OCD? Don’t Play Guildwars 2

Posted by on Apr 29, 2012 in Guildwars 2, World of Warcraft | 3 comments

Is that bag to the left making you nervous? Do you think something is odd about it? Do you you consider 22 an odd number? Have you ever scaled back to 20 slots because you just couldn’t stand having them in your inventory?

Does it make you nervous that we are talking about bag size? Maybe it helps if I come out of the closet and admit to my sins. I haven’t downgraded to 20 slots, but I have been annoyed by the number of bag slots since I saw my first 10 slot bag. For the 6 slot bags, the availability of slots far outweighed my OCD impulses. Besides, the pain didn’t last to long, since you could upgrade them with relative ease. Eight and 12 slots made me happy, but I used 14 slots for way to long.

And here comes trouble. Guildwars 2 has a main bag with 20 slots and allows for 4 more bags. The first ones you can loot or buy from a vendor are 4 slot bags. Except… If you get “lucky”, this will happen to you. When I picked it up, I saw the 5 slots in the tool tip. “Woohoo !” And then I put it in the inventory. I told my wive that ArenaNet will make a lot of players very unhappy with 5 slot bags. How dare they? They are programmers and geeks ! They ought to have the same problems and preferences as their players. Perhaps they can blame it on somebody from marketing.

And then I’ll find a 7 slot bag. Somebody please tell me I can resize the bag window.

 

(Edit) That’s what I am left with, if I untick “bags”. Still hurts.


© Disclaimer: Guildwars 2
© 2011 ArenaNet, Inc. All rights reserved. NCsoft, the interlocking NC logo, ArenaNet, Arena.net, Guild Wars, Guild Wars Factions, Factions, Guild Wars Nightfall, Nightfall, Guild Wars: Eye of the North, Eye of the North, Guild Wars 2, and all associated logos and designs are trademarks or registered trademarks of NCsoft Corporation. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

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Why Still Have Shards or Servers

Posted by on Mar 9, 2012 in Blog, Everquest II, Rift, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Uncategorized, World of Warcraft | 0 comments

Some of my posts are triggered by the blogs I read, but end up looking only remotely related to the original content. This is one of them. A couple of blogs started to complain about WOW’s revamped “Scroll of Resurrection” (Bio Break, MMO Quests, Corpse Run). Among other things, players returning to WOW can get an instant character at level 80.

Which leads to the question, why would it be advantageous to have an instant, content skipping, nearly painless level 80? Of course the assumption is that players, and in this case returning players want to play with their friends. And an instant level 80 might just be the solution for some of the returning players, some of them having gone through the content way to many five times.

Multiple Servers

Others would love to go through the WOW-Cataclysm content, but fear they will face empty or low populated zones on their mature servers. Of course new players face the same problem if they pick a mature server. WOW offers the LFD tool as a partial solution, where it matches you up for dungeons with players from other servers. Which doesn’t help in non-dungeon areas, especially if the zone is structured in a way where it is advantageous having multiple players adventuring nearby. For instance, to quickly drop a tougher NPC together and continue soloing. Rift’s zone events and open grouping or WAR’s area quests are similar, since you will need more people in the same zone. Disclaimer: I haven’t been playing Rift lately, so I don’t know if there is a solution in place.

Competitive players and guilds face also problems with a multiple server environment. The major one being recruiting. A server is usually to small to sustain many high end guilds and recruiting often happens cross server. A server transfer costs money, but is usually not that much of a problem. Cross server communication is harder. It usually happens offline on forums and can become clumsy, if those forums are spread out. The EQ/EQ2 cross server chat is nice, but you still need to know on what server you’ll find your partner.

Single Shards

If WOW puts already player from different servers together temporarily, why not drop the shard concept all together? Why did we have them to begin with? Part of the transition from multi user dungeons (MUD) into Massive multi player role playing games was the need to spread the players out across multiple servers, simply to handle the need for server capacity. The games architecture just couldn’t handle more. The ability to multiply the name space and have multiple versions of “Chug Noris” was nice to have as well. And lastly, new players could be sent to newer servers to get a better social experience with people in the same level range.

But, as EVE and the zone instancing of EQ2, Rift and SWTOR shows, modern architectures can handle more than 2500 players online at the same time on a single server. (2500 used to be a common assumption for server capacity). Zone instancing, were a zone gets duplicated once a certain number of players is reached, was introduced with EQ2. This eliminates one big problem, the number of interactions between multiple players. It just won’t work well if your graphics card has to draw 200 characters around the bank in Stormwind and it causes similar problems on the server side as well.

On a single server all players in the same level range can play together in a zone appropriate for this level. They will be split into multiple instances of the same zone as the number of players increases. New players, returning players, and players leveling an alt would all be together and could certainly achieve objectives meant for more than a single player. The highest number of instances I’ve seen was 10 for the New Halas area on the Freeport server in EQ2. It can still happen that a zone is empty at the wrong time of the day, or, what’s worse, if the game is in full decline.

Player Chat

Which leaves the problems with chat. Multiple instances of the same zone should share a chat channel, otherwise it becomes harder to find groups. This will meet limitations, once the chat channel becomes an unreadable scrolling stream of text. But at that point, it is probably fine to have multiple instances of zone chat as well, perhaps mapping 2 chat channels to 5 zone instances each.

There shouldn’t be global chat for the same reason, it will just become a huge scrolling wall of text, populated with attention seeking trolls, looking for the widest audience. Guild recruitment and other recruitment for social activities will need a different medium. Again, look at EQ2′s guild recruitment tool and the LFD and LFR tools in WOW.

Another effect which I have become aware of just recently are native language chat channels. Especially in Europe, the chat on the English servers is actually international: for instance Russian, Hungarian and English all together. Which makes things complicated. People have declared certain servers as unofficial Russian servers, which causes problems for the remaining native English speakers. A single server concept helps, since it just needs to create chat channels for each major group. And with a single server, it is easier to reach critical mass for a single new language channel.

The World is Round and Technical Realities

There is one limitation to the single server concept: Geography. Just to throw out a number, a latency of more than 200 ms becomes unplayable, less than 100ms is desirable. Internet architecture and physics make it nearly impossible for an Asia Pacific player to have less than 200ms round trip time to an US based server. Thus, if the subscription numbers allow for it, there should be at least one server in each major region: EU, NA, AP. Brazil is also an option to place another server.

And finally, WOW, with 13 million subscribers at peek has 4 data centers in the US and 2 in Europe to handle the load. I don’t have any hard evidence, but it’s hard to believe that a single server architecture could handle 13 million subscribers. Thus, some division is needed in the end, but not at 2500 online players (wild guess: translates to 20,000 subscribers), but at a much larger number >300,000 subscribers.

PVP is different

One problem remains, but EVE  has a solution for it: fleet battles or epic scale PVP with thousands of participants. I don’t have much technical insight how it is being solved, but I am sure there will be certain hard limits as well. Space battles are probably easier to handle, since the ships won’t get to close to each other, but your graphics card still has to draw at least some dots and laser beams.

However, a multi shard concept won’t even attempt fleet battles.

Conclusion

I just don’t see why the MMO makers stick with the multi shard concept. They face the challenge of long queue times during the opening weeks, and empty servers thereafter. I googled a couple of questions to research this article, but there wasn’t much of an answer to “Why multi shards”. I have only one conspiracy theory to offer: the game companies make money with server transfers, but I just can’t bring myself to taking it to serious.


© Disclaimer: Everquest II
© Disclaimer: Rift
© Disclaimer: Star Wars: The Old Republic
This site is not endorsed by or affiliated with LucasArts, BioWare, or Electronic Arts.
Trademarks are the property of their respective owners. LucasArts, the LucasArts logo, STAR WARS and related properties are trademarks in the United States and/or in other countries of Lucasfilm Ltd. and/or its affiliates. © 2008-2011 Lucasfilm Entertainment Company Ltd. or Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved. BioWare and the BioWare logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of EA International (Studio and Publishing) Ltd. You may not copy any images, videos or sound clips found on this site or "deep link" to any image, video or sound clip directly.
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Returning to your MMO

Posted by on Mar 6, 2012 in Blog, Current Games | 2 comments

There’s a little meme going around on the blogs I read: Are you returning to MMOs you have left? Do you have favorites you return to multiple times? Syp at Bio Break and Syl at Raging Monkeys have something to say about the issue.

Before I can tell you which games I am returning to, it might be helpful to know what is currently on my hard disk. On second thought, I shouldn’t do that, considering how many of tags and categories this will produce.

Current Games:

Aerrevan Needs to be deleted. Played in beta for about 1 hour
Aion Will certainly go back, just because of the looks
Darkfall Never subscribed, but had a couple of trial accounts. Might even go back just to look at the class model
DDO Played on opening day, returned two or three times once it was free-to-play. Spent hours playing with the offline character generators.
Eligium Currently in beta, fumbled around with it for a while, won’t be playing it
Everquest99 Project 99 client. Everquest private server like it was during the Kunark period. Fun. But leads to moments of “did I really have that much patience?”
Fallen Earth Love it. Returning frequently. The fact that the original creators offices are 1 mile away from my house may have something to do with it
Guild Wars Did only a trial. Not sure why I didn’t stick with it. Tried it only years after it came out, and most likely was waiting for another game to come out.
Istaria Friends of mine beta tested it way back when. It has certainly a sandbox feel. And is free to play now.
NWN2 Started playing it also years after it came out while waiting for MMO #27
Rift It’s up-to-date and waiting to be played. I like the soul system, but wasn’t to happy about some play-on-rails aspects
Runes of Magic Spent some time playing, never got a character beyond 20, but liked the dual class system and the fact that it didn’t have any quarrels being a WOW clone
Everquest Last played when they opened Fippy Darkpaw. Awaiting F2P
Everquest 2 Was there when it opened and came back many times
Star Wars Galaxies Can’t delete it, yet. It has been played only before the revamp. Syl was talking about nostalgia. There it is.
Vanguard Played the beta, was subscribed for a couple of weeks on and off, did some free trials. Waiting for the F2P announcement. Like that will ever happen
FF XIV Did the Open Beta, turned me off. Went back once shortly before they announced that monthly payments would begin again. Didn’t see any real improvements
SWTOR Currently subscribed and played 95% of the time
STO Tried it in Open Beta and a few weeks back, still don’t like it.
SWGemu SWG private server. More nostalgia than real interest
Tera Online I am in beta, but seriously wonder why I bothered
LotRO Was subscribed when it went live and a couple of times since. I am having fun with it usually for 2 month at a time
WOW Played open beta and subscribed since day 1. Use it on occasion to help my wife or to chat with friends I left behind there
Aion Will certainly go back, just because of the looks.

What used to be there:

Age of Conan Played it for a while, even got a guild started, might even try to go back some day.
Warhammer The fun lasted through open beta and the free month
EVE Tried a couple of times, but never got really into it
Uncounted numbers of betas, open betas, some f2p’s which I didn’t enjoy and pretend not to remember their names.

 

What’s my short list of games I want to go back to or most likely will go back to in the near future? In descending priority, which can change daily: Rift, Everquest, Fallen Earth, Everquest 2, WOW, Aion

Rift has just fun mechanics, dynamic events and some other nice features.

Everquest will be a nostalgic return to the roots. After all, I started a few weeks after Velious came out.

I like Fallen Earth because of its sandboxy feel, and to be honest a little bit because it used to be so close to home.

Everquest 2 is halfway nostalgia and halfway amazement that it keeps coming up with new stuff.

I know I will be rolling a monk and a panda on WOW, not necessarily a panda monk, though. Pure curiosity.

 

 



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The Moat Around World of Warcraft And How Bioware’s SWTOR Gets Around It

Posted by on Jan 5, 2012 in Blog, Current Games, Featured, Rift, Star Wars: The Old Republic, World of Warcraft | 0 comments

Investor Warren Buffet has coined the term economic moat as an almost insurmountable advantage of one company over another company in the same industry. Typical names that come up in this discussion are Coca-Cola and Wal-Mart. Any new company that wants to compete with these two is looking at a very long time with minimal income before they will be able to come even close.

Does this mean World of Warcraft has a moat? You bet. Just look at all the features it offers and how many of them new games like Rift or Star Wars had implemented at their release date. Here’s an incomplete list:

  • Dungeon Finder
  • Raid Finder
  • Extendable User Interface
  • Accomplishments
  • Guild Perks
  • Plethora of Pets
  • Flying Mounts
  • WOW Armory
  • Class Balance
  • Economic Balance
  • In Game Events

Of course, at first, this list doesn’t look to bad, but these features have to be implemented, tested and rolled out and balanced. How hard will it be to implement a cross server dungeon and raid finder for SWTOR? It’s my gut feeling, not backed up by many facts that they’ll have a harder time to do that than Rift.

While playing Star Wars, of course I notice issues where I can clearly say, that Bioware will have to either take some lessons from Blizzard or learn them the hard way. For instance I am not sure, if the economy around the Galactic Trade Market will ever become viable. The auction interface is certainly not up to it. The bigger problem there will be the underlying supply and demand of raw materials and finished goods. I can see for instance that there’s far more metal for armor and arms available than there are crystals for synthweaving and artificing. It is open where it will find a balance, but I question if the Bioware designers have put much thought into the subject. But that is part of the moat I described.

Having said that, Bioware might not need to conquer the moat, simply by building their own castle. Bioware’s loyal customers are RPG fans who’ve kept their distance to MMORPGs. But the way it looks, with Bioware’s story driven approach and a lot of voice acting, that barrier is torn down. The ingame chat has certainly seen its amount of WOW comparisons, but they’ve actually died down relatively fast. Thus, Bioware isn’t taking away much of WOW’s market share. Bioware is expanding the market. Something everybody in the industry will be grateful for.

 


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This site is not endorsed by or affiliated with LucasArts, BioWare, or Electronic Arts.
Trademarks are the property of their respective owners. LucasArts, the LucasArts logo, STAR WARS and related properties are trademarks in the United States and/or in other countries of Lucasfilm Ltd. and/or its affiliates. © 2008-2011 Lucasfilm Entertainment Company Ltd. or Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved. BioWare and the BioWare logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of EA International (Studio and Publishing) Ltd. You may not copy any images, videos or sound clips found on this site or "deep link" to any image, video or sound clip directly.
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Objectivist Gamer

Posted by on Jan 5, 2012 in Blog, Current Games, Star Wars: The Old Republic, World of Warcraft | 0 comments

While playing last night, somebody mentioned in chat the usual “SWTOR plays like WOW” and of course started a small storm. What was different this time, it wasn’t just a troll, but a gaming writer who was reviewing the game. Which of course gives the discussion an entirely new dimension.

I can certainly see where the opinion comes from: There are many aspects which are very similar, for instance the user interface and the skill tree. But that is a good thing. Every MMO player wants to be able to type /who, or find the social menu bound to the O key, as well as configurable hotkey bars. But there are enough differences aside from the voice dialogues which make SWTOR stand out over WOW.

In any case, I didn’t want to start a lengthy rant, but wanted to point to a site of a professional game reviewer and to his work. Most of his reviews cover the general gaming area and much less MMOs. That, by itself is an interesting fact, since obviously SWTOR pulls in Bioware’s RPG fanbase with their familiar story driven games, just like WOW brought Blizzards RTS crowd into the MMO mixture.

I am looking forward to his review and his viewpoint.


© Disclaimer: Star Wars: The Old Republic
This site is not endorsed by or affiliated with LucasArts, BioWare, or Electronic Arts.
Trademarks are the property of their respective owners. LucasArts, the LucasArts logo, STAR WARS and related properties are trademarks in the United States and/or in other countries of Lucasfilm Ltd. and/or its affiliates. © 2008-2011 Lucasfilm Entertainment Company Ltd. or Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved. BioWare and the BioWare logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of EA International (Studio and Publishing) Ltd. You may not copy any images, videos or sound clips found on this site or "deep link" to any image, video or sound clip directly.
Game content and materials copyright LICENSOR. All Rights Reserved.

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