Archive for August, 2010

Dark Age has been out forever.  In fact, forever and a half, in MMO land.  With all the time in the wild, it’s pretty tough to keep an economy balanced.  Gold is earned, and gold is spent.  Sometimes more of the latter happens.

There’s a ton of ways to get gold in DAoC.  There’s grinding on mobs, selling armor to merchants, doing some quests, killing players and most importantly: trinketing.  Trinketing is when you salvage a piece of armor, take the resulting materials, craft them into non-essential fluffy items, and sell it off to the merchants.  The price you can get is pretty decent, but does require you do some crafting before hand, as you’ll need knowledge of metalworking and clothworking.

You can also get money by crafting, and then selling your wares to various players in the game.  This is a fantastic source of income for players.  I geared up all three of my latter toons just by crafting on one of them.

The problem with crafting is that the transaction is lateral in the economy.  The money you paid for that weapon isn’t leaving the economy, despite the time it took you to pull money out of the system via killing, ganking, salvaging, or whatever.  This is how coin becomes worthless in a game.  DAoC is on the edge here. Back in 2005, the price for 50 Platinum was $60[1].  Today, you can buy that same amount for less than $12[2].  That’s a 80% drop in value in just over 5 years.  That’s the sign of a leaky economy.

Well, Mythic has a pretty out-of-the-box new idea to help fix this.  How about an auction? Yes, we’ll call it the Infernal Auction! Offer up some rare gear and let players drain their accounts in the process.  This is exactly what you need to plug that leak.  While it isn’t going to fix the issue, it will at least create a little more stability in the economy while the developers figure out how to actually turn things around.  One might wonder though, that after 9 years, is it worth it?  Not in a negative way, but do you really care if everyone is getting the max items/crafting/wealth possible?  Do you piss them off just to maintain balance, or do you count your stars that people are still paying to play.

Either way, this is sure to be a good move.

Sources:

[1] http://web.archive.org/web/20050206050245/daoc.igxe.com/

[2]http://www.igxe.com/DAOC/cheap-DAOC-Platinum-DarkAgeofCamelot.html

I scour tons of links throughout the web, and frankly don’t have enough time to writeup about each one I find interesting. Each Friday, I’ll go through and link up some of the more interesting things that I either didn’t have time to write about, or didn’t have enough to write about them. Here’s the first installment!

Virtual Racing without the Virtual – Those crazy Euros sometimes have way too much time on their hands.  Well, we do too in America, we just do stupid crap with it.  These guys rock. Take a RC car.  Add a camera to it. Wire it to a TV and steering wheel and you have epic amounts of win.  In fact, I almost needed to change my pants when I saw this.  At work.  Awkward.

From “All your Eggs in One Basket” department – A little back history.  In 2008,  EVE killed two birds with one smart stone.  People had a crap ton of “gold” in game.  People wanted to sell gold.  How about you sell game credits in game for in-game currency?  People with excess gold get to keep playing for free, while people who want to buy gold can, and the money goes to the developers.  Genius!  About a month ago, these PLEX tokens (which grant 30 days play time) were allowed to be transported across the game in a rather..risky..fashion.  Turns out that you could kill someone’s ship which had these tokens inside.  Tokens could be stolen or even destroyed.  Poor sap this week had 74 taken out, to a tune of over $1,200.  Ouch.  That’s over six years of game time down the tube.  It’s ok to put all your eggs in one basket if you WATCH.  THAT. BASKET.

Colliding over Collision Detection – There’s quite a spirited debate going on over on the WAR forums about the removal of Friendly (not all!) Player Collision Detection.  Some love the idea, standing behind a stout 15% performance increase.  Others claim it will kill the game as we know it.  I’m in the first camp.  I’m all for performance increases, as it opens up the accessibility of the game, which means more players coming aboard to have their faces melted.  Lots of bloggers talked about it.

First Time in Doom – After 17 years, Steven Totilo finally played Doom.  Not Doom 3…the original Doom.  His write-up is fantastic and pretty much echos the memories I have of the game.  Of course I was 12 when I first played Doom (no, I don’t know what my parents were thinking…itw as a different time in the game world), so my memories may or may not be accurate.  Either way, this is a great read for Nostalgia’s sake.

Speaking of Doom, Steam is having an EPIC sale in honor of Quake Con.  Get all the Doom, Quake, Hexen and Wolfenstein you can handle.  Check it out here.

So that wraps up another week in the gaming world.  Everyone have a safe weekend.  Watch out for the bomb groups.

[WAR] Forum Feedback

Posted: August 12, 2010 in WAR

I just hit on a post by Andy on the forums.  It helps address the player perceptions in WAR, as well as point out that there are plenty of avenues in feedback.  I’ve compiled these in a simple, easy to read format.  Sometimes trudging through these new forums can be a pain in the…yeah.

Of course, it looks like 1.3.6 is going live tomorrow, so these won’t be valid for a whole long time.  I’ll keep this updated though, as things progress.  If you can’t sift through the new forums, you should at least be able to hit up this page.

You can hit this page here.

[id] Going Live with Quake Live

Posted: August 12, 2010 in id

If you’ve been under a rock your whole life, or if you’re younger than 12, you probably have no idea what Quake is.  You may or may not have heard of this game, but you really ought pay it its dues.  Quake was the first* true 3D first-person shooter out on the market.  It was was a marvel in it’s time, really.  Everything prior to that, such as Doom was really 2.5D.  Everything had a length and width, while height was just a variable.  You could never walk on a true bridge above another part of the level, for example.

Quake changed all this, as well as the face of FPS gaming.   It was a gory romp through some real rank baddies.  There was a nail gun, lightning gun, and pineapple (grenade) that left quite a mess behind.  Gibbing someone shot body parts all over the place, bouncing off walls and geometry.  It was pure, unadulterated win.

Click on up to Quake 3: Arena (Q3A).  (Not that there is anything wrong with Quake 2, it was epic in it’s own right, but going into all the Quake games would take forever and a half).  Q3A was different.  Instead of a single player, mow-down-the-baddies campaign and storyline, Q3A was all about death-match. Single player death-match against bots, and multiplayer death-match against your college roommates.  It was a different kind of FPS.  To boot, the Networking model used for Q3A was fantastic.  It kept lag to a minimum, and the overall play-experience was seamless. Check out a good writeup here.

In addition to a pretty awesome networking architecture, Quake’s minimalist approach made the game feel crisp and clean.  It wasn’t cluttered up with crap you didn’t use.  Everything from the Railgun (sniper paradise) to the Noob-cannon (shotgun) was useful.  They were also situationally superior.  Some of the most well laid-out death match maps made this game a must have for anyone who called themselves a FPS player.

Ok, let’s click up to Quake Live.  Take Q3A and shove it in a browser.  Yes, a browser.  After a quick install (less than 10 minutes here), you can be up and online playing Q3A.  It’s a fantastic and revolutionary idea, if you ask me.  Who would have thought?  id did.

They finally took the beta tag off, which has been on forever and a half.  Not quite as long as Gmail…but still pretty long.  They also introduce premium services.  There’s no cost to get into Quake Live, but if you want to have some extended support, new maps and mods and join up to one clan, you can do so for a pretty stingy $1.99/mo (billed annually).  When was the last time you payed $25 for a FPS game?  I didn’t think so.

QUAKE LIVE – Home.

Check out the Premium and Pro features here.

* – Duke Nukem 3D may have “3D” in the title, but it was still built on the “Build Engine” which was 2.5D.

[GW] One Hell of a Limb

Posted: August 11, 2010 in Guild Wars

I just watched the Guild Wars 2 video.

How’s it stack up against other MMO Trailers?  Let’s run down the checklist:

  1. Loud Music… check!
  2. Flashy graphics… check!
  3. Developer voice-overs… check!
  4. Promise to reinvent MMOs… check!

By all standards, yes, this is a MMO Trailer.   Some of the comments by the devs really have me worried, though.  I mean, all that is said sounds great.  And it really caters to the sense of MMO burnout that the general player-base is experiencing.  But, come on now.  Are they going to come out and say “Yes, you’ll keep doing the same thing as other games!”  No, not so much. Let’s look at some of the grandiose statements and see just how plausible they are.

We just don’t want players to grind in Guild Wars 2.  No one enjoys it; no one finds it fun.

That’s great.  Everyone hates grinding.  But really, isn’t a bit o’ grinding a necessary evil?  I mean, shouldn’t you HAVE to put in time and effort into your character in order to make yourself better than the person who just signed up ten minutes ago?  While the gap between “haves” and “have nots” can get too wide at times, the gap must exist in order to instill a sense of accomplishment with the player.  Whether it be grinding mobs to gain a level, running Scenarios in WAR to get that weapon, or do that dungeon another time or two for that piece of armor in WoW, players expect to be able to advance their characters somehow.  Besides, it’s only a grind if you don’t enjoy it.

As a structure, the MMO has lost the ability to make the player feel like a Hero.

Yes.  That’s true, but isn’t it valid as well?  If everyone is a hero, then nobody’s a hero.  In the IT support business, if every helpdesk ticket comes in as a URGENT OMG priority, it’s as if no tickets came in with that priority.  If everything is on fire, nothing is on fire.  As a player in an MMO, you are a unique snowflake, just like everyone else.  You are part of the same game world and have the same origins as every other player.  What you do with your character will define who you become as part of the social community that the MMOs offer.  Not everyone can be a Hero, nor should everyone be a Hero.

It’s your story.  You affect things in a very permanent way.

Holy crap. Back the train up.  So, a griefer can permanently affect my gaming experience?  That is “not Ok”  The beauty of the current MMO world is that it isn’t permanent.  If JackHole35 runs by and slays my mob I needed for a quest, I’m down a couple minutes waiting for him to re-spawn.  If he were to permanently kill my mob…I’m screwed?  That doesn’t sound fair, nor fun.  It’s like Perma-Death.  I’m pretty sure the community these days (which were once ok with Perma-Death) would consider that rubbish.

A single decision by a player cascades out in a chain of events.

That’s lovely for a FPS or a RTS or something besides an environment which houses thousands of players.  How will the game not devolve into utter chaos?  The only way to keep some sort of civility and give player that Heroic feeling is to mitigate some of these cascading chains of events.  That’s pretty contradictory, if you ask me.

You’re rescuing a village that will stay rescued; who will remember you.

Who else can then rescue that village?  With this type of permanence, we’re talking about either a metric shit-ton of content, or we’re talking about Live Events.  Both of those require resources to accomplish.  Resources that will need to be paid.  With no monthly fee, who is going to pay for this?  I smell a Micro-Transaction system down below that hasn’t been announced yet.

Some things just don’t add up for GW2.  I think they’re either going to break open the MMO market and revolutionize it, or they’re going to burnout within a year.  Either way, it should be a damn good show.

You can check out the full video here.

[DAoC] Patch 1.105 is here!

Posted: August 11, 2010 in DAoC

How high can the patch number go!  (As a developer, I know it can go to 1.XXX where XXX is infinity…but I’ve not ever gotten to 105, myself!)

105 brings a couple welcome changes to the game.  Most of these have been asked for forever and three days.

  1. New Training Window.  If you’ve played DAoC and had to spec your character, you know how tedious this can be.  You have to click a spec line to train a point in it.  If you go over one too man, you need to go dig up a respec stone.  This was insanely frustrating, especially when there were no respec stones in game.  Websites out there (such as the one on Catacombs here) helped you out by giving you a preview.  The builders were usually up to date, so it paid off to check in-game before you committed.
  2. Epic Armor Updates.  Post-ToA (and even SI to an extent) Epic Armor was utterly useless.  It didn’t have the bling of Artifacts, nor the fancy-pants stats that newer armor had.  Most people relegated the armor to a slot in their vault to gather dust.  I don’t know that this change is going to put everyone back in their armor, but it’s a good step.

Here’s to many more patches in DAoC.  (Maybe a DAoC2 is in the works…WASDStomp seems to think so!)

You can snag the patch notes here.

[Torchlight] Not an MMO…Yet!

Posted: August 10, 2010 in Torchlight

There’s no doubt in my mind that Torchlight is one of the better single player RPGs out there on the market right now.   Take into account the fact that it’s an indie title built on the open source Ogre 3D Engine, and you’ve got something a bit more impressive.  It takes a lot go build a computer game, and using an open source engine like Ogre really lends some credibility to the OSS movement.  That’s a good thing.

Recently, Runic announced that there would be a Torchlight 2, which wasn’t going to be an MMO.  The community had been clamoring for one, but Runic decided against it.  Personally, I think that’s a good plan.  Going from single player to MMO is like going from walking to running hurdles.  You need to learn how to run by yourself first.

There’s quite a few features of Torchlight 2 that I’m looking forward to out there.

  1. Multiplayer.  Sometimes it’s just fun to beat stuff up together.  I hearken back to my days of Contra 3, TMNT and Doom.  Mowing down enemy after enemy is fun.  Doing it with a beer or two and a friend or three is exponentially more fun.
  2. Modding.  Again, I go back to my days in Doom and Quake.  Modding was almost as much fun as playing the original game.  I distinctly remember a Ghostbuster’s mod on Doom that was a blast.
  3. Retirement.  This sounds a lot like a system from a text MUD I used to play.  In that MUD, you could level up to the max level and then go back to level 1.  You’d get to keep a spell/skill of your choice to help diversify your character.  This could be done up to 4 times, leaving your character max level with an additional set of three skills.  I really want to see how this plays out!
  4. Pets. Of all the great things in Torchlight 1, Pets really don’t seem to be one of them.  Maybe I’m just bad with a pet class, or maybe they just seem too static to me.  Either way, I’m looking hard at the improvements they seem to have in line here.

You can check out the teaser site as well as some of the other features by hitting the Torchlight 2 website.

[WAR] Lurking in the Shadows

Posted: August 10, 2010 in WAR

What’s coming down the pipe?  Gosh, if only there were hints, yes hints  I say, to help us figure all this out.

Oh. Wait. There are definitely some clues out there.

1. GamesCon. This isn’t a trivial hop across the block to get to. It isn’t cheap to fly to Europe, and it seems a little bit of a stretch (given budgets around the country) to just jump over the pond and say “Hi, welcome!”. The “Big Announcement” is going to be coming from GamesCon.

2. Developer Q&As. There’s been a metric crap-ton of peculiar speak. Check these Question and Answers out.

Q – How do you add to end-game RvR after everyone kills the King? Do you expand laterally or do you create a new high-end goal?

Carrie – Is this a theoretical question? How does one if one were expanding? I think the answer is you try to do both to some degree. You certainly want to be conscious of not nullifying the end-game. Obviously we’re aware that the people that have been playing the game for a while are looking for new things to do. So you try to accomplish both…in this theoretical question.

Then this one:

Q – Hypothetically, if we were to see something like an expansion, what might be seen as far as new content?  Would it be more Trials of Atlantis or Shrouded Isle or New Frontier style?

Carrie – Again, these are hypothetical questions/answers.  There are enough people at Mythic who’ve been with us a long time, so I think we’re not interested in going with a TOA style if anything.  But this is entirely hypothetical, so it’s hard to say what direction we would go in.

Andy – If we were, in fact, to do something like that…hypothetically.

And then this gem:

Q – Can we expect any “fluff” like Player Housing or improved Crafting?

(dead air)

Andy – I’m guessing that’s a “No Comment”.

3.  It’s mighty peculiar that they’ve not said anything about 1.4 yet.  This is likely intentional.  We’ll see though.

Special thanks goes out to Gaarawar for transcribing the entire Q&A.  Check out his full post here: Public Test Server Q&A, 8/6/10 « Gaarawarr Gabs.

[Retro] Oregon Trail Trailer!

Posted: August 9, 2010 in Nostalgia

This hit a soft spot for me. I remember being in 5th grade when the first Oregon Trail surfaced.  Oh, it was awesome.  It was a simulation!  And everything just went to crap all at once.  Little did I know you could get dysentery (whatever the hell that was) and mauled by a bear on the same day.  Had to suck to be my guy.  He always, always, always died.

Extra Bonus: Nicole was the name of my ex.

That pretty much sums up my entire Oregon Trail experience.

But wait!  Today, I snagged a link to the Oregon Trail movie trailer.  Ok, there’s no movie, but this is hilarious.  Check it out here.

For nostalgia sake, you can play Oregon Trail in all its glory here at Virtual Apple.  Enjoy

[SC] Beware the disconnect.

Posted: August 8, 2010 in SC2

I just lost an hour of my life…. argh.

I shut my laptop mid-mission and dropped my internet connection apparently.  SC2 didn’t bark at me, so I figured it had re-authenticated to Battle.net and I was good to go.  Finished my mission and zippo for the achievements, even though I clearly met all the requirements.

Don’t do this, peeps!  It was that last Zeratule mission where you gotta wipe 1500 enemies… QQ!

Oh well….next time…

[Edit]  Actually, no.  I can’t freakin’ do that mission again.  I click the crystal and it just gives me the text.  What the hell.  Do I get a chance to do these again?  We’ll find out.