Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Crafting? You Mean Item Grinding (Pt. 2)...

Well, before I could get more of a response out the door... Lum has spoken the holy word and said some of the things I didn't.

Just to set the record straight. I am not a crafter by design. I much prefer the company of "Corp Por" to sitting around tailoring or popping potions for a living. However, in WoW, killing players doesn't pay as well as it did in UO since we could actually kill the crafters and take all their loot. Ahhh, the good old days... ;)

I do like to craft more as a hobby, and I like to see what is going on out there so I can talk about it and empathize with those poor folks that have to do this stuff on a regular basis. I also don't like dungeons, and I don't do raids for similar reasons, and because these days, I don't have 25, like minded friends to go play with either.

So, to continue now using some of Lum's comments as a refrence. I didn't know SWG had crafting designed by ex-UO designers. I was on my ten year vacation at that time, so I didn't get to play, but a lot of the things Lum mentioned, are in fact the same issues I have with WoW. Items are important to be valuable. I don't know exactly what the definition of being tedious would be, but the chance to fail, and difficult to find mats are pretty tedious in my opinion. Fishing is pretty tedious, and that's the trade I think has the best design for building around.

I noticed AION had a pretty nice selling system where they had an Ebay like WoW, or you could just plop your toon out front of a heavy traffic area and sell yourself. That system reminded of UO a little bit, but in UO, you could set your vendor outside your house and just fill it up with goodies, and then empty the virtual piggy bank vendor when you needed cash. You could then go out and continue playing the game and not be stuck like a statue out in the middle of a city.

Another thing I liked about AION and even Star Trek Online MMO, is that they try to give you a reason to wear "off duty" or clothes just to hang out. They do it different ways, but there are some really nice outfits you can obtain with the correct amount of cash on you. In WoW, its just not cool to wear a tuxedo or anything but the latest in Raid fashion. Everyone at any particular level will be wearing the exact same armor they get from the dungeons now. Since there is not much of a social side to WoW besides the trade chat from hell, we don't even want to see each other.

A crafter with the given skills and a wide variety of things to make could change all that. Even in UO, with limited options, people found ways to be different and hang out. WoW just doesn't seem to have that same loving feeling about it. Its a shame really.

Oh man, talk about memory lane. I have brought this up before, WoW for some reason skipped a couple of the most important trade skills and I have no idea why. Lumberjack and Bow Fletching are highly useful and since we have bows and arrows in this game, I don't see why we don't have anyone making this stuff. I killed so many birds in UO, that when I would be outside and see a bird flying around I actually wanted to kill it in real life. Just in my mind, I never actually would hurt a bird. Running around chopping wood for bows and arrows was also something that was sort of fun to do since you could get killed while you were out there. Blizz decided to go after cartography, which was also in UO, but it was one of the last trade skills they added. At least as of 2004 when I stopped playing MMO's.

Lum is not the only one that remembers this stuff. He's got the number of played titles on me, but I know where he is comming from.

I have more, but I have to go to work. =( I will leave you with this though. WoW, please hire an ex-UO craft designer, have them come in and fix your crafting game. Ask Tom Chilton, he should know a couple of these guys.

Thanks and happy hunting!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Crafting? You Mean Item Grinding...

Most of what I would talk about here is in response to Tobold's latest troll for using "Cool Downs" or "CD's" to craft items.

For the easy answer, the cool downs are not casual friendly, so my first response would be to say that it is a bad idea. Cool downs tend to make us feel forced to log in, and those types of things make us casual players uneasy.

I do find myself wanting to log in to get that precious gem transmuted every day and collect the 130-190 Gold. However, when they took the cool down from the high-end tailoring cloth, I found myself not having anything to do. I don't really like doing dailies, so the cool downs were about all I would handle many times when I log in.

So, here's some of what I like and dislike about crafting. First of all, they should be about the same. I really don't like that some crafts are way more profitable fun then others, and I think all of them need to be more important and corrected in the game.

Fishing has the correct skill building. You should gain from just using the skill, not by where or what you are fishing for. Don't force us to fish where we might otherwise not want to do so. I don't have a problem with a chance to fail or fish up vendor trash, although it is not really needed.

Alchemy has the "discovery" option built in so that we have a chance to find new recepies. I think they should have this with all of the trade skills, and it would be nice to include more of the recepies in the chance for discovery.

Tobold mentioned the "hard to aquire" recepies, and I don't like those very much at all. I am not a person that wants to go through a rep grind or searching the entire planet for stuff to make. Most of those items are not worth it, because there is a limit to what will sell.

I also don't really like the items I can craft only for myself. I think anything I can make should be available for me to sell to potential customers. I think enchanting has the best set up with the vellium's and they should expand that more to tailors and leatherworkers.

Recepie drops in dungeons and on monsters are nice. I almost always win the roll on these for tailoring in the ICC heroic dungeons, and it is a nice perk to be able to get something for yourself while you are risking your life to destroy the Lich King.

Tailoring in general is about completely worthless. There are only two or three items I have ever seen that you can even craft that anyone will buy on a regular basis. I have tried several times to sell Item Level 200 items on AH, and those things just don't want to be sold. There are some Royal Moonshroud items, and Merlin's Robe which are very nice, but I don't have the recepies for those. At 5000 Gold a pop, it's not likely I will see those any time soon.

A couple of the problems have to do with the fact that there is no reason to keep any of the lower level stuff around. There are recepies for each colored item, instead of just crafting an item and then dying it a color you or the customer can choose. Items with stats are somewhat silly since that forces it into a level range for the customer. Who ever designed that system obviously never played UO. All items including leather in UO could be dyed a different color. That alone opens up a lot of options.

If we were allowed to create scaled items similar to the Heirloom items that would grow with the customer, that would give us at least some potential market value for our crafted goods. Not all items need to scale of course, I am mostly talking about armor. If the items can adjust to each individual, and if there was a real reason people could wear something besides to stand out front of the bank, then we might have an economy starting here.

On a different note. Why don't we just have bandages? Why make it a cloth fest to train up a skill that everyone will get anyway? I think you should just be able to buy bandages or make them if you are a "tailor" for example out of whatever cloth you want and then sell them. Bandages should scale with the user. Does a level 80 character really bleed more then a level 1? Well, in health maybe, but comon. You should gain skill in first aid by applying a bandage, not making them. Again, this makes tailoring a little more important if they have something they can sell. You can always make them available on some sort of vendor for say "regular" bandage. Maybe let the tailored bandages have other bonuses or do extra healing.

Some of the cloth is too hard to find. Wool comes to mind. Fortunately we don't really need it unless we are training up First Aid.

So, this is just my first pass on this subject, but some things to chew on. Crafting needs a lot of work, but please don't make it take more time, lets work on making it worth doing and "fun"...

That's all I got.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Cataclysm Snails, and Pink Pigtails...

Oh, I may have spoken about this before, but recently Larisa came up with an idea for those of us burned out old vets waiting for Cataclysm to come out so we can see something new.

PvP was one of her suggestions and it is supposed to be one of the many end-game ideas Blizzard stuck in the game for us. I, on the other hand, want to point out my own Cataclysm. "Tauren Jumping". Often when I am waiting in Org for my dungeon que to open up and let me get my bag of goodies, I search in front of the bank and auction house for idle Taurens. These guys are really big, and if you start at the top of the hill, and run down on a mount like the Red Skeletal Warhorse, you can get some really good airtime.

Seriously, my guild is small, but when I tell them I am Tauren jumping they just laugh at me. I have tried to explain just how awesome it is when 4 or 5 Taurens line up so you can jump them like a motocross racer, but somehow they just don't believe me.

A lot of what is lacking in WoW to me is the ability to do stuff outside the box. I mean things like housing in UO. You could decorate your house with stuff that you found out and about in dungeons or off of monsters. If you wanted, you could set out tables, chairs, and even food for friends to come by and visit. We would use cloth and other things to make designs on the floor or swiming pools. The number of things people would do in a 2d world with items was just amazing. So, my point is that there was always something you could do, even if it wasn't trying to accumulate more stuff or reputation etc.

There are many examples of things you can do, but I think Tauren Jumping should become a meta-game with a score board and a leader system on the Net like Arena PvP... No seriously.

Actually on the Alliance side I also play, Climb the Statue. There is a big statue in front of the bank that we love to climb to the top if possible. Sometimes I can get up there, but lately I haven't been able to get on top of the guys head. Once you are up there, the next fun thing is to see how much higher you can get so you cast something like Black War Mammoth to give you that extra boost into the sky.

I guess that game will be ruined once we can fly in the old lands. Ahh well...

That's all I got...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I'm not the only one thinking about Farmville...

I have been meaning to write something about this for awhile. Farmville, and games like it really piss me off. His Lumness, put up an article about how the traditional MMO Developers and the Facebook Application industry peeps are at war.

I've noticed that many of the pioneer type MMO people have moved into the realm of making games for Facebook. Recently I recall Raph Koster, Anthony Castoro, and even Richard Garriott going down this path.

I'll tell you that I don't like some of those kind of games because they use some cheezy tactics to get you to play. I also don't like running out of moves or stuff to do for the day, or the next few hours or whatever. I like to just do what I want, when I want, period.

I have a friend that is one of those 20 million people that likes Farmville. Now, we do live in the country and all that, but besides not wanting to play a game about farming, I don't like games that force you to bug other people. I asked her why she played the game so much, and her response was that she would lose all of her hard work on her crops if she didn't harvest in 3 hours or something silly. I was completely beside myself with disgust! How could they do that to someone's stuff? Well, I am not going to play that game to find out, but I think that sort of tactic sucks. She didn't mention anything else about the game, like "because it's fun" or something, she was just afraid to lose all of her hard work. Clicking on 300 or more squares to plant veggies... What a waste!

I don't want to send out 100 direct email spam messages to people about my game, and try to get them to play. I don't want to play a game that makes you log in every few hours to make sure your virtual goods are still safe and not losing money. I am not saying all of those games do that, but many of them like Farmville do, and it thrives on people being scared of losing virtual stuff.

One could argue that WoW does the same thing with "Cool Downs". You have a cool down that you can use every day or three, but if you don't use it, then you could miss out on some money. Well, you could, but when you get back, you can still get that money, and nothing is really lost. You don't lose your crops, have to rebuild the empire, or lose your dog.

It is similar to the way some casinos in Colorado try to get people to come play by offering to match the amount you must spend, but only if you come play every week. If you miss a week, then you "lose" that money they are "giving" you. It's a trick works on a lot of people, but to me it seems that these types of tricks are not a good way to do business.

Most of the traditional MMO's allow you to just come and play whenever you want, everything is still the way you left it when you return, and typically, you don't need to feel like you've lost everything.

I think Lum's point in his article that Farmville and games like it are simply the next step in an evolution of games. The trick is for you Traditional MMO folks is that you need to make your games accessable in the same fashion as the Facebook guys.

World of Warcraft is already starting to do this with Facebook and they have a new Auctioneer app of some sort coming out. I think we will see more of an integration of the two rather then a replacement from one to the other. You can still have people buy your game and play as they see fit, and you can offer a lot of the content through things like Facebook and MySpace that will cover a huge number of the problems and concerns we see now.

I am looking forward to seeing how this topic unfolds, because I truly believe the most successful MMO will be the one that puts this marriage of Application, and Traditional together...

Oh, and make it accessable to Twitter, Bling, Yahoo Mail, and on the cell phone too. Mkay?

That's all I got.

Blizzard: Silent Watchers...

I was reading this post on Kill Ten Rats, and thought about it for a minute...

So, they were saying Blizz is tight lipped with talking to the public, news or rant sites like this one because of various speculations. I think it's more because we could or would likely find a way to make whatever they say turn into a controversy and possibly get them fired.

Tom Chilton, one of my now "WoW Rockstar" friends from Battle Vortex back in the day, when we did podcasts, doesn't even talk on the telephone or respond to emails with more then two lines of meaningless text. I wouldn't ever try to get someone in the industry in trouble, but I am sure that the company line is that if you think there is even a 1% possibility of something getting repeated to the public where Blizzard can find it, then don't do it.

I have talked with and interviewed many of the Executive people in the MMO Gaming industry, one of my favorites was Gordon Walton. Sometimes, we even had to sign an NDA or other confidentiality agreements to speak to or read what these folks had to say. I am sure that by now, Blizzard has a huge, well lined out confidentiality agreement that employees have to sign. I wouldn't be suprised if they don't have a "PR Coach" in his own office they have to visit once a week to be reminded of how they can be replaced in a moments notice if something slips out that shouldn't. Back in the day, talking too much got someone in trouble, and I think now days it's just better that they shut up and make lots of money. It would be nice if they would fix their games, too, but one can't be overly concerned about that. Most of the games have actual community people, and those people know how to deal with the player issues more efficiently and less static gets through to the developers.

In any event, I think that even if they don't speak, that doesn't mean they don't watch and see what is going on out there. Mostly it is probably talked about at the water coolers, and made fun of at the large gaming expos. I really believe they are not just locked in a room coding all day, more like a cubical, but I do believe they see us out here, and they do listen.

If they would listen to me more, they wouldn't have all these problems, but that is another story...

That's all I got.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Up Up And Away, Team...

So, we are Lt. G9 or so, and I have been a lot less angry playing on the Federation side. I can go wherever I want and I seem to have no problems finding quests other then PvP.

I am currently floating about the Remulos sector of space, finding missions, scanning for stuff that I have no clue what to do with, and finding out just how stupid my away team is.

First thing, is that if World of Warcraft would give you an "Away Team" to come and do Heroics with you, I would throw STO in the trash right now. Since that's not going to happen lets go to Fear's story of the week.

I think the away team idea is totally too cool, but while traveling to strange new worlds, I found myself wanting to slap the Bajoran out of my away team. I spent some time the other night making sure that everyone had Mk II or Mark Two gear and weapons so I was not going to get killed as easily anymore. I found that if I could give them an Mk II brain, it might have helped even more.

My biggest problem is when they get stuck trying to find me, or the occasional, wander off on their own for long periods of time. My first officer, Ryu is a total nut case when it comes to staying in the ranks. I find myself wondering "where the hell is this guy?", and looking at his distance from the group. Ryu is always far, far away, doing what I can't imagine. If Ryu was William Riker, I would assume he is just getting a little lovin' from the local females, but Ryu is a dorky looking guy with not much chance of love.

I was on a mission where I had lost one of my away team in a huge exchange of friendly phaser fire, and when I found her body, I wasn't sure how to get her back into action. I used the "P" Powers Key, to see if there was yet another hidden power I had to bring someone to life. I did have something called CPR or similar and I pushed that sucker. It worked. It was my Medic that had fallen, so I guess the game expected the captian to take charge of bringing the away team back to life. When she is alive and well, I am pretty sure she handles all of the healing and reviving duties without my help.

I like the fact that I can sort of tell them what to do as far as targeting and stuff like that, but mostly I just let them go wild. The healer heals, and the rest all shoot the guns and pop their special attacks when needed. Not much in the way of dissapoinment there.

My biggest issue was in a mission where they had fire on the ground in places. Well, you guessed it. Old Ryu and my Medic were the first two to go down. Not once, but three times they ran into a fire and were killed. I was getting very angry, but I found a solution. There were fire extinguishers hanging around that I could grab and equip to put out the fires! WooT! Well, now I just had to make sure I got there first before Ryu and Spin jumped in them. Well, needless to say, we made it through that tragedy, but I am seriously thinking I need to trade some officers in.

My Trill science officer seems to be the smartest, always right there with me, never misses a beat, and has a lot of tricks she uses to get things done. I haven't really done much else with them except make sure they all have stuff, and I equip them with food or hypos so they can live longer. I am pretty sure they just waste the stuff though.

Anyway, I like the away team concept. I just want to get them a little more under control and that may happen as we progress in ranks and levels.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Princess said "Don't Play Klingon. Problem Solved."

Ranting to my girlfriend about STO, I went into my story about how my Kingon character was difficult to play because of all the issues I had and my girlfriend, aka Princess simply said, "Don't play Klingon. Problem Solved." There was a sort of divine truth in that response. It makes sense, but in a strange, "why didn't I think of that?" kind of way.

Anyway, I went back to the Federation side and I have been running more quests. I have noticed my attitude is a bit different today. The only thing I am grouchy about today is that the missions take a long time when they have you doing the "campaign style", space, ground, and chase the bad guys. I mean, it's nice to have a bit of a story, but it was like 2 hours to do this one mission, and I was wore out.

I think I hit Lt. Grade 8 last night, and I am anxious to see what the Tier 2 ships look like. I know there is a place that shows you, but I like to discover on my own sometimes. I need to re-do my main character a little bit. He looks too much like Anthony Castoro for my liking.. I guess I should get the two pics and show you what I mean. hehe Don't get me wrong, Anthony is a great guy, I just don't like watching him on my screen all day.

Okay, speaking of Anthony, I just realized he has a new Facebook App out called Platinum Life... I guess all the old schoolers are going Apps. I installed this, but the first thing I noticed is there weren't any white DJ's??? What the hell Anthony? Eminem would be sad...

Anyway, thanks to Princess for the heads up, and I'll see you all in STO. Woot!

Monday, March 8, 2010

So, Ummm, Yea. I am basically correct. Star Trek Online Is Teh Suck.

Many things that I have been bitching about the last couple of updates have been answered somewhat in this Q&A with the Star Trek Online Devs...

Here is one of the finer points.

"MisterMiracle: The biggest drawback right now to Klingon faction play is a near total lack of immersion. This is in part related to the limited customization options, and in part due to the lack of a strong (or really any) overarching storyline for your Klingon character. The repetitive PVP queuing produces a character more like the protagonist of a shooter than a fully realized RPG. What plans do you have to give players a greater sense of immersion while playing Klingon faction?

Ship customization will start to come out in the next update. More ship and character customization will follow shortly after that. There is also a new tier 2 battle cruiser set for release in the next update. Due to the community’s demand, we are also releasing more PvE content - fleet actions, Special Tasks Forces, Star Clusters and, down the road, unique episodes. Eventually you will be able to play a Klingon character to General with PvE alone."

So basically they know this is a major issue, and are almost working on it. Total lack of just about everything is the real problem. Why are these guys even in there? You can play an Orion HOE, now shut up you sniveling Klingon bastards! PvE content with quests would be really nice, but offer a new battle cruiser after I got that stupid Raptor?? Someone has to die!

On the up-side, I have seen some really huge Klingon vessels flying around and I am totally jealous. I mean, I though my ship was farily big, but they got some seriously huge machines out there. I guess I have little man syndrome or something. I just don't like it. Hey when can we leave fricken Klingon Space? That's what I want to know.

That's all I got...

Still Trekin' It... And Hatin' It... With Passion!

Even though I am still confused about a great many things, I have decided to give this one a try for awhile and see if there is anything I am missing.

I am Lt. Commander Grade 1 on the Klingon side, and still Lt. Grade 8 or so on the Federation side. You can tell which one I play more I suppose. I am not sure why though, the Klingon's are stuck in these two zones and can't do anything except for PvP, but somehow I find that darn cloaking just too much fun. I imagine they will let me out someday, but I am annoyed that I have to stay in a limited area.

It is so obvious that they really just kind of threw the whole Klingon thing in there to give us someone to fight with, but if you plan to do any exploring or gathering or questing, you better keep that Federation ship up-to-date. Everywhere I try to go with my Klingon ship tells me I am not cleared for Federation space. I may be missing something, but I have tried to warp out at every exit, and just get the same response.

There are not as many rewards out there that drop like there are on the Federation side that I can find. My Federation guys are full of items I don't need, but my Klingon inventory has always been empty. I can't figure out what the heck you are supposed to do except fight, and that takes alot of time, and pisses me off. Bottom line is that the game is horribly unfinished, and really not even finished enough to be worthwhile. If you want to feel like you got to the theatre and in the middle of the movie, the action just stops, and repeats over and over, then you have found your game.

I got a new ship when I hit Lt. Commander. I think it is called a Raptor. Lots of guns, and comes without consoles, so I just stole the ones off my other ship. Great fighting machine, but you always have to be facing forward which kind of sucks. My Fed ship has some serious arc weapons and I can fire in any direction I choose. I just don't have enough money to do much of anything right now except PvP or I have still been finding quests on the Fed side to do. Some of them are sort of long and I sometimes just want to abort the mission and do something else.

STO went with the "badge" system for getting items, and again, I am less then pleased. They also change the badges for each rank, so if you have leftovers you have to eat them or convert them, but I haven't found a place to convert the Lt. badges to Lt. Commander badges.

Anyways, they are down for maint, so I thought I would drop in and say hello! Maybe some day someone will say hello back. lol

That's all I got...

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Star Trek Engaged Captian!

I installed and have been playing a bit of Star Trek Online. Here's a few thoughts for you guys. I am just going to touch on things briefly, because I am not ready to hammer this game just yet.

It's not what you think! I was somewhat disapointed with how the game laid out. It is very similar in my mind to a watered down shooter coupled with a space game from the 80's.

Not to say it's not playable, but the curent state has me wondering how the hell these guys got this thing out the door. Its very limited right now, and some of the things I think should have already been implemented are not there.

For example, one thing that bothers me is that absolutely everyone talks to you on the communicator screen. Normally, wouldn't bother me, but in Star Trek, when the bad guys talk to you, they are on the "big screen" in some menacing fashon that makes you either get scared or want to kick some ass. I think they need to spend a little more time on the dramatic effects of encountering an enemy.

The second is that you don't really get to walk around the ship. You can go to the bridge and look around, but there is no real interaction with the crew or anything. It's just like having a room to waste time in for a bit if you want. It is very important to have the crew and other people interacting inside the ship. Especially on the federation side of the fence. You should be able to do things on the ship and interact with other people or crew there.

I am only a Grade 7 lieutenant and I am sure I haven't seen too much of the big picture, but the game is sort of laid out in a fashion that they introduce you to the game, give you several ground and space quests, and then thrust you into PvP. There doesn't seem to be a whole lot of higher level questing other then several dailies that are somewhat boring because it takes a long time.

The battleground system is very similar to WoW, but there are some problems with the que system. Often we find ourselves in a battle we can not win or the other team just leaves and you sit there waiting for more people to show up that never do. They also need to offer us a random battleground and reward us for doing things we don't want rather then making us wait in the que forever.

Once you get to a specific part of space exploration, then you can play the Klingon side. Now this is the side I had the most problems with. One thing that I was okay with is that you basically have to fight a couple of people real fast and boom, you are a class 5 lieutenant on the Klingon side. The part I didn't like is you are basically thrust into PvP at that point and there is no real questing going on like there was for the Federation.

Some of my major bitches with the Klingon side is that the cursor represents the "Federation" insignia or logo. It looks like the "A" on Federation uniforms. When playing the Klingon side, the cursor should be that factions insignia. I know it has a name, but I can't remember it at the moment.

The next thing is the voice-overs for discovering new sectors and congratulating you should not be Nimoy on the Klingon side. When we are Klingon, we do not want to hear from some Vulcan about our progress. Get that crazy Klingon lady team from the Next Generation and put their voices on there.

Most MMO's give you the same progression for both sides. Different quests, but same basic principal. STO just skipped all that and send you right where they want you to be, and that's in the PvP arenas.

Not that I am against that, but there should be a whole lot more options for either side. They say it is possible to get to Admiral strictly doing PvP, and I am sure that this was their only real path they wanted you to take in the first place. There is no other path except for gathering, and we know there isn't a huge number of people out there willing to fly around on grids just to collect stuff right?

The combat is not all that compelling, especially in space. The graphics are nice, and the cloaking on the Klingon side is just too cool, but the battles are just a gank fest. It is almost impossible to kill someone one-on-one. So, everything is a zerg. The ground combat is mostly the same, but they want you to get behind your opponent to deal flanking damage. It just makes me think of a room full of Rogues from WoW engaging you in PvP.

My suggestion is that if you haven't purchased this game yet, then don't. It's not ready. Wait for a year or two like I did with WoW, then I think they will have what Star Trek Online needs to be a successful IP.