Saturday, December 19, 2009

Death to the sheep

Content is a crutch for the weakminded. Real men (and real women) need nothing more than a deep flexible set of systems, and they will generate their own content. Immersive pregenerated storylines, classes with vastly different playstyles, and crafting systems that don't require a PhD in the game you are playing are all the the products of weak minded fools catering to the mindless masses of sheep that pollute our hobby.

This sarcastic post inspired by this post at Ancient Gaming Newb. He makes a great point.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Klingons in Star Trek Online has an interview with Jack Emmert up that describes how Klingons will work in launch STO. Highlights include:

-The PvE game on the Klingon side will not be nearly as deep as that on the Federation side. Klingon missions will focus largely on PvP, and Klingon PvE will focus largely on randomized encounters in deep space.

- Initially all PvP will take place in instances. There will be ten instances at launch, and the max players per instance will be ten per faction.

-Klingon ships will be able to stealth out, while Federation ships will not. Klingon ships will be more maneuverable and better at close range fighting than Federation ships. Klingons will get the only ship capable of launching fighters.

All in all, I have to say that sounds pretty exciting to me. Two factions at launch with vastly different playstyles sounds like a good thing. Some commentators are up at arms because it turns out the Klingons won't have a PvE game of the same depth that the Federation has at launch. However, I don't see it as a problem at all. I imagine that the majority of players drawn to the Klingon faction will be there mainly to "kick Federation ass!" If you are there mainly for the PvP, not being forced to screw much with a PvE game is a good thing, not a bad thing.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


I did not hype this article nearly hard enough in my last post. I skimmed the article and linked it because it looked good. Only tonight did I get down to really reading it. "Prescient" would be an utterly idiotic understatement when describing it. It was published in 1991, and many of the major issues in modern MMO design were described with perfect clarity nearly a decade before UO and EQ came out. A few quotes:

On bandwidth requirements for future games:

Even in a more technically advanced network, however, bandwidth remains scarce in the sense that economists use the term: available carrying capacity is not unlimited. The law of supply and demand suggests that no matter how much capacity is available, you always want more. When communications technology advances to the point were we all have multi-gigabaud fiber optic connections into our homes, computational technology will have advanced to match.

On procedural versus handracfted content design:

It is really not a problem if every apartment building looks pretty much like every other. It is a big problem if every enchanted forest looks the same. Places whose value lies in their uniqueness, or at least in their differentiation from the places around them, need to be crafted by hand.

On what happens when you let real human beings loose in a carefully crafted virtual space:

Social engineering is, at best, an inexact science, even in proto-cyberspaces. Or, as some wag once said, "in the most carefully constructed experiment under the most carefully controlled conditions, the organism will do whatever it damn well pleases."

Really a great read, imo. Well worth wading through even if it is a bit stuffy in places. As an aside, I plan to track down the book this article first appeared in. If the date is not legit, I'll update this post.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Quick Hits: December 11 Edition

1up up has an article up about the first graphical MMO. I had never heard of it, apparently it came out in 1986 (!?!) and played a lot like King's Quest meets Ultima Online. Another more academic article with a screenshot here.

Mirkwood may be a lot of fun, but the last two nights I've actually been playing Wizard 101. Huh, almost broke into poetry there. In any case, it's hard to say what I find so compelling about the game. One major element is definitely the strategic feel of the combat. Last night for example, I figured out a new simple four turn strategy with my existing cards that made a spell that I thought was nearly useless shine. Then I got a new spell that forced me retool my deck and drastically changed my basic combat strategy once again. I also like the "buy hunks of content and own them forever" business model. I tend to play the game in randoms bursts, usually involving a new alt, so it's nice to "own" access to the first three worlds.

The 3.3 patch in WoW has been getting fairly rave reviews. I'm considering firing up my account for an experiment that involves trying to level up as much as possible entirely in single party instances. Would it be fun, or would the average inhabitant of WoW turn out to be such an asshat that I'd quickly get turned off? I know how I think it would go, but I'd love to be mistaken. . .

I have my main gaming rig back online again. I have to say, being able to play anything I like at a good frame rate while running i-tunes in the background is ten kinds of awesome. Although it makes the fact that I'm playing so much Wizard 101 (which runs fine on most pocket calculators) a bit ironic.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


This just in: Mirkwood is a lot of fun.

Maybe it's simply a relief to have a normal outdoor questing zone after spending a year in Moria and Lothlorian. Moria was an amazingly well realized dungeon environment, but it was also oppressive and at times stressful to level in. Lothlorian had to be the most anti-climatic final zone I have ever seen in an MMO. You spend weeks struggling through challenges of epic proportions, only to be told that you need to spend a few evenings cleaning up orc filth before you can be trusted to even set foot in Lothlorian. Once in Lothlorian proper, exciting tasks like picking grapes and meditating await. The 1-60 game ended on more of a whimper than a bang for anyone that wasn't a raider.

Mirkwood addresses this issue pretty well. Now, after spending some time recovering from Moria in Lothlorian, you have a new final high level zone to move on to. The quest chains you need to get through to enter Mirkwood are combat heavy and fairly challenging. You'll want to get into a PuG for them if at all possible. There is also a steady stream of NPC elves coming along to help you fight in most spots. This simple device makes you feel like you really are part of an invasion force, rather than some lone chump that does all the work while NPCs laze about in camp and come up with new missions for you. So far, Mirkwood is a much more satisfying cap to LoTRO than Lothlorian was.