I Have Returned, RIFT

I think it was comments in this post about my dream MMO, again, that had me going back to RIFT. That, and it’s free-to-play now. Trion has their hands full with ArcheAge stuff, of which I mostly get the news from Syncaine’s love and hate of the game. Bhagpuss also helpfully puts his spin on that newness. I’d rather pick up a pre-GW2 game.

I had a level 46 character. I decided to completely restart instead since I had zero connection to that character or anything about her. The tutorial area was significantly cleaned up. I appreciate that although not it feels like the class system is largely behind something. I guess ultimately it’s a good thing, but I kept thinking through the tutorial area that this was not how the class system works. Basically when you level up you just press a button that auto-spends class points according to some build. It doesn’t help that useful skills were kind of hidden (like summoning a pet), and I am glad I am through that.  Continue reading

[RR] D&D 5th: Races

5th edition starts with many races, re-vamps the idea of subraces, takes another pass at balancing races while maintaining classic flavor, builds its new mechanics into the races, and nudges the player towards certain norms.

The pool of “standard” PC races has fluctuated over the D&D editions, and 5th edition starts with almost all of them. Dragonborn made it back. Half-orcs are still in. More setting-specific races like warforged and half-giants are not in, but you surely have a dozen homebrew versions online to tide you over until they become official again.

The only big surprise for me was that tieflings made it in but aasimar/devas did not. Continue reading

Hubs, Hearts, Story

Guild Wars 2 has some improvements on standard MMO mechanics that are so obviously better that I have found it unpalatable to go back to older MMOs or to play new games that clone them. One of these is the use of hearts and events to level, rather than quest hubs. For the kind of content quest hubs most often deliver (kill things, click things, collect things), hearts just seem obviously better than clicking an NPC; hearing a story about too many wolves, needing wolf pelts, or wanting you to click on six specific wolf den rocks to investigate; kill/click/collect, then going back to click on the NPC. The flow of play is better, and if you don’t feel like collecting things, you can just kill and/or click. Using events to make impromptu groups and to replace “take this message to Bob in the next town” quests is just better.

Also, in GW2, you can almost always rez the NPC in an escort quest. See Rurik or Sara Oakheart.

GW2 also demonstrated that hearts and events are horrible ways of telling stories, so bad that they spent part of the first year trying to retrofit a classic quest system into mail system or the personal story model. They seem to have settled on the personal story model, an interesting choice given how few players would cite the personal story as one of the better parts of the game.

: Zubon

MMOs – Progression or Progress?

Spinks writes a farewell to Blizzard’s publicly cancelled, unreleased MMO “Titan”. She mentions a bunch of the reasons Titan failed to see light, but the most interesting anecdote is that the biggest successor to World of Warcraft might be Minecraft.

Now we all know that Minecraft is not an MMO in large part because it is not “massive”. One could also argue the persistence of things is in question.  However, I think Spinks makes the best implicit point.

The MMO design space people should be exploring should be more like Minecraft than World of Warcraft. Continue reading

Tips for Introverts

Many of our readers are introverts. In broader conversations about our lives as gamers, a question often comes up: “How do I even talk to people?”

Personally, I have found that the answer differs if you are a PC or a console gamer, and I don’t think we can really attribute that to the kind of person who plays on different platforms, if there is such a thing (and many play both). If you are a PC gamer, the answer is usually to walk right up to someone and press E. Right-click can also work. For console gamers, that will usually be the A button.

You’re welcome.

: Zubon

When You Buy Counterfeit Fashion, You Are Paying to Spam Our Site

After the spam deluge, Ethic applied a stronger spam filter that automatically sent more things to “spam” rather than “pending.” The effect is similar except that the site no longer e-mails me 50 times per day to ask if the comment by “Buy Cheap Louis Vitton” is legit. A blogger buddy asked me to check the spam filter, and yep, there were some false positives, so we fished some folks out.

Of the 500 spam comments I reviewed, 3 were internal links from our site, 4 were legitimate comments, 1 was from a gold-selling site, and all the rest were fashion sites trying to get more links for search engine optimization. These are the people who make your favorite websites’ operators work harder. Remember never to buy from some fly by night site selling knock-off sunglasses, shoes, or whatnot, or you’re just as bad as people who buy gold and fund the guys who hack players’ accounts.

This public service message has been brought to you by the numbers 5 and 0 and the letter S.

: Zubon

[TT] Hyperborea

At Gen Con, we learned to play Hyperborea from one of the developers, which is one of the glories of Gen Con. As I type this, it is soon to be published in the US but not quite there; it may be available by the Tuesday this appears. It is recommended but costly ($90) and very strongly a gamer game.

The game is one of territorial control and resource acquisition with a bag-building mechanic in place of the increasingly common deck-building mechanic. That is, each player has a bag of colored cubes, and you power your abilities by drawing and spending them. A large part of your strategy is what cubes you add to your bag.
Continue reading

Cashing In

If the rumored deal goes through, I’m happy for Notch and Mojang. I’m told there is some sort of internet controversy about selling out, but “and someone on the internet complained about it” is true for all values of X, and the only counterarguments I’m really interested in entertaining are variants on “he could get more money.” Penny Arcade is on point.

No real insight or commentary. I just saw the “$2 billion” headline this week and thought, “Good for them!” and, “Congrats!” and, “one of us won!”

: Zubon

Wanting to Want

I like what I hear about Final Fantasy XIV. Job-switching sounds like what I have wanted for years and what Horizons aspired to. Sadly, after having killed ten rats and ten thousand goblins, the idea of a new leveling treadmill makes me reach for a book, so I will be spending time with Russian science fiction rather than Japanese fantasy.

: Zubon

Previously