Changing Culture for Better Gamers

You might have noticed my Reblog the other day regarding the post Better Gamers for a Better community  and I agree with the sentiment wholeheartedly. In part, as gamers and part of the culture it is up to us to stand up for any injustices we might see or actions we don’t agree with. Be the change you want to see.. or some such new age nonsense. But, unfortunately it isn’t that easy.

Sometimes you’ve just had enough of the endless vitriol and stupidity and honestly I feel as though in my free time with gaming it is a time when I want to relax. Sure I don’t mind putting on the feminazi hat and cloak of +4 Bitch and lambast a few idiots but most of the time I don’t feel like dealing with the social issues of the gaming industry and I think that’s how most people feel. It’s our own time and one in which we would like to spend in the way we want and having fun. I don’t ask people to do any less than I would do, which is to say occasionally make their counter points against such misogynist arguments in a calm but critical way (well how I wish I could anyway).

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Comparison Combat: ESO vs Wildstar

So I’ve posted before on both Wildstar and Elder Scrolls. I’ve tried to keep out of the usual arguments that go down between 2 competing products. I even analyse why both could fail but, I don’t think I’m quite done with the Epic Battle for MMO supremacy just yet, in fact, I’m just getting warmed up.

It’s time to make my allegiance known to the world and of course deride the product that is competing against it. I feel like trolling a little too as per usual, if the great Syp can do this based on a personal feeling of innovation then so can I.

Round 1.. FIGHT

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Controversy Conference Call

WOW Bucks

It seems blizzard still isn’t happy with its Scrooge McDuck money pit and is aiming to fill it to the brim, maybe start making a flowing money river with its new cash shop service aimed at the rich and ignorant fans.

If this was a ftp game, at this price people would be losing their minds. Whenever another game says they are going for a cash shop of services and fluff like this everyone goes insane yet, none of that has ever approached the insanity that is Blizzards greedy practices. WOW does it and most seem overjoyed, some are even going so far as to claim this is not nearly enough…. You shitting me? Everyone just bends over, cops a paddling from the Blizzard marketing machine and then asks for another. What’s next now? What else can the get away with while still also charging a subscription? I’m guessing a lot of the housing functionality coming up with the new Expansion.

Such a price makes no sense. It is the price of a new release, a pile of Indies or games on sale. That’s many hours of entertainment there where this money could be going. Wow is all they know though, which is just so fucking sad if you think about it. I get that people really enjoy this hobby of ours, and I understand the attachment you can feel toward a mmo but $60 for a simplistic service where there are many valid free or cheaper alternatives to take instead, one that they actually just killed too. Then there is the fact you’re basically saying that the majority of the game isn’t worth engaging in.. although, that’s probably another argument.

There are many motivations for it but so far they really don’t make sense to me. It’s not going to entice people back because that’s a huge amount by itself. It’s not going to get new mmo players because they already bitch just about having a box price. It just seems for those already heavily invested and wanting more options at end game to stave off the boredom but, the thing is, without that time investment they would probably stay subscribed for less time.

If this was happening within a vacuum of blizzard games, or during the worship of the wow shrine in a basement somewhere then I’d be fine with this. Consider it another addition in their long line of taxes focused on the stupid but this isn’t happening within a vacuum, WoW and blizzard itself is not an island unto itself. The decisions blizzard makes for its product are very often repeated around the industry in some form or another. They shape the industry around them and having such blatantly overpriced account services as it shows to others that this might just be an appropriate model. It’s not though, only WoW is able to get away with this bullshit but we will probably see overpriced “services” for a long time because of it.

Now, I actually don’t have an issue with the  service type itself. The demand is there and there are many valid reasons for players to want it although it has many issues as well. I would prefer if a mmo was designed not to need these, that most of the game remained useful but in the usual linear path it suits fine I guess.. everything’s already obsolete in some way. There are better ways to go about it but I guess this is the path of least resistance for developers in an ageing game that would take far to much to overhaul into something more meaningful.

I don’t even have a problem with the price per se, it is the companies prerogative as to how much they are going to charge for whatever they have. I would never buy certain things because of that pricing but, it’s there for others and there are enough mindless masses there to buy it. What I do have an issue with is how this practice and the pricing of digital goods and services will have an impact on the industry. Premium Pricing for digital goods and services needs to be the exception, not the standard practice.

The Pantheon Pitch

There has been a lot of talk about this product, both positive and negative regarding its various features and the way they were being implemented. Throughout I’ve been sceptical, bordering on being a bitch and I think that will probably continue right up until it’s eventually abandoned, which will happen…. the crystal ball says so.

It was a very weird Pitch. Spawned from a couple vague promotional concept pieces and then a rather confused Kickstarter that neither looked interesting or set to bring anything new to the genre…. at all and that right there was the problem. The Cynic Diaries has a good post about why Pantheon failed as well as a few suggestions that could have improved its pitch and while I agree to a certain extent my opinion differs a little.

To be honest, I don’t think it failed because it lacked scope or ambition, or that it wasn’t as fantastic in its claims. The issue was that, in a realm where we have had a lot of Kickstarter mmo’s lately it just didn’t have a defined pitch that made it stand out. We have Shroud of Avatar focusing on some sort of community appeal with dialogue options, Camelot Unchained for all that AvA goodness, and Star citizen for well… a fun Eve.

Pantheon was just there shouting out that it was Hardcore, a notion they really didn’t bother to define and that encompasses a wide range of different interest that differ immensely between groups. There was nothing special about the project except for this vague ideal; nothing unique in how they were presenting it and nothing interesting about the mechanics they were presenting for this ideal. It was, and I guess still is a tired iteration of older mechanics without any sort of modernised interpretations or understanding of the why and how these things changed.

I listened to the recent Game on Podcast which interviewed Brad Mcquaid after this recent KickFail and it becomes quit obvious that this man is delusional. Delusional as to the appeal of his project, delusional about the appeal of these mechanics and delusional about why it failed… hard. That is not to say I would not want some of these older mechanics to come back, in fact we need them back but just not like this.

The thing he was a bit right about was creating a better source for those wanting to understand the project. Looking at the kickfail I really had no idea what the focus of this Frankenstein monster was going to be. A wealth of mechanics that neither should have been apart, or should have been incorporated but were stuck up the rung of stretch goals. Perhaps if they created and outline an improved the Pantheon Pitch it might have lived long enough to get the plans for this game more concrete, maybe even enough for some gameplay.

I don’t think so though.

Deep Down

It seems we are once again flying the feminist flag about character design, or lack thereof around this upcoming dungeon crawling title, The Deep Down. Now I understand why some people would once again, rallying against the lack of some sort of playable female character and of any important female characters. The responses given were also the same nonsense we usually hear when developers get questioned about their lack of female Characters: “Oh, it doesn’t fit with our made up story that could easily be changed to be more inclusive,” It would be too expansive to add an extra character model or devote time away from the male ones”, and, my personal favourite “that’s not our marketing demographic”.

That’s all bullshit. Most competent people with the minimum of available brain power understand this and it’s something that needs to change within the industry if it ever wants to gain a wider understanding in the popular media but do we really need to form a lynching mob for every single game and developer that doesn’t adhere to this new world diversity index.

Sometimes I truly believe you can be a little too politically correct. Railing against every game like this does make it look like one gigantic feminine agenda to have total control over inclusively. These arguments add to that growing demographic of male gamers contesting these change as a legitimate concern for the industry, against a change forced on everyone and every game. They are spouting a ridiculous hyperbole, that much is obvious. Diversity of stories from both sides is, and always has been the aim instead of world domination however arguing over every little slight makes it look like this hyperbole is true.

I just wish we could pick the battles a little better. That issue with the metal gear solid developer Hideo kojima and his super special comments needed to be debated. The ridiculous characterisation in the mmo Wildstar was another. Long running franchises that continue to not have meaningful female playable and npc characters and many more cases both from the games themselves and the treatment of female gamers from developers and the general population. There are a wealth of far more overt, covert and in your face (literally) issues that serve as a far better targets than The Deep Down… do we really need to go after every single one? I don’t mind being a bitch occasional and cooking up a nice rant but this is a little much.

Fueling the Fire for ESO and Wildstar

The discussion around the two oncoming behemoths that are set to change the industry has been rather divisive… no, it’s been war. Two sides competing for the top prize; for fans, for appeal and for more money and players than the other. As per usual on the internet it isn’t just ok for one game to do better, the other must fail and its lifeless corpse ground into the dust.

We all do it, claiming our game is somehow better than another based on persona opinion yet even now I think it’s funny just how heated the current debate has become surrounding these games. Of course, there is a handful in the middle that like and will probably play both but instead of being the mediator here which I like to do, I thought why not fuel the fire a little more.

So here’s why I think both these mmo’s will fail. why they will be another flash in a pan 3-monther success that’s promptly forgotten for the next shiny.

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Tales from the Tutorial

It seems the industry has spoken and the beginning of the Tespocalypse is upon us. Seek shelter and huddle amongst your loved ones for this shall truly shake the very foundation of what we know… or not.

I have to admit that over the week and with reading a fair few reviews for Elder Scrolls I became a little pissy… hmm, pissy is a bit of an understatement. I wanted to grab some of those smug, hate filled “journalists” and smash their faces to the screen and demand they play more. Occasional whipping those fat asses if they should skip through the story cutscenes or if their attention should wander away from the screen. I wanted to rub their smarmy noses in the gameplay that ESO becomes once you get out of the newbie tutorial areas, the gameplay they never experienced and really, never had any intention too.

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ESO Pre-order Packs: Critiques and Concerns

It seems Elder Scrolls has managed to drum up another apparent controversy, it has a way with this sort of thing. I woke up, read a few comments regarding the new pre-order bonuses and thought “I don’t get it”. I just don’t understand how this is a big deal, sorry but I don’t. I’m trying really hard to build up the required amount of hate but… it’s not working. I have no fucks to give in this circumstance.

Pre-orders are known for giving you extra stuff that you can’t get elsewhere in just about ever other genre. Do I piss and moan about the extra stuff kickstarter supporters are getting.. nope. Do I get upset at that shiny gun in battlefield ops 3.5 that kills me rather quickly and looks awesome doing it that was got from a certain stores pre-order.. no. To me there are far more insidious elements in our industry than what Zenimax is offering, in fact I think it is both rather tame while also offering a decent deal to those that want to support the title earlier.

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Silly Stories

MMO’s have never been the greatest medium for telling stories. Games in general have never seemed to take it that seriously with combat, and the mechanics surrounding it being the focus and then the story being re-purposed to fit. As such, the actual story elements that bind it together are usually quite week and very reliant on tropes in order to fill in the gaps that are often left out. It’s easy to use them as they require less information for the players to understand but they really aren’t optimal for a good story and only serve to discredit any sense of coherency with the world.

I’ve written about my issues with the Hero complex mmo’s seem to have, regardless of the conflicting nature of a multiplayer space. That will always remain a part I tend to hate but there are a couple more issues I’ve had in my recent gaming that I’d also like to add to the list.

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Cracking Open the Cash Shop: Part 1

So this shit has got to stop. I’m so very tired of seeing this same argument spewed forth constantly within the media and across the interwebz by gamers blinded with greed and some sort form of temporary insanity…hmm, we can only hope it’s temporary. A subscription is not evil and a micro-transaction system has many MANY flaws as well. FtP isn’t even a proven payment model yet as we really haven’t be able to see its long term efficacy in the west in terms of titles designed and released with this model in mind.

So lets stop spreading this stupidity… please.
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MMO PvP Predictions for 2014

* looks like there are a lot of people coming here through google probably looking for something a little more serious… FLY YOU FOOOOLS!! As a serious suggestion probably go check out Age of wushu for a PvP mmo right now. Good open world PvP mechanics pitting a few different factions against each other for faction reputation and rewards. Combat is pretty cool, PvP community solid and for you guys there is a lot of booooooooooobs. If your not in NA though the timing of these events can be a pain which will mean missing out on a lot, that was a bit much for me and was a major turn-off. The other thing might be Dark Age of Camelot as it seems to have increased the rate of updates recently.*

The New year is here and there is a lot of potential waiting for us in the genre. There are a lot of competing titles each with their own inherent positives and flaws whether that be the aesthetic, the mechanics or certain features. It’s going to be a great year for mmo’s regardless although, my PvP side is a little more pessimistic.

So stay tuned while I dig out my crystal ball created from the corrupted souls of armchair developers and predict the future of MMO’s in 2014, and in particular their PvP elements.

ESO

I predict that ESO will steal most of GW2’s regular WvW players. The time is ripe for a new competitor and after playing the same flawed mode for over a year its time for something new. Players will be pleasantly surprised and enjoy it despite it’s flaws although they will longingly stare off into the horizon from time to time reminiscing about the beauty of DAoC. The rest of the ESO playerbase will bitch the entire time about why ESO even needs PvP and that they can’t explore Cyrodil without getting killed.

All while this happens Arenanet won’t report the loss nor will they care and much of the playerbase that is left will be thankful they can now redirect those few developers back towards the living story experiment

The game itself will receive moderate success and will stay subscription based for the remainder of the year. People will complain about how it’s not as good as Skyrim but play it nonetheless since its single player Skyrim with multi-player like they asked.

Wildstar

I predict Wildstar will actually steal a sizeable chunk of players from WoW that actually like the game and decide to stay…this is not a considerable amount but enough to perpetuate comparisons about every.. damn… mechanic to WoW every damn day.

Will become the new rank arena love for players and if leaderboards aren’t borked will have a decent competitive following including streamers and shoutcasters. Balance will be utter shit for the first few months and will slowly wind down the varying levels of FotM classes that every one can agree to disagree over. Carbine will actually sponsor a decent PvP competition in the 3rd quarter.

Warplots, while a novel approach will prove to be broken by bugs in the first few months and will prove insanely hard to balance. A decent balance will be made between large and small guilds with time constraints on building options. Will become a fun side mode to kill time in as well as humiliate your enemies but by the end of the year will fall out of interest.

Faction based fighting will instil a new rivalry that will come close to that felt during the Waaaaaagh days in War. Friends will hate each other, awesome trolling in forums and chat… the PvP works and it will be glorious., at least for 6 months.

Darkfall

I predict Darkfall will close down near the end of the year after the developers at Adventurine realise they suck at making mmo’s and start making a medieval day z clone (that actually sounds pretty cool). The playerbase and sub numbers will continue to dwindle until all that’s left are gank stories around a single campfire. The supporters will claim to its dying breath that all you stupid carebears couldn’t hack a real mmo.

In the dying days before the final server turn off there will be a huge bloodbath the likes have never been seen and never will again.

CCP

I predict EvE will continue to be EvE with no successor and no challenger. CCP will realise they screwed up with Dust 514 but are too worried about their pride to abort this abomination, it’s their baby and they love it nonetheless. The amount of money this hideous love child sucks in will mean World of Darkness will be put on standby with a minimal crew… and yet, even in a pre-production state it’s still better than most titles on the market.

Star Citizen

Will reach 50 million during the last half of the year after they release more playable game types. Squadron fighting will be delayed until the middle of the year due to certain prevalent bugs and such. We won’t see the core game this year, or any of its beta type incarnations but what we do get will continue to drive the hype full speed ahead.

During the year Chris Roberts will realise the insanity of what’s planned, go on media rampage and the promptly be committed for a month where, in a moment of reflection he reaches enlightenment and brings the development back on track.

The Repopulation

I predict The Repopulation will see great success… for a sandbox mmo. It will garner a couple hundred thousand subscribers that will see it out through the new year and be reasonable happy with the game. People will complain about how they can’t progress on their own and that they can’t do anything without a group to which the reply will be “go back to wow loser”.

The nation mechanics and faction wars will work reasonable well and people will enjoy building their guild capitals and cities and laying siege to others. It will lose a little traction as owning territory isn’t as important as they would like bar having the personal connection. There is little important and rare resources to control for towns to really take control over that would drive conflict further.

The hardcore server will be reasonable popular until the more casual players who thought they can handle a hardcore experience leave for the easier server.

Everquest Next

I predict it will have some sort of ridiculously PvP flagging system on the PvP servers in an attempt to appeal to everyone but that no one will enjoy. The pvp players want something real and more integrated into the experience and the pve players will complain that the unlikely chance of their being killed is tantamount to treason and to stop wasting development time.

Camelot Unchained

I predict they will continue to push out updates and lore stories throughout the year with only minor hiccups. Development progress will be steady but have slight delays. The first trials of the game proper, and not some trial mode of mechanics will be tested by kickstarter supporters around September and it will be a tragically boring affair… an alpha PvP mmo with minimal population doesn’t work

No-one will care how good or bad the alpha tests are and will continue to wait for this messiah mmo to bestow deliverance on us all

Lastly I predict another Half dozen Moba’s will release, Riot’s official response “LoL, newbs”

Well, it seems there are a lot of options next year for mmo’s but none that will really, truly satisfy. I’ll have fun nonetheless and I hope you all do as well.

Happy new year everyone and may your aim remain true and lag remain an easy scapegoat

#MMO #PvP

Listmas 2013: Stupidest MMO Advertising

MMO’s seem like a rather new genre. Even that they have been around for decades, chugging along by their more mainstream cousin, how they present themselves often seems to lack the integrity of other mediums. It is a genre that once had a purpose but now seems more intent on copying what others do in terms of the development, the mechanics and how they are marketed. It also seems like the people marketing and even developing these games still don’t understand the basic appeal of the genre and as such we get some of the dumbest, most preposterous and down right insulting advertising I’ve ever seen.

Most of these adds should be primer materials for university courses on how not to market a game…or any product really as they often pander to certain stereotypes that insults. Rather than creating an appeal they come off as condescending, pretend to be something else to create unrealistic expectations or just don’t sell the product very well. I have a lot of pet peeves rearging how these games are marketed, a lot but here are my top 5 stupidest marketing practices.

Selling Sex

This seems like a staple within the gaming industry. Sexy woman adorned in impossible poses on near every single game box or advertisement spread. Sometimes it makes sense, other times it doesn’t but it’s an insidious part of the industry we are unlikely to get rid of any time soon. Sex sells, or so they say but in an age of instant information and reviews I don’t think a sexy lady on the cover helps as much any more. The positives and negatives of your game are what is going to sell.

MMO’s use this familiar strategy but at times it feels like it is being taken to its illogical extreme. Everyone would be familiar with those Evony adds you see across the internetz on many sites and forums by now that are well, just a pair of tits…literally. Selling a strategy game to the player through boobs is the best they can do even though such a thing is so far removed from the realities of the game… not to mention that there are far better pictures out there of pixelated breast to drool and.. uhum..over.

scarlet blade ad

Then came Scarlet Blade and it’s now infamous advertisements that threw caution and clothing to the wind, removing any pretence about their aims. No subtlety involved just a virtual doll to fulfil deluded fantasies.

Comparisons to Wow

World of Warcraft has been the behemoth in the genre for this decade now, for understandable as well as unknown reasons. It captivated a generation and still continues to provide for millions of players. It has a large world, a ton of content, a large collection of customisation options, and a wide selection of activities to fulfil any and all interests.

It’s understandable to see clones of popular games pop up, it happens all the time as people want a similar amount of success… it doesn’t happen of course but even attaining a small part of that profit is extremely enticing to investors. While many other genres do that I really don’t see the blatant comparison to the bigger, and sometimes better franchise. They show some of those similarities between products but they try to create their own brand and separate themselves from that bigger product but no… MMO’s love to make that comparison themselves.

Rift azeroth ad

We MMO players love to make comparisons to other games and a discussion will erupt in every game regarding comparisons to wow based on every single mechanic, it is a terrible affliction that spoils interest in new titles. It’s also creates a certain amount of conflict within the genre of people attacking and defending various titles and the developers themselves often instigate this. I honestly believe if the developers ignored this facet of mmo dialogue and just tried to make their game then this sort of stupidity would lessen.

Popular Celebrities

I’m not one to fawn over celebrities at all, never have been. I admire them in a certain way and I love the creations they star in whether that be movies, music or games but my interest in them ends there. They do have a certain amount of popularity though out of our industry and within and it seems like a good idea to use them as a way of selling their product to more people….it never works well though.

Connection to the title is often tenuous at best, we know they have no interest in the title so their appearance seems disingenuous. Games are becoming a more accepted medium but to pretend some of these people enjoy and are actively engaged in the genre is ludicrous. It just ends up lacking the needed connection between the celebrity and the community they are trying to sell towards. 

To me it seems like they are ashamed of their own community and trying to improve an image by showing off people deemed more acceptable. It also seems like they are continually trying to sell to new demographics not even connected to gaming, does that even work or is it worth the effort?

Sooooo Hardcore

If there is one thing I despise about this industry it is pretending to be something you’re not, I would much rather we just be proud of the medium we have but apparently that’s not good enough. The worst of this is the pretence of being Hardcore or something akin to an extreme sport… apparently hurting other people or yourself is much more socially acceptable. Hardcore is a very loaded term by itself but it is also rather meaningless as it refers to many flexible definitions. Lets be honest as well and say gaming as a hobby or past times is not extreme in the slightest, it may give an amazing adrenaline rush but comparing it to death defying feats is ridiculous.

The worst offender of this has to be Tera and the MMO-Fo campaign. It employed a professional UFC competitor to show how week, boring and unengaging the MMO competition was. It made a comparison between Tera being an extreme martial artist and all the others being the pathetic nerd… way to offend your potential playerbase. Now Tera was a decent action mmo but linking it with this kind of sport and a hardcore “Bro” appeal is just outlandish. It is also that they missed what Hardcore means in gaming instead linking it to physical intimidation tactics.

Yes, lets look like we want to beat up respective players

Everything from GW2

Haha what can I say, I love to troll sometimes but there is an element of truth to this top spot.

You name a terrible marketing ploy and it seems GW2 has tried it. Terrible artsy and irrelevant ads, uncomfortable dev videos, unrealistic expectations, impossible claims, real life crossovers and now the initiation into some sort of cult. I have never cringed as much as I did watching these with any other marketing in all my gaming years and I’ve seen a lot of bad advertisements.

The regular art and development departments created some truly breathtaking videos throughout development. These videos had an amazing aesthetic and artistic flair that created a world you desperately wanted to visit and yet, the official advertisements and marketing stunts are a complete joke. Many, like the recent trailer reek of desperation to appeal to other demographics. Most just seemed like they don’t understand gamers at all and their interpretation of our interests is rather insulting, not to mention making a joke out of mmo’s in general.

I get they were trying to be unique, it’s a crowded marketplace and you do whatever you can to stand out but it already was on its own and these things don’t help… not even a little

Today’s mmo rant has been brought to you by by the good Patrons of Healing the Masses; come for the rants stay for the…hmm.. why are you still here?