[WoW] Interrupts, Ghostcrawler admits melee is borked, and some cool links

Yesterday, Ghostcrawler wrote another intriguing blog post about game balance, interrupts, PvP issues and how designers can get into the trap of power creep.

The basic line of thought is that interrupts are too good in PvP (too accessible, too short a cooldown), so casters had to be given better instant spells/ kiting ability. And then *handwave* for some reason Blizzard had to give out more interrupts —

– no wait, this was “bring the player, not the character” and the homogenisation of classes in Cataclysm, and they did it deliberately and now they’re finding that they’re in a power race and it hasn’t worked out so brilliantly well.

Anyway, I think there’s an interesting discussion to be had as to whether casters were intended to have lower mobility as the price for having range (and crowd control). Ghostcrawler implies this is the case:

One of the advantages melee used to have in PvE was on movement fights. If the boss has to be kited or stays in motion, the rogues and warriors can follow along and still deal damage. <…>In today’s PvE environment, that role has almost flipped. Many casters can shoot on the run and take only a very minimal DPS hit to do so.

This is interesting since it’s the first time I’ve seen that Blizzard have admitted that melee have issues in the current tier of raiding. This was obvious to most players from pretty early on in the expansion (I recall having written about it.)

And it’s due to their design changes with Cataclysm, and they don’t seem to have any plans to either change it or improve things. There are more issues than being out-dpsed by casters, because staying in melee with bosses has gotten more difficult – again this is by design which he doesn’t mention here.

And his solution — nerf interrupts – wouldn’t really make that much difference to the PvE side of things on its own. Having said that, they’ve been quite keen on having players interrupt bosses on this tier. I figure that once they decided to give interrupts to all comers, they decided that people might as well use them. Since I like interrupting bosses I’m down with that, but it gets old …

This argument is particularly wearing for rogues and warriors who had interrupts right from the start and weren’t told that they were overpowered until now (at least not because of that.)

Some more WoW links

A few links from bloggers that I have read recently on WoW.

Matticus asks if 25 man raids are slowly dwindling. This was a prediction many people made pre-Cataclysm – is it coming true?

Borsked argues eloquently that raiding is back where it was meant to be in the game, only for the dedicated. And that the WoW player base is balancing itself to having fewer raid guilds.

Boathammer explains why WoW is boring to him as a non-raider

10 cool posts to read over the weekend

I haven’t done a good links post for awhile. But not for the lack of material!

  1. Flaim at The Cognisance Council has some thoughts for tanks, from someone who doesn’t tank. Big Bear Butt Blogger has some more thoughts about the tank’s role in a group, from someone who does.
  2. I’ve often seen bloggers wish that MMOs were based more on skill than on grind. But here’s the other side of the picture, MMO Designer discusses why it may be better to reward players for time spent, rather than for challenge.
  3. Dwism writes a timely post on some of the easter eggs in WoW. The little details that bring the world to life (a bit) which people might miss if they just dash through following questhelper like dogs on leashes.
  4. Leigh Alexander discusses an indie game that lets you take your virtual revenge on guys who make catcalls in the street. (Warning: if it bothers you that some women may not like being accosted in the street, don’t read this.)
  5. A couple of great posts from The Psychology of Games. One on how people pick their guildies, and how players pick their guilds. And another on whether people behave better online if they pick an avatar that looks more like themselves.
  6. Back in March, Keen swore that he’d never touch another F2P game. It’s something that he still feels very strongly about, and he describes why he thinks F2P is going to ruin LOTRO.
  7. Jeff Vogel at The Bottom Feeder discusses anti piracy solutions. And explains why he thinks the options that players hate might be the ones which work best.
  8. Back in February, Larisa was already asking how WoW players were going to keep their enthusiasm going until November. We still don’t really know the answer to that.
  9. Kava is a Wow player and musician who writes a druid blog at Evil Tree. She’s recently been sharing her passion for gaming music, comparing classical music and opera with the Warcraft soundtrack.
  10. Syncaine talks about the lure of grindy gameplay in MMOs. Why do we enjoy spending hours killing mobs or doing dailies to chase that extra 0.1% damage?

In links we trust

  1. Can Gaming make a better world? Rick at /random writes about Jane McGonigals well reported speech at TED on this subject. But heck, we know how hard gamers work on problems like organising raids and killing raid bosses – which are social as well as mechanical puzzles. Would they be as interested in complex real world problems too? And here a local government blogger, inspired by the same TED talk, ponders World of Govcraft. Could people get more involved in local government and solving local issues if they pretended it was a virtual world?
  2. Scott Jennings writes at mmorpg.com about the hard numbers behind SW:TOR. How much money does this game need to make? How much has been poured into it so far? Is this model sustainable?
  3. Dusty shares some insights into social games. And particularly the mechanics that allow a player to progress by either inviting more people OR spending money. Paying to avoid socialising?
  4. Oh yeah, apparently some little Finnish guild killed the Lich King on hard mode. Awesome work, Paragon! Even now people are inspecting their lineup and preparing the inevitable whine posts if their favourite class/spec didn’t make the cut.
  5. Ravious finds that the way he sees his online community has changed. He feels more connected to other gamers (ie. bloggers, twitter community etc) than just to his guild in his game of choice.  And I’m going to twin this with a column in The Guardian where a journalist writes about the value of virtual communities – she’s comparing her son’s community in WoW with her favourite political bboard and concludes … that much of the experience is the same.
  6. Gevlon analyses why his undergeared project is floundering. His conclusions are on the button and won’t surprise any experienced guild or raid leader. People are shallow, fickle, and selfish. But that doesn’t mean it was wrong to try.
  7. Melmoth runs into some mobstacles in Moria. This is one of the big reasons why I was so delighted to escape to Lothlorien (it does get a lot better). Player vs Developer also describes why he thinks the LOTRO economy just isn’t working and the problem with emblems and multiple ‘currencies’.
  8. Fulugaris on Killing Em Slowly asks whether Burst DPS is More Fun?
  9. Brigwyn at The Hunter’s Lodge is calling time. It’s an awesome blog and he’ll be dearly missed, but as he says himself, “I’ve done pretty much everything in the game at least once.” Dwism also picked up on Whiny Post Day with a post about when you run out of fun (note: the tone of these whiny posts is of course whiny and does not reflect what the blogger is usually like ;) ).
  10. And the Big Bear Butt blogger gives some good and heartfelt advice to new bloggers. I don’t entirely agree that spelling and grammar aren’t important (some of your readers may not speak English as a first language and good spelling/grammar will help them) but it’s not something to fret about in your first draft.
  11. Finally, the press embargo on The Secret World was dropped this week. Ysharros is here with links to all the reports around the web from journalists who tried it at GDC.

We need bigger links!

  1. In a week where Blizzard announced their plans for upgrading Battle.net to support online Starcraft 2 play, RPS asks whether people really want to play online RTS. If you’re a casual player, do you want to be thrown in amongst the hardcore even if the vaunted ‘skill matching’ works as intended? Do you even see them as PvP games, or prefer your strategy to be player vs environment?
  2. Farmville sells its most expensive item, would you spend $42 on a ‘cheat code’?
  3. Would older gamers rather play together than die alone? wired.com asks whether shooters with the associated hyper-competitive online posturing are really a young man/woman’s game. (Note: this is why it could be a mistake for MMOs to drift to more shootery gameplay, do they not know the age of their demographic?)
  4. Tamarind@Righteous Orbs has an unfortunately named alt (but at least people will remember his name!)
  5. Tanking class comparisons? We got ‘em. Big Bear Butt Blogger has been playing both a paladin and druid tank lately and has written a couple of posts comparing them. Shintar has another angle on paladin vs druid tanking – I wonder if she’s more objective because neither is her main. Gameldar also writes about paladin tanking for warriors (ie. if you’re switching), but again he steers clear of actually making any value judgements.
  6. evizaer has been playing and writing about Global Agenda recently and in this post he explains why DPS Medics are a design failure. This will be a familiar argument to anyone who has ever played or whined about healers who don’t heal in PvP.
  7. Nerf the Cat plays through the Dragon Age DLCs, Warden’s Keep and Return to Ostagar.
  8. James Wallis proposes a new standard for distinguishing between games and … non-games (eg. software toys.)
  9. Locke Webster on the MTV blog looks at how Mass Effect changed the way he roleplays. (I have a longer post planned on this.)
  10. We like stories about good vs evil, but what is evil anyway? Jon Evans on the tor.com blog argues that every society has its own, changing notions of evil. And fantasy or futuristic societies even moreso. It’s an interesting thought for roleplayers.
  11. Syp explains why no one cares about Taris, referring to the latest SW:TOR infosnippet. I think the SW:TOR team should hire some cricket commentators, they have plenty of experience in filling airtime with chatter while raid stops play.
  12. And finally Mattel unveils … Computer Engineer Barbie. I’ve heard complaints that the laptop is Bismuth Pink but I think they miss the actual subversive nature of the new career — it shows that computer engineers can be girly too, and that’s the point.

If on a winter’s night a links page …

1. Zynga and the End of the Beginning. This is a long but brilliant essay on Gamasutra about the state of social games and where we go from here. There’s a lot of hard and sound thinking here about how these games work and why they are so popular. I thought it was fascinating.

The premise is that people will get bored quickly of social facebook games. Then they’ll look for games with more depth.

Here’s a few choice quotes:

Viral game developers, such as Zynga, have little or no commitment to developing deep or rich game experiences because the market has not really rewarded that kind of activity.

Veterans share as a means of expression and identity. What you share says something about who you are, and so the risk of bad sharing is that of damaged reputation. Few veterans want a reputation as a spammer. So they no longer pass on every Youtube clip that comes their way to all of their friends.

Entertainment is like dating. You should always strive to be sexy.  Sexiness is all about creativity, credibility, charisma and character. <…> Zynga has no sex appeal.

2. Should monsters surrender? Andrew Doull develops roguelikes, and he’s wondering whether to put in an option for monsters to surrender to players if they are losing. I remember playing D&D games where we refused to kill the orc town and demanded that the GM allow us to get them to surrender instead (you can do that in pen and paper games) but in MMOs the monster is typically either alive and fighting  you, or dead at your feet.

3. Girly Pally wonders if WoW can bring world peace. On an EU server we are almost always playing with people from different countries. Does this broaden our horizons?

4. Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening. IGN interviews Fernando Melo of Bioware about the forthcoming DAO expansion. If you didn’t know about this expansion then go read the interview, there’s lots of information there.

5. Chastity at Righteous Orbs looks at the ups and downs of using the dungeon finder for levelling characters. Bonus points for screenie of cool undead warrior chick. Is it sad that I knew that was a warrior instantly because I recognised the low level chest and legs? I had those once! (Does anyone else ever get nostalgic like this with other people’s alts?)

6. petter at Don’t fear the mutant is a great writer and he’s knocked out a couple of  articles that caught my eye recently. What’s wrong with this looking for dungeon picture? is his response to Elnia’s provocative column comparing LFG to cheap porn.

When I’m playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, I am thrown into a group of strangers. We have one common goal – to win over the other team. If we win over the other team, we get bonus XP. Bonus XP leads to more unlocked weapons. I don’t talk to them, they hardly talk to me, most of us know more or less where to go and what to do. If someone is under-performing, they run the risk of getting downrated. Does this mean CoD:MW2 is like porn?

In Hello Levelling, My Old Friend he talks about why he’s tired of levelling in game after game. I sympathise with this one, my LOTRO experience is mostly a solo one of following in everyone else’s footsteps about six months after they did everything. Sometimes you just want to go play with other people and not be forced through several months of solo levelling first.

7. The SWTOR team unveil Dromund Kaas (and all the germans are now wondering what cheese has to do with it), the seat of the empire in the old republic. Maybe I am just a sucker for dark gothic settings but this one strikes me as way more interesting than just about all the other planets they have highlighted so far. Maybe I won’t end up playing a smuggler after all. Or maybe republic  will be able to take package tours there?

8. Arbitrary is having fun persuading people that if they run instances backwards without their pants on, there’s a better chance of getting a rare drop. Gamers are superstitious folk. And Onyxia deep breaths more this patch.

9. A High Latency Life presents their 10 rules for running PUGS:

  • If thou is unhappy with something, do not complain, take charge and create/ lead your own PUG to the promise lands.

10. Looking for some more fantasy reading matter? Several MMO bloggers share their favourites (What no vampire romances? I’m disappointed, guys):

Syp also posts a thoughtful look at how we feel about games that we’ve tried and then left.

I can’t promise to never talk about a past MMO, or if I do so, to always couch my words in a positive light.  That’s just not honest to my writing.  But I do promise to consider how people feel who play these games, and to let a grudge or gripe go when I’ve said my piece, instead of chewing it up over and over again.

Walking in a linking wonderland

Here are some of the posts and threads that caught my eye over the last couple of weeks.

  1. Kurt Vonnegut explains why people become drama queens
  2. tankspot dares to ask, “Has tanking made you mean?” Obviously not in my case, and I’ll boot anyone who disagrees.
  3. Tobold has an interesting theory about the different players who are attracted to different payment models. If all the players who really want games to be free go with free to play then how can that model make money? Similarly, if all the hardcore 40 hours a week guys flock to subscription models which depend on having lots of casual players, can those thrive too?
  4. Cassandri at HoTs and DoTs wants to know how much you’d pay for a battered hilt (leads to a quest which results in the best non raiding weapon in WoW). Does knowing that it has a high value affect whether you’d roll need on it?
  5. We get a lot of gaming genre blending in CRPGs. Some puzzle solving, squad based combat, exploring, maybe even FPS segments. Rampant Coypte wonders if players enjoy the mix of genres. For me, only if I like BOTH genres. I never forgave Prince of Persia for including stupid fighty bits when I just wanted a platform game.
  6. Mike Schramm has an intriguing post on wow.com asking whether Facebook might count as an MMO. After all, ‘players’ have avatars, homes, and can interact with others virtually. This is also his last week on wow.com so good luck to him in the future, I know I’ve enjoyed his writing.
  7. Larisa has some thoughts on how to take command over the random PUG. I’m hoping she will later address the question of whether or not anyone should be taking command.
  8. Hawley loves healers and says we’ll all miss them when they’re gone. He also wonders about Blizzard’s decision not to have a crowd control class; funnily enough I remember at the time thinking that it was inspired to spread the crowd control between different classes, but it’s true that in practice they weren’t all treated as equal.
  9. Jason Henniger writes the ultimate dear john letter, “Nyarlahotep, I’m breaking up with you.”
  10. Megan at Forbearance and the Drama Mammas (sorry but that column name makes me want to spit nails) at wow.com both think that everyone should chill and welcome the poorly performing players into PUGs.

Links of the week

  1. We’ve seen a lot of discussion about Blizzard’s plans for the Icecrown patch (3.3). Fives writes the clearest and most heartfelt summary of them all. This isn’t just an analysis, it’s a love letter from a hardcore raid leader who sees his game on the verge of extinction. Six words that terrify Blizzard.
  2. The other big topic of discussion in gaming blogs has been some little shooter called Modern Warfare, perhaps you’ve heard of it? (It slays me that this outsold dragon age by about a zillion to one. Expect to see a slew of FPS based MMOs in about 5 years time.) Rock Paper Shotgun explains why the real problem with the ‘moral dilemma’ level wasn’t the moral dilemma, it’s that it was rubbish.
  3. As anyone who’s been keeping up with this blog knows, I’m totally enamoured of Dragon Age Origins. I finished my first play through earlier, but haven’t had time yet to marshall my thoughts. In the meantime, check out what the effervescent Tipa has to say in her DAO review. ElectricDeathRay also has a super review in the form of a love letter, explaining just why he loves the game so much.
  4. Overly Positive has another angle on DAO. In his view, Bioware have put their money where their mouth is and shown us now that they really are way ahead of the field in storytelling right now. So what does this mean for Star Wars: The Old Republic?
  5. The Final Fantasy XIV Core blog asks “What kind of gamer are you?” Apparently I’m a generic gamer, I’m not even sure if that’s good or not. (Or maybe a storyliner – they added that later after I’d read the post!)
  6. Dragonchaser takes a first look at skirmishes in LOTRO and loves what he sees. This is a really neat sounding feature that’s coming out in the next patch. It involves instances that scale from single player up to a full group. It involves randomised encounters. It involves customisable NPCs who can help out with healing, tanking, or dps. What’s not to love? (I think Tobold’s on crack when he says he’d rather play Cataclysm than Mirkwood – but more on that next week.)
  7. octalblack is upset because she thinks that people give Champions Online an unfairly hard time for the cash shop, where WoW gets a free pass. Why can’t people be consistent in how they criticise features? I fear the sad truth is that most people who criticise CO have no intention of playing it, whereas most people who talk about WoW are current players, so that affects how it’s seen.
  8. p@tsh@t echoes the feeling that a lot of oldtime MMO players have, which is that we’re slowly losing the worlds from our virtual worlds. Can the mass market support a virtual world or are we relegated to a shiny 3d chat room with a right click adventure menu?
  9. Anyone else noticed that lots of people are easing up on their MMO playing at the moment because of all the great single player games that have been coming out? Dusty asks (tongue in cheek?) whether single player games are ruining our MMOs.
  10. And in honour of Twilight, here’s an old Halloween link. The Escapist asks whether you can identify these 30 vampires in 30s.

By the way, check out the new banner, courtesy of Veneretio. I think it’s bluerifficly awesome, and not just because  this font makes me think of ice creams at the seaside.

Dragon Age, and the unending battle of fluff vs crunch

I am still working my way through Dragon Age, and still thoroughly enjoying the game. While people agree in general that the game is of high quality, there is a split of opinions online as to how well it actually works … as a game. All of these games which tell stories have to provide a mix of storytelling (ie. exposition, introduction of NPC characters, exploring the world) and actual gameplay. So it isn’t surprising that different players value different parts of that mix in different ways.

Brainy Gamer has a fair summary of gameplay issues, particularly with how persuasion works in the game. (This has been an issue with pen and paper games since forever also. How DO you play a character who’s smarter or more persuasive than you are in real life? In P+P we either roll the dice, or the GM shrugs and has the characters respond as though you were being convincing.)

evizaer picks apart the combat gameplay

Mitch Krpata finds that the game doesn’t do anything to show a non-RPG guy how to play or relate to it.

It’s also not surprising that a lot of MMO players are really digging Dragon Age. The mixture of quests, exposition, combat gameplay, and large world setting isn’t that different from the MMO standard, but being a single player game, DA is far more tailored for the single player experience. The UI is familiar, the basic tactics are familiar (crowd control? heals? tank? check.)

Neither is it surprising that a lot of gamers like the game, but criticise the gameplay. It does feel awkward to show such awesome storytelling, and then follow it up with a scene where you run around picking up everything that isn’t nailed down. That doesn’t really help the story, and it feels old fashioned. Really, everything your character owns or acquires should have some sort of story behind it, whether you earned some money and bought it from a merchant, or it was gifted to you. Picking up loot from random monsters is often daft, and grabbing everything in sight in town is just stealing.

I also agree that letting you queue up commands on characters in combat, or switch to a full turn based option, would have improved the combat experience. In many ways, DA isn’t even trying to raise the bar or change anything major about RPG gameplay – a genre which is old and already feels strained. Even as a roleplaying game, DA is an awkward mess of old skool D&D tricks such as old fashioned puzzles, problems that can be solved by killing more stuff and dungeons with the equivalent of 10’x10′ rooms with traps and wandering monsters, and more modern RPGs which take a more story based or character based approach and offer more nuanced moral dilemmas.

But still, somewhere along the line players have to decide whether the good side outweighs the bad, and that’s a personal decision. Whether the fluff (everything that isn’t direct gameplay, like dialogue, story, worldbuilding, character design and animation,  achievements) outweighs the crunch (hard gameplay, stats, how gear relates to performance). And when the fluff is this good, it feels churlish to ignore large steps forward in one side of the game and just cavil about locked chests.

Dragon Age is one of the most immersive RPGs I have ever played. The human noble origin brings tears to my eyes (I’m a sucker for stories where a character’s beloved parents die, probably because my mother died young). I have felt genuine regret at decisions I have taken in the game, I’ve certainly wanted to shout at some of the characters. And I’ve laughed at others. That sort of strong emotional response shouldn’t be brushed away as ‘Well, the storytelling is OK I guess.’ It’s far more than OK. It’s the response you feel to a good film or a good book. This is why people love it, and the tactical gameplay is probably better than most MMOs.

You can’t compare that to a game on rails like Uncharted 2. Yes, the cut scenes in Uncharted are great. But they’re just bridges to the next platform/shooter section. I don’t care about those characters, except that they amuse me. The cut scenes in DAO are interactive, and although that just means picking options from a list, it also means that you have ways to drive the story forwards in different directions.

As a gamer, I’d love to see better gameplay for interpersonal interactions. There’s no reason why dialogue shouldn’t be as exciting as a shooter – it’s easy to imagine scenarios where someone’s life could just as easily depend on how a conversation proceeds as how quick a player is on the draw. It’s totally fair to criticise DAO for not even trying to advance the state of RPG gameplay.

But it feels harsh and one dimensional to me to fail to note the advances the game has made in the areas of storytelling and immersion. I never wanted to cry when I was playing Uncharted 2 (except possibly in frustration at not knowing where I was supposed to go).

Link hard, with a vengeance

  1. Tarsus explains why we should always blame the tanks and gives a reason for just about every situation.
  2. Blizzard’s new petshop has inspired KIASA to sing. Katy Perry had nothing on this.
  3. We’ve seen a lot of other blog reactions to the petstore. The majority accept that the pets aren’t a big deal, but there’s a pervasive sense of sadness – as if we’d seen the future and people aren’t sure if they like it (ultimately if it’s more profitable for devs to make social games and sell pretty pets than make big expansive virtual worlds with complex teamplay, then well …). Green Armadillo sums this up, asking if RMT is the third Trammel. Copra also expresses sadness at how the game is changing, philosophically.
  4. The Rampant Coyote wonders if too much choice is a good thing in games. Or is it too easy to get lost or distracted and actually miss the game’s goal. I’ve recently started playing both Uncharted 2 and Dragon Age Origins and sometimes being on tracks is awesome fun as long as the view (and, more importantly, the gameplay) is that good.
  5. Naissa (welcome back, by the way) has extensive lists of things she misses about WoW from times gone by, but also things she loves about the new content.
  6. Speaking of Uncharted 2, Kotaku posts an interview with one of the designers, discussing how achievements (trophies) can actually add to the gameplay of a game and how they deliberately structure them. It’s so much more directed than the random ‘lets make an achievement out of everything’ scattergun approach we see in MMOs.
  7. It’s not just zillions of people in the western world who are hooked on farmville. Farming Games are extraordinarily popular in China too (probably where Zynga nicked the idea from).
  8. Game By Night analyses some of the problems with guilds as a concept, especially in games which have levels. And suggests some possible solutions.
  9. It’s much easier for people interested in WoW raiding these days to just run a PUG for the Coliseum. Altadin discusses the problems this raises for raid guilds – if you ask someone to be on reserve for your raid, you’re actually asking them to save their locks and not to even go grab some badges in a PUG. Matticus takes another angle and notes that it’s much easier to recruit and gear up a newbie now, so why not widen the recruitment net?
  10. So your guild is breaking up, everyone is all out of enthusiasm, and even the officers are wishing they could just quit. Ferrel discusses how to neatly put the guild to sleep – not a situation anyone likes but these things happen.

And my wtf of the week is wow.com’s post this morning about paladins which notes:

paladins are forced to pay the hybrid tax three times over — because they can do it all without limiting themselves, they can’t do anything as well as other classes

Does anyone seriously think that paladins can’t heal or tank as well as other classes (hint: they’re probably ahead on both right now).? Or that their dps is way behind … e.g. warriors? It’s not. Everyone whines, but that was a silly thing to say with any editorial weight behind it.

Also, I’ve seen a lot of rather tedious tank and healer questionnaires going around? Who the hell cares what your favourite spell is? *facepalm* It’s the whole package you should be looking at and how they fit together.

But for the record, my favourite tank type to team up with are bears. Warrior/druid is just a nice combo with a lot of finesse, I find. Or maybe I just know good bear tanks.

Links, Reviews, Roundups

Last week was a first for me with the blog. First time I’ve written a whole week of blog posts in advance and pre-scheduled them, because I was off visiting Arb (not that I didn’t have net access, we are civilised folks after all).

I’m not sure how other bloggers organise their writing but I usually note down ideas when I have them and write one up either the evening before or early in the morning. So that was my brief flirtation with being organised, I promise it won’t happen again :) And if I was a bit slower with replies then that’s why.

So Champions Online and Aion have been out for about a month now. How are people finding them?

Melf has a great Aion review up at Word of Shadow. I prefer reviews where people list both good and bad things about the game, especially when the reviewer basically liked the game, because that means they probably ‘got’ whatever it is supposed to be about and can hopefully explain it to readers. Evizaer also had a look at Aion and gave it a straight no.

Girl Unplugged posts a Champions Online review, again this is a review from someone who likes the game and can explain why.  And Syp has a solid point by point comparison between CO and City of Heroes. I do find it interesting that people who have bought a lifetime subscription are much more likely to take a longterm view of a game – ie. Oh it’s a bit rough now but it’ll be great in a year’s time. If I’d paid $200 up front, I don’t think I’d be too thrilled about having to wait a year for greatness.

And still on the superhero theme, I have a basic disagreement with Muckbeast in the comments on his post about attracting women gamers, about whether the superhero genre is more popular with women than fantasy or sci-fi. (Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Twilight … I’m just sayin’.)

Other Stuff to Read: Twelve of the Best

  1. Make Your Own Zombie Game – the zombie game experience gives you a chance to throw in $10 and participate in some game design. I’ll be curious to see what they come up with.
  2. Wolfshead explains why scaling content should be our future! Why do we have to stick to group and raid sizes that are predetermined? Couldn’t the content just scale, like it does in CoH or Diablo?
  3. tor.com is a blog that deserves a spot on any geek’s newsreader. This month is Steampunk month and they post a Steampunk 101 guide with an incredible shot at the bottom of a steampunked up laptop that has instantly become my object of desire.
  4. Jaye at Journeys with Jaye explains why his exercise bike is an MMO and the scary thing is … he isn’t entirely kidding. Edited to add: Mea Culpa and sorry Jaye for getting the gender wrong, that should read SHE.
  5. Jormundgard tries to psychoanalyse Garrosh Hellscream and explains why he’s disappointed with how that character has been developed.
  6. Andrew Doull finds Puzzlequest quite traumatic and a lot of his reactions could apply equally to any quest based game. What does it mean if we’ll go commit (virtual) genocide just because an NPC in a position of authority told us to do it?
  7. And although this may possibly be the least subtle link between links ever, I thought it was absolutely fascinating that The Anne Frank House were able to post up an actual video of Anne Frank on youtube this week. This is (obviously) from before the family went into hiding.
  8. Keen writes a sharp, well observed post asking whether MMOs are being designed for too many players these days. And what do you lose when you decide to go for the mainstream?
  9. And two thematically related posts: Tobold wonders how people like their games to be paced – if it’s all excitement all of the time then there’s never any downtime in which to socialise after all. And Andrew@Of Tooth and Claw asks how people feel about difficulty in games, and particularly about ‘cheating’ to sidestep the difficulty if it is getting in the way.
  10. Hudson splits the CO community into two parts, conceptualists who try to stay true to a character concept and minmaxers who design their character concept around whichever powers work best at the time. Which are you?
  11. Larisa wonders if it’s OK to apply to another guild while you are still guilded. After all, it’s OK to apply for new jobs while you’re still employed (at least until your employer finds out).
  12. And another tor.com link, this time to a fantastic report on a reading and Q&A session with Michael Chabon (another of my favourite ever living authors) who is a dyed in the wool geek and proud of it. I’ll end with a quote from him:

… he goes on to describe the way fandom binds people together:

“For in playing, or writing, or drawing, or simply talking oneself deep into the world of a popular artwork that invites the regard of the amateur, the fan, one is seeking above all to connect, not only with the world of the show, comic book, or film, but with the encircling, embracing metaworld of all those who love it as much as you do.”