Archive for March 17, 2008

There can be only one – the outdated guild/clan interfaces

March 17, 2008 Comments off

In almost every MMORPG one finds on the market today there is one thing they have in common – each character in the game can only be part of one guild/clan/super group. Why? What is the defined purpose of the guild in game? This includes games with very basic interfaces (e.g. Tabula Rasa) to games with quite elaborate interfaces (e.g. Everquest 2).

In real life we have many groups of people which we interact with; family and relatives, collegues at work, friends from university or school, friends from childhood, from various clubs and associations. In short, we exist within a number of different communities, some which may partially be overlapping.

In most cases these communities have a reasonably defined purpose or context. The guilds in the MMORPGs have seldom a clearly defined purpose by the game designers, that is up to its members. Which makes it even more strange that one can only be member of a single of these communities in game.

I would rather see games opening up for many guilds and many types of guilds – perhaps also with different functionality depending on the purpose the members chooses for it. A raid guild perhaps want to have some built-in DKP functionality, some categorization based on character builds. A more mission/quest oriented guild perhaps wants some features to schedule and organize collaboration on various missions/quests. There can be a lot of different functions that are interesting depending on the type of guild the members set up.

Some might argue that building a lot of these interfaces into the game client will be a lot of work and that there still would be an issue with it working together with web sites and external functions that guilds/clans have on their web sites.

So why not skip building any of these interfaces into the game clients entirely? Just provide some web tools for people to access and manage this type of data and then provide a built-in browser to access it.

The community interfaces can be refined and adjusted without updating the game client itself. And more importantly, the tools can be used whether in-game or out of game. They can (hopefully) be reskinned and integrated with any guild web sites.

A rethinking of the purpose of guilds and how to manage and interact with them would be a welcome change from the game companies. Right now there not many ideas there as far as I can tell.

Categories: MMO Games

Back into the wilderness

March 17, 2008 Comments off

Not so long ago I created a Brann/Human hybrid in Tabula Rasa (Brandon Sente), wanting to try this race combination with the sniper profession. Since I already have one of each profession one option was to clone my existing sniper. She does not have any clone credits though and frankly I have played so much in Mires and Plateau lately that I am a bit tired of that.

So I decided to create a new character from scratch again, just like in traditional MMORPGs. It would also be a good time to check out what the first areas were like nowadays – there was some months since I was there last.

The Brann/Human hybrids have a blueish skin colour and the attributes (body, mind, spirit) are distributed differently. A human gains 2 points in each attribute automatically and leave 3 points for the player to distribute. A Brann/Human hybrid gets 2 in body, 1 in mind and 4 in spirit by default and then have 3 points to distribute each level.

My plan here is to put most of the points I can distribute myself into body and a few in mind and let the spirit part grow by itself, at least in the beginning. So far this works well. But I am still a long way to get the actual sniper skills, so it remains to be seen how it works out.

Starting back in Concordia Wilderness again was a nice change of setting. Not so much exploration and sense of discovery though, but enjoyable none the less. This time around I had the benefit of a working Military surplus available and weapons with variying degrees of damage depending their rarity – much easier to get the right weapons at the right level than it was when I played through this initially after release. The money the character earned was generally enough to buy what was needed, so not really any need to funnel contributions from the other existing characters. At least if one excludes the prototype (purple) weapons.

The missions were pretty much the same as I remembered them, with a few exceptions. One of the escort missions did not seem to be there anymore and the 3 devils mission had changed such that each “devil” (Thrax officer) appread at different locations around the lake in Wilderness, making it much easier to complete that mission. I guess they became tired of each other and went in different directions to sulk.

The enemy that caused most trouble among the regular missions was the nasty Xanx spider Arioch. I had only a tinly sliver of health left when I managed to kill him. Strill that was at level 11 and solo, which was much earlier than I had managed before. The added damage from using experimental (blue) weapons probably helped.

All in all I completed all missions (except the Targets of Opportunity) in the Wilderness area pretty much at the same time as I reached level 12 and had not done any of the 3 instances then. Playing through the instances took me a bit into level 14. That was a good level if soloing the instances, all enemies were a few levels below and it was not too difficult. But for a team visit I would have preferred to visit them a bit earlier.

The Caves of Donn instance was the one that had changed the most for me – different support squad assisting me and no Xanx at all in the instance; only Fithik, Miasma and Thrax troops. I think it works better this way.

Next stop Concordia Divide.

My ability/skill points went into firearms and after I picked up soldier branch, also into machine guns and rage. Soon after starting to play in Divide I reach 15 and selected ranger. Now I started putting points into stealth armor. Getting new armor at 15 was not that easy though; the Milirary Surplus did not have much stealth armor at all at 15 and what was there was quite expensive. So I pretty much ended up continuing a bit with some motor assist armor, vendor bought stealth armor and as I got more weapon drops, upgrading the armor when I found a few pieces.

Getting weapons was much easier though, when there was time for an upgrade it was always possible to get some experimental (blue) weapons and reasonably good prices from the surplus.

Playing through Divide worked quite well also and at 19 and only a tiny bit left to 20 I was done will all but Torcastra Prison and killing Splatter. Hunting for Splatter has always been an exercise in patience and running around looking for him took quite a while. But after a fairly long time I did find him near the entrance to the underground area of the Bane facility and started to fire at him. It did not take long time ro realize this was going to be a challenge – I was barely making a dent in his health, or at least it was decreasing quite slowly. The main problem was the other spawns in the area that jumped in – if I took a few seconds to kill them off then Splatter’s health had pretty much regenerated completely again..

Trying to move Splatter’s into a spot where there would not be other spawns was a bit difficult and when I thought I was making some progress he suddenly vanished! I ran around in the neighborhood, but he was not anywhere around there. A bit irritating. Will probably try again either getting a team together or when I get some better weapons to use later.

Started to go into Concordia Palisades, got to 20 and bought new armor. This time it was easier to find some armor to buy at the surplus. Then paid a visit to Torcastra. A difference I noticed here is that the perimeter alarm when reaching the prison area with the mortars was not there anymore. Previously if the alarm was triggered a Stalker would spawn. This time the Stalker was already there from start.

The Stalker did not provide any major problems though. The two most challenging enemies in the instance was the hunter boss that was part of the Forean hybrid mission arc and the Juggernaut parked in front of the prison building.

The trouble with the hunter boss was the reflective armor feature – initally it decreased my armor and health just as quickly as I decreased his. To get a bit of a benefit here I applied a polarity field on him and used my laser machien gun and for safety triggered an armor charger when most of my armor was gone. This was enough to keep my armor and health up long enough to get him killed.

The Juggernaut was the next obstacle. After an initial attempt att firing and trying to stay behind him was not so successful. So I took a gordic knot cut approach to the problem – I just ran past him. Since he did not follow me into the prison the problem was solved somewhat peacefully 🙂

Currently Brandon is playing in Palisades and enjoying life there. So far I am quite happy with this character and starting from scratch again was a good choice for me – it will take longer to actually get to become a sniper, but I have more fun now on the way and that is what matters.

Categories: Tabula Rasa