All of this in response to a lot of people saying that they don't want to raid -- all of this so thoroughly missing the point of that statement.
This is one of those hurdles a lot of designers can't seem to conceptually get over. World of Warcraft's design team has had years of people saying this, and every response from the team has been missing the point so completely that it's almost absurd. I don't want to raid, at all, ever. End of discussion.
I'm going to skip over the F2P hand-wringing, both because I covered it nine months ago and because there's nothing anyone can do about it. And there's plenty of reason to fret about the rest of what's in store for starving western sandbox fans, anyway. Join me after the cut and we'll worry about it together.
Generally speaking, I prefer to not have my habits and behavior challenged via ad hominem attacks and false comparisons. But I have to admit that this one particular charge piqued my curiosity. Why is it that the majority of my characters are female? Am I, as a person who looks down on hypersexualized designs in games, committing an act of hypocrisy every time I create a female character?
Let's sort it out. And before we begin, remember that the Soapbox, like most of our editorials, is just one person's opinion and doesn't represent the thoughts of Massively as a whole.
Exploring old content for the sake of experiencing it is not enough of a motivator for many players since this content simply cannot present the same challenge as it once did. Although you can technically go back and play through old dungeons, they will never be as fulfilling when tactics become optional and you can solo once-formidable opponents. In this week's Soapbox, I will mourn the loss of fantastic older content that was rendered obsolete through vertical progression, using WoW as a key example. I'll go on to suggest a solution that I think might allow for both old and new content to exist together in relevancy without significantly compromising the themepark MMO's existing progression mechanics.
It's when the developers and their ardent fans gloss over the importance of the actual content these mechanics are applied to that I get annoyed. Mechanics are just a skeleton, and they can't do anything at all without some meat on the bones. Content matters, and good, fresh content will keep players interested long after the novelty of unusual mechanics has worn off.
I especially like a good fight when it occurs unscripted and out in the wilds of the world. If you catch me unaware while I'm grinding out one of TERA's BAMs or plucking gold from an ore vein in Aion, I'll be more than happy to cross swords (or trade frostbolts) with you. Winning or losing isn't important to me; the constant threat of attack heightens my enjoyment of and connection to the game's universe.
Unfortunately, open world PvP doesn't attract exclusively those people interested in fair fights. And in the games that make it possible, a certain small segment of players is working hard to ruin everyone else's good time. I speak, of course, of gankers.
\nä-ˈstal-jə, nə- also nȯ-, nō-; nə-ˈstäl-\
: pleasure and sadness that is caused by remembering something from the past and wishing that you could experience it again
1 : the state of being homesick : homesickness
2 : a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition; also : something that evokes nostalgia
And here's where I tell you that nostalgia is the most misused, overused, and overly simplistic word in modern MMO discourse.
LFR was quite popular among casual players that were usually passed up when it came to raiding group formation, but it didn't offer much progress to seasoned raiders. The gear gained had lower stats than its corresponding normal raid counterpart, but the LFR tier simply didn't need the co-ordination required of a group tackling regular raids. A void was created somewhere in between the casual masses who could benefit from the LFR mechanic and the hardcore raiders that simply did not need help with progression. My casual raiding guild was caught in the middle and ultimately met its demise at the hands of LFR, which simultaneously depleted the PUG pool and gave our members another way to see the endgame content they wanted without putting in virtual blood, sweat, and tears.
Steam has an entire Early Access section that's dominating the sales charts, offering players a chance to hop right into an anticipated game while it's still in the middle of development. Kickstarter games routinely offer alpha and beta access to their financers as part of their reward structure. Trove, Elite: Dangerous, Shroud of the Avatar, Star Citizen, and EverQuest Next Landmark are among the vanguard of upcoming MMOs that have promised alpha or early access to players willing to shell out a few bucks right now.
It's not enough to covet and chase after a beta key these days; all of the cool kids are in the alpha, apparently. The willingness of developers to wield alpha access as a reward and the enthusiastic acceptance by gamers to literally buy into it has me very concerned that this could poison the industry, the community, and the future of our games.
New isn't good because it's new. New is good because it can provide solutions to old problems. When an old method is seen as the source of a problem actually caused by something unrelated, shoving a new method in there can just create new problems. So why all the wailing and gnashing of teeth over games trying out a subscription before they move onto other models? And why all the wailing and gnashing of teeth in retaliation to this opinion?
Betas, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Launches, MMO Industry, PvP, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Consoles, EverQuest Next, The Soapbox, Miscellaneous, WildStar, The Elder Scrolls Online, Destiny, Star Citizen, MMORPG, Buy-to-Play
Ordinarily I'm not the type to make New Year's resolutions. It seems arbitrary to hang important life changes on a date on the calendar. But the end of the year does bring a nice opportunity to look back on my gaming habits over the last 12 months and provides me with an opportunity to draft a list of things I'd like to do better moving forward. 2014 will be an MMO year like no other, so perhaps it warrants a few adjustments in behavior.
With that in mind, these are my 2014 MMO resolutions.
Embargoes work something like this. Let's say that Bungie is hard at work developing My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Online, and the company wants to reveal a new piece of information on August 9th. The company sends a lot of different press outlets a release with all of the information on August 2nd, mentioning exactly when the embargo lifts. So on August 9th, everyone can cover it at the same time!
It sounds like a great way to ensure that the press knows things in advance and that every big revelation is nicely coordinated across all media. In practice, though, it's something less than beneficial due to failures to communicate and the very nature of the beast. Giving more time between the information and release just means more space for things to go wrong.
A while back, we hosted a great column about how we tend to call things easy when they really aren't. (Seriously, go read that.) That's all well and good, but that's also not what I'm talking about here. Gaming as a community seems to have decided that easy is just plain bad, that it's a horrible insult, and a game being easy is like saying that a game is worthless.
But easy isn't bad. Playing a single-player game on easy difficulties isn't a mark of weakness, and having an MMO that's easy on a whole doesn't mean it's a bad game. Having easy content isn't just an acceptable thing; it's an outright good thing for a lot of player. There is absolutely nothing wrong with easy.
To take the narrative that a lot of people have constructed, World of Warcraft has been sort of floundering for the past few years. It released one expansion (Cataclysm) that consistently ranks as the worst expansion in the game's history, coming behind the launch game, The Burning Crusade, and Alganon. Then it released another one that turned out to actually be pretty good but with a premise that turned a lot of people off right out of the gate. Mists of Pandaria's quality doesn't matter in the face of the game losing five million subscriptions in three years.
But then, Warlords of Draenor was announced, and suddenly hope returned to the faithful. There's this thought that the game has suddenly returned from the brink, that Blizzard hit the big red button labeled "Save World of Warcraft" and the game will be catapulted back into prominence once again. Except that I think that portion of the story isn't just premature -- it's making a stab in the dark about a game that isn't back and can't, in fact, be back.
Posted on Jul 28th 2014 12:00PM
Posted on Jul 28th 2014 8:00AM
Posted on Jul 27th 2014 6:00PM