Posted by Stropp on
July 16, 2013
Wilhelm has a post up at TAGN where he makes the following observation:
MMOs have become pizza. They vary a bit from vendor to vendor. You might not like the ingredients from one, and another might not keep their place very clean. But they are all round and share about the same set of toppings and what not. And if you like pizza, you will probably find a place that suits you.
The purpose of Wilhelms post is to share his past ideas about Pizza, err, MMOs; but tangentially my brain works. And it provides a nice little stepping point for an idea that’s been circulating around that confused maze of neural pathways that is my head for a little while now.
I like Pizza. Quite a lot actually. A good pizza is something to behold, and it’s probably one of the most popular takeaways/deliveries here in Australia and has been for years.
But, I don’t want Pizza every night. I like variety. I love Indian food too. Add to that Thai, Chinese, Italian, Greek, Sushi, BBQ Chicken & Chips, and all sorts of cuisines. I have wide tastes in nearly everything. But I find if I indulge in anything too much I get sick of it, and sometimes simply can’t stand the thought of it anymore. That’s only temporary of course, and I find myself coming back and ordering Pizza again, but usually months later.
So, what’s the point of all this? As Wilhelm says, MMORPGs these days are Pizza. Nearly every MMORPG running today operates off the same principles, and has the same features.
It kind of reminds me when I was growing up. Adelaide during the 70′s and early 80′s didn’t have much variety in fast food. There were the Pizza places, Chinese restaurants were popular, and the standard fast food joints (fish and chip shops that specialized in fried food, and some Yiros places.) It wasn’t until the mid to late 80′s that we started to see the cafe culture arise, and other styles of food become popular enough to support a restaurant culture. We’re still slow. Up until a couple of years ago, there were only a few sushi places around, but now they’re popping up everywhere.
The MMORPG scene started off at the opposite end of the spectrum. Every early MMORPG was different. Sure the basic principles were the same, but look at games like UO, Asheron’s Call, Everquest, Anarchy Online, Dark Age of Camelot, Star Wars: Galaxies… Same principles, but different games, different styles.
Look at what is popular now. Everquest 2, World of Warcraft, Rift, Guild Wars 2. Same principles, yes, but mostly the same features, same styles, almost the same games. There are some outliers here, I think the Secret World is one of those. It’s style and progression system are different, but the game itself doesn’t vary that much from what has come before.
So here we are. The MMORPG genre has homogenized into a collection of games that are essentially variations of World of Warcraft. Rather than each of the early MMO games branching out and developing their own sub-genres, they instead merged, publishers and developers driven by desire to emulate the massive success of World of Warcraft; but none of them near as successful. Simply because, to stretch the analogy, WoW is still the most popular Pizza place, despite reaching for the lowest common denominator to gain the biggest possible market share. Don’t forget Pizza Hut and Dominoes make terrible pizza, but they’re still extremely popular.
Another thing Wilhelm noted was that there aren’t any MMORPGs scheduled for release, or update this year. Too be honest, I haven’t been following the up and comers, but I don’t remember the last time a year went by without at least one major release. Is the MMO bubble bursting? Are developers finally realizing that there are too many Pizza places now in the market?
I do hope so. I’m sick of Pizza. I’m in the mood for Mexican.
Posted by Stropp on
October 22, 2011
Panda excitement is in the air, but Blizz appear to still feel the need to bribe players into a 12month sub with the promise of Diablo 3. That’s $180 for a game (D3) that will cost sixty or seventy. I hope there’s 12 months of content in the panda expansion.
BTW, the Panda is an endangered species.
Is this a sign of things to come with WoW?
Posted by Stropp on
May 26, 2011
Chinese Prisoners Forced To Farm WoW Gold
I wonder how much longer that game developers like Blizzard, and gold buyers, are going to keep supporting slavery.
To be fair, Blizzard are one of the companies that do a lot to ban gold farmers and sellers, but sometimes I wonder exactly how much they really care about gold sellers. After all, each time a gold seller is banned, they simply open a new account. Often using a stolen credit card. It works in their favor.
It’s kind of like the relationship that governments have with tobacco companies. The gov pass laws to ban smoking in public places, they ban ciggy advertising, and make it hard for the tobacco companies to operate. But they never come right out and ban cigarettes because they make a huge amount of tax revenue on the sale of cigarettes. The revenue gained outweighs the cost to the health system.
I figure it’s the same with Blizzard. There are costs to allowing the gold sellers to operate; annoyed subscribers, customer service calls, and hacked and plundered accounts. But the benefit is a continual positive cash flow from banned farmers and sellers. The revenue gained outweighs the cost to the playerbase.
If Blizzard were serious about dealing with gold farmers they could do a number of easy things, including.
- Remove the ability to send gold by mail. Instead provide an option to transfer between characters on a single account. Or perhaps just let each character gain its own gold. After all WoW is technically a Role Playing Game.
- Ban players who buy gold. Full Stop. Most players would never contemplate risking their account if they knew Blizzard would ban them. There would be some difficulties with this simply because of false positives, but the first step would be to ban the most obvious gold buyers.
- Disallow the transfer of gold between players; perhaps make gold BoP, and only allow transfer via the auction house and cap buy it now amounts to some multiple of the average price for the item being traded.
So do you support slavery?
If you buy gold, you are.
Posted by Stropp on
May 13, 2011
The question of the day. Quests, are they good or bad.
Wolfshead thinks quest are the worst thing to ever have been added to the MMORPG experience, and wants to remove them from the MMORPG experience. I kinda think he hates them because the current flavor is the smooth creamy WoW flavor. But he does have a couple of good points in his article. Quests can certainly hurt socialisation as players hurry to carry them out at the expense of interacting with other players. Quests can also make what should be a virtual world experience in to a far more of a linear affair, making the experience an on-rails ride.
But, a game without quests? What does that mean?
Well, if we are talking about a typical progression based MMORPG, then we revert to the heady days of yester-year where the only way to advance was to grind out several million NPCs.
In that sense the humble quest has been something of a godsend. Even though we now have the quest grind, I think I like it better than finding a spot to camp, and then grind out mobs for hours on end until the ding. Then finding a new spot and repeating until max level. At least quests offer a reason for going to a location, and for knocking off those ten rats. Old Lady Knickerbocker doesn’t care for rats in her basement don’t you know? Or is that bats in her belfry?
Where I think the quest has gone wrong is that it has been overused, and used in a way that makes it the sole means of progression. You do quests until you get to the level cap, and then do your dailies and raid. Quests are simply used to get a player to the level cap quickly with the distraction of a story.
I also think that quests are used to denote activities that are hardly questlike. When I think of a quest, I think of Frodo and the Ring. I think of Luke trying to escape a boring existence and falling into a great destiny. I think of Decker and the Replicants. I think of meaningful stories, not the killing of some of the local wildlife, or helping a Hobbit deliver the mail. Those are tasks, not quests.
But named correctly, or not, I think what we have now is better than before. What would be better still, would be to have more variety in what activities we can do in MMORPGs, but that also applies to the exclusive combat nature of the current crop of MMORPGS (EQ2 and ATITD not withstanding.) Perhaps it would be better to re-evaluate and rejig the quest model, but throwing the quest-baby out with the bathwater?
Rather than doing away with quests, lets thin them out by adding more to do.
Posted by Stropp on
June 9, 2010
From WoW-Europe: As part of the upcoming Cataclysm expansion, Blizzard is adding a new Battleground to World of Warcraft called Twin Peaks.
It’s a Warsong Gulch, capture the flag style area for 10×10 players. I’m not sure what level we’re talking about, but given the area is the Twilight Highlands, players will probably need to be a higher level before Twin Peaks kicks in.
Given Blizzards penchant for peppering World of Warcraft with pop culture references there’s bound to be a few referencing the 1980′s TV show of the same name. At some point we’ll simply have to hear, “She’s dead… wrapped in plastic.” Will there be a diner that sells great coffee and cherry pie, or a wierd red velvet room with a dancing backwards talking dwarf?
I’ve got that series on DVD. I might have to have another look.
Posted by Stropp on
November 26, 2009
Professor Syp over at the Biobreak School of MMOGenomics and Appliance Repair has set all of us bloggers who also play Everquest 2 a little homework assignment. And just before the Thanksgiving holidays* too. Hrmph. What a killjoy!
The work he is asking us to do is to list five features of EQ2 that are better than those in World of Warcraft. Fortunately he didn’t set a word requirement.
- Housing. Everquest 2 has the best housing system in any MMORPG I’ve played. WoW doesn’t have housing.
- Guild Amenities. Guilds in WoW are simply a group of like minded players. It’s the same in EQ2 except that guilds can level up. At certain levels various amenities become available to the guild such as trade quest givers, guards, crafting component storage, and mail boxes. Not to mention at certain levels guilds can move into bigger and better guild halls.
- Crafting. I really don’t consider World of Warcraft’s crafting system to be a real crafting system. All you do is have the required components and hit a button. That’s not crafting, that’s mass production, Jetsons style. However, while EQ2 requires more involvement while crafting, it’s still not the best system I’ve seen. ATITD is the gold standard as far as I’m concerned, even if it does require a PHD to work out. Still EQ2 crafting beats WoW Crafting hands down. Not to mention crafting is not tied to adventure level. A player can just be a crafter if he wishes, and never step into the wilderness.
- Quest Variety. While EQ2 still has much of the same quest structure of WoW, they have a bigger variety of quest types. You can do heritage quests, epic quests, heroic quests, and a couple of other quest types as well. The rewards also include furniture and trophies that can be put in your house or guild hall.
- Collections. These are a kind of sub-quest where a player must find shiny objects around the world to complete collections. Completing these collections often offer a reward. Collections are not critical to the game, but they do offer a nice diversion.
- Alternate Achievement Points. Can I add a sixth point? WoW has Talents, but I like the way EQ2 uses AA points (which is a similar system), and how I can acumulate them faster than I level. It’s also optional to do this, so players can choose to race to the level cap, or to accumulate AAs for a stronger character before moving to the next level. Nice little feature.
- Flexibility in Appearance. Can I have Extra Credit, Professor Syp? In EQ2 you’re not restricted to the look of your armor. After a certain level, players can equip gear in appearance slots. These don’t provide stats, but only affect the look of your character.
So there you go. Not five, but seven features in Everquest 2 that I consider to be better that the equivalent features (if they exist) in World of Warcraft.
While I believe that WoW does parts of the MMORPG experience better than other games, and while the bits it does do better are the ones that count, it’s my opinion that Everquest 2 is a superior game to World of Warcraft. The points I listed above are only some of the reasons I believe that.
* BTW, Thanksgiving is not celebrated in Australia, so Professor Syp hasn’t interrupted our vacation with this homework after all.
Posted by Stropp on
October 30, 2009
[adsense_id="1"]MMOCrunch has a post about the time having come to merge my World of Warcraft account into Blizzard’s new Battlenet service. There’s still a bit of time though, since WoW won’t become unplayable without a Battlenet account until the 11th of November.
And since I unsubscribed from World of Warcraft some months ago, I have even more time. At least until I decide to resubscribe for Cataclysm, or buy Starcraft 2, or have some other reason.
But being the curious sort that I am, I decided to check out Blizzard’s FAQ on Battlenet. And quite honestly some of it disturbs me a little.
For one thing, it seems that Blizzard is recommending that players merge all their World of Warcraft (as well as other game) accounts into one Battlenet account. They do say that players will still be able to play multiple WoW accounts simultaneously, but it’s what they don’t say that has me concerned.
There’s no mention of the permanence of the Battlenet account to game linkages. If I created a new BNet for a loved one or a friend account can I transfer one of my games to that?
If I create an account for Starcraft 2, and five years down the track having forgotten the account details, can I create a new account for that game? (I know this doesn’t happen for MMORPG games, but SC2 is a single player game and has a different audience for the most part.)
What happens if I get an account ban on one of my games. Does that ban extend to all the games on that Battlenet account, or even just all the same type of games? Does a ban on one WoW account shut down all my WoW games?
Another question: What are the criteria for a Battlenet account ban that closes everything down?
We’ve all heard the stories from players complaining that Blizzard has unfairly banned them, and how difficult (or impossible) it was to reinstate the account. While these stories often have to be taken with a teaspoon of salt, I’m certain that there have been a lot of wrongly terminated accounts that have not been reinstated.
Not only that, now all my games will be on a single logon which is also something I’m not comfortable with. While once, if you had multiple WoW accounts, it was hard for a hacker to break into more than one account, if a player gets hacked all their WoW, Starcraft, and Diablo 3 data is ripe for the picking.
This is one of the reasons I’ve always resisted those OpenID or Passport schemes. It reduces the fail point of your security to just one spot. I’d prefer to have multiple signons and keep track of them in a non-digital-non-online way.
While it will be a when-I-get-around-to-it event, I’ll definitely be transfering my WoW account at some point. But I won’t be putting all my games on the same Battlenet account. I’ll be creating a new account for each. It’s just a more secure option.
Posted by Stropp on
August 23, 2009
Certainly in more ways than one since my little household companion is spending the weekend at the vets with them attempting to bring a high feline fever down. Some of the conversations I’ve had with the vet make me wonder if she isn’t the veterinarian version of House in regards to our discussions of diagnostic techniques. Good news is the fever has dropped a bit, bad news is that they’re not sure what’s causing. Worse news is likely to be the bill!
But apart from puns about cats and cataclysms, there has been a lot more been said regarding Blizzards announcement during Blizzcon about the Cataclysm expansion. The weekend is usually pretty quiet on the blog front. A lot of bloggers seem to post less frequently on weekends (including me) but this weekends annoucement certainly put the cat among the pigeons… sorry.
The big news was that the rumors that leaked a couple of weeks about turned out to be true. Apparently the Blizzard guys weren’t too happy about that one. No one likes to have their thunder stolen (although, that does seem to be the Blizzard M.O. in making major huge annoucements and releases when other game companies are making theirs, perhaps they’ll know a little how it feels now) but the overwhelmingly positive reaction to the rumors took the edge off.
Myself. I was taking the rumors with a grain of salt like many other bloggers. I did however post a bit of conjecture about the nature of the Cataclysm expansion a little while back that was more than a bit tongue in cheek. In that I said that the Cataclysm would destroy old Azeroth allowing Blizzard to have players start at a high level instead of having to go through all those old levels. Probably the biggest surprise of the weekend’s announcements is that they are going to do just that. Well, not exactly that. Some zones will be apocalypized, The Barrens, Darklight Woods, but they won’t be upping the starting level as far as I can tell. BTW, are they destroying Stranglethorn Vale? If not, I hope at least those loose pages of the Greenhills of Stranglethorn end up getting consumed in the destruction!
The one thing that did occur to me reading all the news from the con was that it seemed an awful like Blizzard was heading down the path of the New Game Experience (NGE) that SOE went down with Star Wars Galaxies. (I did see that Genda had the same thought.)
There seem to be some substantial changes that are going to be made to the game, revamping old zone not withstanding, especially concerning changes to the game mechanics. This isn’t that surprising really. Blizzard have made changes to how everything, damage, healing, have been calculated before and this doesn’t seem to be something they would shy away from. As Genda said, it’s a brave move, but not so much because of the changes, but because they are happening in the context of so many other changes.
The most surprising thing to me was the announcement of the new level cap being 85 instead of 90 or 100, and the addition of the new Goblin and Worgen races.
There’s been a lot of discussion over the years regarding how Blizzard seem to be focussed solely on a vertical progression with World of Warcraft by simply adding to the level cap and adding more and more endgame raid content.
Personally I think its a positive sign for the long term health of World of Warcraft that Blizzard are looking at adding horizontally to WoWs progression. If the game only ever added levels, at some point it would become too daunting for new players to start, and for existing players to create alts. That can’t be good for a continued business plan.
As for release dates. It’s probably too soon to speculate, but in the past Blizzard have announced the expansion around six months before the planned release date which ends up becoming a twelve month time frame. Wildly guessing, I expect an initial date will be for second quarter 2010, with the game actually releasing sometime in November.
Of course, if Star Wars: The Old Republic ends up announcing a firm release date, Cataclysm’s date will be announced shortly thereafter to be in close proximity to Bioware’s release.
Now let the Cataclysm speculation and analysis begin!
What do you reckon?