Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The move is done!

I'm in the new house and have everything finally moved here. Now just waiting on the carpets to get installed and I'm back to some gaming. Will be a big change in my gaming habits now that I live so close to the fiance.

Have fun everyone!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Responses to "Vanguard's beta in trouble?"

I have collected a few of the responses from around the net regarding this anonymous comment and there is one that really stuck out. It's buried in the 50+ comments so I will post it here for all to read.

Original source: FoH boards (I guess Fires of Heaven isn't just a book by Robert Jordan).
Vanguards beta is filled to the brim with fanbois. Any objective player pretty much bailed months ago.

So, actually blaming the fans, for once, is right on. Who woulda thunk it?

When all your left with is the sycophantic 'kool-aid' kids, the results are going to reflect that. Even worse, they're setting themselves up for a colossal failure by relying almost entirely on that part of the playerbase. (which by the by, will be the first to flee come release time). Then what are you left with? The game itself, judged on it's own merits.

It's not rocket science.
A) Make the game fun
B) Move on to the things you want to personally see accomplished.

Instead Brad has that reversed. He's almost like a guy saying: If I build it, they will come! Fuck it. I don't care if the game succeeds as long as it has "Teh Vision".

There's too many options nowadays. Utnayan hit the nail on the head for once with that observation. Another thing that has not been pointed out, or said nearly enough, is that EQ *MISSED* much of it's demographic. Many people in their mid to late 20s and early 30s would have loved to play EQ. But it was far too time consuming for them. Much of the growth in MMOs have been the kids growing from console to PC yes. But another part of it was older players waiting for a more casual game to play. 10 million people did not pop out of the woodwork one day and say "We Love Blizzard."

Blizzard simply met the challenge perfectly, and dominated by hitting every demographic they could and rejecting the belief that casual isn't fun or lasting. This was a mistake to many hard-core people. Yes, a mistake to the tune of roughly 120 million dollars a month in revenue. Vanguard biggest mistake seems to be catering to an even smaller demographic than EQ1 did, and that's bad news from a guy who claims the MMO market doesn't need anymore 30 million dollar failures. So damn true, and yet oddly ironic.

The biggest thing I'm looking forward to now with Vanguard is the enormous amount of spin that is yet to come. - Jait

Update: 2 May 2009, Edited post and applied labels.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Vanguard beta in trouble?

Vanguard : Saga of Heroes has been in beta for a few months now. I've bitched about the game designs plenty of times. I even bashed on a Vanguard preview over at IGN. For some reason I received a very in depth comment (#5) to that IGN preview article. I have no way to confirm anything that was said by the anonymous commenter, but it's well written and insightful in a way that doesn't break any NDA. I have reposted the text below.
----Begin repost----

Anonymous said...

Ok Hearless, here's the scoop. No, I'm not going to break the NDA and go into specifics about what the game has, shouldn't have or needs.

But I will tell you what's primarily wrong with beta right now. You may find it's not what the typical critics would think.

These are from my own personal notes that I keep, yet refuse to post because of the assholes in that beta.

This is one excerpt:


The forums take peaks of highs and lows. You can literally sense people trying to like this game. People trying suspiciously hard to find something to write about on the forums that's positive. Unfortunately, these recounts are absent of any detail and hardly convince me that there is something more I haven't gotten to see that will change my perspective drastically.

I often wondered why that is. I have drawn the conclusion that people are afraid to speak constructively based on the firing squad that sits there refreshing the screen every minute to see who would dare speak when not spoken to.

They default to debating about MMOG's in general as a result. This indicates strongly that people do see a barren and shapeless world before them, even though they dare not admit it publically. I get the sense they are thrilled for an opportunity to mold this game into what they want it to be. Egos run rampant in this regard and several of the more vocal beta players are insistent upon getting their ideas burned into the blueprint. Especially when these people notice that the ink isn't even dry on that blueprint.

I dare say, the imagined wonderful Vanguard they testify about on the forums, is a contrived line of bullshit used as a means to suck up to developers in order to get their own ideas written into the design. If the design was there, they would just be testing. But considering it's not, this leaves an opportunity for the wannabe-game-designer, to gain a captive audience.

And captives we are. Many an unhappy tester has been silenced regularly by these fanatics who put any and every comment under their own jaded microscopes. Unfortunately this activity goes unchecked by any form of moderation. Subsequently, what you get is nothing but chastisement by the regular fanbois who seek to mold this game the way they see fit. Anyone pointing out the existing flaws, is summarily lynched, tarred and feathered, despite the validity of their concerns.

Even a developer was called on the carpet by beta players as recent as two weeks ago. The disrespect and rudeness of the regular, vocal dissenters of MMOG-today, ruthlessly bit into this poor guy like a pack of wolves. Just as the animals they are, at the first smell of blood, they all wanted a piece of him. The crime? The mere suggestion that corpse runs were not a fun factor and should be removed to a lesser penalty then what currently exists in Vanguard right now. What did Brad do? He basically apologized for his staff's outburst.

There is also a curious hatred for World of Warcraft, specifically. Curious, because much of what World of Warcraft has done was based on the original Everquest design and expounded from there. It's certainly ironic how these fanbois will rip apart anything WoW, yet praise, anything Everquest.

To the detriment of Vanguard, they will protest any implementation that even remotely resembles a mechanic within World of Warcraft. Good or bad, it doesn't matter. If it's something within WoW, they want it O-U-T. Likewise, if you are from WoW, they want YOU out, too. They've already succeeded in driving out many of those testers. They're long gone and I can't say I blame them.

I can't help, considering all that, but feel pity for Brad McQuaid. Here's a man who started out with a "vision" and held an open forum for years before beta, allowing others to share his space and ideas.

Yet something happened between then and now. Something worth pitying the man over. His leniency and viewpoints were thrown back in his face from disgruntled game-junkies from all over the virtual world spectrum. Vanguard is where many of the disgruntled and disbanded landed to bum a free meal. In the process, they are now trying to steal the keys to his house and his car and have already taken over his computer. The only thing left is to just hand over the code because they've already gotten into his game.

How can you not feel sorry for a man who now sits out on his own front steps, wondering if he should call the police or the psycho ward to rid them off of his property?

The game may very well be lifeless due to the fact that he doesn't know himself anymore, what it is he should do.

The void in his game speaks volumes towards the fact that he fears developing it the way it needs to be done.

Let's face it, this is a very capable man. He's demonstrated that with his history. A man who created Everquest, wrote the design for the lands, the characters, the events, etc. He's not stupid by any means. Yet his new world reflects a man who fears even adding the simplest mapping feature, for instance. A feature, so subetly done this past week, but was met with OUTRAGE by touted old-school gamers. How can a man function under that kind of idiotic pressure?

Vanguard's progress is evidence that he can't. His FAQ is constantly thrown in his face. An FAQ that was written years ago and probably has been totally reconsidered based on the fact that under 100 people are logging into his beta daily. It's not because the game doesn't have potential. It's more probably because normal people don't have time, nor energy, to put up with the nuts in that place and that's the truth!

Note to the clueless FAQ-touter: That page was taken down last week. Without fanfare or notice, it was quietly swept off the internet and replaced by the infamous "page not found" message. You have to get the impression that MAYBE this guy has finally realized SOMETHING?

While realization is the first step and is a good thing, he still has yet to rid himself of the crackpot company he has allowed in there.

My suggestion is to close beta entirely. Shut it down and use the excuse that time is now needed due to the change of publishers from Microsoft to Sony Online Entertainment. Say that hardware restructuring needs to be done and don't hold Vanguard to any reappearance date. Shut down the forums with a simple message that you will be back up after the transition is complete.

Dump all your beta testers to date and start fresh after you're back online and have something done to offer them.

Put in the ideas you have wanted to add and improve without having to get "permission" from your existing, suicidal fan-base.

Maybe then you can go back to enjoying what you do best - designing games.

----End repost----
Again I can't confirm any of this, but it makes you wonder whats going on over in the Sigil camp. Is the SOE partnership and the purchase away from Microsoft Game Studios a sign of bad times? I've doomcasted this game before and I'll do it again, but McQuaid better start coming through for his true community before it bites him in the ass... again.

Update: 5 Aug, 2009 - Edited post, removed conversation links, and applied label.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

World of Warcraft Q&A... disapointed

Gamespot has an interview up with Blizzard lead designer; Jeff Kaplan. It covers the upcoming Burning Crusades expansion, jewel crafting, Naxxramas (new uber dungeon), 1.11 patch tidbits, and even flying mounts!

But again this is where MMORPG developers disappoint me. They just don't focus their "showing off" on the right audience. Perfect example is this question and answer.
GS: The warrior you're showing here has the full tier 3 armor set. Can you tell us when those items will be in the game?

JK: The exact same team building the expansion is also building the live content updates. The big feature of 1.11 is the Scourge invasion, with Scourge unleashed all over Azeroth and Kalimdor. We're going to have a necropolis floating over the invading Scourge. For the raid players, we'll have Naxxramas, where the tier 3 gear drops.

Basically it tells me that there will be another huge world event that everyone will go crazy over, but Blizzard really doesn't care enough to tell us about how it will reward the average player. That's probably because it won't... just like the war effort for the opening of the AQ gates. It really only rewards the raiders in the end. So no fear... as you can tell they were more than eager to hip-check the tidbit about Tier 3 armor in there.

It's bad enough they were showing off a Tier 3 uberfied warrior in the first place. Because we all know that 3.6% of us are hardcore raiders and it's nice that they are paying attention to informing the vast majority of us about content we will be consuming.

Don't get me wrong... WoW is a great game. Blizzard just has a bad habbit of distancing the hardcore raiders from the casual majority. In the end it really just creates two communities and eventually that leads to the complaint that WoW's overall community blows goat nuts. Blizzard could do a lot to satisfy the casual gamer's attitude towards raiders if the world events were better presented and executed.

World events should be about the majority, rewarding the majority, and most of all pleasing the majority. The hardcore raiders are going to be there either way with their nice little raid schedules and farm status instances. Face it... Blizzard sucks at making casual gamers excited to log in. How about a little focus on the casual content that is coming out... enough with showing off the Tier 3 bullshit that only 0.1% of the players will ever actually achieve!

Kingdom Hearts has me thinking about character creation in MMORPGs

Kingdom Hearts has me thinking about character creation in MMORPGs! How so you may ask?

Anyone remember back in the days of the Might and Magic and Ultima series where character creation was done with a set of questions. Usually they covered moral choices such as "You see a man begging in the street. Do you give him gold or do you berate him for begging?" While I can't remember the questions exactly they served the purpose that modern day attribute and stat sliders do.

I question in modern games whether seeing the actual numbers and making exactly the character you want helps or hurts the experience. In general RPG terms if I want a strong warrior I will raise my STR and CON during character creation. If I want a wise wizard I'll raise my INT. While this system gives me the ability to create the character I want does it really help me make a character that embodies my attitude?

Part of it comes from role playing. Good role players can pick up with any character regardless of the details. But we all know that modern MMORPGs are not really havens for role play. The mechanics are very anti-role play in the traditional sense. What roles are played are defined by the mechanics. You play a healer to heal... etc etc... there is a very weak sense of role play involved. Type-casting during character creation forces a role on you. Even if that is the role you want to play does it really reflect accurately of yourself?

What if you were asked a series of questions during character creation and answering them honestly would determine what skills, attributes, and alignment your character would be. What if you took the Bartle Test to determine your starting abilities? Or maybe through these tests and questions you are put into an advanced role in the world instead of having to progress your character with levels or skills?

What I'm getting at is that if the numbers didn't exist and you created a character that reflects your own personality and moral sanctions wouldn't you be playing a character that promotes role play? You would be more likely to enjoy the character for a greater period of time because you are actually thinking along the same lines as the character. The role playing barrier is stripped away because you are representing your real self in the game. Some may say their real self is lacking, but that is the point of the game. It gives you the power to swing a sword, throw a fireball, and slay the dragon. BUT your motives are guided by your morals and wouldn't it just be easier if you didn't have to play by a set of pre-defined rules because you created the character you wanted instead of a character that acts as you would?

Sadly, this is only a Utopian dream. The system would be broken down and attributes assigned to the questions. Eventually you would know how to answer questions in such a way that you get the character you want instead of a character that generally mirrors your persona. Fortunately those that are willing would be able to roll a true representation of themselves, but most likely would be cast out as "gimp" by the min/max crowd.

Real World Test: If you are a DM and run a D&D campaign the next time you get ready to roll characters have your players take the Bartle Test. Then divvy out pre-made characters based on the results. It is up to you how to figure out what classes/races/alignments fit with the various scores.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

A wierd gaming day.

I had a bad day yesterday. Speeding ticket and then a city ordinance fine! No sense in breaking into the details... the day just sucked. So today I just wanted to game and that's something I haven't done in a while.

I kicked things off by canceling my EVE Online account for a month due to my expiring credit card. I will resub next month to keep those oh so valuable skills training. I'm taking a break from EVE because the game is just too intense for my RL situation at the moment. I will be back.

Next I grabbed some lunch and a funny thing happened. My PS2 stared me down right as a Kingdom Hearts II commercial danced across the TV screen. Without hesitation I finished up my lunch and grabbed my copy of Kingdom Hearts (the original) and popped it in. I jumped right into the beginning and made it past the first few save spots. This game is fun and I forgot what fun can be had outside of the PC gaming world!

Next I came upstairs and jumped online. I had wanted to resubscribe to World of Warcraft for a while just because the game can be fun if you stay away from the parts you hate. I put down another three month subscription and jumped back online. I forgot how painful the game is without your UI being tweaked out so I spent some time getting it up to snuff. I've rerolled an undead mage on the Whisperwind server. It's PvE (which I usually stay away from), but there is a nice guild I want to play with there... The Pod People.

After a triumphant return to WoW a game sitting on the floor caught my attention. It was Rebel Strike for my Gamecube. Having not played it at all since I bought it I decided to give it a spin. It's a bit tougher than I had imagined, but after all this PC gaming I'm still adjusting back to a console controller. Sadly my roomate moved out and took the Gamecube memory sticks with him. Unable to save I only made it through the training and called it a night.

It's no secret... E3 2006 got me jazzed up about consoles again. The Nintendo Wii has me more than ready to plop down cash. It's a great time to be a gamer... finally. I see a bright future between a Nintendo Wii and Warhammer Online :)

Update: 15 Nov, 2009 - Edited spelling, applied label, and removed broken link.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Mario Wii screenshots! Mario Galaxy!

Update: 15 Nov, 2009 - Removed post as all links and pictures were broken.
Post originally had screen shots of Mario Galaxy and a link to the E3 media site.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

The move is on!

I'll be moving Tuesday (hopefully) so I will be in and out the rest of the week. Already have cable and a PC up and running at the house we just bought so I shouldn't see a huge lapse in gaming/net usage. However, I have work to do on the house... blasted gutters and rotten subfloor...

Anyways I'll be around hopefully for some EVE Online, Guild Wars, and Battlefield 2. Can't go too long without gaming... must feed addic...

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Its 5:40 PM... do you know where your BoB invasion fleet is?

May 3 2006, EVE Online - V2-VC2 (Home system of Huzzah Federation)

It seems that Band of Brothers (BoB), EVE Online's version of an uber guild, has parked a nice little invasion fleet outside our home station in V2-VC2. They seem to be currently setting up a small control tower (player owned structure) that is equivalent to a floating Death Star. It can't be used to attack us directly, but if you get to close to it you can kiss that shiny ship of yours goodbye.

If you haven't sensed it yet... we are in trouble if we don't move fast. We are forming up right now as I post this and it's going to be a hell of day... week.... month depending on how long BoB plans to stick around. If you don't know anything about EVE then you may not understand any of this. It's WAR. It's gritty, overwhelming, and unpredictable chaos. This is the CHANGE that I expect in an MMORPG.

This fight (if it turns into a fight instead of a lot of nothing) will determine our future in EVE Online. We are one of the few, if not the only one, that seem to be willing to fight BoB. BoB unfortunately have a huge hand up on everyone they deem willing to fight because of their broad access to Tech II ships and weapons... along with a massive infrastructure geared directly towards massive WAR support.

If we win... we are sending a message that BoB will not soon forget. Sadly though... this is a small offensive on their part, but is still bigger than anything any other EVE alliance could muster.