Monthly Archives: February 2012

Vision of a new Encounter Paradigm – Repost/Update

Since this blog was about as heavily effected by the server FUBAR that occurred when had issues most of my posts lost the pictures associated with them.  This was unfortunate and given my limited readership restoring or messing with any of the posts I was able to salvage was not a high priority.  Making sure Lissanna’s blog was up and running well was first priority.

With the WoW-Insider linkage about the Pandaren mount I have decided to go and update the images to I think one of my better posts.

Visions of a new Encounter Paradigm

I am in some ways a hardcore player as in I dive into the mechanics of the game and many of the systems.  I am also casual because I find most raiding environments to be annoying, because reflex and dancing challenges I don’t find interesting.  These 2 encounter components are the major way that game designers have decided to make encounter complex and difficult.  So I find my self running dungeons most of the time and or leveling alts.

Anyway I hope some may find he Paradigm described in my prior post interesting.  I know parts of it have been bubbling around the blog-o-sphere for a long time now.

Posted in Game Mechanics, System Mechanics, World of Warcraft

Pandaren Mount – My 2 Copper

This will be short and simple.

I think the Pandaren Mount should be a small 2 wheeled cart pulled by a donkey/mule and on the cart is a large keg of brew and the Pandaren or any of the other races ride on top of the brew keg.

I contacted a friend that is an artist and got them to sketch up the image below.

Ginny Higerd /

Panda on Keg on Cart pulled by Beast

So this post got a little messed up, not sure why it lost many of the edits I made, I think some of the Jetpack features were acting up.  Anyway the change of a Donkey/Mule to the Ram/Yak like creature from the starting zone above was suggested by Ginny and I thought was a better idea since it seems like it will be a creature found in Pandaria or at least the Pandaren start zone.

Additionally I think even if this was not the Pandaren mount it would be cool as a special mount, maybe even a new Brewfest mount that is bought with tokens, Not the Random Drop PoS system we have now for Brewfest mounts.  The cool think would be that the Beast of Burden changes based upon race of the character riding it.  It would be replaced with the racial mount of the character.  Even cooler would be to make it a special 2 part mount that you select which mount you already own pulls the Keg.


Updates after WoW Insider linkage, the artist Ginny wanted to update the design a bit with these 2 pictures. These are thumbnails linking to her picture postings of them.

Also either there will be a Yak mount of some kind in MoP or we are getting Pony Trolled ala GC via this one tweet.
@mahoumelonball @blizzardcs @warcraft @malchomemog Have we shown off the yak mounts already? Cause that’s crazy close. Good job!
Posted in World of Warcraft

Remove Int Leather, Mail, Plate and Spirit Gear

I saw the below thread on MMO-Champion’s Blue Tracker and it I something I have thought about for a long time, especially with the addition of Monks in MoP.

I was honestly stumped on the issue until recently.  What changed you ask?  I started to play Star Wars and concepts I had thought were set in stone were changed, different and worked in The Old Republic.

What is different for those that don’t play ToR?   Well simply there is only 1 healing class that uses anything like Mana, that is the Jedi Sage healing spec, with mana being Force.  I will state now that I think one of the biggest design mistakes still in World of Warcraft given what has been said is coming in MoP is the reliance on Mana as a resource system.  Hell look at Diablo 3 even and yes we have Mana/Arcane Power like systems but then they get modified to be a little different from each other.

In ToR the Smuggler healing spec heals and has mechanics like a Rogue it was when I was healing my companion with a smuggler that I saw the realm of possibilities open up and how Blizzard has been gimping themselves for so long being tied to Mana, Mana, Mana like EQ.  I realize with how behind every project at Blizzard seems to be at the moment that this change will most likely not occur until the expansion after MoP if ever but there are many other and some better ways that Blizzard could do core mechanics and stats.

Additionally I think a new base stat would need to be added to the mix but maybe not at first.

We would then have the following for Primary stats.

Strength Plate – Warrior, Death Knight, Paladin

Agility Mail – Hunter, Shaman

Agility Leather – Rogue, Druid, Monk

Int Cloth – Mage, Warlock, Priest

The shared slots like Rings, Necks, Cloaks and Trinkets would then only have secondary stats on them and could then be more role specific not class specific.

By making the gear system simpler it also allows greater control over tuning of each spec and over all power balance across classes within a role.  Resto Druids a little behind on the overall Healing output, just tune the Agility to Healing Power Ratio slightly.  The same would be for any of the other healing classes in the Primary Ability to Spell/Healing Power conversion Ratios.  Additionally like melee classes have primary -> Attack Power everything in the end should be based on the Healing, Spell, Melee, Ranged Power and not to the Primary Stats on the character or Weapon.

I have already ranted a bit about my annoyance of using weapon damage ranges and not the universal DPS figure that already takes swing speed into account.

Posted in Game Mechanics, System Mechanics, World of Warcraft

WoW Metaverse Convergence

Well at least we should all hope so.

Mentioned by myself and others recently, me here, by Cynwise here, and by Fannon here, what World of Warcraft and actually all the current generation of MMOs need to do is Converge/Merge their servers in to Environment Settings and not as individual shards.

What this means and why we need it sooner than later.

Take the list of realms for World of Warcraft at the very least all of the PvE servers that are EST should be one logical server, ideally all PvE servers within a region should be 1 super server but to allow for latency issues if the company does have multiple timezone data centers then I could understand grouping only the ones in a particular physical location.   So at the very least all PvE, PvP, RP-PvE and RP-PvP servers should be grouped with like setting servers within a specific data center so that each grouped server would act like what Elune, Sentinels, Cenarion Circle, Farstriders, Proudmore are today.

Why do we need this now or very very “soon” since soon for Blizzard still equals about 6-12 months, and has not actual relation to the meaning of the word soon.  Because if we do not get this or something like it every system in the game will need to be centric and add layers of complexity for no good reason.

What systems am I referring, since the LFG, LFR, and BG queuing are already mostly that way, and when we get the gamer tag real id then mostly everything will be that way already.  Well yes that is correct and exactly the reason we just need to move to the next paradigm and not screw around.  There are 2 other major systems that will not be this way one really important to the solo/casual players especially the market oriented players, the Auction House for one.  A multi-realm AH would be fascinating and would help resolve availability issues of resources and crafted items for both high and low population servers.

The real 1000kg gorilla standing in the corner and is the corner stone for the in game social environment Guilds would sill be server specific unless they are completely changed as well.  If Guilds do not get the make over like LFR,LFG,BGs then it really going to continue to be painful for guilds of any size to recruit.  Ideally membership to a guild should actually be at the level and not the character level.  Then you also set it up such that it is a many to many relationship between Players and guilds so that the account is not limited to one guild.  And then with the guilds and the players being cross realm enabled through real id the next logical step is server unification around environment.

I would rather see the server unification first than all of the halfway steps but I know that realistically what we have here is a 18-24 month development cycle on just these features alone.

Oh and by the way yes the same thing could be done for Star Wars: The Old Republic, Rift, LotRO, DDO any other MMO still using the EQ and earlier server design.  I am interested in seeing what Guild Wars 2 will do with these issues.

Posted in System Mechanics, World of Warcraft

More on MMOs TNG – Gear, Crafting and Market Systems

After publishing I realized I focused mostly on core and social systems that would be needed in a Next Generation MMO.

While I would say that these 3 features are not necessarily going to make a game a Next Gen MMO they definitely can make or break ones experience with a game.  So in this way they are very important and if not really fleshed out for release they should be near the top of the list for the first few bug and content patches.


 Gear – Modifiable all the way!

This does not mean that all gear in the game needs to be modifiable in some way.  There just needs to be modular gear for most if not all levels.  This would allow a player to get a piece of gear for one item slot and update it as they level and not having to replace it every couple of levels for better stats.

3 games at the moment come to mind with something like this.

The most limited one is WoW, with jewel crafting sockets.  Some gear like this starts to become available once you hit level 60+ content since jewel crafting was first introduced with The Burning Crusade expansion that ran levels 60-70.

The second most limited is EVE-Online, actually that is how the entire games plays.  You either upgrade ships which are new complete sets of gear so to speak and then mod it out with different modules.  The modules each confer some sort of bonus which is then modified by the character’s trained skill and then there can also be a ship based bonus to 1 or more parameters.  With the exception of Strategic Cruisers there is no way to really customize your look or design in the game.  Then again that does not really matter since the point of the game usually seems to be who can kill who first.

Now there is ToR and it has at this time the best system for this that I have seen yet.  I really like just getting “orange” gear while leveling for my characters and their companions so I don’t have to do the hunt for the next piece of gear every other level to keep my stats near the content difficulty curve.

As a bonus you don’t look like a clown most of the time.


Crafting – Let me play the game not stand around waving my hands.

This topic and the next one Market Systems are some of the topics that I am the most vocal about in almost all games I play.  I like to make things.  I always have and always will even if the system is a major pain in the ass I will at least kick the tires on the system before deciding whether it is an activity I actually want to to do in the game or ignore.  Honestly the games with the better crafting systems end up being the games I play more often.  I know I am not a typical hardcore MMO gamer in this facet but it is definitely a facet of the MMO universe that Casual players end up participating in more.  Usually because this is one of the few systems they can actually get some sort of progression out of.  Well in most games except WoW.

I am completely disgusted with the crafting system in WoW and have been for a while now actually.  I have new hopes each patch/expansion and they are quickly crushed under the piss poor design of what materials are required and how to acquire them.  I am looking at Chaos Orbs and Dream Cloth at the moment, Titansteel while annoying at least was available.  This point of contention feeds into the next topic but as it relates to crafting.  All crafting materials need to be BoE or tradable/marketable.

Additionally Crafting materials should not usually be acquired through raiding, and if they are available in raids then all levels of raiding should have access to them no matter what iLevel the pattern is.  I am specifically referring to LFR for this part.  I have been annoyed by the raid drop only pattern and crafting material since Burning Crusade when I really started to get into the nuts and bolts of MMOs.  I started playing WoW about 8 months before tBC launched and started playing MMOs in general a few months before that with EVE-Online.

Now EVE-Online’s crafting and market system are at least an order of magnitude if not more complicated than WoW’s Crafting system.  However there is one majorly important difference between them.  In even I set up one or more production queues limited by a few character skills and I set the order and forget about it until I get a notification that my production run is done.  This is done in “real time” so simple stuff takes seconds – minutes and capital ships take Days-Weeks to complete one run.  However in the mean time you can be playing the game while your queue is processed.  I like this set and forget style many times more than the EQ, WoW, LotRO, Rift, every other EQ/WoW clone in existence style of stand around have the character wave their hands and boom 10-120 seconds later Item is done.

ToR has a system in the middle between WoW and EVE.  Your companions/crew does all of your crafting and gathering for you so once you get more than one companion you can always have them working in the background while your character and your OT/OH/DPS companion is out helping you.  This system more than almost any other thing in ToR is what has kept me playing it to the exclusion of almost all other games at the moment.

In this area I think the initial crafting system that ToR uses is similar to what should be the starting point for a crafting system in the next generation of MMOs.  It allows you to gather materials actively in the game environment or passively by sending dormant crew members out to gather for a predetermined amount of in-game currency.  The crafting process is passive in the background so you can continue to play with out “hearthing” back to town to stand in front of a forge or what ever special crafting place you need.

Market Systems – They are a game unto themselves make the user interface reflect that.

I will be brief and blunt about this.  Every MMO I have played with the exception of 1 has a really shitty in game market system with the default interface.  The only reason Warcraft’s AH is usable is by using one of 2 add ons,  Auctioneer or Auctionator.  I have not played Rift since add ons were added to the game so can’t speak of any auction based add ons there.

I like how Auctionator shows listings of the same price, the ultimate auction interface would be a mix of the 2 add ons.  The only default Market interface that I like that is not a user created addon is the market interface for EVE-Online.  CCP has made many mistakes IMO on many topics, most to support a philosophy of game play that I do not really enjoy.  It is one of the reason that I am only going to support my game time by buying PLEX in their market to burn through the 3-4B isk I still have in game.

For the starting place on the market system for a next-gen MMO it will need to have features similar to either EVE’s set up or one of the 2 auction add ons for WoW.  Other market/resource systems really will need an entire post of their own to do the topic justice.

I wanted to get this follow up to my earlier post so I could clear my plate so to speak before moving on to some other topics and these topics in greater detail.

Posted in System Mechanics

DN Normal/Heroic Design – BAKA

So I complete missed something with 4.3 and the massive amount of dungeons I was running and then focusing on Star Wars.

Whose stupid fucking decision was it at blizzard to keep DS as 1 entire raid for normal and heroic.

You had the perfect bloody design with the LFR and having 2 instances.  That should have been continued with DS Normal Heroic.  All I have to say is get your shit together for MoP, it is your last chance, hell it may be too late already.  I missed that point because given how you did T11 with BWD, Tot4W and BT then you were returning to that design with T13.

This was a stupid god damn design for your middle of the road guilds given the shared normal/heroic/10/25 man lockouts.  I can not believe how stupid your design has been with the entirety of Cataclysm End Game.  additionally you screw over guild progression because your bloody data reporting on the guild api does not actually give real boss statics on kills with your inability to identify between a 10 and 25 man guild group.  You make wow progress and all of your support community that actually make your game as big of a success as it is have to jump through convoluted hoops due to your lack of foresight.

I blame myself for being so completely pissed about this, I thought with the 4.3 dungeon design the developers had finally got their heads out of their asses.  I guess you need to loose another 1 – 2 million subscribers due to boredom  or hitting their head against the wall because there is no where to progress due to all the fucking restrictions you have placed on raiding.

I am so glad that Star Wars has a good single play story-line as it actually gives me something to do, that is not running boring dailies over and over for months.

And a clip to further express my feelings on this.

Fast Tube
Fast Tube by Casper

Posted in World of Warcraft

What needs to be in a Next-Gen MMO or MMO TNG

This is going to be a pie in the sky post where I will list the features and or systems that in my opinion will need to be present in an MMO at release to be considered a MMO of the next generation.  There is the potential for a current generation MMO to transition into a Next-Gen MMO through patching but then that MMO will be a transitory MMO present and part of both generations rather than being of only either generation.

Servers?  What are Servers?

After writing the title and thinking about how to say it I realized that there will still need to be a few “meta” servers/settings but not as we see them to day, i.e. no Elune, Farstriders, Sentinels, ect….  The servers of TNG will be PVP, PVE, RP-PVE, RP-PVP with language specifications of the standard form of communication between players.

To my knowledge at the moment there is only one MMO that really does something like this now and it is EVE-Online.  However due to the steep learning curve and other in game factors EVE has not really become mainstream.  Griefing Bottom feeder behavior being the normally accepted method of play there is the main one.

Player Based Rewards

To borrow a bit from the matrix here is a modified quote.  I grabbed the quote from IMDB before modification.

Spoon boy: Do not try and reward the Character. That’s impossible. Instead… only try to realize the truth.
Neo: What truth?
Spoon boy: There is no Character.
Neo: There is no Character?
Spoon boy: Then you’ll see, that it is not the Character that is rewarded, it is only the Player.

This is extremely important when a company owns more than one online game or a game that encourages multiple accounts do to some in-game limit or restriction.  I shake my fist in anger at Turbine on this one especially as Turbine points for LotRO is different from Turbine points for DDO.  Turbine get your shit in order and converge your systems.

Several games sets are already set up in a way that will eventually allow for this type of reward system.

  • Battle.Net 2.0
  • Sony Station
  • EA Origin
  • Steam
  • XBox Live
  • Play Station Network

I am sure there are a few others but these are the ones that quickly come to mind.  The more options, rewards and setting that are set at the meta-account level and not the individual game level the longer and more likely companies will keep some form of subscription revenue for their projects, this is doubly so if you have cross game rewards or rewards earned for current and other games at the same time.  We are already very familiar with this type of set-up for the collector’s editions of Blizzard products having something for each of the games currently on Battle.Net at time of launch.

KISS Logistics

As in Keep It Simple Stupid Logistics.  This is a vague need but is critical in current and future games, it is how easy to use and powerful are the tools built into the game to ease working together.  The bare minimum of yes we can have groups, raids and guilds is not enough anymore.  Rift’s dynamic open world group/raid system was a step in the right direction but was sometime a real pain in the ass (PITA).  As hot as the flames in the flame ware about the Looking For Group and Looking For Raid systems in World of Warcraft are those are 2 very powerful and useful systems to have available to a games player base.   Most WoW players in some ways rightfully decry how horrible it has made the community, because it allows for PA Internet Fuckwad Theory which is correct for the most part.  However this is the one advantage of the One or Few Worlds and Infinite Shards setup mentioned in the first requirement.

The Looking for Guild System in WoW was also a nice addition to the game and not spamming General/Trade/LF (Guild/Group) channels.  It is a system much like how EVE-Online works for Corporation Recruitment the equivalent of Guilds in most games.  However it is a single search system where the player looks for a guild and applies.  This really needs to be expanded to be bi-directional search especially after the Gamer Tag System is implemented, this then allows both the player and guild to post their interest in being recruited or applied to.  Then officers in the guild can search to see who is looking for a new guild and see who has time availability that matches the guild so they can recruit from both in server and cross server.  This actually leads into another big requirement for a true Next Generation MMO.

Player-centric Organization

Essentially what this means is that groups, guilds, any other organization in-game is made of players and not characters.  This also means that the player can belong to many guilds, yes this is technically true today because the guild structure is tied to the character but that is so EQ-esque.  This would allow the player to be in multiple guilds and see chat of each at the same time, just a new channel per guild.  Yes /g will not be as simple anymore but then those can be preferences per chat window if need be.  There will need to be iteration on this of course but it is something needed in future games.

Grouping Graph

This could be as simple as EVE-Online’s current Alliance/Corporation setup which is a tree or something completely new that allows guilds or other player organizations to map out their relationships with one another and allow for dynamic shared/combined guild chat channels.  You could then have the same large group of players that have their characters organized by what they want to do with them,  PVE, RP, PVP but still communicate no matter what Toon/World/Shard they are on.   The more tools to simply bring people together the better, just as long as it is not forced and can be opted into not out of.

Well this is a good start, I will go into more detail on each of these in future posts.  I wanted to get the general concepts out there first before getting deep in to examples and or ways some of these could be incorporated into existing games that I am familiar with.

Posted in System Mechanics, World of Warcraft

SW:ToR the Unexpected

So I have started to write this post several times and each time change the title and or content.  So this is going to be a hopefully brief post to get a few Ideas/Thoughts/Opinions out there and I may elaborate on them in time.

Sometimes with games I get a type of all-consuming obsession to understand and explore a game or story.  It also happens with books, like when I read the first 4 books of the game of thrones back to back.  Having played one weekend of the SWToR beta I was not expecting for the trigger to occur with the release version of the game.  However the early game which feels and plays like tBC or Wrath wow in a starting zone is very different by the time you get off the starting planet.

In every game I play I always experiment with the crafting system and the crafting/modding system is usually what will give me many times the play value than the actual story line in the game.  Hell I would be all over EVE as a crafter if the resource gathering was not so risky and time consuming.  However the Everyone Versus Everyone nature of EVE discourages me from being anything other than a hanger jockey really.

WoW crafting has not really had any fundamental changes to it since Burning Crusade when they introduced specializations to several crafting professions other than Leather Working and Blacksmithing.  Too add insult to injury the BoP materials required for crafting has limited the system even more, not to mention screw up the AH.

I am still not sure where I am going with ToR or WoW at this point.  ToR still has a lot of bugs, but since it is new those will hopefully be fixed.  I have decided to cancel one of my 2 WoW accounts for now.  Whether I spin it up again will depend upon MoP Beta and maybe what other changes Blizzard implements in the mean time.  I am also completely surprised by my 180 or maybe it is a 90 degree change along a new dimensional axis. I was really enjoying the new content in 4.3 and then I got into ToR and honestly don’t care a bit about WoW content at the moment.  I am very happy for my guild getting a 8/8 kill in Dragon Soul and maybe starting Heroics soon, however I personally have no interest in Hard Mode content.

Regardless I think 2012 is going to be an interesting year in gaming.  With what looks like a real viable contender in the MMO market with ToR, Blizzard will actually have to get its ass moving for a change and maybe make “Soon”, either “Now” or at least a given time-table rather than some amorphous blob of time.

The content and feature war that is now starting should be interesting and in the end We the Players win either way.

Posted in MMOs

Blizzard DKP

So last night a few guild members and I ran the LFR, we were 6 out of the 25 members in the raid.  As I was recounting a few loot results, Lissanna glared at me and stated how she did not approve of what we/I did.  We did not do anything that broke the rules of the system, it did break the unspoken conventions that most players seem to apply to the loot system but that is a different matter.

Essentially all 6 of us agreed to role need on everything we could and let the rolls sort it out.  This is what I call live by the roll die by the roll.  Now if we did win something that was not ideal or was labeled dps and was caster and a melee got it pass the item to a caster in our group.  This then would be bettering our group and while somewhat adversarial to the other 19 it is collaborative and cooperative within our group.

While I am torn on whether this type of collaboration should be allowed, it now is and given the shitty loot system in WoW it is really the only way to play, other than getting really lucky, which is bullshit.

For the LFR players are bitching up a storm on how the loot system needs to be fairer or more intelligent.  While that would be nice there are always going to be winners and losers and people bitching about something.  The answer is actually very simple and straightforward, which means that if it is ever implemented it will be 2-3 expansions from now or in a different game.

The Answer is Blizzard DKP, with a change to the loot tables for LFR.

All Boss Loot tables will only consist of Tier Tokens.

Each Boss will drop 2 Token and no other loot in LFR.

Each Boss will award 1 Blizz-DKP Point/Token.

In each LFR Instance and Capitol there will be a Blizz-DKP Vendor.

Each Vendor will have all the other gear that would normally drop in the LFR level of the instance to purchase.

At the end of each Tier all DKP is converted to JP like VP is now, (May need to raise the cap on JP).

Blizz-DKP is earned each boss kill regardless of whether the player qualifies for loot or not. 

Given a normal full clear of Dragon Soul on 25 man we would see 8 * 4 = 32 pieces of loot.  Given a 25 man raid that is  1.28 pieces of loot per player per week.  So if we halve the # of loot drops because we will still have the tier tokens drop randomly from the bosses, that works out to an average of .64 pieces of loot per person per raid tier per week.

So what should items cost then.

Most pieces of gear should be worth 12 Blizz-DKP, 2 handed weapons 24 Blizz-DKP.  Now given rarity and stat point cost each actual piece would be acceptable to be worth 10-15 or even 18 for 1 handed weapons of a higher item level and 30 for 2-handers that are of a half tier higher.

The most important part of this whole system transformation is the last requirement that I bolded above.  This is important because we want to reward players willing to help kill bosses that they no longer qualify for loot from, i.e. reward their effort.

I have long hated the random loot system, actually for the entirety of my time playing wow.  It is not a major break as most of the other systems seem way to grind-y and I have come to accept that we need at least a little of the “Slot Machine Loot System” to keep the monkeys addicted to the chance of loot.

Yes I do realize that there will be some that will completely whore this out and run enough LFR to purchase LFR items in every slot the first week.  My opinion on that is, who cares.  If they are having fun and they help others complete the instances at the same time then so be it.  If you have the time and patience to do that more power to you.

I think this hybrid loot system which is very similar to the JP/VP system with the exception that it is for gear in the middle of the 2 which makes it different.  At the end of every tier of content the left over DKP should be converted to JP just as VP is to reset each tier.

Posted in System Mechanics, World of Warcraft