The first page details opinions of those writers who feel this is a turn for the worse, and understandably enough, most of them are affiliated with 25-man guilds. The second page details opinions from the other side of the fence, writers applauding the said changes. It’s a good read, especially if you are looking to find strong arguments for both sides of the equation.
Two new screenshots for Lara Croft: Guardian of the Light, they don’t really show anything particularly snazzy. They essentially depict what I believe to be complex physics-based puzzles, left behind by advanced ancient (isn’t that an oxymoron?) civilization, and designed to screw up your day.
But what truly stands out is the very cool artwork poster for the upcoming platformer, and the fact that the Amazon-looking character in the earlier screenshots, is actually a dude! Looks cool enough I suppose. I was a Tomb Raider fanatic back in the day, but with each successive iteration of the game, I lost interest. This new take on the IP just might have enough juice to pique my curiosity again.
The artwork/wallpaper is below.
Age of Conan’s patch 1.07.2 went live yesterday, introducing what Funcom calls ‘offline leveling‘. The system starts off by awarding anyone and everyone with an active subscription a totals of four levels. Another level is added to these ‘free levels’ every four days. The player is then free to distribute these levels to any of their characters.
The only catch is that the character has to be level 30 or above, and no assigned level can be reverted.
In other words, if you have a level 30 collecting dust, and you just don’t have the patience or the constitution to level him any longer, you could get him to level 80, the current level cap, by doing absolutely nothing, as long as your subscription is active.
Some simple calculation, assuming your character is level 30, and you got 4 levels to start off:
- Day 0: Level 34
- Day 4: Level 34 + 1
- Day 8: Level 34 + 2
- Day 184: Level 34 + 46 = Level 80
Every 6 months or so, you could have a brand spankin’ new level 80, as long as you started with a character which you managed to get to level 30 on your own.
This got me to thinking about World of Warcraft. WoW has had programs in the past which facilitate fast level gains, such as the Recruit-A-Buddy program, where you essentially just get free levels and an insanely buffed experience gain rate to help level your recruited buddy. In fact, they even introduced the X-53 Touring Rocket flying mount, a flying mount that, for the first time in the history of WoW, seats two people. D’awwwww!
However, the concept of level reward for continued investment in the IP simply does not exist.
Looking at my WoW characters, I have a level 47, a level 36, a level 27, and a level 12. Let us assume for a second, that I bring the level 12 and the level 27 toon up to 30. Using the ‘offline leveling’ formula, all four of these characters will be level 80 in just under two years. Since I have been playing for 5+ years, I would still have 3+ years, or approximately 180+ levels to give out to other characters. This realization makes the lack of such a program in WoW all the more painful. In fact, there have been times when I have let my subscription roll on for months on end, planning on returning to the game soon. I gained nothing in that time. But with incentives such as these, at least I wouldn’t feel like I have completely wasted that money.
This has one further implication. Funcom, under the supervision and guidance of Rangar Tornquist, is developing an MMO that I am most excited about: The Secret World. With game-altering changes such as these which reward the player for being invested in the game, even passively, bodes well for the future of The Secret World.
Commenter and old WoW buddy Leto posted a lengthy and well-thought out response to my musings on the upcoming changes to the raid structure in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm. I think his comment deserves a post of its own.
The post is part opinion, and part an honest trip down memory lane.
A Quick Recap
Yesterday Blizzard Entertainment announced some unexpected changes to the raid structure in World of Warcraft’s third upcoming expansion, Cataclysm. 10-man instances and 25-man instances will feature the same loot from boss encounters, and will share a raid lockout ID. In other words, if you can get an item from a 25-man instance, you can get the same item from the 10-man.
Some Questions About the Raid Lockout ID
The only thing I am confused about is raid lockout IDs. If the 25-man and 10-man versions share the same ID, does this mean a) if you kill a boss in the 25-man version, he also dies in he 10-man version, or b) If you are saved to a 25-man instance, you cannot enter the 10-man version of that instance for that week.
Additionally, is it possible to kill one boss in the 25-man version, and kill the next one in the 10-man version, since the ID is the same?
Answers, I suspect, will emerge over the course of time.
A Matter of Difficulty
So far, the 10-mans feature the same encounters as 25-mans, simply tweaked to the smaller group size. In most cases the 10-man version of an encounter is easier, since there may be a smaller number of factors or combat mechanics to manage. In certain other cases, the 10-man versions are substantially harder than their 25-man counterparts (Sartharion + 3D comes to mind).
One of the things highlighted in the announcement was that the difficulty fluctuation between 10-mans and 25-mans will be closer. I am sure anyone can agree, it would be virtually impossible to ensure the same exact difficulty for any given encounter across both types of raids, so I wonder how this claim can be made with the wide disparity of combat mechanics involved in a 10-man, vs. a 25-man.
It is interesting to me how difference in your status as a raider can diametrically alter the manner in which you look at this piece of news. I have been playing WoW with the same band of ruffians, off an on, for the last five years or so. In that time, we have raided 40-man instances, briefly held on to the top-dog slot on our server, and conquered 25-man, 20-man and 10-man content. The group I run with is at a juncture where we are tired of having to recruit new individuals to our folds every few months as people splinter, burn out, get tired or simply move on. We are just focused on building and maintaining a very closely-knit force of about 10-12 raiders to consistently take on 10-man content.
So when we heard of the announcement above, everyone in the core group was ecstatic. We would no longer have to be second-class citizens simply because we did not want to go through the pains of running 25-mans with nearly 15 unknown individuals. We could finally compete with the larger guilds on equal footing.
But I found out quickly that our perspective was quite different from those who were in larger guilds. Matticus, for one, believes that having the same drops, just multiplied by 2.5, would be screwing over the 25-man raiding guilds.
“Please, do not screw over the players who prefer to do 25s. I believe some of the extra rewards are badges, loot, and gold. The extra gold is nice and all but for most organizations, it isn’t a problem. Having extra badges will speed up the gearing process for sure.”
Matticus fears people will naturally gravitate towards 10-mans because they are easier (and arguably faster) to organize than 25-mans, and now offer the same exact loot. Understandable I suppose. I mean think about it, the 10-mans now enjoy the advantages of some of the following:
- a tightly-knit crew
- ease of organization
- speed of putting it together
- access to the same content and itemization
- better probability of rolling for an item you need (a 10% chance in 10-mans vs. a 4% chance in 25-mans)
He also brings up another interesting point. In the past, players from the 25-man version of an instance would tear up the 10-man version because they were over-geared. But the playing field is the same now: both instances offering the same rewards implies that gearing from the 25-man will not give you a distinct advantage over the 10-man.
Larisa, over at the Ping Pigtail Inn, another 25-man raider, shares the same perspective. She also feels that 25-mans should have better rewards than 10-mans because organizing a 25-man raid is significantly more complicated. Having organized a guild of over 60 individuals for 40 man raids in vanilla WoW, I understand her perspective, but being in the 10-man raiding boat now, I don’t agree with her conclusion.
She herself states that the 10-mans can be arguably more difficult because the mistake of one individual has that much more impact on the overall raid than in a 25-man. This is perhaps the most powerful argument to make for the upcoming change. On any given encounter in a 25-man, if a healer gets himself killed, there are still (on average) four other healers that can pick up the slack. If a healer dies in the 10-man, the other healer is effectively screwed unless there is some sort of miracle. Losing one DPS’er in a 25-man could mean a net loss of 1 / (25 – 5 healers -3 tanks) x 100 = 5.88% DPS. Losing the same in a 10-man implies a net loss of 1 / (10 – 2 healers – 2 tanks) x 100 = 16.67% DPS, nearly three times the overall impact.
Additionally, there is a social argument to be made here. Having played with a large number of individuals in the many years I have played the game, I know I am playing at my best and I am most comfortable when I am raiding with individuals that I can trust with my virtual life. A 10-man, for me, has just the right number of individuals that I can rely on in any given situation. In any raid larger than 25 people, I am almost guaranteed to run with at least a few individuals I might not be comfortable playing with. So if I just want to play with my core group, why should my raiding be penalized because I choose not to group with the people I don’t enjoy playing the game with. This new change affords smaller, closely-knit communities this exact privilege: to enjoy the game with the people you want to play with, without having to worry about doing inferior content for inferior loot.
Larisa also quotes a comment from MMO-Champion:
“This means basicly get the best ppl from you 25 man raiding guild , kick out all others , and focus on 10 man raids? less troubles with organisation , less drama , more chance on raiding since you don’t have to count on that many peeps.”
I have to admit I can sympathize with her frustration, but I feel that the change is necessary and long overdue. In addition, if a 25-man guild kicks out the weakest links, it goes on to prove the social point I made above: everyone prefers playing World of Warcraft with the people they can trust and rely on in any given situation. This change, although not terribly conducive to incite interest in 25-mans, allows you to do that.
Avatar has a different take altogether, one that none of the rest of us thought of. He says:
“First because 10 and 25s are on the same lockout timer, I expect to see pug 10s and 25s (with the exception of alt runs) to mostly disappear, no one wants to chance getting a pug together and lock themselves out of both the 25 and 10 man version, especially if you can run it with your guild. Most raiding guilds probably won’t tolerate you getting locked out of raids.”
It is an interesting thought, but I doubt most individuals that raid endgame competitively, also pug the same content. I think pugging will continue, albeit the number of raids will reduce because of the shared lockout ID, but not disappear altogether. That just doesn’t make sense to me.
At least Keen, in the same boat as I am, agrees with me in this.
“This is fantastic. My guild (or a pug or whatever) can choose to spread our content out over a longer period and tackle one of these smaller raids a night or pack them all in. We can rotate people in and out and people can choose what they can make and not feel like they’re missing out by going to one because better loot drops in the other. I’m a big proponent of streamlining raids. I’d prefer them to just be the dang bosses anyway with the fights being more intricate and epic. This moves right along in that direction.”
Just a matter of perspective I suppose. :)
- 10-man and 25-man will be comparable in difficulty.
- You can choose the difficulty of an encounter (normal or heroic) when you get to the boss.
- The initial raids in Cataclysm will be designed to be tackled by players in Cataclysm dungeon blues and crafted gear.
- Most importantly, 10-man and 25-man instances will drop the same exact loot, and share the same lock out. The only difference is that if the 10-man drops 2 items from a boss, the 25-man will drop 5 items from the same boss to keep loot distribution even.
It’s not April 1st is it?
Here are a few tidbits that caught my attention for one reason or another this week:
- “And while we’re at it, why is it that I spent an entire controller-crushing hour trying to figure out that one level in the puzzle game Braid before giving up and then nailing it on the first try after a good night’s sleep?” Jamie Madigan discusses how ample sleep helps us play video games better.
- “It’s a quad-core with a nice graphics card in it, 8GB of RAM, Blu-ray player and a 1TB hard drive. That’ll do, pig. That’ll do.” In other news, Syp gets a new PC, and Bronte gets jealous.
- “In most combat, speed plays a very important part in the outcome. If you can’t catch or hit an enemy, it will be very difficult to defeat them.” Werit discusses the important of speed in and Warhammer PvP, and maintains his position as the only blogger who has me nearly convinced to pick up the MMO. Nearly.
- “The argument about whether people should put WoW on their job applications is one that has been doing the rounds for awhile, but how about raid leading as experience for running your own business?” Spinks talks about an article that explores the question above. Can I finally tell my boss I led one of two teams in the history of the Eitrigg server that defeated C’Thun?
- “St George kills one lousy dragon and gets a day of national holiday in his memory. I’ve killed hundreds of dragons, and all I have to show for it is this miserable +1 sword and bag full of vendor-trash drake toenails.” That is actually the entire post from Melmoth over at Killed in a Smiling Accident!
- “The other advantage that the Holy build has is that you can cast Beacon on Valithria and add extra healing to the raid. I’ve found that doing this is valuable at the very end of the fight, keeping the raid from being overrun.” Coriel discusses a little experiment that I will now attempt the next time I am in ICC.
- “My point though is as fun as the fight is (it IS an amazingly designed encounter), it just doesn’t feel as epic as I think it should.” Lodur talks about what is missing from the Arthas encounter in ICC.
I am sure I am not the only one who has thought of this pun, but for some odd reason, I haven’t seen any gaming website use it yet.
No one else thinks the now practically defunct Infinity Ward has respawned at Respawned Entertainment? :P
Via Unreality Mag, I have to admit, the following is the most badass I have ever seen the Mushroom Kingdom look!
Continuing my quest to keep looking up, the following are some interesting vistas I came across this week in World of Warcraft.
The Culling of Stratholme, this is the area where you defeat the final boss of the instance, Mal’Ganis. Hazy mist swirls around the buildings of the once prosperous city. The Culling of Stratholme was perhaps the defining moment of Prince Arthas’ journey, a step that piqued the curiosity of his dark side, and then never let go.
And right after that, we have two shots from Halls of Reflection, the last of the many, many places you see the Lich King in, before you face off against him and his in Ice Crown Citadel.
Utgarde Keep isn’t even close to being one of my favorite instances. But it sure looks pretty!
And finally, this interesting change in perspective from Halls of Stone.
The original article that prompted Totilo to write this little piece was in the Christian Science Monitor. Of course, having read both articles, it got me thinking, what will I play when I am a centenarian? Since by that time, I will likely (hopefully) have (great?) grandchildren, what games would I encourage them to play?
As for myself, when I turn 100 years old in 2081:
- I am sure Final Fantasy MCMXVII will be out by then.
- As well as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare: Future Warrior: Space Marine 4 – Captain Price: Resurrection.
- Blizzard will finally introduce a new IP after the ‘next-gen’ MMO they are currently working on.
- Actually, considering the amount of time they take with each game, that new MMO may actually just be in beta.
- World of Warcraft will get its 38th expansion (that is one every two years, if the pattern holds) and 1.1 billion people will be playing it.
- Farmville would have died out 71 years prior (see what I did there?).
- And the ghost of Peter Molyneux will still be teasing us with ‘innovative’ new ideas that fall remarkably short of the definition of the word.
In all seriousness, I would like to:
- Play, much like Totilo, Half-Life: Episode Three. I doubt it will happen, but one can dream.
- I’d like to be play some MMO that managed to rise above and beyond the grind-fests of today, and built a realistic sense of your impact on the game world.
- And at some point, I would like to get a game tie-in to a movie that actually managed to remotely pique my curiosity.
- Most importantly, I would hope that politicians in general, especially Australians, would not have had their way, and video games would continue to expand and thrive as the definitive entertainment medium.
As for what will I tell my grandchildren to play? I feel that I would not be able to dictate what they should play from ‘the golden age of gaming.’ If that seems odd, imagine your father telling you that you need to give Tetris, or Pong or Frogger a shot. You would probably laugh, partially because you live in an age where the line that divides reality from video games is increasingly blurred via high-end graphics, voice-acting, scripting and epic storyline, but also because, come on, you wouldn’t take gaming advice from the same father who sent you an email asking you how he could check his email!
One of my favorite comedians, Nick Swardson does a bit about explaining all the retro games that he used to play as a kid, such as Pac Man, to his grandchildren in the future. I am including the YouTube video below, it’s only 2 minutes long and you really need to start listening in around 0:48 for the retro section. My favorite line is:
“Well when I was your age, we had a game with a yellow circle! And it ate dots and fruit. And then it would be chased by ghosts! Oh my! Ooooooh!”
With motion controlled game a reality through the Nintendo Wii, the upcoming Natal technology from Microsoft and the contender-for-the-most-original-device-name-like-ever, Move from Sony, I wonder how drastically the future of gaming will change. The example from Swardson is funny as hell, but it is true in its own right. 20 years ago, Pac Man was all the rage, an innovative game you could play at arcades for hours on end. Now we have photo-realistic, voice-acted, dripping-with-realism video games like Heavy Rain with scripts longer than the biggest trilogies put together.
- I wonder if our children will laugh at us for playing Mass Effect 2, or World of Warcraft, or even Crysis 2.
- I wonder if our future generations will simply not understand the concept of experiencing entertainment through the sense of sight and sound alone, for they will play video games so advanced, they will be able to touch, smell and taste the virtual worlds that occupy their gaming hours.
- I wonder if, at the end of the day, we are merely Pac Man players of tomorrow’s generations.
Fellow bloggers and readers, what would you like to be playing when you are a centenarian, and what would you tell your grandchildren to play?
All I gotta say is: Fuck you Rochelle, you ain’t got nothin’ on Francis!
Being a guild leader is serious business. I don’t say that lightly. I led a guild for nearly three years in World of Warcraft, and micro-managed quite literally every aspect of the daily operations as needed. This series of posts is dedicated to the memories and experiences of those years and dedicated to the crew I had the privilege of playing the game with.
Leading any group of individuals is a difficult task, especially when they come from diverse, distinct backgrounds, cultures and ethnic identities. This task is made all the more difficult by the fact that these individuals are paying (Blizzard – not you) to be on your team, they aren’t salaried in the same vein as traditional employees. Further, none of them are in the same physical location; they are spread out far and wide across the world, especially if you are playing on a European server. Suffice it to say that being a guild leader is one of the toughest endeavors I have had to undertake. The following is a small chapter of that story.
One, Is The Loneliest Number There Ever Was
Following the mind-numbing stupidity exhibited by the leaders of Mortifer Militis, I decided, albeit briefly, that guilds were not the thing for me. There were too many rules for one thing. They had a small number of disinterested, mostly novice and completely self-interested individuals being marketed in General and Trade chats as ‘a large number of seasoned and ever-helpful guild mates’. There were no organized events that piqued my curiosity. Forgive me if racing as a level one, pink-haired, female gnome from Coleridge Valley in Dun Morogh all the way to Stormwind isn’t exactly my cup of tea. And don’t even get me started on the sheer level of mediocrity, foolishness and pointlessness of the weekly meetings. If anything, I found that being in a guild offered me no tangible incentives, while rapidly depleting my pockets of any respectable amount of gold I managed to painstakingly piece together.
I thought to myself: “If this is the way most guilds work, why on earth would I ever want to join that guild?” I quested through the mid-level zones and challenges on my own then, daring the dragon gulch in the Badlands, fighting the Dark Iron Dwarves and their nefarious schemes in the Blasted Lands and taking on the ugliest princess in the deepest reaches of Maraudon. I grouped with random individuals through these disjointed, and at times clueless ventures. Some of them I befriended, inaugurating brief but mutually beneficial partnerships to hammer out some of the tougher content.
The Isrx Alternative
There used to be a Warlock in Mortifer Militis by the name of Isrx. He was one of the junior officers, and one of the saner individuals I came across in that sorry excuse for a guild. At level 51, fending of Frenzied Pterodactyls in the Un’Goro Crater, I received a message from Isrx, asking if I was still looking for a new guild. I was hesitant at first, given my past experiences in a guild. I mean nails on a chalkboard on loop was a preferable alternative. He was adamant however, claiming the guild had some good people in it. They used (I shudder to think of it now) TeamSpeak, and they seem fairly organized. I refused at first, claiming emotional trauma resulting from maltreatment in Mortifer Militis, and went on my way.
It wasn’t till level 52, when I had to undertake the Congo-inspired Chasing A-Me 01. Over the course of an hour, I failed four separate attempts to get the stupid mechanical gorilla out of the cave in one piece. No one on my pathetically limited list of friends came to my aid, and I realized that perhaps, just perhaps, having the backup of a guild mate or two might not be the worst thing, even if that meant subjecting myself to draconian and at times downright retarded policies.
I messaged Isrx. Isrx spoke to Scoota, Guild Leader. Five minutes later, on February 4, 2005, I was a ‘Recruit’ in a little guild called Cross of Vengeance.
Chronicles of Bronte III: “Cross of Vengeance” or “Bronte, Loner”.
Yup, you read it right. During a Twitter Chat with Blizzard developers, Bashiok says there are plans to allow flight from the moment you load into the decimated and wrecked world of Cataclysm. In addition, all mounts will be upgraded to 310% speed, because Blizzard doesn’t like the fact that no one uses their older mounts once a faster mount is acquired through PvP or instance achievements etc.
Our current plan, is that in Cataclysm, you can learn a new rank of flying that lets all flying mounts move at 310% (even current 280% mounts). That will probably be as fast as mounts will ever get. We don’t like it that when you get a 310% mount that you stop using your old ones. (source)
More than likely, you’ll just be able to fly from the beginning. (source)
It does make sense on some level I suppose. I don’t own a 310% speed mount myself (however, being a Paladin, my mounted speed on 280% speed mount is actually 336%, so suck it non-Paladins-who-own-a-310%-speed-mount!), but I don’t know anyone who owns a 310% mount, and uses a slower one, regardless of how cool it looks. And in all honesty why would they? This is a clear case where function wins the ever-raging battle against form. If you can get there faster, why does it matter if you are riding on a cross between a retarded unicorn and Chuck Norris to get there?
Or something like that?
Round 6 is a short animated film, designed to masquerade as the trailer for a concept video game. Oozing with style, environmental detail and raw energy, the trailer shows off a fictitious tournament called ‘Fragball’. Take a look at the 200 seconds of mystery, mayhem and madness below.
In all honesty, if this was a real video game, I would sure as hell look into it. Wouldn’t you?
Perhaps this is the meeting David Allen Derek Smart had prior to the April 28th launch of Alganon!
You know, I promised myself to stay out of this whole Activision/Infinity Ward business, primarily because the topic is being covered by every news gaming site out there, and I had nothing new to add. However, this was just too good to pass up.
Upon hearing that Activision is raising its Q1 fiscal outlook based on the more-than-stellar sales of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, EA’s Jeff Brown had this to say:
“This is kind of like announcing: ‘The race horse I shot last month has won the Triple Crown!‘”
Oh Jeff! You always crack me up!
I won’t lie to you. I am not into Vampire movies or fiction, but I think that True Blood on HBO and An Interview With a Vampire were enjoyable examples of the moving pictures variety. I do hate Twilight however, and I loathe every individual that professes their unconditional love and adoration for all things Stephanie Mayer, including my sister, that witch!
So when IGG announced Moonlight Online, I was a little skeptical about what I would find. More details have emerged in a recent press release however, that shed some light on what we can expect from the title.
Three Playable Factions
- First, there are the enigmatic and dexterous Vampires, descended from the purest of bloodlines, withholding incredible power and astonishing agility beneath their ashen faces.
- Then we have the Werewolf faction, the ancient nemesis of the Vampire empire, equipped with regenerative abilities, and unrivaled strength and sheer physical brute force on the field of battle.
- Finally, there are the ever-resilient Humans, endowed with great cunning and courage, united under the legendary banner o King Cruz, killer of the Dark Dragon, under who’s guidance the three factions have entered an era of relative peace and acceptance.
The Fourth Faction Ascends
But as is the case with nearly every video game story, peace is only a fleeting vestige of the inevitable and destructive chaos that consumes the world, when a fourth, demonic race ascends from the bowels of the earth and wages war on the surface-dwelling factions.
Up until now this sounds quite fantastic actually, and I found myself inexorably drawn to the concept and the idea of playing one of three unique and distinct sides, fighting a seemingly hopeless battle against a fourth clan.
And then I saw the accompanying image, resulting in Vietnam-esque I had flashbacks of Twilight trailers, posters and fan rants. Excuse me, I just have to go and clean the vomit from my mouth. You make up your own mind about the travesty!