Tuesday, August 7, 2018

I miss how I would sit down and play Runescape for 15 hour sessions 10-15 years ago.



And it is sadder that there is no modern equivalent.

The idea of sitting down with a drink and some food and grinding out some progress in a game (and then not eating all day) that was designed around taking a long time to complete. Interacting with the community (on forums, this was before Facebook was really a thing) and writing guides on how to do content was something I frequently did in my teenage years and I don't see a modern equivalent these days.

Everything these days seems to have a catch. You have seasonal content (e.g. raid progression for an expansion), content on average isn't worth playing beyond its rewards, and everything seemingly worth obtaining is cosmetic and locked behind a microtransaction shop. I remember for example, doing achievements to obtain a super unique / useful item. Does that even exist in MMOs anymore?

On and these games weren't difficult in that you didn't need a dedicated team to enjoy the game. There were no "one shot" mechanisms (well there were a couple really but they were super end game) and it felt like there was a heart and soul attached to actual weekly updates and not (half) yearly ones, this basically meant you always had something new to do and felt good about doing it because everything you did you could do in some communal way.

I am only writing this up because I really want that experience again, but it's been 10-15 years and nothing new has come out as far as I know that captures this feeling and what's old is in the past and not worth playing.
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Sunday, June 24, 2018

My thoughts on Aion



I will preface this that I have played Aion for a long time, on and off. I've quit around 2 months ago so all the information will be about 5.8 patch. Soon there will be a 6.2 patch that will change the game entirely again, a reset if you will. They will have new level cap, and new gear, a lot of old stuff will be scrapped and replaced.


Leveling

The leveling in this game is a mix between grinding mobs and doing quests. The primary focus of quests should be campaign quests and blue quests as they give a lot of experience. Certain instances give great experience as well and at almost every level past 20 you have access to some instance; at level 15 you have Haramel, at 25 Nochsana Training Camp, at 27 Fire Temple, At 37 Kromede's Trial etc. Once you hit later levels starting from 53, the experience you gain from instances will be faster than any quest, so at this point you start doing Beshmundir Temple.

It takes an experienced player around 3 days to a week to reach level 66 which is considered the start of the end game. In this patch, from level 70 to 75 it takes quite a long period of time, but that will change in 6.2. I should also say that a story exists and there is lore, but I would say very poorly made.


PvP

I would say this is where the game shines, this game has the fastest pace in any MMO that I've experienced and 6.2 will only make it faster https://youtu.be/asbczMdry68?t=56 . I would say the game is balanced around group fights ( 6 vs 6 ) and I would also say that the game is heavily influenced by gear. Better gear wins, but unlike some MMO's this game features a very, very high skill cap which can allow you to beat better geared players. There's a big downside to this, as it takes you a long time to gear up, in order to fight other people. But if two classes of similar gear duel, there is a chance either could win. So I would say this game is pretty well balanced 1 v 1 in that regard, and 1 v 1 duels/fights was my favorite part of this game.

The game has two factions that oppose each other. Being PvPvE, it is focused "equally" on both PvE and PvP. There's countless 6 vs 6 instances, 1 v 1 arena, Chaos arena, tournament style 1 v 1 arena. There is siege where it's typically on populated server 300-500 vs 300-500, there are rifts, there is invasion. There even exists a zone with 4 "castles" once per week, where servers participate against each other. World PvP is mostly done by invading each other opposite zone via a rift.


Mechanics, what makes this game better than most MMO's.

This game doesn't have any global cooldowns. You get one potion that you can buy which dispells two debuffs and a remove shock skill at level 40 ( some classes get two ). This, combined with very fast movement and attack speed makes for very intense, fast paced duels. Where if you don't react properly you can die in 5 seconds, if you miss-use a skill or the debuff potion, same result. Per example if you use the potion to remove some random debuff instead of silence, you will die. It's very punishing.

Autoattacking in this game is super important as a physical class ( and some magical ) for both PvE and PvP. Due to the high attack speed, you can weave your skills as a Sin per example, and do almost double the DPS you'd do normally by just spamming the skills. This is not an easy thing to do in PvP and it takes a long time to master. There's also movement shots that you can time to gain distance advantage, again, very hard to pull off in PvP. A video do demonstrate this:



Gear switching macros exist in this game, and it's very useful for both defensive classes and offensive, being able to swap between magic resist to block to something else depending on your HP or circumstances adds another layer to this game.


PvE

In this game to do PvP you have to PvE sadly, the items required to enchant and socket your PvP gear comes from PvE. There are a lot of instances, most of them being very easy with the exception of the latest ones from any given patch. There's 12 man instances like Narakkali which can be done in hard mode or normal mode, it's relatively easy once you learn the mechanics. Compared to other games I would say PvE in this game is easy, but the DPS race is very competitive, there's two DPS meter programs as well as a ladder of all TOP DPS players a thttps://aionpveranks.com/Overview/ARM/index

Now here comes the part that made me quit

The publisher is utter garbage for EU at least, Gameforge. The game is not p2w, but it is insanely pay-to-convenience, you do things way way faster than you normally would playing the game. From experience, to gearing up as in socketing/enchanting your items.

I can put it this way, it took me 6 months to be top 3 DPS on my server ( while playing a class that's not meant for dps, Chanter ). This is because I knew the game very well, a new player? Easily one year to do what I did. If however you pay, you could do what I did in 2 months or less. Of course effort is required for certain things.

The game walks a very fine line between being p2w and being fair. Which is a pity, because there are very few games out there with the smoothness Aion has, the fast pace, the balance. I feel that given a different publisher that actually cares about the game, it would be huge. Sadly things have gotten worse with years. I would say the best patches were 3.* and 4.*.

In conclusion, I would suggest this game if you have nothing better to play, because it's free, but do keep in mind to get somewhere in this game requires a lot of time. I would compare it to Black Desert in that regard I guess. However, I don't suggest starting on this patch. I suggest waiting for 6.2 and playing then, because a lot of issues will be fixed and you will pretty much start equally with everyone.

Here's a random PvP video to see how Open World is and PvP. The characters look like that because they used a candy to boost their stats.


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Tuesday, May 8, 2018

MMO's need more PvE.



Alright before everyone gets upset hear me out I mean general activities. I see a big issue with MMO's is the lack of development, most open world single player games have more of an alive world than current MMO's. I think the genre is stuck in this vicious cycle of PvE only being raids and dungeons, a cycle which is killing the genre.

I think the genre needs to innovate. People want to play MMO's for that open virtual world feeling. They want to feel like they are in another world not just raid for gear. MMO's seem to have forgotten the reason people play them. I think they need to focus on creating open engaging worlds, they need to give people reasons to explore. MMO's should have farming, player shops, housing, in game casinos(purely in game), built in mini games like a card game, extensive crafting, watchable gladiator arenas, trading, sailing, the list goes on. This focus on raiding just seems like the easy way out and when a developer tries these other features they do it half arsed and never really commit.

I think this stuff about people only want PvP and MMO's need to be full Pvp is not really going to take off, don't get me wrong I love PvP and MMO's definitely need it, it's essential part of the game , but the focus should always be about creating a vibrant virtual world first . I also think instead of looking at MMO's as PvE and PvP we should also be using another term with them to describe all the actives and features you can do to make the game feel Alive or rethink what we mean by PvE.

Would love to hear what you think?

tl;dr:MMO's don't need to focus on competitive PvP they need to focus on making the game world more alive and feel like a real virtual world.
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Sunday, April 29, 2018

I miss level-grinders.



Remember those few MMORPGs like Rohan Blood Feud, Maplestory, Ragnarok Online, Battle of Immortals, Tibia, etc. where it seemed almost impossible for someone to reach max level? It wasn't about getting up to max level ASAP so you could keep grinding out questlines to get gear to finally start tackling fun content? Where the grinding on hours for 4% XP was the point of the game rather than going through the same content treadmill?

I've been looking for a game or private server for a dead game but there's nothing that just offers me a decent grind.

Anyone else that misses this?

Here is a list of all the games/private servers mentioned in this topic. Hope you can find something you enjoy. Not all of these are purely level-grinders but have enjoyable grinds (in my opinion).

  • Lineage 2 Classic (EU only I think, costs 2 bucks a month to play)
  • Mabinogi
  • MapleStory 1 & 2. MS2 will be releasing in the West very soon!
  • Black Desert Online (Buy to Play)
  • Ragnarok Online
  • Tree of Savior
  • Priston Tale
  • Knight OnLine
  • RuneScape (check out Oldschool RuneScape if you like having a lot of variety in your grind)
  • Everquest 1 & 2 (Project1999 for Everquest 1)
  • Final Fantasy XI (Nasomi Private server)
  • Final Fantasy XIV (Buy to Play + Subscription)
  • Dark Age of Camelot
  • Path of Exile
  • SilkRoad Online
  • 9Dragons
  • Tibia
  • Legend of Mir
  • Trickster Online
  • FlyFF
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Sunday, March 18, 2018

Was cautiously optimistic about Ashes of Creation, but after new pre-order packs/teddy bear mount I've lost interest/faith



Despite how tempted I was to back Ashes of Creation, I had that collection of past experiences persistently reminding me that I needed to wait just in case the game turned out to be something that I didn't like. Turns out, my ability to resist backing this project was the right choice.

A few days ago, AoC released new pre-order packs/cosmetics in their store, and I was incredibly disappointed in what I saw, e.g. this new mount skin: 


These pre-order packs raise some major red flags for me.

The devs stated that they wanted to make the game that MMO players have desired for so long, and my impression of the world they were trying to build was one with serious undertones in a Western setting to appeal to those of us who can't stand the Eastern MMO structure/art style. This teddy bear skin, however, is something that isn't congruent with the game they've stated they want to make, or with the footage we've seen so far. It is, plainly, something I'd expect to find in a shitty Eastern MMO's cash shop.

Is this indicative of what we can expect from the dev team and direction of this game? A cash shop filled with shiny, fluffy bullshit that ruins the immersion of the game and its ability to keep us captivated?

Sad to say, I've lost interest and faith in this project and will have to keep waiting hopefully for the game AoC pretended to be at first.

Note: I can reconcile my interest in a game with the existence of a cash shop in that game for cosmetics only, but even a cosmetic only cash shop needs to be extremely careful to only offer items that are congruent and immersive for the game's art style and setting. Unfortunately, it seems to be near impossible for devs to restrain themselves, even those who claim they're fellow MMO players who are also deeply frustrated by the current state of the industry.
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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

I'm quite enjoying Star Trek Online, and you might too



Let me start with this, I only played 5 hours of it (wanted to play bit more before writing this but the servers are just about to go down for a maintenance as of writing this)

I liked Star Wars when I was little and I like Mecha animes but never got around watching Star Trek until recently (finished Discovery, Enterprise and nearing the end of The Next Generation) and I quite enjoy it. But I never really found a space game that I really enjoyed the closest one was Fractured Space but I always found myself playing a regular moba instead of a space one.

I haven't heard much about Star Trek Online, and I always thought it's just a low effort cash grab game that relies on a popular IP. It's definitely not the case. Also, I was expecting a slow paced, boring space combat, I couldn't have been further from the truth, it's actually pretty action packed. And the screenshots/videos doesn't really do justice to its graphics.

The main missions (at least at the beginning) are fully voice acted, the ground combat has some interesting features like flanking, crouching (while you crouch you deal more damage in ranged combat but enemies hit you harder in melee) and an expose and exploit system (you can expose weak point with X weapons and other people can use exploit skills on Y weapons to deal high amount of damage to them). You can also bring your crew with you on mission similar to how Guild Wars 1 hero system worked.

In space, you can switch between different modes (stances) speed/damage/shield/all-rounder, depending on what mode you are in you have increased stats in that regard and lower in others, you'll be able to make some tactical decisions with this, for example if you have allies and the enemy focused on them go full damage, but if they attack you switch to defensive mode. You also have different kind of skills and different weapons good for different things (some good ad destroying shield, some good at destroying the hull)

I think the last time I enjoyed an early game of an MMORPG as much as Star Trek Onlines was when I stumbled upon the investigation mission in The Secret World. It really felt like that I actually want on an important mission and saved lives not just went on a quest to hunt some boars.

I'm quite sad that I never got myself to play this game before and if you are like me who never though much about it I would really suggest you to try it out and see it for yourself.

I can't speak for the end game, or how pay to win the game is (it doesn't matter for me I wouldn't want to be the best player ever anyway) but the 5 hours I've spent on it I thoroughly enjoyed.

Extra note: If you watched Star Trek you will really appreciate how accurately they replicated things for the game (the academy, ships, the ship layout)

Hope you'll have as much fun as I'm having with it right now
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Friday, February 9, 2018

The future of MMOs is VR. I've seen it.

I've spent a decent amount of time playing VRChat and I keep getting surprised every time I get on. Visiting theme parks, virtual cinemas, concerts, and raves are all really fun activities. But what makes it so special is being in those spaces with other people inside VR. You get a sense of closeness that you can't get normally that totally elevates any social interaction you're going to have; you can even communicate reasonably well with nothing but gestures.

Social is a big part of MMOs. It's the main reason I keep going back to the MMOs that I've played, and it's the foundation for guilds, trading, raids, and group content.

Imagine once we have that AAA VRMMO that allows you to play cards with people within inns, or just mess around by drinking and stacking bottles.

Imagine player housing taken to the next level where you can map your real chair and furniture to your virtual space and have virtual TVs that you can play and watch movies on with visitors.

Imagine how much more responsive fishing or other side-activities will be. What we come to expect in most MMOs is simply clicking on a fishing node after some time has elapsed; it gets old very fast. And add in the ability to manage your own market stool or shop, physically putting together items and hammering weapons as a blacksmith. I was always in awe at how involving the crafting was in FF14; when I first started playing, I spent a while just watching people craft and seeing a physical workstation actually materialize. Seeing that for real with 1:1 input would be really surreal.

Imagine other activities like clubbing / raves (Dancing is incredibly fun in VRChat and surprisingly popular), fireworks which just feel so much nicer in VR, and theme parks like Gold Saucer but more expansive.

I haven't touched on combat, but just take a look at Vanishing Realms for melee combat, The Unspoken for magic combat, and QuiVr for ranged combat. I personally haven't had a chance to play OrbusVR (indie VRMMO - The very first) yet, but it has an interesting take on the mage class and I very much look forward to playing it.

VR is advancing much faster than people realize. Within 5 years, we're going to have eye-tracking, facial-tracking, and full body-tracking built into your average VR headset. That's when socializing in VR becomes uncannily real. We'll start to see some of those mentioned technologies as soon as next year with 2nd gen headsets. Quite literally every expression of your body will be shown.

The possibilities for VRMMOs are basically endless.
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Friday, February 2, 2018

The ten types of Guild Administrator.



1. The Micromanager Also known as the Control Freak, this administrator usually holds the rank of Guildmaster, and must be present for every single situation the guild finds itself in. Be-it raids, events, or drama mediation, you’ll find this Guildmaster there. You may be wondering where their officers are, and there are two answers to this; They may have never appointed any officers, buying into the mantra of "My guild, All mine, mine mine mine mine mine", or they might have a team of officers growing steadily more and more frustrated as they realize their rank means nothing and their promotions were little more than a pat on the back for being a cheery guildmember. This Guildmaster tends to be a rookie who’s starting up their first guild without gathering any experience officer-ing for another one beforehand, and so have little to no knowledge of how to function as part of an admin team, but can also be the result of a Number 3 having to deal with far more drama than any admin team should have to handle.

2. The Power behind the Throne This is the officer you take all your worries, grievances and questions to. It was evident from the moment you joined the guild that this person was someone the entire guild looked up to and respected, perhaps more-so than the Guildmaster themselves. They’re a good listener, they’re approachable, friendly, knowledgeable, mature, and, most importantly, they have the undivided attention of the Guildmaster whenever they ask for it. They may not have the official rank, and for some reason, they don’t even want it, but it’s clear who the real leader in this guild is.

3. The Parent You’re not exactly sure how they do it; Under their leadership, the guild runs as smoothly as a baby’s behind. They’ve perfected the art of working in a team with their admins; There’s a strict schedule, but it never feels like a chore. Everything…. Functions. What little drama arises is dealt with quickly and efficiently, and squabbling guildmembers are put in their place before they can do any real damage. You really don’t know how lucky you are to have this person around.

4. The Undercover Looter It’s the horror story told around virtual campfires at the darkest point of the day/night cycle; the tale of the smiling snake who cried crocodile tears. You thought they were a model guildmember; friendly, welcoming… They helped with officer tasks without being asked, they were loyal, respectful… Of course, you promoted them. Who wouldn’t?

Oh, but woe be you. For you’ve fallen for a lie.

No sooner have they achieved the rank of officer, or, god forbid, if your naiveté got the better of you, Guildmaster, before they ransack the guild bank, kick the entire roster and disappear into the aether.

You’ll never see them, or any sign of your precious guild, ever again.

5. The Grizzled Veteran They’ve seen it all, and it haunts them; They’ve watched guilds fall, friendships die, and communities vanish. They wander from game to game, doing officer work here and there, searching for something which will compare to their memories of the golden age of their favourite guild, but they’ll never find it. The saddest part is that they have the experience to build something great, but never again will they touch the cursed rank of Guildmaster. That ship has sailed. They’ll do their job, but there’s an element of hopelessness to their actions, like they’re mourning the loss of a loved one. Eventually, they’ll fade away, finally done with the guild life, and you’ll never see them again.

6. The Real-Life friend Pretty self-explanatory. They got their rank by being a good friend in real life to the Guildmaster, and there’s two ways this can go; you’ll either never see hide nor hair of them, and this won’t be an issue, because everyone’s happy. They’re not getting in the way, and the Guildmaster feels good for rewarding their friend. The second scenario, however, is guild-crushing; Having earned their promotion in real-life, rather than in-game, they have next to no experience, and, while only trying to help, their feeble attempts at mediating arguments will only stoke the fires of conflict until drama consumes the guild.

7. The Nice Guy This person’s seen the way the Power behind the Throne operates, and they’re doing their best to follow the exceptional example being set, but they’re missing that mysterious gravitas which makes their idol so respectable. They do their best to be everyone’s friend, but they don’t have the stern manner which is often needed to pacify riled-up guildmates. They try, bless their soul, but they’ll quickly be overwhelmed.

8. The Ghost Where the fuck did the Guildmaster go?

9. The Rookie They don’t know the first thing about being a guild leader or admin, and because of that they’ve spam-invited three-hundred odd randomers to boost the ranks of their guild. It’s only a matter of time before this balloon-of-a-guild pops under all the pressure.

10. The imminent Mental Breakdown This is what happens when the micromanager finally realizes they’ve stretched themselves too thin. They’ll ultimately devolve into a screaming, crying mess, and the guildmembers will never respect them again. Luckily, however, this is a learning curve. Like the caterpillar becoming a butterfly, they’ll emerge from this experience as the Power behind the Throne of a new guild as their new Guildmaster dispenses untold wisdom, grooming them for the day when the leader will finally become “The Ghost”, and the Power behind the Throne will become “The Parent”.
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Friday, January 12, 2018

I think pay to play MMO should make a return.



I've been playing MMOs since around 2004 when I first played City of Heroes. I stayed sn active subscription for that all the way until it died.

I've played Guild Wars 1 and 2, SWTOR, Blade and Soul, BDO along with many free to play games.

While going through countless free to play MMOs I realized something. MMO are not a traditional game. They are a world and they are an investment.

Free to play MMO typically focus on the gameplay but have no world building or exploration. They also create limitations on players such as locked content and many feature a fatigue system.

When I look at the most successful MMO, they are pay to play. WoW, Final Fantasy, Guild Wars previously, BDO.

Not only so these games offer more because they have a regular source of income, but you as am individual may be more prone to continue playing them simply because it's where you put your money.

I played Marvel Heroes from launch until death. By the time it died, I pretty much had nothing to do because no new content was released. But I loved the game so much the first year it came out that I put $100s into it. That money investment kept me playing, especially because I wanted the game to succeed.

I feel humans by nature are more likely to stick with a specific game if they have invested more than just am hour into it.

I would rather play a handful of pay to play MMO with good player base and continuing content than play 30 free mmos off and on that are popular for 2 months before they become a cash grab.

Tldr; monetary investments =more likely to stay with a game and allows game money to improve
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Wednesday, January 3, 2018

MMORPGs: 2018 and beyond.



To help reduce the typical end of the year, "What's coming in 2018" posts, here is a little guide to help highlight some of the larger, more anticipated titles on the horizon. By no means is the list perfect, nor does it contain every title, but hopefully someone here will find it useful.

By design, this list excludes expansions to preexisting MMORPG series, console titles, failed Korean releases coming to Western audiences in the future, upcoming aRPG titles, and other titles that cannot be qualified as "Massively" (ex: 4/6/32/64 player lobby servers).

2018-2019 release titles:
Crowfall - PVP
Dark and Light - PVP
Darkfall: New Dawn - PVP
Dual Universe - PVP
Legends of Aria - PVP
Life is Feudal MMO - PVP
Gloria Victis - PVP
Wild West Online - PVP

Ascent: Infinite Realm (Project W) - PVE+PVP

Project : Gorgon - PVE
Shroud of Avatar - PVE

2019+:
Ashes of Creation - PVP
Camelot Unchained - PVP
Chronicles of Elyria - PVP
New World - PVP
Star Citizen - PVP
Worlds Adrift - PVP

Forsaken Legends - PVE
Lost Ark - PVE
Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen - PVE
Saga of Lucimia - PVE
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