Humble E3 Digital Ticket

If you occasionally get a Humble Bundle, now is probably the time to get one. Just looking at the “pay what you want” level, it includes:

  • Psychonauts, which is good.
  • 40 treasure chests for Pathfinder Adventures
  • 500 coins for the Amazon appstore
  • content for 4 MMOs

And then more. And then more MMO and MOBA content in the paid levels, and more games, and some subscriptions and betas. And then there are some more of those games and betas at the “pay what you want” level. And some other stuff.

: Zubon

Kitchen Sink

Realm Grinder‘s development path reminds me of WildStar, in that it is gradually coming to an approach of “just throw everything in and hope it works together.”

One of my first impressions of WildStar was that it decided to use all the systems and hope for synergy. It has races, classes, specializations, paths, factions, and more, most of which have advancement systems built in. It has static quest NPCs, quests that appear in the field, challenges specific to your path, and I’m sure I’m forgetting a few types and their names. There are achievements and unlocks and multiple parallel and overlapping advancement systems, the way other games staple them on between expansions but here building them in from the start. There is crafting and PvP and raids and city upgrades, and any sub-system you can think of from any other game probably exists in WildStar in some form.

For me, those never really gelled into something coherent, but maybe it did for you, and they have had a year or two of development time since I last looked in on them.

Realm Grinder did not have the pre-release development time that WildStar did, but it seems to be following the same path in terms of sub-systems. I mentioned initially that it launched with six factions, so you could range from clicker play to idling to offline. Then heritages let you keep a feature from each faction. Then the unlockable neutral factions launched. Then you could unlock a good or evil prestige faction that stacked on top of the original factions. Then Mercenaries let you combine upgrades from various factions. Then bloodlines let you take a bit of any faction and include it in your current build. The latest major release added research, which has six paths of trait trees themed around the six original factions, where most of it is accessible to all factions but there are faction-specific upgrades in each tree, and it is only available to the original six without using the prestige add-ons. A small update added challenges for the original six factions, which are mostly faction-specific but can provide bonuses across factions. And I might be missing a few in this kluge of limited, general, specific, overlapping, and mutually exclusive upgrade trees. The menus now have sub-menus to store all these buttons. And they are actively adding more, as research for neutral prestige factions is under development.

Despite all that, at any given time, your options are relatively limited and clear. If an option is not available for your faction, it is grayed out or not visible. Once you have chosen a faction and a bloodline, there are no other choices to make until you get to the late game of Mercenaries and research. Other than that, no, you just take everything available. Even the new research system offers more upgrades but not more choices until you get a few reincarnations in, because “select 4 of 4” is not really a dilemma.

If you are not sure which tier of the game you should be in, “the latest one you got access to” is usually the right answer, and failing that look at the order things were added. Each reincarnation you start with one of the base factions, move to a prestige neutral faction, go back for a prestige good faction, switch to Mercenaries, then go on to the research system. It is a lot like playing an MMO, where you go through the expansions in the order they were released. Realm Grinder lacks explicit levels, but it does have lots of numbers measuring your progress, and the major question is when to switch between progress methods (and which one fits your playstyle/time).

: Zubon

Guild Wars 2 Flash Sale, ESO Switch, and Wildstar

So, before the Saturday announcement Guild Wars 2 is selling for $10. I’ve been trying to avoid the hype train until things become real (ArenaNet officialized). But, hot dang, $10 for Guild Wars 2 is… that’s Steam Sale worthy. That’s Steam worthy in the sense that I would buy the game to let it sit there.

Then ESO is going to buy-to-play. It even has the synics (sic :P) slightly on board. I think that’s cool and expected. The game seemed to fall off the map too quickly. The switch went pretty well for LOTRO and TSW, and I expect about the same for this.

Which leads me to Wildstar… the game I wanted to be buy-to-play. Supposedly their latest update is going to do a lot of good to the game. At least that’s what I’ve heard through the grapevine. Still, I am surprised that ESO is making the business model switch first, and it gets me looking at pappa NCSoft, killer of City of Heroes.

I am a big fan of MMO’s I own. I am much more likely to buy it in Steam fashion and play it some. I did it with TSW, which I adore but just don’t have time for, and I still have my lifetime “sub” with LOTRO because I wanted ownership. I will probably pick up ESO for that reason. I might even get Mrs. Ravious interested, who knows. I’ll probably pick up another GW2 account as well, just ‘cus.


Easy Spring

On the MMO side, I’ve been taking it pretty easy this spring. However, I’ve not been lazy on the game front. Most of my creative juices have been towards revising UNE and also creating two other system- and setting-agnostic TTRPG supplements. One supplement is aimed at quickly creating character histories or downtime stories, and the other one is a GM-emulator. They are nearing draft completion, and I’m going to have art and layout done professionally. The goal is have them up on DriveThruRPG under the pay-what-you-want model.

Guild Wars 2

The only MMO I’ve touched this year has been Guild Wars 2. I’ve slacked off big time since the feature pack. If I sign on it’s either for Tequatl (or the Wurms) or WvW hijinks. I am pretty excited about the upcoming Festival because it seems like a better way to ease back in to the game rather than start Living World Season 2 right away. I do hope that Season 2 starts pretty soon thereafter though. ArenaNet has been silent on that front, except for the mention of potato cooking times and gravy. Continue reading Easy Spring

[WS] Business Cred

I know I’m a day late, but I find that sleeping on touchier subjects usually results in a better post. When I read the news that WildStar was going to be a subscription-based MMO, I too had pursed lips. Like Syp, I pretty much expected a subscription option, but since it was hinted it would be hybrid, I was thinking more along the lines of The Secret World or Lord of the Rings Online.

WildStar’s “hybridization” isn’t really one at all. It is a subscription-based MMO with various ways to pay for the subscription, including CREDD, which is available for purchase via in-game gold. EVE Online does this with PLEX, and I’ve heard mention TERA does as well. A CREDD however costs $5 more to turn it in to a tradable month.

While I personally would have preferred a true hybrid business model, such as The Secret World’s, this decision by Carbine is not one made in default. MMORPG talked with head honcho Jeremy Gaffney (who is one of the most insightful, open devs I’ve ever met) on this very subject. Continue reading [WS] Business Cred

Rebuilding the MMO Theme Park

Ah, yes, the old MMO moniker, “theme park”. A derided term, not worn as a hardcore badge of honor, like “sandbox” MMOs. A “theme park” MMO has rides. These rides are designed by developers to give the player an experience, that will not much derivate from the ride’s rails. This is not bad game design, especially seen with the way gamers line up for the latest console rail shooter. It can be a lot of fun to quick-time event through a game.

However, the term “theme park” gained its dark stain because it was used as a crutch. Repetition turned the rides in to a necessary activity for the reward’s punch card. The rides lost their thrill as players needed a normalized X more rides to get the shiny they so desired. Rides were populated because of reward carrots, and not because they were necessarily enjoyable activities.

What did players constantly demand? More content. Some updates offered a span of new content, but for the most part the significant content heaps were left to expansions. The theme park’s content would remain stagnant until officially expanded at a press-released ribbon cutting ceremony. I felt MMO players assumed this status quo after a while.

A year or two ago, I would have told you that the future of theme parks was incorporation of sandbox elements, such as scaling events or content with some procedural randomness. I did not expect that the MMO developers would actually embrace the theme park nature, and advance it. Continue reading Rebuilding the MMO Theme Park

[WS] A Risky Path

An Epic Drop™ of information has just been launched in to space by Carbine Studios. They cover Paths for WildStar with a humorous “in-game” video, a DevSpeak, and a comprehensive web page on the subject.

Paths, simply put, are a sub-class to the character. The class, such as Warrior or Spellslinger, defines internal playstyle. A Warrior uses greatswords and is very melee based. A Spellslinger uses pistols and warps around the battlefield. Paths define external playstyle by offering specific content to a player with a defined Path. In another sense, WildStar is codifying achievements in to splats. Bartlett Explorers can now enter a niche to ensure that they’ll be doing explorer-type things. Continue reading [WS] A Risky Path

[WS] Dat Double Jump

WildStar has a column going on called “DevSpeak”. The latest clip is about movement. “Movement?” the hardened MMO veteran in you says, “what a silly thing to advertise for your game.” In a way it is silly, but like Mr. DevSpeak says “it plays a major role in every part of the game.” (I will say whoever wrote and voiced this first episode did a fantastic job of keeping it informative and snappy. Definitely looking forward to more.)

Poor movement can harm a game. Take Guild Wars for example. It doesn’t matter how great it was in some parts when gamers couldn’t get past the fact that they couldn’t jump. I admit every time I play Guild Wars it feels like there is a ceiling pressing down. I also do not care for how movement feels in The Secret World, especially when they add don’t-stand-in-the-evil-circle-of-forthcoming-evil effects that I have to dodge out of. In both of these MMOs I can look past it, but some gamers can’t. Continue reading [WS] Dat Double Jump