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Reader Comments (39)

Posted: Feb 23rd 2009 1:18PM (Unverified) said

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this seems to be just the first step in making the whole world phasing for all players

Posted: Feb 23rd 2009 1:51PM (Unverified) said

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Illiterate trolls are funny.

Posted: Feb 23rd 2009 3:09PM (Unverified) said

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Brilliant!
Oh wait - where were you on this when EQ2 did it? Or Auto Assault? Or...
yeah, ok.

Can we can the fanboyism and take a stab at some objectivity in reporting maybe - this isn't even remotely new or obscure - you just didn't see it until it showed up in McMMO.

Posted: Feb 23rd 2009 2:58PM (Unverified) said

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I was delighted when this was used when LOTRO launched for the whole starter thing. Applying it to the world at large is OK but would be annoying for me beyond a starting experience simply due to wanting to group with a friend who is "back in time"

Posted: Feb 23rd 2009 6:07PM (Unverified) said

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I think phasing is perhaps the best aspect of Wrath... I really enjoyed seeing the storyline progress, and I think that aspect alone outweighs the disadvantages of the system.

Posted: Feb 23rd 2009 9:22PM (Unverified) said

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So WoW is finally becoming a CORPG? Hurray!

Now stop touting this as new, pick up Guild Wars at the discount store and enjoy the marvels others have experienced for years already WITHOUT paying a monthly fee...

Posted: Feb 23rd 2009 11:05PM (Unverified) said

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Man, I'm really gonna miss this job.
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Posted: Feb 24th 2009 9:08AM (Unverified) said

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Marc, to be quite honest I've given up on themepark MMOs as the way their designers divvy up continuous (social) dynamics into chunks of clunky, discrete mechanics in an attempt to 'minimise social unpleasantness' is not a way to progress the genre at all. On the contrary, it takes away the freedom from people to band together with relative strangers and put an end to a percieved wrong.

If the general lack of trust amongst players is what's holding them back to effectively use that power, there are better mechanics to empower them than to tighten the straightjacket even more. Without player participation on a grand scale it's quite hard to perpetuate the myth of player influence on a game world, let alone epic deeds that force a 180 on the turn of events, don't you think?

But enlighten me: from a player's perspective, how innovative is phasing over CORPG instancing (aside from the rather obvious 'seamless' vs instanced world)?
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Posted: Feb 23rd 2009 9:48PM (Unverified) said

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CryMore is a very skilled troll, certainly. At least I hope he's a troll. If he takes himself as seriously as we all assume, then the gaming community is in real trouble. That said, he does bring up an interesting question which deserves an intelligent response.

Is the age of "Massively" in MMOs over?

In short, no, not really. What developers have observed is that over the years they see what people have the most fun with in group-play. Standing in queues or constantly fighting for PvE kills in a dungeon wasn't most peoples' idea of fun. Competition had to be encouraged in places where it made sense, like PvP, while cooperation led to better PvE experiences.

It is a subtle, but important distinction. Online communities are fickle things, and it is very easy to turn- say- a quest to kill ten boars into either an opportunity to make game friends or to get into a silly argument. The challenge for developers was to minimise this, and instancing did this. It allowed players to focus on the content of a given dungeon rather than focus on fighting with other players.

Not the fun sort of fighting either, rather the sort of fight that occurs on Vent or in chat windows, screaming about Cloudsong or somesuch.

Phasing addresses one of the key problems with MMOs, which is the static universe issue. In Warhammer Online it was rather frustrating to not be able to, say, take back an Elven town after you'd cleared out all the enemies from there through questing. The undead/Dark Elves would respawn and the town would burn in perpetuity, frozen in an awkward moment in time. Phasing would allow questing players to feel like they're impacting the game world and open up new content.

I do not see this as dividing up the players. The phases are not for individuals alone. A massive group of players could congregate in the phased area provided they'd done the required quest, for example. Thus I don't really see how this wounds the "massive" bit of MMOs.

It adds more texture, certainly, and that's not a bad thing.

Developers have to balance quite a few things and I feel that, along with some mistakes, on balance they've made the MMO experience better. Massive multiplayer is a part of everyday life in these games still and as robust as ever. Devs have tried to cut out the unpleasant aspects of that interaction.

This then becomes a philosophical point. Should laissez faire massive multiplayer be encouraged or should it be managed so people who play games to have fun be given a world that artificially minimises social unpleasantness? Personally I prefer the latter.

If you really want Everquest, it's still running. I am rather curious why those who are so nostalgic about Verant's magnum opus seem not to realise this.

Posted: Feb 23rd 2009 11:04PM (Unverified) said

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Wow. Seriously - impressive post there. Have you ever considered writing for an MMO blog? =)
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Posted: Feb 23rd 2009 11:02PM UnSub said

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A lot of players hate instanced content. That WoW is using open instanced content is a nice step in terms of personal storytelling, but it does separate players out further by putting them in either instance A or instance B. For WoW's new content, packed full of players, this probably doesn't matter, but it does raise design questions about what happens when that area isn't popular anymore.

What would have been more interesting would have been if WoW had gone down AC's path, so that players could have actually had a permanent change on the world. Of course, such content is time limited and once-off, but it would show real progression in the game world. However, most people appear happy with the illusion of progression in the game world, which is what open instances promote. That's fine, but it is limited and it does have consequences for such a design.

Posted: Feb 24th 2009 8:29AM archipelagos said

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WoW tried the one-off permanent change event before with the opening of the Ahn'Qiraj Gates and it caused a lot of problems, namely in the community. It created a very "us and them" mentality that divided a lot of people and the grudges still exist in some parts today; many guilds that used to be respected became villified.

Phasing works because it allows everyone the opportunity to experience the event. Of course, this in itself is an issue for certain parts of the community but you can never make everyone happy in an MMO.
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Posted: Feb 24th 2009 8:35AM Drexel said

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You need to look no further than the pre-WotLK release event to see that people actually don't want their world changed. Unless it is in limited scope and doesn't interupt their daily routines. It is talked about a lot and very similar to the "hardcore" ruleset argument (aka The Mordred Syndrome). Everyone clamors for it on message boards and then when it happens they are sorry they asked for it.

The crying during the zombie event in WoW was unprecedented. People couldn't finish their dailies in Queldanas, bank alts were getting pwned and people trying to quest in major hubs were griefed beyond measure. Blizzard changed the game world "like the old AC days" and the new generation of MMOer said "no thanks". Hit Stormwind with a meteor and watch Blizzard lose 100k+ accounts.

Phasing answers the need for changing your MMO's environment,, due to your actions, and feeling like your character has a lasting effect on your game world all without inconveniencing the players around you. Think of that what you will but it is the way of the future.

Sure Blizzard didn't invent the technology...as a matter of fact they didn't invent any of the technology in their game. They took existing ideas and polished them for the masses. It's what they excel at, it's what people love and hate about them and ultimately it's what makes them uber-successful around the world. Love 'em or hate 'em.

Instancing changed MMOs permanently (imo for the better) and phasing is instancing on "the next level". I think it is one of the technologies from this generation of MMOs that will have a lasting effect on the industry (along with PQs and level advancement from PvP.
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Posted: Feb 24th 2009 10:34AM (Unverified) said

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WoW fans sure do get their feathers ruffled easily.

Its pretty obvious that instancing and phasing are both barriers to "massively" interaction. Even idiots like Quinnae and Holgar know it deep down, and its funny to watch them struggle to refute it.

Marc, you should change the name of this blog to "uber purplz" or whatever you call your virtual items.







Posted: Feb 24th 2009 10:37PM (Unverified) said

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Sold! My very next article for Massively will be titled Uber Purplz! =)
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Posted: Feb 24th 2009 10:46AM (Unverified) said

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Drexel,

You are 100% right.
The vast majority of people are creatures of habit (like sheep and cows) who get upset whenever anything changes. This is especially true of WoW players.

Everyone wants to have an impact on the game, without letting anyone else have any impact on *their* game.

Phasing is a good compromise because it gives the appearance of having an impact without any substance that might affect other players.

Posted: Feb 24th 2009 6:33PM Drexel said

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That was the most on-point statement I've seen on Massively in a while...I'm even going to adopt it in my stance on how I feel about this whole instancing/phasing debate...


"Everyone wants to have an impact on the game, without letting anyone else have any impact on *their* game."


That is a serious nugget of brialliance right there...if I could have thought of that line earlier I could have saved myself the typing of that entire post I made above.

Posted: Feb 25th 2009 1:09PM MikeBIndy said

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Seems to me that phasing primarily changes the way the world looks, not how it works. That's great if your primary reason for enjoying your MMO is the graphical environment, how pictures tell the story. But phasing doesn't significantly change gameplay, as I understand it.

(Of course, here come's the inevitable EVE compare/contrast) I prefer my actions to change the game world in a substantial, not superficial way. Region ownership, market availability and pricing, factional alignment and reputation all change on regular basis in EVE. Outer space doesn't look any different, yet everything changes. Anyone have similar examples?

Posted: Mar 3rd 2009 9:31AM (Unverified) said

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Phasing does offers some quirks in game play, as it's not just pictures changing, but content.

I have a skinner/leatherworker that occasionally needs to farm some leather from monsters to make those 'epic purplz'. So I need an area teeming with monsters to cut down the boredom.

One questline in WoW has you mowing down spider monsters using gun turrets and then going on to help this faction build a forward base which of course changes the world. The spider monsters are a great source of leather and drops. So if you start the questline, you effectively exterminate them. Having been through the questline with a mage and paladin, I decided to not do it with the druid/leatherworker, which provides me with a perpetual farm ;-) Even better, other players doing the questline kill a few spiders (which I can also skin) and then disappear along the questline, so there's little competition.

I keep thinking I should finally finish the quest, but it's just too damn profitable ;-)

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