Web Logging!

The original definition of “blog” was as an abbreviation of “web log”, where you’d point out interesting places you found while surfing. I don’t really have anything to write about today — I did 1.1.11 in LotRO last night on my hunter and started in on the Forsaken Inn quests, and played Free Realms for a couple of hours but I can’t write about that, so… welcome to my web log!

Stargrace has betrayed her illusionist to a coercer. Why? Not because she loves the betrayal quests so much (but maybe she does), but because EQ2 has strayed from its initial promise that every archetype (fighter, mage, scout and priest) could do their job (tanking, magical dps and crowd control, melee dps and heroic opportunities, and healing respectively) as well as any other of their archetype, but in their own unique way. Now, we have 24 classes with 24 different roles and capabilities, and it’s natural that players would rank them. If you want dps, you’re not going to ask for a bard. EQ2 was going to be the game where it almost didn’t matter what class of the twenty four you eventually chose.

Despite Age of Conan’s heavy emphasis on its PvP gameplay when it launched, Openedge1’s picture-heavy log of his trip through the Ampitheater of Karutonia kinda tells me that AoC’s real strengths may lie in its PvE arcs. Colin Brennan over at Massively touched upon this yesterday when he asked if PvP really was the “killer feature” that conventional wisdom insists all new MMOs must have in order to gain cred with MMO players. Even though I play on Spellborn’s PvP server, I admit, PvP is not my reason to choose a game. I’m more likely to look for a game with good customization and a rewarding PvE experience. The more games talk about their blood, gore and random killing, the less I am likely to play.

Suzina at Kill Ten Rats writes about the recent changes that have made Lord of the Rings Online so much easier than it was at launch. She’s absolutely right. I took my new, from scratch, hunter on Landroval from level 0 to level 18 in about five hours of play. The new (optional, but who won’t use it?) quest tracker meant I never had to figure out where to go, or even read the text. I’d swoop in, click on any NPC with a ring over their head, sort the quests by level, and then just follow the arrow. Was there a story? Beats me! I think it involved dwarfs. But just as Suzina points out, my investment in my hunter is nearly nil. I leveled so fast, even without rest experience for most of that time. Just targeted a monster, pressed a couple of keys, targeted another, and when the quest was done, moved somewhere else.

I’m still loving Ommatidia, the daily 101 word story by Brendan Adkins. Gems, every day :)

Darkfall’s two biggest supporters, Keen and Syncaine, recently mused about how the impact PvP MMO, Darkfall, could be losing player interest even though it offers the best sandbox PvP of any fantasy MMO currently available? Is it because not enough players are truly looking for an even, honest fight? Is it because people have been so quick to make themselves feel safe that they have carebeared their fun away? What would it take to make a PvP-centric MMO where real PvP happened on a continual basis? Nobody has yet found the magic formula. EVE Online comes closest, perhaps, but even there, most players do not PvP on a regular basis.

Hudson over at Hudson’s Hideout just got into the Champions Online beta! Grats :) I’ll definitely be looking forward to hearing about his adventures at his new blog, Saving the World… which he didn’t link. Will have that when I get it.

Psyq at Dalayan Diary writes about his adventures in Blackburrow, lair of the dog-like gnolls. That was a deadly place in old EverQuest, and has only gotten deadlier in Shards of Dalaya. No matter how many times they wiped, though, they didn’t lose any experience — SoD has removed that worst of EverQuest’s death penalties. Is that a good thing? Players of old EQ were so paranoid about dying that you wanted to know your groupmates before you did anything even slightly risky. Because you NEEDED to know everyone’s rep, a strong community was formed based on your skill and reputation. Remove the penalties for failure and you remove a lot of the incentive to be skilled… I feel that is amply shown by the rather weak communities of games with little to no penalties for failure.

Green Armadillo at Player vs Developer writes about EQ2’s Splitpaw adventure pack. That’s long been one of my personal favorites, and though GA points out that SOE was charging for content other MMOs gave for free, I felt it was well worth the money, and one of the reasons to subscribe to Station Access, where these things came free. Splitpaw scales with your level, so no matter when you, alone or with friends, enter, you’ll always find a challenge and reward appropriate for your level. GA mentions the Trials of Harclave instance, where you are given a godlike buff and sent alone into a dungeon to wipe it clean of group mobs that would kill you in an instant, normally. Great fun :)

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Tipa

Web developer for a Connecticut-based insurance company that's over 200 years old! Also a bicycler, a blogger, a kayaker, and a hunter of bridges.

16 thoughts on “Web Logging!”

  1. Well, it’s not hard these days. Back when LotRO launched, the last chapter of Book 1 of the epic quest was harrowingly difficult. Now, all the fights are over before you can get many hits in. Well, a couple of them were more than a few seconds long, but in a full group — and there are nearly always groups heading into it — it’s a five to ten minute run, start to finish.

    Did make level 19, though!

  2. I think Shards of Dalaya’s death penalty is still strong enough. While you don’t lose exp, you can’t enter a battle for 5 minutes until death fatigue wears off and you score an experience debt that needs to be paid off. It will take 5, 10, 15 blue or white critters to pay back — might take you 15 minutes even in a group that solidly pumps exp.

    So I think the motivation to play with good people is intact in SoD. What was removed was the really tough aspect of EverQuest’s death mechanics: If you died two or three times, you’d need 90% rezzes or you might lose a week or a month worth of exp. So you didn’t dare go anywhere without a high-level cleric.

    The exp debt doesn’t accumulate, so exploring is much more fun. If you die once, you can still continue exploring, because your second death won’t make you any worse than you already are. This can be great fun in some zones. In EQ, I never ever explored because I might even delevel…

    I’m not sure if SoD’s death mechanics are perfect, but once I know them better, I’ll write a summary on the blog. I’d say they are about on par with WoW’s, although I’d give SoD a tiny bonus in the creativity department :)

  3. It is funny when you write about the “PvP” realm, and that maybe after the many offerings pushing PvP, that maybe it is NOT what people want..
    Even though we supposedly keep hearing this.

    WAR is starting to fall off the map, and the one complaint about it is always “The PvE side” sucks
    Darkfall is so niche it hurts. People will “try” it, but for longevity, it does NOT work.
    AoC and taking their main game more PvE style with patch 1.05 and the gear updates, could maybe actually help this game come around and be niche like LOTRO.
    I actually don’t feel as much hate for LOTRO lately because it has proven itself to be a PvE game people want to play…so 3 cheers for them.

    Oh, and nice weblog today…

  4. Concerning blogging, I dislike when people say they’re “making a blog”. A blog is the site itself, a blog entry is a blog entry. :/ You don’t say “I’m making a diary” every time you write in your diary!

  5. According to Jorn Barger if we’re posting more text than links, we need to learn some humility. But we’ve been around that track before.

    Pardon, I have to go make a bathroom.

  6. @openedge1

    Actually, what Jorn Barger was getting at was more of “let the link do the talking.” I posted it just to tease Tipa because she brought him up some time back when I was griping about Twitter vs. blogs.

    What you’ve got going there is more of a Ted Nelson thing. And I didn’t link his name because it was ironic, not because I’m lazy. *cough*

  7. @Ramon — while it’s nice that clerics aren’t needed as much in groups, clerics can’t do very much WITHOUT a group, as compared to druids and shaman, who had a lot of power to solo. In EverQuest, until clerics got the uber damage shield and some powerful, instant-cast hots and heals, without a group, they might as well camp out. Playing a cleric (as I did, up to level 75), was largely thankless — at the mercy of pickup groups who resented you ever having to med, and felt your healing could make up for any deficiencies in the tank’s gear or AAs. I understand SoD likely has fiddled with a cleric’s role. I hope!

    @Openedge1 — people who insist real MMOs must be based around PvP or at least feature it heavily ignore the fact that even the people who like PvP enjoy the chance to relax without it now and then. I like PvP, but I like to control when that happens. Ganking just means that someone else is deciding how I will spend my time, and I guess I don’t like that in a game, much. That’s just me, but it seems to be borne out by AoC and WAR and from what I’m hearing, Darkfall as well. Even in games that say UP FRONT, you WILL BE GANKED, DON’T COME HERE EXPECTING ANYTHING ELSE — people are opting for the easier, less confrontational paths. I don’t believe many people are really psychokillers at heart; I believe that, eventually, your own morality has to lead you away from that path, even in games.

    @Toldain — You’re right! Same deal, though. Stargrace wants to play an ENCHANTER, instead she has to go for one or the other at great expense because EQ2 is preventing her from playing the class she wants to play. If the two classes really were different ways to do the same job, she wouldn’t need to.

    @Faith — I say I am diarying!

    @Wilhelm — yup, I was definitely thinking of Jorn Barger, the “inventor” of the blog, when I made today’s post. What we commonly call a blog, he would call an online journal. A blog ENTRY would be a list of links along with a brief description of what was interesting about those places, and such things were very common even before graphical browsers, and in fact were almost certainly the inspiration for Ted Nelson’s Xanadu project. Nelson is, of course, the person who coined the word “hyperlink”, though Xanadu bears little relation to what we now call the World Wide Web, and his links were more powerful than ours.

    I really miss being able to see my blog at work :(

  8. Having played a cleric to level 65 on both EverQuest 1 and Shards of Dalaya…I have to admit my gaming was far more fun on Shards. The death penalty on Shards made the game way more fun. No longer did I spend hours upon hours running to “rez” folks so they didn’t lose all their xp. Nothing was worse than grouping with a fanatic that would totally freak out if you let him die. Or that over nuke spamming Wizzy that gets pissed off because you let him die. And on and on and on. Yes, I was addicted to EQ1 at one point in time, but geesh, these folks were beyond addiction, more to the totally psychotic side.
    Yes the penalty may be much smaller on Shards, but that doesn’t make Clerics any less sought after. They are still the end all be all to healing and everyone knows it, and will gladly welcome them to all groups. And they are a must have on all harder content and raids just wouldn’t happen without at least one or two good clerics in the mix. The only big difference made to Clerics on SoD is the lack of Complete Heals. Yay, no more CH bot lines on raids!!! You actually have to pay attention instead of hitting one button every several minutes.

  9. @Tipa: Ah hah! That’s a sensitive spot right there. From what I read on the SoD forums, many guilds are looking for clerics, and I hear some clerics complain about their class. I’m not sure if the complaints are the same as for EQ, but you might very well have a point there.

    To some people, it’s a problem that dual-boxing is very common (and allowed to a certain extent) on SoD, so some people dual box a melee with a cleric. If all clerics are just walking healbot accessories permanently set to /follow, there is indeed something wrong with the class.

    The SoD crew is careful with balancing though, so maybe they did think of something. They still don’t include the berserker class, for example, because Sony failed to carve a niche for the class and if the berserker is ever added, the SoD guys want to think of a proper role for the class _first_.

    I’ll research the cleric issues though :)

  10. Well, duh. Pressed the button before reading Vonilla’s comment. That’s an interesting approach, I was wondering when I’d first encounter CH heal rotations in SoD. Never, it seems :D

  11. CH rotations aren’t actually used in EverQuest anymore, though at one time they certainly were. The addition of many new kinds of heals makes CH obsolete.

    Dual boxing killed clerics in EQ as well. Since clerics were SO necessary to groups, many people decided they didn’t feel like waiting around for a decent cleric, so they would roll their own. This had the wonderful side effect of making the only groups clerics could get, groups with people who weren’t serious enough to two box their own cleric — or guild groups. While leveling, I had groups all the time. But once I maxed out, groups got ever more rare, but even in my guild, cleric bots and alts were everywhere.

  12. @Tipa: Geez! You have to ask yourself what is really broken when that sort of thing happens, the game or the players? I’m happy to hear that CH rotations are gone in EQ live as well, though.

    This would be really nice to investigate a bit more: Is it a problem of game mechanics or of group dynamics? Or were there really so many borderline psychotic people the game at the time like Vonilla says? :)

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