Gordo’s Gaming Blog

My adventures in the many worlds of gaming.

Archive for July 2008

And stay out!

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While scouring the blogsphere this evening, I came across a comment by Thrade on Syp’s rather excellent WAR blog. This is what he said:

“I hope as many WoWfanboys stay with WoW as possible; I don’t want any of there [sic] kind in our new game.”

It got me thinking – as a potential future player, nay, stakeholder in WAR, do I want WoW fanboys joining me in the ‘World of Warhammer’?

Now, my good, charitable, kind upbringing causes me to immediately say I shouldn’t say I want them to stay away. I should offer a place for them, I shouldn’t discriminate. But what if it ruins the experience for everyone else? What if it causes other players to leave? Kind of like the big loud blokes who gatecrash a party, and the original, pleasant guests disappear. Surely you’d say you should have locked your doors to them before they came in, and allow everyone else to enjoy the party? That’s what I’d say too. But Mythic can’t shut their doors to people. They can’t have interviews with people who want to play their game, and review them on a case-by-case basis. People who want to play do so. So why would people from WoW, come to WAR, dragging alongside them their ‘CHUCK NORRIS PWNZ UR MOM’ attitude? Well:

  1. WoW is old. No denying it. It’s passed its sell-by-date. It’s lost its youthful vigour and now creaks and groans each time you load it up.
  2. Blizzard butchered their lore, their dignity and their souls to keep it on top. As a result, it’s not really a hugely fulfilling experience. It feels like a timesink.
  3. They’re now clutching at straws trying to keep the subscriber numbers up. If they lose their grip, the subscriber numbers will snowball. They’re shamelessly stealing sucessful features from other MMOs (that’s where this whole discussion stemmed from) – as a result, WoW is losing it’s originality, starting to look like some sort of inbred mongrel rat. Sort of like this. Whereas WAR, built from the ground up to integrate these features, holds them much better, and is looking pretty slick and smooth.

As a result, many WoW players want something new. But, even after 4 years in Azeroth and Outland, they still demand quality. And enough polish so you can see your face in it!

Why do they need the attitude? I hear you ask. Well, I think it’s more of an environmental thing. I guess when everyone around you, 10 million other players are talking like that, you just kind of pick it up. Naturally, you can’t beat them, so why not join them? Indulge in your immature side! The only problem is you find out you can’t revert back to standard English. You forget the phrase ‘is/am better than’ and in place your neurons only recall the term ‘Own’ or ‘Pwn’. You forget all manners of earthly Deity, and in his/her/their place is Chuck Norris, Texas Ranger. And for some reason, you have a strange obsession with peoples’ mums…

I guess what I’m trying to say, is try to show these people a little understanding. Clearly we can’t be shot of them, so use it as an oppourtuinity to show them that you needn’t behave like they do when playing with people online. Show them the civilised way, chuck them an invite to your guild if you’re able too. Maybe if everyone can ‘De-PWN’ a WoW fanboy, the WARld will be a better place.

Written by Gordo

July 17, 2008 at 7:49 pm

Fallout and the Fallout.

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So it’s that time of the year again. E3. One of the most exciting games for me is Fallout 3. Made by Bethesda Softworks, creators of one of my favourite games of all time Morrowind (and also its sequel, Oblivion, which I also enjoyed). It’s got a great setting, outside of my comfort zone somewhat, as in, no orcs, elves or trolls, but with an essence of what made Bioshock great. As for the gameplay, that’s where I believe it’ll truly shine. It gives choice. I’ve seen videos showing how you can play it as a real-time FPS, or as a series of queued moves that play out after you’ve planned the combat in advance. Your character, too, can be whoever you wish. A sneaky character, a manipulative character, or a brutal combatant. I’d love to play the game through a few times in the different styles. But perhaps one of the best things I’ve read about the game so far is that your choices aren’t ignored as you progress through the game, but they have consequences. I’m not talking ‘if you break a law, you’ll get hunted by the police’, I mean that your actions throughout the game really influence how the game ends for you. Todd Howard said there would be 10,000 possible permutations.

And the world is large. The whole of post apocolyptic Washington DC is up to explore, with many different factions and organisations struggling to survive.

I’m genuinely excited about Fallout 3. It has atmosphere, it has grit, it has action, suspense and consequences. And it’s being worked on by one of the most talented teams in the industry.

In other news, the fallout to the announcements of Black Friday are now becoming apparent. Countless bloggers have talked in detail about their thoughts of the announcements, but my initial fury has subsided somewhat. If you haven’t done so already, see Syp’s silver lining piece, it raises some good points and it is true that too many people were expecting too much of WAR. I’m still excited about it, still locking away my beta codes in the safest place in my house. All in all, I look to the fall.

Written by Gordo

July 17, 2008 at 2:25 pm

My Relationship with WoW

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I make no secret that I despise what WoW has become. The world’s biggest timesink. Yet I still see fun in it. Even when I read about incoming features that I hate, I nearly always see things that I love at the same time. My interest in this Titanic of a game has been sparked again recently by my friend offering me a ‘Scroll of Ressurection’, causing my account to regain activity for 10 days.

Those 10 days are drawing to a close, but they’ve certainly been thought-provoking and insightful. I’ve hit one of the lowest milestones in the game, in getting to level 70. In some ways, that’s where my interest in the game ends. I’ve no desire to lose hours of my time grinding an instance for a piece of gear that allows me to progress to the next level of instance to grind. I love instances, I love raids, but not when I’m doing that instance for the hundredth time. I really enjoy learning the instance, how the bosses work, I like a challenge, and I enjoy the ‘process’ of a raid, the organisation, and the feeling when it all works out, and that boss is down. But the raids in WoW take that enjoyment I experience and stretch it to the limit.

WoW grabs you with pretty graphics and easy gameplay, and sucks even the most anti-gamers in, and pretty soon they play it religiously, barely stopping to eat. It’s something we’ve all read stories about. And yet, for some reason, I don’t feel the same way. I’m not compelled to play 16 hours a day until I’ve got my ‘Epix’. I’ve no desire to spend my life in Alterac Valley. It got me thinking, why?

I think the truest answer is, that WoW is a game for people who’ve never played a game before. I mean that in an extremely loose sense of the word. Not people who’ve literally never played a game before, but people who’ve never connected with a game. People who’ve never seen what a game can really be, all the range of emotions it can bring. WoW simply provides a medium through which people can enlarge their ego, by getting better gear than someone else. That makes people feel good, but a game should be so much more than that. A game should excite you, frustrate you, make you laugh, make you sigh (because men don’t cry!), make you feel empathy, and act on that empathy so you end up feeling better about yourself and the situation you worked on. To me, WoW does none of that. Maybe that’s because I’ve seen all those things at work in better, greater games. Sorry WoW, but you’re too shallow for me. You don’t provide those things. I’ve no connection with the world, or the other characters. You just have me, as a player, looking at the next piece of gear on my wishlist. But I tend to think, ‘It doesn’t have to be like this’, and pretty soon I end up logging out. And I think unless Blizzard take WoW in a totally different direction, I might not ever be able to truly enjoy it.

Written by Gordo

July 14, 2008 at 8:36 pm

Posted in MMO

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Why I won’t become a fanboy.

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It might happen in every game ever released. It might not. The ‘Mark Jacobs’ moment, where the veil of enthusiasm built up, by, who now appears no more than a Lancastrian spin-doctor, is shattered as the truth is revealed and the buzzwords and promises of the last year are shown to be no more than hooks, to get the unwary viewer or reader interested in this game, this wonderful new concept. But that wonderful new concept is not entirely true. Intermingled are lies and padding to make the game appear better than the team working on it are able to create.

Yes, I’m talking about Warhammer Online. And I’ll quit the abstract nonsense and return to normality. Last week I was deeply troubled by the announcement of Mark Jacobs. And I got thinking – why does it trouble me? A few reasons:

  1. By condensing the battle into just the two cities, I fear the WAR will be diluted. I loved the idea of the struggle on three fronts – you could redirect forces to another, weaker area, at the risk of losing one you already hold. You get the idea.
  2. Realm vs. Realm inbalance. Two races no longer have a tank? Yet their counterpart does? What’s with that?
  3. Punkbuster. To be honest, this is more ‘Meh’ than anything. I just think its kind of a shame that they have to assume the worst of their players. Why can’t they give them a chance, let them play for a few months without Punkbuster, but with it on backup, ready to implement if cheating caused a problem.
  4. They lied. Weeks ago I remember reading ‘Yeah, we’ve basically just got the game in polish mode now’ (or words to that effect). Well Mythic, you’ve done what I really hoped you would not. You’ve cut content to fulfil deadlines. I really, really hoped I’d see another delay instead of an announcement like this. I think of Age of Conan with nausea because that is exactly what they did.

But the real topic of this post? Fanboyism. It shows why I refuse to truly enter the ranks of a fanboy. Sure, there’ll be a game I get excited about occasionally (it happened with WAR. Am I still as excited? Sadly, no.) But to pin all your hopes on that game, and truly believe every statement they make, is just foolish. Every comment must be taken with a pinch of salt. Sure, if you expect the worst, then you don’t get the same levels of excitement as a fanboy, but when the cutbacks come, the ‘Mark Jacobs Moment’, you don’t feel disappointed to the core. And if you do find the perfect game, you get really excited when it launches, and you realise how good it is.

Written by Gordo

July 14, 2008 at 7:04 pm