Monday, July 25, 2011

Star Wars: A New MMO

So far, TOR seems to have won over the other members of my household, and so there seems a high likelyhood that I will end up trying it out with them. We've each seen the preview videos and, though I don't think any of us expects anything revolutionary in the gameplay department, what we agree on is that Star Wars unverse seems like an awesome world to inhabit.

What I am concerned about is price; specifically that there may be an arbitrary mark-up for Australian IP addresses. I'm willing to pay $50 for a decent sized game if I'm confident I will want to play it long enough to get that much value out of it, but $80+ for a video game is retarded and prices me out in 95% of cases. There's only one game I can think of that is "worth" that much money to me, and I already pay $15 a month for it.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


I generally respect Blizzard as a developer, and I enjoy WoW immensely. I just thought I might establish that before I start QQing.

What is going on? Seriously. I mean, I get the whole "you don't want to watch the sausage being made" thing, but when sausages are being recalled left and right for quality issues, it's hard to imagine they have a firm grasp of what they're putting into them to begin with.

I remember Yahtzee in his Portal 2 review saying that Valve playtests everything to a fault; that if a player so much as looked at a wall for too long they painted a big sign on it saying "STOP LOOKING AT THIS WALL." This is the impression I get of Blizzard recently. It's like they're trying less to create a game than to create increasingly creative methods of firmly nudging players into the small parts of the game Blizzard thinks they should be playing.

Yes, I know I've been over this before. There are no new arguments. Every time I got to type something else I realise I've said it before.

What I want to see is some kind of obvious and consistent concept of the value of Valor Points. Something that gives me the impression that getting ten people together and downing four bosses in the Firelands is "worth" more in the game than doing four Random Zandalari Heroics in a row. That downing a Heroic-mode T11 raid boss is "worth" more than a Random Heroic dungeon.

Something that gives me the impression that the Valor Point system isn't completely designed around placating noobs.

So to be constructive, I will offer my own advice on what can be done about the Valor Point inflation caused by the Zandalari Heroics: Make tier-12 cost more. Pants for 4400VP; gloves for 3300VP; and so on. Maybe increase the weekly Valor Cap in proportion. I call this concept "scaling", and I feel it to be pretty revolutionary. I should apply for a job as a game designer.

Blizzard needs to grow some fucking balls, seriously. Design the game around being a good game, not around retards who are trying their hardest not to enjoy it.

This blog post is over.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

6 ilevels

Oh boy. My condolences to anyone who purchased Honour PvP gear last week. My condolences as well to Blizzard, who have accidentally made enemies with pretty much every PvPer recently. I know I sure as hell wouldn't want to be on any WoW PvPers' bad sides. Those people are fucking psychopaths.

6 ilevels might not seem like a lot on paper when most players are running around with at least 350 of them, but the way stats work-- positively affecting each other so overall power increase is more-or-less exponential relative to actual ilevel-- means that this is actually a significant increase to both damage/healing output and survivability, each of those things again positively affecting the other in terms of acheiving success during actual gameplay.

But it's only gear. We all know that. Anyone who actually PvPs regularly will quickly make up the difference. So what's the big deal?

It's because it feels unfair. Gear aquisition is one of WoW's major game systems, and in any game system predictability is essential for the player to feel that they have some control over the outcome [ie, gameplay]. When the outcome changes randomly, the player loses this sense of control and so loses the feeling that they are actually "playing" the game.

Players took the time to gain an understanding of the loot system, determined a strategy to acquire it and executed that strategy, only to have the game change under their feet. And even though they [presumably] enjoyed this gameplay while it was happening, they have now lost faith in the fairness of the system, having learned that their success* or failure will always rely on arbitrary and unanticipated developer decisions ahead of their own gameplay decisions.

Gear is gear is gear, but fucking up a game system like this causes me a loss of respect for the WoW developers. I really would like to see Blizzard "fix" this error by providing the upgraded gear to players who unknowingly purchased outdated gear last week. A social apology is fine for a social situation, but when you are talking about a business relationship with a paying customer, only retards are completely satisfied by nice cheap words. Though I don't have high hopes for this happening, so for some players it may become just another in a long list of dissatisfactions with WoW.

Even so, I'd really like to urge anyone who is upset by this blunder to please remember that it is just a game. While having passion for a game makes it more meaningful and enhances the experience, if it's reached the point where a lack of success in the game causes you emotional distress, you might want to dial it back a bit.

* "success" in this case is acquiring gear which is relatively competitive.

Friday, July 1, 2011

A sense of entitlement

I came across this gem on one of the blue trackers on MMO Champion, on the subject of T11 being made puggable.

So casuals will constantly be a tier behind for the rest of the life of this game? If that is what is actually coming out of your mouth I'll save myself the time and unsub now. What a piss poor vision for your game. There are normal and heroic versions of raids for a reason. That heroic difficulty was implemented so that the two segments of the population (casual and hardcore) would both have something to do. You are now bifurcating the raiding population AGAIN, by telling casuals that they have to run around in the left overs.


Note the difference between "casual" and "I need to be one of the cool kids but I'm terrible at the game so pls make the coolest stuff especially for me".

I can live with Blizzard's resources being diverted to work on crap like the sparkle pony and the flion, but it really rubs me the wrong way that the money I pay blizzard is being spent on hiring people to actually spend time composing well-worded responses to retards like this.

Video games matter?

I would like to rant for a moment about Extra Credits, a video series on that website that hosts Zero Punctuation. Man, what a bunch of windbags. I get that it's interesting to talk about philosophies of video game design and so on, but it was about the point where they decided they were going to speak for all video game players and be the self-appointed lone voice of reason in an industry of morons that I started finding them less "interesting" and more "excruciating", as they gently explainined to the unwashed masses what a "true female character" is, why we should care about video game piracy, and how Missile Command had one the most meaningful storylines of any game ever. It's all very.... pseudo intellectual. [You have to imagine the venom with which I speak that term.]

Recently they've come up with a new tagline; "Because video games matter". This to me perfectly defines what I dislike about this series. Sure, in terms of the millions of people producing, purchasing and playing them, video games "matter", but by the same definition, so does pornography.

These people are video game connoisseurs. Yes, sometimes games are made with strong characters, compelling story, "meaningful choices" and other peripheral features, and as long as it's built on top of a fun experience those things are a fantastic addition, but the games that actually do this well are a serious minority. Video games are a pasttime, just pure entertainment, and no amount of pretension is going to convince me they "matter" in the real world.