I recently read a post on Massively commenting on the state of tools for finding teams in the Star Wars: The Old Republic and advantages and disadvantages with the current approach and what for example World of Warcraft uses. There have been a lot of comments there, mainly arguing for or against a tool like the Dungeon Finder in World of Warcraft.
I have not played WoW in 5+ years and I know very little of the details of SW:TOR, but it seems to me that the arguments were somewhat missing the core issue here. It should not be a discussion only about whether Dungeon Finder-type tool is needed or not, but rather about how a game in general supports team play and encourages community building. These may not necessarily happen at the same time all the time, but is of course an good opportunity for it to happen.
The main issue here with combining these I think lies with games that adopted a level-gated, holy-trinity-oriented, play-content-in-developer-mandated-order design. I do not know if this is the case with SW:TOR, but if a game has these elements then the game design hardly has considered it important to have community building and team play happen at the same time.
Community building is not only about forming guilds or similar constellations either – it is about how people in general interact with each other in the game, at any time. A single tool will not change that part completely, although it can adjust the balance.
It seems to me that World of Warcraft is a game that for a long time has encouraged gated communities over general community building, plus an emphasis on gated content or at least segregated content. The Dungeon Finder tool seems to me that it was a a way to try to work around community building issues, but only through addressing a smaller and easier problem than the core issue.
I think ArenaNet gets it whan it comes to general community building for their Guild Wars 2 title – at least from what they communicate they seem to have been giving this a lot of thought. Funcom maybe gets it for their next title – not quite sure yet about them for The Secret World. Paragon Studios seem to understand it, but sometimes perhaps only on a subconscious level and learning from mistakes.
The Massively post raised my curiousity a bit where Bioware stands here? Is there an overall pattern to be seen around community building in the game design of SW:TOR? It is not obvious from the general talk about the four pillars for their game what that pattern would be: progression, exploration, combat, and story. Admittedly, I have not looked much into the game yet so it might be obvious for those with a bit more insight here. But the four pillars mentioned are not elements that are specific for MMO-type games – it can be applied to any RPG-style game.
Today when I looked into one of my web-emails, I noticed that I had received an email potentially is a genuine email from Blizzard.
I do get a few scam emails per week from fake Blizzards trying to get my WoW account information – I do not see them anymore, since they end up in the spam folder automatically. But suddenly I see an email that did not end up in spam folder and that also actually seems to know that I have not played World of Warcraft for quite a while – 5+ years and counting.
So it offers 7 days of free game time to try out the game again. I will pass on that.
7 consecutive days is not really much time in practice for me, since I would probably only be able to play a bit during 2-3 days of those at best – if the game download is quick and smooth.
Except for maybe the Dungeon Finder there was not really anything listed that would make me interested in playing this game rather than some other fantasy MMO, but I do find it a bit amusing that they managed to include my email in a marketing campaign. Last time I got an email about returning back was a few years ago, around the time of their first expansion if memory serves me.
Maybe when they get an unlimited or long free trial or follow the footsteps of DDO, LOTRO, Champions or EQ2X will there be a time to see what what the state of the game is.
I saw this post on Broken Toys about that Blizzard is going to enforce the used of RealID (i.e. your real name) for people who post on their forums.
I am perfectly ok with that people can use their real names if they want to, but it should a choice they make themselves, not something that is pretty much forced on them.
Even when they initially announced the RealID feature they did say that people should not share it with people theey know and trust. And suddenly the WoW forums are going to become a big happy family?
Either someone did not think things through, or they did think a little bit and got $$$ and “world domination” in their minds, thinking about Facebook, LinkedIn and other networking sites and making plans to compete in that area.
I had no plans to pick up WoW again and I am generally not active in most game forums (City of Heroes is a slight exception), so it would not really affect me.
But if the worst things they could think of what people posting nasty things on their forums and that they could “fix” that with mandatory use of RealIDs for forum posters, then they need to think again.
Just the names in themselves are not necessarily bad; but putting names in a certain context and combining with other sources can lead to unwanted connections and associations.
Again, it is perfectly fine if people make a conscious decision to do that; but Blizzard do not seem to provide that type of option.
Looking at the spam folder of one of my email accounts, I noticed that there was another scam email in there. This one was quite good.
Not only are the first few lines formulated so that the manage to leave out any actual reason that you may be in violation of the EULA etc, but still conveys that you may have done something bad. But when it comes to the second part they do the usual “verify Login/account” type of thing, but then also add a lot of statements about account security. That includes, statating that Blizzard will never ask for the password during any circumstances.
That is a bit bold or devious. What will be the next approach?
Recently I got an email on one of my email accounts from “account management” @ Blizzard. It was pretty obvious this was some type of scam:
For me, I did not even have to read particularly far to see that it was a scam, since I have not played the game in about 4 years. I certainly do not remember my password or even the account name I used.
It makes me a bit curious though where they have picked up the email address. It is not an address I use for MMO related stuff nowadays, but it could happen some years back. So presumably they have hacked some fansite which I may have visited a few years ago and from there obtained various email addresses.
What if there was a World of Warcraft where the amount of content was the same as today, but the max level was somewhere around 20-25? E.g. when a Horde player hit Barrens and completed the quests there, he/she would be at max level.
From there on every mob, every dungeon would have enemies typically level 20-something, with big bosses perhaps into the 30s.
Weapons and armor would have various stats, but with smaller differences than this reality’s WoW. The stats could also be moved around with some work and you could obtain stat modifiers separately.
Only a subset of skills would be available when the max level were reached, but you could earn more and better skills through quests or indirectly through rewards that allowed you to buy more skills (i.e. rewards + money would be needed).
In this alternate WoW the end game would just be about raiding – in fact, almost the whole game would be the “end game”.
Would you play an alternate WoW like that? Would you stick with it? What do you think the guild structure and the community would be like?
This is just a thought experiment combining WoW’s content with some of the game mechanics of another game by some ex-Warcraft developers. Would a game like that have been developed with a different Blizzard?
NCSoft is in the process of changing their subscription model for Lineage and Lineage II, accoding to some comments on their latest earnings report call for Q2 2008 – this info is probably somewhere else also, but I first heard it on the call.
Instead of just offering a subscription with unlimited time, they will have three different options which you can choose from for that subscription fee:
- Play with unlimited time, as before
- Play at most 300 hours per month and get some in-game items
- Play at most 100 hours per month and get more in-game items
So instead of spending a lot of time grinding for phat loot, one can spend less time in the game and possibly get phat loot anyway.
I do wonder a bit how much time some players spend on that game if the middle option is 300 hours. That is about 70 hours per week, almost twice as much many regular full-time jobs. Even the low option is one that would be more than enough time for me, most of the time.
Would a similar model be beneficial for other item-focused games, like World of Warcraft? Or any older and a bit grindy games, e.g. if items included were xp boosters or something similar?