Täglich Blogroll 26.8 – Auflage: Sturm und Drang

SG-1 in Stargate Worlds

I never watched Stargate: SG-1 while it was on (is it still on?), so when everyone was getting all excited about the prospect of Cheyenne Mountain’s Stargate Worlds MMO, it meant nothing to me. Now, thanks to Hulu, I’m catching up. A couple of episodes in to the second season and it’s clear the show is already chafing against its episodic “planet of the week” formula. Could Stargate Worlds make it work for them? Will it work for Bioware’s Star Wars: The Old Republic, or will people yearn for a less story-based, more personal play experience?

IGN has some SWTOR gameplay videos hosted by Bioware peeps and I have to admit, it looks really great, a lot better than I thought it would. So much like Knights of the Old Republic that I mostly am just hoping Bioware decides to release SWTOR as a single player game. I do like how party members swap out who gets to choose the canned responses. I just hope party members agree beforehand on how things are going to play out.

Player 1: The Emperor has commanded your death!
Hapless NPC: Then he can have my death! AND YOURS! *draws blaster*
Player 2: Hi, would you be my friend?
Hapless NPC: *puts blaster away* Yes, I think we can come to an understanding.
Player 1: Then DIE!
Hapless NPC: Huh? *confusedly draws blaster again*

Yesterday, Cryptic announced that it had reached the limit on the number of lifetime and six-month subscriptions it offered. This shocked a lot of people who weren’t aware that there wasn’t a limitless supply, especially after all the angst concerning the offer just a couple weeks back.

Syp sums up the controversy nicely. Cryptic had announced the offers would end September 1st, so people expected to hold off on the go/no go decision until August 31st, 11:59:59PM, California time. Now that the decision has been made for them, some potential players who were very much looking forward to the game have decided not to play. Did the game become less fun because of the ending of their pre-launch offer? Beau argues that you should have known ahead of time if it mattered that much. Warhammermer was just disappointed that the end of beta event was so geared toward North American players.

I love Tobold’s theory posts, and maybe I’m just too sensitive to perceived slights against my favorite MMO, but when a respected blogger, talking about Blizzard’s announcement of guild levels in the forthcoming Cataclysm expansion, says about guild level implementation in other games, “the suboptimal guild advancement systems that other games already have” and “Blizzard is famous for is stealing the badly executed ideas of others and unleashing their potential, thereby making their version much better than the original.”

So which are those other MMOs with badly executed, suboptimal guild advancement systems? EverQuest 2, which more or less defined and refined the system in modern MMOs? Warhammer Online’s, whose guild levels are widely touted as one of its best features? Lord of the Rings Online? And both EQ2 and LotRO even have guild halls, based on guild advancement. Will WoW take these badly executed ideas and make them good? Or were they bad ideas simply because WoW hadn’t done them yet?

Speaking of WoW, Dusty Monk at “Of Course I’ll Play It” has embarked on a new exploration of World of Warcraft’s mysterious world of Azeroth. Let Delsenora guide you through the numberless mysteries of Elwynn and Goldshire. Before Blizzard destroys them forever, next year.

Lars of MMOment of Zen reports that the EQ2 devs are trying to bring down the size of EQ2’s initial download and have it stream the rest, a la Guild Wars and Free Realms. Fantastic idea — get people playing the game within minutes. Why doesn’t EVERY game offer this?

Well, off to work, but you might be asking, why is the title in German? Well, I know a little German…

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18 thoughts on “Täglich Blogroll 26.8 – Auflage: Sturm und Drang”

  1. I remember in the beginning Warhammer’s guild advancement system was criticized for making you remove your low level alts since they’d affect it, or something like that, maybe that’s what he was referring to, since I’m sure neither one of us played it since way back then.
    Man I wish the live game was more like the beta, I’d still be playing. There are no other games where you get to be heavy metal vikings ™.

  2. In fairness, kinship levels in LotRO were just a mechanism to gate things that didn’t need gating. If the entire system was replaced with ‘you now have to wait three months after forming a kinship to purchase kinship housing’ I really can’t say it’d be any worse. They truly were sub-optimal.

    On the other hand, the crux of his worry seems to be that guild advancement might be tilted unfairly in the direction of larger guilds. Something that other, ‘badly implemented’ systems solved a long time ago. I look forward to WoW stealing EQ2’s guild advancement wholesale and everyone claiming that it’s better because Blizzard did it right, despite it being a carbon copy.

  3. “Did the game become less fun because of the ending of their pre-launch offer?”

    Complex issue:

    1) The perception of value changed. When a company says “You can play our game for $10/month” you get it in your head that this is the value of gameplay. Then when they switch to “You can play our game for $15/month” the game feels expensive, even though that’s the ‘going rate’ for many MMOs.

    2) The game doesn’t feel like a good model for subscription to begin with, for me. The Lifetime Subscription felt like a really good fit for the game. Pay once, then play casually for years to come. That’s how I play LOTRO, and is maybe why I don’t find LOTRO as boring as you do. When it starts feeling repetitive I stop playing for a week/month/several months until it feels fresh again. At which point I’ll play again for a weekend, or a week. CO feels like I’d play it the same way, I could start/stop my sub, of course, but when you start a sub up, play for a weekend, then don’t get back to it until the following month, it feels wasteful, TO ME. Your mileage may vary

    3) Legacy: Bill Roper of Cryptic screwed up Hellgate:London. Cryptic screwed up the first day of open beta. And now they’ve screwed up this pre-order deal. It has shaken my confidence in the game and the company. They publicly admit they’ve handled this poorly. Should they opt to fix the situation, I’m ready to forgive and forget. Should their ultimate attitude be “Tough cookies.” then I will express my displeasure the only way I am able to: by not playing. Games are less important than following my personal code of ethics (which admittedly varies over time, but right now I feel like this is an unjust treatment of their customer base).

  4. “So much like Knights of the Old Republic that I mostly am just hoping Bioware decides to release SWTOR as a single player game.”

    Agreed. There just isn’t any good reason for a dev-story heavy game to be online where other players can screw it up. It’s almost like the “MMO” aspect of the game is just a hugely fancy DRM scheme. That doesn’t sit well with me. At all.

    And yes, more people should use streaming clients. A game that requires a big installation then a five hour or more “patch” experience before a player actually *plays* the game isn’t putting its best foot forward.

  5. Oh, and regarding CO, yes, a game *can* be less fun if the payment model doesn’t agree with you. A good third of my posts and comments address that. If you’re expecting to buy a lifetime sub but wind up relegated to a standard sub, you’ve just jumped a bridge from “casual, pick up game” to “gotta get my time’s worth every friggin’ month”. Maybe it doesn’t directly affect *gameplay*, but it sure as heck affects the player’s mentality, which has a direct effect on the set of perceptions we call “fun”.

  6. Well, EQ2 did start off on the wrong foot with guild advancement with the whole designated contributors thing and it remained annoying until they finally just made it a flat rate for everybody.

    With that memory still burned into me, I winced when I read that WoW’s guild advancement would only count the efforts of the top 20 contributors in a guild on a given day. That *seems* like a good idea in theory, but a couple of the EQ2 iterations sounded good too.

    Of course I’ve never been in a WoW guild with more than 20 active characters, even counting alts, so it will probably be okay for me. But I bet the big guilds are going to be all heywaitaminutehere!

    On Stargate, the wife and I started with the first disk of season 1. The first episodes displayed a fine 1970s level of writing and acting that allowed us to guess the plot complications and outcomes well in advance. This won’t sour me on trying out the game, but I’ll be going in without any lore support because we opted to stop after that disk.

  7. Wilhelm, you’re missing out. The first season of SG-1 is arguably the weakest, I’d say by far. The show hit its stride in seasons 3-6, and is great when it fires on all pistons. That said, you shouldn’t need to be a lore nerd to enjoy the game, if they manage to pull it off. (Whether they do *that* remains to be seen, but an IP appreciation can only help, and the lack thereof shouldn’t hinder.)

  8. @Yunk — EQ2’s was like that to begin with. Certain people (patrons) mattered for guild advancement, while others did not. A guild’s level was the sum of the ongoing contributed status of all its patrons. They changed that pretty quickly. It’s curious that Blizzard has resurrected that idea in some form, though I doubt they will allow a guild to de-level, as EQ2’s guilds once could.

    @Quain — EQ2’s guild advancement system still favors large guilds, as everyone’s contributions count, and lots of people level a guild faster than just a few. Not counting the cost in status and plat for guild hall maintenance. That said, it doesn’t take many people or all that much time for a small guild to get to a decent level and afford an appropriate hall. We Nostalgians had PLENTY of room in our Tier 2 hall. Those Tier 3 ones are massive! I agree about LotRO’s guild levels. Time based guild advancement? Well, okay, but what’s the point?

    @Pete — I only meant that you went from being a huge Champions fan to choosing not to play based on the removal of the special subscription offers. It’s not worth playing for the free box month and maybe one or two after? I don’t intend to play that long. I am really just paying for the STO beta with my six month subscription. Of City of Heroes and Champions Online, I prefer CoH, but not enough to subscribe to that, either.

    @Jaydub — Warhammermer was wanting it to stop EARLIER, or at least to give the rewards that would carry through to the live game to more than just the people who stuck it through to the end. I don’t know all the details, I was just writing about what he wrote.

    @Tesh — I can see that point, for sure. I plan to return to CoH, and pay a month at a time with gift cards to avoid having to sub/unsub all the time.

    @Wilhelm — yeah, SG-1 started out weak. Aside from the Earth invasion bit that connected seasons 1 and 2, there wasn’t much there. But that connecting arc was decent, and everyone says we get more of that to come. I understand now why they needed the spinoff series — to break the chains of the planet of the week formula which severely hinders SG-1.

    @Gordon — I have never played WAR :( I really should at least try big games like that so I could say something about them without sounding like an idiot.

  9. @Tipa — Thanks for clarifying. I’m in a place today where every shadow hides an adversary, real or imagined. I’ll wait to play on-the-cheap when the price drops. In the meanwhile, I might give EVE a try. I do have ‘early access’ and I’m trying to decide if I should risk playing in it, since it’s all paid for. I’m a tad worried about getting sucked in. :)

  10. I get the impression that while Tobold tries every MMO to come down the pike, he doesn’t actually *like* MMOs. He likes WoW. That’s fair enough, but it gets a bit tiresome after awhile, which is why as someone who no longer plays WoW I also no longer read him.

  11. I’m not certain that’s true. I think he feels (because he just wrote it) that nobody wants to read about anything but WoW. I wrote a WoW article for Massively that got over 25K views — no non-WoW article I wrote got anywhere NEAR that, not even close. Articles I write about WoW on WK, if I have WoW in the title, get LOTS of page views from new readers, few otherwise. It’s just a fact that if you are writing for other people, you write about WoW.

  12. Is there any value to guild levels in LotRO? I mean the system: I know why you want a high enough level to buy a guild hall. You start a guild, you wait weeks and months, then you get everything. It is as interactive as ProgressQuest.

  13. I have no idea. Guild levels in EQ2 used to open guild-only raids and they still might, but the rewards were absolutely not worth the difficulty.

  14. Oh I agree season 1 of SG:SG1 was one of the worst, don’t stop there!
    In season 2 you get some long story arcs (they had a 2 year contract with Showtime that allowed them some freedom ). It’s a ton better than season 1, Thor’s Chariot, The Fifth Race, The Tok’ra, Holiday is fun. It culminates in 1969 – one of the best episodes of all (Window of Opportunity was great too). (technically there’s a clip show after that one but it doesn’t count :) )
    I should write this on TAGN’s blog not this :)

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