Challenge: Frankenstein your own MMO

So I had an interesting idea that I’ve been thinking about for all of 5 minutes now:

If you could take piece parts from different MMO’s and smash them all together to form one giant Voltron of an MMO…

What would the setting be?  Fantasy? Scifi?  Both?

What would you do?

What classes would you have?

What races would you have?  Borgified-My-Little-Ponies?

What systems would you “borrow” and how would you change them?

How long until you would completely gut the combat and give the players the New Game Experience they really want? Too soon?


Nerd Time Update

The past few weeks have been rather busy between work and the always fun projects around the house. The little bit of time I’ve had has been split between Diablo 3, Mass Effect 2, and Guild Wars the first.

    Diablo 3

I’ve had a ton of fun so far. I got several characters to Act 2 and finally finished Normal difficulty on my Barbarian. Supposed to play Nightmare with a friend but scheduling has been hard to do so far. So much fun to leap in to the middle of a pile of enemies and just cleave them all to death.

Originally I was saving gear for other characters so most of them were in blues which felt fairly powerful. Then I discovered how cheap some of the yellow Rares are on the Auction House. I think I spent something like 12k on my Barbarian and suddenly he was covered in yellows and his Damage went from 53.4 to 118.2 at level 20. Needless to say, I started mowing through the game at that point. Almost felt like cheating… but it was SO much fun.

    Mass Effect 2

Yes, I said 2… not 3. Recently there was a “sale” on Bioware points or whatever they call them. It wasn’t an official sale, but several people mentioned that if you bought points it would allow you to buy the highest point bundle for the price of the 2nd highest bundle. Seeing how these NEVER go on sale for PC, this was the best time to stock up on stupid points. I’m a big fan of the Mass Effect series and had recently picked up ME3 on sale (of course).

I decided that I wanted to grab all of the ME2 DLC and play through the story so I could prepare myself for ME3. I’m kind of hoping that I can time my play through of ME3 so that they’ll have the “new” ending DLC out by then. I’ve avoided spoilers or reading a whole lot of anything ME3 related, but I know there’s some outcry over the abrupt ending. Beats me, but I guess I’ll find out soon.

I really haven’t spent a ton of time with this game really. I’ll play a little bit here and there to get a chunk of DLC out of the way, but then I won’t play again for a few days.

    Dungeons and Dragons

Yeah… I’m that guy. I’m part of a static group along with some really fun guys. I just haven’t managed to show up in several weeks and my character is lacking a level or two. 0 play time in this game and I need to set aside Guild Wars a bit just to catch up.

    Guild Wars (the first, not the new shiny 2)

I am actually killing myself with this game. I actually enjoy my Diablo 3/Mass Effect playtime more than Guild Wars by far. However, I really want to get 30/50 in my Hall of Monuments. I also recently found out that they are planning on putting a system in so that the items given from your Hall of Monuments will be transmuted for free! Maybe I missed that before but I think it is an awesome thing for them to do for their fans.

Currently I’m at 13/50 but I’m getting there. I have finished all of the campaigns as well as Eye of the North. I’ve managed to save a fair bit of money, and I plan on trying to farm most of the things I need myself. Should be interesting to see if I can finish 30/50 prior to the release of Guild Wars 2. I know that they aren’t planning on limiting people from getting further HoM unlocks after GW2 comes out… but I think I’ll be a little too busy with GW2 to go back and care.

Time to play me some lottery!

I love winning things. Who doesn’t? If you go to either DDO or LOTRO’s websites, there are lottery widgets that you can use to enter frequent lotteries and win things. Simple as that. Some of the things you win are items that are only available in the store and other items that are obtainable and useful in game.

I haven’t logged in to actually play LOTRO in probably about a month. I just haven’t been motivated to slog through Moria on my Captain anymore, especially since I heard about the planned revamp coming with Update 7. Now notice I said that I haven’t logged in to actually play in about a month. I’ve still logged in at least once a week to collect and lottery winnings on my characters. So for effectively nothing, Turbine has “convinced” me to log in to two games at least once a week.

So not I have started wondering why more companies don’t pillage this idea and use it themselves. Sure it might cost a little bit to develop, but for the F2P market, getting people to login is half the battle. Once they have logged in, there’s a good chance that they might play “just one mission” or start talking to a friend in their guild.

So what about it Cryptic? How about making that system in STO and calling it “Replicator Accidents” and have the replicator make some oddball console or even a Lobi crystal or a Lockbox key. Fan goodwill, check. Pretty darn cheap to make, check. Encourage people to login which is the biggest goal in a F2P game, check.

Just don’t put Lockboxes in the Lotteries… I have plenty already, thanks.

<Insert Diablo 3 Rant Here>

Ok, it’s time for a mini-rant.  And this isn’t going to be about the fact that the servers don’t work and I can barely play without getting kicked off.  

This is about the lack of built-in voice chat.  They’ve had it “working”  in WoW for years now.  It may not be the best voice chat around but it is much more convenient than Skype, Ventrillo or Mumble, especially when playing in a public game.  I don’t want Mr. AzzHat-L33T-McGee to have my Skype info and I don’t currently have a rented Vent or Mumble server of my own to use.  Text chat is a pain and I’l rather keep my hand on my mouse to avoid avoiding carpal tunnel!  

So let me get this straight Blizzard, You want me to deal with always-on DRM that causes me to have to replay entire levels again because you didn’t know Diable 3 was going to be this big… and you can’t even do us a solid by including voice chat?

/Gets off soapbox and returns to D3



To Beta or not to Beta?

One of the interesting things about blogging is that you start to examine your own habits looking for something that might make a semi-entertaining article.  One of the really odd things that I find myself doing is getting super excited about a new game.  This is frothing at the mouth, insane email account checking, reading every scrap of info I can about the newest bestest thing ever….

Then I finally get the email… I’m in beta.   WOOHOO!  Best day EVER!  I rush home from work, impatiently download the client and maybe wait a few days if it’s one of the ever more popular weekend only events.  I’ll jump in and play a little bit to see if I like it.  Once I play enough to realize that  will in fact be playing this game, I then play a bunch of different classes for a few levels to see which I like the best.

All sounds pretty normal I bet.  I would assume that most of you are right there with me so far.  But then I do what is possibly the oddest thing of all… I stop playing beta.

Wait?  You do what?!?!!  Why would you stop playing something you are SOOOO excited for?  Two Reasons.

1. I don’t want to ruin the story or get burned out on the game at all.  I want it to be exciting when it is actually released.

2. I don’t want to waste my time on characters and progress that is just going to get wiped at the end of beta.

I always like to feel like I’m making progress.  Play a game for an hour, little higher level or little closer to whatever goal I’ve set for myself.  Progress that is just going to get flushed down the NDA toilet to Mordor?  No thanks.  I’ve decided to buy your little game now and will be back when I can actually make some progress.

The only exception to this rule I really have ever made is with Star Trek Online.  When they were transitioning to F2P they made it available on their Tribble test server for anyone who had a subscription to play.  I really wanted it to succeed so I jumped on to test for bugs.  They also had several rewards that they gave people for testing.  I don’t remember all of the exact level bands, but they gave several GOOD rewards for leveling up and beating on the content.

So the real question that game developers should be asking themselves if they really want people to test their games is “What can we give the players?”  I little “I Beta Tested The Heck Outta Those Pandas” title just isn’t going to cut it.  My time is precious… give me something cool.  Maybe it’s only a cosmetic.  Maybe it’s a little xp boost to get past the lower levels I’ve just tested 15 times.  Maybe it’s one of the devs coming to my house to clean my bathroom in a wookie suit.

(unless they are female, then I’m thinking the Harley Quinn costume from the Batman video games… all open for discussion).

So what would make you more likely to sink some serious time into a Beta?

Why I Refuse to Subscribe

I used to play WoW… there… I’ve admitted it.  I enjoyed playing and would play for hours on end whenever I had time.  I had a group of Real Life friends who would get together and beat our heads against the old Burning Crusade Elite dungeons which were HARD.  Then Wraith of the Licking King came out and skill went out the window.  No more “sheep that, stun that, kill this guy first” plans.  Every fight turned into “I’m going to run into the middle of everything… and everyone nuke it all down!”  Some nights I would almost fall asleep hitting 2…..2…..2…..3…..1…..2…..2…..<snore>

The big problem I had is that since I was paying 15 bucks a month to play this game I felt obligated to play it whenever I had time.  The problem is that I have a lot of games that pull me in different directions.  If I start playing Super Dragon Effect 3: Special Skyrim Edition and ignore playing a subscription game for a few weeks, the guilt of paying will eventually force me to play it again.

Fast forward a few years and suddenly a few less popular games go Free 2 Play.  I think the first F2P game that really sucked me in was Lord of the Rings Online.  I had played it years before and couldn’t justify the monthly subscription cost.  But not I could drop a little cash, buy the content I wanted and never lose it.  Over the course of a few months, I managed to buy ALL of the content for somewhere around what I would have paid for 3 months of subscriptions!  SCORE!  Now I can stop playing for a few months and know that whenever I feel the bug again, I can go play it and everything will be just as I left it, including all the quest packs I just bought for a hefty percentage off!

I love sales… as a matter of fact, games should have MORE sales.  All of the content in LOTRO, on sale.  Bought points in STO, on sale.  Almost every single stupid 300-some-odd game I own on Steam… on sale.  Just a couple of weeks ago I was gushing (<sigh> yes, I gush once in awhile) to my wife about buying something or other on Steam for $5 that would have cost $50 just a few months ago.  In mid sentence I saw the look… THAT look… the EXACT same one I give her when she’s talking about the new pair of shoes she found that were only a few bucks.  I guess we all have our bad habits.

I don’t mind paying for things in game.  I recently bought some points in Star Trek Online even though I have a Lifetime Membership and get 400 points per month already.  I like the game and want to support it financially when I can.  However, I also tried the trial of Star Wars: The Old Republic.  If that was a F2P game, I would play it.  I certainly know the IP and it seems like a great Single Player MMO.  That being said, I refuse to pay $40 for the box (cheapest I’ve seen it at) and then continue paying 15 smackers per month to play it.

Now on the other side of the coin, I am not afraid to purchase a game and spend money.  I recently bought both Diablo 3 and Guild Wars 2.  While Diablo isn’t technically an MMO, it’s close enough in my book.  Both games have upfront costs, but then you aren’t required to pay anything else.  I love it.  Are there other F2P games that I’ve downloaded and only played for a few minutes and deleted because it wasn’t what I was looking for?  Sure.  There are others that I have downloaded and paid a few bucks here or there for stuff while playing but never stuck around long term.  The big difference is that I wouldn’t have played ANY of the F2P download only games if they weren’t F2P but they at least got me to look and a few of them got some cash from me.

At this point in my life, I don’t see myself ever paying a monthly subscription again.  Maybe that will change.  Maybe it won’t.  For now, I’m quite content playing the mess of F2P or BuytheBoxandPlay4Free games like Diablo 3/Guild Wars 2.