Showing posts with label Gaming Opinion. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gaming Opinion. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 06, 2024

Player density in competitive modes and individual player impact

an image for a blog post about too many players in an online game mode
The zerg approaches!

 I've jumped back into Battlefield 2042 recently and it has me thinking about player density and the impact that I, as a single player, can have on a competitive match.  Battlefield games are known for their large match sizes (up to 128 players!) and big maps, but with that scale comes a loss of any single player's ability to impact the outcome.

 Before we get into the larger match sizes of Battlefield games let's look at some common team sizes across games.  The most common team size I can think of is 3.  New World's arenas are 3v3.  Apex Legends and The Finals are both 3-person squads.  After 3 is 5 (and 6).  Many games feature grouping sizes of 5 or 6, but not always in competitive modes (for example; New World groups are a size of 5 but there is no 5v5 mode). I think 3 hits a sweet spot where each player's contributions are maximized.

 While 3 may be the sweet spot it doesn't evoke any sort of feeling of being in a battle and many games are targeting giving players that sense of battle.  As the player count increases per team/side the player's ability to impact goes down.  

 Think about a Battlefield match with 128 players.  It is chaotic and tons of fun, but of those 100+ players how many are actually having a meaningful impact to the outcome?  Not many outside of maybe the elite helicopter pilot farming kills. Even with multiple points of conflict to fight over there is still likely a large number of players in any one area.

 Now look at a Battlefield match of 32 players with multiple points to defend/attack.  Spread out evenly that may be 4-8 players fighting over each point.  Losing one or two players is going to have an impact and it's more realistic to think that a single player could go Rambo and wipe out an entire team.  It also means the "elite helicopter pilot" is going to be that much more of a factor.

 In a game I am much more familiar with (3,000+ hours played and climbing) is New World.  There are a few modes we can zero in on: 3v3 arena, 20v20 outpost rush, and 50v50 war.

 I've spoke about team sizes of 3 earlier, but a common request I see in New World is for a 5v5 mode since the group size in New World is 5.  Personally 3v3 is the sweet spot.  While 3v3 can get bogged down due to healing/heavy tank builds that is not that common.  It is also possible for groups of 3 without a healer to compete.  If the arena was 5v5 there would be no way to go other than healer + clump strategies and the matches would boil down to which healer dies first.

 Jumping to the top end is war at 50v50.  Having played a fair number of wars and seen a fair number more via streamers I would argue there is a limited few individual players that have a major impact and almost always the "elite helicopter pilot" is the healer.  So I'd agree individual healers can have a massive impact on wars and thus anyone landing a kill shot on a healer has an impact, but otherwise war doesn't offer a lot for individuals to sway.

 This takes us back to 20v20 outpost rush (OPR) and where I feel the ceiling is for individual contribution. In OPR there are multiple objectives which change over the course of a match.  There are also activities that individual players can partake in that, when done well, can contribute to a team winning.

 As a quick aside here, as I am noting with OPR, a lot of what a player's contribution comes down to is the design of the game mode.  As we'll see breaking players up into various objectives decreases the population in any specific spot.  However, this has an eventual breaking point where if player numbers are higher it doesn't matter how many objectives there is because humans tend to always favor wanting unbalanced conflict and so you end up with "zergs" of players rolling over each objective.

 In OPR the 20 players per team + three main outposts to fight over with side events such as the baron fight results in a good mix of players across the match.  No part of the match is really 20 v 20; it is a of 3-5 player fights.  Within those smaller fights individual players can sway the match.  A single player can hold off a team trying to sneak behind and take a backline outpost.  A single player can gather supplies and show up in time to build doors on an outpost.

 In summary: too many players is too many players no matter the design.  Limiting player and providing divided objectives breaks up the action into a size where individuals have impact and when combined those impacts have an effect on the over all game mode.  It feels like the 16-20 player-per-side range is where that sweet spot is hit in my experience.

Saturday, August 19, 2023

MMOre creators

 Blaugust 2023 marches on and for a low key Saturday post to end Creator Appreciation Week I wanted to throw up a couple MMO creators I also follow on Youtube

  • Lazy Peon -
    • Not a fan of everything as Peon spends a lot of time in games I'd never consider, but he revisits games year over year so I find his insight on change over time very useful.
  • Force Gaming -
    • Covers a lot of gaming areas but has a love for MMOs.  Always great insights and reasonably reliable to have videos up on key game events in a timely fashion.
  • Josh Strife Hayes -
    • Josh is like a college professor and makes viewers feel at home in his classroom.  Like Peon I am not a fan of everything but there are some masterpieces in his channel like his recent reflection on his own content fro three years ago: Why Modern MMO's Suck - Josh Strife Hayes Reacts (I'd recommend any MMO nerd like me to check it out)

Thursday, August 03, 2023

Perilous MMO Tropes

contains moderate peril
 Roger Edwards (aka Mr Peril) of Contains Moderate Peril has been posting about MMO tropes.  For the third day of Blaugust I sat down and read a few of these trope posts and I have some thoughts.

The posts:

 First; these are all great bathroom reads. Second; Roger is an amazing blogger.  Platitudes out of the way let's get to the tropes.

“The MMO genre is rife with its own set of tropes; recurring themes and motifs that have become established and ubiquitous. All of which are ideal material for a hastily produced, lazily conceived, recurring blog post”.


  If there is an MMO trope that encapsulates the history of MMOs it is certainly death mechanics.  In Roger's post he covers the history of death in MMORPGs: from the "corpse runs" of early games like Everquest to the modern "Death is now treated as a minor penalty that temporarily inconveniences you." as Roger puts it.

 In my older age (40+) I tend to lean towards the modern inconvenience approach and I think it is appropriate for today's market.  Every year it seems like a new MMO project gets started talking about the "good ole' days" of corpse runs and death penalties.  None of those MMOs end up going anywhere.

 Death, as outlined by Roger, is a "means by which to teach the player that they’re doing something wrong and that they need to rethink their strategy."  Slapping a penalty on top of that creates friction and friction is what frustrates players.  Frustrated players don't stick around to play a game because there is a dozen other games on the market that will better respect their time. 

 Losing is enough of a penalty for most players.  Games would be wise to let us take our lump and get on playing again.

Running All the Way

 Running is an MMO trope and like Death it has a history with MMOs.  Large worlds and long travel times were a feature in the early days.  Now long travel times are just an inconvenience.  Roger makes a solid point when looking at single player games.

 "Single player games seem to handle travel differently and certainly have some advantages. I envy the fact that a game like Grand Theft Auto V or Red Dead Redemption 2 provide the players with access to public transport."

 The answer for MMOs doesn't always have to be to add mounts and "public transport" is a great concept.  Some games do it; there were flight paths in World of Warcraft that are the equivalent of Roger's Red Dead Redemption 2 reference "riding the train between towns in RDR2 as it is very restful and highlights for a few minutes the detail of the open world."

  Public transport or player-controlled mounts (which are really just faster travel) the key is the same as death: don't add friction. Friction will piss gamers off and they will walk (ha!) from the game.  There are too many great games on the market to be bored to death traveling in a game. 

"Kill Ten Rats" and Fetch Quests

 I almost spit out my coffee when I read this:

"The MMORPG genre is a curious subset of video games. Not only is it predicated on violence against the individual, institutions and “others”, as so many video games are but also species-specific genocide and general mass extinction of fauna and flora."

 There is no truer statement to encapsulate what modern MMORPGs expect of their players.  Most games are designed around the concept of wiping out entire generations of enemies and then doing it all over again.  And again. And again. And again.  And again. And... you get the idea: grind!

 Some may not know this but Ultima Online launched originally with a model where "mobs" were limited and once killed they didn't just respawn.  If a deer was killed and harvest that was it.  In addition there was a predator/prey system; kill a rabbit and a wolf goes hungry.  Kill the wolf and rabbits could take over the world.

 As you may expect it didn't last long.  Player's killed everything in sight and the system fell apart to be replaced by the never-ending respawn system that is the norm.

 In regards to "kill ten rats" I do have a personal preference.  I would like to see game focus more on smaller but more difficult encounters.  Leave the "kill waves of enemies in a single blow" to the Path of Exile's of the world.  Move away from grinding endless respawns of the same creature.  Instead make me work to defeat one enemy and figure out a way to still reward me for trying even if I die.

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

The Role of PvP in Online RPGs

elden ring infographic

Insights from Elden Ring

 I came across an interesting infographic from Elden Ring that sheds light on the state of PvP in online RPGs. One of the standout data points was that out of the 9 billion+ deaths in the game, only 2% were caused by other players. Additionally, there have been over 1 billion summons, but only 12% of those were invasions (i.e. the PvP mode).

 These figures are not surprising since Elden Ring is primarily marketed as a single-player RPG. However, they highlight the fact that most gamers tend to prefer cooperative play over competitive play when it comes to multiplayer games.

 Even though 12% of a billion and 2% of 9 billion may seem like small percentages, they still translate to a considerable amount of PvP gameplay. In fact, it may even exceed the amount of PvP gameplay found in some PvP-focused RPGs.

 From my perspective, this data underscores the importance of solid PvE and cooperative play as the foundation for multiplayer RPGs. While PvP can be added to the mix, it should never detract from the main focus of the game.

What are your thoughts on this topic?
Original image source:

Thursday, December 08, 2022

An Issue With Skins

 I was thinking about skins in games and wanted to talk about one of the things that annoys me.

TF2 Silhouettes
 First I want to get nostalgic about Team Fortress 2.  One of the things that I felt the game got perfect (at least at launch, not sure about current state) was the visual feedback about what class a player was playing.  The heavy was very distinct compared to the scout who was distinct compared to the sniper/medic/etc.  Every class was visibly identifiable the moment you came across them unlike other FPS games of the time where it was very difficult to get a sense of your opponents capabilities at a glance.

 Fast forward to the modern age and the explosion of skins as a key revenue stream for online games and the one thing that annoys me about skins: skins obfuscate a characters role in the game.  For example I will use my current game of choice, New World, and how it uses skins.  

 Skins are available and can then be applied to any equipment slot for a player.  The problem is skins are not visually tied to armor weights so a heavy armor user can apply a skin that looks like light armor and vice versa a light armor user can dress up in heavy plate armor skins.  Most annoying is shield skins where players can use the skin for a small round shield while using a big ole' tower shield.  

 This means I lose out visually on clues about my opponent.  A character running around with a small round shield should be indicative of a light armor load.  If I jump in to attack them thinking that and end up hitting a wall because the player is actually a heavy armor tank with a tower shield (more damage reduction) it is a "feel bad" moment. And I will admit I've used to this my benefit by being that heavy tank with a round shield skin baiting in attackers thinking I was a light weight.

 Even though I've benefited from this skins situation it still annoys me.  Skins in games should not change the visual distinction needed for the game to give good feedback to the user.  In New World's case it is as simple as making skins require specific armor weight to apply (i.e. can't apply a round shield skin to a tower shield, can't apply a light armor skin to a heavy armor piece).

 So I plead with game developers: please don't sacrifice visual feedback to players during game play in the favor of giving more skins to players.  Please make skins as minimally impacting on playing the game as possible. 

 Thank you for listening to my rant.  Agree?  Disagree?  Leave some comments.

Friday, September 30, 2022

Old Post, New Thoughts on Games and Business Models

 Getting back into blogging (apologies for missing yesterday for my post a day commitment) has also had me reminiscing through my 17+ years of posts.  I stumbled across This is WHY Free 2 Play works, quote from Pirates of the Burning Seas team today and it got me thinking.  I find it odd how, as a gamer, I jumped in to defend a company making money.  More odd is I still hold to this line of thinking.

It took me reading a few posts to wrangle what my younger self held as opinion on the topic of business models for games, but here is my "years later" assessment of that journey.

  • Back in the day you bought a game in a box and got everything with it.  
    • If the game was online you paid for a subscription and that made sense.
    • Online games with player trading often had real money trade (RMT) where players would sell in game items and game accounts to other players for real cash (usually via eBay)
  • RMT was part of how we played Ultima Online back in the day; you had to go to eBay to buy a house as an example.
  • After moving on from Ultima Online to newer games like Dark Ages of Camelot (DAoC) it became clear to me RMT ruins these games
  • Anti-RMT, buy the box, and pro-subscription became my mantra; just look at how much a player could get out of World of Warcraft for $15 a month!
  • Micro transactions (the infamous horse armor DLC) made no sense
  • At some point I then tried some free 2 play games and I still remember when I posted: My First Microtransaction (in retrospect that was money NOT well spent)
  • I seem to have turned the corner around the time of this post
    • "So, color me conflicted on micro-transaction business models. I still don't believe it beats a subscription model, but no longer is it the EVIL that I thought it was."
  • Ever since that time I seem to have adopted the moniker of "games are a business and have to make money first"

With that last bullet I am going to hop off the autobiography train and focus on "games are a business and have to make money first".  In my older age I find this really odd as a position for a consumer of a product to take, but as a gamer who really-really wants to see my niche of games (MMORPGs) have new options to try.  Basically I want to "vote with my wallet" for games that I want to be successful or from developers I want to be successful.

Speaking of "voting with my wallet" that brings us back full circle to business models.  In the subscription model players have a single vote; my vote counts the same as yours -- either I am a subscriber or I am not.  In a micro-transaction model each player's vote is variable.  A player in a free 2 play game may abstain from voting by just playing for free or a player may be a whale 

There are so many issues with this.  The biggest problem of video games making money is that it preys on human weakness.  For some of us it's just a case of "I have more money than time so I want to buy my way ahead or buy things that are fun", but for others it preys on impaired decision making (children, addiction, FOMO, etc) and works to extract maximum cash.  Yet, I still defend that a game is a business first and has to make money.

To the post I kicked this off with on why free 2 play works (which is really to say micro transactions work) is that it does let players invest at their level so developers/publishers can maximize per-player return. I do still believe as I mentioned in that post that good game design can keep the playing field level.  

At the simplest level for my argument are the games that "just sell cosmetics"; games like New World where after you buy the game you can play for free (no subscription) but then there is a store that offers all sorts of goofy outfits and stuff to put in your house; none of which affects power level when playing.  If you really like and want to support the game then drop $50 on the store, but there is no requirement to do so.

In the more complex category are games with things like battle passes/premium/season pass (for my purposes just called battle pass).  I think battle passes came from a marriage of game design and business model.  For many games battle passes offer unique rewards and drive players to participate in the game in a certain manner.  Good game designers marry battle passes with great game play and it's a great experience.  Every time I jump back into Apex Legends I snag the battle pass and it is worth it.  In Guild Wars 2 I've bought multiple living seasons (which are battle pass like).  Battle pass is the modern day subscription, but this time around players get a benefit.

Of course there is the opposite end of this where battle passes are required to make any meaningful progress and the entire game is designed to get you to pay up.  This is where I start drawing the line as it falls into an area of abusing players.  This is basically why I don't play any mobile games; every single one I've ever looked into, while looking fun, are just designed to make me depart with my cash.

In conclusion: I support game companies making money and I believe good game design can go hand in hand.  It is important to keep this in mind when looking at future games; the sooner they outline the business model the more likely it is the game design will support it in a positive manner.  The later a game decides on it's business model the more likely it is to be abusive and/or insufficient to be successful for the game.  

Want me to review more of my old posts?  Want to argue with me?  Leave a comment.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

What is an MMORPG? Is Fortnite an MMORPG?

 I was listening to Epic Loot Radio's recent podcast State of the Game with @Ready Check Raideo (You Tubube version for anyone interested).  They cover a gambit of topics regarding MMORPGs eventually getting into what makes an MMORPG an MMORPG. An interesting question is discussed: Is Fortnite an MMORPG?  Their answer is no and I'd agree to that.  Here are some more of my thoughts on what was discussed.

One item that I keyed in on was their discussion on what the cut off point for "massive online" is.  The consensus number was at least 1,000 players in a single online world.  That resonated with me and I'd put a clarifying point on it that the game has to have the potential for 1,000 or more players and additionally the world needs to be a persistent online world.  

My point above about "potential for 1,000 or more" cuts off the "do games like Crowfall count when they are not popular enough to go over 1,000 players?".  Persistent online world helps to drive out considering games that have large online player counts jumping in and out of their worlds, but are not persistent.  

With these considerations we can rule out Fortnite as an MMORPG massive online front.  Yes, Fortnite has millions of players online at any given time, but you are only ever in a world with 100 of them and that world ceases to exist once the match is over.  Note: this doesn't make Fortnite any less of a game; it just doesn't need to be called an MMORPG.

On the tail end of MMORPG is the role playing (RP).  This is briefly covered in the Epic Loot Radio discussion, but is important for a lot of players to separate MMORPG from games that hit all the other points but are just MMOGs.  If anyone has ever read my first blog post (from 17 years ago!!!) you will know where I stand about role playing:

Social interaction with like minded nerds and geeks; people whom live through their in game characters as though it was version 2.0 of themselves.

I don't want to hear these gamers speak in foreign Orcish or Elvish tongues. I want them to speak English and call me newb, l33t, or dude. I want role playing that is a real person, embodying a real in-game character. I don't want to know how much you can pretend. I want to see who, what, and how you can do things in game with the class, race, or skills you have chosen in our game of choice.

So my take on role playing is that the game offers players roles to play within the construct of the persistent online world.  This could be the holy trinity -- damage, tank, healer -- or it could be the desire to just bang away at an anvil as a blacksmith.  The key is the game requires players to fill their role in the world.  On one end are games like Final Fantasy 14 where players are asked to set their job (aka role) and while set to that job that is the only role they play.  On the other end are games like New World where based on gear equipped your role is defined.  On either end players are playing a role.

Role playing is another area where you would look at Fortnite and say "mmmm, nope".  Yes, during a Fortnite match you may get different weapons and take different actions which change how you play but really everyone is there for essentially the same role: kill other players (hopefully before a building pops out of them).

I'd also be willing to accept arguments for some games considered in the MMORPG market to be discarded due to this RP element because they don't actually put players in roles.  None come to me off the top of my head, but I am sure there are some out there.  

I think there is a valid category of MMOG where there is a persistent world that supports over 1,000 players but players just come and go without any defined roles. Minecraft is the easiest example as it has many multiplayer servers that are over 1,000 players and the game doesn't define roles but yet has persistent worlds.  Minecraft is a massively multiplayer online game.

MMOG also dovetails into the last comment I want to make.  In the podcast there is also reference to games-as-a-service; "as-a-service" (aaS) being the buzz word across the entire software landscape.  The company I work for has "aaS" hanging off most of our software products.  All it really means is that customers can expect software based solutions that continue to be updated (and hopefully improved) as part of a service contract (i.e. I don't have to buy version 2.0 in a year; I will instead just keep getting updates as part of my service contract).

I'd argue that the golden era MMORPGs such as Everquest and Ultima Online were gaming's first "as-a-service".  Now-a-days almost every game is dabbling in the service aspect with cosmetic purchases, paid for add-ons, battle passes, subscriptions, etc.  So make the last defining characteristic of an MMORPG that it is a game-as-a-service (note: the service contract aspect can vary from free 2 play to battle pass to subscription; that is less important than the aspect that players will see continued change to the service).

Want to argue with me about what an MMORPG is?  Play Fortnite and feel offended?  Drop a comment or two.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Types of gamers

This article title over at PC Gamer caught my eye today:  "Destiny 2's mysterious Black Armory expansion doubles down on putting 'hobby' players first." Specifically the term hobby player.  This prompted me to think of the way I classify gamers as I'd never considered "hobby" as a type of gamer.  Gaming itself is a hobby, but classifying a gamer as a "hobby" gamer?  I am not sure that makes sense.  In my view gamers come in three main types.

Before we get to my three types of gamers I want to get the concept of "hobby" gamer out of the way.  The article never explicitly defines the term but quotes from the Destiny 2 developer help frame the use: "...people who live and breathe their hobby playing a videogame..." and "...a community that wants a hobby more than something that comes and goes over the space of one week..."  Based on that context my take is "hobby" = hardcore.  Now on to my types.

My three types are Casual, Core, and Hardcore gamers.  A quick description of each:

The Casual gamer
  • Plays occasionally; contrary to popular belief they don't make up a large segment of any game's population with the exception of mobile games
  • Plays mainstream games; especially free 2 play
  • Not likely to monetarily invest in games unless it buys their way ahead in the game
The Core gamer

  • Plays daily; makes up the bulk of a game's players
  • Plays mainstream games and willing to dabble in non-mainstream games
  • Likely to monetarily invest in games they like

The Hardcore gamer

  • "Plays" doesn't begin to describe what these gamers are doing; they are "living and breathing" their games day in and day out (hence my association to the hobby term in the article)
  • Plays any game, any time, any where if it piques their interest
  • Invests monetarily in games (likely to pre-order and buy special editions of games)
  • At the same time they are willing to invest in games they are the most likely group to grind out free 2 play games to avoid paying

I don't think there is much discussion to be had around the hardcore gamer type.  They are easy to pick out of a crowd and there is no doubt about who they are when playing an online game.  This is a desirable audience for every game to attract as they become the word of mouth that carries games into popularity or helps stem the tides of negativity when the plebeians rise up against a game.

Of more value is discussing Casual vs Core gamers as I feel they get confused as one and the same.  And more importantly is how often developers miscalculate these gamers and that is exactly what I read-between-the-lines in the PC Gamer article that prompted this post.

From my outside observer point of view; Destiny 2 missed for many Core gamers but the game carried forward a key Hardcore audience from the Destiny 1.  In the article the discussion of satisfying "hobby" gamers is placed against a message of "disappointed about the financial results of past Destiny 2 expansions".  Those messages conflict when you take into consideration that the Hardcore (aka hobby) gamers aren't what drive population in a game.  Core gamers are the key in that regard.

Core gamers are gamers like me.  I used to be hardcore (and then I got married, got a job, and had a kid).  I get confused as still hardcore (duh, I have a gaming blog!) because I can talk to the talk and on release of a new game I may indulge myself a little bit (staying up to 2 am a couple nights in a row isn't that hardcore).  I generally play games daily and am willing to part with money for the experience.

As a Core gamer I am looking for simplicity in my gaming choices; how do I get in and make the most of my time.  Games that deliver on that are likely to attract my attention.  This is why I am enjoying MtG Arena and looking forward to Artifact.  MtG Arena is a generous free 2 play game where I don't have to invest money while Artifact is a mostly pay-to-play game.  Both of them actually end up getting into my wallet for the same amount.  Neither one is out there looking to please the "hobby" gamer.  In fact; they really hit Core gamers pretty spot on.  MtG Arena through the free 2 play generosity and Artifact through the no-shame fact they are charging players to play the game and will allow players to buy to exactly the spot they want to be at.

That is where it feels like Destiny 2 misses.  Just reading the article and hearing about expansions and free seasonal updates and then paying for season passes; my Core gaming mind is gone to other games.  I was almost pulled in when Destiny 2 was free on, but it was so confusing to know what I was getting into.  Like; do I need to buy expansions or not?  Do I need the pass?  Was this a Guild Wars 2 type experience where I can buy once and jump back in whenever I want for no cost?  Or was this something else where I was going to have to tap that pass each time?

Ultimately what I am getting at is that as far as types of gamers go Core gamers get confused to one side or the other and in that light its easy to see a developer to miss us.  I probably would have picked up Destiny 2 if the updates/expansions made any sense to me and it was clear how I could play the game with or without paying (again, as a Core gamer I'm not opposed to paying).  But reading an update going towards the "hobby" player makes me turn away.  I don't plan to live and breath any game anytime soon.  I am sure the Hardcore Destiny 2 players have already paid up and will keep paying up but no doubt we'll keep seeing the "disappointed in Destiny 2 financials" as the Core gamers are missed.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Too Many Assumptions: EU Court Ruling Allows for Re-sale of Used Digital Games by End-Users

There is a stir in the online PC gaming community today over a EU court ruling that allows for the resale of digital licenses.  Read up here.  The important part of the ruling is: "Therefore, even if the licence agreement prohibits a further transfer, the rightholder can no longer oppose the resale of that copy."  This is big news.  HUGE news for software copyright.  The immediate Internet conclusion is that Steam or any other digital distribution platform for games will have to allow end users to resell their games for profit.  However, its all being taken too far in regards to digital distribution.  This will not and cannot change anything with digital distribution.

I won't claim to be an expert in copyright law, but I do consider myself a logical thinker.  Thinking this out a bit, I don't see anything in the ruling that forces a digital distribution platform to allow another user access to a game license bought by one of its other users.  The license to a game can be transferred to another user, but access via a digital distribution platform is under a completely different license.  The ruling may force the likes of Steam to allow user account sales, but it does not in any way look like it forces Steam to allow a different user access to a license you've resold.  Theoretically, as you no longer own the license, Steam could deactivate your access to the game while the new owner is forced to procure the game files and installation methods independent of Steam.

In fact, it would be like buying a new game from Walmart and then having a law forcing Walmart to resell that game for the purchaser, deliver it to the new owners house, set it up for them and ensure it is in brand new cloned working order, and then provide all the monies to the original purchaser.  It makes zero sense.  Walmart sold you the game and if you resell it, it is up to you to figure out how to get it to the new owner and its then up to the new owner to have a method to use it.

Oh and there is a little United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruling (basically then upheld by the Supreme Court) for Vernor v Autodesk in the good ole' US of A which pretty much puts the kibosh on the reselling of software licenses.

Even if we were in fairy-tale land and the resale of used digital games was allowed, I wouldn't want it.  The sale of used physical copies of games already forced developers into the models we currently have.  Downloadable content (DLC) and the piecemeal sale of games is a direct result of developers looking at ways to get around used game sales.  Every developer now is building or has built online service platforms around their game franchises to lock features behind pay walls.

I much prefer the path the PC gaming industry is actually on: free 2 play (F2P).  Players want to pay for games and are more than willing to happily spend away on games that keep them engaged.  The F2P model allows them to try before they buy and then show the developer in a tangible way what they like about the game.

There is so much doom-casting about the current gaming industry that we are all missing the fact that the PC gaming industry has completely transformed itself over the past two years.  Reselling of digital licenses for digital games would be a huge derailment.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The problem with modern MMO PvP

Every ounce of my MMO playing body wants to return to the “golden era” (1998 to 2000) where no one was safe, impact was real, and some of the greatest MMO PvP in history took place in Ultima Online. However, my experience with today’s MMO PvP systems tells me there is no going back. The problem with modern MMO PvP isn’t one of design, but one of choice and era.

When Ultima Online launched in 1997, any player looking to play a graphical MMO had very few choices. UO stood alone for the most part until 1999 when Everquest and Asheron’s Call launched. The choice of game ultimately came down to one of two games: Everquest or Ultima Online. Everquest, offering 3D graphics, required specific hardware to run and it was also a very “game” MMO which focused on killing monsters and obtaining better loot. Ultima Online with a 2D isometric view ran on plenty of mid-range PCs of the day and offered a much more robust offering of features: player housing, crafting, and live events to name a few.

The “golden era” player base, as with today’s players, consisted of every Bartle player-type: killer, achiever, explorer, socializer. While every player is not defined by a single category -- primary killers are still achievers and explorers – those primarily inclined towards one type were going to wind up in a one of the two games. This meant that some of each type were going to mix together in their respective games.

Everquest’s design dictated that it attracted achievers and killers. While exploration was possible and there were chat channels, Everquest lacked the keys to providing an environment for great socialization. So, achievers and killers flocked to Everquest and for the most part anyone playing Everquest could be assumed to be primarily an achiever or killer. Yes, there were still socializers (mostly role players), but by far and large Everquest catered to the achiever or killer mindset.

Ultima Online on the other hand catered almost perfectly to the socializer at the same time offering achievers, killers, and explorers a fulfilling experience. Players in UO were never forced to pick up a weapon and fight. Many UO players made a life for themselves without ever slaying a single beast. I personally know a player that existed within UO without ever once leaving the town of Britain and having almost never picked up a weapon to fight, instead spending his days at the forge talking with players and plying his blacksmithing trade. He was the prime example of how UO allowed primary socializers to exist in an online game. At the time, socializers really had nowhere else to go to find game play that met their needs. UO provided the pen-ultimate socialization experience of it’s day.

Of course, UO also catered to what I like to call the achiever killers: the reds, the player killers, the murderers as some others would have called them. Achiever killers thrive on their destructive ways creating power over their enemies and there is no greater enemy to have than that of a human opponent. Mix this with a tangible feeling of ownership with player housing and eventual player-created cities and the achiever killers found a perfect storm in UO.

Again, players of the golden era had limited choices on what games to play. It is also important to note that these players wanted to play online games. While no one was holding a gun to their head and forcing them to play UO or EQ, there was still a feeling that players were forced to play one of the two most popular MMOs of the time. This lead to player types mixing and competing within game worlds for their own slice of the proverbial pie. Conflict resulted between player types and this was no more evident than what was pre-Trammel UO (aka UO before a safe mirror of the world was created).

The achiever killers in UO loved this. Instead of having to compete against other achiever killers, they could prey on the socializers, explorers, and regular old achievers who inhabited the unforgiving world. Outside of towns, anyone could kill anyone in UO. Upon death, everything the player was carrying at the time could be looted by another player (or sometimes an NPC would swipe an item). UO focused on being a virtual world instead of being a “game that was played online” and there was real risk and reward to the golden era PvP in UO.

While the socializers and non-killer achievers didn’t “love” the fact that they were the sheep that the killer wolf pack fed upon, they couldn’t deny that UO had all the features they wanted. Housing, live events, non-combat oriented game play that meant something to the world; all of these things separated UO from Everquest (and eventually Asheron’s Call). The socializers and achievers of UO were, in a word, stuck like sheep in a field surrounded by wolves. They had to suffer the achiever killers and many left the game because of it.

However, suffer is a bit of a strong word and there were plenty of other factors pushing players away from UO. Also the presence of the “sheep” lead to the rise of what I call the “shepherd”, or better known as the anti-playerkiller (APK). The APKs formed together to defend those that wished to avoid combat and seek justice on those that preyed upon the weak. There wasn’t an ounce of game design or coding put in to make this dynamic system a reality. Players were actually living in a virtual world that featured the full gambit of Bartle player archetypes. Consequence was the true feature of UO and is what made it’s early PvP so unforgettable.

Fast forward to today’s market and I cannot even begin to name all of the AAA titles on the market, let alone all of the underlying B-rate MMOs. However, what I can tell you is that there is a game for every type of player out there. Yet, there is not a single one that recaptures the experience of “golden era” UO.

And therein lays the problem: there is a game for every type of player. No longer are the socializers mixing with the achievers. No longer are the explorers chatting with the killers. The player base is fragmented. It is, so to say, Humpty Dumpty and once it fell down, there was no putting it back together.

Games such as Darkfall and Mortal Online, or server emulation projects such as UO WTF, that promise to bring back that “golden era” are doing nothing more than throwing the achiever killer wolves in a field without any sheep. The wolves turn on each other and quickly realize how boring it gets to fight on equal footing. The dynamic is lost and even the best virtual world fails to bring it back. Before long only the true killers remain and while it certainly can be an enjoyable experience, it is not the magical experience that was to be had in the golden era.

Thus no amount of game design or coding wizardry can bring the magic back. The problem is that the golden era is long gone, yet game developers keep trying to make games that will appeal to every type of player while trying to add a “PvP system” on top of it. This doesn’t work. It can’t work. The market is filled with choice and if a game doesn’t cater directly to the crowd it’s built for, it becomes a generic mess.

I’m still waiting for a true, next generation MMOG to come along; one that focuses on being a virtual world more than just a “game that is played online”. The rest should take care of itself.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Mobile gaming: perfect example of free 2 play gone WRONG

Free 2 Play /wink
Back when I fought against the free 2 play (F2P) movement for PC gaming it was because I was worried about quantity outpacing quality.  The PC F2P scene fortunately turned the corner towards quality, but another market, mobile gaming, has turned into a classic quantity over quality scenario.  The majority of F2P games for my Android phone are nigh impossible to play due to spam advertising and required micro-transactions.  Most free apps couldn't even be considered legitimate previews of the game and feel more like a mugger trying to get at my wallet.  Mobile gaming makes even the worst offenders in the PC F2P movement look like saints.  If people were up in arms about something like Allods Online, then they'd be stroking out over the state of F2P mobile gaming.

The unfortunate reality is that F2P games on mobile are far more successful through spam advertising and micro-transactions.  The developer ends up making more with these methods than with one-time purchases.  This is mostly because the pricing model for mobile apps is in the basement and if an app is greater than a couple dollars, it is doomed.

I understand developers need to make money and for the mobile space it's easier to follow the trend instead of making a statement with a paid-for only app.  The problem is that both advertising and micro-transactions directly conflict with gaming on a mobile device.  Think of the size of mobile screens and almost always having to reserve space for an advertisement banner.  It is flat out ridiculous in most cases and when that accidental click of an advertisement occurs the player is usually dropped from the game completely.  To note, some games are able to do advertising in a responsible way (like in between turns in Wordfeud FREE).

Secondly, mobile gaming is about quick access and simpler mechanics (which doesn't mean worse games).   The in-app micro-transactions conflict with both of these.  Nothing kills a game worse than spending the first five minutes finding out you really need to spend 99 cents to unlock something to make the game actually playable.  Then another five minutes is spent figuring out which payment service the game is using and by the time it rolls around to game time the player is ready to move on to something else.  Contributing to this further is again the screen size on mobile devices.  Pages for the in-app payments have to almost always be seperate screens, further pulling players away from the game.

These are all reasons as to why I was very happy to read this article and see Rockstar talk about how they are going into mobile to deliver quality games and not just to make money:
Besides, individual markets and platforms aren't something that seems to greatly interest Houser in the first place. "This is my personal opinion, but I think a lot of people in the general mobile industry are more focused on making money than making good products," he commented. "We're a business, too --we have to think about how to build revenue and we value the knowledge you need for that, but we want to conduct business with superior products. Focusing on nothing but business is depressing to me; it's boring. I want people to understand that we make games for more than just to make money."
I believe mobile gaming is going through growing pains and as we see more big developers like Rockstar step in with true, quality games aimed at core gamers we'll see a reduction in the downward spiral of game pricing and F2P mechancis.  The current situation is not sustainable.  Only so much shovelware can exist before the market crashes.  History has taught us this.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Hypocritical on Battlefield 3, Origin, digital distribution

I have drawn a line in the sand. I am a Steam user and I want my fucking games on Steam. Publishers should come to me, the consumer. I, the consumer, should not have to go to them. I have serious problems with Origin (and and Steam for that matter). I DO NOT want exclusive digital distribution platforms. However, I am an avid PC gamer; a very hypocritical and easily fooled by “oh shiny” gamer at that.
This brings me to my current dilemma. I’ve all but said that I refuse to accept Origin and EA locking their flagship games into the platform. Especially because I own a half dozen of their other games on Steam and I really like Steam as my digital distribution platform. I’m disappointed that Valve and EA can’t work out their differences.

The EA vs Valve spat was not terribly unexpected. This has been playing out in the movie/TV streaming market for years already. The content providers are unwilling to sell the rights to their prime content to players such as Netflix or Amazon. Netflix and Amazon then get stuck with the re-runs and B rate stuff. The content providers meanwhile are wising up to the fact they can just as easily distribute their own digital content and just like hardcore game fans, the content fans will come to them.

The content I’m interested in is Battlefield 3. I’ve played and paid for all but two PC Battlefield titles to date. I loved the last two iterations: Heroes and Bad Company 2. I’ve always picked the Battlefield series over the likes of Call of Duty or Counterstrike. Battlefield games have always given me, the very unskilled twitch player, an excellent chance to thrive in the not-focused-just-on-shooting aspects. I played one hell of a medic in Battlefield 2.

I’ve been sitting around today watching videos such as the one at the end of this post and I’m absolutely drooling at the footage. Battlefield 3 is exactly the type of game I want. It’s an upgrade of Bad Company 2 and flat-out impressive. And I’m missing out on it because of some silly line I drew in the sand.

The problem is: can I really by the hypocrite? Again? My mind says no, but my heart (ha!) says “who gives a fuck?”. So this is me signing off, unsure what I’m going to do. In the mean time, I need to stop watching videos.

Du du, du, dun duh. Du du, du, dun duh.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

My real thoughts on Diablo III's RMT and DRM

Blizzard has certainly stirred the pot with the announcements for Diablo 3. For those of you out of the loop, read this and this.

Real money trade (RMT) auction house

I have the same problem with Blizzard doing this as I had with SOE doing RMT auction houses: it brings in to question the developer’s motives. When the developer isn’t dipping their hand into the pot there is a barrier of plausible deniability. As soon as the developer takes a cut of the RMT-action, questions are raised like will they make changes based directly on activity in the RMT auction house? How liable are they if the value of an in game item changes due to a patch? There are a lot of questions unlikely to be answered by Blizzard on this topic.

One benefit to Blizzard sanctioning the RMT is that it brings the practice into a safe environment for those players willing to partake. The RMT is going to happen whether Blizzard allows it or not, just as it did in Diablo II, so it is better they manage it. It also allows the power-gamers (aka core gamers) to profit off their excess of play time which can be a motivating factor to keep playing the game. The only question is how effective Blizzard is at curtailing bots and other illegitimate farming methods that would undercut the market.

Blizzard has done a good job defending it’s decision to go the RMT route, but I do have a serious bone to pick with one of their quotes. Rob Pardo said:
"What’s the difference between a player that plays the game a lot and a gold farmer? They’re really doing the same activity. If you are doing an activity where all you’re trying to do is generate items for the auction house, you’re not making someone else's game experience poorer. If anything you’re making the game better, because you’re generating items for the auction house that people want to purchase.”
The first part is naive and I sincerely hope Blizzard realizes the sweatshop-like nature of most gold farming operations. Gold farmer is a term applied to those who are forced (by circumstances) to make a living by farming gold. Gold farmers are NOT players.

There is a little truth to the second part of the quote. Diablo III is not a traditional MMO. This is NOT World of Warcraft where certain zones are nigh-unplayable due to the infestation of gold farmers. Multi-player and single-player will be played in 100% instanced maps and only with those people the player chooses to play with, so the game-play effects of farming are eliminated.

To note: hardcore-mode characters will NOT be allowed to use RMT since it features permadeath.

Digital rights management (DRM) / NO offline play

Diablo III does require a "constant" Internet connection for authentication to play the game. There is no offline play, even if a player previously authenticated.  Here is Blizzard’s justification:
“We thought about this quite a bit,” says executive producer Rob Pardo. “One of the things that we felt was really important was that if you did play offline, if we allowed for that experience, you’d start a character, you’d get him all the way to level 20 or level 30 or level 40 or what have you, and then at that point you might decide to want to venture onto But you’d have to start a character from scratch, because there’d be no way for us to guarantee no cheats were involved, if we let you play on the client and then take that character online.”

“Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t play a game by yourself – of course you can. You can go into and start any game that you want, you’ll just be connected to the servers, and we can authenticate your character.”
This is a legitimate defense and with the RMT auction-house, a requirement. I support this and I’ll make the comparison to my experience with Borderlands (aka Diablo with guns). I stopped playing Borderlands (PC) online because of the rampant cheaters who hacked their characters offline. Borderlands co-op was, in my opinion, unplayable due to the cheaters.  I would have loved to see Borderlands online play secured in some fashion.

The leading part of the statement fits the Blizzard style as well.  Blizzard has always striven to remove confusing barriers to entry for their games.  While the average reader of this blog would not be confused about online vs. offline characters, I can see the viewpoint with the type of person that would be willing to quit over it.


The lack of offline play is a bit disheartening, but Blizzard’s justification does have merit. It will provide a better end-user experience for those looking to play multi-player, which Blizzard seems to be the most focused on.

For the RMT auction house it’s all a question of perspective. Characters fat on RMT purchases will be allowed online just like any other player and some gamers will view RMT as cheating. A few years ago, RMT was salt rubbed into the wounds of online gamer’s everywhere. However, in today’s world of the free to play revolution, the “paying to win” mentality is not as frowned upon. There are still those that are aggravated by RMT, but that crowd is dwindling as the market adjusts. 

I really think we need to go back to Tobold’s thoughts about EVE’s debacle where he supported CCP (EVE’s developer):
...when the CEO of CCP recently commented the uproar of the EVE community on a similar issue with "I can tell you that this is one of the moments where we look at what our players do and less of what they say", he was completely right...
There is a furor online about these announcements and due to this some gamers will NOT buy the game.  Blizzard is going to be watching what player’s do, not what they say, and I suspect most of the complainers will be buying the game anyways. Summed up best by:

If you disagree with the road Diablo III is taking, DO NOT BUY THE GAME. 

Personally, it’s not on Steam, so I’m unlikely to buy it.  I really despise having to have more than one digital distribution platform.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Shut up about Diablo III and Blizzard

My initial thoughts on the whole Diablo III uproar are the same as my thoughts on the EA/Origin/Star Wars: The Old Republic madness:

I realize this is very shallow commentary, but I've found the simplest explanation is usually right. As gamers when we look back and we ask ourselves why Blizzard would introduce two of the most unfathomable things in PC gaming, always-on online DRM and real money trade (aka RMT), we can make a simple reply: because gamer's voted with their wallets and bought Diablo III. In fact, gamer's will probably scoop it up faster than my toddler scoops up TV remotes left on the living room table.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Hey Tobold, Did You Forget About Star Wars Galaxies?

Tobold posted a couple weeks ago about the feeling that the crafting system in Guild Wars 2 was added onto what was an already fleshed out adventuring MMOG. This makes it seem like the crafting system is tacked on and was not present in any of the core design discussions for the game.

Tobold also asked:
I wonder how a MMORPG would look like if the developers *first* designed the crafting system, trade, and the player economy. And *then* designed the adventuring system around that.
I would answer this question very quickly: look at Star Wars: Galaxies (SWG).

For all intents and purposes, SWG was designed with the crafting and player economy in mind first and foremost and the adventuring gameplay added later. Combat was not even added to the alpha or beta phases of SWG until near the end and come release (and all the long years since), the adventure gameplay of SWG was terrible.

The funny thing is; SWG got the crafting and economy right! However, with the combat being so terrible and adventuring being nothing more than running across randomly generated terrain until the game spawned something for the player to interact with, SWG fell apart. Eventually the infamous NGE (aka New Game Experience) hit and SWG sits to this day as a pile of "what ifs". 

Tobold asks the right question, but may have overlooked one of the prime examples that the market has already churned out. With the SWG example in mind, what we need to really ask is: I wonder what a MMOG would look like if the developers designed the crafting system, trade, and the player economy AND the adventuring system at the same time AND with the same goals in mind.

IMHO, it would probably look like Minecraft with a story mode, but that is a completely separate discussion.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Asymmetry in game design

I was reading this article over at Rock, Paper, Shotgun about Blight of the Immortals when one of the developers responses struck me as interesting. 

RPS: Hmm. The starting positions for both your games, particular the PvP in Blight, seems uneven. Position, resources – that can all give you a better or worse start. Is that deliberate?

Kyburz: I really love Starcraft but one thing I don’t like about it is that everybody starts on an even playing field. The sides are carefully balanced and each player starts with the same amount of resources and access points.

Most people would say this is absolutely critical, but I would argue that is actually makes that game more difficult and less enjoyable for new players, limits the number of interesting strategies for experienced players, and reduces the amount of player interaction.
As a long time MMOG player, I've had my fair share of arguments about balance.  In the decade I've argued about balance I've landed firmly in the middle.  I want balance, but only if it is asymmetrical.  Like the developer being interviewed, I find the Starcraft approach where both sides start on equal footing uninteresting.

This reminds me a lot about the discussion regarding racial abilities prior to World of Warcraft's launch.  Originally, races (and even classes) were going to have very unique traits.  Taurens were going to have plains running for sprinting over open plains.  Paladins were going to do more damage to undead, including players.  However, Blizzard pulled the plug on this idea and neutered the racial abilities into fairly meaningless afterthoughts; some more worthless than others (anyone that played a Troll or Dwarf at launch know exactly what I mean).

Its one of those "I wonder what it would be like..." moments that I look back on.  How different would WoW have been had the races and some classes kept their unique asymmetrical features?  How critical is this for the Blizzard design mantra: "easy to play, hard to master"?

Back to the interview, the asymmetrical starting resources definitely has me interested in Blight of the Immortals.  I couldn't get into this developer's first game, Neptune's Pride, as it was terribly unfriendly to new players (not challenging, but more just basic explanation of how you even played the game).  If I manage to kick my Minecraft habit (doubtful), I may get around to playing a few games.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

This is WHY Free 2 Play works, quote from Pirates of the Burning Seas team

Just a quick quote drop here. Pirates of the Burning Seas is going Free 2 Play and their lead developer explains a little bit why in this article at Rock, Paper, Shotgun:
RPS: Firstly, the obvious. Why free to play? Why now?

Declan O’Connell: Subscription-access greatly limits the potential player-base of a game. You’re making money off of every player who is willing to pay $15 a month, but you don’t get those players who would play if it was $10 or $5 a month, or those who would pay piecemeal for things that grab their interest. You also only make $15 per account for which your hardcore players can find a use, when they might pay even more for extra features. That’s the money end.

Read no further. That is why F2P works as a business model. It removes the barrier to entry and allows players to participate at any investment level. Proper game design can then go a long way to encouraging players to spend more at the same time making sure players that don't spend as much don't feel left out.

Monday, June 14, 2010 2.0 vs a Rock, there's something to learn here

I claim no credit for this image.

Normally, I wouldn't poke fun at Blizzard because they have a fairly flawless track record as a game developer.  However, the world is changing and Blizzard with it.  Every company is locking their games into "platforms" and it's starting to get a bit silly.  Oh, and I can sympathize with the gamers that long for the days where LAN support was one of Blizzard's standard features.

The bullet points in the picture are agreeable to my persuasion as well.  As a gaming community, we seem to be losing a lot in favor of Facebook and Twitter integration.  Game developers appear to be looking at the new social media as a replacement for what has worked great for years. 

Actually replacement is a strong word, as what we're really getting is "integration with and instead of X".  However, we're still being tied to the developer's own platform rather than offloading entirely to the social media maven of choice.  It's one thing to offer "Facebook Connect" in place of a developers own account system; it's another thing entirely to integrate a game into Facebook status updates.

Don't get me wrong, I like the idea of consolidation to a central "hub" that can be tied into.  That is why I am more of a fan of Facebook Connect than I am of Facebook itself.  I like creating one account and being able to use it on tons of different websites.  Just as I like having a Steam account and having that account integrated directly into a game via Steamworks. 2.0 is great for gamers that will stick to Blizzard games and I suspect there is enough of them to make it a success.  However, 2.0 is NOT that much different than a 40,000 year old rock when the games are removed.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sunshine for Allods Online?

Keen has a post up: A Ray of Hope for Allods Fans
Today’s communication from gPotato shed some light on a few things we’ve been having to deal with over the past week. First off they debunked the rumor that the original dev team was no longer working on the game. Second, they addressed the cash shop prices stating, “we are actively working on new pricing options to accommodate the masses.”
While we don't know what the final verdict is yet; Keen stated something a lot of Allods players feel.
What gPotato needs to realize coming out of all of this is that the people who enjoy the game are willing to spend money.
Allods players, for the most part, are willing to pay to play the game at a reasonable price. However, I disagree with Keen's next statement:
Yeah, it’s a cash shop microtransaction model game. We know that we’re going to be forced into the cash shop because that is an intrinsic property. That doesn’t bother us anymore.
I don't want to play a game that forces me into its cash shop. It is NOT intrinsic to the business model and does more damage to the game than good. A cash shop should be about convenience, not necessity. The game should make me want to spend money, not punish me for not spending.

I think I am the minority in this. All along I didn't feel the discussion should have been about the cash shop. It should have been about how poorly thought out the game changes were. Removing mana/health regeneration skills, changing the Fear of Death debuff, and increasing the leveling curve are dumb changes for the game. I could care less that I can "buy" my way past these changes, at any price.

Over at Serial Ganker, sid67 lays out his view in response to my original thoughts.
Heartless_ is making the argument that we would hate this type of penalty in any game. He argues that if this change were made in a subscription game, players would still be up in arms about it. Very true. But with one critical difference, in Allods, you can PAY to avoid the penalty.
sid67 is one of the more balanced writers I've found in the MMOG blogosphere. This shows just how much of a minority my line of thinking is. I'm pushing against the conversation about the cash shop, because I want to discuss Allods Online as a game, business model agnostic. The reality is that Allods Online is a poor example, at this point barring any changes, of the microtransaction model.

I have the problem of having a happy-go-lucky vision of Free 2 Play games and the micro transaction model. One whereby players pay for microtransactions that enrich their gameplay experience, while the base game is playable and satisfying within itself. Developers have the right to make money with the game, but at some point, forcing players into a cash shop tells me the game would have been better off in a subscription model.

I must accept my minority view and move on. I'm still playing Allods and depending on where the game changes go, will determine if I continue playing. I don't want to feel like I'm forced into paying for cash shop items; at any price.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Challenge, a Free idea, and Warhammer Online

Bootae has issued a challenge:
A challenge for my fellow bloggers!

First take the assumption that the game isn’t in the alleged maintenance mode and there’s not only money for new content, but you have access to new content that’s been in development over the last year. So we’re writing this in a happy place. Now then, if you had control of Mythic what would be your plan for WAR in 2010?

Broken down into Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter, what would be your strategy for changes, improvements and expansions to the game?
Follow on past the jump for what I would do if I were Mythic in 2010.