Future Game Development Models

This topic has been on my mind a lot recently due to 2 games now under development.

EverQuest Next Landmark (EQNL)

Star Citizen (SC)

Per my earlier post I am currently in the closed Alpha for EQNL and it has devoured my gaming time.  I get in and start building something and will spend several hours on something and decide that I just don’t like it and start over again.  Not to mention the current grind required to gather some resources to improve your tools and extra pre-made models that you can craft.

Star Citizen was a Kick Starter wonder and the company continued a similar model after completing many times over their initial funding drive.  Now every couple of Million raised by pre-selling ships and in and out of game items and features they add new expansion based content or new ships.

I mentioned this to Lissanna last night while making food and we both agreed could you Imagine what the result would have been if Blizzard had released a tool set pre-cataclysm saying we want to redo the world here are the tools and let 1K if not 100K people building their own versions of different zones and continents, then all Blizzard needed to do was pick the best from those and meld them together into 1 world?

Well that is what SOE is doing with EverQuest Next via Landmark.  It is like the Star Craft 2 tools but for an MMO and not a RTS.  I did tweet about this concept as far at the limits of Twitter will allow but the limits of what game studios could do in the long term is staggering if they could successfully harness the power of their respective fan-bases.  We know old world WoW has already been modeled in MineCraft to a limited extend.

Just a post for future thought, given current Alpha and eventual Beta stages of EQNL, I am sure I will have more posts about it in the future.

By the way if you like the looks of Landmark at all I suggest at least spending the $20-ish bucks to get into the Alpha or Beta and help refine it as well.

Posted in System Mechanics

Games I am Playing – Feb 2014

Final Fantasy XIV(14) : A Realm Reborn

I have enjoyed playing FFXIV, and I am now at a crossroad as to what I want to do in the game.  I have Arcanist (Summoner/Scholar) to level 50 but have not completed the main storyline yet as I am not sure what I want to do in the game other than I know I have no interest in raiding.  I like running dungeons but also have no interest in running Extreme or Hard Mode encounters as some of the normal encounters are hard enough IMO.

So most of the time I am leveling other classes on my “main” character or leveling the 2 alt I have on my main account while waiting for a 3rd retainer or some account wide storage to start and move resources between characters without asking for help from fellow FC members.


EverQuest Next Landmark (Alpha)

This game has consumed my weekends and evenings for the past week+ since the start of Alpha testing.  I am keeping most of my opinions to the game forums and arguing with troglodytes that want to make every game as long, hard and grueling a grind as possible because that is the only sense of accomplishment they seem to get in life.  While myself and others just want the damn build tools at the start since that is how the games was advertised.  The grind and progression can come through other methods and hopefully will and this is just an alpha anomaly.

Also if you are in Alpha here are 2 pictures that could be of use.

This first is where my claim is located on the Serenity Server, Isle name is in the image.  (T3 Island)

My Claim on Serenity Server

This second is of someone else’s claim on a T1 Isle that has the most advanced crafting tools available in the open near the central portal. So is a very good place to go to get tools and items without progressing your own forge first.

Useful Tool Location on Serenity Server


Hearthstone (Closed/Open Beta)

While I have enjoyed the game since Closed Beta, I am not really playing much of it at the moment. I am only play to complete the daily quests and I am tired of the current Meta game so have not been playing much. If I could complete any quest by taking on the AI while testing deck builds I would probably play more. If I am going to have a 70-80% loss ratio while refining a deck against other players I would rather just not play. Don’t get me wrong I think it like all Blizzard games is a good and well polished game even while in Open Beta. I also just realize that I am not the target audience to any Blizzard game anymore if I ever was.
EVE Online

Well I spun up my primary account in EVE so that it is active on the March 1st deadline.  The deadline being for all active accounts on that day, the highest skill point character name will be recorded and listed on a 10 Year anniversary monument that CCP is building to commemorate 10 Years of EVE Online.


Other Games

Also just to list a few of the other games I have logged into for a brief amount of time lately.
Played In the past couple of months.

  • Assassins Creed 4
  • Diablo 3
  • Neverwinter Nights
  • Guild Wars 2
  • Star Craft 2
  • A few other games off of Steam
Posted in Other Games

A History of my WoW Experience Summary into WoD

Hopefully this will be the last post on this thread for a while.  I will continue to post about WoW as an outsider as I know many people that continue to play that game.  Even when I talk about other games like EVE Online and Final Fantasy 14 : A Realm Reborn because World of Warcraft is an MMO that I played for 7+ years and where I really started to dig into MMO terminology so it is like English is to me when learning a foreign language.

Initial Thoughts on WoW:WoD

Now a few months after announcement.

New Character Models: Cool I am ok with new models they are needed for the original races and we have been asking for them for several expansions now.

Level 90 Character Upgrade: Highly needed with the level cap now 90 and soon 100 with the expansion.  When the announcement first came out I was already planning which character I would use it on from the 8-10 characters that were not already 90 that I had left at 87 or lower.

Garrisons: Cool another feature that is something similar to what players have been asking for since Vanilla, Player Housing.  It will end up being more of a mini game like the farm was in MoP but a step in the right direction and needed for expansions now.

Journey to a Mythic Time: While I like Time travel and I don’t have a problem with it in this case as I understand how the time lines fit into the multiverse, I do think the Orcish Bro-fest that was given as our introduction to the game left a bit to be desired.  As an alliance player I was like great more horde plot.

Dungeon and Raiding Improvements and UI Improvements:  I was excited about these changes and thought they brought a lot to the game in large.

With all of these features, I thought I would be spinning up my WoW accounts again even months before the expansion to build up resources for the expansion.

The the news came in one of the further panels that not only was the leveling experience going to be similar to Mists of Pandaria, which as I mentioned previous post ended up making me hate the game, it was going to be even more restrictive and not allow flying in content while it is current, so flight would be locked until the first content patch.


So not only were we not going to get the books of flying like in Wrath which should have been implemented in MoP but it was locked behind and “Epic” i.e. “Pain in the Ass” quest line which would only become available at level cap after the first content patch.  In very few cases in my life have I had a complete and total change of heart on a subject than I did concerning WoW and starting up my accounts again to play in Warlords of Draenor.

Warcraft Missed Opportunities

FFXIV:ARR Guild Housing, Raids and System Changes

I mention FFXIV:ARR here because I realized recently that Warcraft missed a great opportunity with Cataclysm and the remaking of Azeroth.  In Cataclysm they easily could have made the world larger and had a few instanced zones that were not accessible otherwise to accommodate player housing.

If you watch how much time is spent on Facebook games where you have your own space or other tablet simple games where you can collect items to improve your trophy room or house, I think this one feature could have prevented much of the player loss since Wrath if it had been promised and implemented during Cataclysm.

I remember Lissanna playing Lord of the Rings Online and running quests and playing for hours during holidays just to collect a furniture or cosmetic item for her house in the game. In MoP players would spend similar amounts of time doing various reputation grinds just to unlock the Dog on their farm.   So much so that it is asked that the Dog be allowed/added to Garrisons so it can travel with you.

I hate to say it but whichever executives in charge of steering WoW need to have their heads examined as to why they let this type of feature set be passed on for all these years.  There is casual and hardcore gamer gold here and it was completely written off as not worth our time.

This is not even mentioning an even more important feature that is similiar and that is Guild Housing and spaces for groups to claim as their own.  The ability to have a place of your own and build a community around it is extremely important for MMOs and social games.

FFXIV implemented their Guild Housing and eventual player housing after having a Cataclysm of their own.  The similarities between the end of FFXIV version 1.0 and FFXIV:ARR or 2.0 and WoW pre/post Cataclysm is startling in the story connections.  In simple terms both have a big dragon coming back and wrecking the world.

It was that similarity in how the world was completely reshaped that made me see some of the possibilities that WoW completely missed, which is a shame.

Brawlers Guild
Another time and feature that I was really excited about until I heard how it was implemented, let alone how to get an invite.  It should have been an instanced area so it could have been load balanced better and so that more than 1 person per CRZ could actually do the damned thing.

The Farm
In many ways this was a success, but it could have been so much more.  This of course ties into the player housing subject.  I have beat that to death so I will leave this alone as well since they are so similar.

Mists of Pandaria & Warlord of Draenor Feature Confusion

One of the things that has annoyed me most since Wrath is the inconsistent way Blizzard has dealt with 2 main functions, Flying and Catch-up.

Flying and Flying mounts were a FEATURE in Burning Crusade because that is when it was added to the game.  That is when Jewel Crafting was a FEATURE as a new Crafting Profession.

In Wrath the first expansion after the flying feature was added, they decided that they did not want to design questing with flying in mind and so just locked it out.  This is after players had already spent between 1K and 6K for it in Burning crusade and not only restrict it but put another price tag on it of 1k gold at time and 500 currently.

So now the second expansion after flying was implemented we don’t have to buy anything new and it is available in all zones right off the bat.  This was the best time to level characters as with flying implemented and xp now gained by gathering nodes it opened up mining and herbing as an alternative way to gain xp.

I actually enjoyed leveling in Cataclysm because of this, it is also why by the time MoP launched I had 13 level 85s.

MoP and WoD see my previous rant in this and earlier posts about leveling and no flying in these.

One statement I have made multiple times to Lissanna and others when complaining and talking about WoW is this, “If I don’t have a reason to play the launch of an expansion why the hell would I play it later at a future patch?”.

With how insane Item Levels have gotten and the resultant power spread an expansion is the global reset and allows most/all players to be on almost an equal footing once again.  Unfortunately it does not sound like they are going to fix this problem long term and only doing an item squish in such a way as to be a band-aid for another 2 expansions before we get back to lunacy again.  The problem is that the developers feel that they need a full 13 item levels between tiers of content.  With how War Forged and VP upgrades have worked I think a 4-8 iLevel between tiers of content at most would be acceptable.  Heroic/Mythic geared characters have no reason to be doing 4 times the dps of an entry level geared raider by the middle/end of an expansion.  If each raid tier can be completely contained in 20ish iLevels rather than the 50+ we have now the current item squish may be able to last until Titan Launches which would be a miracle.

So how did that grump about item levels related to my statement about reasons to play at launch of an expansion?  Well it really gets to the catch-up method aspect that I mentioned earlier.  The catch-up mechanism refers to how do you get fresh level cap characters into current content in a reasonable time after the launch of an expansion?  Blizzards current method is to generate a metric fuck ton of content for the launch and then be playing catch up the rest of the expansion given the speed of which some and the most vocal of players consume said content.  A much better approach I am learning while playing FFXIV:ARR is to List everything you want to do in an expansion/major content segment and then be open and honest about how each of the features are coming along.  Then when you hit a cut off point say what you are going to include in the next patch and what is not ready for release and why.   I know Blizzard got burned with this method with the Dance Studio that never released which I why they most likely don’t do it anymore but it really is a much better method.  It also allows for more timely patch and expansion releases as you can early on realize that something is going to take much more time than initially thought and can be moved to a later development cycle.  The key is to be open about the change in the cycle if it was a previously mentioned feature so that it is not a surprise when it hits the PTR, and especially if it was on the PTR and removed for said reasons.

The other big gripe I have about WoW and have for a very long time is how they screw with crafting materials and the as a result the Auction House.  I swear Blizzard is afraid of having an actual functioning AH and Player Driven market in the game most likely due to gold trading concerns which would be mostly wiped out if they would just use the solution CCP proved would mostly work years ago in EVE Online.  That would be to release an in game item that provides Account Game time and is trade-able/sell-able on the AH which is purchased by a player from Blizzard through the Blizzard Store.  Then legal “Gold Selling” could be done where Blizzard is the seller of it via a proxy item which is traded in-game.

Now what would allow for a real market to grow in the game?  It requires 2 ingredients.  The first is craft-able gear that is useful as an alternative gearing/progression path for both the crafter and others who can buy it directly or through the AH.  The second is the lack of BoP crafting materials.  The raw material must always be able to be traded and any BoP crafting material should be a product that is created by the crafter so it is not a BoP item from a world or boss drop.  Additionally the BoP item must not be restricted by a cooldown.  If there is to be a gated cooldown for server balance then it must be on an earlier intermediate crafting material that is not bound and allows for economic transactions to occur.

A final modification to really get the WoW economy and crafting going again is that no pattern can be BoP and any pattern that can be learned via discovery randomly must also be available by normal patterns somewhere else so as not to be completely at the mercy of the RNG gods.

Well I think that wraps up my WoW retrospective from my POV.  WoW was a really good game for a longtime but is no longer a good game for me.  It is a shame and I feel a little bitter about all of the time and effort and thought that I have put into it over the years.  I know it is still a good game for many out there that say they continue to enjoy the game, part of me wonders is it the game or the social group they enjoy but that is another matter.  I hope to see news about future WoW changes and features that will get me interested again but now I know it will not be WoD and what ever new would have to be meteoric in magnitude to get me to start an expansion after launch, so I will have to wait for the expansion after WoD at a minimum.  Also while if it is the expansion after WoD that I get interested in I may re-subscribe while technically WoD is the current expansion but it would only be to prepare for the expansion after it and not the current content.


Posted in World of Warcraft

A History of my WoW Experience Part 5 (MoP)

Almost done now we are at the second to last post I plan for this topic and this one focuses on the current expansion Mists of Pandaria.

Unlike many in the community that were expecting WoW : Kung Fu Panda, I went into the expansion with a somewhat more open mind.  I did have some issues with the speed of leveling and Jade Forest even while in Beta but kept my fingers crossed hoping for some minor tweaks when it Launched.

MoP Launch Date – September 25th 2012

So for the Launch I was actually able to schedule 2 weeks off from work, and it happened to be around my Birthday so I had multiple reasons to take some time off.  Due to being able to take that amount of vacation time for the Launch I was able to get the only 2 achievements I was concerned about relatively early on.

Master of All – October 14th 2012
Quintessential Quintet – November 4th 2012

After the 5th character however given the xp curve at launch and that there was no system to get my leveling alts the ability to fly in Pandaria, I could not bring my self to level another character.

It was during the push for 5 characters and eventually a 6th where I actually started to Hate the game.  Not just dislike certain parts and still be able to push through the pain but visceral hate for leveling and the content in general.

Not to mention I like crafting such that one character can make items for others while leveling and maybe for themself.  Well with the way crafting materials and patterns were distributed and locked as BoP or behind rep walls that you have to be 90 to get access to.  Well there went the ability for my factory of alts to be able to help one another in any reasonable amount of time.  By the time I got 1 the patterns they would not need anything for themselves and I would be sick of playing them almost exclusively sometime before that point.

So after a few months I realized that I did not have the interest to keep both of my WoW accounts active and as I listed below my second account I let expire in January 2013.  This was not unprecedented I have had 2 or more WoW accounts since tBC where I spun the second account up for the Zhevra mount with RAF.  What was unprecedented for me and WoW was when I decided that by there had not been enough changes by 5.3 to prove keeping my Primary account open and me interested in the game.  I had started to feel that way in April 2013 which is when the last achievement on my account occurred and I stopped logging in regularly.

Primary WoW Account Expired July 24th 2013
Secondary WoW Account Expired January 22nd 2013

So due to the structure of the content of MoP, I a player that had taken no previous complete brakes from WoW did so.  All previous expansions were structured such that I felt that there was at least something interesting for me to do as a player that did not Raid much.  It was no one big thing like there is for some where raiding is not hard enough, or there are Panda’s being added.  It was death by a 1000 little things and those little things not changing or changing soon enough to change my opinion.  Blizzard really needs to learn how to do Smaller/Faster content cycles.  I can not imagine how many 100Ks if not a Million or  more they will lose over the next 20 weeks+ so there is enough time for another PvP season while everyone waits for WoD.

Now I realize that the PvP season is being added because there is enough time for it due to the current schedule for WoD, but lets be honest, the clock started ticking when SoO was released.  No player wants a repeat of the last tier of Cata let alone ICC but due to pacing of content Blizzard is yet again setting itself up for pain in that department.

Here’s a hint, launch an expansion with no opening raid tier so you can get all of the systems up and running and out the door.  Let the expansion, dungeons and such run for 4-6 weeks so those that want world firsts don’t have to quit their jobs for the first month each expansion just to get leveled, geared, and running the first second they could.

Well I am already getting into topics that I should save for my summary and WoD discussion so I will end this post here.  It is also short because unlike the other expansion which were earlier ones this one is ongoing even if I am not playing it anymore.

Posted in World of Warcraft

A History of my WoW Experience Part 4 (Cata)

Now picking up in Cataclysm or December 2010 I was very active in game at the time and was actually a raider at the beginning of the expansion.  I power leveled 2 characters quickly at the beginning to get geared for raiding on both of them.  Malchome my warrior for Off-Tanking and DPS, which when I was asked to DPS more than Off-Tanking I used my Shaman ShepardBuch for throwing around the Lightning since Melee has been screwed in every tier of raiding since Vanilla and maybe even then.

IMO this is either the best or second best expansion WoW has had.  The other being Wrath,  and I am not sure because areas where Cata was better than Wrath are many but there are areas that Wrath did much better than Cata so it really becomes a toss up.  Both are better than either tBC or MoP in terms of content accessibility and progression for more than one character.  If all you play is one character/class and that is all you do then I can see in some ways why they may prefer tBC and MoP over Wrath or Cata.  I will leave more of this for my WoW summary post which will be after my MoP post which is the next I will write.

Some of the best features that were implemented in Cataclysm have since been removed from the game and I will list them here.

  • Have Group Will Travel – Guild Perc – Essentially for a predetermined cooldown period any member of a group/raid that is a member of a guild that has this perc could summon the rest of the Raid/Group to themselves.
  • Cauldrons of Battle 10/25 versions – These allowed for the cost of about 60-80% in materials to create Flasks for Raiding 1 big Cauldron that would provide a Flask to a group/raid member of the appropriate type based upon their current spec.  This the sizes would have different numbers of charges.
  • Feasts – These were implemented at the beginning of MoP but were weaker than the individual food buff items and were therefor useless for anything other than leveling of the cooking skill.  Now food carts are implemented so this feature is mostly back but much to late in an expansion cycle.

In Wrath I had 10 level 80s by the end of the expansion almost all of who were able to run the ICC dungeons by the release of the Cata.  In Cata I had 13 level 85s ready to start into the MoP content.  Most of the 13 had enough gear to be able to run the CoT dungeons that launched with the Deathwing Raid Tier.  For the first few weeks of that Tier I ran and Valor Capped 4-6 characters a week because the dungeon run bonuses were not tied as some stupid Daily restriction but were in Weekly increments of bonus, which helped keep them filled.

The real problem with Cataclysm was since so much of the Old World was reworked, which it was desperately needed, there was not enough Level Cap content variety and options and Cata was always on the lower total content level.

However due to the small size of Tier 9 in Wrath and the duration that Tier 10 lasted in the same expansion everyone had time to level alts and start to build out a stable of resource gatherers and crafters by the time Cata launched.  Then with so little variety and volume of content in Cata, most likely because everyone was working on MoP by the time Firelands was finished people had even more time to level even more alts and get them geared and ready for the next expansion, then the third Cataclysm occurred.

By third Cataclysm I refer to the first being the actual in game Cataclysm.  The second Cataclysm be the state of the Raiding Playerbase due to the raid mechanic changes implemented in Cataclysm.  The third Cataclysm I will talk more about in my MoP and Summary post.

Posted in World of Warcraft

A History of my WoW Experience – Part 3 (UR)

Continuing from my earlier post, we are in Wrath of the Lich King, my significant other Lissanna now wife, and I were raiding in ICC with Conspiracy and we the guild is recruiting new raiders to fill gaps in the roster as long time members take a break from the game or retire from raiding.

Well due to churn and Conspiracy being a social raiding guild, a type that does not exist anymore thanks to the Cataclysm in multiple ways, and a Lich King kill is slow coming.  At the height of raiding in WoW Elune had 40+ 25 man raiding guilds Conspiracy was not the best but was not the worst either and was comfortably in the middle.  The rough part of this was an additional factor to the player churn was more progressed guilds on the server when openings would appear would either recruit from the mid tier or off server.  I was also getting frustrated with the guild leadership because they refused to just buy a LK kill so that we could start on heroics which many were easier to execute than the LK fight on normal.  Way to design progression there Blizzard.  This is a problem they have had and will continue to have until they get out of the requiring an end of instance boss kill to unlock “heroic” and soon “mythic” raiding.

So I end up using my gold resources and buy a LK kill on my mage for the title and so that Heroic ICC can be unlocked and we can get some heroic gear to make the LK fight more forgiving.  Needless to say this did not go well with the leadership of the guild and I just said hell with raiding for a second time during LK.  With the year-ish time that ICC was the raiding content in wrath I had started raiding it in my Priest got halfway through before getting fed up with the raid leading and going casual again.  Later after some leadership changes I started with my Mage this time because in the mean time the guild had recruited a really good Disc Priest, which happened to a relative of Lissanna.  I am not sure when in all of this a new raider was recruited which ended up taking over raid leading in some fashion.  I was only partially paying attention to Conspiracy’s internal politics and my buying a LK caused a minor shit storm which was increased when Mindalen went and bought a second kill so that there would be more people who could unlock heroics, and she wanted the title as well.

So all of this simmered during summer and reached a boiling point at the end of September 2010.  At this point Ranico the raider that was leading Conspiracy raids more and more during the end of summer, Mindalen, Lissanna and I took alts we had on server and created a new guild named Undying Resolution.  We expected maybe 10-12 of the new members in Conspiracy’s main 25-man raid to potentially move to the new guild with us.  What happened is at the end of the last scheduled raid day of the week, it was announced to the raid that the the 4 of us an a few others were moving to the newly formed guilds and anyone currently in Conspiracy was welcome to join us no questions asked.  The majority of the raid moved with us.  This was done so quickly and cleanly that we were raiding with a full 25-man the following raid reset with most of the old raid group and a few other new recruits that we got through various channels.

Part of the reason this went as quickly as it did was I had a full working guild website up and running before we even filled out the new guild charter.  Lissanna had been getting frustrated with ICC and raiding and was contemplating just making a causal guild based around her blog and most likely full of Druids but she only idly contemplated that.  Me, liking the idea got portal page, forums and raid calendar all set up ready to go when ever she wanted.  I just cloned that site when we needed to use it for Undying Resolution, just one of the few secrets in the History of UR.

Now that 25-man guild created from the ashes of another guild when there was a major deviation between the will of the guild officers and the raid/raid leaders was setting itself up just as the Wrath expansion was closing.  Currently UR is the top real 25-man raiding guild on Elune.  Just Crusade who use to be the top guild on the server for several expansions and went 10-man only during Cataclysm and then imploded since then.  Now is an organized PUG with characters/alts from many of the 10-man guilds that just feel like raiding more.  As far as an actual guild community, UR is the top 25-man guild on Elune.

I will refrain from ranting about the guild Cataclysm that occurred during Cataclysm as I have bitched about it a lot in previous posts and it solely falls on Blizzard as to why it happened.  I will say that while many guilds collapsed UR remained strong and grew stronger during all the turmoil.

This post turned into more about the founding of UR than Cataclysm so I will pick up in my next post with my real play experience during Cataclysm.  Then I expect another post on MoP and then a final post for this trend covering Blizzcon and WoD.

Posted in World of Warcraft

A History of my WoW Experience – Part 2 (Wrath)

So in my previous post, I ended with myself, Lissanna and a few of our IRL and in game friends transferring servers from Sentinels-US to Elune-US.  At the time it was between T6 and T6.5 the Sunwell content.  I think it was actually during the Sunwell opening event and we used Sunwell opening progress as one of the criteria when picking the new server.

We chose Elune because at that time it was a phase or 2 ahead of Sentinels in the opening of the Sunwell, and it was a large population server without being very high or over-populated.  The server also had many guilds that were raiding content at the time.

So we all moved, it was also around the time of year when Americans get back any money overpaid to the IRS for federal taxes.  That year this move is where most of my refund went, since at the time I had 9 characters to move.  I will not go into server transfer and character change costs at this time and save it for another post.

Now on a new server we all applied and joined a guild named EXILE.  I really don’t remember much about this guild anymore as there were some personality clashes that became apparent shortly after beginning to raid with EXILE.  I not really being a “raider” and not understanding that left the guild and formed the new version of a guild that was started on Sentinels before the move.  That guild called Northrend Privateers still exists on Elune as a Bank Alt guild for a friend of mine but all in all never really went anywhere.

After getting fed up with raiding as it was at the time I turned my attention back to alts and worked on leveling, gathering, crafting and selling of items from this time through really Tier 9 during Wrath of the Lich King expansion.

I did rejoin EXILE when Wrath launched and there was some changes with the leadership of the guild.  That, however did not last long and I bounced between my guild and other guilds on a few different characters until T9.  However, I did find one guild, Conspiracy, that had some nice and friendly members while also being a raiding guild and kept one or more characters there from January 2009 until October 2010.

So while I was doing the casual alt leveling thing during Wrath I finally achieved the goal I set out on shortly after starting to play WoW.  I got 1 character of every class to level cap 80 at the time, so 10 level 80s.

During this time Lissanna ran into yet more raiding problems with the various guild not having stable leadership or just the constant churn of players constantly looking for a guild farther progressed than their current guild.  Which is the story of the game experience for players in guilds not in the top 10-20 or so on a server.

So even though I was not raiding with the guild I knew from the forums that Conspiracy if nothing else had stable leadership and suggested that Lissanna apply there.  Eventually after doing her own research Lissanna applied and joined Conspiracy in May 2009.

Shortly before joining Conspiracy, something completely unrelated occurred in the Druid Blog-0-sphere, Resto4Life closed its doors , also at the same time Blizzard revealed that they were going to change the World of Warcraft forums and revel IRL names on posts.  This does not go over well with the player-base and is the main reason that Lissanna started Restokin.com.  Now the forum decision was later changed when the Battle.net forums we have now were initially implemented.

I mention Restokin.com here because if it was not already mentioned elsewhere I perform all of the back end hosting and maintenance for Lissanna’s blog.  I usually have weird things here as far as posts and features as I will test plugins here before adding them to Restokin.

So from early T8 though most of T10 Lissanna is raiding with Conspiracy and I am doing the casual thing with various alts and just running dungeons or occasionally PvP.  It was during this time that due to following a lot of WoW blog community that I stumble across a post by Matticus asking for user interface screen shots for PvP for a project he was working on.  My setup was different enough from many of the others he received so I was interviewed for an article which ended up being for the first issue of the World of Warcraft Magazine that only had 4 issues before it was discontinued.

If there was one thing from this period of time that I regret arguing for on the WoW forums it would be for equality between 10 and 25 man content.   While I was in a 25 man raiding guild at the time I still wished I could raid with my closer friends that had moved servers and we were lucky to get 10 people.  So I was all for making 10 man content viable.  I regret these arguments after seeing how Blizzard implemented the “equality” in Cata and MoP and I am glad to see the raiding changes coming in Warlords of Draenor.

Now during the end of Wrath of the Lich King turbulence was growing in Conspiracy with many new members being brought in as long time members stopped playing or raiding.  Due to this things were coming to a head.  This is a good breaking point as it ends at the cusp of a logical break in my gaming history with regards to WoW.

Posted in World of Warcraft

A History of my WoW Experience – Part 1 (tBC)

I was going to initially make this post about my thoughts on Warlords of Draenor and some Quality of Life fixes I am not waiting for in FFXIV:ARR before deciding on the game one way or another.   Then while typing I ended up just start telling my story of playing wow.

I have a peculiar play-style and I fully admit that.  I am not one of the majority in really any MMO I play.  What makes me different is I don’t get overly invested in any one character I play.

When initially leveling in WoW, I was the last person to begin playing out of the social group of IRL people who I knew at the time and also played the game.  That said I was left to my own devices while leveling, occasionally I a group of us would group up and do quests.  I did the warrior quest for the nice 40ish 2-handed sword before getting tired of leveling around a 40-man raid schedule, as in when I could ask for help and maybe get it.

So shortly after reaching 40 on the warrior, I re-rolled on a “new” server at that time Sentinels and liked the idea of being on a new realm where everyone would essentially be on an equal footing.  I then proceeded to roll 5 new Alliance characters, Malchome, Jaynn, Rivir, Inaradria and Lavata.  Firefly was very popular at the time and my IRL social group was on its second or 3rd viewing of the DVDs and I am horrible at picking names.  I then at the time accepted the challenge of leveling 1 character of every class to level cap because that was insane at the time and I had no interest in Raiding as it was at the time.

Also of note at this time I had only played one other MMO for a short time which was EVE-Online and in that game I had really wanted to be an Industrial Player: Mining and Building things.  That did not work out real well at the time and from that point on and off when I would get into combat so I could defend myself, now 8ish years later and 70+Million skill points my eve character can fly most sub-capitol ships.  I only mention this because in Vanilla where I was leveling these 5 characters and tBC where my highest level character Kaeley was 55 at time of launch, I really enjoyed the crafting system in WoW.  I like aspects of the crafting system better now while at the same time completely hating others.

Oh I also started playing WoW around the time of the first Naxx launch as I recall the first scourge invasion in Undercity where I as a level 15-20 would occasionally attack the giant patchwork zombies that would attack after the 10-30 level 60s would pile onto it.  So about 7-8 months later when tBC would launch in January my highest character was 55 as I mentioned above.

Also as a side note between the time of starting to play WoW and the launch of tBC, I was in several IRL clubs and social organizations, one of which was the SCA (The Society for Creative Anachronism).  I only mention this because it is relevant to my life and Warcraft experience as at one of the events that fall I met Lissanna and we started talking about WoW as it was something I found out she played.

So tBC launched and I worked to level my Mage to 70 and then worked on my Druid Lavata for 2 reasons, first I liked that Druids got flight early and secondly by this time Lissanna and I had been dating for a couple of months so got to hear about all the benefits of playing a Druid character.

So I could spend a lot of time going into the details of what I liked and disliked about tBC but will not at this time.  During tBC Lissanna could not keep up raiding on a West Cost Time Zone schedule while being in Grad School so was looking for another server to play on.  A few IRL friends of ours convinced her to come play with us on Sentinels.  It was then a bit later around the time of the Sunwell patch a group of us got tired of Sentinels since it was a low population RP server and transferred to Elune-US.

This is a good breaking point, I will hopefully finish this in a future post but I make no promises.

Posted in World of Warcraft

Blizzard based PvP – Opportunity Costs The Missing Element

This topic has been a major grievance of mine with most MMO-games and is also lacking in most Blizzard PvP interactions.  I say most because technically the measly rewards you receive while loosing in Random Battlegrounds could be considered such but is more insulting than useful.

I bring this up now because it was a subject that Lissanna of (Restokin), Wyrmwood of (Wormwood Tea), myself got into about Hearthstone.  The conversation lasted 15-20 minutes before the 3 of us were asked to change the subject by other members of our Friday night Table Top(TT) game.  Wyrmwood has written many and varied TT RPGs and is very familiar with the issues involved with balancing game play and reward mechanics.

This goes back to my earlier post about Hearthstone while the game is fun, after having played it for a week and a half now there are things that I am finding not so fun.  I have 5-6 of the classes to level 10, i.e. I have all the basic free cards that are given to those decks.  To be honest while being a bit of an alt-o-holic in WoW, I am really getting tired of playing new class decks from 1-10.  Especially when I get a new daily quest of win 2 or 5 games playing a class I have not even looked at yet.

On top of that I can not complete the win 2/5 games while playing in the practice league, so I essentially have to go be free cannon fodder with a level 1 class deck in the un-ranked play mode and keep my fingers crossed to win maybe 1 in 5 games before completing the quest which would amount to 10-25 games.

So essentially there are 2-3 major issues brought up here.

  1. Something has to be done with the daily quests so if there are certain ones you don’t want to do you can just be rid of them.
  2. The above is still a problem but less so, IF and ONLY IF (IFF) you can complete the victory quests in practice mode, ONLY WHEN CLASS LVL < 10.  This way you only have to go into the Ranked/Unranked Play Mode (PVP) if you have at least gotten the class to Level 10.  Eventually everyone will be there, maybe just by trying to complete them in practice.
  3. There needs to be better rewards for Loosing, i.e. staying in the game until your character is taken to negative hit points.

I bring this up because it was relevant it occurred before the TT game on Friday and then as stated above became a topic of conversation while we were eating as a group before game.

After a losing streak of 4-6 games on my Priest Deck when trying to complete a daily I really started to question if I even wanted to play the game anymore.  I did take a break from the game for that day because I felt that it was becoming a waste of my time and I was not really getting anything out of loosing, also it was a good reason to go pick up the food for the TT game.

Further more since then I have had a few other Dailies that revolve around class decks that I have not leveled.  So my pattern is to log in play 1 -3 games and then log off if I end up not really making any progress.  Since at this point it has been a couple of days since I started this post my opinion on Opportunity Costs have not changed but I also am now more against the entire daily quest setup than I was before.

So to wrap up here are my suggestions and ultimately some of these could also be carried over into WoW or even Star Craft.

  1. Daily Quests should always be generic and therefore class neutral.  I.E. Complete 5 or 10 games.  Where complete means either you win or you are taken to negative HP, so no Concede workaround.  Even complete-able against players on your battle.net list.
  2. Additional forms of play within the 2 major types (Play/Arena).  for example have a type of ranked play that has a deck limitation of no card in the deck can cost more than 4 mana.  Another would be you must have 20 minions in your deck or even a 30 minion deck so no spells.
  3. I really like the looks of what the one fan did by constructing a Raid deck like the current TT CCG for Warcraft.
  4. Maybe even further iterations that allow 2v2 or 3v3 where you play like Emperor style of Magic the Gathering.
  5. Further more a (1v1)^4 or ^5 where you can only attack the player to the left or right of you, last person standing wins.

Now I don’t expect some of these for open Beta or even 1.0 of Hearthstone but it opens up some interesting possibilities for the future.

Back to the subject of Opportunity Costs in then end and it is something that is made plain as the seasons progress in WoW, you need to keep the players that lose in any particular PvP setting interested enough in continuing to lose so that others can win.  PvP in this regard is a zero sum game.  It is one of the reasons in theory I like the Arena but in Beta now it is rough.  If you don’t know every possible card and the best combinations on how to use each choice you will lose because chances are you will be matched up with someone that does.

So in the end if 100x is the total reward that is available from every Hearthstone match then 60x goes to the winner and 40x goes to the loser.  Essentially think of it as for playing in this match you each get 40x and the winner gets a bonus 20x for winning.  In Battlegrounds it use to be 3x to 1x and while on the whole globally it may have kept the win ratio somewhat equal if you were unlucky to get in on a losing streak you that many games times 2 behind anyone that was lucky enough to have the same winning streak.  The 60/40 split keeps not only the victories about even but also the gear/currencies available to the winners and losers about the same.  That is what will keep the game running a long time.

Posted in Hearthstone, World of Warcraft

Hearthstone – Game Good, Meta-Game Bad

The basic game play in Hearthstone is phenomenal and in general is fun.  I have started to read the Battle.net forums for Hearthstone and from my conversations with Lissanna about it once you get all 9 classes to level 10 has me concerned.  Fortunately it is still in BETA and hopefully some/many of these will be addressed in the future.

I have also been playing another Card-like game ironically by Square Enix.  I say ironically because I, in the past couple of months stopped playing World of Warcraft and have been playing mostly in Final Fantasy XIV:ARR.

Now there are 4 aspects to their Card-like game Guardian Cross.

  1. Hunting Guardians – Both normally to get new cards and eventually quests to capture a specific number of a specific guardian.
  2. Story Line Progression – There is a rough story to the game and you get pieces of it after you progress for different levels of combat against computer opponents.
  3. Side Quest Dungeon Delving – There are dungeon crawl quests that send you into dungeons and is somewhat reminiscent of early Wizardry games just with no RP or Puzzles.
  4. Dueling Coliseum – This mode is the closest in-game play to Arena/Ranked Play in Hearthstone.

Now the important parts of the Dueling Coliseum is constructing your card hand, leveling your Guardians to max level, and further enhancing them using magic stones.  You then throw your group of Guardians at another Players group and the game handles everything else.  So while fun and quick there is not any real depth to game play.  Some may consider there to be some depth but it is all number crunching and random numbers so no real skill or interactivity involved.

Still a fun game and somewhat addicting, the real skill is the hunting part but since it has nothing to do with what I want to discuss for Hearthstone I am leaving it out for now.

So why is the Coliseum addicting and interesting? Simple each round of combat last for a week and players are ranked by the number of points they gain from defeating other players and get added bonus points for various length winning streaks.

Now some of the brackets in the Coliseum have special requirements for entry into that bracket.  Some are player level restricted but most are construction limited.  I.E. you can only have X number of Legendary Guardians and no repeats of Guardians in your hand, other brackets have had in the past requiring only Water Elemental type Guardians.  So this style of play is going to be crucial to Hearthstone’s longevity.

To sum it all up here are the items I think Hearthstone will need to implement either for live or early in its existence.  I will have a separate post eventually discussing rewards.

  • A separate Ranking per Deck Class, i.e. Mage, Warrior, Druid, ect…., in the General Ranked Play Mode
  • An overall Player Ranking for Arena
  • Special Play modes that impose additional deck construction limitations that are part of weekly week-long tournaments.
  • Add Player Leveling and not just Deck Level as an additional metric to differentiate players, so new players can tell if they are going up against someone who has been around a while or someone new like themselves.
  • Never let it be Pay to Win, it may feel like that initially as those that pay more will have card selection benefits early one but it has to be made such that they will be naturally gravitate to playing against others who have spent or earned similar construction benefits.
  • There should be many times more general daily quests than Class specific ones.  Also rewards for daily quests should vary based upon the amount of effort required to complete them.  I will go into greater detail on the rewards post but as a quick rule at least 10 gold per victory, and at least 15 per victory on a particular class.
  • Allow each day 2 options for a daily quest and let the player choose which of the 2 they want to add to their quest log.
  • Allow players to remove quests from the log if the end up not wanting to deal with the quests they have.

That is enough for now, I will most likely make another post about other features in the future.

Posted in Hearthstone