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.

Thoughts through the quiet time

Now that it’s gone a bit quiet around my house, and I’ve been out of game for a while I feel like sharing some short thoughts on gaming, which touch on MMORPGS and WoW.

Gaming wise, a few odd sessions of D3 and Sir, You are Being Hunted is all I’m fitting in, and that was/is mostly months ago. I finally finished the basic story of D3 and watched the lovely cut-scene/movie. Those Blizzard folks still know how to make a reasonable ending. Playing on with D3 without the expansion feels like running on a hamster wheel because the story is over. So now I either pay for the next story segment or do something else. Fair choice too, the game had enough content to make the initial purchase worth while, and its not like I finished it early.

Even if I had more time I’m not sure I would be installing a new MMO either. The banter about WildStar seems to say its pretty and interesting, but is very much the same as what has come before. That is not a bad idea for games as a moderate subscriber base can keep a company profitable for years; but after the zest and spin of the announcements – its kind of a dull outcome. I ran-up an Eve trail account and almost logged in. Almost, but then remembered that the game is slow and takes more time than I’ve got at the moment, and the account has lapsed. I thought about StarWars too as it’s free, and I could play the each of the class quests through to max level and then delete the character/account. Hmm, perhaps.

I miss logging in to something to play. I’d like to run WoW’s UP for the mount once a week, and perhaps a few other mindless farming tasks, but only to be able to say I’ve collected those pixels. Knowing that I’ll likely play WoW in the future means that the heat is drained from the desire to login to farm. I can farm later between other activities.

So now its books, pen and paper games, and catching up on TV shows.

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

Can the Trinity be damned?

Can the trinity of tank, heal, damage roles in online rpg games be removed? Really?

An old question, and perhaps one which is both too subjective for each game style in question, and also blisteringly obvious for MMOs. Blessing of Kings has a great post where the discussion thread is the perfect primer for the issues and the potential degrees of how effective the solutions will be. A darn good read.

trinity-dangerousTo me it is all about degrees of effectiveness vs the suspension of disbelief. No solution I’ve ever read provided a summary for an MMORPG that has no role based system, without a set of quasi-magical powers to manipulate the monster’s behaviour. And that is not what might really happen.

If nine of my friends and I decided to attack a giant, I don’t think the giant would understand taunts enough to only swing at one person, or that two of us were good at recovering from wounds so might be better to kill early. The giant is going to kill easy targets, targets that hurt it a lot, and then the rest of us.

Similarly a grizzly bear will attack one of us until it can get a good meal, unless we keep poking it with spears in which case it will hurt the spear carrier and probably ignore any others just standing to the side waving their hands (healing, caster dps).

In MMORPGs I don’t think it can be totally removed. I don’t think I’d want it removed either. We have a method which is essentially in support of the fun, and while the mechanics of that illusion might be tweaked, the illusion is useful.

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

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.

GoT 7 Kingdoms screenie

A GoT – Seven Kingdoms teaser video via Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Well the still screens look good, the video look average, and I’m very worried that this is a flash in the pan.

As soon as my plans come to fruition, I'll finally /sit on the Iron Throne.

“… to Game of Thrones: Seven Kingdoms – which promised an MMO in which “players form alliances through Player vs. Player (PvP), Siege combat, and politics to control Westeros” – Bigpoint vanished into the seat-and-BO-flavored mists of Comic-Con. And from that primordial ooze of glorious geekery, it’s now produced one trailer. It features betrayal, war, power, and GIANT WORDS introducing each.”