Posts Tagged ‘evolution’

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Musings on the WoW news over the weekend.

June 14, 2010

In case you’re unaware, Blizzard had a press even over the weekend and released a lot of information about the current status of Cataclysm and also answering questions that the players have been confused about. I wont kill you with a wall of text of recap. Just highlight some points that I found interesting. If you want the full news head on over to your favorite WoW news site.. the details are everywhere. Let’s dive in..

Heroic Shadowfang Keep and Heroic Deadmines should be shipped in Patch 4.1

Seriously? All I was expecting was a 85 heroic scaled version of the same instance. That shouldn’t take very long to do. So why the delay until 4.1? Could be that they are completely re-designing the dungeons, or it could be that they are trying to refrain from releasing too many dungeons at once. I don’t really know, but I think that this is pretty stupid. Not a big deal though.

Path of the Titans Removal
Okay.. now it just seems like they are cutting features all together. Instead of this we’re now getting “medium” glyphs. Which will be in between Major and Minor. These glyphs are “for fun” only, so they *should* have no effect on your character’s output.

Much more boring but serves almost the same purpose and takes 1/2 the time to develop. Sure.. cool by me. Give me my Libram graphic dangling from my hip!

Guild Talents are gone

Makes it much more boring, but I can understand why. They have enough trouble balancing the class talents. To make sure the guild talents weren’t too over-done they just got rid of them all together. Now we get abilities handed to us based on our guild’s level. Much as in other games. It’s basically the same thing, they just took choice out of the equation. *shrug*

Raid Changes

Here’s the bread and butter (to me) of the press release. We knew 10’s and 25’s were going to be equalized but we didn’t have the details really. Now we do. You can break down your 25 man raid into 3 separate 10m raid ID’s if you choose. Also, a change to how the lockouts work. Basically it doesn’t tag yourself to the zone, it tags what bosses you have killed. Therefore streamlining managing your Raid IDs. Especially if you do a lot of PUG raids.

25’s will drop approx. 50% more loot than 10’s. Which is good. Most of this 50% was strongly hinted at just being extra emblems. That’s kind of boring but ah well.

It’s been stated before that 10’s will be brought up in difficulty to be along the same challenge of 25’s, now we have official confirmation that this IS in fact the plan. This makes me giddy. Being someone who simply doesn’t want to deal with attendance issues, or that one bad player that just wont get better no matter how much you talk to them.. this is an awesome thing for me. 10 man cuts down on the stupid, which is good for my blood pressure. Up until (seemingly) now 10 mans have always been insanely easy compared to 25 mans. A good majority of this comes from the simple fact of their being less people. Less chaos.

If they are ramping up the difficulty on 10m, I’m curious to see how far they take that. Will it be easier because there is less people? Or will they tune the content right and make 10/25 equalized in difficulty? It’s hard to equalize something that gets harder the more players you throw at it. No matter how hard a boss hits, things will always be easier if you only have 10 people to worry about vs. 25.

The ONLY thing I can see as a downside here is the confusion that could come about with the 25 lockout being split in to 3 different 10 man lockouts. I’m not quite sure I understand how this works. Does it take groups 1 and 2 and give them a lockout, 2-4, 5-6, and such? If it does, that could be a raid balance and administrative nightmare.

Also.. in your typical 25m raid you generally have 3 tanks and 4-5 healers. Split the group up into 3 10’s and you don’t have proper raid balance for any more than 1, maybe 2 teams.

Basically, how I see it, is.. someone’s going to get shafted every week. And while Blizzard is implementing this for guilds like mine, who have full raids on Tuesday, but then struggle Wednesday and Thursday to get numbers. I still don’t think this is a good option for that type of group. It’s basically no different from how guilds handle 10/25 now. You have your 25 team, and an “A” 10m team, and possibly another “B” team.

But this causes a lot of animosity as we’ve all seen in the past in various different guilds. My guild has an “A” team that runs 10m on the weekends, they’ve killed LK10 and are working on heroics (and we have yet to kill LK25). It’s typically always the same people. We don’t have enough support/attendance to gather a “B” team on the weekends. So.. half of us that would like to raid usually end up sitting out. Bad policy imo.. but.. what else are bored people gonna do?

What I don’t understand is.. instead of Blizzard jumping through all of these hoops with the Raid IDs and coming up with all this crazy stuff. Why not just have the raid instances scale up or down based off of how many people you have?

10 people = 10m difficulty

14 people = 10m difficulty scaled up a tad

25 people = 25m difficulty

23 people = 25m scaled back a little

..you get the idea I think. This seems more easier to me than what they’re doing. Surely it’s not an easy task, but I don’t think it requires too much more work than what they are doing now.

I guess what I’m saying is.. make a raid just that. A raid. Minimum 10 players, max 25. Have the instance(and loot) scale off the number of people you bring in. There is quite a many games that use (or have used) some sort of auto-scaling (or manual scaling) for their instances. It’s worked out pretty well for them. Why wouldn’t it work in Azeroth?

The last thing I would like to touch on is the happenings with rated Battlegrounds. I’m no PvP’er.. but even I notice that not many people make pre-mades anymore. Or if they do, teamwork is usually pretty scarce. I like teamwork. If there was more of it in BGs I would enjoy them a lot more. Thats why I like the idea of making a BG team.. it sounds awesome and maybe.. just maybe.. it will turn my view of WoW PvP around.

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Let’s move along now, shall we?

June 10, 2010

Over the past few years, how many AAA MMO titles have we seen get hyped up, release, and shed 50%+ of its population within the first few months? 3? 5? I’m sure there is more to come as well.

I think first it started off as everyone trying to tackle Blizzard, or at least get a chunk of their cake. Games like LotRO, and WAR that were marketed by the eagerly waiting players as “the next WoW killer.”

After that I think companies started backing down to the almighty Blizzard, and decided to not shoot for 10 million subscriptions and would be happy to settle with 1 million. But even that didn’t seem to help, with games like Aion, Champions Online, and Star Trek Online.. all of which have pretty much bombed almost into the “life support” category. (In Aion’s case.. in the US/EU)

So what does a company who wants to design a AAA MMO title have to do to have a successful launch and retain it’s players after the initial flood?

There is a few things I can think of. I’m not too familiar with the development process on the inside of a studio, things like Publisher pressure and deadlines can really screw up an MMO. But that’s about all I really know about what goes on internally. To possibly gain a bit more insight I’ve emailed Brian “Psychochild” Green, online game designer and blogger and asked him to chime in on this post if he has anything to add.

Back to what I think Dev studios could do in order to make the Dev process, testing, launch and post-launch go smoother.

Shrink it!

Most AAA MMO titles feature a large world. Multiple continents, large zones and etcetera. But why does it have to start out large? Maybe the bigger companies can learn a lesson from the indie F2P developers and make your world smaller at first, but have speedy development rotations on adding new content. We all want a bigger world sure, but.. would you rather have a huge world with all sorts of problems in it, or a smaller world with drastically less problems, evolving into a bigger world with time. Vanguard is a great example of what not to do here. The world was beautiful, and enormous. And empty. Not just void of players, but even the wilderness didn’t feel very wild.

Along with shrinking your world, I never quite understood why these MMO’s ship with 15+ servers. Big worlds and tons of servers are great if you’re Blizzard. But not if you’re anybody else. The dreaded server merge announcements that we see doesn’t mean that the game is dying exactly, but anytime one is announced the doomsayers come out of their holes. Usually server merging is a sign of a slowly dying MMO, or at least one that isn’t going to be picking up steam.

So, how about trying something different for once. Start with the minimum amount of servers, and if your game grows, add more. The problem with that idea is usually launch is when you have the highest populations, thus needing the extra servers. My take on server merging is that it’s better done sooner rather than later. If you launch your game and see 500k subs the first month, but at the 3rd month mark you’re down to 400k, it might be time to start thinking about server merging. There is nothing worse than the post-launch exodus that is bound to happen, and then feeling like your left with an empty server. That’s just going to push more players away.

As your game gets older I think watching your servers is important, and knowing when to time server merges before the problem gets too bad. Take EQ2 for example. It does have a healthy population, though the majority of the community are at the top end of the game. EQ2 has had 2 rounds(or maybe just 1, I can’t recall) of server merges in the past, and in this guys opinion.. is well overdue for another. I’d go as far as to say EQ2 needs to drop down to about 8 servers total. 3 normal servers, 1 bazaar server, 1 pvp server, 2 EU servers (I don’t know what the EU population of EQ2 is like), and a RP server. If you’re starting fresh in EQ2 with no friends, it is a very, very silent and quiet game. Very lonely. Not good if you’re trying to attract new customers.

But if EVE online can have 1 server with its healthy subscriber base, why can’t other games? Yeah.. EVE is a special case because it fills a specific niche, but it’s still something to be thought about.

Target Audience?

I think it may be safe to say now that trying to market your MMO to every player type doesn’t work that well. Blizzard was able to pull it off I think because of their timing. Every MMO to come out since that’s tried this has not reached the goals they originally set for themselves and their game. I think if you build your game towards a certain niche of players and stay there, maybe adding on other features later on, you would end up with a smaller population, but a much more stable one. EVE Online does this pretty well as do a few other niche titles.

Are you trying to attract new-to-the-genre players? Harcores? Casuals? PvP, PvE? Social aspects?

Scale?

I never understood why the bigger MMO companies are drawn to making a game capable of supporting millions of people, only to have it flop after release for x reason. Instead of doing that why not set a lower target for your populations. How about 500k instead of 1 million?

I would think that once you set a goal for your customer base, it would make it must easier to design the rest of the game’s size, how many servers you’ll need, and what features you can or can’t use. Also, it would give your publisher a better idea. (Or maybe the publisher is the one who dictates what the target customer pool size will be *shrug*)

Deadlines

Now.. I’m fairly certain that deadlines are set by whoever is funding the project, which is usually the publisher. If publishers used their heads a little bit, and gave the Developer the time that they actually need, we would probably see less MMO’s fall into the sub-200k club.

Then you have the option of “self-publishing.” Which is what Cryptic studio’s original intent was. Looking back over the course of the development of Champions Online, things seemed to be going very well until Atari showed up. You would also have to have the money to back yourself. Not an easy thing to come up with hehe.

What’s worse is when something like that happens, it’s usually the Dev house that gets all the negative press, not so much the publisher. When I first played Champions Online, I was sorely disappointed. Nay. I was pissed. At Cryptic. Even though I knew the game shipped the way it did because Atari shoved it out their doors. Ok.. I don’t know that for a fact, but that’s what the speculation is.

The same thing happened to Vanguard. All was going well (so we think) up until Sony was announced to be the new publisher. Which was right around open beta if I remember right. Then all of a sudden, the game was on store shelves. Oh the cries of the fanboi’s (myself included)

What else could a AAA MMO company could do for itself to ensure the game’s success? Aside from the obvious answer of “make a good game”

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My armor smells of onions and cheese

June 7, 2010

The look of your avatar can sometimes have an impact on how you feel about your avatar. Say you’re wearing a full Tier set (pick your favorite), and you just so happen to find an upgrade for one of those slots. Sure you equip it because it’s better, but part of you doesn’t want it because it will throw off your “style”

Doing some dungeons with guildies last night this was mentioned, and well… we couldn’t figure out why Blizzard wont put something like an appearance window in the game.

Then this morning there was someone asking about the armor textures in The Queue at wow.com. The question was basically why we have all these crazy looking armors, and if there is any chance Blizzard would implement items that don’t have completely “out-there” models, but are still Epic quality. Alex Ziebart responds..

“No, probably not. The Warcraft aesthetic is all about those huge shoulders, the random spikes, the intricate little decorations on each pauldron. In Azeroth, bigger is better. Bigger is much better. Having that massive gear is prestigious. The stripped-down gear is for nameless schmucks that haven’t fought a proper battle in their lives.

If you’re looking for a simpler aesthetic, you’re really better off looking at a different game. I don’t mean that in a rude or smug way in the slightest. It just isn’t Blizzard’s style. It definitely isn’t Warcraft‘s style.”

What a way to answer the question. A flat-out no. While, yes, it’s Blizzard’s style to go for crazy shoulders and items that just look outrageous. It’s obviously not the only style, otherwise why would they have normal looking weapons and armor as you level up, or even grey/green items at level 80 as the player asking the question stated.

Since Massively(wow.com) is probably one of the most read blog/news sites for MMOs. Instead of just answering a question by saying “No way” or “Go find another game” To me… that’s just not productive at all. I wonder if the reader who asked the question wanted to throat-punch Alex when he/she read the article. I would have.

Yes, Alex has a point. But, instead of stopping there why not offer up an example of how it could be changed. Since it is the big news site, has a ton of readers of all walks of WoW life, and Blizzard employees probably pay attention to it as well. Offering up a change, new feature, or even just opinions could possibly sway the almighty Blizzard to.. change something.

Not the armor models, keep going with the “Blizzard” style. Whatever fits the expansion. Throughout WotLK there have been people who really like the armor design, and people who really don’t. As I say a lot, why not just give the option?

Unlike with talents (which I spoke of earlier today), if you’re wearing no gear, chances of you leveling all the way to 80 are laughable. There is no choice right now except to either equip, or not equip the piece. As with most everything in the MMO world.. someone’s already perfected a design option. Appearance slots.

If you played Everquest post-PoP, chances are you remember armor dyes being implemented. A very cool feature.. except they gave you a photoshop style color pallet to choose from. Which is actually awesome, until you run into an Ogre Warrior who decided he wanted to dye every piece of his armor a different, vibrant color. Rainbow Ogres.. *shudder*

Then EQ2 implemented the Appearance window. Basically it was just an extra inventory window. When you put a piece of armor in one of the slots, it didn’t matter what you were really wearing. The item in the appearance slot is what showed on your avatar. Though you kept all the stats from the armor you’re “actually” wearing. There is NO downside to doing this. It doesn’t change the game, it doesn’t appeal to the casual player base more than the hardcore player base, or PvP vs. PvE. Other games have adopted this as well. Why not WoW?

While doing some quests in classic zones this weekend, and an MC run for fun, I realized that there are quite a few items that I would prefer to be wearing. Then I looked in my bank, and found that I’m quite the packrat. I hold on to gear that I think looks neat just in case I get bored and want to play dress up.

Blizzard gave us the dressing room, which was a very nice feature. They also gave us various clothes to wear, like the Tuxedo suit. So it’s not SO far out there that they shouldn’t think about adding a way for players to customize what they wear, without effecting stats. If anything, this would be more awesome because it gives the game more of a variety.

When I stand next to another Dwarf Paladin in Dalaran, there’s very little difference visually. If we had a way to change our armor without gimping ourselves, we’d all have a bit more of a unique look.

I’d stray away from adding weapons into the appearance slots though, as a Warrior holding the Chalice from TotC-25, and beating the crap outta mobs with it would look pretty silly. But armor customization is;

1) not terribly difficult to implement.

2) would make players feel more unique

3) would create something else to do in the game (go hunting for gear you think looks awesome!)

4) something that I think the WoW community would appreciate

Is your T10 gear getting that “battle-funk” smell? Or, do you have some T6 sitting in the bank that you just think looks awesome and wish you could still wear it? This would solve those two issues.

Hell, Blizzard probably wouldn’t even have to do much. Write the code to enable the feature and let the Addon community take care of the rest. It couldn’t seriously take that much time. EQ2 was able to push it out within 1 patch cycle… and they have far less resources than Blizzard.

Side-note : *sigh* a simple post turned into a book.

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Please just stop already!!! (Pt. 3)

June 5, 2010

Today I said I was going to take you on a text-walkthrough of my rendition of PvE Arenas. So let’s get to it and hope I can keep this post under 1000 words.

Everyone say hello to our imaginary Rogue, Wunderbutts. He will be doing solo arena today on normal difficulty. He is currently wearing all ICC gear and his GS is 62 million. That means shit poop here.

This is not his first time in this Arena. His promoter’s are the Stormwind Lumberjack’s Union (?) and he is just a few points away from hitting Exalted with them. Hop to!

As he enters the arena he sees his first opponents for the day. A group of 5 non-elite Nagas. 3 warrior types and 2 of those evil caster ones that do that big blue circle explosion thingy on the ground. Zangarmarsh, ugh.

Wunderbutts scoffs at the group and charges in, dispatching the foes quickly as he is a skilled (i.e. non-tard) Rogue.

Next up is a single baddie. Doesn’t look too tough, an Ogre Shaman. Haha.. stunlock beoch!

What’s this? Icehowl had babies?!? Yep, Wunderbutts has just discovered Icehowl is asexual. Let’s deal with these 3 babies before they grow into something mean! Evasion go! /charge

Wunderbutt’s looks confused though, as the babies seem to have the majority of big daddy Icehowl’s abilities. Including that stomp/charge. How is Wunderbutts going to deal with all that charging? Skill, that’s how. Pure keyboard acrobatics. and maybe a little help from Sprint.

Ok, whew, they’re dead now. Another trash pack up next. This time they are elites though. Time for some fun! As the pack of stupid elite kobolds walks through the gates Wunderbutt’s takes Stealth. At least SOME thought is going to have to go into this fight he thinks. While making clever use of some CC’s and switching up poisons a little bit he is still finding it hard to take down this group. As one of the little terd geomancers lets loose a Fireball, our Rogue hears a chime letting him know his limit break is ready. He has already met his requirement to dodge 100 attacks, and his ability is off of cooldown. This one however requires Stealth to perform. VANISH! BUTTONSMASH! *amazed* Wunderbutts explodes into a dance of sharp things. 300% movement speed increase, 100% dodge, and a 5 second “Blade Storm” type ability. Only the character retains movement. At 300% movement speed and 5 seconds of whirling death most of the little kobold terds are done for. The rest is just mopping up.

So.. wtf is next? We can’t see anything but Wunderbutts covered in Kobold blood and breathing heavily. But we still have 6 rounds to go! Wait a minute. Wtf is that purple sh–… omfg. It’s Edwin VanCleef and he just sapped Wunderbutts! Roflcopter. This should make for a good 1v1 fight hehe. VC is elite, so he’s not going to be easy and a lot of Wunderbutts abilities are on Cooldown. As it turns out VC is beating the snot out of our friend. He’s at a healthy 70% health and our heroic Rogue is merely scratching by with 35% health left, and he already used the Kidney Shot>Bandage combo. It’s not looking good for Wunderbutts. Lucky for him he was smart and used some of his points to buy special toys. As he glugs down a “Back in the Fight” potion (40s cooldown), he’s brought back to full health, full energy, cooldowns refreshed and even has a HoT ticking on him!!

The fights continue in this fashion. Requiring more skill, smarts and planning than great gear. All the while our Rogue is collecting points, rep and stunning us with his killer moves.

Finally, Wunderbutts.. battle-weary comes up against his final opponent for the day. Oh em gee, it’s Grobbulous from Naxx! The last fight of the day gets a healthy pause to introduce the final match. (3 minutes) Wunderbutts is coming up with a strategy. He knows this guy’s moves, knows them well in fact. But without9/24 of his buddies to back him up is kinda wondering how he will beat this fat tub of lard. 3…2…1… FIGHT!

Wunderbutts decides to take the defensive stance at first and let Grobb come to him. This Rogue is no tank though, and the fat mutant bitch slaps our rogue for nearly 15% of his total health.. in one hit!

Vanish! Now we know how hard this bastard hits.. it’s lucky Wunderbutts stocked up on Gladiator Potions before coming in (Heals 20k hp, 10 second cool-down). Back into the fight! Wunderbutts, fighting for his life, burning all cooldowns he’s got and chuggin health potions like the town drunkard chugs the whiskey. And he’s barely putting a dent in the tubby golem.

Wunderbutt’s is running out of options. He’s used his last “Back in the fight” potion, and he’s only got 5 Gladiator potions left. He’s managed to get Grobby down to 30% health by using the common tactics he learned in Naxx. Kiting him around the Arena. But what about the goo you say? Since its Solo mode there is only 1 goo being spawned, Wunderbutts just tabs over and continues. And how about the gas rings left by players who get diseased? Since Wunderbutts is only 1 person, he gets hit with it every time. But it’s negated since he’s already kiting Grobby. Our smart Rogue used his previous experience, combined with knowledge of his class and some of his own finesse to adjust the strategy of the fight to work for him. And now he hears a fun noise. That’s right, it’s “limit break” time! This particular ability is more geared towards single targets and boss fights, as every class would get 1 limit break for AE situations and 1 limit break for single target/Boss situations. Though our Rogue is not limited to just using one.. if conditions are met for both, he can use both.

For this ability the conditions were take 400k damage, deal 800k damage, and dodge 72 attacks. BUTTON SMASH! and now Wunderbutts is “chargin his lazor”. He dissapears from sight, both of Grobby, and us spectators.

A yell from one of the NPC spectators (what you don’t think they wanna see a good show?) indicates for everyone to look up! As you move your camera towards the rafters you see our lovely Wunderbutts take a leap from the rafters.. or fall outta the sky.. or something. But he looks pissed, his entire body glowing red. He thrusts his blades downwards into Grob’s back for a massive double-crit 157k points of damage. That took a whole 10% from the fatty! But Wunderbutt’s not finished, no way. That ability gave him a 200% attack speed increase, and half energy cost on all abilities for 15 seconds! He’s tearing this fat piece of gaseous crap down! The NPCs are hootin’ an’ hollerin’ as it comes down to the final few seconds of the fight. Wunder and Grob going blow for blow at each other. Face to face, no more potions to rely on. Butts throws everything he’s got! Another slime spawns.. no time for fighting this one. Here’s some dirt in your eye Mr. Goo, now your blind, go run around for 6 seconds while I finish killing this cow. And with the final strike Grobby falls to the floor in defeat. The representative from the Stormwind Lumberjack’s Union comes to greet our Rogue and announces that he has reached full Gladiator status. (Which happily comes with a package of PvE arena consumables, and a tabard)

Now that Wunderbutt’s has hit Exalted with his promoters, they offer him a quest. One that will take him to higher challenges in the arena’s, and possibly elsewhere.. to what end, what purpose? *shrug*

Ok, does that not sound like it would be fun? Sure there are mechanical, and balance issues out the yazoo. But it’s not something that’s going to be implemented anyways. It’s just an idea.. a stolen idea at that! But why can’t we have things *LIKE* this? Hell.. me personally.. I would pay extra for something like this.

As of now we have 2 PvP facets in the game, and only 1 PvE (unless you count questing/levelling, which I don’t) Something like this would just bring another option for us strict PvE’ers. I’m sure the PvP crowd would go nuts if they read this paragraph saying that PvE doesn’t need any MORE stuff. Hah.. crazy PvPers go play DFO nubs.

Also, just to tack this on at the end because I forgot to put it in two posts ago. In the Duo/5man versions you could also design group “limit breaks.” Pretty sure not much explanation is needed for this. It’d be cool. Other MMOs have things like it.. EQ2 and LotRO just for two examples.

Anyways, if you could withstand reading all of this 3 part post I thank you for your time and any comments are great! If you didn’t like the read, or the idea.. good thing it was just an idea right? And you never, ever have to come back to this blog again lol… but seriously. Please stay? : )

~dorf

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Oh god what is he suggesting (Pt. 2)

June 4, 2010

So yesterday I talked about “my” PvE Arena idea and stopped myself before I rambled on too much. I try to keep to specifics and not “overflow” my writings, but.. I’m not a writer. So, deal with it! Just kidding, I’d like to keep whatever readers I can get, so I will try to make my writing more sensible. It’s not something that’s going to come over night though ; ) On to the good stuff!..

We’ve already gone over the basic outline on the PvE Arena. Let’s dive into some specifics and analyze. First off, and I’m sure what most would be concerned about is how would this effect the game as a whole? The answer.. very little. Even less than PvP Arenas have. There would be no gear rewards, nothing that you could use in normal PvE combat, and nothing that would give you any sort of advantage over the current PvE content. Everything attained by the “PvE Arena Currency” is merely for show or use inside of the Arena.

“But you said this would add another form of progression to the game?!”

Yes, I did. By having different modes and difficulties you inherently create progression content. The key is giving the players motivation to progress, and since every players motivation is different, it makes it rather challenging. So, what are the carrots?

– Titles, achievements, pets, mounts, tabards. These are good carrots for some people, and we all know how much Blizzard loves to add new pets and mounts to the game. It’s not enough for some though, what else?

– Rankings! Just like PvP Arena. Of course here it’s nothing more than an epeen booster. But.. some people love any way they can inflate their epeen.

– New/Different abilities. For use in PvE arena only. I could type out 3 paragraphs explaining what I mean by this, or I could just say two words. Limit break. How neat would it be if your had (for example) an ability on a 3 min CD AND minimum damage taken cooldown (ooooh something new??) More on this towards the end.

– The last carrot I can think of at the moment (aside from crazy fun!) is possibly once you attain the higher(est?) ranks of Gladitory combat your promoter will offer you an Epic questline (oooh?) This epic questline has nothing to do with Raiding, though it does go outside of the PvE arena. Mostly a Solo-5 Man quest, but not easy. Very long and will take a while to complete. Rewards a special title and possibly a Legendary, yes, even for use outside of the PvE Arena. (Can’t make it TOO special though or the Hardcore raiders would have a mental breakdown)

Ok.. enough carrots. Next.

Spectator mode! Yeah, that’s something new new (I think). If you’re heading into the PvE Arenas to show off your skills, you can invite your pals to come sit in the bleachers and watch. Or maybe you’re trying to give the new recruit in the guild tips, instead of just telling him. Let him watch! Or, take them in as a Duo and teach! This spectator-ship would be by invite only, and have a limit of 10 players (lets not try to kill Blizzards instance servers) Spectators would be able to talk, so they can cheer you on, give you tips.. or just be general asses hehe.

“Okay.. and what about all the classes? Rogues can’t tank a boss for long, and what would a Healer do if he went in solo? You did say this was supposed to be for everyone”

This is where things get a bit harder. Without changing all the class mechanics completely for PvE Arena (which Blizzard already stated they wouldn’t do for PvE/PvP, so they wouldn’t do it for this either)

With the randomness of the encounters there is no way to ensure that class a doesn’t have any advantage over class b. Some classes rely on gear to do their jobs more than others. While some simply just don’t have the ability to solo as well as others. We don’t want to give an advantage to the Rogues over the Priests.. as prestige and prizes are the carrots. If all the Rogues were able to do it faster and better than the Priests.. watch out Blizzard forums!

There are two ways I can think of that could work around this. A) Have the solo “bracket” divided up amongst the 3 archetypes. Basically.. an Arena for tanks, one for Healers, and one for DPS. Remove some encounters from the “random” list that a particular archetype just wont be able to defeat. There are two problems with this option though. It’s alot of work for Blizzard to do that, and.. as we can imagine the DPS “bracket” would probably be the most interesting.

The second idea B) design the “limit breaks” around the classes weaknesses. Let’s get an example for each archetype.

– Tanks : You could have limit breaks on shorter CDs, but with higher “Incoming damage” requirements. Something like this… 1 min CD, requires 20k Damage taken before able to be used. Once used, completely heals the  tank and give him a 20 second “Super-heroism” like buff. +haste, +damage, +defensive skills. At the end of the 20 seconds of “Super-heroism” the tank leaps high into the air and crashes down into the dirt of the Arena creating a shockwave damaging all enemies in the arena, stunning them for 2 seconds and dazing them for 10 seconds. Okay.. that sounds like one that would be fitting for Warrior tanks. A super flashy-cool version of Thunderstomp.

-Healers : This is a harder one to deal with because the damage output is lower than even the tanks, for most healers. But, even still, with some creativeness you can come up with a way for this to work. One thing about Healers is they can stay up for quite a while. So let’s play to that strength. For this “Limit break” we’ll go with 30s cooldown, requires 10k damage healed and 30k damage taken. When activated the Priest levitates off of the ground, and gains a “super shield” around them (make it look cool). 10 second duration, all damage the Priest absorbs while levitating is stored and released after the super bubble duration is complete. Also, upon explosion of holy-sauce has a 50% chance to make a random mob of the encounter a combat pet for the duration of the encounter or until it dies. Only 1 “pet” can be controlled at a time. If there is only 1 mob you will not get a pet, but the mob will get a 200% attack speed debuff for 15 seconds. If there is 2 mobs, they will gain debuff “Holy Confusion”, and square off against each other for 10 seconds.

– DPS : Since DPS classes obviously have the damage and killing speed advantage, the abilities given to them must be weighed properly as well. For this, lets use a Mage as an example. 3 min CD, requires 20k damage done, a minimum of 1k damage taken and maximum of 10k damage taken (meaning once you take more than 10k damage the ability is rendered not-useable) Upon use of this ability the Mage gains “Mana form”, Damage taken decreased by 70%,  movement speed slowed by 30%, and allows the Mage to take flight. This lasts for 5 seconds. During this time the Mage can “queue” up to 12 spells. Maximum – 4 Fire spells, 4 Frost spells, and 4 Arcane spells. Can queue spells while on the move. No GCD. When the 5 seconds is up the Mage releases all 12 spells at once, mana and cast time free. After the Mage uses this ‘limit break’ he is in a weakened state for 10 seconds. Suffers a 10% damage debuff, but gains a 80% Dodge rating.

Whew.. looks like this is gonna be a three-parter. Remember, these are just rough examples I came up with off the top of my head.. I’m sure REAL game designers could come up with much better things.

So for tomorrow’s post I will give you a rundown on how a standard PvE Arena run would work.

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Why does it always have to be about the shinies?

June 3, 2010

Over my long’ish zombie weekend, I am feeling a bit better and actually had enough brain power to come up with an idea. Well.. not really MY idea, but just like everything in the gaming industry.. sniping features and ideas from other games is not frowned upon.

So, there I was, plodding along in lowbie zones working on Loremaster (ugh) I figured.. I’d rather be punching small children than doing this. So I fired up the laptop and decided to multi-task a bit.

After a bit of web-surfing and a few episodes of The Twilight Zone, I got my brain tickin.

If Blizzard’s goal is to appeal to all of it’s players, and give everyone something to do. How come they’ve never tried implementing some sort of PvE Arenas?

WHOA WHOA..

Hold on. PvE Arenas? People have mentioned that before and it does not sound like a good idea.

Yep, you’re right. But read my version of how I would implement it into Azeroth. You may just say.. “Hey, that is neat!” or I’m way off.. whatever. Here we go.

PvE Arena

Step into the Arena. Prove yourself as a Gladiator in the pit against monsters found from even the darkest, deepest holes of Azeroth! We’ve built the Crusader’s Collesium, but now that the Lich King has been defeated, it has no purpose. Or does it? Prove your skill, see if you have what it takes to become a Champion. (blah blah onto the details)

– 3 Ways to play; Solo, Duo, 5 man. Each scaling difficulties to meet the group makeup.

– Gear doesn’t matter. You (and your group) are automatically scaled to a “baseline” level of ability.

– Completely separate sphere of gameplay from PvE, PvP, and/or Arena. available to players starting at level 40. Rewards scale based on level (for example, if you win the Arena at level 40, you get 50 “points” at level 80 you would get 150 “points”

– 3 new factions, choose your promoter!! With rewards and utility items to purchase.

– “Point” accumulation. Jump into battle, win over the crowds, please your promoters. You’ll get a special sort of income to do all kinds of things with. For example.. buying abilities (just 1 or 2 per class or spec) only available for use in these Arenas. Pets, Tabards, Consumables (PvE Arena only), Mounts. Etc… nothing would be available here that would effect any other sphere of gameplay (with the exception being Achievements)

– Have teams just like PvP Arena. Are you the wayward fighter just looking to make a name for himself or do you have allies ready to face any challenge thrown at them?

Now, the way this works. If you’ve played Final Fantasy 7 before, or perhaps even EQ2’s Splitpaw Saga adventure pack you know where I am getting these ideas from. Basically.. take Battle Arena, tweak it a bit, and throw it in WoW.

10 Rounds, 3 Difficulties, 2 modes. Break that down a little further for you..

10 Rounds – You(and your peeps) enter the Arena, you will face 10 waves of monsters found in Azeroth. Anything from Trash, to mini-bosses, to bosses from previous instances, and the ability to add new bosses if Blizzard so chose. Everything is scaled to your level/ability as previously mentioned.

3 difficulties – Easy, Normal, Hard (call it whatever) rewards scale based off of difficulty. Achievements and Titles placed accordingly.

2 modes – First mode is obvious. Kill everything. Second mode is what I like to call “Endurance” mode. Screw 10 waves, you’re going until you A) Lose or B ) Call it quits. This could be expanded on a lot, developing other “modes” to challenge your players.

Important notes :

Mobs are mostly random. Anything from kobolds to Sapphron. Of course you wouldn’t actually be fighting the famed Bosses. Just models, with similar tactics, scaled to “Arena” specs. Sometimes you’ll fight a copy of a Murloc Tidewalker, or teams of Kobolds, or scaled up versions of Hogger by himself.

Bosses would keep as much mechanics from the original fights as possible based on the scale (Solo, Duo, Group)

There is multiple goals for this system. Giving players more options for content is never a bad thing. Giving the solo/duo something specifically for them (besides quest grinding and PvP which isn’t specifically for them, except PvP arenas.) To show off your skill rather than your gearscore. And finally and possibly most importantly.. Training. I’ve seen a number of people talk about how to introduce people into Raiding and how difficult it can be. Given the option to hone their skills in a more controlled environment could ease them into real raiding much better.

Don’t get me wrong though, this is not just a training ground for raids. Everything would be mostly random, and you wouldn’t be picking your encounters. This is a separate aspect of the game, something new to progress through. And yes, you could actually form progression from this. If Blizzard dangled the proper carrots in front of our faces. Problem with that is the carrot changes based on the person. I personally like chasing titles, while other people only care about loot, or companion pets.. etc.

As my word count tells me I’m approaching a thousand, I’m going to back off for today and make a part 2 of this post for tomorrow. I don’t want to kill you with a wall of text and I apologize if you are now blind, or somehow slightly less intelligent for reading this.

TL;DR – PvE Arenas, small-scale raids with no gear rewards, but many other rewards. Cont’d tomorrow.

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You bring the spice, I’ll bring the womprat.

May 28, 2010

At what point does a simple cookout become a full fledged feast? 3 people? 5 people? 20 people? Who can say. I would say that a “feast” doesn’t require quantity of people, but quality of the party. And of course good food.

And now you may be going.. eh? Whats your point?

Bioware is climbing the development ladder with Star Wars: TOR. I’ll spare the details about the game. If you haven’t heard about it then maybe you’ve been living under a rock. Or in Guam. If you have heard about it, I’m sure you have drawn some sort of feelings toward the game. Anything ranging from “Total crap” to “omgpeemyself” Most of us are aware of Bioware’s track record making AMAZING video games like Baldur’s Gate and Knights of the Old Republic. We also know they LOVE to focus on in-depth story arcs and well done cutscenes. But with all the information we have of the game so far, does it really seem like it’s going to be what all the hype is making it to be?

Syncaine over at Hardcore Casual brings up some very good points about the game and it’s relation to an MMO.

How many times have you loaded up a single player game to farm one mob/area for a few hours? How many WEEKS have you spent in the same instance/zone/spawn camp in an MMO?

You can read the entire 2 part post at the link above. I thought it was an amazing read that brings up some great points on what it means to be a MMO, and also what is possibly in store for Bioware, and us players when SWTOR finally hits shelves.

Syncaine analyzes an MMO vs. a Single player game since Bioware is blurring the lines quite a bit with the largely important (and mostly soloable) storylines. He brings up the fact that most single player games offer up on average 40 hours of gameplay. Possibly some DLC later on. Where as MMO’s can give you much more entertainment, both for your time and money.

So far we have not seen, nor heard any news on any type of large scale grouping in SWTOR. They have not touched on if there will be raids or not. The group combat videos we’ve seen have been mostly just a pair of players in instances. The game is highly soloable, and you’ll have companions to help you do your biddings.

The game is being made with the premise that everyone can be the hero, and everyone gets there own major storyline. How much that storyline will differ between characters is yet to be revealed.

Age of Conan did similar with it’s Destiny Quests. From what I’ve gathered about TOR is YOUR quest is going to be 10x more epic than the DQ’s in AoC. I wouldn’t doubt it either. It’s frikken Bioware.

But how long could they possibly make the story? How long will it be before you’ve gone through it? What happens when you’re finished? How about replay value. How much is the storyline of the Smuggler going to be like the story for the Bounty Hunter? My guess is pretty different. It’s Bioware.

Yet still, story does not completely drive MMO players. Some ignore it completely, only playing for mechanics or.. whatever other reason. TOR will have to have great systems in place to retain players.

Or, as Syncaine suggests, maybe Bioware is trying to tap into a different part of the MMO-niche pool.

I can’t say either way really. I do think SWTOR wont be the game for me. But as far as it’s own success *shrug* I’m sure it will sell millions on release.. like every hyped up MMO, but can they hold their subs?

Anyway. I highly suggest you take a read over at Hardcore Casual for a more in-depth explanation as to why Syncaine thinks SWTOR will make for a terrible MMO.

~dorf