Data Geek

I have yet to see the Tome of Knowledge, but I am excited about it. For years, I have been asking for a game to track every kill and craft, and make that information available to the player. Tossing in titles appeals to my badge whore nature; tossing in lore makes it a Civilopedia. Grabbing my favorite info features from Fallout and Civilization is a good thing. If you can make your game’s data or economic system closer to EVE’s, you probably should.

The Tome is imperfect, I am told. Fair. As noted, this is the kind of thing you want to get right at the start, because you cannot go back and retroactively collect data. Some games have logs they could mine like that, at great effort and expense, but it usually starts counting when they know why they would want to count that. As a small example, the last Lord of the Rings Online™: Shadows of Angmar™ added deeds to existing areas, to mixed joy and irritation from players who knew those areas well from running them dozens of times. I hope you like BG the first dozen times, because you’ll need a dozen more to get all the deeds done!

What do we want recorded in Warhammer or any MMO? You can work out display and interface issues later, but you must decide what gets kept now. Track every kill and craft, ideally noting if the kills were solo or in a team. Have some detail on the kills, so the game can distinguish between a soloable monster and a public quest-ending monster of the same species. It apparently tracks times that you target yourself, what has killed you, and so on. Stellar. If it can also track things like how many arrows I have fired or how many times I have been set on fire, great. TF2 accomplishments could be a fun place to look for some ideas.

What sounds like it is missing, that might be interesting to have, is robust information on leveling (and, to a lesser extent, quest completion). You only level 39 times, so jot down some information. You leveled on Tuesday, October 14 at 3:27pm, from defeating an Ironbound Juggernaut; you were in a team with Bob the Engineer, xXxShadowAssassinxXx the Witch Hunter, and Elithwyn Graceleaf the White Lion. Please, toss in what details of the moment you would like recorded just then. Stats and items? Tobold talks about recording your personal story, and leveling seems like a relevant time for a journal entry. You could do the same with quest completion, noting that you completed public quest A at date/time X in a group with Y along with Z other players taking part.

: Zubon

Grouping as the Better Option

Some games require grouping. We hate that, especially when certain classes are required, because you can easily spend half your in-game time looking for group members. Some games encourage soloing. We often like that, but single-player games deliver a much better solo experience. Some games discourage grouping, often as an accident of game mechanics, which is just poor. Some games encourage and reward grouping without requiring it, which is the best of all possible worlds.

I have a very long version with many examples after the break, but that is the core of my message today: encourage grouping, do not require it, and make sure the game mechanics really do encourage it.

You encourage grouping by increasing rewards for groups and adding abilities that require groups to take full advantage of them. You require grouping by giving enemies ridiculous numbers of hit points, failing to scale encounters for different numbers, or making encounters that demand (or all but demand) several specific abilities that are spread across the classes. You discourage grouping by making quests difficult to do together and failing to scale encounters for different numbers. Yes, a lack of scaling can both require and discourage grouping.

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No Strangers to Love

And then there was the story of Charles. Chuck, like so many of us, spent too much time online. How much is too much? Let me put it to you this way. When he got down on one knee to propose to his girlfriend, he told her how he felt in words that just sprung from his heart fully formed. He explained that he would never give her up or let her down. He would never tell a lie, never hurt her. She realized it before he did: “Excuse me, are you Rickrolling our engagement, and doing it badly?!”

: Zubon

Imbalance

I said before that I am interested in the Greenskin classes. I like ranged damage, support abilities, and pets. Looking around, I really like what I hear about the turret pets of the Dwarf Engineer and Chaos Magus. I never got to play that Lugian Tactician in Asheron’s Call 2. I am even looking at the tanks and melee DPS classes.

All this is preface to my real message: whatever class I end up playing, I would like the devs to know that it is underpowered and desperately in need of buffs, both in PvE and PvP. In PvE, it takes my class far longer to level than other classes, both my allies and my equivalent on the other side of the war. The gear available is also underwhelming. In PvP, I find myself at a large disadvantage with an inadequate trade-off between damage and survivability. Others can defeat me much faster than I can defeat them, and this holds true in solo or group settings. I have combat logs to prove it. Yes, I will admit that there are some situations in which I have a small advantage; those situations are rare, unimportant, and/or easily negated by my foes. If this situation does not improve, I am cancelling my account and taking my entire guild with me.

Thank you.

: Zubon

Prices as Signals

I was listening to Michael Munger’s podcast on price-gouging last week, and it reminded me of the price of silver in Middle Earth. “The only way you get low prices is by letting people charge high prices.”

Silver is a bottleneck for jewelers. There are two types of metal nodes at each crafting tier, and silver is the less common one in tier 2. If you want to advance a jeweler, you make a lot of silver jewelry or polish a double-lot of gems. As a tier 2 resource, it is where the level 15-20 folks hang out, not the level-capped masses. Because it is a less common resource with relatively few people collecting it, price is high. It was selling for higher prices than ancient silver, the tier 5 (top-level) jeweler metal (which was just made more common).

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We Want You Back

I received a re-subscription offer this week. Not a discount, not a coupon, not trial time: just an e-mail of “We would like you to re-activate your account. We have new stuff!” So thanks for letting me know that I can still pay full price. Glad to hear that you want my business.

: Zubon

ur doin it wrong

10 Steps to Better Roleplay

Just as a PSA. Not that I’m the super expert in these things, but in the few years I’ve been RPing I’ve noticed there’s always common mistakes made which can hold back everybody’s enjoyment.

Besides, I didn’t get into that Warhamster thing the kids are playing, and I didn’t get that other one. The Age of Clonan game. So I have nothing to write about except this.

So, basically, it was either this or an essay on the barren wasteland of sociopolitical commentary that is the modern MMO. Hm? What’s that? Oh, you want the 10 steps? Thought so.

Hit this mofo right here.

Continue reading 10 Steps to Better Roleplay