Mordiceius’ Gaming Blog

Mordiceius’ Gaming Blog

One Blood Knight against the legions of the Lich King

In Dungeons and Dragons, level-based advancement makes sense. But, in Dungeons and Dragons you are with a consistent group of people that are all leveling with you and you see a logical progression of enemy difficulty. If you have a new player join the group, most likely they will roll and equal level character. After gaining ten levels, you will not fight normal boars that are considered equal to your level but ten levels above the giant evil demon mage you fought ten levels previously.

In massively multiplayer computer games, levels are an archaic system that causes more problems than it is worth. Levels force mudflation, vertically expanding content (most of the time), content exclusivity, nonsensical enemy progression, and power unbalancing among other things.

MMOs like WoW and WAR have a huge mudflation factor. In WoW, the gear you get from killing an immensely powerful mage in your 20s (Archmage Arugal) will be significantly inferior to the gear you get from defeating an ogre boss in Lower Blackrock Spire in your 60s when storyline-wise, Arugal may have been more powerful. The gear you get from defeating an Old God at 60 (C’thun) pales in comparison to gear you get from defeating a random blue dragon in Violet Hold (Cyranagosa). This is mudflation and nonsensical enemy progression at its peak.

I know I had started that dream MMO write-up, but after some time, my ideas and opinions have had time to develop more.

I want an MMO without a focus on gear and levels. Have boss fights be a test of skill, not a test of “do you outgear this boss? yes/no”. PvP would be based on who could better play their class, not who had more levels and more gear. A brand new player could hop right into a dungeon with their friend who has been playing for months.

The thought on most people’s minds is “What incentive will people have to do dungeons and quests?”

Vanity items and achievements. That is all people need.

One thing I absolutely loved in Lord of the Rings Online was how bosses could drop trophies for your player house or guild hall (I still need to do my thoughts on player housing blog post). Other vanity items could include special armor sets (in looks, not in stats), clothing, weapons (again in look, not stats), non-combat pets, mounts, and gadgets (think of the special loot from the WoW card game).

It may not seem like that would be a big enough carrot for people, but I think it is more of a draw than you would initially think. Plus the accessability this would add to a game would be huge.

Quests could be seen as just as another pathway to make money to buy these items but it is all about giving players choice. Questing, professions, PvP, PvE, playing the auction house, all should be options available to people. The more options you give players, the more players you can hook.
The Horizons Broadening Movie of the Week for February 15th-21st is: Casablanca
February 15, 2009 • No Comments

More information on the Horizons Broadening Project can be found here.

If you would like to suggest a future movie, you can post it on the blog post, join Gamers With Jobs and post on the thread, or e-mail me at knight.of.fantasy(at)gmail(dot)com

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The Horizons Broadening Movie of the Week for February 15th-21st is: Casablanca

Description from Netflix: Of all the “gin joints” in Morocco, Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman), with husband Victor (Paul Henreid) in tow, had to walk into the one owned by Rick (Humphrey Bogart), a former beau she abandoned in Paris. War looms over them all, and in a much-discussed ending, Rick and Ilsa make heroic but heartbreaking choices. As time goes by, director Michael Curtiz’s 1942 classic war noir only gets better. Peter Lorre and Claude Rains also star.

Interesting Facts via IMDB: The film cost approximately $950,000, some $100,000 over budget.

Humphrey Bogart’s wife Mayo Methot continually accused him of having an affair with Ingrid Bergman, often confronting him in his dressing room before a shot. Bogart would come onto the set in a rage. In fact, despite the undeniable on-screen chemistry between Bogart and Bergman, they hardly spoke, and the only time they bonded was when the two had lunch with Geraldine Fitzgerald. According to Fitzgerald, “the whole subject at lunch was how they could get out of that movie. They thought the dialogue was ridiculous and the situations were unbelievable… I knew Bogart very well, and I think he wanted to join forces with Bergman, to make sure they both said the same things.” For whatever reasons, Bogart and Bergman rarely spoke after that.

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So after I left for work today and my girlfriend left for class, someone broke into our apartment and stole majority of our electronics.

I am struck on how violated I feel after this whole affair. They took our XBox 360, Playstation 2 and all the games we had for both systems as well as Regina’s laptop. While they took these things they did not touch out TVs, DvD players, DvDs, my computer, or anything else in the house.

The police said that they usually grab quick small electronics so they can pawn them off quickly. Luckily, Alabama law states pawn shops must put the model numbers of all electronics into the police database and since we still have the numbers of the 360 and the laptop, there is a chance the police will be able to track the person down.

So this weekend wrapped up the week of my Warhammer Online free trial. Have I decided to purchase the game? Probably. But it was not because I was wowed by the first 12 levels, it is more because I am a whore for MMOs.

Also, I might be able to talk some friends in WoW to start playing with me. A lot of them are bored with the content now after getting all the server firsts for raid bosses and mastering 3-drake Sartharion. We might try to schedule a weekly or bi-weekly Warhammer night.

My final opinions of what I experienced over the last week is mixed. I can see where this game has potential. I can see how it would be fun with a group. For people with a 7 day trial, I think it will end up as a missed opportunity for most because a lot of people spend those 7 days soloing and unguided. If you do not have a group of friends or guild to play with regularly, I can see the game wearing out its welcome sooner rather than later.

Next, I feel the game almost has TOO MUCH content. Three public quests per chapter is too many. In the lower levels, you are in a chapter for a few hours at most and majority of that time is spent in scenarios or the RvR lake. Three scenarios per tier strikes a good balance, I think, but three public quests per chapter is too many. I think one public quest per chapter would be good enough. With one PQ per chapter, you could make each public quest exciting instead of some rather boring ones.

For instance, one of the normal public quests for what I think was either chapter 5 or 6 (whatever is the first chapter in tier 2), has you fight 40 boars, 12 champion Minotaur men, and one giant boss Minotaur man. It was really boring. I liked the first chaos public quest you encounter. You are sacrificing soldiers to a demonic sacrifice, but a bright wizard screws things up so that a blood god demon gets summoned that you have to fight. That is exciting. Fighting a couple waves of boars and Minotaur men is not.

Soloing is a bother as a zealot. I am sure it is fine and fast enough if you are a dps class, but as a zealot, I am struggling to kill things before they re spawn on top of me. In the first quest hub in tier 2, you get a quest to enter a crypt to fight some cultists or something (yes, I skip the quest text in this game). I was level 12 and these enemies (cultists, bats, skeletons and ghouls) are all level 10-12. They are not hard to kill, but as a zealot it just takes time. The mobs were almost re spawning on top of me because things went so slow. I do not know if every class has this much trouble or if it just my slow DPS as a zealot.

I do not know about other classes, but you do not really get a feel for how the zealot plays until you get your level 8 abilities. (I do remember someone somewhere saying that you do not usually get a feel for the character style until level 8). Why? Why should I have to wait until level 8 to decide if the play style works for me. In WoW, with all classes but the hunter and druid, you get a good feel for the character style within the first 4 levels (druids because you do not get all your shape shifting forms right away, and hunter because you do not get a pet until level 10, which I never liked). Within the first two hours, I should have a good handle on how my class plays, not after the first five to eight.

With all of this talk, it probably seems like I hate zealots and the game. It is actually neither. I love zealots, with the caveat, in a group. But then again, I think everything is better in a group. That should just be motto for this game. “Scenarios are okay, but in a group they are awesome.” “Public quests do not work solo, but in a group they are amazing.” “Open world RvR sucks by yourself, but in a group it can be the best gaming experience you will have.”

I may not pick up the game within the coming days as I have some XBox 360 games I want to finish up (my second play through of Fable 2 and my first play through of Mirror’s Edge), but I can see myself picking up the game in the very near future.

I just need to find myself a good group to play with.
A Quick Explanation On My WAR Opinion

I plan on having my final “Week of WAR” write up tomorrow to summarize my weekend activities and my final thoughts on the game.

First, I want to give somewhat of a disclaimer that I will probably elaborate more on tomorrow. After chatting with some people about my posts this week, some thought I was being extremely critical and unfair to the game. A few said things like “You’re playing the game wrong”, “Tier 1 is not that fun, the good stuff is in the upper tiers”, and “Yeah, this game probably is not fun if you’re not with a group of people or in a guild”.

No offense, but most of those sound like excuses for shoddy game play.

When I approached WAR this week, I pushed from my mind most the stuff I had read over the past few months about the game and the hype since pre-beta. I tried to come to the game as a brand new player without too many preconceived notions of what it was supposed to be. My opinions over the past week have been based on what I would think coming to the game as a solo player for a seven day trial.

Anyway, I will elaborate more tomorrow with my final thoughts and if I plan to pick up the game.
The Horizons Broadening Movie of the Week for February 8th-14th is: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

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The Horizons Broadening Movie of the Week for February 8th-14th is: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Description from Netflix: Petty thief Harry Lockart (Robert Downey Jr.) gets caught up in a murder investigation in this action-packed comedy. Posing as an actor, Harry heads to Los Angeles for an unlikely audition and finds an authentic acting coach in detective Perry Van Shrike (Val Kilmer). But the bright lights of Hollywood fade when a murder takes place and Harry, Perry and Harry’s high school dream girl (Michelle Monaghan) become part of the investigation.

Interesting Facts via IMDB: Val Kilmer walked around in a $500 pair of Louis Vuitton driving shoes and wore nail varnish while experimenting with several variations of speech patterns for the role. Kilmer also noted this was done much to his son Jack’s chagrin.

As a sign of support to Robert Downey Jr.’s recovery from alcohol and drugs, Val Kilmer refused to drink during the entire production.

One scene in the film takes place in a club exhibiting living art, which, at one point in his life, Robert Downey Jr. worked as.

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So the gentleman’s duel between two of my favorite bloggers continues today so I what better time to give my happy medium opinion.

On one side, Syncaine blames the rise and fall of WAR numbers on WoW tourists who constantly say that they are looking for something that is now WoW, go after every new shiny, and then leave because it is not WoW. He also argues that when we think back to WoW’s launch, we see it with rose colored classes and it had a terrible launch in its own right. Moreover, he believes the main reason WoW is so successful today is because of the perfect storm of game launches and mishaps that made it possible for Blizzard to sweep up everyone on the market

Wilhelm argues that maybe the rise and fall of WAR numbers is because the game is bad or not fun or people just did not get what they wanted out of it.

So why was WoW a huge booming success from day one and why did WAR see the loss of so many in the first three months?

I think it is a mixture of both Syncaine’s and Wilhelm’s with a dash of some things alluded to in the blog comments on one of Syncaine’s posts.

First, I believe WAR was released too early. I do not think they should have launched until all the classes were implemented into the game. The four cities that were removed do not bother me. The removal of the classes (even though they are getting patched back in) does. This could be one of three reasons in my mind. Either someone at Mythic realized they were running out of money and felt they needed to push it out the door, someone at EA wanted their fiscal report to look better so forced Mythic to push it out the door, or because they were worried if WotLK launched before them, they would lose out on those players for too long and have a weaker launch. Whatever the reason, the game was released when it was and I think that was a mistake.

Second is something that a comment by Nat outlines well:

WOW (Blizzard as a whole actually) has a special something that most games don’t. It’s the same thing the separates Pixar from other studios that make animated movies. It’s the same something special Disney had 50 years ago.

In a way, I could imagine WoW as Pixar and WAR as Dreamworks. The top Pixar films include Wall-E, The Incredibles, Monsters Inc, Finding Nemo, Toy Story, A Bug’s Life and more. The top Dreamworks films include Shrek, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda, Over The Hedge, Bee Movie, Shark Tale. While Dreamworks may have some hits with Shrek and others, the Pixar films are seen as much more memorable and have more of a consistent quality to them.

In that way, I believe Blizzard has a bit more “street cred” to them for years before WoW they had three strong IPs going. Starcraft, Warcraft and Diablo battlechests still sell ridiculous amounts of game boxes to this day. Mythic’s only major accomplishment was Dark Age of Camelot.

Third, WAR sort of looks like… well not very good for 2018/2019. I am able to play both WoW and WAR at max settings and side by side I believe that the graphics of WoW at maxxed are superior to WAR at maxxed settings. Rynala came into the office while I was playing the other day and remarked on how it surprised her that such a new game looked worse than one four years old. Lord of the Rings Online came out in April 2018 and the world in that game looks tremendously better than WoW. I do not see why WAR took a step back on graphics instead of a step forward.

Fourth, focus. I think that the focus of WAR changed a bit multiple times in development leading to this lack of focus seen early game. WoW came out as a jack of all trades, doing everything okay, nothing spectacular (except questing for the most part), so that it could appeal to anyone. Compare the grind and penalties in WoW to those in Everquest and Ultima Online. Blizzard looked at WoW as a hobby game instead of a niche game. I remember watching the beta videos Paul Barnett and Jeff Hickman put out about how to play the game and the tiers.

They talked about how you could just open world PvP if you wanted, do scenarios if you wanted or do the PvE with the awesome revolutionary public quests. Well the questing (not counting public quests) in WAR is boring. And since it is human nature to take the path of least resistance, we are left with everyone running scenarios and few people in ORvR and even less doing questing and public quests. WAR needs to decide what it wants to be and focus everything into that. Want open world RvR to be more popular? Make the experience and renown gains three to five as much as you’d gain from scenarios. I guarantee you would see more people in the world fighting.

Fifth, I believe some of blame does land on Blizzard and World of Warcraft. They took a genre that is about niche gaming and opened up to the masses. I am betting that Syncaine sees this as a bad thing. I, however, do not. Compare MMORPGs to other genres. Call of Duty 4 sold seven million copies. Seven. Million. Copies. Madden 2009 has already sold over 2.5 million copies. These other genres have millions upon million of people playing. Call of Duty 4 sold more copies than Blizzard has of WoW in the US. I believe in a way, MMOs are still a niche genre, but nowhere to the scale that they were 5+ years ago.

So wow, this post became about three times longer than I wanted it to be. Forgive my rambling and stream of thought typing.

In the end, I believe WAR can and will succeed. It just needs to find its focus and be what it was meant to be.
Week of WAR – Day 3

Of all weeks to have to work extra hours, the had to be the week. I got home late last night so I did not get to play as much Warhammer as I would have liked. The good news is that I’m out of Tier 1 now. Maybe I can take part in a keep siege tonight.

Tier 1 just needs to be removed. Simply that. It lacks purpose and focus. The other thing that would help is if they had a low level keep and improved influence gains. When I spend a total of three hours in the RvR lake and am only half way to the first influence reward, things are too slow.

I have come to hate the Vegas roll system. Coming in first place for contributions but not getting anything for your efforts is terrible design. We were doing the chapter 4 public quest in Chaos lands where you burn wagons, fight soldiers and then a Knight of the Burning Sun. I came in first in contributions twice. The first time I rolled and 88 and even with the +500 was bottom of the loot charts and the second time I rolled about a 220 and only got one of the bad loot bags that does not have anything good in it.

The other solution for the Vegas loot system is change the way points work. Right now, first place contribution gets +500, then +450 then +400 and so on from there. Instead, set a pool of like 2500 “contribution points.” Have the amount you get be in direct relation to the percentage of contribution they have you marked at. If you’re at 50%, you get +1250, If you only did 10% contribution, you only get +250. Then have the Vegas 1000 sided dice roll after that. I often feel like I’m contributing a lot more compared to the next person on the list yet we’re still only 50 points apart in this system. I would like more transparency to see the actual contribution percentages.

I explored the rest of the tier 1 map that I could explore. I found a huge public quest to the far south of the Chaos/Empire tier 1 zones that was marked as “Hard” since it was basically a PQ in a huge town. Obviously no one was there so I will never get to experience that one.

The night ended with me hitting rank 11 and renown rank 9, moving on to tier 2 (which I think looks a lot better than tier 1) and abandoning all my old tier 1 quests.

What I wonder is how many quests are carbon copies of each other. Since Chaos and Order are mirrored, how much variety are there in the quests for each side or do all the tier 1 Chaos quests have an exact mirror Order quest with just the names changed?

Also, I hope you do not expect me to write about the new WoW patch 3.1 news. There are a million other blogs already talking about it and you do not need me to repeat it.
Week of WAR – Day 2

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After taking the day off gaming for my birthday on Tuesday, I was able to get a full night of WAR in last night (well, a full night minus and hour for Lost).

Tier 1 RvR is boring. Simply that. The XP is slow and the fights are boring. I can understand why people do the scenario grind. We had a warband and a half of Chaos against a warband a half of Order and the XP and renown came at about 1/4 the speed of scenarios, if not slower.

Not to mention, the fights themselves are boring. We stand on a hill and slaughter them, pushing them all the way back to their warcamp and then slowly they muster and push us back to a field while they are standing on a hill. I did this for about an hour back and forth until I could not take anymore so I grinded scenarios and public quests for the rest of the night.

Why even have Tier 1 and 2 RvR lakes if they are not enjoyable?

I am enjoying my Zealot more since I got my level 8 heal, but still fighting in PvE is just slow for this class. Holy priests in WoW kill stuff faster than I do.

I ended the night at rank 10, renown rank 8. I probably would have hit level 12 or so if I had just did scenarios all night. Even when losing, I get more XP than open world RvR (and that is even in the times when we are wiping the floor with them).

Public quests are alright. They are neat but I do not think they are the savior of PvE they were heralded as pre-launch. They are a nice distraction, but do not really make up for the lack of exciting quests. I have always been a man to read all the quest text in games but in this, I cannot seem to muster the excitement to read quests. It breaks my heart to think of all these zones and the lore behind them that 99% people are just basically ignoring.

While the quest indicators on the world and minimaps (the red circles around where you need to go) are a neat idea, I almost worry they are hand holding a bit much. I have always been against the mods like QuestHelper and Carbonite and enjoyed finding the location myself as quests are already simple enough nowadays. But this could all just be the explorer in me. With the unimaginative quests, the grinding is more evident and the PvE of the game feels one step away from an Asian MMO.

I think the entire playerbase would have been happier if the entire world was just one giant RvR lake or if the entire world was about 10% of the size it currently is. All the players seem to want is “Deathmatch: The MMORPG.”

At the lower tiers, this game feels like it is in the middle of an identity crisis. It does not really have a solid aim or focus. I have heard this improves in tier 3 and tier 4 with more of an RvR focus but if the endgame of taking keeps and cities is what this game is all about, why even have level 1-39?

Just strip the game down to all the content in tier 3 and 4, remove tiers 1 and 2, have no levels and the only line of progression be the renown ranks that do the same things they do right now.

Also, Wilhelm of The Ancient Gaming Noob put up a good post regarding the accusations by a certain someone. I have some thoughts of my own which are somewhat of a medium between the two but I will save that for another post.
The Success or Failure of Warhammer and Fishing

Well, the big (or should I say little) news within the blogosphere today is how Warhammer is currently sitting around 300k subs (down from the 750k peak). Originally most people had expected it to be at least to 500k by the end 2008, if not higher. A lot of people were expecting it to land somewhere between one and two million. Not only that, but there are still quite a number of people who have six month subs but are not playing anymore so the numbers could drop off even more.

People have many different explanations. On one blog I read, commentators laid the blame on EA for not advertising the game enough. I do not think this could be the case since one report I read stated that 1.2 million boxes were sold of the game. Even if they lost 50% of those people, they would still be sitting at 600k subs, double what they have now.

Others blame a buggy, unbalanced end game. This could be a possibility. I have not gotten that far into the game, so I cannot say. Syncaine puts some of the blame on the “MMO tourists”. Overall, everyone has come up with a different person or group to put at fault in this blame game. I have a different theory.

When I was a kid, I grew up in northern Idaho, deep in the heart of the pacific northwest. We did a great deal of hunting and fishing. One thing that you immediately notice about fishing hooks is that they have the point and the barb. The point will cut into flesh and the barb makes sure it stays. You can have the sharpest hook out there, but it will not matter without a barb because you will not be able to hold the fish on the hook.

Warhammer is missing the barb.

The hype of the core mechanic of RvR was huge. The RvR in the game is the point of the hook. It cuts deep into gamers wanting something new, but that is all the game had to offer so there was no barb to keep them hooked. On the other side of the fence, I see World of Warcraft as a fish hook with a multitude of barbs. If you make it past the first one, there will be ten more waiting for you.

In Warhammer, if you get bored of RvR for a couple days, there is nothing for you to do. Professions are a joke and so is PvE. In WoW, if you get bored of PvP, you can go run 5man instances, go build reputations, work on professions (including secondary ones like fishing and cooking), do 10 or 25man raiding, play the auction house, collect items like mounts and noncombat pets, and other various activities.

I hate sounding cliche, but in the end, it seems like WAR is in its current state a one-trick pony. It does not matter how fantastic that one trick is because after a while people will tire of it and want some other tricks, however mundane they may be, to keep their attention.

I question the next six months of WoW as I feel people are burning through Wrath of the Lich King at an alarming rate. Within two months, I had accomplished everything I could want to do in WotLK until a new content patch comes out. It will be interesting to see how strong those extra barbs are in the game and if they are strong enough to hold the masses to the game.

Nonetheless, WAR currently does not feel like it has any barbs so subscribers are slipping right off the hook.

Pre-Post Edit:

It seems like Mythic is going to be losing 60-120 people from the company. I just wonder if they knew about this last week when they announced the new stuff or they’re just finding out about it now.

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