Links and News: SWTOR beta, guilds in GW2, and more

This was always promising to be a strong news week, with several devs holding out news releases until last week’s PAX. I think it is tempting if you went to a gaming convention this year to wonder whether the one you were at got better freebies, better announcements, etc. Fortunately I am here to tell you that it’s actually impossible to beat Comic Con, whatever freebies or announcements are available, because it’s just like nothing on earth. Not that this is a competition or anything. Plus it isn’t run by the dickwolf guys.

MMO stories of interest:

Bioware announced that the SWTOR beta testing weekends will commence next weekend, 2nd September. You don’t need a preorder to have a chance at the beta, just sign up on their website. And be lucky.

Arenanet are allowing players to be members of more than one guild in GW2. This is a feature that I know I’ve mentioned before and other commenters have also expressed interest in. I think it’s going to be very interesting indeed and I look forwards to hearing more about it.

The Secret World’s long awaited beta signup had to be delayed this week due to network issues. This shows one of the tricky sides of running a game around complex ARG/ group puzzle solving concepts because many people on boards or social networks immediately assumed that this delay was part of a larger set of new clues. This tends to turn players towards even more conspiracy theories than they would already. Sometimes a technical delay is just a technical delay. TSW is still slipping clues out about something and there’s some thought that this indicates a fourth (probably non-player) faction.

More Links

Gazimoff writes about a story that came up about the Warcraft Magazine, who were apparently told not to give a byline to some of their writers and not others. The editor tells his side of the story in a blogpost. Print media is dead man, print media is dead.

OutDPS wonders about class identity and class balance – in particular when devs notice a potential balance issue but decide to leave it because it’s part of the class identity. eg. hunters in WoW should use traps. There is more to be said on class identities, because ‘class with the overpowered AE’ is not really a good identity. Neither is ‘class which gets its core mechanics overhauled every expansion.’ Also, ‘class that whines a lot about not wanting traps even when they’re regularly coming top of the damage meters’ is not a desirable identity.

Stabs speaks up on behalf of minmaxers and theorycrafters everywhere, and explains why he loves statistical modelling. He argues though that minmaxers ruin the game for others. Or at least pressure everyone else to play by their rules and goals.

Kill Ten Rats checks out Age of Empires Online and doesn’t like their implementation of the F2P model.

Tom Auxier responds to claims that the turn based strategy game is dead with an ode to turn based strategy games and where they are at the moment. That genre isn’t dead, it’s just pining for the fjords. I quibble with his claim that the Civilisation board game was based on the computer game, because the board game was published first. But on checking I find there was a later version that was branded as Sid Meier’s Civilisation Board game.  Sid incidentally always claimed that he’d never played the board game of Civilisation before designing the computer game.

Ferrel at Epic Slant argues that two faction MMOs are outdated these days.

Tadhg at Simple Lifeforms writes a thoughtful post about how Blizzard has been dealing with Diablo 3 fans, and discusses the difference between companies which got their start from selling boxes in retailers and companies who have always been online.

Gevlon has an example of where cliquey players are less efficient in raids. He puts this down to use of voice chat by small groups of players in a larger guild. I suspect that if you want to run a very egalitarian social group, it may be a good idea to discourage any small group from becoming cliquey and spending too much time together (because there is a risk that they’ll start seeing themselves as superior). Just I don’t see how it’s really possible to do this.

Tobold and Syncaine are friendly for a bit this week. But it doesn’t last long. Incidentally the main appeal of themepark games to both players and developers is that you can/ offer get a guaranteed level of game experience out of the game. It’s reliable. But I think Tobold is right in that highly competitive sandbox isn’t fun for a lot of players. Ultimately, if you aren’t logging into a game because you want to win but because you want to socialise or have some co-operative play, the only games that can satisfy you will be ones designed by devs who understand what that means. This could be sandbox but it won’t be the sort of sandbox that current games offer.

The Grumpy Elf ponders how to make raids PUGgable, in anticipation of Blizzard adding a cross-realm random raid finder.

7 thoughts on “Links and News: SWTOR beta, guilds in GW2, and more

  1. Yeah, the Sid Meier version of the Civ boardgame is now on it’s second iteration, this time by Fantasy Flight Games. (Original version was Eagle Games, and apparently had some major issues.) I always considered Sid’s claim that he never played the AH version of Civ a bit specious, since I recall it mentioned in the old Civ I playing guides that Sid was aware of the boardgame, but felt he could design a better one.

    Considering that I love the old AH version of Civ and Advanced Civ, it’s a shame that Hasbro is still hanging onto the title and not letting it get reprinted.

  2. Hi,

    I tried following that link to Stabs’ post and his comment feature is sort of wonky. I tried logging in with my Google account and was told that I wasn’t able to “view the post,” even though I could clearly see it and read it. All other ways of logging in to leave a comment did not work, either.

    Stabs, if you’re reading this, please update your commenting format so that I can leave a comment for you. Or please include an e-mail address or some other way to reach you on your site, so that people have way to leave feedback on your posts (positive feedback, of course) when the general website does not cooperate.


    (Sorry if this is terribly gauche, but I know Stabs checks out your page quite a bit, Spinks. I didn’t know how else to get my point across.)

  3. Raids are not hard to PUG because they are hard — they are hard to PUG because they are designed to require preparation, coordination, and a certain level of execution from from every member of the group.

    So don’t design them that way. It’s not hard — the non-MMO video game market is littered with difficult (sometimes unwinnable!) yet puggable co-op.

  4. That story about Warcraft magazine is both typical (every large corporation I’ve ever dealt with thinks of writers as interchangeable cogs) and deeply disappointing. For the sake of my illusions, I’m going to assume those decisions were made by Activision/Vivendi management and had nothing to do with anyone at Blizzard itself.

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