Should mmo have difficulty settings?

Aside

Single player games tend to give players the choice of a difficulty setting, which they can do because the impact of that choice isn’t shared amongst anyone else. D3 on easy is darn easy, and I think there is nothing wrong with playing a game for silly easy fun. We don’t always need to be raiding Hard modes, just like you can’t eat pizza every night. In an MMO all the players tend to be in the same “game” so the game’s difficulty tends to be controlled in strictly controlled ways. Instances, special quests, achievements, collections, and special creatures are around for the folks who like a challenge, but generally speaking most players are playing the same game.

If you can kill 3x monsters in the starter zone at the same time without dying then you are at a certain level of game skill. If you need help, or get *repeatedly unlucky* then you become very accustom to running back to your corpse.

What if the game had a difficulty slider, which changed some options?

  • Rewards could be recognised (achievements) at different levels. We have this in raid modes, why not elsewhere?
  • Instances wouldn’t need to change, but perhaps a player using the lower setting is forgiven more in terms of damage taken, dps, healing, so that the other players don’t suffer because somebody is playing on easy.
  • A lazy player might always play on Easy mode, because they value easy fun over challenges. Perhaps they get slightly less rewards? Less cash to a casual probably isn’t an issue.
  • A dedicated player might be rewarded with more gold or increased special drop rates because of doing it the hard way.
  • The UI slider could apply for different reasons, so that even XP reward, death penalties, gold loss, and such are all configurable by the player. Perhaps even cofigurable per character and changeable in UI at anytime.
  • It would make Ironman style challenges supported as part of the game backbone.
  • It would add more bragging rights, which isn’t always a good thing, but depends on how it is used (gearscore & achievement linking?).
  • It might help farmers of special stuff.
  • Let learners learn. Let kids be kids.

Overall I’m not sure, but perhaps there is room for this.

* Repeatedly unlucky – ahem, meaning a fire stander? I used to rant in a furious way when folks said they were unlucky.

Just amid you are less skilled and get on with playing for fun. I did. The freedom of a noob is worth something.

Casually playing Adventure Era

A nifty little game called Adventura Era by Game Insight & Krivorukoff has me a little distracted (thanks to Tobold’s post). I’m playing enough that my wife first asked “what is that you’re doing” and then “put that down”. It’s a good game, and playing it on my mobile means that I always have it around when I want to, but I can also ignore it I choose.

Nothing really bad happens if you don’t play. Well, ahem, it is frustrating to come back to the game after 3-4 hours and ALWAYS find three monsters attempting to ravish my humble village, but paying off the monsters is part of the resource sink mechanics. It happens every damn time! So now I’ve decided to move almost all of my important buildings away from the areas with the monsters, so that I’m almost unaffected by them. That will take some additional effort and a bit more grinding that I like, but afterward I’ll rarely pay the 15 food, 50 lumber, or 100 stone resources that they need to be shushed and sent away when my cyclops-for-hire yells at them.

Apart from the basic build, expand, research cycle which repeats as your village increases in size and resources there are aspects of the game which I think are clever. The game is all about expanding your resource pool, and deciding when to spend your resources in the various resource sinks. All of the progressive choices are forgone conclusions, where you have to do X to get to Y, so start saving, building, or expanding. I don’t mind that the game is extensibility on rails, as I’m not looking for life changing gameplay. I’m looking for overly simplified entertainment. It allows small choices with almost no side effects, so for me the game’s fun is about efficiently. What worked, what do I need to plan for now, so that I’m not resource locked for too long later.

I also like the way that money really isn’t being begged for at every turn. The game is free and thankfully you can avoid the nag-ware style of other mobile/social games. My Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and other followers have no bloody interest in how many pets or lumber yards I have; just as I don’t give a damn about theirs.This is a casual distraction, not a thing to brag about on social media (but then isn’t most of social media a free casual distraction seeking to commercialise your attention?).

Each advance takes time, and during that time you can be clicking to earn your coins, rather than spending real money. It does not have a long life though, as I’m already seeing the increase in the repetition for grinding money, which is expected but undesirable for me. I can just as easily be entertained by my rss feed, so something that feels like work will have an expiration date.

For now, as the village’s ruler…I kind of pity those small virtual pixel-folk. They’re lucky I’m not give the option for human sacrifice to increase build time. Hmm, maybe something to recommended for v2.

adventure_era_screenshotHappy clicking, TyphoonAndrew

You Sir, Yeah, You Are Being Hunted

I picked up Sir, You Are Being Hunted on a sale for a lazy $17, and I kind of like the adhoc short play style of the game.

Death One – shot to death by a random robot patrol on the main island. To my credit I did figure out what the baloon was doing, but I think I didn’t move far enough away. Found one fragment next to the stones, but spend much of mu short life looking at the inventory, trying to understand how food works.

Death Two – ran out of Vitality and starved to death. Interesting that I was trying to play it safe, but as my character stated to really drop I ran everywhere and was spotted a heap of times.

Death Three – Afk and I assume slaughtered by a host of nasty robots.

I’m really enjoying it.

Is being watched in an MMO by Spooks OK?

By now most gamers have head about the NSA watching games like WoW and SecondLife for dangerous individuals. If you’re also watching out for potential impacts from the NSA’s activities exposed recently, you’re probably now saturated with odd and scary stories.

A meandering thought or two is below.

Frankly the entire concept reads like fiction to me, and is scary enough that I’m seriously considering changing a huge amount of what tools I use and what I do online.

By way of really dreadful example – please consider these revelations about what is plausible for surveillance. It is an video explanation of the methods recently exposed. Actual hardware hacks, device exploits, and all other manner of “hacks and hijacks”.

Continue reading

I’d back a MOO2 clone in a heartbeat

BioBreak blog reminded me today how much I loved the PC game Master of Orion 2. By today’s games it is a contradiction to all the features that generate buzz:

  • single player
  • turn based
  • fully offline
  • no time limits
  • still images, or sprite graphics

Why was it so good? Well for a start it supplied a backdrop for my mind to fill in the story. Continue reading

Wildstar actually sounds interesting

warrior_logo_mbThe more tangential information I read on Wildstar the more I think it might be trying to approach a different audience and supply a different game.

A few things sound interesting, like having playstyle pathways where you pick the style of challenge you want, and the game as aspects built especially for that style. If you like combat, you kill monsters. Prefer discovery, then be challenged to find nooks and special areas.

I also like the art style of the game. Having an overtly cartoon world means the rendering could be sympathetic to longevity in graphics, and also potentially avoids the problems of the uncanny valley which most “real-looking” games face. The tech and resources needed to render out a human face which looks “right” are crazy complex and high. A styled cartoon looks right as we fill in the detail mentally. Our minds are the sketchpad and resources which gives the game appeal.

A non-real style also means that emotional, special, and blood/damage effects can also be skewed toward imparting the meaning without a special particle engine. Take the presentation of a spaceship for example. I have no idea what a Devastator class warship might look like in a space game, but I can tell you without a second of thinking that rendering of water in Farcry was incredible and still looked like cgi. I accept the spaceship as real, but I call bullshit on the water’s repeating pattern at max camera distance.

I have no intention of playing Wildstar, especially as my old pc will not be up to the challenge; but I am interested. That is more that I can say about many of the other games being published and in Beta at the moment.

Interesting times. I’m going to keep watching it. TyphoonAndrew