WildStar – Take 2

This past weekend I was able to take part in another beta weekend of WildStar.  Did my opinions change?  Nope.  But I did more checking, specifically in PVP.  I wish I could say I got to check out an adventure, or an instance or even housing.  The answer across that board is no.  But lets talk about what I did check out.

PVP – Good lord have mercy.  I haven’t had that much fun in a long time.  Maneuvering just right to get the most bang out of my healing buck as well as following the carrier to keep them alive.  And let me go on about how fun the battles were when we all just crashed into one another.  Good lord I haven’t had that much fun since WAR.  I wish Timmeh and I had recorded it because it was classic Brehon and Timmeh!  We lost the first round, but we had some great showings.  The second round, our team won, we took a few deaths, but man… let me tell you the fun.  Based on that run, they got this right.  I am anxious to see the new changes of the upcoming patch.  I will keep you informed.

So what else did we do?  We ran around as a duo, doing killing quests, hitting 2 player mobs and generally having a great time with the attitude, style and flow.  Our ability to have some control of our combat and such was, simply the hammer hitting the nail on the head.  As much as I have some issues with parts of the business that is NCSoft and WildStar in general, they got so much of this game right we can’t help but see this as a strong upcoming title worthy to play and make a mark in.

We actually believe in it to the point we are going to put the Bootleg name on it by creating a guild there.  Stay tuned for details!!!!!!  Haven’t been this excited in some time and lets “take it to the house”!

WildStar – Brehon’s first look

I did do my pre-order and I got my first look and shot at beta this weekend.  I opened up with an Exile engineer/scientist named Brehon.  I HATED IT.  Not the engineer part, but the scientist.  I found the little bot dude was a bit in the way.  In my newbiness I didn’t understand that bot wasn’t part of my engineer bit.  I learned once I had my bruiser and all of that clicked in.  The engineer by itself was just fine.  So lets get down to the nitty gritty of what I liked and didn’t like:  

WARNING:  THIS CONTAINS SOME BEGINNING STORY SPOILERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Exile story: Didn’t like.  Am I really helping save some Joe’s girl and then help him get revenge?  I found the intro and opening area confusing and a bit discombobulated.  I didn’t care about this girl.  There was a glimmer of hope and in me buying in when they started focusing on the Dominion’s oppressing them (the Exiles) vs random dude chick 101.  Ahhh the life of the Rebel.  Now that I could get into (focus on that guys and gals!).

Dominion story: Like.  This is a classic story of “We rule this biatch and you will do what we say”.  This is complete with Exiles sabotaging and generally causing the great disruptions rebels set up.  You get this from the get go.  You are in it from the get go.  This isn’t “evil” and good, which I did not want to be a part of.  This is the difference of Imperialism and a Republic or similar.  I will say this really caused me to get more into the game.  This planet belongs to us because why?  This is the ruling government!  Yeah baby, this works!!!

Questing:  Liked.  Simply beginning stuff to get you acquainted.  However when I stopped to play with buttons, I found I was better at getting myself acquainted, moreso than the game provided.   But honestly it should be that way.  The starting quests were straight forward.  I ended up not using my map this go around because I didn’t want to know.  The pathing was linear so really this was very very simple.

Travel and Mapping:  Didn’t like.  I hate.. HATE linear stuff.  The beginning is flat out, go here to lead to here to lead to here.  Some of my snooping around rewarded me, while others offered some dead space.  I was really surprised to find no lore there.  I made a comment in chat and people responded with once I was out of the newbie area it “opens up”.  I was glad to hear it.  When I got to the second area, it was indeed more open.  I really wasn’t able to explore more.  I want to be clear, my “didn’t like” is all about the linear bit.  Additionally the markers for quest stuff is a bit too dumbed down.  Let me roam.  While I didn’t use the map the first time around, I did when I made my second character.  It has zones, which I will get accustomed to, but the zones also felt really small which overall may take away from the social bits.

Socials:  Liked.  Very lively chat.  More helpers than shitheads.  You had a few of the standard “OMG THIS IS WOW” and other such nonsense.  But there were easily 5x more people willing to help or having some fun conversations about things in general.  I really liked this.  I also felt at any time I could be engaged with what was going on .  This is a HUGE plus, so well done players.  I was challenged to a dual, which I took part in, and lost (2x).  But the warrior I was against (this was on my medic) was gracious all the way around.  He ended up inviting me to a guild and when I told him I wasn’t ready to make that decision, he was still just as supportive.  In addition, when I made my medic/settler I LOVED… LOVED building the stuff available to me.  It made me feel like I was a part of something and I shouldn’t be doing this alone.

Combat and Skills: Liked.  I don’t sit still.  I get to move around whether I am attacking or healing.  I am able to position the mobs the way I want them, use the positioning to get the most bang for my buck.  This they have gotten 100% rights so far.  It is quick, intuitive and allows me to make subtle choices which make my adventures more fulfilling.  I didn’t have the chance to do PVP, but frankly I LOVE the combat system and I didn’t think I would.  Moving on to skills I have to say the ability to adjust to what I like and don’t like in skills is completely and absolutely BRILLIANT.  I was leery.  So very leery.  But its simple, to the point and in that simplicity they make it rather brilliant.  I find an ability that doesn’t really work for my questing I was able to simply get rid of it and try something else.  Why has it taken us so long since EQ to be able to hot swap abilities.  Not in combat mind you, but you can certainly prepare and react.  EXACTLY what they told us we could do.

Engineer: Like.  Just fun.  I didn’t feel like a tank.  I understood this would come.  I did feel strong and capable.  My bruiser bot is exactly that.  I could tell I was on my way.

Medic: Like.  Honestly, this was a perfect fit for me and how I want to play be.  I am able to work my skills to damage (not like the engineer), stun for position and bring in a big pain when I need to.  Getting my heal… yeah I felt like a boss, period.

Scientist: Didn’t like.  Its just not me.  I thought I would like the lore, but I just couldn’t get into it.  Its just not who/how/what I want to play like.  On paper its awesome.  Playing it… not so much.

Settler: Like.  I spoke on it earlier so I wont go into it again.  But I get to build stuff for others to use and etc.  WIN!  I am happy I found this wonderful give back to the players sub class.  Again WIN!

On the next beta weekend for those of us with Pre-Order beta, I will give more input.  Hopefully I will be able to tell you about housing, pvp and maybe even a dungeon!

 

WoW – World of Warcraft reborn (again)

I’ve played WoW for quite some time now.  I hit just as vanilla wow was winding down and heading into expansions, so sometimes my stories don’t have all the goodness of someone who was there from the get go.  But suffice to say that each time I head back to play WoW it feels like real comfortable shoes for a time.  Very quick to get back in the action.

Update your favorite addons and voila you are back in business.  Unfortunately, do those things and you are right back in business.  I think one of the most important aspect that really separates MMOs from single player games is that all the time you put in accounts for something.  Well they rearranged talents so that everyone gets the coolest spells and abilities since everyone was doing cookie cutter.  So forgot about that.  First two dungeons I didn’t even have them set and the shammy still kept everyone alive.  Even with 6 months of no game time whatsoever I was able to queue and go without letting anyone die.

So that led me back to what finally turned me off of WoW in the first place.  Blizzard’s wish that at least 92% (yeah I made it up, but it has to be that or more) of the entire population of WoW be able to see everything in the game.  You know, I always wanted to see everything in the game and now remember that in order to experience it as it was intended, you best be at the very top of your game and racing in the expansions to max level to get to the raids before they nerf them.   So as they approach the end of 5.4 and head into the next expansion no doubt they begin to nerf the raid the Siege of Ogrimmar.   Fundamentally it is nice that I can slide right back in and play and be a part of the game.  But in reality this is why I dismiss WoW as a long term player.  I actually found that million hit point tank in a heroic dungeon.  It was kinda cool.  I just hit autofollow to collect my Valor points.  sigh.

WildStar and Guilds

Wildstar offers yet another glimmer of hope and I am damn happy to hear this.  Pantheon wants its people to group together.  EQN right now is more about building and less about gaming (sorry all, that has been your focus).  Wildstar takes it a step further.  Not only do we want you to play together, but we want you as a guild to play together as a guild.  If you do this, you will gain influence & perks which leads to guild growth which leads to happy guild gaming!

When things like guild perks first started, I always thought it was a great way to encourage people to group together.  It also had a downside; that downside  was individual perks that some guild members would turn into status symbols and demand others reach it asap.  It also was a negative to alts.  However, in saying this the good outweighed the bad.  Wildstar takes it a step further – You will gain more influence the more guildies are in the group.

Add to this the holo display of your guild with the various choices and we have a very nice rounded out gulid perk in the game.  Be sure to read the full article here

Bravo Wildstar… Bravo!

Bootleg Recorded Live January 21, 2014

Tonights Show covered the new Brad McQuaid game Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen.  Brehon and Timmeh reviewed and weighed in on the various comments by Brad during the two Q&A’s posted.  Brehon went off on a rant.

The show has already been placed in the archives.  Thank you all for tuning in!

As a reminder, the shows are unedited and uncensored.  Many times they are not safe for work nor safe for young ears.  Please heed this warning.

Death of an MMO

As I’ve been traveling for a week for work, I had time to sit back and really build upon my theory of what kills an MMO over time.

1 – Instancing small group and raid encounters.   This is a pure sign early on that the team of devs is trying to please all comers.  It is only a matter of time before it become been there, done that.  The problem with removing competition for zones is that it become ho hum that you did it.   Competition in itself helps to fuel the community.  You know building a community is that not everyone races to post the method of the event.  To build teamwork there has to be in my opinion the element of risk that you might not get there this week.

2 – Item mudflation.  Back in the day, it took years to move the health, the strength the int or wis of a toon.  When SWTOR launched before we were level 50 we were all over 10k of health.  Just unnecessary and shows that trying to please everyone so they can point to the uber items.   Cataclysmic changes in gear from expansion to expansion.  Yeah sure this forces people to buy the expansion on release day and makes for a great splash on the internet on how successful the MMO seems to be, but in all honesty, I thought it rather dumb when my healing shaman in WoW had 300k health.  Really?  Remember when we were struggling to see 10k?  What is thepoint of this and really how many expansions is it to 1 million hit point characters.   Give me content, let me get better at what I do and small upgrades become HUGE.  Not HUGE upgrades make me rickroll all.

3 – PVP Arenas.   (this one will be unpopular I’m sure) Such a very popular event in games now to get one group PVP matches going.  If you want to do this, go play a first person game.  They let you endlessly do this and it is what they do.  Quit trying to tune gear and game mechanics around this element of the game.  The challenge in the MMO is to adventure with your team.  Not make sure a necro, a rogue, a wizard and a mage can all burst and damage over time equally.  Variance builds good gaming.  Let everyone be different and overcome.

Kill the rickroll and bring back the challenge for the long term health of a game.

Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen

I want to be very clear, for all the crap I gave Brad McQuaid back in the day for his vision; I always agreed with it in majority.  It is still hard in some ways to accept that.  Not because he wasn’t right, but because he acted so … know it all about it.  I was younger then and it struck me wrong.

Aging has shown just how much we were (are?) the same I just didn’t like being told it at the time.  When Everquest came out, I was about about midway through my gaming years having spent quality time in The Sierra Network’s (TSN) “Shadows of Yserbius” & “Fates of Twinion”, “Neverwinter Nights” and “Ultima Online”.  While I don’t feel EverQuest was my first MMO (it clearly was not), it was where I found some life long gaming friends and friends well beyond gaming.  I can honestly say “the Vision” drove the game, drove the players and made it something special.  This is exactly what was missing from the likes of many many games since of which I feel I have tried most.

This isn’t to say everything he did is right and everyone else is flat wrong.  I received much enjoyment in World of Warcarft, Rift, Horizons, Everquest 2, Vanguard, City of Heroes, Star Wars: Galaxies, Star Wars the Old Republic and who knows which games  I am now forgetting.  Each had its bit and provided value for my money.  Never, however, did any touch on what Everquest was – not even my beloved Star Wars (SWTOR was never close, but damn if Galaxies wasn’t close before the combat upgrade).  Each tid bit was just that, a tid bit.  A miss here for forced factions, a miss here because the classes were flat, a miss there for repetitive actions that favored the few, a miss there for no real story and a miss here and there for terrible customer service to the players and a complete 180 from where you started.  Everquest missed it when it started trying to be everyone else.

Due to all of this I have been waiting.  Waiting to see what Wildstar will do.  Waiting with huge anticipation to see what EverQuest Next is.  While I still hold excitement I am fighting a few sighs of “oh man”.  It was just after watching the SOE livestream about what they are doing when my buddy Timmeh said “Hey did you know Brad left SOE?  Oh and here is his new project.

Immediately I was disappointed.  Disappointed because I have to wonder if Everquest Next has a vision.  I don’t mean the Brad McQuaid version, but a true direction and purpose for their game that wasn’t some mass desire to appease everyone.  Enter Pantheon, Brads new project.

I wondered over to the Kickstarter of Pantheon via  http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1588672538/pantheon-rise-of-the-fallen and held my breath (no seriously I did).  I listened to the Q&A, read the comments and thought on it.  I thought on it a lot.  To follow it up, I went over to a forum that isn’t an official one but is a group of people who believe in the vision, talking about what we want from the game (http://pjpantheon.com/forums/).  I found myself among like minds.  And it was nice.  I bounced back and forth between the forum and the kickstarter page over and over again.  I linked in with Brad and the game via social media – continuing to run it all through my head.

So where am I with it?  Brad will get some of my money.  Period.  I always support the things I believe in.  Every game I have played, I have paid for it.  I don’t care about the packages offered on kickstarter because I am not putting money in to get something special.  I am putting money in because I believe in a vision.  This one just happens to be Brad McQuaids.  As a businessman would I invest in this project?  No, not until I saw 50% accumulation of available assets because I don’t just want my money on the line.  No until I saw a full set of financials, projections and all that good stuff.  I would have, absolutely have to see the returns projections and from it formulate an exit strategy.  But that is not what we are talking about, this is kickstarter.  For kickstarter you only have to believe the folks behind the project can do it.  This I do believe 100%.

It is at this junction I have my pause.  I have my pause because I am not sure the 1500 of us on the project nor those talking on the forums is enough to get it in time.  $800,000.00 is no small pill.  But its paramount to the project.  If the 1500 of us gave 1k, we would be done.  But the fact is we are more along the lines of $40 at the bottom and $200 at the top.  We have just hit on human nature.  Additionally so many people being insta gratification structured harms the timing.  A niche hard MMO (make no mistake Everquest was hard in comparison) which is more in line with old school dungeons and dragons will not see 1 million players.  But we could see 50,000 to 100,000 players.  It is to those players I write this.

So what do we need (yes I said we)?  We need 24,000 people to give 50 bucks or 12,000 people to give 100.  Sans either of those breakdowns we 1500 need to all up to $800.  (yes my figure is the 1,200,000.00 mark and not the 800,000 baseline).

Here is my challenge to all of us; each of us that are guild leaders, each of us that run other gaming sites and such.  Spread the word.  Surely we know 24,000 people between us.  If we break that into smaller chunks, those of us already on the line need to find 16 people to give up $50.00.

Go read about Pantheon and realize why I am asking you to do this.  Games don’t have to be done by huge companies.  They have to be done by people that care about gaming, even if it doesn’t equate to millions to dollars.  When Everquest started, it cared.  We have now come full circle again, lets remind the world we have a voice and we are tired of it not being heard.  I believe 100% Brad and his team cares.  Lets put our money where our mouth is.

Everquest Landmark Livestream 1.15.2014 review

Before things get started, I have to say the sheer stupidity of spam on the chat was nothing less than frustrating.  Hats off to those monitoring it and trying to weed through it.  What a nightmare.

First off, there was a lot of null speak.  Null speak being when a panel or group of people are speaking but are not talking about anything.  We use it in radio to fill dead air or when you have content so small you need to fill extra time (yeah I just explained dead air).  Null speak is like filer pages in a novel; a trigger point of frustration.  That being said there was some good information and key points.

  1. There is buffer between plots (rightfully so)
  2. Plot sizes are about the size of a house right now
  3. You will be able to see plots around you as well as the outline of your plot, which can be turned off
  4. People cannot box you in (see the point of a buffer between).
  5. While people can potentially mine under your plot, they cannot mine you plot.
  6. You own the rights of the plot to a certain +/- z axis
  7. You can take the things you have in one server/world, pack it up and bring it to another.  Aka mine a ton of gold, pack it up and move it to another server no problem.  Moving the actual plot was quickly glossed over (I might have missed that one)
  8. You don’t have to pay for access… you just have to pay if you want first access (more on that in a  moment).
  9. Specifically and exactly this is all being done (Alpha-pay access) so instead of seeing and being a part of a game once it is 90% complete, you get your say and hands into it early on.  Frankly they want you to see the ugly side of gaming.

I want to speak on point 9.  Overall I find this awesome and is a great thing.  The cost limit (more on that to come) will separate some of the populace and reduce stupid input.  Very rarely will someone put in real money ($100 is real money to most folks) into something and not work their damnest to make it/good.  They, we, hell I, would want my value from it.  That value will be determined by the final project.  This is an awesome move and I 100% applaud Sony and the EQNext/Landmark team for it.  It is a great way to have a core group of non company people provide you with feedback, ideas and imagery.

There is a bad side.  First and foremost is the “too many cooks/chiefs”  While clearly no one paying to enter into the game is a cook or chief in any business model.  However, we are talking about their perception.  Once people put in real money in a subscription they think the gaming company is their bitch.  How much more with this?  How much more will they feel they are entitled to?  How much more do you really have to listen to them?  Are there disclaimers and contracts and such to deal with this?  Of course.  But find me a contract and I will find a lawyer that will chew it up and make it look like a retelling of Faust.

Secondly and this is really a cross between point 8 and point 9.  The answer of “You don’t have to pay to have access” is a horrible passive aggressive answer.  For the inner griefer in you, you should have kept that one to yourself Terry.  You are not only asking people to do it (you plug is 6 times during the show), you are telling them its a good idea then dismissing any thoughts of the contrary.  Bad business no matter who you are.  I was on the fence; seriously on the fence.  Timmeh and I talked about it and I know beta keys come with me paying a hundred buck.  I was almost there but that comment turned me off instantly.  Not because I don’t see the value, but because you didn’t see the value in a question asked about it.   Simple fact: You want people to buy it.  You would have been much better off saying “I know this is a new concept.  But we believe those truly willing to make the game ‘their’ game will join us and help us in making it better.  Putting money where your desire is will make this game better”.  Now had you said something like that, you would have had me instantly.  Instead you showed your frustration of having to deal with that question over and over again by lashing out.  Very disappointed.

Thirdly and lastly, why did the panel refuse to answer the question about “Guild Plots”?  The amount of spam over it was terrible and honestly rather distracting.  To end the live update you offered to answer a question someone asked.  The crowd was prepared for an answer to the guild plot question.  Instead we were treated with a silent set of clips showing us man eating plants.  The question about danger came up AFTER the silent slideshow.  Next time tell the community “We are not prepared to answer the guild plot question yet, but we eluded to it when we said people WOULD be able to work together”.

You want a community that gives you their best and their money, you gotta start by giving them your best and attention.  Is it easy for me to sit here and say these things.  Absolutely.  But I also am completely honest when I broadcast and I do address the tough question.  But then… hell what do I know?

http://www.twitch.tv/everquestnext/c/3555487

FFXIV PVP

Let me get this out of the way; clearly I suck.  The video shows that ( I will get it uploaded so you can see).  As a healer for PVP in FFXIV you are the target.  It is not on your back or your chest, its you!  While I know Tim’s love of the stun fest, the fact I could not cast a spell was the most infuriating experience I have EVER had in an MMO bar none.  Even SWTOR’s stun fest was more acceptable than this.  Hear me out.

I play a scholar.  Before the match (at 12 seconds actually) I start applying my little take no damage to my fellow PVP mates to buy them approximately 20 seconds.  I have my sure-cast from thurmatage so I get 1 instant spell (1x use).  I used my first 3 points from PVP leveling to obtain the ability to NOT be cast locked.  In using this I am continually rick rolled.  I do my little run away dance to be shield thrown against and whatever craziness the lancer has (we wont even talk about archer/bard).  I use the walls to break LOS.  Out of 18 matches, I have 2 wins.  1 because the other teams healer dc’d.  The other my son and the team immediately pounced on the person hitting me.  Notice I said person in this case, not persons.  Fatal flaw of the other team.  I may try it with my summoner, black mage or (gulp) white mage – but as it stands it is nothing more than a stupid stupid maddening experience where DPS get to tear apart a healer then spend 5 more minutes jousting everyone else.  I expected too much and I am frankly disappointed.

Disappointed a healer in PVP is nothing more than a punching bag for every other class.  Disappointed my “escape” techniques are nothing more than a useless gimmick when you can be slowed etc.  Disappointed a healer can drop 5k’s of heals and it means nothing (yes I actually can heal thank you).  Disappointed my pvp rounds are a laughable 30 second fight and 4 minutes of waiting.

Is it me?  Probably, I openly admitted at the start I am not good at it.  But there is the numbers analyst in me that looks at this and goes… WTF?  Sure I get diminishing returns, but all of you that want to go that route answer this question; does diminishing returns me jack squat the person only alive for 30 seconds?  You know the point you can’t actually even apply diminishing returns.

Is the answer: Well last longer and learn to play noob?  Sure partly.  I accept that.  But this is the same bitch I made at SWTOR; are you so shallow in your play you can only stun/interrupt and that is be all end all?

Do you enjoy waiting in queues?  Do you enjoy having a particular class get torn up without question or break?  If that answer is yes, you hit a home run.  But eventually you will have to fix this.  The same thing game after game after game now is having to fix.  Its a shame we don’t learn from out past.

For me, my first day of PVP may be my last day of PVP.  Or at least my last day as a healer in pvp.  This I can tell you, every last one of those healers that have the balls and fortitude to pvp, they will get my recommendation time and time again.  And to all those that bitch at the healer – go make one and pvp heal bitch, you will learn what I am talking about.  But then what do I know?

FFXIV Player Housing follows 90210!!

Where to start… where to finish?  I am still trying to wrap my brain around it.  I am a numbers man, no matter how much I try to hide it, I simply am.  Before I get into this, let me offer the caveat: only free companies (ie guilds) have available plots right now.  Personal plots are not actually in the game as of this publishing.

In checking out the player housing area, I have to say some players need to be interior decorators and many many many more need to understand the basics of functional beauty.  It comes as no surprise the Free Company homes in Final Fantasy XIV are quite lovely.  But holy 90210 batman!  6.7 million gil for the plot.  Let me say it again; 6,700,000.00 gil! Gil of course being the currency for FFXIV.  But my god man, I am a gamer not a hedge fund manager!!

All joking aside (except I wasn’t joking about the price), this is explained here .  But let me break it down to simple terms.  Too many people whom are non gil farmers have a lot of fricking money in FFXIV.  I mean a LOT!  To give you some insight let me explain myself.  I have 3 level 30′s (casters unite!!!) and so far I have tucked away 50k.  My son who has all classes to level 20 has a bit more than 50k.  That is about 35 days of regular CASUAL playing.  This takes into account crazy days like yesterday when we played all day trying to recover from being sick.  To get 7 million and moving it on a graduating scale because as we play more and get higher we have more funds open and available to us, it would take a guild/free company with 10 members approximately four months to obtain the needed cash.

This isn’t a bad thing as a guild should work together to achieve the goal.  BTW, that cost is x2.5 or 2.25 if you are on a legacy server (just a note).  My point is although the cost is mind blowing to see, its actually a nice incentive for people to work together.  I know this is an odd concept for an MMORPG (time to drop the RPG in my opinion) but FFXIV has some nice subtle “go play nice with others” hidden and Easter egged into the game.

My point is don’t head into it thinking “I am going to just go design my house” because first you have to rob fort knox to afford it by yourself.  If you are one of those players that have millions of gil… well I wasn’t talking to you was I? :)

Gaming Radio and Media, by Gamers for Gamers