Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Would dynamic classes ever work?

Certainly not in a WoW or Wildstar environment, but an idea that I've been kicking around for a few days. This is purely more of an RP / sandbox idea.

What do I mean by dynamic classes? I'll start simple, with ideas based on a game that includes real world day/night and season cycles.

Imagine a Moon Mage, who's power was tied to the moon cycle. Based on the stages of the moon, he would fluctuate between +10% and -10% damage. On actual full or new moons, he would gain another +10% or -10% respectively.

What about a druid or nature mage where the powers themselves changed over the seasons? Plant summoning in spring,  animal summoning in the summer, etc. Not just visual changes either, in the transition from spring to summer they would change most of their abilities for new ones.

While I personally love the ideas behind these, I'm aware a greater player base would never latch onto it. Forget who would even play the classes (I would), but how they would be reacted too. How many Moon Mages would be kicked from a group because 'it's not their time'? How many nature mages would be told to 'enjoy fall, because you won't find a single group that will take you in winter'?

Even if every class was dynamic in such a way. 'Ugh, I want to play my Moon Mage but it it's a new moon, guess I'll play my alt for two weeks until my main is strong again.'

Such classes will never happen, but if somehow, some way such things ever came to be.... I think it would be a huge step to placing back the RP in RPG, let alone MMORPG.

For now it'll just remain some pipe dream.


Sunday, 18 May 2014

What do people want out of leveling content?

I think this is a question that needs to be looked at a bit more closely in every game. Take Warcraft or Wildstar and their End/Elder game respectively. That's the main reason people play them. Most of the loud dedicated players want raids and dungeons. People constantly skip leveling content, they power level, buy guides, skip quest text, fly over mobs, avoid as much unnecessary work as they can and find the path of least resistance.

Yet every expansion needs more leveling content, with better questing, and larger areas...

To what end?

Don't get me wrong, the vast majority of players will love going through it....the first time. And then we're back at 'end game.'

Part of me thinks we should stop dividing our MMOs into two separate game, leveling and end, to create a more constant experiance.

But then I guess that's what sandboxes are for.


Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Wildstar the Harmony of Endless Space

My game time was a bit sporadic this week. I worked, spent my nights off with my girlfriend and suffered from food poisoning, but still managed to get in a few good bursts of play time.


I still don't know, I really don't. On the plus side, I still log into beta, but on the flip side, everytime I find myself having to power through something. In terms of class choice, I always prefer sustained damage over burst. But you're a rogue! Some of you may say, while true, that is because I enjoy stealth mechanics. In WoW, I play the combat spec, it has greater defenses and more sustained damage for the trade off of less burst. The stalker seemed all burst, all the time, so I tried Wildstar's warrior. I do like it better, and the unrestricted costume system + dyes means I have absolute faith I could create someone who looks awesome. There are however, still three major hurdles in this game for me.

1. Spam attack. 70% of what I do is spam my 1 button while I build Wildstar's equivalent of rage. I covered this in a previous post, but my dislike of it has gotten worse over time.

2. PVE wise, challenges. I can't seem to go anywhere or do anything without the big announcement of 'CHALLENGE BEGINS'. I didn't agree to any challenge! Nor do I want to hunt down 3 times the amount of enemies the quests call for, nor within a time limit, nor when I have enough trouble finding enemies for the quests when 14 other players are in the area also attempting the challenge. It's loud, obtrusive and everywhere. "Hey, these little blue dudes are innocent and we're intruding on their territory but kill 40 in 3 minutes and get a 6-slot bag!"

3. PVP wise, I can't tell what the hell is going on. In WoW, I know a fireball hit me, and I know where it hit me from. In Wildstar, all I know is I was standing in some sort of red overlapped with 5 other sources of red, 3 sources of green and my own blue template. I can use moves without having a target so half the time I don't even know if I'm hitting them. My kick/knockdown has an 8 second cooldown, but I don't know if they are in range. I don't know if they are immune to CC currently, or if I missed. All I know is that it's on cooldown and I don't remember them falling down. Even then, with the active tap to get out of CC, it could have worked, but they tapped out before I noticed. And when cc'd myself, these same buttons to tap to escape are the dodge buttons. Many times already I escaped CC just to dodge roll off a cliff. I've enjoyed every 1v1 fight I've had, but group fights are a mess.

These together, here is my overall feeling at the moment. Everything I can do in Wildstar, even when they do it better then WoW, has something about it that makes me want to log into WoW instead. Yes, as a rogue in WoW I still have a spam move, but I know what's going on. I can read the combat and know who is getting hit with what.

Endless Space: Disharmony

The second game I've been playing, since Wildstar got me in a sci-fi mood, is Endless Space. Think Civ 5, with solar systems as opposed to planets. I was predisposed to like this game from the get-go, as 80% of my time in Civ 4 was spent in the space mod. It's a lot of micromanaging, but most of it can be automated quite well unless you have a super specific strategy. I also enjoy how the different races play differently on a fundamental level. It's not just a few bonus with different art. I'll try to explain them in Civ terms.

The Cravers: Imagine all city locations are set in stone from the get go (solar systems). The Cravers are a hive mind that for one, cannot by any means declare peace with anyone. They are incompatible and by default are at war with everyone from the start. Your cities gain 'locust points', at a rate of one per turn. Below 20 locust points, your cities have 150% resources. As you consume the area and gain locust points, this drops to 100% at 20. After 60 points, your cities have 50% resources. You need to spread, you need to feed, the Cravers must invade and capture other systems to stay competitive. You cannot stand prolonged war, or risk starvation.

The Sowers: These are robots. Sowers only use 1/2 the food available on a planet. But, a % of all industry is provided as a bonus to their food as they work to replicate themselves. To the sowers, it's the arid, desert, tundra and arctic planets that are best to colonize. A jungle or temperate world is of little use as you require work, not food to populate.

The Harmony: Added in the expansion, they are the most divergent to the others. Imagine playing a game of Civ 5 where gold was BAD. Gold meant your people were sick, and you had to actively build things to ensure no gold entered your system. In Endless Space, 'Dust', a reality altering sand left by a precursor race, is the universal currency. The Harmony are allergic, it is a plague to them. While other races try to mine or dig up as much as they can, you are building things to remove it. Any dust in a solar system has a negative effect on food, industry and science. With no dust, you can not hire heroes, you can not pay to 'quick build', you can not trade dust to other players, you can not pay to repair ships, you can not retrofit ships. On the flip side, you have no approval/happiness worries for your population, you have no upkeep costs (so just keep building ships!), you do not worry about taxes, income, or bankruptcy. Obviously don't aim for the economic victory with this race.

I am still not very good at the game, and by far my biggest weakness is still trying to find the best way to design my ships. That's right, design your own ships! Choose a hull and load it with various weapon, defense, support and invasion modules up to your tonnage cap. While I've been enjoying kinetic weapons with the sniper perk, part of me would like to try beam weapons.

Did I mention you can also create your own race? First choose your 'affinity', who's fundamental game play are you using? Want to be anti-dust like the Harmony? Robots like the Sowers? Then choose what your race looks like, followed by compiling a list of positive and negative traits to tailor your play style. Traits add or subtract points, with the goal to end up at 65. Perhaps you take the sniper perk, with a 15% accuracy bonus on ships. At the same time, maybe your race also pays 'the price of beauty', which increases the industry cost of your ships by 30%. Go wild and experiment with these!

It's a game I've owned for a while, and one I love to revisit. I highly recommend looking it up on Steam.

Monday, 5 May 2014

I tried Wildstar and I don't know.

As my friends left ESO, they began talking about what to try next. Wildstar came up more in conversation, a game I've known about but haven't held much interest in. I got into this weekend's beta and finally gave it a go.

It's going to be somewhat difficult to talk about in that my mixed feelings are not love/hate. Rather a meh/eh relationship where nothing disappointed or impressed me. People spoke about ESO being 'painfully average' and perhaps this is what they meant by it.

Mind you, I only got to level 8. In open beta I may get farther but 8 is as far as I've got so far, and my opinions on the game are limited as such. I played an Exile Human Stalker and a Dominion Chua Esper.

Art: Love it.  That's really about it, some don't like it, I do.

Controls:....floaty. Animations have no weight to them. I appreciate them leaning your character while turning, but as someone who rebinds his keys to strafe and turns with his mouse, the camera freaks out.

Combat: Not bad, tab targeting with all moves based on templates. All about movement but no collision detection... My gripe however, is not just limited to this game, but many as of late. It seems the whole genre is at war against the idea of auto-attack. Every build in Wildstar depends on a 'spam' move outside of cool downs. Isn't that what auto-attack was originally supposed to address back in the day? I don't enjoy spamming my 1 key outside my other abilities. I'd rather just have an auto attack and use abilities as needed. Or do what ESO/Smite did and make basic attacks a manual operation from mouse clicks. Or create a system that does not rely on spam moves. City of Heroes had 2-3 second cooldowns on the most basic of powers and a long global cool down. With this and no DPS meters it was more important as to what powers you used as opposed to true rotations. I may be off topic now, long story short, I'm tired of spamming things, bring back auto-attack.

Writing: I've said the low levels is usually the worst for writing, that is true here. I almost already don't care if it improves later. This game knows not the word subtlety. Did you know it's a space western? Don't worry, if you didn't know, the Exile areas will let you know. And then remind you every single time a character opens their mouth in case you forgot. Because it's a space western, and that's the most important fact of the whole narrative, that it's a space western. The gist of what I'm saying, is that the game will tell you it's a space western. Three times I logged out for a break because I couldn't handle having it shoved any further down my throat, and I LIKE space westerns. Dominion side was better about tone, but at the same time had to shove down my throat the fact that 'we do morally questionable things' at all times. I like the feel of being part of an empire, but 'hey, mind scan citizens for impure thoughts, if they have any we'll donate them to science' is literally the first thing they ask you to do. Then the 'loving' emperor goes on about how he thinks they can be saved. Then your second task, is to commit lethal science to them. It doesn't help that every single character I ran into is a 2D character meant to fill a bit. Writing is NOT this games strength, on the whole it hurts me.

Paths: I think they miss the point of exploration. In old WoW, the zone Azshara was a favorite of mine. I found some cool stuff there, neat waterfalls and the like. It was special because I didn't have a beacon going 'THERE IS A COOL THING OVER HERE'. In these games I am an explorer, but the explorer path is obviously not for me.

Music: Love it, simple, music on both sides was nice.

I still need to try the pvp, if anything I would stay for that. But again the idea of the treadmill content system worries me. I don't see a future for myself in Wildstar, I see a month spent seeing the sights, while blocking my ears to avoid having the writing ruin those sights for me.

So Wildstar is not the next thing for me, I've started looking into ArcheAge a bit more. I still know incredibly little but apparently it turns into a sandbox. I like the class system on paper, the housing and crime systems on paper. $150 is a bit steep for me to get alpha access, perhaps I'll get a beta package later, I don't know.

That is perhaps the point of the post. What's the future of my MMO gaming? I don't know.


Friday, 2 May 2014

So ESO did another AMA...

Honestly? It left a better taste in my mouth than the last one. Here's what caught my attention.

-Chat bubbles working internally, big change from not planed!

-Justice system for player thieves and guards!

-They want level downscaling to keep challenge in lower content!

-Guild tabards!


In short, NOT-ENOUGH.

I know, I know, greedy entitled player wants more. Level downscaling is appreciated but there's still not a reason to go to previous zones. I suppose one could now go and help their lower level friends but they'll have to finish fixing the grouping issues for that to be of worth.

But honestly, what would get me to stay at this point? RP phasing. Chat bubbles are high on my want list but don't fix my issue at the moment. Which is what do I do when I can't find or don't pvp? I've lost interest in the pve, I made that pretty clear. But RP phasing/flagging, give me back that social hook to walk into in a corner club in Mournhold and find other players who are also there to RP.

And THAT would  be enough. Combined with the things I did like in the AMA, ESO could still have a bright future. But without that flagging and phasing, I just don't care enough.