SW Free to Play to 50, hmm nope.

emailheader_freetoplay

These two lovely NPCs would like to see you soon, alas I’ll use ToR as a boredom relief mechanism, and not any time soon.

I got a promo email (again) for Star Wars TOR’s free to play re-launch. The all new payment model based upon getting cash for extra raids and novelty items, rather than monthly subscription.

Sorry SW, this ship has sailed. I am too far into WoW’s Mists of Pandaria to switch to a game even though it will save some dollars per month. Perhaps when WoW’s Tier 14 is old and cleared, and the Diablo shine has gone I’ll try SW ToR again – but all that tells me is that I will try Star Wards when I’m bored, and that it has no true draw on my aspirations beyond being better than playing a facebook or iphone game. And yes, that is meant as an insult when you consider it was a huge MMO with very large aspirations and a darn healthy budget.

WoW’s draw is still stronger despite the shitty grinding of Valor on dailies.

The game had potential, but what I saw on login was a very similar experience to the re-grind of every MMO (including Warcraft) and therefore I choose the devil I have invested in, rather than starting out as a newbie. I can see why players do like it too, as it has a a very reasonable level of detail in the leveling stories, and feels very Star Wards in nature.

What did it for me (or didn’t do it) was the lack of breadth in choices (like not being able to alter class specialisation) and the vast gap between the promise of “no grinds” which was made very early on in the dev hype cycle and what I saw in the end. It did some great things (like crafting/gathering by npcs, nice logical professions, reasonable level rate, and some of the quest mechanics were good).

So close, but not now. Happy Killing.

Play for free, Up to level 13

A few weeks ago Blizzard announced that D3 was going to have a free play option for low level characters (FAQ here). I’m not sure why I missed this initially, but perhaps the silly work and wow cycle was as much eye candy as I could take in.

Regardless, this is offering which I think is a benchmark for game distribution in today’s market: give the player an opportunity to see if they like your work. Do not expect that people will pay to test if the game sucks. They won’t. If they trail it, then they can pay for the full thing when it makes them happy, if not then they get caps and limits that might keep them interested periodically. That demo might be a week’s grace, or a level limit, or whatever style is suitable. Either way you get players who wish to play, not players who are angry about getting some of the money’s worth.

A long time ago I played and loved Master of Orion 1 and 2. When MoO3 was released I pre-purchased that game and regretted it straight away. It was a poor imitation of the old game, with bright and shiny graphics which did nothing to distract from the shitty actual play. A total waste. Since then I’ve been a mad and angry purchaser of any game product. Temple of Elemental Evil was a similar experience as while the game was technically playable the crash rate and list of things that when SNAP! was too large.

So now I rant about free to play capped options with furvor and wrath.

For Diablo 3’s free play option they chose a max level number like unlucky 13 for the free players. That is just too much fun. Well done guys, it made me smile.

The demonically-besieged world of Sanctuary needs heroes. Now you can join in the apocalyptic battle for FREE via the all-new Diablo®  III Starter Edition.  Available exclusively via Battle.net®, the Starter Edition allows you to fight your way up to the Skeleton King boss in Act I, and advance all the way to level 13, without having to purchase a copy of Diablo III.

Diablo 3 is enough of a game that I think I would have purchased it away way, especially as it has no ongoing subscription; but I might have avoided it early on if I hadn’t had a Blizzard annual pass. I feel the same way about trialing GuildWars2 – play it if its free to see if its good, but otherwise I’m not interested in paying box price to evaluate software anymore.

I generally assume that most games released are not worth it until I read staggeringly good reviews from multiple sources, and a friend says its good, and it is released. A little while ago I said “I’m planning a short return plunge into WoW briefly before playing Diablo 3, and possibly SWToR. I’ll wait till Panda-randa is released, then decide if I pick it up.” Now that more details are about I’ll probably buy MoP in advance. It is good enough and close enough that it is a low risk.

I still don’t like Pandas though. Perhaps that means I’m looking forward to killing a few.

Prestige for endgame D3 players

paragon ding x100

Ding 60! Grats. And then ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding. You get the idea.

D3 is adding 100 extra “paragon” levels of character advancement into the game with a coming patch, to satisfy the endgame players who desire more power and prestige.

Here’s how it works:

- After you hit level 60, any further experience you earn from killing monsters will begin to count toward Paragon levels

- There are 100 Paragon levels
– Every Paragon level will reward you with:

Core stats such as Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, and Vitality in amounts similar to what you’d gain from a normal level 3% Magic Find and 3% Gold Find

- In addition, a distinctive increasingly-impressive border will surround your character portrait in the in-game party frame to denote your Paragon progression, with a new frame earned after every ten levels. Your Paragon level will also be visible to other players wherever your normal level is shown

Excellent. Players who desire this style of grind and advancement will likely love the idea, and it shows that Blizzard is still very interested in keeping the long tail of players active in D3 as much as they were in D2. It allows the really advanced players better odds of finding good random loot, and feeds that gear through to the Real Money and Gold Auction Houses.

It’s not for me, but hey – everything can’t be. Welcome news, and if generating 75 pages of comments on an announcement is a sign of success, then this is being taken in a mostly positive light by the community too. The negative comment seem to be focused on a dislike of grinding out levels as “endgame” and a dislike of the motivations of driving activity to the AHs. I paused to wonder if the negative players actually played the other Diablo games if this was unexpected or disliked. D1&2 were all about the grind.

Perhaps the new content should include twenty or so new level features as mini-experiences (save the ghost lady, etc), and ten or so new monster models with a variety of new spell colours and effects. Then attach an achievement to getting each and collecting the set, so that the completionists can get their groove on as well. What is even considered endgame for Diablo anyway? Certainly not raid content.

Refs:

Diablo 3 patch … What exploit?

Aside

Aside … Diablo 3 has a mini-patch 1.0.3a to address some small issues, and it reminds me that I’m out of the loop in terms of game exploits (via wowinsider).

Fixed several gold and leveling exploits

Gone are the days of getting out a hex editor to snaffle straight 24 stats in Bard’s Tale 2. I wish I knew more about the exploits they were fixing, just to have cool insight into how it worked. Darn it.

It is no longer possible to create fake achievement links.

Ha! I’m sure there was some comedy gold in there due to that, the odd complaint, and perhaps a dummy spit. Fixing it is a fair thing though.

Witchdoctor – Zombie Bears should no longer become stuck on objects with which they shouldn’t have collision.

But they will still be stuck on items for which they do have collision? Whew! Why do they get stuck, instead of either pathing to the toon?

You know a game is wonderful when the collision mechanics for Zombie Bears is a consideration. This note alone should be a marker for people to try the game. Now if it was Zombie Bear Cavalry then the world would play. Or Feral Zombie Bear Tanks with Guns!

Go read the rest, I’ll stay here and create more silly Zombie Bear notes.

Happy killing, TyphoonAndrew

Quick aside on D3

Aside

Diablo III Act III

Diablo III Act III (Photo credit: JBLivin)

I enjoy that I can play Diablo 3 for a minute at a time, and not be punished. Casual? Yes. The game so far has no respawns that will find you when you if AFK. That makes coffee/wife/kid/phone breaks easier.

A few things I’ve changed in the game settings: Turn off auto join, and Turn on move key. Both are tweaks which make the game more pleasant.

Aside about Subscribers

Aside

So Diablo 3 has 6.3 million subscribers, where two weeks ago there were just Beta testers. WoW continues to add new subscribers, but I cannot believe that the overall numbers are not dropping significantly as time passes. Wow might get a boost when Mists of Cuddle Bear is released, but overall I’d expect WoW’s stable population to reduce slowly in the next few years down to around 6 million. Certainly most of the WoW’ers I know are now playing D3, and look at other games very seriously. As well they should as WoW is great, but many other games need a look too.

We also know that KoA from 38 Studios is not doing brilliantly, but still has some dedicated fans; frankly I hope they survive and prosper as Curt Shilling seems a reasonable chap and he is following a dream. Star Wars ToR is dropping subscribers, and has an even more passionate user base within the subscribers than many other games.They might find a solid base is plenty to retain as viable as well.

Its a poor time to gamble on MMO subscribers, unless you’re the bookie. What is the future? Well imho the future of subscriber games is a very wide range of games which players switch between. The Warcraft golden days where everyone played wow are over, and I doubt they will ever return.

Who can’t love many games with many options? I certainly can.

Fire from the sky has ended

To postpone the hungry cadre of gamers trying to install Diablo 3, the system declared that the fire from the sky had not ended. We waited. None patiently.

Now the great zerg to play D3 has begun. A few updates and patches, some apologies for errors, and a lot of persistence has players now enjoying the game. My take – well I’ve created a toon and entered the world, but I’ll only be commenting on major stuff in the first ten levels which is different from the beta, or where something is darn odd. I’m pleased to say that it is exactly as expected so far. It’s entertaining.

The class intro media were very good too, which was new to be from beta. It does feel forced to have such a strange mix of heroes from all over the world converging, and that was always going to feel a bit forced. At least we didn’t meet at an inn, with a fight breaking out like a D&D game. Well, ahem, perhaps that bit is in the starter story too.

A few thoughts from around the web worth reading too, Tobold has an observation about D3’s pricing, and Keen and Graev have 5 Things We Like and Dislike about Diablo 3.

Happy killing.

Excellent D3 Prequel Cartoon

D3 is only a week away, and Blizzard has released a darn good 6 minute cartoon which tells the pre-story to Diablo. More games should be released with this style and flavour of side-material. It shows (at least to me) that Blizzard understand the audience who arekeen to play Diablo 3, and that they are really aiming to create something worthy of the lore we have grown to love.

We have also had the “End of Days” tv spot / promo for the game too, which is also very good, but not a cartoon akin to the one above. The animation in End of days is more realistic than the prequel, but it only shows a smattering of the video we know is included. It’s a good hash of the full video.

I really looking forward to D3.

Diablo Beta thoughts

After completing the Diablo Beta I have some thoughts.

It is a good game, and feels basically ready. I’m looking forward to it. In the Beta test I played a Barbarian almost through to the end, and a Wizard through to completion. I’ll go back and try the other classes now, but probably not play them right through, as I want to also play them when the game is actually live.

Play-style wise I’d recommend that every player try each class; they really play differently. Music was nice, sound effects, nice, and the few special encounters and scenes I saw (Sword of Leoric) were really nice. Well done Blizzard. Continue reading