Friday, April 13, 2007

Same Old, Same Old

I don't know how many times I've seen the "same old, same old" comment, or even worse "WoW clone", on every game released since WoW. Here's some comments seen on the forums today:

Its more of the same but very polished........... its basically WoW with better graphics. Its a good game but I cancelled my preorder because ive seen it all before.

If you are looking for the next big innovation, you will not find it in here.

If you're looking for innovation, skip this one.

LOTRO just emerged but although I haven't seen it I can only guess it's just more of the same Mages, Tanks type game so I won't even try this one.

This game imo is just another WoW clone

Why is it, that NO ONE can make a GOOD MMORPG?

From when EQ2 and WoW were launched, there has not been 1 MMO that has been unique. They all offer the same things.

I really have to wonder what players are expecting. Every game I've played (and I've tried almost all of them) has had unique aspects to them. But isn't the basic core of an MMO always going to remain somewhat the same?

I saw a post a few days ago stating that developers were just lazy and just taking the easy route in making games. Maybe I'm naive, but I really do think developers put their heart and soul in a game and want to put out a great product. But they also want to be successful. So what other directions can you go with an MMO that hasn't been done already?

SWG was very unique. It was the first game I played that wasn't level based. You could pick and choose abilities from various classes and create something unique. They had entertainers, which brought in a lot of people that wanted nothing to do with combat. The housing was great, and you could set up your own shop. While many people loved it, apparently there were not enough subscribers to SoE's liking, so they scrapped much of what made it unique.

Then there's Anarchy Online. Although they have levels, they have a similar system to original SWG in that you could put skill points wherever you wanted so that you could build your character differently from someone else. I believe they were one of the first to offer instances. They offered missions, much like CoH/CoV does now. This game was fairly unique, yet it never raked in the masses either.

So, looking at past games that did things differently and seeing how they fared, and considering how much it costs to make an MMO these days, do developers really want to try something risky?

Looking ahead at all the upcoming titles, Pirates of the Burning Sea certainly seems to steer away from the same old, same old more than most. I'm really rooting for these guys and hope they do well. Will be curious to see if their innovation pays off, and if so, if it has any effect on future games.

Speaking of "innovation", I came across something today that I really thought was a joke at first. What do you get when you stick a bunch of Lego's on a Bryce image? Welcome to Block Realm!!

Beta registration started a couple days ago and dangit it's full already. Ah well :)

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Final Word on Brad

Was reading Darren's blog Ok...Time to Leave Brad Alone and was pretty much feeling the same way. I've always liked Brad; I think he's well-intentioned and his heart is in the right place. Some posts I've seen aren't just critical, they are just plain nasty and uncalled for.

But Brad posts so frequently and says things that leave me scratching my head, that it's hard not to have a gut response sometimes. After following link after link from blog to forum to blog again, I inevitably found myself at the FOH boards (yeah I know....*smacks hand* shame on Aspen!)

First I came across a post that included the following "I don't think either the EQ 1 or EQ 2 launch suffered significantly from their hardware specs and the tech level they used."

Say what? So I kept reading on to see if anyone might have caught that one and Cuppy came to the rescue with:

"I can't speak much about EQ1 because I was not around when it launched. I will say that I definitely disagree with you on EQ2. EQ2 was complete @$%& optimization-wise when it launched. I built a brand new computer in 2004 that couldn't play EQ2 for @$%&. Everyone I know who was excited about migrating from EQ1 to EQ2 upon release decided against it when they couldn't run the game enough to enjoy it.

EQ2 was up against the release of WoW. We had two games coming out that were perhaps close to each other in anticipation, both with strong fanbases coming from previous games. WoW completely smashed EQ2 in subscription numbers and I accurately remember reading tons of posts from people who couldn't run EQ2 or thought it stuttered too much and were suckered into the feeling of polish in WoW with its 70 fps in major cities with older machines. I tried my hardest to get friends to play EQ2 with me but no one would because their machines were too old and therefore suited for WoW. Granted, EQ2 had issues with the gameplay, combat, and class balance upon release as well.

Now you've got VG that's released the same month as The Burning Crusade. Also have LOTRO in the future along with a few other games that are running smoother in beta than VG is in retail (due to their graphic style no doubt.) Once again, you have a game that runs for @$%& on computers that run every other game on the market fine. Couple that with the fact that VG (not unlike EQ2) did has issues with gameplay, combat and class're setting yourself up to perform poorly when up against the competitors."

Further along I came across a post "How is it possible you watched EQ2 launch with hardware specs too high for its time and followed right behind it and made the exact same mistake?"

To which Brad responded "I've posted now several times that I wish we could have launched a bit later, but that it was out our hands. Financial realities, being what they were, made that decision for us."

I was going to comment here on that one, but someone else summed it up well.

"You were hoping to hold out for another 3 years until computers required to run VG on 'fun' settings were even remotely commonplace? Well, VG might have been done by that point I guess."

Ok and now I'm done. No more Brad posts!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Lord of the Rings

My husband and I pre-ordered LOTRO and started the open beta for founding members on Friday. Having spent time in the previous beta, I knew what to expect but it was the first time we got to play together. He started a dwarf guardian, while I rolled a human minstrel. While I love the appearance of the elven starting area, I enjoy the quests in the human lands much more, so hubby payed the 1 silver horse ride to get his dwarven buns over to Bree.

I already knew I'd love this game but the other half wasn't so sure, and he planned to keep his EQ2 subscription as a back-up plan. But by the end of the weekend, I think Turbine has won him over. That's not to say that everything is perfect and there aren't issues that cause frustration. But many of those issues involve the community, just as in other games, and there's just no way around that.

There are three types of mobs I've encountered so far. There are regular mobs, signature mobs which are just a little tougher but can be soloed if you wait until they are lower level, and then there are elite mobs which are group encounters. We picked up this quest which involved killing an elite brigand leader and a few of his buddies. We arrive at the hill top where they spawn and there are about 15 players standing about. I asked if anyone would like to join us to take them down. No answer.

The mobs in question spawn and are immediately attacked by various solo players. At various points the players realize, "oh crap I can't kill this" and they take off running with mob in pursuit. So now the hill is full of fleeing players. The mobs return to their spot and start attacking the other players who were left standing around waiting their turn. Again, they take off running.

My husband and I are standing a few feet back out of aggro range, watching and waiting our turn. Again, I ask if anyone would like to group up and again, no one answers. Eventually, everyone just left and we were left standing there alone. So we pulled one mob at a time and got the job done. It was a tough fight for two, but as long as we only had one of them, we were ok.

Hopefully, as people level, they will realize they can't do it all alone and will be a bit more receptive to joining others to get things done. Yes, there is a lot of solo content and you could solo to 50 if you really wanted to. But some of my most fun moments have been in the group quests. They involve some neat story lines and can be very challenging at times.

For anyone that's currently playing, particularly minstrels, I found a handy tool in the options menu. I can't remember exactly how it's worded but it says something about using your target's target for unfriendly skills. Basically, all it means is that I can keep the tank targeted for heals and any attacks I use will hit whatever he is targeting. I would have thought it would do this by default but you have to go in and check that off. Since some of my attacks increase my healing abilities and buff the group, I was having a heck of a time clicking between tank and target. Now, it's a breeze.

I see most people hit the level 15 cap over the weekend already, so I have a feeling a lot of people who don't normally craft will take it up since there is not much else to do. I started to craft but found it to be very expensive. Selling back to vendor only gives you a small fraction of what you spent on vendor components. I'm finding it more profitable to vendor all the harvestables rather than craft with them.

Overall, I'm really having a fun time here. I hear Turbine has this reputation for frequently adding content to their games so I'm looking forward to what's ahead.