Coming Late to Early Guild Wars

I am enjoying Guild Wars in a non-focused way. I have not seen much of the game, but I have been enjoying what is around. I feel absolutely no pressure except maybe that I might want some Hall of Monuments points by the time Guild Wars 2 comes out, assuming those do something useful for me.

I started a Ranger in the Nightfall campaign. I picked up Monk as a secondary profession, but given how I’m playing, I think I’ll switch that to Mesmer at the first opportunity. (Monk/Elementalist alt?) I am up to three hero companions, one of which I don’t have much use for yet (the suicidal Dervish), but this works nicely, bringing along my own tank and healer. I have not yet grouped with anyone.

Continue reading Coming Late to Early Guild Wars

[GW2] Queued Up

A big thing right now in the ‘sphere are the SWTOR queues. Even with their staggered launch, BioWare is being hit with some hefty queues. Yet, nothing is really new. Voodoo equations prognosticating things like server health, player retention, and herd leveling speed are part of the design, and they usually seem to say “queues now are better in the long run.” One trick I loved with Rift was joining the hour-long queue a little after 7. Taking the remainder of the hour to put the kids to bed, and once they were down, voila! the queue was just about done. It really helped to just walk away. Even sitting there and reading a book or watching TV while you queue in front of your computer will likely have an effect on your mental and physical well-being.

Because the ArenaNet Community Managers are now on vacation, let’s do a little logic exercise. First, we must assume! We must assume that Guild Wars 2 will have queues. We know they are going to have servers (“worlds“) more like current MMOs than the original Guild Wars, where players get to fight for their world in World vs. World PvP combat and fight evil in their world with other worldly citizens. It’s a safe assumption given almost every MMO’s launch. Continue reading [GW2] Queued Up

Hipster

As part of the latest Steam sale, I picked up a couple of the indie game packs. This has been a good reminder that “indie” is in no way synonymous with “good,” “fun,” or even “worth the $2.” Major publisher filters may lead to pap, but at least they take a first pass at filtering out the 90% crud.

The fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.
— Carl Sagan

: Zubon

The Steam event also gives them a chance to exemplify my recurring theme of “don’t make achievements that reward people for seeking out the worst parts of your game.”

“All in a row?”

Demonstrating a greater extreme of something I discussed last month, I tried a bit of Champions Online. Steam says, “13 of 713 Achievements Earned.” 713.

Oddly, within an MMO, that seems unexceptional. When you port it out to Steam, where most games are in the 2-digit range with monsters like Team Fortress 2 at 394, you wonder what Champions is doing to find 713 tasks and points of advancement worth special notice.

: Zubon

Longevity

You pay for your game and expect it to have a certain amount of content. There are many ways to pad that with fake longevity, most of which amount to adding gameplay flaws to hide the “flaw” of being short. Character advancement is the currently popular version, because grinding takes time and your players are happily watching their numbers increase.

Dungeon Defenders has more real and fake longevity than Orcs Must Die! The longevity extension measures, however, are better in Orcs Must Die! These are both action/tower defense games released around the same time, so they provide a good basis for comparison. Continue reading Longevity

2012 Predictions

I will now get the highest score of any MMO pundit making predictions. Ready? “It will not go live in 2012.” Whatever we’re talking about, I’m predicting that it will slip into 2013, or later, or just never ship. The game, the expansion, whatever: not in 2012. I’m going to lose a few points, since something will ship in 2012, but I don’t see how anyone can beat my accuracy rate here.

: Zubon

[SWTOR] Story Hooks and Subscriptions

For a subscription MMO, getting hooks into players is pretty much a top priority. Players that want to return are more likely to continue to subscribe than players nearing the meh-zone. People have been pretty pleased with the launch of SWTOR so far, except for the log-in queues. Unlike Rift, which may have been a shock to the ‘sphere as far as quality went, I really haven’t seen any ‘3 month death toll’- posts at launch.  Still, the 3 month mark is one to give the MMO a hard eye.

In Rift, I was just hitting level 45 or so and getting in to the “end game.” I quit. Between my guild and the game, I still didn’t have enough hooks in my skin to keep me interested in paying. I wouldn’t necessarily call it a fault of Rift; I just think that ye ol’ gear shift from leveling to end game in Rift (modeled after other vanilla MMOs of yore) was not for me. So I was tangentially flung away from the game. I know I was not alone.

I still don’t think the core of SWTOR is different enough for me even if it is a solid MMO, but I still have to wonder what effect the story pillar will have on subscriptions. If I assume that in 3 months time that my situation would be similar to Rift, would I pay another month or two just to see the end of my story. Would I want to start another one?

Then there is the issue of BioWare’s post launch plans adding in new story content. If I were a betting man, I would say that the story pillar will definitely keep more subscribers around at the 3 month mark. Of course, there is also the feeling of finishing, which might make some players kick their feet up as credits rolls. I don’t think this will happen often. I didn’t see many instances of players doing that in Guild Wars or Lord of the Rings Online.

I know as the inevitable first wave of subscribers tampers down, the statistic I would love to see how much impact did the story pillar have on their monthly tithe. It’s something that could definitely change future MMO ideas.

–Ravious

Voices In My Head

I picked up Bastion at a nice discount recently and played through it last week (playing time; ~10 hours, 6-8 without repeating content and acing the proving grounds, 15-20 with completism, new content recently added). A surreal side effect is that I have the songs of M2M in my head as spoken word poetry in the narrator’s voice. It’s kind of like how you can go all week reading everything in Isaiah Mustafa‘s voice.

: Zubon

Related. Closely related, thanks Winged Nazgul.

Timing

Steam has encouraged people to use their wishlist function by occasionally giving away the top 10 items on folks’ wishlists. This is a good tactic. This year, they had the added wisdom to do so in early December. Stock those wishlists for holiday gift-giving, and oh, come and visit every day for your chance to win (and to see what you could get your friends at a great discount, nudge nudge). It’s a great marketing tactic.

And it works, because Ethic got me Guild Wars Trilogy. Thanks! I may have some comments on the game sometime. Because you know I would review Casablanca as if it had just come out.

: Zubon