Stropp's World

Games And Gamery

Archive for April, 2011

Making Squirrels Cry

Posted by Stropp on April 27, 2011

It’s been nearly a month since I signed up and bought Trion’s Rift. I’m happy to report that I am still having fun, and despite rumours to the contrary see no sign that Rift is in decline.

This last weekend was pretty special, actually it was literally a once in a lifetime five day long weekend. Easter is normally a four day weekend, with Good Friday and Easter Monday both being federally scheduled public holidays. ANZAC day occurs each year on April 25th, and this year fell on Easter Monday. (ANZAC standing for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, and the 25th of April 1915 is the day the ANZACs landed on the beach at Gallipoli. ANZAC day is essentially Australia’s veterans day with dawn services, RSL marches, and like activities.) The good people at Public Holidays Limited decided to make Tuesday a public holiday too. Yippee!

As I said, this is once in a lifetime. The next time these public holidays converge is in 2095. I’ll certainly enjoy that when I’m 130 years old, and think back fondly on this particular weekend spent playing copious amounts of Rift, at least when I wasn’t preparing for, and enjoying a BBQ with friends.

Over the last couple of weeks I have been leveling up a mage (yes, another alt) called Vroomfondel and having a blast doing so. I started her off as an ElementalistStormcallerChloromancer combo which did pretty well. Around 20 I changed roles to PyromancerElementalistChloromancer. This works a treat. I worked my way up to level 27 from there.

While the Pyro combo isn’t indestructable, having the Earth elemental pet as a tank and dishing out massive damage with the Pyro abilities makes Vroomfondel a formidable opponent to any NPC monsters in her way. I can generally take down any mob in five shots or less. The only trouble comes if adds join in, and if there is one thing about Rift as opposed to WoW, adds come in to fight far more often. This makes having a good strategy important.

However, I’ve found running to be effectively useless. Where in WoW when you hit 30 percent and ran, you had a good chance of the mob turning back before it brought you down. In Rift, they do a lot more damage. I never ever get far when running, even if I start when I have a lot of health remaining.

Vroomfondel also picked up a new title, The Heartless.

You get this when you collect the tears of 20 squirrels, and of course you make squirrels cry by killing them. Many squirrels sacrificed their tiny squirrelly lives to provide the tears for the Cry Me A River achievement, and for that I thank them. Now I have to collect the tears of many other critters: cats, snakes, and the like to get the major achievement for cruelty. So much fun!

At this one month point I will definitely be resubscribing. I originally signed up with the idea of just checking the game out for a month, but I am having a lot of fun with Rift, and want to see where Trion will be taking this game.

That of course doesn’t mean I’ll be playing Rift forever, or even for the medium term. I’m not much of a Raider, and that still seems to be the emphasis with Rift. Although if they spice up the rifts that might be a motivator for keeping on. But, with both The Secret World, and The Old Republic both looming on the horizon, I have to be realistic. My lifestyle no longer supports the time needed for more than one MMORPG at a time, so choices will have to be made. It’s just great there are plenty of choices to choose from.

Is Rift Starting To Fizzle?

Posted by Stropp on April 23, 2011

Predictions of doom. Every game has them, and bloggers love to give them.

Keen just asked:

I’m anticipating the game to start fizzling out sometime in the next few weeks.  Friends of mine and some people whose blogs/websites I follow have already reported a decline in the overall number of people on servers and actively doing things.  Anyone else notice this?

The short answer is no.

The longer answer is that any noticable differences in population is more likely to be due to players spreading out across zones rather than deserting the game.

Consider that at this stage (6 to 8 weeks) with Warhammer Online, during Australian primetime, I could run across some of the lower level zones and not see a single player. In Rift at 6 to 8 weeks, it’s rare not to see other players. Meridian always has players, and yesterday in Stonefield there had to be at least 30 players battling a major rift invasion.

Sure, Rift will have lost some players. There will always be new players who try out the game, not like it, and leave. That’s not fizzle, that’s just the way it works.

Aside from the fuss over the World Event, it looks like Rift is doing just fine.

It is certainly doing better than Warhammer Online, and that game is still running and under active development.

Hello world!

Posted by Stropp on April 20, 2011

Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!

Yet Another WoW Scam – Return To Azeroth With 7 Days Free

Posted by Stropp on April 20, 2011

Warning Will Robinson, Danger Approaching!

You might have received an email from Blizzard this morning. It has a big WoWish image promising 7 days free game time if you return to WoW by clicking on the big button. This is what it looks like, at least what the top half looks like.

This scam is capitalising on the recent free game time offers made by companies like SOE for Everquest and Everquest 2. However the link doesn’t go to Blizzard, but to some .net address I won’t repeat here.

As always, if you get an email like this, no matter how convincing do not use the link, even if it looks legitimate. There are many ways to make a link look real. Instead type the address into your browser manually.

Also be aware that companies like Blizzard and SOE know about these scams and do not usually require the player to do anything to claim the free time. Instead any free time is automatically credited and available to the player logging in to the game.

Hungry Defiant Movers

Posted by Stropp on April 18, 2011

Just a quick heads up.

The hosting fees for Stropp’s World have come due, and rather than continue with Site5, I’ve decided to move the blog over to HostGator within the next few days.

This doesn’t have anything at all to do with Site5 or their service. Except for one or two glitches over the last four and a half years, I’m happy with their service. But rather than pay two sets of fees, as I already use HG for my business it makes a bit of economic sense to consolidate on one server. And since I’ve got a year remaining on Hostgator they win the day.

Anywho, I’m not sure how much disruption this will cause to the blog. I don’t expect much, but if there is don’t worry, Stropp’s World isn’t going anywhere. Except it is. You know what I mean.

What About The Point Of Difference?

Posted by Stropp on April 15, 2011

One of the things that happens to you when you start a business is that you (are forced) to learn a whole bunch of new stuff. For me, a lot of the new subject matter being packed into my gray matter is on the topic of marketing. It’s amazing the gap between what I thought I knew and what I actually knew.

For instance, one of the early lessions I learned was that successful business market themselves not on price, but on how different they are from their competitors. That’s called the point of difference.

So when I read the following passage in Tobolds most recent post,

But isn’t the problem rather that the new games are too similar to WoW and other previous games, so they don’t hold the attention of players for very long?

it occurs to me that maybe the big reason that so many games fail to get the numbers that they want in a market clearly favoring the themepark style is that they are not selling their point of difference to the MMORPG market.

I’m only a little familiar with US themeparks, so my analogy here might be flawed, but when you compare places like Six Flags and Disneyland, they are differentiating themselves not on price but on what kind of experience they offer.

Why aren’t the MMORPG developers doing the same?

Or do you think they are?

Question Of The Day: Would You Play A Modern Asheron’s Call?

Posted by Stropp on April 14, 2011

Asheron’s Call is perhaps one of the most loved of the early MMORPGs. You’ve heard me reminisce about the game, fondly, and the comments I’ve seen always seem to regard the game with the same feelings. It’s rare to hear a bad word about AC.

The big problem these days is that Asheron’s Call is terribly dated. While other games like Everquest have had a bit of the old nip and tuck to make them look fresher, AC has had precious little done to the graphics and even less cosmetic surgery on the GUI. There was a engine upgrade a while back, but that didn’t make that much of a difference to the look.

So here’s the scenario.

If someone made a Asheron’s Call a-like, keeping the game mechanics as they are now, perhaps with some streamlining and a modern GUI, but with 2011 standard AAA graphics, would you drop everything and subscribe?

Or, do you prefer classes, highlighted quest-givers, and the modern themepark presentation over the gameplay of Asheron’s Call?

Do The Big Game Companies Even Care About Their Customers Anymore?

Posted by Stropp on April 13, 2011

Ars Technica: DRM run amok: how Bioware and EA are screwing users right now

Quote:

Sometime on Friday morning, Dragon Age:Origins players who booted up the game for a session of single-player dungeon crawling were greeted with a nasty surprise: all of the downloadable content (DLC) that they had purchased for the game had been flagged as “unauthorized,” so their saved games wouldn’t load. Again, these were vanilla, single-player saved games, representing untold hours of gameplay and investment, that users were suddenly unable to load.

Quote 2:

I mean, it’s common practice when you’re having server issues to post an announcement somewhere, so that people don’t waste their time troubleshooting. In Bioware/EA’s case, that announcement didn’t come until yesterday afternoon—over three days after the start of the incident—when an official company rep finally graced the forum and acknowledged that this was a server-side problem.

I guess it’s more important to make sure that no one can pirate your game, than it is to actually let your customers get access to what they purchased. It also seems it’s less important, when your DRM screws up, to tell your customers that the problem is your fault.

Good one, EA.

In Defence Of Themepark MMORPGs

Posted by Stropp on April 11, 2011

A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away… oh wait. Let me begin again. A long time ago, early in my gaming career, I bought a little game called Warcraft 2. It was my first Real Time Strategy game. I played through both campaigns, then went out and bought the expansion pack. After that I looked around for other RTS games, and over time found and played Command and Conquer, Red Alert, Starcraft, and other several other RTSes. I simply loved the whole resource gathering, base building gameplay style. I couldn’t get enough of it.

Then one day I went out and bought another Real Time Strategy game, I can’t remember what it was called, but it thoroughly disgusted me. There was no resource gathering. There was no base building. The player was provided with a fixed number of units and had to complete the mission with just those. I didn’t complete the first mission. I felt conned because I didn’t get what I expected to get.

All of a sudden, there were heaps of these kinds of games on the market, and they were replacing the old-style RTS. At least it seemed that way. The commentators were proclaiming that these games improved the RTS concept by getting rid of the resource gathering design. I didn’t feel that way. In my mind, these games weren’t Real Time Strategy games because they lacked the basic functionality. Namely, resource gathering and base building.

Now I see it a little differently.

These two styles of RTS are completely different. The only real similarity between them is that the player controls units on a map and sends them against an opponent. But the basic style is that of a strategy game, and since the action occurs in ‘real time’ rather than turn based, it’s appropriate to consider both styles as sub-genres of Real Time Strategy.

So these days when I hear criticism that the MMORPG genre is stagnant and how games like Rift aren’t different enough from WoW I find myself wondering if many of these commentators aren’t missing a fundamental point.

 

Games like World of Warcraft, Rift, Everquest 2, Aion, and others that many disparagingly refer to as ‘Theme Parks’ are a single variety of MMORPG. Others like Eve, Perpetuum, and Darkfall fall into a second variety of MMORPG, mostly refered to as ‘Sandbox’ games. Simply put, the MMORPG genre has at least two sub-genres: themepark and sandbox.

Some players will prefer one type of game over another. Just as I prefered base building resource gathering RTSes and couldn’t stand the other kind, (I even hated those types of missions in WarcraftC&CRed Alert) there will be people who prefer themepark over sandbox, or vice versa. Some players will enjoy both styles of gameplay. However, most people will prefer one over the other, even if they enjoy both.

To state that Rift doesn’t change the style of gameplay that was developed in WoW sufficiently enough and then complain about it, is akin to complaining that Starcraft is not sufficiently different from Command and Conquer. Both games are themepark style MMOs with no real sandbox elements, to get upset about that doesn’t make sense. What is being suggested, by these complaints, is that developers should not be making new themepark games.

The simple fact of the matter is that Rift, Aion, and World of Warcraft all implement a style of game that people want to play. Complaining about it doesn’t change that fact that if a themepark MMORPG is made and doesn’t botch up the launch, then people will want to play it. It also appears that more people want to play a themepark MMO, than a sandbox MMO.

Unfortunately, big companies are only interested in developing MMORPGs that will provide a decent return on investment. Coupled with the huge investment required to develop a AAA MMORPG, these companies are only willing to invest in gameplay styles proven to generate that ROI. That means, for the foreseeable future, the predominant development of MMORPGs will be of the Themepark variety.

So when someone complains that Rift is too much like WoW (for example) they are simply saying that they would have prefered the developer create their MMORPG under a different sub-genre. That’s like suggesting that “When Harry Met Sally” should have been a wartime action movie, rather than a romantic comedy. (Although, I suggest any romantic comedy would be better as any other type of movie genre!)

Tell me what you think.

There Is A City On The Moon

Posted by Stropp on April 8, 2011

The latest Secret World trailor is out, and it’s pretty cool.

There’s not a lot of gameplay action here, with only a few scenes. Mostly there are titles flashing on the screen that are about the various conspiracy theories that are touted from time to time.

Despite that I find the video pretty atmospheric, and if Funcom incorporate even a few of the theories in the game I’ll be one happy fellow.

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