I re-activated City of Heroes this weekend. Issue 19 started their alternate advancement system, along with some new task forces and quality of life improvements, so I wanted to check it out. Also, they are having an Issue 19.5 with the rest of part 1 (of 10) of that alternate advancement system, so if I want to check that out, I will need to be through the first half (or else miss the wave of players going through it). It was also a double-xp weekend, but with 11 capped characters and alternate advancement available, I had limited urge to indulge in further altoholism. Okay, I took a Controller from 34 to 37, but that was easy with double-xp and rested xp.
Post release of the new guardian profession there have been so many really cool tidbits floating through various interviews and discussions. Some help players understand the guardian a bit more, and some even help players understand the game as a whole. There was one huge bomb that I think many people overlooked. We’ll start there.
In an aggressive interview with Jon Peters, one of the Guild Wars 2 game designers, OnlineWelten asked about the use of guardian skills targeting allies. Peters said that there are no ally targeted skills in Guild Wars 2. No ally targeted skills. That bears repeating. That may be the “flash of genius” that changes the MMO industry. They are making systems so people play together more seamlessly and simultaneously taking away the mortar that has held together all other groups in prior conventional MMOs. There should be no reasonable doubt that the holy trinity is dead in Guild Wars 2. Another big effect is that almost all of the attention by players will be on the battlefield instead of party UI.
I managed to get an invite for Beta 5 of Rift, and after hearing friends raving about the game decided it was worth trying out. I was not disappointed in the game, but after playing LoTRO so long, I experienced some shellshock with the community therein. This is bound to happen in this day I suppose, but the sheer amount of people who logged in to seemingly do nothing but deride the game and every other player that talked in public channels was a big alarming. During the day, the channels were largely free of this, with advice, random jokes, and comments about specific elements of the game that they liked or didn’t like, with reasons why. Night, however, is when the trolls began to roam the land.
That said, I’d like to give my feedback on the game itself. I’d recommend you first read Ravious’ post here about the Defiant side and his Beta 4 impressions, as you can see some of the issues he mentioned have been retuned, and others have not. After that, come on back and let me tell you about my view, as I played my time exclusively on the Guardian side.
Anybody who has read a mere handful of my blog posts since I started writing here knows that I am a zealot in the war against subscription MMOs. I hate subscribing for content. This is a highly debatable subject, but my belief is that most subscription MMOs barely qualify as a service anymore than say a working single-player game. I feel that my subscription fees should pay for reaction and growth in a sustained manner. Yet, there are so many differing opinions on what the customer is owed when paying the monthly fee. Some people are simply happy to shell out a subscription fee as an access fee regardless of the stagnation of the game’s content (until a buyable expansion releases, anyway). If that’s how they want their money to talk… more power to ’em.
Initially I had written off Rift because it was a subscription game, and, once again, I didn’t want to pay a monthly fee for a theme-park ride of content. I decided to play in the beta because it was a free sneak peek, and first impressions were “more of the same.” There was a fervor in the MMO community that had me come back to try it in a different light, and the result was glorious. Now, I am really looking forward to picking Rift up in March, and I am looking forward to paying them a subscription fee.
There is one big reason (besides, of course, having a fun game), Trion Worlds is so far showing potential customers that they intend to provide a Service. They will respond in a timely fashion to players’ feedback, and continue to expand the content. They will not simply collect a monthly access fee to pay for bandwidth and servers. Rift now has a public grouping system, a streamlined character sheet, itemization changes, and so much more. It’s like a breath of fresh air to actually see change during the beta when so many betas before simply accepted the feedback. I’ve also noticed that they are continuing to refine and expand the invasion content, and they are hinting that invasion events are just the start of their dynamic content features.
I know that what they have done in this beta crunch time may not be indicative of the level of service Trion Worlds will provide at launch, but they have a customer right now. Keep it up Trion!
I occasionally refer to the Wi Flag, and it strikes me that most MMO players will have no idea what I am talking about since they started after it was fixed and never played Asheron’s Call anyway. So let’s remember 2000-2002.
The Wi Flag is the phenomenon of not just bad luck but actually being cursed by the game. Monsters will run across a dungeon to kill you, ignoring your friends. This is, of course, just odd luck and an observer effect, even though we have all seen it happen. And then someone checked the code in Asheron’s Call and found out it was true due to a bug in assigning aggro.
Enjoy the link and your weekend.
I plan to make a nice long Rift post tomorrow, as I managed to sneak into the Beta 5, but while I try to enjoy my last testing day I’d like to appeal to my fellow testers to be strong and just ignore the “this game is just like Game Name Here” people which seem to be quite heavily popping up, especially in the evening US time. Explaining how all games borrow/copy successful elements from predecessors is something they either cannot understand or simply choose not to. It’s how evolution works, but the concept is lost on them. Don’t waste your time.
After a long duration of profession release silence, ArenaNet has overcome the half-way point hump to release the guardian profession. This new profession at first glance is a spell-casting melee fighter with a huge amount of battlefield control. This second, and last, soldier profession will turn a lot of heads, especially for those already considering a warrior main.
Last night was a very wonky night in RIFT. The servers were going crazy, whereas in prior betas they ran pretty well. Many wise voices in chat kept repeating that this was beta, and this is the best time for Trion to optimize servers. So, my playtime was constantly interrupted, and I didn’t get to play in a big event. I did get to play in a few small invasion events, where I was able to test two new features.
The first was the open grouping feature. It is pretty good, but I wonder about whether it is an artifact, rather, of the decision to keep conventional MMO grouping mechanics in the open world.
Going to PAX East? Want to meet celebrities, legendary developers, and be waited hand and foot on by the Cookie Brigade? Me too! Sadly, those doors don’t open until 10 AM on a sweet Saturday in March. (Possibly some of those doors are closing for me right now too.) But, if you want to meet some awesome bloggers, Syp, at BioBreak, and I are hoping you’ll come join us for a relaxing meet’n’greet at 8:00am through 9:30ish on Saturday, March 12th at Flour Bakery + Cafe at Fort Point. Head on over to the signup post at BioBreak to let us know if you are coming.
Yeeno Fernbottom reacts to another blog post on the acidic reaction to Cataclysm:
More to the point, what really mystifies me about some MMO commentators is that once they decide they don’t like a game, they can’t seem to get past it. They act like a jilted lover, or the victim of a war crime. For ever after whenever a particular MMO is mentioned they can’t help but pipe up about how “sucky” it is. If the MMO that burned them happens to be something popular like LoTRO or WoW, they may even concoct all sorts of bizarre explanations as to why a game that “obviously sucks” can be entertaining to so many players. Usually it boils down to something along the lines of “I simply have much better taste/ am a much better gamer than the mentally deficient masses that inhabit that shallow carnival ride.” So endearing, not at all arrogant…
This is a point that is so core, in my opinion, to being a well-rounded blogger. There are so many people playing all the games you ignore or don’t like. Must be a reason, hmmm? Another reason to make comments in first person rather than making a statement for everybody.