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June 16, 2006

Comments

Eureka I

I think that what made AC1 special was that it was a thinking person's game. MMORPGs were still new, and the discovery was magical. Then, players weren't dumbed down to predefined templates created by someone else. (How I hated being a mage who was only allowed to wear paper, in future games. Why?). We had to think and sculpt and mold our characters. Our guild mansions were what centered the family. We needed to go there for our buffs, and every hour too. There was none of that you have a few buffs, he has a few buffs thing going on. We weren't crippled by the need to find a "balanced" group that could handle a quest. How many times have you needed to wait 1-2 hours to get a full, balanced group in AC2, EQ2, or WOW? It's infuriating. In AC, you and a friend could just take off. Every character was powerful in its own way. You never felt gimped because the designer limited part of your template in the name of balancing.

It's sad how no one could get it right after that, but considering that WOW has 50% market share, perhaps I'm the one who is wrong. Perhaps I'm clouded by the magic of my first MMORPG.

Ric

First, welcome back to Augusta! (I've been meaning to get to that, but hadn't yet.)

Everquest ("EQLive") was my first real MMORPG and a wonderful game, all shiny and magical, and I have some fond memories of the time I played. I wish I could say the same for EQII, because I totally lost interest after getting four characters to 20. It lacked something the original had, but then the original lost my friends and I decided to follow them to SWG, AC2, and then WoW.

"WoW tedium." Boy, can I relate. I've only logged in once in the past week. Concentrating instead on ideas for writing projects that are taking me off in a new direction from the stuff I've been worrying to death in the past.

I linked you from my blog, more because you have expressed an interest in writing than for the MMORPG information, though I confess to being an MMORPG addict myself. At any rate, I'm hoping the dust from the move settles soon for you so that you may both enjoy the gaming again and get some writing done.

Relmstein

I think the problem with trying to overhaul game mechanics without releasing a new version is that you risk offending the current playerbase. Look at StarWars Galaxies and how the Combat Upgrade and other patches lost tens of thousands of users. I think if you have new ideas for your game you almost have to make a version 2 especially with the tendency of every change to be called a "nerf" by players.

Lauren

Eureka - I agree. I realize the need to balance classes and to make them unique. But so far, I only see restriction and limitations. We need a more inventive way of making classes orginal without stiffling the player.

Ric - Can I assume that you means you're in the area too?? I will check your blog later and see. Thanks for stopping by and for linking to me and I will certainly return the favor. Yes, I want to get back to writing. At the moment my head just feels so clogged that I can't articulate a clear thought. And too, maybe that is why much of the MMORPG joy has left me as I am not longer writing fantasy inspired by them. Hmm - need to think on that more.

Relmstein - You certinaly bring up a valid and great point. I know there was a complete revolt over at SWG because of sweeping changes and upgrades. But they are still there, whereas AC2 is not and EQ2 is limping along. So I'm not sure they faired any better than SWG.

Blah - I might be just venting. But I'm am soooooooooooo bored with WOW most of the time. I guess I need to find something else to do with my rare but occassional free time.

Ric

Oops. I guess I could've made that point clearer in my post. Yes, I am in the Augusta area -- over in Martinez.

Relmstein

WoW can get pretty boring unless you have a great group of people to play with. Recently me and some friends started a group of alts who we only lvl up in dungeons. Its nice as the five man instance is the most rewarding experience in WoW. Plus a lot of the low level dungeons such as Black Fathom Depths and Shadowfang Keep were skipped by us.

P.S. I think EQ2 has more subscriptions then SWG at this point though it is kind hard to tell using mmogchart.com

http://www.mmogchart.com/Chart2.html

Lauren

I'm leveling a priest and trying to do as you mentioned - instances instances instead of grinding and hitting places I skipped the first time around. I have enjoyed seeing some of the content that was too annoying to consider on a PVP realm before rooftop ganking became a bannable offense. I was surprised to find STV manageable and Gadget was interesting with all the pirate quests. However, my chief concern is that I will eventually be where I am now. A level 60 doing all that there is to do - the same ole instances week after week after week! Oh wait, with the exception that they just significantly increased the cost of getting attuned with Nax and that comps for the next level of gear is INSANE.

Andrew

I would also argue that WoW broadened the market, whereas AC2 and EQ2 simply attempted to capitalize on the existing markets, unsuccessfully due to the fact that their predecessors were still alive and kicking. I recently read a great blog post (now I wish I could remember where...) that went over how a little innovation fails where a great deal of innovation succeeds. I think this accurately describes the situation that the sequels found themselves in. As derivative as WoW is, it did quite a few things right that simply hadn't been done before, and with a great deal of polish.

Lauren

Very well put Andrew! I agree that there wasn't enough innovation in those sequels and they merely ate into their own small marketshare. Without question, Blizzard does a quality job in game design and content. And they've clearly brought the masses into MMORPGs. For me the biggest miss on their part is the end game. It is nothing more than a grind - and repetitive at that. The growth and fantasy journey ends the minute you step into MC, BWL, ZG and the alike for the first time. You will encounter them countless times, and either pay your way thru the gear and comps needed to participate, or farm your way. All in the name of more gear. So you've gotten to the holy grail level and now you can either face the vicious cycle of end-gaming raiding if you dare and your guild even can, or start over on another toon. I don't much like those choices.

But this isn't about bashing Blizzard/WOW. I know that Turbine did some things very right in AC1/AC2, as did Sony with EQ1/EQ2. However, whatever was done wasn't enough to create mass appeal. Perhaps what I'm looking for and some of you too, isn't want the masses want. :-(

BoB

I have heard allot of people bash WOW for not providing enough endgame content. What other MMORPG's do? I mean am I missing something? Is there another mmo where once you reach max level they have a parade in your honor, followed by electing you governor of the realm for a day?; turn you into a god sim city style to rule the realm from above? I am just looking for someone to provide an example of another mmo that offers end game content that can be considered "satisfying".

Lauren

Valid point. Except that I wouldn't say not "enough end-game content". I don't feel that it's not enough it's just all geared toward hardcore or PVP. And it's grindy as hell. If I were a loot whore or farmer, then the end-game raid grind would be satisfying. As I'm neither, it really leaves me uninspired. I'd love to see a statistic on when people rolled serious alternates. Or something on how long they played at level 60 before they decided, hmm - time for a new toon so I dont have to do this all the time.

I think all the current games hit that end-game wall - AC2, EQ2 and WOW are all that I can personally speak to. However, I think that the difference with WOW is the cost and barrier of entry, to participating in that circular-grind. It's steep to say the least, and getting steeper with Naxx. But I dont want to drag this down the casual vs. hardcore arguement. :-) Sure, I got bored at the end game level in AC2. Difference was it didn't take me 6 hours, 6g in repairs and 6g in potions, to do things that I'm not all that excited about doing anywayz. OMG - 666, I declare Blizzard the anti-christ.

All kidding aside, the time and cost of doing the end-game is way out of line in WOW, given the limited options of what to do with yourself at 60. Again, not Blizzard/WOW bashing. I'm still logging on and paying my fees x 4 accts in our household each month. What I want is that level 1-35 character development and immerson to sustain itself into the upper levels and end-game.

Eureka I

In Asheron's Call, there were 125 levels, and when we maxed out, there were fireworks and we would rise into the air for a minute. We always had guild parties to watch people hit 125. It was momentous. And what was nice was that although you didn't level anymore, you'd still get xp for your kills to put into your skills, so you'd still become better and better. AC was so rich in content and originality.

In AC2, when we maxed out at 50, everything just stopped. There'd be no notice. You'd just stop getting xp.

I think the problem with WOW and EQ2's end game is that it is so vastly different from the game. You could solo or pair to complete all your quests. There were low-level dungeons, but basically, if you played during off-hours, you never had downtime because you couldn't find a group. Once you max out in those games, BAM!!! all self-sufficiency ends. You no longer have fun little quests to make your day a little more enjoyable. You have to commit to being on line 3-4 hours to round up large groups and play till the end. Fun becomes work (at least to me. I have so many friends who love raiding). The endgame is a shock because there's no coherence with all that we've learned till now. The end game is very unWOW-like to me.

Lauren

Ding, ding, ding! Eureka wins the prize. That is exactly it! The end-game turns my previous experience in character development upside down. I can't "do" what I used to do, to progress (spell upgrade, gear and rare professions). I either get on board with 20 to 40 people, or go sit in the time-out chair. And if you don't want to ALSO farm to support yourself through the raiding journey, then you better be okay with buying gold to support the raid crack train. So besides getting attuned, geared and doing the raids, you must have gold to raid - and lots of it.

My gold is dwindling away slowly because I'm not farming in the precious little non-raid time I have for my toon. I survive by auctioning off comps that I've saved across a very long period of time. Otherwise, I'd be like many that I know who can't even afford the repair bills at the end of a raid and are borrowing gold.

BTW in AC2 the world did stand still when you hit 45! And the whole freakin server knew that you were a hero. It was a momentus event, that many people capture in pictures and video. So important that people signed on to be there with to witness you go DING.

Relmstein

WoW needs to push out more content not dependent on raiding. It seems though that Blizzard is being overwhelmed by their success. This company already has a reputation for working slowly and now people expect them to finish the expansion and release new patch content, at the same time!! Jeff Kaplan has already stated that there is only one WoW development team working on both.

P.S. Lauren maybe by the time your 60 with your alt the expansion will be out. I hear late October release date

Eureka I

You're right about the hero game added to AC2 later on. I was thinking more of when that landmass didn't exist. I really enjoyed it up until then. I liked hero up until about level 54, but then getting to 63 was a grind. There was only Chaos Plains, and when you wanted the harder rocks they were all camped and people wouldn't let you join the group unless you swore over to their guild. People became obnoxious. That's when I started being turned off to the game. Then they came up with the new place that was basically a few rooms, but unless you were melee, you really couldn't solo effectively.

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