Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Big Easy

There are times when challenges just become frustrations and I'm in the mood for easy mode. Such was the case yesterday. My husband and I had become accustomed to duoing dungeons in EQ2. However, the dungeons in that last two expansions have gotten progressively more difficult so that we have not been able to even attempt them when green. And the new Runnyeye instance is out of the question unless you have a full group in legendary gear and two healers. He logged in briefly, not knowing what to do with himself and logged off to play his necro in EQ1, which to him feels easier and more fun than any class he plays in EQ2. I tinkered with with an alt, but most of them are in those yucky levels where a lot of the mobs and quests are heroic.

So I thought I'd play a bit of Vanguard and do something more relaxing like diplomacy. I have a ranger who was in the middle of a quest series and thought I'd pick up where I left off. So off I went to parley with some mean looking fellows. I failed the parley and he killed me. Ok I loot my corpse, change card strategy, and win the parley. He hands me some items and tells me I will fall to my death unless I summon some spirits to aid me. Next thing I know I'm up in the sky falling to my death. I look at the items he gave me that call upon the spirits and they are a level higher than I am so I can't use them. So splat I go. I couldn't see my corpse anywhere on the map so had to use the altar and take the loss. I logged off quite frustrated, particularly that they would even give me the quest at that level when I had no means of being successful.

I checked my desktop. Hmm, let's see what other options there are. EQ1? Errmm definitely not tonight. SWG? Used to be easier but not so much today. So I went to bed instead.

Just like in real life, challenges here and there can be fun. But honestly I don't want to be hit with it every day. Sometimes I want easy and why can't there be both? I understand the allure of WoW because if I had it installed, I might have played it last night. Even DAOC was sounding tempting again. Maybe it's an age and situational thing. I have so many exhaustive challenges at home, I am just not in the mood for more of it at night. Maybe when I was younger and had fewer responsibilities, the MMO hardships would have filled a void. And maybe that's a whole different subject to get into later.

Friday, June 20, 2008

In spite of the Living Legacy whining...

...which can be found here, from what I am seeing, this promotion has been very effective in bringing in players to both EQ and EQ2. We have gained more than 15 new players to the guild in the past two weeks and more servers are showing as heavy load.

A few guild mates wanted to get together in EQ1 on a weekly basis. We planned to hook up after picking up some items in the tutorial; however, the tutorial has been so full of players that it's been difficult to get the quests done. While there were a few decked out twinks plowing through, the majority of us were naked noobs.

So it seems both games are benefiting. I think SOE's timing on this was great. Many are in an MMO slump anyway so figure "what the heck; it's free." I had recently gotten a free weekend of play for LotRO, but it was such a short period that I just didn't bother. But give me two months free in many of my past MMO's and I'm likely to play. Also, school is out and although both games typically have an older player base I'm sure there are kids now playing as well.

SOE took quite a bit of heat from unhappy loyal subscribers who felt a bit left out. And understandably so. Heck the returning players even got that baby dragon that I've been wanting for years. But putting it all in perspective, the promotion is only just beginning and I'm sure the veterans have some goodies on the way as well (at least I hope so!). And really it's good for the health of both games.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Innovative vs. Fun

Alganon has been taking a lot of heat lately for some similarities to WoW. Anyone who has actually read the features of the game would see some interesting aspects not found elsewhere. But visually, comparisons are being made. One recent poster criticized the UI looking too much like WoW's and therefore believed the game to be a hoax. One of the dev's responded as follows:

"At the risk of feeding the trolls (you may not be one, but there are plenty who will take advantage of having a dev response), I'll reply.

I can assure you, it's not a hoax. The paycheck I get every month is all the proof I need. I have no idea if we'll be releasing video any time soon, but if that is the only thing that will satisfy you, then there is no reason for me to write any more on that topic.

As far as the similarities to other games, my response is this: The ONLY rule that guides my design is "Is it fun?" Nothing else matters.

For example:
Would moving the mini-map to another portion of the screen make the game more fun? Nope.

Then we're going to put it where players will naturally look to find it. If that means it happens to be the same place as it is in LotRO, and Guild Wars, and Battlefield, and WoW, and many other games, so be it. All I care about is "Is it fun?"

Trust me, if moving the minimap made the game more fun, we'd move it.

What about forcing players to scan the screen for where their minimap is, because it's not where they expected it to be? Would that make the game less fun? Yeah. It would.

If you jump between games a lot, you'll notice that looking in the wrong corner for your mini-map is a pain. The same is true for any piece of information. It's not fun to die because the designers put your health bar where you weren't looking.

I rotate through EQ2, Eve, WoW, Guild Wars, and a couple of F2P MMOs, so I suffer problem this all the time - Why, oh, why do game designers have to move the interface around on me? Why do I have to learn a new control scheme everytime I want to play a new game?

Oh yeah! Because if they don't, people insult them on forums.

When they have to choose between "do I make it fun?" or "do I avoid being mocked?" they choose to sacrifice fun and save their egos.

Not me.

I'll dive on the grenade. I'll make the sacrifice. I will suffer the slings and arrows of forum-troll-after-forum-troll saying that Alganon looks like (insert MMO here), as long I get to make Alganon fun.

So, go ahead, let the mocking begin - but don't let it keep you from enjoying the game. Don't let it keep you from having fun, because there is only one thing I care about: "Is it fun?"

Nothing else matters."

I thought that was an excellent response. It had me wondering if in fact developers of future mmo's avoid good features of previous mmo's for this reason. Aside from the UI, those that have stepped out of the typical mmo mold...DDO, TR, PotBS...well they haven't fared as well. So what is it we really want?

I think many of us stayed with our first mmo for so long because we made no comparisons and enjoyed it for what it was. And maybe too many of us have turned into a bunch of snobby mmo connoisseurs who have forgotten how to just have fun.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Half Way There!

Over the weekend our guild hit level 40! It's taken us six months, and this level has opened up some more fluff such as titles and mounts. So I treated my inquisitor to a nightmare mount to speed her along a bit.

I couldn't be prouder of my guild mates. They're some of the nicest people I've met anywhere and put forth a lot of effort to get us here. Onward to level 80!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Anticipating Guild Halls

My husband has a tendency to fall over cliffs. It's a trait he carries over from MMO to MMO. And such was the case in Vanguard last evening. We were off roaming the countryside looking for something to kill. We came across a bugbear encampment and began to rid the menace from society. We were looting some items designated as quest pieces and also noticed some captured fairies within the encampment. Surely there must be some small outpost somewhere that gave out quests for this place. The map showed nothing, so off we went looking.

We walked close to a cliff's edge and true to form, over the side he went. Dutiful wife that I am, down I went. Like many current MMO's, slopes in Vanguard are usually impossible to climb. The mountain looked steep as far as we could see, so we decided to explore this level of terrain. There was a fast flowing stream for us to cross. The stream ended at a waterfall which plunged into the ocean quite far down below us. My husband swam in intending to cross, but the current swiftly carried him down and over the waterfall he went. I crossed further upstream and successfully made it across. Oh well. Back in I went and down the waterfall I went.

We swam for a small island ahead. It was devoid of life, so after checking our map for the next closest land mass, we swam some more. Land and trees started coming into view and we spotted something that looked like a castle from the distance. So we headed that way to inspect. What we came upon was a housing area, and that castle was actually a guild hall.

The guild halls are quite impressive from the outside. One of them was open to the public and it was huge inside. While pretty; however, they didn't seem to serve any purpose that I could see.

Sometime last year EQ2 devs mentioned that guild halls were in the works. To date, no time frame has been given. After the patch last month, I noticed that new guild hall permissions were added to guild rank settings. So hopefully they will be arriving soon. We've been pumping out status quests as much as we can to both level the guild and accumulate status. I can only assume that the higher level the guild, the more options there will be available in the halls. But I'm really looking forward to seeing what they've come up with.