Thursday, March 19, 2009

Darkfall Final Impressions

So yeah. Darkfall. I kinda did the MMO rollercoaster on that one. Went from "oh gee how will I ever get a copy" (which ended up being surprisingly easy, even here in Japan), to "jesus what the fuck why won't it just launch", to "hmm, this is actually kinda neat", to "well, yeah, now that THAT'S over, what to do now". This whole period went over in the span of a week or so, but unlike the "gosh she's cute how will I ever ask her out" to "oh man why did I say that at dinner, god I'm so stupid!" to "wow, she's actually a pretty swell girl" to "jesus christ do I need to change my phone number now or what" scenario, dumping Darkfall was as easy as removing my credit card info from the website and hitting the 'cancel subscription' button.

There's a lot of people on the fence about Darkfall, and even more willing to play it just because it isn't WoW. I think this is an unexplored genre in the MMO department that needs to be fully tapped. If you could make a game cheaply enough, with few enough people on the dev team to just implement a character creator and maybe one town and one dungeon, you could probably sell a few hundred thousand copies of the box alone to the 'at least it's not WoW demographic'. You wouldn't even need to set up a billing department, since no one would actually SUBSCRIBE to your game, they'd just buy the box, spend a week with it, then move back to whatever they were playing before.

Darkfall and Age of Conan fit that description perfectly, and Warhammer got maybe one month out of me. LotRO is probably the only other game I really respect out of the 'non-WoW' batch of MMOs I've played (but I never subscribed to LotRO, so there you go), and I have yet to actually even make it to the character creator in Coh/CoV. I signed up for a trial, and the downloader was so fucking slow that my free trial ran out before I ever actually got the game installed. Don't even get me started on EVE. Hoo boy.

People in Darkfall are doing the same thing I saw people doing in AoC, and it won't be the last time I see people do this. They're punishing themselves, and forcing themselves to play a sub par game, BUT AT LEAST THEY AREN'T PLAYING WOW. They repeat this mantra over and over on the game's official forums, in the game's public chat channels, and somehow decide this makes it all worth while.

It won't be a shocking revelation to anyone who reads this blog with any regularity, when I say I'm going back to WoW, because WoW doesn't really bother me. :)

When I was young, and I was learning about the Jews and Nazis (oh boy here we go), I remember specifically asking my father one day after school why some of them didn't just lie. Like (I know this isn't how it exactly worked here, but roll with it for a second), say a Nazi kicks down the door, and there are a bunch of people standing around. They're going to kill all the Jews in the room... I didn't get who in their right mind would be like 'yeah I'm one of the guys you're looking for to kill'. Again, horrible example. I know, okay? But throughout history, there have been these people that are always like 'I'd rather die than renounce my faith, blah blah blah' and to me, I was always like 'why would you willingly DIE, rather than just say you changed your mind on something'? You wouldn't have to actually BELIEVE what you were saying, but the guys with guns just want to hear you say it. But, people are gonna be like "well, when I get to Heaven, Jesus will pat me on the head and be like GOOD JOB, DUDE".

Maybe this is why I just don't get the whole religion thing, but is Jesus that much of a dick that he's gonna care about what you SAID? Isn't he like, all knowing, and can tell deep in your heart you were still 'on his side', you were just trying to avoid bullet-in-the-head syndrome? Wouldn't it be better to LIVE, on the off chance you can escape the guys with the guns, and then tell your story, or spread your faith or whatever afterwards? Seems like it would be a more interesting story, too, to be like "and then they were going to shoot me, but I LIED and told them I renounced my faith, thereby becoming a Jesus Double Agent... deep down inside, though, I was still keepin it real". There's obviously a line to be drawn. Like if they want you to renounce your faith, and then jab burning coals in the eyes of those that won't... but then again, I'd be the one being like "FRED, LET'S BOTH RENOUNCE DUDE (WINK WINK, NUDGE NUDGE)".

Okay, I think I'm coming to grips with why I'm never in church or anything. Hm.

ANYWAY, this all had a point, and here it is!

Why suffer through BAD MMOs, for the sake of upholding your MMO MORALS? Every time I try a new MMO, I come into it with an open mind. There's no magical force keeping me bound to WoW, and if I ever find a game that's better, I'll happily abandon WoW and move on. It's just that, so far, there hasn't been any game that's horribly compelling. Darkfall (which is what this post started abaout, before it entered the Jesus Double Agent realm) is just not a good game. The combat is horrifically shallow, the supposed "freedom of being a PK" is flawed, and the game has very little going for it.

By removing classes, they just lump EVERYONE into the same mold. Everyone uses polearms and trains earth magic. Every single person shoots arrows at you from a distance, and wears plate. The 'big dangerous world' mechanic is totally ruined when they have mining and timber resources located inside city walls. People aren't dicouraged from macroing to upgrade certain skills, as long as they're physically present at the keyboard while they do so. So people watch reruns of Frasier in a window while they pew pew pew their wand straight into the sky, thereby 'leveling their magic'.

Darkfall, from what I saw, had exactly three things going for it:

Fear of death. The ability to wear armor you find (no "I'm only able to wear cloth"). One character per server.

Two of those even have downsides: Everyone wears plate, and you can't enagage in different playstyles to match your mood. Sometimes I want to DPS, sometimes I want to heal. I guess you *could* do that in Darkfall, but it'd be like having a druid specced 24-23-24. Sometimes I want to go 51+ points deep into a tree, and to do that (and subsequently undo that) takes way too much time. Some people love locking themselves into that one distinct playstyle, but I play these games to HAVE FUN. Darkfall isn't very fun.

That's what it always comes back to for me, and I feel like enough people are familiar enough with my stance on it. The more I spout it, the more I just feel like I'm just typing the same post over and over again.

I won't suffer through a game that isn't fun, and at this point WoW is still much more fun than Darkfall. This doesn't make me a WoW fanfoi, it makes me a FuN fanboi. I just don't care to punish myself in my liesure time, so sue me.

But I will miss those legendary quest lines...


37 comments:

Tragedyx said...

Yea, I've always never got religion either. Apparently god wants us to be miserable and to devote X amount of time to his egotistical ass, otherwise we burn in eternal fire and damnation forever? How about instead I just ignore him, then when I get there, if he's real, just plead ignorance. Seriously, if he's that much of a dickhead, do I really wanna be around him anyways?

As for the WoW thing, i'm also waiting for "That one game". At this point, i'm thinking D3 is going to be the next closest thing. I don't mind single player games, but i'd love to be able to play those with friends. I'm thinking of picking up a 360 for SF4, RE5, and Fable 2. All games me and the g/f can enjoy together: something that hasn't happened since the BC days of WoW.

I think that's alot of it too. She stopped liking it, my friends and I fought and I stopped liking it, I finally had enough time to step back and look at it and see how much it had changed and it made me sick. My little nephews still play game using cheat codes though, so when I handed them two geared out toons and a slew of gold of course they were happy. Win / win situation in my case.

I loved your rants on darkfail though. Stirred alot of debate.

Kyir said...

I'm always going to be playing WoW if any MMO just because I've always figured I shouldn't mess with what I'm good at.

Of course, it's not that hard to be good at WoW, but whatever,

Khatib said...

Huh. I actually like AoC for quite a few things. Of course, it ran almost flawlessly on my PC setup. I didn't get any of the random crash issues some people were having.

And I actually resubbed while I was drunk after I got home from the bars on St. Patty's.... I patched up, logged in for a quick peek last night, and realized I needed to find a bar mod to give me some more buttons to play it the way I wanted to play. So I dug that up and by the time I got things ready to go, I was out of time, and I haven't had a chance to actually play yet. Probably will get some hours in this weekend.

Of course, I really didn't like the instancing of the zones and dungeons, and they have capturable keeps and player cities... but they are all in instances that make them pretty fuckign pointless. Of course you've seen my complaints on this like 5 times this week, so I shouldn't need to elaborate.

So it's not a long termer for me because the end game is like that. But I thought Tortage was great, and I enjoyed leveling both an assassin (to 55ish) and a guardian (to 75ish -- out of 80 levels). The melee combo system is pretty awesome. As well as being able to set shields and NPCs randomly moving their shields. You actually have to react at least a *little* bit to what's happening even when you're just grinding -- to make the most out of your time anyways. Compared to just tab, 2, 2, 2, 2, 3, 2, 2, 2 in WoW, or WAR, or anything else. You actually watch what's happening and select one of as many as 5 or 6 abilities to use.

Of course, the system obviously suffered in larger scale PvP situations because lag + combos = bad.

But I heard they reworked some animations and stuff to make the melee combos flow much much better, and they took out some of the MAJOR imbalance issues altogether.

And of course, tip tippity top of my favorite things -- it's FFA PvP with open chat communications. So I can attack or help someone -- ANYONE -- randomly, completely of my own free will and whim at the time, and hear them either cuss me out or thank me afterwards. And that's what MMOs are all about. (To me at least.)

So I'm gonna burn a month or so on it til work kicks up for the summer, and summer kicks up for the summer, and then I'll cancel again, probably for good, since by that time both my characters will be at level cap (at which point, like I said, gameplay is as pointless as it is in WoW, WAR, etc) and I'll have seen all the new zones they put in.

HP said...

Hahah, I gotta admire you because you somehow artfully linked a review for a bad MMO to religion =X

I only play WoW because of my boyfriend but I am definitely a fan of it. I guess I am not sick of it and I wasn't around for the "good ol' days" when MMOS were hard so I don't quite understand the nolstalgia.

But your post does make me question why people have such a raging hate for WoW that they choose to play other MMOS out of sheer spite =X

Tragedyx said...

People hate WoW for one of three reasons: They're bad at it, or they hate what it has become, or they've lost a friend and/or family member and/or all of their friends and family as a result of it. Then they go all emo rage and play terrible games because of it. I don't bash WoW and play other games to spite it. I actually see my nephews playing and am happy they enjoy it. I just don't find that same sense of satisfaction anymore.

@HP - If you're a girl, good for you that you're actually spending time with your b/f by doing something he enjoys. There aren't enough female gamers because most women take everything for granted and expect shit to be handed to them. If you're a guy and you have a b/f...um...hrm. Awkward.

Khatib said...

I only play WoW because of my boyfriend but I am definitely a fan of it. I guess I am not sick of it

When did you start playing? Did you start way back Thanksgiving 2004? Were you party to everything Blizzard advertised the game to be pre-launch, then went back on? Or how the game started and then changed over the first two years? Those are some major reasons people with prior MMO experience get pissed about WoW. Because they were following it a year before it came out, and Blizzard put certain expectations out there, and then the game went another way entirely within a year. Then once they established how it would be, they radically flipped back the other way with TBC and even more with WotLK from what I hear. (I haven't played WotLK myself.)

And just for not being tired of it so far.. have you played it for the full 4 and a half years? Or more like 2 or so? If you've played full time, 20+ hours a week since launch, I can't imagine you wouldn't be tired of it. There's a certain point that you just start to realize the game is even more carrot on a stick than other MMOs have been. Mostly because it lacks that sincere community interaction, development, and dependence, and lacks the more involved world persistence of territory control because of what instances do to a game. It really boils down to nothing more than getting gear to get gear, and after 3-4 years of playing a lot, I think most people realize that. I know almost none of the original 50 or so people that I started playing WoW with that still play it.

I wouldn't say I hate WoW. I just am very bored with it, and tired of how it's been the only solid MMO on the market for so many years, and every other upcoming MMO that looks interesting tries to copy WoW, or lean towards WoW-like gameplay late in their development, and it weakens they core of the game, so that WoW still stays the only decent thing on the market, because everything else is just a shitty one-off of it.

Anonymous said...

About denying your religion to protect yourself.

You may want to view "Everything is Illuminated", a fantastic movie in my opinion, and get two different points of view. The movie is funny, witty, and very poignant; I recommend it highly.

Pierre said...

Spot on about AoC and Warhammer. The same feeling of "If i buy Darkfall, will I play it for 4 days and then the box will forever sit on a shelf like another monument of my gluttonous spending"? And that's what finally made me not get it.

I gotta hand it to AV though, they have a lot of ideas. Silly ideas, but stuff that would NEVER make it into a Mainstream MMO. Like: Rivers moving you downstream, no auction house, no mailbox.

It seems everyone thinks that "easier" is always = "more fun". That's why LOTRO put in a Dwarf runekeeper trainer in Michel Delving. They don't give a FUCK about lore, they want to sell their god damn game. It's sad.

Speaking of LOTRO. I'm having a blast, just tramping around the shire, playing the flute to anyone that listens. Their ABC interpreter is awesome and fun. If you haven't tried it yet

1. Download LOTRO Midi Player
2. Download a Midi song
3. Load said song in (1), extract channels you want to hear
4. Convert to ABC and /music /play in lotro - amazing results.

Random Poster said...

@Khatib

Why is that hard to believe?

I've played since 4 months after release ( I was in AO and Lineage/Lineage 2 prior oh and sort of in Eve but yeah I sucked at that). I find the game fun. I've raided since I first hit 60. First as a Dwarven hunter and now as a Tauren druid. Has the game changed since then...yes it has. It hasn't changed the fact that the game is for me more fun than anything else currently out there.

I don't mind "easier" raiding. My ego doesn't need me to be one of only a handful of people with the Glorious Staff of Epeen. I like the direction of basically choosing your difficulty level with "hard modes".

In the last year I tried first AoC (great first 20 levels...buggy mess) then Warhammer (Hey why does my melee DPS character fail..oh yeah they didn't actually BALANCE the game before release) because even as much as I like WoW I hope to find the next game that grabs me like it did.

@the WoW hate specifically

I think a lot of the "blogosphere" thinks it somehow builds their credibility if they start screaming "WoW sucks I hate it now...even though I played it for 4 years" because it makes them "cool" because they aren't following the crowd. It's the same thing you see with teenagers and the various cliques that form in school. "Yeah man I am so anti establishment look at me look at me look at me".

Syncaine is a good example of this to me. I used to enjoy the blog he writes but lately he has gone beyond disagreeing voiceferously with people over how much WoW sucks to immediately going into "OMG you don't like Darkfall you fucking Newb die iun a fucking fire with your whole family while I piss on your corpse" and throwing out insults. It IMO undermines any point he is trying to get across as it makes him appear juvenille. His choice obviously.

Random Poster said...

@ Pierre

Isn't the whole Runekeeper (and pretty much massive use of magic/healing spells) class a giant FU to the Lore anyway?

Sometimes things have ot be changed for the sake of game balnce.

Bonedead said...

@Random Poster
What Melee DPS did you play in WAR that failed so much?

As for syncaine, I believe he is just trying to stir the pot. Get people riled up in order to spice up current discussions.

Plus, the whole point of Darkfall is that it isn't like WoW and it's not going to be. It is a throwback to the "good ole days" you've heard about so often over the years. There are so many players who don't understand that and keep complaining about things that are working as intended, they complain because "WoW does it this way and I like it better!" It is annoying to those who have been waiting for years for a game like this.

What would happen if I went onto a WoW server and started saying this game needs player cities and full loot and close down the BGs because Darkfall does it? The same thing that syncaine is saying except probably at least 5 times more juvenile because we all know regional chat in WoW is pretty friggin stupid.

Tesh said...

The religion angle is interesting. Often, people who leave a church feel compelled to badmouth it in an effort to justify their decision. This is true whether or not it deserves it, and is an easy way to try to absolve one's responsibility. Which is to say, they usually do something the religion doesn't agree with, and instead of changing themselves, they run away and shift the blame. It happens in politics, too. Human nature seems to be avoiding personal responsibility, and blaming someone else.

You'll see this a lot in those who trash WoW after "falling out of love" with it. Instead of just realizing that they themselves have changed and moving on, they try to demonize their spurned love. That way, it's not their fault, it's someone else's. (And it's funny to assume there's any fault at all, come to think of it. Sometimes it's OK to have different preferences from someone else.)

There's also the "street cred" psychology. Someone who wants to build their reputation might do so by taking a stance "against" rather than "for". It's easy; just look at political grandstanding. Standing for something is much more difficult, you have to intelligently articulate a position and defend it well. (It's easier to be a Player Killer than a Pacifist?)

Running a slight tangent, that sort of street cred thing extends to those who see being at the level cap in Tier 8 armor as a badge of personal worth. Who cares? It's a game, either you're having fun or you're not. (This also extends to any time that people complain about how *other* people play. This is seen in anything from the "you're not specced properly" to "RMT is devil spawn".)

Of course, for some people, life isn't fun unless they are trying to make someone else miserable. For those people, they have Darkfall.

Pierre said...

@Random Poster

Yeah, you're right. I think they realised that money is better than love from your fans.

Also, just read Ixobelles review of Warhammer.

God damn that was spot on. The clunky combat and lying dev videocasts on youtube is what killed it for me.

Fuck, haha, I remember some twat dev talking all orgazmically about how AWESOME and GUT RIPPING the RvR was going to be YOURRE GOING TO TAKE TROPHIES OF PEOPLES HEADS AND STICK THEM ON YOUR BODY AND WARHAMMER IS AWESOME!

Little did i know he was NOT a dev. He's a SALES GUY.

and i fucking bought that collector's edition hook line and sinker.... I got into Guild beta, and never installed the released game.

I hate people

Bonedead said...

@Tesh

RMT IS devil spawn! Haha. It can have negative affects on new players though. Look at WoW. When people buy gold the prices on everything goes up because now everyone has a lot of gold or is expected to (by the majority who think RMT is a-okay). A new player coming into the game tries to buy a new weapon at level 12 or 15 and everything better than what his current weapon is twice the amount of money he has. Now you could say "Well he's level 15 he doesn't need to buy a new weapon."

I don't know exactly what that has to do with what you said (maybe I'm being a prime example of what you're talking about) but RMT does affect the games and could be classified as le devil spawn.

I'm sure you know this but not everyone in Darkfall is playing it to solely make people miserable. It is where those people are right now (some in EVE too I'm sure), but there are plenty of other people who enjoy being a part of a guild, using teamwork, competing against others, and of course winning.

<3 Bonedead

oshin said...

Spot on about the whole "omg dis is so much better dan wow guysh" spam every new wannabe mmo is spammed with.

Its funny how one sided the mmo market truly is at the moment, are blizzard really the only ones who can make a decent mmo, or is nobody really trying ?

To the last poster, your analogy kind of fails, prices will go up ah regardless of rmt, as mains who can get 50g from a few dailys will then inflate the cost level 10 greens at ah by buying them for alts. The poor level 10 however can simply counter this by putting up stacks of copper for 5g.

Random poster said...

@bonedead

"What would happen if I went onto a WoW server and started saying this game needs player cities and full loot and close down the BGs because Darkfall does it? The same thing that syncaine is saying except probably at least 5 times more juvenile because we all know regional chat in WoW is pretty friggin stupid"

I think you would get a fair amount of agreement actually at least on the Player Housing. But yeah you'd get a lot of the same asshattedness Syn is spouting..it doesn't make it any better that he is doing it. The people who resort to that in WoW tend ot be ignored. When you are trying to make a point or have a discussion actually stating those points without devolving in to personal insults is much more effective.

It is his blog and he can post whatever he wants but as I said it's made me not like it all that much anymore. Does me not liking the style in anyway effect him, no but hey I can have my opinion to :P

As for what Melee class.

I started in beta and then at release with a Marauder got him to 20something. Then my guild went Order so we would have somebody to actually fight (population imbalance ftw) and I rolled a Witch Hunter. That was fun up until about level 18 but I kept playing him until I hit level 37 and went..fuck this it isn't fun. Class mechanics were changing on an almost weekly basis. Overall the Melee DPS was way too squishy with not enough damage output Rolled a tank and proceeded to steamroll people as now I had survivabilty and great DPS.

I also rolled up a Bright Wizard and a Shadow Warrior though neither got very high before I left WAR so it would get its shit together and I could give it another try at a later date.

Anonymous said...

Ixo,

It's time you have given a LOTRO another try. The game has greatly improved since its release.


http://www.lotro.com/trial/index.php

There is a 10 day free trial they are currently running.

Hatch said...

In response to Ixo's original post:

1) My stance is: talking about religion or politics in your gaming blog is asking for trouble. Feel free to do it, I'm not going to try to stop you, but wow you are asking for a shitstorm. :)

2) "...you could probably sell a few hundred thousand copies of the box alone to the 'at least it's not WoW demographic'. You wouldn't even need to set up a billing department, since no one would actually SUBSCRIBE to your game, they'd just buy the box, spend a week with it, then move back to whatever they were playing before." QUOTED FOR TRUTH

3) Actually give City of Heroes/Villains a try. It's not THA BEST MMO EVAR, but I bet it will at least keep your attention longer than Warhammer, unless you have some aversion to superheroes. Or just wait for Champions to come out in the next few months.

Hatch said...

One thing I think is missing from this discussion is an establishment of the difference between wanting things to be:

1) "Easy" (the opposite of "challenging")

and

2) "Not meaningless toil"

Those are two different things.

Examples of things that are "toil" rather than "challenging":

1) Having to walk everywhere (no hearthstone or mount)
2) No mail system
3) Having to use chat to do trading that could be done more conveniently on an AH
4) A shitty interface that gives no information and little flexibility
5) Overly harsh death penalties

Those are all things that don't add anything except busywork to the game. Sure, you can't teleport everywhere, because then your location becomes meaningless. But if you have to walk back to town bored through the areas you already cleared and explored every time you want to go there, and thus tack 1/2 hour of complete boredom onto the end of every play session, that's busy work. Sure it's *harder*, but it's not fun.

"Easy" is too broad a definition for what WoW did that UO/EQ/Vangaurd/Darkfall didn't. WoW is certainly easier, but that's not its main appeal or innovation. WoW's accomplishment is reducing the pointless and tedious inconveniences. If you die, you still lose some time and money, but not XP or gear. You still didn't achieve your goal if you are dead, it's not like you can just die over and over to get quest completes; you have to actually win.

If you want people to be more afraid of death and make it mean something, why not implement it in such a way that you gain renown when you win fights and lose it when you die, or by some other risk/reward mechanic. Being completely disabled every time you rez means that players can no longer have meaningful, interesting challenge (they can't participate in any actual battles), and instead are dropped into a toiling mini-game of getting back to their corpse. Punish them for losses another way, while still letting them participate in the real game.

If you are designing a game, the way to make it more difficult is to add *interesting challenge*, not drudgery for drudgery's sake. Don't ask a player to prove herself by demonstrating precisely how much manure she's willing to slog through. What I'm trying to say is that there is a difference between "challenging" (opposite of "easy") and "toil" (opposite of fun).


So dismissing the conveniences of WoW as "well some people are just lazy and like things that are easy instead of preferring everything to be miserable and tedious work" is disingenuous.

If you just don't like wow, that's another matter entirely. :)

Khatib said...

You brought up a VERY important difference that exists between what some people say is easy/hard/hardcore/etc and some things that get lost in translation with those words. BUT... I'm gonna have to disagree with a lot of the things you listed as "toil" being actually MEANINGLESS toil.

1) Having to walk everywhere (no hearthstone or mount)

Now, I think most games have a hearthstone system, and mounts, in general. Those are pretty standard.

But a lot of games make travel difficult, take a lot of time, etc. Some games on the other hand have fast travel spells, or flight points, carriage points, whatever all over the world.

Now in the kinds of games I prefer, you'd have a large world with no instances... you could have zones, I'd be OK with zones. Like AoC has (but not sub instanced) or like SWG had... (planets you fly to so they were zoned from each other but were seemless on their own). And of course the game would be FFA PvP.

Having fewer travel options gives you a better chance to run into people, and more random interactions. This is a good thing.

Also, in a game like Vanguard, which is decidedly PvE -- they have an INCREDIBLY explorable world with non instanced dungeons hidden all over the place. SWG also had some really cool stuff hidden in the middle of nowhere on their maps. Ancient temples, random caves full of mobs/chests/etc, old spaceship crash sites, Krayt Dragon skeletons. Stuff that made it FUN to randomly run all over in the middle of nowhere, even though you didn't have a quest telling you to go there.

That makes for a way cooler game imo than one that tells you exactly where to go, what to do there, and when to come back, and then makes it overly simplified to do nothing else but that.


2) No mail system

This is a tricky one. You can't get by without a mail system, and it would be tough for me to get used to a game with no item mail again after playing several with it... but SWG didn't have it, and while a hassle at times, it was cool, because you actually had to go meet your crafter, face to face, often at their player owned house (which were usually decorated so you got to see them) in their player built city, which again you got to check out their layout... But yeah, you got face to face and met people. You didn't need mules, you had a house that could hold like 250 items for you and a bank that could hold a ton as well.

I think item mail is one of those things that just undermines community in the long run. It's a nice convenience... and I liked it at first when I switched from SWG and L2 to WoW... but the more I realized what it does overall, the less I like it.

3) Having to use chat to do trading that could be done more conveniently on an AH

Again, the face to face thing is great. And in SWG, you could place vendor robots that were basically a privately owned AH. These were great. Again, forcing you to go out and travel. See the world, meet players, etc. Good stuff.

4) A shitty interface that gives no information and little flexibility

In general, I think non-flexible UIs will be a thing of the past. I do think WoW's allows you to let scripts and mods play too much of the game for you, but that's a whole other discussion. But shitty UI's suck, this is a universal, and modding is nice.

5) Overly harsh death penalties

Of course the key word there is overly, and that is subjective. I think complete lack of death penalties really bring a game down though. But then again, I'm one of the people who thinks if you lose you should lose, and the whole point of a game is not to lose it. Rather than most of the current MMOs which seem to have the viewpoint of "No one loses, and if you just keep banging your head against the wall, you'll win eventually." Meh.

Those are all things that don't add anything except busywork to the game.

My main point is that busywork that leads to people being social, is not just busy work and it's an integral part to making an MMO an MMO.

Anyone played Fable II multiplayer? You run around playing Fable II single player, and if another person is around, you get this glowing orb on your screen where they would be. If you choose to go over to it and interact, you can then play with them, and group with them. If you choose not, they're just a glowing orb that doesn't mean shit to you.

That's how most MMOs are getting to be these days. Single player theme park games with a very selective multiplayer element that is there by choice for you.

An MMO -- to me -- should be a huge collaborative world where you are thrown amongst, and into, random people whom you then have to figure how to exist with, and being forced to co exist with them, rather than choosing if they even exist in your world in the first place or not.

That make any sense?

People think most PK types and people who want FFA PvP games and the like are all a bunch of total griefers and dickheads. Truth is, some of the most mature gamers I know are the ones who want a PvP game. Not so they can be total dickheads, but so they are free to make ANY choice they want in interacting with other people, because you only get a true sense of someone if your interactions aren't limited by rules of protection. And that's what makes MMOs great. Tons of random interactions with random people.

Pierre said...

Good points Khatib.

My pet peeves of MMOs are

- making traveling accessible and automatic ("flight points" everywhere)
- Making traveling instant (summon/hearth/portals/battlemasters)
- Near zero death penalties.
- "Everyone pays $15 a month and should have access to everything, and be powerful". It used to be reserved for a dedicated few to see the end-game content, or be restricted to upper tier crafting. But WoW clearly made the decision that EVERYONE should be able to get everything since they are paying customers.
- Lastly: No MULTIPLAYER in a multiplayer game. WoW after BC became a MSORPG; massively singleplayer online rpg. You don't really need to talk to anyone. You solo to level cap, you solo your crafting for your own purposes, then you solo your way through the battlegrounds for epix.

When death knights came out, I remember people saying "OH NO, THEN THEY'LL HIT 80 AND WON'T KNOW HOW TO PLAY DUNJUNS". As if you learn ANYTHING except where the WASD keys are on your keyboard during leveling.

Ixobelle said...

If you want people to be more afraid of death and make it mean something, why not implement it in such a way that you gain renown when you win fights and lose it when you die, or by some other risk/reward mechanic. Being completely disabled every time you rez means that players can no longer have meaningful, interesting challenge (they can't participate in any actual battles), and instead are dropped into a toiling mini-game of getting back to their corpse. Punish them for losses another way, while still letting them participate in the real game.

agh, hatch! nail. head. hit. pow.

THIS sums up why I prefer WoW, I think, more elegantly than my ramblings could have. The INSTANT you die in Darkfall you become worhtless. Imagine a city siege with 40 on 40.

5 minutes into the siege, half the people are going to be running around naked. They won't 'go home', they'll just continue to throw themselves on your sword over and over wearing underwear and weilding a level 1 grey sword.

how is that fun for ANYONE but the person that still has their armor on? and how does that persom still have their armor on, except by sheer luck that they weren't chosen by the zerg?

In the above example, you could argue 'well, I took up a defensive position on the ramparts, and blah blah blah', but nobody PLAYS these games like that. It's a zerg. period. If 20 naked people jump on you with underwear and level 1 swords, you will eventually die.

If you're going to argue that extreme, then make death be a 15 minute respawn timer. Why be able to rez instantly, but be totally useless? Then at least a 40 on 40 fight would be over in 3 minutes, with clear winners and losers.

honestly, my ideal combat system is slow and painful. With each swing taking considerable effort and running being some slow ordeal. That probably doesn't sound very 'fun', but I imagine it would be more along the lines of how combat in platemail would actually work out. Lots of just banging your sword against a helmet that does no real DAMAGE, other than to just tire you and your opponent out. Then, if you make a surgical strike at an exposed elbow joint and get a bleed going, you earned it.

see more here, from oct, 2008: http://www.ixobelle.com/2008/10/re-combat.html

the point though, is that WoW recognizes that this isn't how combat works (sadly), and adjusts accordingly. Darkfall uses the same combat system (zerg is the tactic), but the instant you die in the middle of a crowd, you feel singled out, even thought nobody was really AIMING at you, you just caught an unlucky whack.

Melf_Himself said...

"Every time I try a new MMO, I come into it with an open mind. There's no magical force keeping me bound to WoW"

Sure there is. Only, not so much magical, as happy feel-good hormones your brain releases because you're addicted to WoW. Unless it's the awesome gameplay that keeps you coming back...

Ixobelle said...

Sure there is. Only, not so much magical, as happy feel-good hormones your brain releases because you're addicted to WoW. Unless it's the awesome gameplay that keeps you coming back...

yeah, but i can honestly say that I play it for enjoyment...

people hate it and quit, I can dig it, but at the same time I don't analyze my leisure time under a microscope.

How would you feel about a pitcher that, during the middle of the World Series was suddenly like:

HEY. FUCK! THIS IS TOTALLY STUPID! WE THROW THE BALL AT EACH OTHER, OVER AND OVER FOR NINE INNINGS AT A TIME... BUT AT THE END, IT IS EVENTUALLY OVER! NOTHING MATTERS! SO I STRUCK SOMEONE OUT, SO WHAT! BOBBY HIT A SACRIFICE FLY! WHO CARES!

aka:

SO I RAN NAXX AGAIN FOR THE 50th TIME. WHO CARES!! NONE OF IT *MATTERS*...

who cares indeed? I think a game of MLB baseball is actually a pretty good analogy, because at the end of the day, none of it MATTERS. yes, the Giants are one game closer to the 'trophy', and at the end of naxx I am one step closer to being 'fully geared'.. BUT ARE WE ANY CLOSER TOWARDS WORLD PEACE?

don't be ridiculous. of course we aren't.

IT'S A GAME. we play it to pass the time, and enjoy ourselves.

whether that "pass time" ("PAST TIME", ZOMG breakthrough! wink wink) is WoW, or Baseball, or "Age of Conan" doesn't matter.

my flavor for passing the time is WoW. It doesn't make me wrong. nor does you choosing anything else make you RIGHT.

that's my point, and perhaps one of the driving points of this entire blog, and you've only re-enforced it, if anything.

<3

Khatib said...

"who cares indeed? I think a game of MLB baseball is actually a pretty good analogy,"

Yeah, but baseball has consequence. If you suck, you'll make less money, and if you suck a lot, you'll get your ass kicked to the curb.

It also has pretty solid actual competition, culminating in win or go home playoff style situations. Not win or "keep trying forever and ever, losing doesn't really hurt you at all" situations.

Ixobelle said...

hardly everyone who plays baseball does it because they're in the major leagues.

so maybe 'an MLB game' isn't a fair comparison, but just baseball in general.

even baseball takes 22 people to play, so let's say three on three basketball to even slim it down further.

nobody in the middle of a pick up game is like 'god, bouncing this stupid ball over and over and throwing it in the hoop is so pointless'. generally, if you have the ball in your hand and you're standing on a basketball court, you're already on the same page as the other people there that 'I've come to the court today to play some ball and have a good time'.

there are those who need to feel the need that they're better than others, and they can play more competitively than the next guy, but it's a game.

when I log into an MMO with my hand on my Nostromo (regardless of which one), I effectively have the ball in my hand, and am stepping on to the court.

bringing it back to darkfall (which was what this post began as), I guess they play gritty ghetto ball. an elbow in the face is just part of the game, and nobody at Rucker Park in Manhattan is going to call a timeout for a foul, they just play differently.

I guess I'm a bitch, because I prefer the WoW ruleset. it's not *better*, just different... and the one I prefer. : /

Khatib said...

Side note, I played an hour or so of AoC today... I forgot how much I love getting fatalities and all the quality blood/gore/grit that game has over something cartoony. Really nice change of pace. WoW's style is a fun style too, but I especially got sick of the overly "anime" item, how they kept getting bigger and bigger and flashier and more and more ridiculous and less like real weapons/armor at every new tier.

The new 55-65 zone is also pretty cool and my assassin is still only level 57, so perfect timing for that new zone. But overall, I feel like I'm playing a mediocre console RPG. Like if it's Mass Effect, I might play through once on good and once on evil, or once as a few different classes. With AoC... it's more like "Well, I'll run through all the content, take a good look at it.... but then I'm probably done with it." So I'll probably play like 10 hours a week for this one month I resubbed, check out all the new non-raid content and enjoy it, but then be done with the game.

Larísa said...

I've never played any other MMO, well, barely any other game, than WoW. So I didn't read this post to begin with. I don't know about Darkfall, I can't relate to it at all. But then I came around and read it anyway because it's Ixobelle. And I'm glad I did.
I just wanted to give you credit for being such an awesome writer. You've got passion, style, temper... Your blogposts sparkle. And that's rare. It's a pleasure to read. Just wanted to let you know.

Pierre said...

Isn't the big difference between MLB and WoW that we don't make millions of US$ killing dragons for "Dorks R Us".

The analogy might hold on a rec league level, but then, I don't play any rec league sport for **8 hours a night** like i did when i was "hard core" raiding MC/BWL/AQ back in the day'o.

The closest i've come is playing college rugby 4 times a night, but then practices lasted for 1-2 hours.

Tragedyx said...

^^^ Ever heard of Nihilum or SK Gaming? Nihilum made a retarded sum of money for being the "world first" at all kills through Black Temple.

Not to mention the PVP tournaments that some people are godlike at, they make money.

Eventually bliz became sick of the nihilum/sk bullshit because it made them look like their game was too easy, which, it is.

Rob said...

Your comment about Jews was, well, pretty uninformed. Being Jewish doesn't just mean having the religion of Judaism. Jewish is a culture and a race. The Nazis didn't ask what people believed: they knew people were Jews based on their names, their appearance, their jobs, and so on.

Even if a Jew were to say "no I'm not a Jew!" he would still be a Jew. The Nazis didn't commit the Holocaust because of what Jews believed, but because of they were.

Sidenote: Jews don't believe in Jesus, nor repentance, nor hell.

Kyir said...

@Khatib: I started five or six months after release, took me a long time to hit 60 though, and even longer to start doing anything. I've found people who are either extremely goal driven or extremely apathetic tend to stick by WoW, but I haven't figured out which I am yet.

Ixobelle said...

@rob:

yeah. I actually know that, and was using an overtly bad example so it didn't become some big side tangent. I could have (perhaps should have?) chosen the Feebleworfs and Dinglenuuzers as my fictitious religion and oppressive forces, but chose to go with a conflict people immediately pick up on (jews and nazis), while still throwing jesus around as another symbol that people could immediately associate with religion, etc etc etc.

I never try to step on toes, and was kinda trying to be so over the top that it was obviously "just an example". Joseph Smith and Buddah will be making guest appearances while reading from the Qur'an and snacking on Muslim beanpies to even everything out later.

Sumimasen deshitta.

Tobold said...

Well, at least you got syncaine really, really angry. :)

Kyir said...

I got quoted.

I still have yet to figure out if it was sarcasm or not.

Melf_Himself said...

Honestly, I don't see baseball as a good analogy. If it's closest to a 'real world' game, it's gambling. Little skill required, addictive, and people keep playing even when it stops becoming fun.

Let me ask you this: why did you try Darkfall if you're happy with WoW? For that matter, why is it only MMO's that you want to try?

Ixobelle said...

melf,

yeah, the gambling analogy works, and so does drugs, I suppose.

I did all kinds of horrible drugs when I was younger, and ended up coming out on the other end of some freaky shit just being a pothead eventually. I used to smoke a lot of weed, like everyday. I reached a point where I wasn't even getting really "high" in the sense that other people seem to think of it... I'd just smoke ridiculous amounts of weed and just be like... "fucking weird" for a few hours. Like sitting on the couch watching some random ass show on the spanish channel or just zoning out doing nothing at all. It wasn't really very 'fun', but it was so ingrained that that's what my friends and I 'just did'. We'd sometimes come up with an idea for the day (let's go to ___.) and then right before we went out the door we'd just blaze, and either totally lose inspiration to do anything at all, or go out and do "plan A" but in a situation where we totally could not function as cognizant human beings.

It was all very silly. Eventually I just stopped smoking weed, and this was shortly before I decided to come to japan-- where marijuana, or any drug, is all but nonexistant. They drink like fish, hoo boy, yeah... but they don't do drugs of any kind (at least not in my neck of the woods, or perhaps I just wasn't looking?).

of course, no one wants to compare their mmo addiction to a drug habit, but gambling and drugs are a relevant fit for some people. they log in, just out of habit, but then don't really have any goal, and just waste time standing around the mailbox doing "nothing".

At the end of BC, I botted my rogue to farm flask gold and respec moeny etc. Analogy-wise, I was over my head in the deep end of the gambling scene, borrowing money I didn't have? I don't know what the analogy would be... but I got "arrested" and thrown in the drunk tank (banned).

When I sobered up (stopped playing WoW for a period), I realized that I did enjoy playing wow, and there were parts I missed, but I don't take it so seriously anymore.

It's okay to have a beer with a steak dinner, but I don't need to drink a whole bottle of jack in one sitting. forcing yourself to walk the middle ground is hard, and is why many alcoholics can't have "just one beer". They choose instead to go completely cold turkey for the rest of their lives.

I like beer, though ;) I like trying the various flavors out there (of MMOs). It's my genre of choice, because there's so much to do in a well crafted one. Eventually, though, you hit the bottom of the bag, and you're going thru the ashtray rolling roaches back up into fresh blunts because you're out of fresh content. That's when people get cranky, as we're seeing right now in the WoW community. A general sense of apathy, or desire for Ulduar to hurry the fuck up and be released.

my analogies always get really far off tangent, but I think you see where I'm going with it.

any hobby can go too far. The guy who ignores his wife because the superbowl (omg!) is on, or that beats his wife/kids when the home team loses. football isn't addictive, though, right? This is a whole other conversation, though...

I've been to the dark side of wow, where I played way too much, way too seriously. It was ugly. The fun was totally gone.

now i take it in moderation, and can enjoy it for what it is, or what it's supposed to be, anyway: a game.

beer isn't meant to be some life ruining huge thing. It's a beverage. Some people just take it too far, and screw themselves up in the process.