Saturday, April 26, 2008

Battlefield Heroes Beta Sign-ups Soon

Battlefield Heroes, a free-to-play WWII shooter due out later this year, will soon be opening its doors for beta.
Battlefield Heroes is one of those titles that easily crosses a few genres. There's no question, however, that the game has a good chunk of free-to-play MMO shoved within its most gooiest bits.

Eurogamer has the news that sign-ups will be handled over on the official website on May 6th for anyone interested in playing this quirky-go-lucky online shooter. If you somehow haven't seen this inspiring trailer, you really need to check it out. The character screen features plenty of hard-points for character clothing options and the required level/experience-to-next-level indicator that completes the MMO addiction trifecta.

It goes without saying that we'll be tossing our hats into the beta ring. The gameplay looks exactly how you would imagine a WWII-cartoon-styled persistent online first person shooter -- or WW2CSPOFPS if you love acronyms -- would look like; strangely awesome.
Just for history's sake, this will most likely be the third Battlefield game I will play. What's funny about that is the fact that I skip every other one. I played Battlefield 1942, skipped Battlefield Vietnam, played Battlefield 2, skipped Battlefield 2142, and will probably be playing Battlefield Heroes.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Warhammer Concern

Looking over recent releases from the Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning (WAR) circle, both beta leaks and official information, I have a concern I want to voice. Yes, I said beta leaks, but they are merely confirmation of what is publicly speculated at large.

First, WAR seems to be treading a dangerous line towards the traditional problem most class-based MMO PvP games have: ranged standoff fights. In a ranged standoff, ranged classes spend the entire fight pea-shooting each other back and forth. Any attempt to gallantly charge the enemy down as a melee class is met with death at the hands of the ranged classes.

Now, since WAR is focusing on a lot of keep and castle sieging, the ranged DPS problem is actually OK in my book in certain situations. Ranged DPS should be king in keep fights, simply because melee are physically blocked by keep walls and should be focused around helping take the doors down.

However, what seems to be happening currently (and this is just beta), ranged DPS is king in every single fight. They do massive damage, have tons of crowd control, and for the most part can just walk away when approached by melee.

I think there are a couple contributing factors to the ranged stand off problem. First, the fact that ranged DPS is insanely high. Plus, the ranged classes have a ton of crowd control, as I mentioned. Secondly, and more importantly, the ability for healers to stand in the "back line" and heal the ranged DPS while they have fun. This means tanks/melee DPS don't get heals when they charge, because both the melee and healer are cut down from range. Players are smart and will maximize their progress potential and if that means healing the ranged DPS, who are getting all the kills, then that is what will happen.

That is not how WAR was advertised early on. Mythic was very strong about healing being minimalistic and requiring the healing classes to fight first while they "built up" healing power to heal later. It seems that is not the case any longer, with healing classes able to sit in the back row and heal away on the ranged DPS classes. I hope this is not how the game goes live, because I am sick of pigeon holed healers that just spam heals. Healers should be forced into combat and should be required to stay fairly close to their healing target.

This gives tanks renewed purpose as they have to go in with the healers to defend them with defensive skills such as bodyguard and the fact that through collision detection they can physically block opponents. This also allows melee DPS to get into the fight following the tank and healers in. Then ranged DPS can come into the fight. The battle then becomes a far more classic fantasy fight, with a grand melee in the middle of a bigger fight.

Unfortunately, that doesn't seem the direction that WAR is going any longer. Which brings up problems of its own. Namely, the fact that Mythic has brought stealth back into the game for melee DPS classes. This is a direct result of ranged DPS cutting down melee classes. Now the melee DPS classes are "stealthed" and thus can't be targeted as they approach. Bad design decision in my book, regardless of how limited the stealth is.

This will not ruin the game, but it will definitely create problems as once again far too many ranged DPS classes get played compared to healers/tanks. Thus going right back to the problems of tank and healer shortages every diku-inspired MMORPG has had since Everquest.

Oh well, keep sieges are still looking kick ass.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Ganking, Deal WIth It

Blizzard has a solution for ganking: deal with it. In Blizzard's eye, players have a choice of where to play. Even if someone started on a PvP server, they are only a server transfer away from PvE friendliness.

I guess that little PvP indicator on the Server Select screen needs to be changed then and be replaced with a "You will be ganked." sign. I've played on a PvP server since launch and since about my third month I can't remember finding PvP anywhere on the server. Yes, battlegrounds and arenas are there, but those are within my battlegroup, not server.

Let me cut to the chase. I don't disagree with Blizzards point. If someone doesn't like getting ganked, don't play on a PvP server. If that isn't an option, then get some people and fight back. If that fails, just stay home and come out only when the area is clear two miles in each direction.

Sadly, none of these cover my situation, the "I'm playing on a PvP server, looking for PvP, but all I keep finding is ganking." None of Blizzard's little quips exactly helps. I reckon I am not the only one that rolled on a PvP server four years ago expecting to get a few years worth of PvP out of it.

Unfortunately, a "PvP server" tag is not indicative that PvP will take place on that server. Breaking it down, Battlegrounds and Arenas exist on all server types. PvP combat can take place in all zones on any server.

The only distinction for a PvP server is that PvP doesn't have to be switched on, its always on, and can not be switched off. That isn't even all that hardcore. Players know its coming and expect it to happen. They simply stop, die, and run back to their grave. Click "Accept" and its back to business as normal.

Hardcore would be a player playing on a PvE server with their PvP flag toggled on at all times. This ensures no moment of safety, as the player is truly vulnerable anywhere in the world. Plus the only way this type of player gets to jump someone is when they have set themselves for PvP as well, meaning they are fully willing and able to fight.

This type of player only gets to fight when someone else deems them worthy to fight. No easy kills for this type of player and my guess is they would just get mind-numbingly ganked by players that flag and unflag themselves, until they swapped over to a "true" PvP server. I personally gave this method a go for 47 levels on a Mage and it actually lead to a few well balanced fights, but mostly it was dirt nap city to gankers. PvP flag enabled on a PvE realm is asking to get ganked, because there is no repercussion.

So, wouldn't that make PvP servers better? The option for revenge is there, open for the taking. Well thats if the player that was ganked also happened to have their epic flying mount, Season 3 gear, and a ganker dumb enough to stick around. But the kind of player that has all that doesn't get ganked in WoW, because they aren't standing still long enough to get ganked. Getting camped? Get friends, and hope they have epic flying mounts and some magical way to ground one.

No, the players that get ganked are players that have no chance in hell to escape, let alone fight back and retaliate. Blizzard is fooling themselves if they think PvP servers are a cut above.

The fact is, most leveling areas up until the major parts of The Outlands are empty aside from the random level 70 causing heartache or farming items. Severe, progress-stopping ganking doesn't even come into play until The Outlands. And that just so happes to be where the gankers get the fun little toys to make a levelers life hell. Epic flying mount? Check. Vastly superior level 70 gear? Check.

Come on Blizzard, how the fuck can Drysc be allowed to spew the bullshit he just did? In the link above, Drysc states "It isn't always going to be fair", to which I say IT IS NEVER FAIR.

I would love for Blizzard to prove me wrong and roll up a new toon on a PvP server and come across any fair fights. It won't happen, because it can't. The majority of players are level 70 and the last thing they want to do when leveling an alt is waste time fighting a fair fight. That leaves the "PvP" up to the fucking gankers and gank squads.

Fuck them, and fuck Blizzard for even dreaming that their PvP servers offer and sort of redeeming PvP content.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Good Call/Bad Call

A while ago I made up my mind that I would not participate in Pirates of the Burning Seas (PotBS), even though I did attempt to try the trial a few weeks ago (without success). At first, I tried to play it off as lack of time leading towards a lack of interest in the game. I completely ruled out the SOE publishing deal as reasoning behind my decision.

I have to admit though, that the SOE publishing deal did sour me on the game as a whole. Looking back, it wasn't really the fact that it was SOE, more than it was the fact that Flying Labs suddenly looked desperate to get this game out the door. Flying Lab was great during the entire development period, always sharing insight into design decisions and never short on previews.

At some point along the line, a decision was made to include avatar combat as a major part of the game. This fell in line with Flying Lab's decision to delay the game, not just for avatar combat, but for a publishing deal as well. This all leads to where PotBS sits today: a sinking ship.

The short story of what is wrong with PotBS can be seen at the previous link, but in the interest of summary here: avatar combat sucks, content is cut'n'paste between nations, and PvP is a negative-sum situation all around. Personally, that is about what I guessed before the game launched. Every preview for avatar combat looked bland, and the explanations behind it sounded dry.

While SOE may get off the hook for this sinking ship, another in their huge pile of sinking ships, I can't help but believe that the delays related to publishing PotBS directly lead to bad design decisions by Flying Labs to include avatar combat, essentially taking away resources from polishing the main features of the game: ship combat and the player economy.

I sit here and believe I made a Good Call in not devoting my time to PotBS. The MMO industry is tough, and getting tougher. More gamers are in the market, but it doesn't seem like any title outside of World of Warcraft can keep them coming in and more importantly, keep them playing.

Monday, April 14, 2008

CCP = Epic Fail

Not much to say here: Eve Online Client Source Code Leaked.
Full source code for the client for popular MMORPG Eve Online was made available recently via BitTorrent on The Pirate Bay. Along with the torrent, the user posts a chat transcript with a representative identified as [IA]Morpheus from Eve’s developer and publisher CCP. In the lengthy and scatological exchange, the poster of the source code attempts to get some answers about CCP’s much maligned security practices, particularly concerning the rife issue of bots and scripting in their flagship game. The conversation was a little less than professional.
I'm sure that player government-thing will get right on this one.

Beta Leaks

There is a certain website that has sprung up recently dedicated to anything and everything that is beta leaking for MMOs. The site features NDA-breaking leaks for Age of Conan, Warhammer Online, and other titles. The main focus of the site is finding "beta leakers" and allowing them to post "beta leaks".

Being a MMO blogger, I appreciate "insider information", so I assumed this beta leaking website would be of value. I truly wanted some juicy information to confirm my worst fears or better, solid information to base my opinion on. Unfortunately, the site isn't about beta leaks and most of the "beta leakers" could be mistaken for misplaced third graders.

What I've found is a Special Ed class in "I don't have a fucking clue about MMOs, but I'm in a beta for one!". The forums for this website are littered with "OMGz this is overpowered", "the graphics suck", and worst of all, "its not like WoW!!!" postings. Someone would have to work really hard to discern any "leaked information" from these rants about games that are still in beta. It would be so easy to just reply a thousand times over "its still beta, how the FUCK can you make any determinations when you are only testing the first few levels of content?".

It really depresses me that these oxygen thieves were given beta slots in the first place. I do get a good laugh though, as about every other day, a "beta leaker" posts their "I got banned" post because they posted a screen shot or video displaying their character's name. At least we know someone is watching closely.

But even worse than the leakers, are the clowns that show up and post in response.
They confuse "beta leaking forum posts" as "this is how the game will be on launch day", and make all kinds of wild assumptions. Some even go so far as to start breaking down numbers, without even having a fraction-of-a-decimal-point of information to base their claims on.
Reading the posts, a casual reader could easily confuse the conversation about beta information, for information about a game that has been around for five years.

Yes, I do still check the website occasionally to see what has been posted, but I doubt I'll keep it up much longer. I don't feel like wasting any more time reading two page posts about some idiot who got into a beta last week, played for a few hours, and absolutely hates the game now. I can get that from normal forums.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


One of the coolest parts of playing a Blood Elf Paladin in World of Warcraft is the nickname, Belfadin. Since starting my Belfadin I've received a few different tells asking me how I liked my Belfadin. One from a new player that was watching me destroy Silver Pine forest and one from a friend. My response: "I love my Belfadin."

My Belfadin is now a ripe level of 24. I know, absolutely burning through the levels. One of the most satisfying parts of playing a Paladin is the fact that it is really tough to die. A player literally has to give up control and go AFK for a Paladin to die. The only times I've died are in situations where I was really pushing my luck, like attempting to solo a level 20 elite at level 19 or attempting to ninja mushrooms in front of level 27+ NPCs at level 22.

The "oh shit" buttons built into the class are insane and really let a paladin test the waters of any situation.

Lay on Hands - Instant full heal
Divine Intervention - Invincible for a few seconds, easily able to heal to full
Blessing of Protection - Immune to melee attacks
Blessing of Freedom - Remove any movement impairing effects
Pursuit of Justice - +15% run speed talent, which I like to use in a "stun and run" fashion with Hammer of Justice (stun)

All of this, minus Pursuit of Justice, available to the base class. It really makes me wonder what the hell Blizzard was smoking when they designed Shamans. Originally, Shamans were Horde exclusive and Paladins were Alliance exclusive. It is painfully obvious to me, after just 24 levels, why there has always been more Paladins in the game than Shamans.

With The Burning Crusade, Paladins and Shamans became available to both sides. Paladins quickly trumped the number of active Shamans on the Horde side, while Alliance Shamans remained almost non-existent. The Paladin is just a better designed class, with great features available to players REGARDLESS OF TALENT SPEC!

Paladins are better healers and should Retribution ever get the buff Blizzard has promised, better melee DPS than any Shaman could ever hope to be. Not to mention Paladins can easily spec protection and become a tank, something Shamans will never be able to do. I firmly believe this is because the underlying, base class is far superior to Shamans.

The base of Shamans are Totems and Weapon Buffs, but the best totems and buffs are not available until they are enhanced via mid-to-late level talents. PLUS, to get the REQUIRED +30 yards to range for Totems, Shamans need to spec into the Restoration a little bit. Imagine if Paladin's had to spec into talent trees to unlock any one of the "oh shit" buttons mentioned before AND THEN had to spec into ANOTHER tree to get something like Lay on Hands.

Yes, I am bitter about the way Shamans have been treated by Blizzard. The Totem mechanic has been proven to be flawed since the game launched, but Blizzard has done almost nothing to change the system. Other classes have been completely reworked and overly buffed (Warrior, Warlock), while Shamans have sat idle watching their talent trees and skills get nerfed into mediocrity.

If a flawed Totem system wasn't enough, Shaman weapon buffs have been three quarters useless since the first Shaman dinged 60. To this day, it is Windfury or go home. Sure, Flame Tongue can somewhat compete when a vastly superior, fast OffHand weapon is available instead of a slower one, but in the current WoW, a slow OffHand weapon is not that hard to find. Rockbiter and Frostbrand are NEVER used once Windfury is unlocked and only serve as a filler buff for leveling. Blizzard should just give Windfury at level one to all Shamans, so they get a feel for it before the later levels. It makes no sense to provide a BASIC CLASS MECHANIC that will not follow a class all the way max level.

Shame Blizzard, shame.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Operation Paladin?

I am tired of my Shaman. That is a bit saddening as I've worked really hard to get his PvP gear and if I abandon him now I'll have barely enjoyed instant-ghost wolf, something I've wanted for my Shaman since 2004.

However, it is apparent to me that Blizzard doesn't give a damn about the class, aside from making sure that Shaman's Restoration talent tree is buffed enough to provide another viable healer class.

If I don't respec Restoration I'll probably never get the Badges of Justice needed to get some new gear.

Since I refuse to do arenas, I'll probably never upgrade my current PvP gear from what is available for purchase via Honor.

Lastly, I don't want to farm 2.5k more gold for my epic flying mount, just so I can farm mining nodes. I'd probably be a bit more motivated if I could somehow rain terror down upon Stormwind from an epic flying mount, but I can't so I won't be farming gold any time soon.

Which brings me to my new project: Operation Paladin. At first I was going to redo my warrior, because they melt face in PvP and tanks are always in demand. Yes, it would take some talent juggling, but it would be worth it unlike respeccing Resotration as a Shaman to try and get better DPS gear that still won't mean jack crap for my Enhance DPS build.

But then I did some thinking and figured a Paladin might be more enjoyable. Why? Because Belfadin is a cool nickname for Horde Paladins. Also, I've never enjoyed the level 1-20 Blood Elf content and I figured it's about time I do so.

Plus, Protection Paladins own face in PvE and hold their own in PvP. Mostly, they don't die in three seconds and at some point I fully intend to perform the fabled Bubble Hearth. Actually, that will probably be the first PvP activity I participate in with my Belf-protadin.