1 Year





Yes, a year ago today I sat down to write my first Aggro Me post. It was a pretty bland first post, but the second one on /pizza was a little better. Upon looking back, I was surprised to see that I was already over-analyzing press releases at that early stage. Posts 3-5 were all on a single press release SOE put out. Some things never change, I suppose.

I know it's a Friday Humor day but I had to celebrate this glorious event with the day off. If you want humor, think about the amount of time I've spent writing a year's worth of posts (I'm too lazy to count the exact number). I probably could have discovered a renewable energy source or more importantly, leveled an alt to 60. But hey, I wouldn't change a thing. And one year is not so much in the blogging world...I'm still a newb in the grand scheme of things. It's been a great time and I'm looking forward to Year Two of the Aggro Me saga. Thanks for coming along for the ride.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

For Whom the Bell Tolls






I wrote this post before this update but I'm posting it anyway.

I think the PvP ruleset is working very well. Sure, you have to be prepared for trouble while you're xp'ing, but that's life on Nagafen. However, I did want to mention one somewhat minor issue that has been troubling me.

Opposing players tend to congregate at zone-in's, say the Mariner's Bell area in the newbie xp zones. Okay, that's a valid strategy. They pick off a lot of opposing players with ambushes. And you do have immunity on zone-in so I'm not saying they are ambushing incoming players. They are getting the players who went there to do quests and xp and aren't expecting PvP action. That part is terrific. They managed to get there and they deserve the kills they can get.

What I do have trouble with is the fact that they can act with relative impunity. Whenever a posse assembles to rout the incursion or if they're just losing a fair fight, the intruders simply zone, completely ending the fight.

I respect people who come up with strategies like that, but I think you also have to see it as a game mechanic issue. So, I'd like to see a restriction on zoning when in PvP combat. There may be issues with that I'm not smart enough to figure out, but I'm suggesting it anyway.

Now, someone is going to read this and say: "Hold on, Aggro! What's with you wanting to impose artificial restrictions on gameplay? I thought you didn't like that sort of thing?"

My suggestion isn't the artificial restriction. Zoning is. Especially with the Mariner's Bell where you have no idea where the person zoned to.

Zones are merely technically imposed limitations on the game. And I don't think people should use those to their advantage. If it was a "real world" do you think in the middle of a heated fight someone is going to hail a boat (from the opposing city no less) and sail calmly away to another area of town? Please. That's the "artificial" part.

Anyway, after I wrote this I saw SOE
may be doing something about it so my complaint is probably pointless. But hey, that never stopped me before.

As for the rest of the PvP action, I think it's great but I haven't been in enough fights yet. I'll probably talk more about it in the future.

***
Okay, to update this post a bit the change SOE went with is:

The bells in Freeport and Qeynos can no longer be used by non-citizens.

I am happy to see a change made but I wouldn't have gone quite so overboard. I would have went with a time delay or heavy cost on the bells for non-citizens. But I do prefer this limitation to having no limitation at all. And I like to see that they are paying attention to what's happening on the server and reacting accordingly.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Tooltips...Of Terror!





I'll eventually say plenty of positive things about the expansion, but I'll get the negative things out of the way first. Even the really minor ones, like the dreaded Tooltips....of Terror!

Sometimes things sound great in concept, but in execution they turn out to be annoying...like grouping with me for instance.

But no, I'm referring to the new inventory tooltips which also show a comparison with your equipped items. Now, like I said, it sounds good in concept. You mouse over a ring in your inventory and see whether it has more heat resist than the other two you have equipped. Great.

The problem is, it is insanely obtrusive in practice. You can't look through your inventory without a massive barrage of tooltips covering half your screen. I don't like it. And I casually polled quite a few people and did not receive a single positive response. Not to mention the constant questions in OOC about "How do I turn these tooltips off?"

What's worse, I don't know the answer. Now, you can turn all inventory tooltips off under Options, UI, Tooltips. But I like the basic version of inventory tooltips. The one that would just show you the item without the extra one or two comparison windows that block your view. I haven't figured out how to get back to that.

Here is just
one thread of several with people puzzling over the tooltip issue.

I had a similar problem when DoF launched and there were these incredibly annoying tooltips for every spell or combat art on your hotbars. But at least I figured out how to turn those off.

The way to go when you introduce new UI elements like this is make sure you can turn them off and be very clear about how to do so. For those who like the new tooltips, I'm glad you do. If you do like them, please say so in the comments; I'm happy to hear an opposing viewpoint. But even so, let the rest of us have the option to stick to our simple, old-fashioned tooltip ways.