Archive for June, 2011

200

June 22, 2011

Woah! Apparently the last post I had was my 200th! I wasn’t really paying attention to it but noticed it today. I know I am not a prolific writer, but I am amazed that I have had 200 things to say over the last year and a half or so. Here’s to 200 more!

-Pid

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Should MMO’s Have an Expiration Date?

June 21, 2011

I pose this question for a couple of reasons. The first of which is that it seems that more MMO’s are being developed than there are being shut down. If we remove the WoW population from the equation there is a finite number of MMO players that is continuing to be diluted and diluted to a point where only the really good MMO’s are viable without resorting to some form of extortion technique free-to-play scheme. An argument against this is the fact that more choices are always better, but my rebuttal to that would be with all the clones out there, are there really that many choices?

The second reason I bring this up is the idea that if something has an end date, are we more likely to play the heck out of it and then move on to the next. It seems that people are constantly moving from one title to the next like some kind of nomad. It is hard to build a community when it is always changing. I imagine one of the big reasons the community in those early games like EQ, DAoC, and Ultima had a great community simply because they were semi-permanent.

I know that this idea is unlikely to catch on because companies are not going to shut down viable money making entities, but what if companies took a leap of faith and ran with it. Where would the die hard, never played another MMO ever, EQ crowd go if SOE said it was closing the doors in 2012? Would people in LotRO move on to a LotRO II if the devs made an ending for LotRO and gave everyone a date they had to complete it by? Would I bother purchasing that Hello Kitty Online game if I knew I really wasn’t interested in it and I only had 6 months before DDO closed its doors for good? All questions that would be relevant if games had an expiration date.

World of Warcraft: best if used by December 7, 2010.

-Pid

Pic o’ the Day – Safety Edition

June 15, 2011

It is safety month at work and they have been hanging signs and whatnot around the office. I really laughed at this one. I want a gun in the next ID or Valve game to use Weapons Grade Death Syrup for ammo!

-Pid

Spring Cleaning

June 14, 2011

I have performed a little tidying up in my blogroll, so if you feel you have been omitted in error or have my site on your own blogroll and I haven’t returned the favor, please let me know.

-Pid

[SW:ToR] Thoughts About Gameplay

June 13, 2011

The folks at EA:Bioware still won’t give us a release date, but they did manage to display a lot of in-game footage at E3. If you didn’t see any of it (yeah right), here is a link to the developer walkthrough video. Notably the game looks very MMORPG-y, but the actual gameplay kind of bothered me for the questing aspect of the game. I don’t know if it is something I overlooked during the flashpoint demo at PAX or whether it is my overall lack of interest in MMORPG’s at the moment, but the way that combat was working in the walkthrough video and especially the live game feed with Daniel Erickson. It was so static for being Star Wars. The parts where the ranged PC and mobs just stood there pew-pewing at each other with blasters and not moving really irked me. It felt so…wrong.

The devs have some time to work on this for sure, but they really need to get this part right. Story or no, if I get stuck standing and trading blaster bolts with a mob that is 6-inches in front of me too often it will really ruin the gameplay for me. I really haven’t heard anyone else mention this, so it may just be me. Then again, I couldn’t get into RIFT because of the art style and lack of races. Mebbe I’m just weird!

-Pid

[WoT] Tier VI and Staying Power

June 7, 2011

Got me a new set of tracks…will roll.

Every time I enter a new tier in World of Tanks I am super excited and then rapidly it turns to frustration. No I haven’t changed my mind about the game, I still think it is a crazy amount of fun, but in order for it to be a winner for a long period of time, it needs to fix a couple of things. They are undoubtedly making a profit now, so they need to focus on life after the growth mode.

There will be a plateau at some point where the number of new players/accounts tapers off and the number of people who get bored with the game increases. At this point any game needs to improve itself or watch all their players run off to the next big thing. Here are a couple of areas that I think need some work.

The biggest thing in my opinion is optimizing the matchmaking system. For those of you MMORPG’ers out there, this is the “leveling” content of the game. Currently you click on the random battle button in the game and you are tossed in a 15-on-15 tank battle with tanks/tank destroyers/artillery from tiers that range from 3 tiers beneath you to 3 tiers above you. The battles are organized in a manner of seconds which is awesome. The problem is if you are the player that is playing at the bottom of that 3 tier range. Oddly for whatever reason it seems that I am at the bottom of the tiers more often than at the top, but that might be just perception.

The problem with this matchmaking system is that frequently tanks that are at the bottom can do absolutely nothing to tanks at the top aside from make a good target. Depending on  the tank, you can probably do some damage to tanks a tier or two above your own, but those big dogs at the top are near impenetrable. If you have a stock tank from just entering a new tier, you may as well just put it in drive and point at the other side of the map and play Words with Friends on your smart phone. I understand, the battles are random and sometimes you are the top dog, but I would much rather have more frequent even battles rather than some battles that I can’t do anything and others where I can mop the floor. Whatever they do, they need to sort this out. Even if new algorithms require a longer queue time, it would be well worth it.

One of the other problems I see is that clans (guilds for the MMORPGers) need more to do together. At present, you can play in one Clan Wars battle (15 clanmates vs 15 clanmates from another clan) a night (more if you win the first) and then the clans are relegated to teaming up in groups of three (aka platoons) to enter random battles. For me, I can only participate in the Clan Wars battles on the weekend because they are scheduled before I get home from work.  Something more useful would be setting up 15-on-15 random battles that could take place at any time so that clans could still participate in group events even if they don’t effect the Clan Wars campaign.

Again, this is a great game. It is well polished and is ultimately a lot of fun. I can see it getting old after a while though and there is only so much that adding a map or two here and there can do. Hopefully the folks at Wargaming.net aren’t just resting on their laurels and are actively trying to make this gem of a game even better.

-Pid

[SW:ToR] Release Date Soon?

June 6, 2011

Just a prediction: With all the press releases lately, I’m guessing that E3 may reveal the release date and even maybe an open beta announcement. I have my fingers crossed.

-Pid

Update: Ok so I should stop making predictions as according to this announcement, there will be no release date info released at E3. Hopefully the week after though! :^)

My Better Half

June 2, 2011

A month or two ago I asked my wife if she wanted to play a card game. She said sure and I surprised her by hauling out the free Magic: The Gathering demo decks I received at PAX East. You have to understand that my wife has about as little knowledge of geekdom as your grandma does. (You know the one who thinks that cell phones will give you a brain tumor and that ATM cards are the devil’s handywork.) This is not to say that my wife is an idiot, she just finds little interest in the geekier things in life. Anyway, I have been teaching her how to play M:TG and she is learning at a steady pace for as little as we play.

Why am I telling you all this? Well I saw the PvP cartoon today and I thought it was mildly amusing so I emailed it to my wife. She emailed me back and was cracking jokes about it. I had to laugh because only a few months ago she  would have no idea what was funny about the cartoon. I don’t know if this is amusing to anyone but me, but I felt it was worth sharing.

-Pid

[WoT] Hindsight 20/20: Things I Know Now but Wish I Knew Then

June 1, 2011

Be prepared, you will see a lot of this.

I have been meaning to write a post about World of Tanks to help any new players out there that may be considering playing this game. As everyone is prone to do, I was confused and made a number of mistakes when I got started playing. Here are a few things that I wished I had known from the beginning.

  • Don’t buy the premium tanks (at least not right away). It can be tempting to slap down ten bucks and get a tricked out heavy tank, but it comes with a catch. First you haven’t played the game long enough to know what you are doing and you will instantly get thrown into higher tier battles with veterans, and get destroyed. Second, premium tanks are not upgradeable and often not as good  as a fully upgraded tank that you could get by progressing through the tech trees (statistically as a similarly tiered tank).
  • Don’t be in a rush to advance tech tiers! Battles in tier I/II are the most evenly matched battles that you are going to get. They can be based more on skill and less on equipment than later tiers. Also there is often no artillery or tank destroyers to worry about so you will only really be up against tanks that have a similar play style.
  • Don’t try to tackle all three country’s tech trees. You will probably want to focus on one or maybe a specific line of a second. (You may like the Soviet tank destroyer line, but focus on US tanks and Artillery. If you are itching to play a heavy tank, focus on the USSR or USA trees. The German tree doesn’t get a heavy until Tier 7.
  • Speaking of German tanks, be careful if you focus on that tree. The German tanks require a fair amount of skill to play at the lower levels. This is a video game and unlike WWII, German tanks are not the juggernaut that they were in real life. The lower level German tanks tend to be lightly armored in comparison to similar tiered tanks from the other two trees. They make up for this with speed, high rates of fire, and generally more accurate guns. This doesn’t help if you are a noob and make mistakes as it only takes one good shot to end your battle. Heavier armor is your friend because you might survive long enough to shoot back!
  • There are a couple of decent websites out there to look for for insight into the game. One is the WoT Wiki. Here is a good site for some more tips and tricks. There have been a few decent blog posts about it too: One from Zoso at KiaSA followed by part II and part III. Lonomonkey discusses the difference between AP and HE shells. Tobold discusses leveling up to a new tier tank and being worse off for it. The Babbling Gamer gives his experience with getting to Tier 3 and getting overwhelmed.
  • You will H-A-T-E Tier 3. It is just that simple. There is really nothing good to say about tier 3. You unlock the first tier 3 tank and buy it. It is stock with no upgrades but you think “hey I have to be better than the stock T1/T2 tanks right?” Then you realize that you are not placed in battles with T1/T2 tanks, but rather T3/T4/T5 tanks and that you last all of about 2 minutes in the battles (and that is if you spend a minute and  half in your starting zone delaying your suicide run). This is where life changes and you have to start getting experience by tagging the other tanks instead of destroying them. More on that in the next point.
  • There are three ways to gain experience in a battle. Obviously causing damage to another tank (including destroying them outright), capturing the other team’s base, and spotting the other team’s tanks so your team can kill them. The last point is where your light tanks and many medium tanks earn their stripes and XP. There are good scouting resources here and here.
  • If you have real money to spend on the game, the best places to do it are on upgrading the account to premium (you get a 50% bonus to XP and coin) and for transferring experience from elite tanks (not to be confused with premium tanks) to free experience. This can really speed up the process of gaining enough experience to unlock the next tier of tanks. Spending real money (or in-game gold) on premium tanks or converting it to in game currency are really not a great use of your money. Just take a little extra time and earn them yourself.
  • Oh yeah, almost forgot. If you leave the battle after your tank is destroyed, but before the battle is over, there is no penalty to the experience or coin that you earn for the battle. You even get the bonus if your team wins. Get into another tank and roll on!

There is soooo much more to learn, but hopefully these little tidbits will help you avoid some of the mistakes that I made getting started. Good luck, happy hunting, and see you on the battlefield.

-Pid