Tuesday, 29 July 2014

MMOs aren't dead and neither are you

So I read this and it annoyed me.  Honestly, I'd like to just call it pathetic self-pity but that seems harsh.  I'll try and keep it brief, I don't want to rant.

Simply, MMOs aren't dead.

This is the author's expectation:
The hype before a new game, or as somehow a game starts to get a critical mass of players. The feeling that this may be it, maybe this is the time that people stick with it and we can put down roots like we did before. Maybe this time we can play together. It’s happening! It’s happening!
Firstly, new game hype is for mugs.  It messes with your expectations. There is no need to get involved in betas, headstarts or any of that nonsense to enjoy an MMO. Generally it pays to avoid the first couple of weeks, which are buggy and blighted by queues.  Next you'll get the bot influx and exodus of the players who decided it wasn't for them.  Once that phase is over the MMO starts, you're left with the people who want to play.  

I am in a multi-game guild and there are people still playing ESO.  They. Love. It.

Secondly, the idea that ALL your MMO friends, that you have probably collected from many games, will all find a single game that they will love and settle down in for "life" is, frankly, hilarious.  Yes, there is an element of:
Maybe the target audience is just too old and has too many responsibilities to feel any obligation, however so minor, to a game.
But the main issue is you've drawn together a group of disparate people and banded together over a shared love and that doesn't last forever.  It doesn't last forever in anything, anywhere in life.  Age is a major change catalyst, you tend to increase your responsibilities whether that be a job or caring for someone (kids/parents).
I played MMOs to be social, to achieve things with friends, to be part of a community, but I’ve realized that these things don’t exist any more, or not for many of us.
The fact is MMOs are as social as they ever were, the problem is you have set boundaries and expectations.  If you arrive in a new game with a pre-formed guild then you are, in fact, deliberately isolating yourself from the "community".  If your guild all quit the game "de jour" you CAN still find people playing that share your interests and enjoyments.  The question is do you want to?  Is it that, really, you're not that social and making new friends is actually too much effort?

Lastly, and most importantly, MMOs aren't a lifestyle choice when you're an actual grown-up.  Anyone that started playing an MMO in their teens or twenties and, 8 years later, still expects to feel that exact same level of immersion is a fool.  That's eight more years of experience of the real world and that changes your perspective.

A simple confirmation of this is to go back and watch an episode of a hallowed 80s cartoon.  I'm pretty sure you'll think it's crappy.  It probably won't hold your attention.  Does that make it bad? No. Does it mean cartoons are dead? No.  It means your expectations are higher.

Or how about playing at school with your friends? I remember playing games where my imagination created an entire world that we inhabited (we liked D&D).  If I went outside and played like that right now people would think I was mentally ill*.  But if you go and watch some kids playing in a school yard (be circumspect) they don't look ill.  They look the total opposite.

So, the fact is, MMOs aren't dead and they probably haven't really changed that much but how you perceive these games, how you interact with others and your expectations change every single second of everyday.

MMOs cannot compete with real life.

* I don't think people who do LARP are mentally ill.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

WvW should be a picnic

My bro, hence forth known as Lunch (a.k.a. Lunchbox - not what you think), really likes WvW.  I had thought I liked WvW too.  Mainly my experience has been limited to running with a zerg trying to get my monthly kills although I have gone through periods of trying to properly contribute.

I've joined Lunch in WvW a few times since he started playing again and recently he said that I made WvW "not fun".  This comment related to an incident where I insisting on returning to the same supply camp to kill a Ranger who kept coming off better.  Mainly I was embarrassed.  2 vs 1 should usually be enough to win any match-up but this was a Guardian and an Engy vs a Longbow Ranger.

Now, I don't consider myself competitive but Lunch happily describes himself as such however this incident really made me reconsider my own feelings.  He was getting the bulk of his enjoyment from the PvE aspects of WvW where I was looking, at least in this case, to PvP.  Previously I had also enjoyed the PvE aspect far more than PvP so why now was I fixated on killing?  Why was I suddenly Mr. Competitive?

My explanation is my build; it's Koroshi's WvW Roaming Engy build.  Playing that build I felt I should be able to hold my own in 1 vs 1 never mind a 2 vs 1.  But that belief is not based in reality.  I never sPvP and when I am WvW I am generally in a 10+ zerg.  I have almost no experience of small group PvP.  So, it wasn't competitiveness, it was actually frustration at my own ineptness.  I wanted to find more PvP so I could improve; play that build better.  I mean, I know it's a viable build.  I know how it works and I've got tools on hand to make the most of it.

I actually left WvW shortly after the "no fun" comment and haven't yet been back but it has taught me two important lessons:

1) WvW isn't PvP and is best enjoyed as the mix of PvE and PvP it was meant to be.  Personally, I am looking forward to the next WvW tournament, because WvW Ranks etc don't appeal overly much to me as a casual.

2) If you want to get better at small group PvP do sPvP.  Want to test your mettle in a 1 vs 1 with any other class?  Go to sPvP, replicate your WvW build and train yourself.  Practice, practice, practice.

Which leads me to my final post...

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Black Lion Lottery

I recently bought the Zephyr Rescue Pack... I thought it was a good deal.  I have recently been lucky with BL Scraps (I had 3) and thought 15 cheap keys would get me much closer to 10.  I was right, it did.  I got 5 from 16 chests.  I key-farmed another and was on 9/10 so I decide to buy a key straight from the TP as they are currently discounted.  Not only did I not get a scrap but I got 5 Custom Arena tokens.

I never do sPvP.  I had done it 4 times in 18 months.  It's a truly crappy reward in the vein of Glory Boosters.  I was freaking FURIOUS!

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Managing expectation

Just before the Dry Top release (we can agree that's a good name, right?) there was speculation on Twitter about what the release might include/what people were hoping for.

Two people said that'd like to see a new playable race and I was very surprised.  Even spending a few minutes considering the idea you can come up with multiple barriers.  Here's some straight off the top of my head:
  • We have 4 more races than GW1 already
  • The current Personal Story can't accommodate additional races
  • Destiny's Edge represents each of the playable races
  • So do the Biconics/DE2.0
  • Every piece of armour in the game would need to be redesigned
The final reason is the real deal breaker.  They don't have the dev time to fix all the clipping on existing models so the chance of getting updated version of every armour in the game?  Slim.

Also, financially, redesign 50+ armour sets and sell a new race in an expansion for $50 or create 50 new skins to sell in the Gem Store for $12 a pop.

I just can't see it happening.  Sorry.

Friday, 4 July 2014

They mean well!

Today we did Tequatl and my bro got an Angchu Weapon Chest. Lucky. Bastard.

Now, obviously, it's not Zojja's (Berserker stats), so to a large part of the commuinty it's worthless.  I even found this quote when we were looking at the best weapon to choose:
I would just unlock any weapon I would want the skin for and then put the skin on my main weapon. I have already done that for two non-optimal ascended drops I had.
Turned two Ascended Weapons into skins because they were "non-optimal".  Admittedly, if they were Cleric's I'm with him, anything else I could find a use for somewhere.

I digress.

Bro's main class is Guardian and Angchu stats are Cavalier (Tough+Power/Ferocity).  They aren't bad stats for a more survivable build.  However, when I asked my guild for advice the general gist was "you really want gear with Berserker stats".  I mean, honestly.  Did they even read what I posted?

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Backpack Strap Gap

I just discovered that you can buy plain old Backpack Straps from any Armorsmith (vendor)!  I checked the wiki and there was no mention of it so it must be a recent change.

They're purely cosmetic but, hurray, now you can have a back piece on ever single char from Level 1.

I've updated the wiki too.

It appears they were added with the Feature Pack but I can't see it in the release notes.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

What's your problem with Teamspeak?

Recently one of the hosts on @gwreporter bemoaned the fact that you can't get a Gold Boss Blitz without being on Teamspeak.  Maybe not in so many words but that was the broad complaint.

Firstly, that's just not true. I was in a Bronze Pavilion that somehow got it together and almost managed a Silver!  I think the biggest problem with the new improved Blitz is that players don't understand the mechanics or the strategy.

That's where Teamspeak (TS) helps.  If everyone completed one run on TS, got a grasp on the strat and realised just how easy it is when you know how, every Pavillion would be Gold.

I've recently been running World Bosses with a cross-server EU guild and they are, quite frankly, incredible.  Two weekends ago my bro and I were waiting for Modniir and I just said "Hey, let's join these guys and do 3 headed wurm".  We joined their TS just before "the jump" and it was initially pretty confusing.  Neither of had ever done it before and frankly, we had to catch up pretty fast to understand the process of taxiing to a dedicated map.  That's the first thing everyone should learn from being on TS with "hardcore" players!  It's a good thing to know.

Next, we didn't understand the mechanics of the split to take out each head but once we had that figured out the rest was pie.  We randomly selected Cobalt head (prolly second hardest?) and as we ran though the pre event our commander explained general rules for the run like no /map chat, focus rez and WP if hard-downed. Standard stuff or so it seems to me now.

Then we got to the location of the fight and the commander took us through, step-by-step, what we needed to do each phase of the fight.  They do this every time. Sure, it was a lot to take in but it was worth it.  We had a short break for final prep, then the wurm popped and off we went.

And we won.  It was a bit touch and go, one head didn't have enough people and some hasty reallocation was required and our commander got killed, but that didn't detract from the fun.

The main take away was: Teamspeak made it possible.  Without it you would need to do multiple runs to understand the strategy for even one head.  Even if you read a guide online you'd still need a few runs in practice to put what you had learned into context.  With Teamspeak and a decent leader I could go back and do that head again any time.

We've also been running Tequatl with them but yesterday we couldn't actually get into either of the worlds they had claimed.  We ended up in a sort of overflow with assorted randoms but the majority seemed to know the strategy.  There were commanders but no TS coordination.  Initially it looked like we'd struggle but we won with 2-3 minutes to spare.
Hastily taken screenshot
Then, last night, my own guild did Guild Missions, as we do every Sunday night.  We use TS because it makes coordinating easier and we're pretty stringent that people at least listen.  But talking can help.  Half-way though the Guild Puzzle in Plains of Ashford someone was inexplicably downed and needed to be rezzed just as a puzzle was completed.  Sadly our only Mesmer went to the rescue and they got trapped behind a door together.  Looking back through chat I saw that the downee had asked for help. Once.  Checking on TS I saw what I expected: their mike was muted.  I don't have much sympathy for that person, in fact I am angry that the Mesmer missed the rewards for the puzzle because of them.

All this brings me to this: what's your problem with Teamspeak?

The vast majority of TS channels simply require that you listen. My guild describes itself as casual and social but we want to win when we do something because we want the loot.  We don't really care how we win, no-one gets bawled at when there isn't enough Might being stacked. Sure, winning isn't everything and learning together IS fun but this content isn't new.  Apart from Rush, there's little actual fun in Guild Missions.

So why can't you at least listen to a TS channel if you want Gold Boss Blitz? What are you afraid of?  People are VERY rarely required to speak and in the cross-server Guild TS I mentioned everyone is devoiced by default. Generally the biggest problem on TS isn't people that are reluctant to talk it's people that don't know when to be quiet and listen.  That's a life skill, though.  You can learn some useful social skills here!

Do you know what else? When you do speak, people get to know you and you get to know them.  There's no need to be shy.  You're all playing a stupid video game for fun.  Besides, your avatar and the fact you're called "X Sephiroth Killer X" says much more about you than your voice.  Besides, this is an MMO, the fun comes from playing with other people.

The aforementioned Mr S. Killer.

Sometimes it can be important to speak up, though, as my downed colleague can attest.  People that don't talk much usually see a lot.  I'm not much of a talker, I have to be quiet when my son's asleep, but I often point out when something is amiss, we're getting strung out or, occasionaly, when we're plain doing it wrong.

What if you join a TS and it turns out all the commanders are elitist douchebags?  Well, you can just leave.  It need not be a big deal.  There are plenty of other people around to play with.

So, seriously, tune in, chill out and benefit.