Monday, August 18, 2008

The End of All Things...

Hello MMO-Maniacs!

If you’ve been checking in here (and who’s doing that now? There’s dust on dem dere posts!) you’ve probably noticed that there has been a serious lack of content over the past weeks. Well, the reason for this is that I’ve lost my mind and have been committed to the Shattrath Sanctuary Mental Ward indefinitely.

No, really. I have. Look at the wittle birdies outside my window! They’re flying upside down. With orcs on their backs. With even more orcs on their backs.

All kidding aside, MMO-Madness is going defunct for a while. As of my last check in, I was recording a podcast to take our little site into other forms of media. What I found out though was that my scope was too large. If you review my past posts, you’ll see that they’re overwhelming about WoW and my war-mage exploits. That’s not what this site was supposed to be and not what I want it to be. We’re MMO-Madness, not WoW-Whelps. Then again, we’re also not a news resource.

So what are we? A single writer endeavoring to cover several different MMOs. Don’t let my references to “we” confuse you. It’s just me representing my own little project. And as a single worker bee, and a casual worker bee, it’s too much to cover so many different titles fairly. So, until I can rouse some friends/readers into becoming contributors, I’ve decided that the scope needs to be narrowed a little bit.

Hence, I have created Fires of WAR. I find that I enjoy writing much more about the game I’m currently focusing on than forum/news source trolling looking for interesting tidbits to write on. And when I enjoy what I’m writing, I write more often and I write more interesting pieces. Even though I’m not in closed beta for WAR, I am registered for Open Beta, so I hope to have a plethora of content to write on soon.

And since I’ve been following this game consistently for months… and months… and months (!!!) I shouldn’t have any shortage on stuff to write on. So, if you get the opportunity, drop on by to Fires of WAR. And yes, I intend to podcast ;-).

I’ll spare the nitty gritty on that blog here. Suffice it to say though, I intend to write primarily on WAR but I may occasionally cover other topics relevant to the genre.

Sometime, I hope to bring back MMO-Madness. Until then, it’s been a great ride and your readership has meant a lot to me.

Take care all. I hope to meet you on the battlefield.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

MMOMadness Podcast: Coming Soon!

Update I: Due to some unforeseen real life issues, the "intro-cast" is still in the production stage. We're trying to bring you something good; something you can sink your mind's teeth into. In short, a topic based show as opposed to a post based show. There's a lot for us to do. We have big goals here, people. Big ones that will demand more planning than most other gaming podcasts out there. Stay tuned. You won't be disappointed. Check back Monday evening.

Update II: The content has been recorded. I wish it could have been live but for an "intro-cast" perhaps it was for the best. We're in the polish stage now. For this cast, we'll re-record it if we need to. You're going to get something good, like update I promises. Stay tuned for Monday night.

Aloha, MMO fiends!

We here at MMO Madness have been toying with this idea for a while now and I think it's finally going to happen. I have all of the programs I'll need to do a ShoutCast broadcast and recorded session to be hosted elsewhere.

I'll be testing Skype later today to test my ability to take calls and bring others into the show.

If all goes well, I'll be working on an introductory podcast this afternoon, so stay tuned for details!

Right now, things are pretty much just in the outline stage. Essentially, our podcast will be covering the things you read about on this blog and in the MMO world on the whole. We'll see where we wind up. Timewise, I'd imagine we'll run between 30 minutes and an hour.

If Skype works out, and we get enough listeners, we'll see about broadcasting at regular times and taking calls.

Where would you like to see us head with this thing? Right now, we're the ones leasing the car but, hey, we're the cool kids that'll let you take the wheel from time to time. *smile*

Keep an eye out for the intro-cast and podcast one soon to follow!

Monday, July 14, 2008

So, if you're not satiated with my mind's inner workings yet, there's still more!

I haven't been able to log on WoW too much today. I logged on my mage for about 20 minutes and wasn't able to hop on again. Sure, I was on my computer but it's been one of those days when you're online but there's too much on your plate to game.

Sad, sad business.

Anyhow, in my time off the PC today I got to thinking; I haven't had the desire to log on my level 70 warrior in almost two weeks.

I've had a few low level alts in the past but I've always gone back to my ol' greenie (i be an ork).

It's somewhat striking to me but overall, I think it means that I've reached a new point in my WoW career. 70 is great. The dungeons are fun (usually), the guilds are generally much better than the low levels ones, and the content is better designed.

Despite all that, I don't really care about going back... and it doesn't bother me. All that time put into my main going out the window and I've waving goodbye.

If you've been reading here for a while you'll have seen that I'd been going through pseudo burnout. Rolling an alliance mage is about as polar opposite from my previous game as you can get short of becoming a healer. It's almost like a whole new game and I've been sinking my teeth into the meat of this new experience and the potatoes that make up the B-content (capital cities, shared zones, etcetra.)

I think another part of this equation is that a mage has one defined role. Period.

As a warrior, I was a mediocre tank (yes, by my own failing. Warriors can be great tanks) and, because I wasn't a high-end raider, mediocre dps. After putting so many days /played, I didn't want to have to spend countless hours farming dungeons for pieces of threat or defense gear.

Don't get me wrong. I loved my warrior. They are a lot of fun, especially as dps. Tanking is also a blast when you're equipped for it. When you're working your way up though, it's fun in a kind of stressful, high pressure, can't mess up in the least without being chewed out kind of way. It's for some people. I can do it but I don't play WoW to feel like I'm under the gun. I don't play to have other people depend on me for anything they need in a dungeon. I play to have fun. For me, that means the low pressure, high numbers, dps game. Call me a noob, call me lazy, call me whatever. I don't care.

Now, I have the best of both worlds: a mage on his way to 70 and a warrior already there with 10.2k health (11ish K with commanding shout) and 492 defense. I can do what I want when I want to do it... usually.

So, for the time being I'm rolling DPS and not looking back. I'm in a new game, folks. Sometime, I'll come back to old Raegn. I'll come back and tank the hell out of some instances then respec and kick some ass in the battlegrounds.


But not today.

The recent cut in WAR content

Mythic has recently announced that they intend to launch with four less capital cities and classes than intended.

Upon first reading this, I was quite disturbed.

I mean, come on. This has been the MMO we've all been banking on. The end-game for WAR is based on these capital city sieges and now that's being cut down by two thirds of their announced plan. What is their to be other than disturbed.

Betrayed, deceived, tricked? Yes.

Regardless, the removal of the city sieges is relatively minor in my opinion. It is a horrible removal but at least they intend to put this content in with a free patch. So, I can deal with it.

What really bothers me is the removal of the four classes.

I don't know about anyone else, but I see this as the single most detrimental thing they've done to the game to date. How the hell are Dark Elves supposed to function without their offensive tank? How are any of the affected classes supposed to function with these removals?

It seems to me that Mythic, regardless of their intent to have "great" class options available to players, have just screwed over realm balance.

I mean, hell, Dark Elves are bad ass and if this was really the Warhammer universe, they'd skin every other race alive without tanks.

Unfortunately, that's not the case. In the computer world, Mythic just gimped us, the Dark Elves, and other classes.

Tell me, what is RvR if the balance is screwed?

I know: none of the stuff they've cut is even in beta. Technically, we're not losing anything; however, it does not change the fact that certain races are now missing the necessitated tank, dps, healer trio that is essential to race balance.

If there wasn't an issue as to realm balance before, there sure is now.

Don't get me wrong, I still intend to buy this game. I still see potential beyond that of any other recent MMO.

Mythic can pull their ship together and make this thing great, even post launch. It's not unreasonable for an MMO development company to make changes pre-launch. So long as they do something to equal out realm balance soon after launch, I'll be a happy camper.

The only thing I worry about is how many people will jump ship before they implement the fixes. Warhammer Alliance forums have been alight with people claiming that they'll never buy it. Others are of the opinion that a fix needs to come and soon.

Thankfully, Mark Jacobs, the head of Mythic, is paying attention to the community. He hasn't done a ton to make me feel better but at least he's listening and that's something. Most MMO developers sit in the shadows and keep their comments to themselves.

That's not Mythic and thank God for that.

It gives me hope. If they listen to our comments, as they have through beta, the game will be better because of it.

So, despite the questions that arise because of this recent announcement, I still believe that WAR will be the next big MMO to migrate to and, based upon their communications with the community, it has a huge chance to be the MMO that listens and responds and makes itself great.

Keep the faith readers. WAR shouldn't let us down and even if it does, there's some other MMO in development now to make us salivate once again.

As the industry progresses, so shall we.

Rant: Beta Leaks

If you’re in beta for any game, STFU or quit.

Seriously. Personally, I’m of the opinion that if you’re chosen to participate in something like that, it’s to be valued.

A buddy of mine was recently cruising a website that specializes in beta leaks. They hire leakers and give them special status on their forums!

Anyways, one of these schmucks was blabbing in a forum about how poor the combat was in the current state of WAR.

Let me stop here. Screw this guy. I dug around and found out that what he was commenting on was about the state of combat over six months and many builds ago.

So, here he is spoiling people on the game with inaccurate outdated information. He bashes Mythic because they removed all of the videos they… surprise, surprise… busted him for posting, causing him to lose beta access.

A mod on the board follows up with a “wave at the Mythic guys, everyone!” to which another person tosses in a “*gives the Mythic devs the finger*” I may be paraphrasing a bit because I refuse to give their site more traffic by going back.

Seriously…. Gives them the finger? Why do you even want to play their game? How would you feel if they gave YOU the finger, moron. People deliberately break a legally binding contract so that a bunch of information hungry forum dwellers will think they’re cool. At a potential detriment to the game!

Then, the original leaker says that “oh, I’m just waiting on my next key so that I can get in and get you guys some more vids.”

Are you kidding me? That stuck up, spoiled little, brat. Ugh. You have no idea how mad that made me. How many of us have been waiting anxiously for the chance to get our hands on that game? And this dork gets one. And the prospect of a second one.

I make a point not to read those sites but my attention was called to these comments, all. I’m glad I saw it too. It gives me even more disdain for people that blow off the NDA.

I read a comment on Warhammer Alliance a while back that I think sums up the quality of those sites nicely. It said something to the degree of the vast majority of beta testers stay silent on the quality of the game. This tells us that they don’t want to risk their spots in the test. They care about it and are having too much fun to worry about going to some leak site.

The comments of a most WAR leakers I’ve seen slipping by on WHA have been negative. Out of these people, I’d wager that most of them fall into one of more of these groups:

  1. the game just isn’t for them regardless of quality
  2. they’re using BETA as a free trial and expect trial-grade quality
  3. they’re upset because they’ve made suggestions that the developers didn’t agree with.

On top of that, I’d be willing to bet that the amount of leakers that are actually fair and unbiased in their reviews make up the vast minority of those willing to report them.

The lesson here? Leaks suck and hurt everyone. Period. They encourage idea stealing. The encourage some anonymous internet person’s e-peen. Let’s join together and not join these people because if majority rules, most of the reviews can’t be trusted and they’re only giving them up to help themselves feel better.

Grouping in LotRO: Lowbies

As the banner of this blog implies, I play LotRO from time to time.

It’s a fun game. I like it.

I’m level 9.

You hear a whoosh as all credibility goes out the window.

Wow, did you just feel a breeze?

Anyways, yeah, so I’m level nine and questing my avatar off. When I began I decided to roll a loremaster that looked like an old man. I’d been reminiscing about my teenage days reading the Dragonlance Chronicles and something made me want to roleplay an old wizard.

I’m wrinkled. I’m old. I’m Fizban’s half-cousin. Well, not really. But I look and act like it!

So, I’ve been having fun. The game is beautiful, the community is awesome, and the story is engaging.

One thing I’ve noticed in my nine levels of pinecone throwing is that it’s pretty tough to get groups for low level content. I’ve had this quest to kill some cellar spider now for some time but, try as I will, I can’t find a group for it!

Now, I dig some RP but not to the point where it’s going to drive anyone away. I generally keep it in general channels such as ‘say’, so I’m not frightening anybody with my RP.

So, I have to believe, at least on Landroval, that most people have either a) moved past the content and have little interest in alts; or b) don’t want to group.

Either way, it’s not too enthusing. Option A is obviously the better of the two… perhaps there’s something grand at the end of the rainbow for this little loremaster. Or maybe it means that I’m looking forward to one heck of a grind.

Hell, it could just be my playtime too. I’m on during the day, which is usually not the best playtime to find a crowd. Still, I’ve been able to get by on other games. Granted, it would take a while, but I’d still get the job done.

Option B is pretty bad though and, personally, pretty doubtful. I mean, as a relative noob, what do I know, but the instanced quests and great story would be enough to get me to group more if I was a little bigger. Those are the main reasons why I play LotRO and I know that I can’t be alone.

So readers, I pose the question to you: what’s the heck is going on!? To put this in perspective, I’ve been trying to find members for this one for two weeks. That spider’s gonna eat gramma soon if no one kicks him out of the basement. What can I do to better find groups in Middle-Earth and have you had similar experiences?

Until next time -

Lights a pinecone and burns his finger.

Damn. Next time I’ll bring some bag balm with me.

Warhammer PVE: truth or lie, do or die.

Keen had a post up recently that explores a concern we both share: PVE in Warhammer. In last month’s newsletter, Mythic let us explore their new instance. Admittedly, the thing looks awesome. I have to say though, despite my glee while watching their video, I had one main thought above all else when I dug into the video: It’s about time.

I love the idea of RVR, I really do. It looks fun, engaging, and that it’s going to involve a lot of PVE by itself. On the other hand, and don’t kill me here, RVR strikes me as large scale, purpose driven, PVP. I know, I know, there’s more to it than that, but as someone who entered the MMO market with WoW, I guess I’m sheltered.

Thus far, the hype around WAR has been RVR-centric and why shouldn’t it be? At its core, WAR will be an RVR game. After all, war is everywhere. That’s awesome in my book but players will burn out eventually. It can’t be prevented if there’s only one core past time to a game. If your game is PVE centric, players will burn out on the grinds. If it’s PVP centric, they’ll burn out on the repetition of battle. PVP is fun as hell, sure, but you can get saturated on anything if you do it enough (oh Chinese buffet, how I miss you).

So, I’m nervous when we’re only getting little hints about PVE content because it’s “an RVR game at its core.” That’s fine but in order for this game to survive in the long term, they need to put in a LOT of PVE content to satisfy the portion of the player base who doesn’t want to RVR or scenario all the time.

Mythic is putting in dungeons. Cool dungeons. Dungeons that are streamlined and that, at least in part, can be done by everyone in your realm! I love that idea, but how long will it last? Will 70’s be content with this type of scenario? I’m not so sure.

There’s a definite audience for raid content and right now WAR is only offering the king encounters. Nice concept, awesome design, coolness. Enough to keep the raiders satisfied? No. I’m no raider but many of my friends, in-game and out, are. They enjoy the scripted events and mastering the encounters. They enjoy the scheduling and teamwork. The king encounters are not schedulable and as such not masterable based on the players dedication.

So, no, the king encounters are not enough to pull any of the hardcore raiders away from any of the other options out there. The smaller dungeons won’t be enough either. The RVR is a niche, albeit cool, concept but simply not enough for people not prone to PVP anyways. WAR is a pvp/rvr game but that doesn’t mean they should shove pve’rs off to the side.

So hell yes, it’s about time they started putting some focus on the PVE. We need more of that kind of stuff in all of the hype that’s being pushed for this game. Personally, I can’t wait to play it either way, but I want to see this game be all it can be. If they neglect such a big piece of the MMO puzzle, they will in no way shape or form make a long term dent in WoW. They’ll be a “vacation” spot like how Age of Conan turned out to be for so many. I look to WAR as having such huge potential that I’m a little concerned that let down may be inevitable. I truly believe that this game could be great though. If they do it right.

Now, I part from Keen in one main way in regards to PVE. I don’t think raiding treadmills are the worst thing in the world. On the contrary, I think that they help push MMOs towards long term sustainability.

Should your time and work be devalued by “the next big instance”? No. Absolutely not. Should raiding be driven by a desire for loot and not fun? Adventure? No.

However, one thing these treadmills do accomplish is to keep people hooked. It keeps them aspiring to be able to tackle the next chunk of content. And it draws new players in. I hate the idea that gear has become the defacto reason why the majority of people want to progress in games. That’s not what this genre should be about. It’s high fantasy. It’s battle. It’s wars and dragon slaying. It’s adventure and not colored adornments to your character.

Perhaps this is the reason why Mythic is avoiding raid content. Perhaps not. Either way, they should be looking towards raids and not away. Put a new spin on raid progression, Mythic! You have our support! Well… mine anyways.

The scope of this article is too narrow to delve into my ideas on how to solve the treadmill dilemma and how to avoid player burnout. Suffice it to say though, it can be done and I’d love to see Mythic be the one to do it. The last thing we want is for people to get to max level and have different flavors of only one thing to do. People will want more than that and I think we should start asking for it a little more.

Until next article loyal readers…… WAAAGH!