The Punditry Dark Side

Lewis B has some great impressions of the upcoming Stars Wars MMO over at Tap Repeatedly. I wouldn’t call them bad impressions per se; I would call them disappointed impressions. He gives praise where praise is due, mostly the script and voice acting. The art style is enjoyable, and then there’s everything else. For the sake of this post let’s just say it’s basically the gameplay millions have experienced in World of Warcraft, Rift, Lord of the Rings Online et al.

While I particularly trust Lewis B impressions, as subjective as many may be, this is approximately the feedback I have seen on this upcoming game for awhile. There are neat shiny bits apart from BioWare’s trademarked storytelling like the cover system or the use of personal mooks to do all the player’s crafting for sure. Yet it’s still a vanilla ice cream regardless of the sprinkles.

Unlike Rift, which in my opinion clearly tried to push the MMO genre with it’s dynamic events, the hundred-million dollar costing Bioware MMO doesn’t seem to push anything. With all the problems involved in stand-and-deliver combat, the holy trinity, kill stealing, boring quest design, etc. of vanilla MMOs, tacking on a shared single-player branching story feels flat. At least Rift tried to get people playing together in unique ways. Continue reading The Punditry Dark Side

Binding Rituals

The next big thing is Star Wars the Old Republic (SWTOR), of course. For those that have now just regained internet after some hurricane, tornado, or gopher-pocalypse, the release date is right before Christmas. Chris at LevelCapped pretty much sums up my general feelings on the game. I do hope that the half-million and rising mob of pre-orderers have fun. I look forward to the many MMO blogs on the ‘sphere thoughts from actual play sessions. Story time is the best, don’t you think?

Anyway, the LevelCapped post got me thinking about all those MMO things that we constantly post about when the urge arises. What is an MMO? What is persistence? Which is better F2P or subscription? Etc. et al. Veni, vidi, vici. More importantly (to me and you) I thought about my own game buying in the past few months. The recent ones off the top of my head were Trackmania² Canyon (“Canyon”), Magic the Gathering’s new Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012 (“DotP2012”), and Bastion. I’ve also been going full Explorer mode in Minecraft. I’m sorry to say that as of late most MMOs just haven’t caught my interest. I’ve been spoiled silly with my little time playing Guild Wars 2, I guess. Continue reading Binding Rituals


Tobold asks about choices in games. Come on back after reading it, because I substantially agree and just want to extend on the last paragraph, because the optimal solution cited is rather difficult. Of course, I think we should be more demanding of our games, so that’s not a problem for me in particular, except for the disappointment.

Set aside the two easy cases first: one choice is clearly better than the other (once you know the consequences or do enough math), or neither choice has any meaningful consequences. If you want to argue that there is still a meaningful “choice” to be had there, you can argue the point back at Tobold’s.

The goal is “different but equal.” Choice A gives you 10 armor and choice B gives you +30 to attack rats. Tobold cites Sid Meier, while my favorite quote on the subject comes from a fellow posting under the name Tempest Stormwind: “Taste the indecision? That’s balance, right there.” That is the goal, to have a non-trivial choice where you could go either way. Let’s add some complications to that. Continue reading Choices

$150? Are You Nuts?

Bullet Points made me do it.

Star Wars The Old Republic has priced their collector’s edition at $150. I just do not see the value here. Perhaps because the figurine/statue thing is not something I give a rat’s ass about. I’m still not even sure I want to play this game and this is coming from someone that buys and plays every mainstream MMO. Heck I even have the Age of Conan collector’s edition somewhere around here. With that said, I would have probably foolishly purchased the SWTOR-CE at a price point of $79.95 based on my past history. I really like soundtracks and art books (Guild Wars gets me every time). Thank you Bioware for putting more money into my motorcycle parts fund.

I guess I finally have reached a point where I can see through the hype a little bit and have no problem waiting for a chance to actually try before I buy. However if this was Guild Wars 2 I’d be frothing at the mouth to throw money at them and I barely ever play Guild Wars 1. They know how to turn me into a customer.

I really don’t have anything else to say other than this: If you bought the CE, enjoy it! If you didn’t, enjoy your money!

– Ethic

Note to self: Use bullet points next time.

[BioWare] No Good Deed

EDIT: So BioWare it seems is pretty swift with making sure this is made right. They sent me a copy of the email, which I am not authorized to share, but it does break it down in a pretty “plain language” format. I still think they are a little bully-ish because it starts out with mention of the “binding legal contract,”  which can set the reader to defensive right away. But, the crux of the email is “we want to promote you guys!” The email even discusses the need to pay for server costs, etc. vs. the benefit of being promoted. Thanks to BioWare for the clarification.

Wait a minute. So BioWare contacts Star Wars: The Old Republic fan-sites, those that are exclusive to their game, and reminds them that if they are making money on their fan-site, then according to a two-year old click-through agreement, BioWare cannot promote the fan-site. And, this is controversial? Did I miss a takedown notice or Valentine’s day sacrifice of a goat force fed chocolates to death on BioWare’s steps?

To be fair (and given that I have not seen this offending email), it seems that BioWare’s intention to promote community backfired. It seems to me that BioWare wants to promote fan-sites, and are trying to remind the fan-sites that BioWare can only do so if the fan-site follows some reasonable terms. This of course blew up in their face, as most things do, when a simple request is inundated with legalese to a ridiculous degree. Of course they came off as bullies when using language that normal humans don’t speak. Even my wife [constantly] reminds me of that!

Lawyers should not be contacting fan-sites unless they intend to sue them. If all BioWare wanted to do was hope to promote more fan-sites a short, simple email from a community manager would have sufficed. Don’t fire the Death Star when a simple psychokinetic strangling will do the trick.

the first one’s free

Hat Tip: BioBreak

Oh, the Controversy!

Pundits across the board must have had some soul-bearing New Year’s resolutions. No longer will they toe the line. They will say what they have to, goddammit! It seems that this was also the week to strike. The surprising thing is that most MMO blogs around the ‘sphere have been pretty tame when it came to 2011 predictions and 2011 posts. It has been the big gamesites that are deciding to no longer be kept down by The Man.  In no particular order:

Continue reading Oh, the Controversy!

2011 – Hopes, Dreams, Fears

I am too antsy to work. Most community managers on the West Coast aren’t even awake, but it is the first business day of 2011. The 2011. The Year of the MMO. It feels like something should be coming any second, but I have to tell myself that things were not so different a week ago. All morning I have been trying to write this post. What are my baseless speculations on the MMO genre this year?

Continue reading 2011 – Hopes, Dreams, Fears

The Opposite of Grind

Timeless MMO topics are worming their way, yet again, around the ‘sphere. Oh, I can definitely take part of the blame since I strongly dislike subscription games, and what I feel they entail. Clearly, I am neither alone, nor am I objectively correct. Julian, KTR lurker in the threshold, threw down an excellent comment, which in part reads:

The question is why are we seemingly unable to, after 10+ years of designing these things, to avoid the grind? It is generally accepted as un-fun. It’s been a major player complaint since forever. Why are we still operating under the design assumption that grind is somehow “needed” or “part of the flavor of the genre”? Why are we unable to come up with something better?

Which made me think, okay, grind equates to gameplay, but we hate it (mostly). So, what else is there?

“Content,” is what one of my little resident voices said. If defined in such a way, content is the opposite of grind. (Random Google’d website Wordhippo tells me the opposite of “grind” is “joy.”) Yet, from another standpoint grind is content. Our blog would have a completely different name if that weren’t the case.

Continue reading The Opposite of Grind