Links and mini-posts for the weekend

I thought since I was away and these links will be at least a week out of date, I’d go back through my old bookmarks and see if I could find a few slightly older posts to mix in with ones that caught my eye recently.

RIFT’s Summer Update makes every other game’s producer letter seem slight and mean minded. They are going to do EVERYTHING. There is information about quality of life improvements, zone events, and how they try to balance putting effort into raids with other upcoming endgame activities. The guy knows his MMOs and knows his players, I defy anyone to read that post and not have even a minor yay moment.

I wrote about raid rifts in RIFT a couple of weeks ago, and apparently I’m not the only person who enjoys them.

The challenge there was to create an incentive for an activity that wasn’t burdened by lockouts, such that more people could help out more than once a day if they choose. Those have worked out amazingly well for pickup raids of 10 to 20. Just about all of the servers have multiple pickup raids engaging more people in the shared world than we had ever hoped, every single day.

There are issues that haven’t been explicitly addressed though. For example, PvP rifts sound fun, but what about issues around PvP gearing and how implacable it can be for newbies.

Having said that, their ideas about where to go with endgame and what sorts of activities different players might want to do are amongst the most interesting and exciting in the industry. I’m dipping into WoW at the moment again, but not likely to let my Rift sub drop any time soon. (Sorry to my guildies for not being around much.)

More links

  • I haven’t written much about Blizzard’s new game (codenamed Titan) because we don’t know much about it. But ‘back’ in June analysts were claiming that it was going to be a casual MMO. RPS reckon that means probably a FPS of some sort. Is MMOFPS the future of MMOs? If Blizzard does it, what does that mean for WoW? (and the many WoW players who may have been hoping for WoW #2.)
  • If you are good at a game and good at playing your class/ role, do you feel any responsibility to pass tips on to newer players? Nope? Only if they’re in your guild/ raid? Arthemystia argues here that experienced hunters in WoW should help newbie hunters. (Presumably they aren’t interested in helping non-hunters.)
  • I will miss Blacksen and I’ve enjoyed his blog a great deal, especially as it comes from a very different (and very hardcore) mindset. His goodbye post is well worth reading for anyone who wants to understand the inner workings of raid guilds. His comments on why the raiders names always rotate and how difficult it is to maintain a stable roster even as a competitive progression guild, ring very true. Anyhow, I wish him luck with the rest of his life :)
  • The SWTOR developer blog post last week was about crafting the opening videos for each class. You may think “yeah, yeah, introductory video – will take about 5 mins out of a game I may play for hundreds of hours,” but I defy anyone not to feel something when the screen goes dark, the star wars music starts to play, and text starts to scroll slowly up the screen a la A New Hope and it is about your character.
  • There was a press release that hit the games press last week discussing whether female gamers liked games better than sex. This is the only post I’ve found discussing that survey which makes the obvious point that maybe this is because quite a lot of women actually don’t enjoy sex all that much. They compare with a larger survey on US sexual activity in which 30% of female respondents said that their last experience of sex had been painful. Yup, Farmville is looking quite appealing in comparison to actual PAIN.
  • And lastly, one from my social work blog list, in which Social Jerk discusses how she’d sort out Hogwarts. (Yes, of course I went to see the Harry Potter film and it was great. I am however gutted that we got shown the trailer for Twilight and not The Dark Knight Rises.)
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7 thoughts on “Links and mini-posts for the weekend

  1. Not to bash on Rift or anything, but it is interesting to see how many updates they are putting out despite the sub numbers having peaked at 600k and then fallen to ~465k (per MMOData) in the months since launch. Is this fever pitch just the way these devs roll? Is it reactionary? Would *any* number of patches and hotfixes conceivably retain more players?

    • Before free to play messed up all the metrics Eve Online was solidly second with 330K subscribers.

      If Rift has stabilised at around 450K and isn’t continuing to lose people then they’ve done extremely well. In fact the best sustained success since WoW in 2004.

      • If I recall correctly, RIFT was said to have cost $50M to develop (and some of that is for development of the game systems that will be reused for other games). They’ve been reported to have sold close to 1 M subs (this is not the trial accounts number, but actual physical+digital box sales). If they’ve retained 450K, then they could already have earned back the development costs and be raking in big profits now.

        The comments I get from them in interview, while of course slanted, tend to make me think they’ve come in well over their internal targets. I suspect they didn’t expect Cataclysm’s “own goal” on subscriber retention.

  2. Losing only 20% is a miracle number compared to the vast majority of MMOs. These guys have been releasing at a vast rate since launch anyway – the advantage of being near bug-free at launch is an ability to focus on cool new stuff…

  3. The problem with FPS, and with Titan if it turns out to be a FPS, is that the game activity basically consists of putting your mouse cursor over a tiny fast moving and erratic dot and clicking.

    Some of us simply are not good at that.

    I tried and really liked World of Tanks. However I’m poor at the basic gameplay. They could not have possibly dressed it up to suit me better but I don’t play much because I’m not good at it.

    This gameplay is only casual to people who have done a great deal of it or who have grown up with it. It’s actually an acquired skill that people who lack experience of the genre are awful at by comparison to the vets and no amount of window dressing makes up for the gulf in basic ability.

    So we come down to what the word Casual means. If by “casual” you mean gamers who aren’t mmo gamers then FPS may draw them in. If by “casual” you mean people who don’t consider themselves gamers at all but like messing about with interesting stuff online FPS is a closed door.

    • > The problem with FPS, and with Titan if it turns
      > out to be a FPS, is that the game activity
      > basically consists of putting your mouse cursor
      > over a tiny fast moving and erratic dot and
      > clicking.
      >
      > Some of us simply are not good at that.

      How is that different from raiding? Raiding is also the only real end game activity end you’re either good at the dance or not.

  4. Sometimes I get the sense that Firefall is Blizzard’s secret test for the Titan market. I have no evidence to support this, but the developers are ex-WoW developers, it uses the same over-arching mechanics and its a casual MMOFPS…

    Am I being paranoid or do you think there could be some truth to that.

    Also: the walls say hi.

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