[Rift] Defeating the Defeatist

Jaradcel writes up another in-depth guest post on Rift PvP. Enjoy! –Ravious

Lately with the amount of PvP I have been doing, it feels like my brain is beginning to bleed “learn2play” attitudes. I have caught myself replying to obvious troll bait yells or even doing so myself.

Upon consideration, I feel like one of the root causes of this, which is far less prevalent in a PvE aspect, is because of the way developers tend to design for PvP. There are several reasons, but to start the ball rolling: Developers tend to cater to the defeatist.

Continue reading [Rift] Defeating the Defeatist

WoW Fortress 2

I was reading The Lazy Geek’s thoughts this morning about the new World of Warcraft (“WoW”) pet store companion. “Real” journalists picked the story up a little later. Anyway it now appears that people can spend real money in WoW in order to buy an in-game salable, tradable item… which, you know, is a luxury item to show off some bling. I make no comment on its effect on the shaky WoW economy (both in-game and out) as I do not currently play the MMO, but I would caution that as we enter the next era of MMOs, this will become more prevalent.

Anyway, while The Lazy Geek’s thoughts were more negative, I couldn’t help but silently applaud Blizzard. They have this sinking ship. It’s sinking slowly and still dredging up tons of gold and oil, yet I have a feeling the captain already sees the end coming. Except, it’s not going to be the end in a sense. Sure, it will be the end of the massive floating ocean liner that engulfs oceans, but the ocean liner could be retro-fitted into something else. Maybe with hats. Continue reading WoW Fortress 2

DLC Is the New Expansion Pack

Between sales, the price of Civilization V on Steam is $49.99. The total cost for “All Downloadable Content For This Game” is $49.39.

When DDO came out, I wondered why it was not using a module pricing strategy: base game cheap/free, sell the dungeons individually. You could even have a store for player-made, developer-checked dungeons for which players get a cut. Of course, selling the packs piecemeal encourages power creep by the question of whether this pack is worth the $5. Is the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus awesome enough to spend extra money on it? The same power creep/worth it question arises every time Team Fortress 2 puts a new weapon in the store, but at least there you face a near-certainty of getting the weapon as a drop (or crafting it) fairly soon.

: Zubon

Engi Census

Playing the Steam free game of the weekend, I have come to wonder: how many games have an Engineer that builds a turret; how many games have an Engineer that does not build a turret; and how many games have a non-Engineer that builds a turret. (I think I will avoid counting Warhammer Online’s Magus and units/classes that “summon” rather than “build.” I’m unclear whether the Raven builds, summons, or do we count “deploy”?) Was there some first game that set the standard that Engineer = build a sentry gun? It feels like engineers and self-directed turrets have become a standard game item, but perhaps exploring some examples will reverse this. I keep finding near-hits, where perhaps they consciously avoided calling the turret-builder an Engineer in recent games. I wonder if non-builder Engineers are also intentional aversions? Inventory below the break, please contribute in the comments.

Edit: let’s see what happens if we add in enemies that do the same, some of which may mirror heroes. Continue reading Engi Census

You Paid How Much?

Jaradcel writes up another great guest post. Enjoy! –Ravious

Stemming from the thoughts on micro-transactions and the use of freemium, I thought I would offer my thoughts on the parallels from another game that has recently gone freemium – Team Fortress 2 (“TF2”).

At first blush, the game does not have anything to do with Kill Ten Rats – It’s a hat-collecting sim/FPS after all. But what it is doing mirrors closely the models that Turbine are using on Lord of the Rings Online (“LotRO”) and Dungeons and Dragons Online (“DDO”), and which other companies like SOE and NCSoft are also moving into as well. That is, turning a pay product into a free model to attract new revenue via a cash shop. And TF2 does so by scratching the same itch that MMO cash shop users have – the need to have it all and look pretty besides.

Continue reading You Paid How Much?

MMO Love to Japan

The world is supporting the crisis in Japan, but that support doesn’t just end with individuals and governments. Game companies are stepping up too. Valve is trying to get gamers to buck up by buying Japanese-themed Team Fortress 2 hats (all proceeds after tax to Red Cross). Two MMO companies are taking another route.

NCSoft has donated over 6,000,000 USD directly to Japan, which overshadowed every other Korean corporation donation at the time it was made (including Samsung and LG). It even outshadowed Japanese corporations donations like Nintendo and Sony. Now it is likely that Japanese corporations are “donating” with paid-time off and other ways to help employees and their communities, but it does put a point on NCSoft’s significant generosity.

US-based Trion Worlds with the shiny-new MMO Rift is taking a more personal route. They are finding their Japanese customers and giving them a free month of play. It’s not necessarily as humanitarian as donating money to aid, but it adds yet another showing that Trion Worlds values its customers. I have recently been a little critical of the mid-level zones and fuzzy edges of the dynamic content engine, yet as I noted in my last Rift post, they are keeping me a happy customer.

Prayers and thoughts continue to go to the island gaming nation. Also, one can never have too many hats.

–Ravious

Looting

Are we past the point of clicking on bodies? Just put the loot in my inventory. Give me some sort of message, great, but most games do not benefit from the extra step of having me click on a body, bag, etc. Experience goes directly on to my character, cash sometimes goes directly onto my character; just put the loot in my inventory.

City of Heroes does this. Global Agenda does this. Team Fortress 2 does this. Rift does this with rift loot. LotRO skirmishes are half-way there with most rewards appearing in your barter wallet as a quest reward mechanic.

The downside is the question of limited inventory space. What do we do when inventory is full? When we click on bodies, the loot is just there, waiting for us to open some inventory slots. Do we just miss out on loot if we are full? My immediate notions would be:

  • Yes, so watch for the big red FULL alert and the continued red text on your screen.
  • Stop limiting inventory space. That might be a really bad idea in a game with lots of trash loot, which leads to the next step of stop with the trash loot. Alternately, have some sort of genericized system that takes less (server) storage space rather than having dozens of things to remember per item.
  • Have a loot overflow holding area. It would be a buffer that lasts for as long as you are logged on, kind of like buyback at the NPC merchants. As long as you stay online (plus time x, to deal with connection isseus?), your bag is infinitely large, but make sure you decide which items you are keeping/selling before logging off. If your connection is lousy, you will want to check that more often, but then you would have the same issue about corpses de-spawning with your loot still inside, and you would still be checking your inventory just as often with the question, “Which of these am I keeping or trashing?” Be sure to move the epic loot to permanent storage after the boss fight.

Any version would be purely a gameplay abstraction that makes no sense even after the best stories I concocted justifying it in-world, but we already accept inventory mechanics in which 100 metal ingots take up as much space as a ring, bears sometimes carry swords and multiple hides but have only a 50% chance to have one leg or tooth on each corpse, gold bars are worth less than gold coins, and gold coins take up no space. Of course, I usually use ranged attacks. I can already imagine sniping one target in a dangerous group and running, where now I would need to go in if I want the loot from that kill.

: Zubon

Improving TF2 Servers

Many Team Fortress 2 servers run hlxstats, and you do not win/lose normal points for kills until you have 20/50/whatever kills. This is a good practice. It would be even better if players could not be Snipers until that point. Beyond grumbling about newbs and one-shots, I see two factors in favor of this new policy. First, many new players seem to like to hide in the back, and teams self-destruct with 6 Snipers or, on servers where class numbers are wisely capped, the potentially useful Sniper slots are filled by the worst players. Second, no one aim-bots a Heavy. When someone new appears on the server and gets five headshots with no other kills, I am immediately suspicious. I see cheaters as more likely to find another server than wait 50 kills before getting their advantage back.

I am wondering how the new Sniper suit has affected the latter. The set bonus takes away your headshots but lets you survive any headshot. Newb snipers kill aim-botters in traded shots, while the new suit is useless for aim-botters. When I get repeatedly, uselessly head-shot as a Sniper, I wonder if the opposing Sniper is really good but has not adjusted to the new items, or if Valve added something specifically to watch aim-botters lose.

: Zubon