Been a while since I’ve posted. I see my last real post was March 14. Of last year. I’m not sure anyone actually reads my blog anymore, but in case you miss me:
In my last post, I complained about EverQuest II’s stat simplification. Well, I did end up quitting the game, as I didn’t enjoy the direction it was going. I had popped back in on a few occasions, especially after it went free to play, but it just didn’t grip me like it used to.
I went on to subscripe to Rift for a year. But I stopped playing only a few months into my subscription. It was fun, but it just feels like the same old grind. I really like what they are doing with the game, but I needed a break from MMOs. I’m starting to think I like the idea of MMOs more than the actual implementation.
So, when I’m not chasing two toddlers around, which leaves precious little time for gaming, I’ve basically played single player games.
I picked up Kingdoms of Amalur and played that for a while. I’d review it but it’s a pretty forgettable experience. The game just isn’t hard, and it feels exactly like an MMO, except you’re soloing the entire time, and maybe the fact it played very much like World of Warcraft was part of the problem for me. It seems like a wasted opportunity, given the writing talen of R A Salvatore on hand, and yet the quests were still “fetch me my slippers, young man” and “kill ten X to show them a lesson.” I didn’t really feel like I was progressing through a real story, just a bunch of hastily written excuses to throw loot boxes at me that increase my stats.
So I moved on to Skyrim when that came out, and it was a blast. I loved the strong story focus, but I hated the combat. I felt the same about Oblivion and Morrowind as well. Combat basically involves walking around until someone notices you, then watching them make a beeling right to you, while you hit your left mouse button over and over to smack them. And maybe cast a spell or something on occasion. Ranged combat adds a little variety, but only if you shoot them from a vantage point they can’t get to, because it’s a little amusing watching the AIs run around hopelessly trying to figure out how to get to you.
Yeah, there’s just something missing strategically when it’s just you against a wide variety of opponents.
And now I’m playing Eschalon, a really old school game that starts out with the standard RPG trope: you awake with amnesia and try to regain your memory. But it’s fun. The combat here also isn’t that great; it’s a 2D turn based game, so every turn you swing or shoot at something, and they return the favor. And since you play only one character, there isn’t much depth to it, though you can occasionally exploit the map geography or conveniently placed exploding barrels which shakes things up a bit. But the game is a lot of fun, if unforgiving.
Many old school RPGs seemed to have a reverse leveling curve, where it started off brutal and ends up easier once you acquire godlike powers. I think that’s one reason I still wax nostalgic about old school RPGs: you really feel a sense of progress as you advance your character.
In MMOs, however, progress means attacking slightly differently named versions of the same vermin you were attacking several levels back. And when you finally get to the level cap, well, sorry tough guy, but you just aren’t tough enough anymore, and need a few dozen other friends to help you attain your goals.
Besides Eschalon, I recently played through the first chapter in Telltale’s new Walking Dead game. It’s incredible. It isn’t based on the TV show, it’s based on the comic the TV show is based on, but it has a strong storyline that really captures the essence of the comic and TV show. This is an adventure game, not an action game. You solve puzzles to figure out how to distract or sneak by the walkers, and occasionally get forced to make difficult decisions. Every decision matters: if you side with one survivor in an argument, they will remember that. And so will the survivor you sided against. I think that’s awesome: after years of playing MMO games where my decisions were largely decorative, it’s refreshing to be immersed in a world where they have a real impact.
So, I’ve come to the conclusion that I strongly prefer game play with an actual story, and a focus on something other than simple gear/stat improvements, which is an area that has often been lacking in most MMOs. Will that change with Secret World or Guild Wars 2? I’m not sure, but I do intend to see if they pull it off.
I don’t normally do “I quit” posts, but the recent changes in EQ2 simply boggle my mind because of how mind-numbingly idiotic they are.
Recently, SOE unleashed Stat Simplification on the world of Norrath in EverQuest II.
This screenshot comes from a post Anicha posted on the forums.
None of these items make any sense anymore. Post Velious, AGI and WIS are wasted statistics on a fighter item. There’s a shield up there that gives +INT, which has NO benefit for the classes that can use the item.
I used to enjoy putting together multiple sets of armor: tanking armor, which balanced my need for STR with AGI (for avoidance), DPS armor (which focused on +Crushing and STR), and resist armor (which focused both on specific elemental resists as well as +WIS). Now the game is basically on rails where every item is clearly better or worse than the next, World of Warcraft style. I’m not asking for a game where I need to crunch a spreadsheet to play, but come on, this kind of number crunching IS WHAT RPGs are ABOUT.
Supposedly, this stat simplification would make it easier to itemize the game. But here’s another post, by tutur on the forums:
The FABLED item is cut and pasted from the LEGENDARY item and is WEAKER.
How does that make sense? And note that the abilities are mostly the same. Virtually every item I’ve found so far playing Velious has had the exact same abilities cut and pasted over and over again, with only the primary stat changing (which, I guess, is the Velious equivalent of GearScore.) Now we can figure out how far we’ve progressed by adding up our primary stat. Thanks, SOE. But no thanks.
So, because of the Stat Simplification gear reset nonsense SOE unleashed on EverQuest II, I’ve decided to unleash my own changes upon the lands of Norrath. Introducing: Subscription Simplification. From now on, my characters will not be wasting their time in Norrath. I do have time left, so I will continue to pop in and socialize with the fellow adventurers I built relationships with over the last 6 1/2 years of EQ2 gaming, but once that subscription runs out, I’m done.
I will return if someone fires the people in charge of itemization and give us back the game we wanted to play to begin with. And, yes, I would gladly give you all my stuff, but the stats won’t make any sense on it, so why f-ing bother.
I guess I sort of disappeared here for a while. That’s because I’ve been playing DC Universe Online for the last month. It’s a terrific game. I’m, frankly, surprised at how fun it is. One of the main reasons that compels me to play is that it is very story driven.
The gameplay itself is still very much like most MMORPGs. You travel to some location on the map, battle 10 of something, and click 10 of something else. But along the way you have iconic characters telling you how important your tasks are towards defeating Brainiac or helping Luthor or defeating Circe’s evil plans. The only difference is that the story is about heroic (or villainous) caliber battles.
One of the last quests I played in EverQuest II involved finding the pages from a journal that flew out in the wine. Yeah, I’m a mythical weapon wielding dragon-slaying powerhouse and these lowly NPCs can’t be bothered to walk ten feet from where they stand to pick up their own research papers.
The gameplay is the same though; in DC Universe Online I’ll end up running around clicking on ten random spawns. But, to me, it feels more fun in DC Universe Online, and the only difference is the “why” behind what I’m doing.
DC Universe Online didn’t get everything right though. Generally each quest arc culminates in a “dungeon crawl” where you fight an enemy in a scripted raid-like encounter at the end. After defeating them, you get a short cut scene that tells you about them. That seems a little backwards to me. I think it would make more sense to find out about Power Girl, well, before I beat the Kryptonian valley girl to a pulp. But maybe I’m nitpicking.
You know, I hated World of Warcraft when it came out. It was pretty much nothing more than a simplified scaled-down version of what we were already playing (EverQuest I/II, Final Fantasy XI, etc.) And it had a terrible community. I can remember my first day playing the game when someone followed me around a zone /shouting at me becuse I rejected a blind invite he sent to join his group. That was pretty much why I ended up playing EverQuest II instead (both games came out at the same time, and I played both at the same time for a few months.) I quit World of Warcraft and never looked back until Cataclysm came out.
Well, Cataclysm changes everything. They really upped the bar, especially with the use of storytelling. Sure, EverQuest II and Final Fantasy XI have their cut scenes and scripted in-game engine scenes on occasion, but WoW has them all over the place now, from the very beggining. The quests are much more strongly linked together, so I actually feel like I’m on a hero’s journey working towards some greater purpose - instead of simply running around doing errands for half a dozen random people.
I have to admire Blizzard for their bravery in remaking the entire game world. That’s what I’ve been wanting to see from my MMOs: not just constant treadmill expansions to the end, but move the whole world forward in time on occasion.
I decided to try World of Warcraft again to check out the changes brought about by Cataclysm. I have to admire Blizzard for their bravery in rebooting the whole game and moving the timeline forward (at least most of it), by changing existing zones instead of simply adding new zones to the end game like in most MMORPGs. So I thought I’d check it out with a fresh character on a new server.
And then I get to the screen where I’m supposed to pick a server and then I see this big wall of names.
MMORPGs are mostly enjoyable because of the other people you play with, and different servers can sometimes take on different personalities. Which you can’t really tell from a screen like this, or even from browing random forums trying to figure out who goes where. Not to mention that I may find out in the future that a friend of mine that I didn’t know played or I haven’t even made yet (but will) is on a different server than I select. And if you guess wrong, well, that’s hours of your life invested in leveling up a character that might not be able to transfer where you really would have been happy, or if you can, it’s a $25 penalty to move.
I understand the technical limitations that make this a desirable design decision for developers. But the Next Big MMO Hit will be a game that doesn’t force us to know in advance where we want to play before we actually play, and doesn’t arbitrarily separate us from our friends (both past and present).
This shit just pisses me off.
Would it really hurt an MMO game with servers to give all players at least a handful of free transfers so when they start out in the game, and suddenly get to a point where they’re a little too committed to their character to start over, but realize they’d be happier (i.e., will likely subscribe longer) if they were playing elsewhere, they can move. Sure, you lose out on that $25… but if I were a betting man, I bet it would be better for the game in the long run.
While limiting transfers might help prevent some forms of abuse (it provides a monetary penalty to earning a bad reputation on a server), your average asshole isn’t going to just dick people over once, so free transfers or no, they’ll end up quitting or shaping up anyway.
So - is there a good recommended server, preferably light RP (but not overly enforced), with player run events, in WoW? Something like EverQuest II’s Antonia Bayle server.
I’m enjoying Fallout: New Vegas at the moment. If you enjoyed Fallout 3, you’ll love the new game. It’s much, much more of the same. If you hated Fallout 3, on the other hand, you probably won’t care for this either.
One thing I don’t care for is the new Steamcloud feature that synchronizes your save games “in the cloud.” They must have forgotten to mention that this is a “mushroom cloud”. My quick saves were being nuked every time I started the game. While the game worked fine while I was playing it, as soon as I quit and restarted, my autosave and quicksaves would be replaced with something from really early on in the game.
Turns out the fix was two-fold:
- disable Steam Cloud saves. Right click on “Fallout New Vegas” in your Steam Libraries folder, and select “Properties.” On the Update tab, deselect “Enable Steam Cloud sychronization.”
- find the folder where Steam caches your Steam Cloud saves. For me, it was in “F:\Steam\userdata\25494790\22380\remote”. The numbers are probably random. Delete those.
Now you should be good to go. Unless your hard drive crashes. Then you’ll wish you hadn’t followed these instructions.
OK, so I was excited to read about Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale. It has a very unique premise. But then I noticed it had “randomized dungeons: never quite the same twice!”. Um, yeah…
Has anyone played this game? Because I have never, ever played a game with randomized dungeons that was the least bit interesting. Yes, including rogue. I play fantasy games because I want to experience an escape to some place, with different rules, that feels like a real place. Randomization kills any sense that the place could be “real.”
Randomized features in handcrafted dungeons are a good thing. I think Dungeons and Dragons Online was flawed in that it swung too far to the handcrafted side and certain aspects like trap placement was always the same.
But randomizing entire dungeons? Seriously, no thanks. Please stop release games with this feature. I don’t know who developers think they are kidding. It takes no time at all to see through the random number generator. And too much randomization destroys any realism in the place. I’ve never seen a random dungeon that felt like it could be a real place. Granted, the incredibly long hand crafted Final Fantasy dungeons don’t feel that real either. But I guess that’s why I always preferred games like Oblivion and so on that felt designed like it could almost possibly exist.