It Is All A Matter of Trust: Who is up for an MMORPG and why or why not?

It Is All A Matter of Trust: Who is up for an MMORPG and why or why not?

Joined: November 29th, 2000, 9:05 pm

September 7th, 2001, 7:47 pm #1

A quote from our distinguished colleagues at Blizzard Entertainment, regarding PvP and PK issues in World of Warcraft:

Will there be PVP in the game?

We will incorporate Player vs. Player conflict (PVP) in the game. The PVP system will be incorporated in a way that will be fun for those who wish to take part in this form of combat; however, we will not force players to participate in PVP.

This got my little roguish brain a-whirling, given Max Schaeffer's public discussions of the topic, and prompted me to ask myself the following questions:

1. Has the cry from a multitude of gamers, including of course some conspicuously outspoken variant player called Sirian (who could that be?? ) finally been heard? Do we trust Blizzard Entertainment to get it right? Will there be a fusion of Blizzard North and South in this effort? (I suspect there will be)

2. If the story is too well controlled by GM's and Blizzard, will Variants be a viable concept, or even a necessity? Does the focus on role playing tailor directly to the role playing desires of the folks who prefer variants to uber levelling?

3. Is $10 per month, or whatever, a reasonable expense for playing an online RPG?

4. Will Blizzard be able to hire the necessary talent for the networking to sign up and work for them to ensure that the WoW Realms are available for play 24/7? When people are shelling out more dinero, that would seem to be a major issue, far more so than for battle.net.

5. Will D2 players find an MMORPG as appetizing as D2, since the role playing element may be stressed? Or will WoW merely be a FPS 3D version of Diablo II?

6. Will my Athalon 933, 512 Meg of Ram, Geforce 2 card (32MB Video RAM) be up to the task? Basically, friend Foxbat, will they get an efficient 3D video methodology right?

I am curious as to the replies of the experts here in the Variants community. I have never played an MMORPG. Not sure I want to buy Everquest to find out.

I am also a Blizzard addict (Whose son wants him to play Starcraft more often so that my brother, his uncle, can play with us on line.) I have limited myself to D II since two games at once are more computer obsession than the delightful Mrs. Occhi is willing to put up with. (Can't say as I blame her, really . . .)

Occhi
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Lissa
Lissa

September 7th, 2001, 8:08 pm #2

With the exception of UO and WW2OL, PKing in MMORPG is the player's choice. You can choose to be a PK or not be a PK. Only PKs can attack other PKs and NPKs cannot attack or be attacked.

A couple of games now allow for PK, but only under certain situations. In the case of Dark Ages of Camelot, you can only PK in the contested area between the three realms. If you stay in your realm and never venture into the contested area, you will never have to deal with PKs. In the case of EQ and AC, you have a choice and in the case of AC, you can switch between being a PK and an NPK.

Most likely, what Max is saying is they will incorperate the ability to be PK or to not be PK into the game. So, if someone doesn't want to be involved in PK, they will probably be able to very easily stay out of it.

Right now, the MMORPG I'm watching closely is the Star Wars MMORPG in the works. I'm hoping it ends up being a good game, but won't know more until it get's closer to release.
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Ouster
Ouster

September 7th, 2001, 9:30 pm #3

A quote from our distinguished colleagues at Blizzard Entertainment, regarding PvP and PK issues in World of Warcraft:

Will there be PVP in the game?

We will incorporate Player vs. Player conflict (PVP) in the game. The PVP system will be incorporated in a way that will be fun for those who wish to take part in this form of combat; however, we will not force players to participate in PVP.

This got my little roguish brain a-whirling, given Max Schaeffer's public discussions of the topic, and prompted me to ask myself the following questions:

1. Has the cry from a multitude of gamers, including of course some conspicuously outspoken variant player called Sirian (who could that be?? ) finally been heard? Do we trust Blizzard Entertainment to get it right? Will there be a fusion of Blizzard North and South in this effort? (I suspect there will be)

2. If the story is too well controlled by GM's and Blizzard, will Variants be a viable concept, or even a necessity? Does the focus on role playing tailor directly to the role playing desires of the folks who prefer variants to uber levelling?

3. Is $10 per month, or whatever, a reasonable expense for playing an online RPG?

4. Will Blizzard be able to hire the necessary talent for the networking to sign up and work for them to ensure that the WoW Realms are available for play 24/7? When people are shelling out more dinero, that would seem to be a major issue, far more so than for battle.net.

5. Will D2 players find an MMORPG as appetizing as D2, since the role playing element may be stressed? Or will WoW merely be a FPS 3D version of Diablo II?

6. Will my Athalon 933, 512 Meg of Ram, Geforce 2 card (32MB Video RAM) be up to the task? Basically, friend Foxbat, will they get an efficient 3D video methodology right?

I am curious as to the replies of the experts here in the Variants community. I have never played an MMORPG. Not sure I want to buy Everquest to find out.

I am also a Blizzard addict (Whose son wants him to play Starcraft more often so that my brother, his uncle, can play with us on line.) I have limited myself to D II since two games at once are more computer obsession than the delightful Mrs. Occhi is willing to put up with. (Can't say as I blame her, really . . .)

Occhi
I have never played an MMORPG either. I don't know that much about them. It sounds like a cool idea, but like you were saying...about computer obsessions and all...I spend enough time playing DII that I'm not really interested in starting a whole new game.
Bah...who needs 'em now that I've found RBD players to add a bit of variety to the mix?
However, when I get bored with DIIs run-of-the-mill killing stuff and mf, but need that computer fix, my "backup" is AoEII Conquerors Exp. what with the mining of the stone and the gold... hnyaeh... building towers... and seige rams... hyeah.

sensing withdrawal symptoms

I've also "tried out" several other comp games and while a few of them don't skimp on the graphics (eye candy), the two mentioned above are the only ones I have decent knowledge of.
Sounds like one would have to play for it to be worth it ($). That would mean giving up current games (yeah right) or adding another to the already short 24hr days (yeah right). Not to mention our various other duties, ofcourse.

I say, if the little one wants you to play Starcraft more often, wouldn't it make a good "backup"?

Hope my ramblings helped.

Ouster
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Sirian
Sirian

September 7th, 2001, 11:09 pm #4

A quote from our distinguished colleagues at Blizzard Entertainment, regarding PvP and PK issues in World of Warcraft:

Will there be PVP in the game?

We will incorporate Player vs. Player conflict (PVP) in the game. The PVP system will be incorporated in a way that will be fun for those who wish to take part in this form of combat; however, we will not force players to participate in PVP.

This got my little roguish brain a-whirling, given Max Schaeffer's public discussions of the topic, and prompted me to ask myself the following questions:

1. Has the cry from a multitude of gamers, including of course some conspicuously outspoken variant player called Sirian (who could that be?? ) finally been heard? Do we trust Blizzard Entertainment to get it right? Will there be a fusion of Blizzard North and South in this effort? (I suspect there will be)

2. If the story is too well controlled by GM's and Blizzard, will Variants be a viable concept, or even a necessity? Does the focus on role playing tailor directly to the role playing desires of the folks who prefer variants to uber levelling?

3. Is $10 per month, or whatever, a reasonable expense for playing an online RPG?

4. Will Blizzard be able to hire the necessary talent for the networking to sign up and work for them to ensure that the WoW Realms are available for play 24/7? When people are shelling out more dinero, that would seem to be a major issue, far more so than for battle.net.

5. Will D2 players find an MMORPG as appetizing as D2, since the role playing element may be stressed? Or will WoW merely be a FPS 3D version of Diablo II?

6. Will my Athalon 933, 512 Meg of Ram, Geforce 2 card (32MB Video RAM) be up to the task? Basically, friend Foxbat, will they get an efficient 3D video methodology right?

I am curious as to the replies of the experts here in the Variants community. I have never played an MMORPG. Not sure I want to buy Everquest to find out.

I am also a Blizzard addict (Whose son wants him to play Starcraft more often so that my brother, his uncle, can play with us on line.) I have limited myself to D II since two games at once are more computer obsession than the delightful Mrs. Occhi is willing to put up with. (Can't say as I blame her, really . . .)

Occhi
1. Has the cry from a multitude of gamers, including of course some conspicuously outspoken variant player called Sirian (who could that be?? ) finally been heard? Do we trust Blizzard Entertainment to get it right?

Who knows. Trust them? No way in Hell. Believe they have the potential? Maybe.

There's a lot right with Diablo 2. How well they will learn the lessons of things gone wrong may tell the final tale.

I have yet to happen upon a MMORPG that looks stable enough for my taste. (I have not played any of them). I want to like them, but invariably, the game seems to come down to loopholes and more loopholes. That's not going to entertain me for long. Considering Blizzard's latest effort, I'd say it's a HUGE step backward for them in terms of game balance and suspension of disbelief.

Max "promised" me in our last exchange that if they made a MMORPG (hereafter to be called "morpeg"), that it would set new standards and he hoped I would buy it. The best I could tell him was, "Maybe." The PK matter is only one fourth of the "must do right" aspects of the game to earn my loyalty.


2. If the story is too well controlled by GM's and Blizzard, will Variants be a viable concept, or even a necessity?

Variants are, IMO, solely an invention of necessity. If the game offered intelligent challenges that could not be subverted by endless loopholes in the design, the whole concept of "Variant" would not apply. That's not to say that Variants would not be designed and played, but let's face it. They are there to extend the life of the game, for the most part. If the game is well designed to begin with, you will be entertained by playing it, without a need to pile on the restrictions yourself.

The "Variant Community" centered here, with the tags and tests and stages and strict roleplaying centered here, has lost its edge in Diablo 2. By this I mean, the game itself offers a much wider variety of play. I don't think there exists any more a clear, widely held definition of "Variant". I could offer you mine, but even mine is a little blurry. Can skill choices alone define a variant? I'm not too sure about that. If you choose to develop skills other than those that would lead you to the strongest/faster killing results, why should this be defined as outside the mainstream?

To me, Variant always meant going an extra mile. I also did not call them Variants until I came here. The players in my old groups called them "Specials". When you played a "Special", you were playing by special rules -- extra restrictions. I saw no sense in insisting on preserving that term. When in Rome... and all that. A lot of people aren't connected to Diablo 1, though, and if they aren't, how can they POSSIBLY fully grasp the purpose of "Specials". In this sense, Diablo 2 opened up a great many more "Variant" possibilities, but... they also brought them into the mainstream. (What made Ember a Variant, IMO, was not her skill path, but the stat and item restrictions I tacked on). But... I seem to have lost the crusade to have more, rather than less, accepted as mainstream, as NORMAL gameplay. I lost to the loophole crowd. If it can't solo-8 at ladder speeds, it's not "normal".

sigh

They can't afford to build their morpeg like they did Diablo 1 or Diablo 2. D1 was too narrow, D2 is too wide and wayyy too shallow. D1 was insecure, and the mage class was too strong. D2 is more secure, but the number of loopholes climbed off the chart.

If there's much room for (and ANY need for) Variants in the morpeg, it won't be worth playing. IMHO.

You MUST remember, there aren't going to be any closets. You will play out in the open, subject to the "market forces" of the game, and thus, you need to be reasonably balanced relative to other characters or it's not going to be fun for you, nor will it be fun for them to have you along leeching and/or struggling.

If the game is enough of a cake walk to need variants, it's doomed. Maybe not financially -- many people will buy anything that says "Blizzard" on it -- but it isn't going to be fun to real gamers. Too hard can be boring, but too easy can be worse.

3. Is $10 per month, or whatever, a reasonable expense for playing an online RPG?

Is $10 per hour, or whatever, a reasonable expense for playing billiards in a pool hall? Come on now. There are a Hell of a lot of forms of entertainment far more costly than this. The question isn't whether or not it's reasonable (I think it's very reasonable), but whether or not the game is worth playing AT ALL.

If it's a good game, I would pay that to play it. I'd better get my ten bucks worth, though. I will NOT be happy to pay to get PKed in a PvM environment, to pay to take swings at a fat pinata, to pay to watch a bunch of brats destroy the game through endless loopholes, or to pay for a game that is otherwise NOT fun to play with random strangers.

4. Will Blizzard be able to hire the necessary talent for the networking to sign up and work for them to ensure that the WoW Realms are available for play 24/7? When people are shelling out more dinero, that would seem to be a major issue, far more so than for battle.net.

I'm not worried about their ability to handle the networking. They've done very well with that. D2 is monumentally playable when they ensure a sufficient bandwidth per player ratio (such as with a limit on number of games, and lines to create one -- or with adding more and more servers). This is one area I have good faith in them, and believe they have a leg up on the competition. They also have all the lessons of previous morpegs to draw on.


5. Will D2 players find an MMORPG as appetizing as D2, since the role playing element may be stressed? Or will WoW merely be a FPS 3D version of Diablo II?

To the first, who gives a rat's ass. Diablo 2 players on the whole are... the public Diablo 1 players. They cheat by any available means, in large numbers. Blizz will find that, in a morpeg, they CAN'T throw everyone a bone. They can't pull it off. There is no running to the closet to "tailor the experience to your own taste" by shutting out PKs, dupers, and lamers of all shapes and sizes. If they want to be successful, they will have to choose some demographics. That may well mean they lose my business, if they choose another demographic (like the pinata lovers), but better that than pleasing nobody.

In other words, if they don't target players who seek some challenge, who want to play a game instead of breaking it, I won't be buying anyway. They CANNOT fill the pinata AND have a real game. They are going to have to choose: Monty Hall or Real RPG. They can't do both. D2X proved that beyond any doubts.

My bets are that they'll go for "Let's Make a Deal". I expect not to be buying this game. However... I'm open to the possibility of checking it out.

One thing they have to remember with a morpeg: there is the initial sale, and then there's the continual income from the monthly charge, which will form the bulk of their income on this over time. They can't break promises, or deliver beta products and string consumers along with promises of fixing it later. They MUST test it thoroughly, plug all the loopholes, and maybe even reserve the right to make sweeping changes after the fact to plug new loopholes. The D2X deal... if the morpeg "ladders" (or equivalent) fill up with L99's (or equivalent) in two months, Blizz will become a laughing stock.


6. Will my Athalon 933, 512 Meg of Ram, Geforce 2 card (32MB Video RAM) be up to the task? Basically, friend Foxbat, will they get an efficient 3D video methodology right?

I suppose that's another good question. The fear is not so much whether they can assemble adequate video, as it is whether their right hand will know what the left is doing, and whether either of them will know what the gripping hand is up to. They can't afford to pull all that firewall crap, with the prettiness of the graphics coming before how well the effect PLAYS.

The sorceress has been flat-out RUINED by the spell timers. (You'd have been able to read my SCATHING report at my website almost a week ago now, but my webhost upgraded providers, and my sysadmin has not unlocked the FTP firewall as yet, pending time to go through and impose better security. I told him not to hurry on my account -- he's got a lot on his plate). So... yes, it seems QUITE possible that they will "set new standards" of graphical beauty which may well play like crap. EQ got that part right: the graphics (so I heard) were kind of subpar, but it PLAYED well. I wonder if Blizz can make that kind of choice. They are godawful enamored with appearances over substance.


I hope the game would be fun enough to play. I MAY give it a chance, if the indications look favorable come hype time. If it doesn't work out, there ARE other games to be playing, and I can entertain myself by playing them.

If a game isn't MORE FUN to play than the original Xcom or Descent, it's in trouble. I can go back and play those games over and over (every now and then) and never get tired of them. Not even Diablo 1 could live up to that standard for me -- but a morpeg HAS to, or I won't keep shelling out the dough. That, or it has to be a captivating "virtual novel", like Half Life or Ultima 4 or System Shock, that is SO GOOD you WISH you could go back and play it again. The kind of shallow story backdrop presented in Diablo 2 does not even BEGIN to approach suspension of disbelief. I have not played Starcraft, so I don't know for sure, but I don't get the sense that that game has real story, either. Warcraft and War2 had justifications for the various scenerios, but there was NO story there, just backdrop. Blizzard can pay writers to write novels in these worlds, but... they have yet to show me the first sign that they know how to implement a story within a game. If they are going to present backdrop and let you write your own story, that's fine, but don't pass that off as storytelling, and don't expect more than about 2% of the players to do anything other than ignore the backdrops and play the game like an arcade shooter.

Max can rail against "dictating the story to the player" all he likes. That is what storytelling is all about. YOU write a story and lead the reader or player through it. Making it interactive, that's tough, but it's been done and done well. Sure, it's not replayable. Replayable = not a story. You can't have it both ways. Either way can be good, but they need to pick one and commit to making it the best. They can't throw bones to everybody and pull it off. People will expect more than that from a morpeg.


- Sirian
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Occhi
Occhi

September 7th, 2001, 11:55 pm #5

MMORPG's intrigue me. A guy who worked for me in Connecticut loved Everquest. He, his grown sons, and a number of friends all played together on Friday Nights, and a few other days. I was tempted, but at the time Starcraft was my game to play, then Diablo I.

The monthly fee put me off a bit, and the lack of cable modem also put me off. He was very much into the role playing end, which is why it intrigues me. I llike that element of this whole deal best of all, although the one hit kill of Duriel --- Revenge for the Fallen Heroes of the Legion of Greiz -- was a great piece of "bug kills bug" irony that I cherish as a great gaming moment, for no other reason that its complete absurdity.

By the time WoW comes out, my son will be old enough where I can probably convince the missus to let him play it with me. So, it will take two accounts.
The money per month does not bother me. Remember, I spent some years golfing a lot, and that is an extremely expensive hobby.

What interests me is the idea that I can meet and play with utter strangers, and have a great time doing so, as well as playing with any of the great folks I have met in the Diablo community. I would love to do that.

I don't know how well you all know Hawkmoon, but one of the two great regrets of the past year is that I was unable to arrange my move to where Tina and I met Hawkmoon and family on our way to Texas. They were kind of on our way south, but also just far enough off the main route to make it a decision point. It just did not fit into the travel matrix. Grrrrrrrrrr.

I hope someday to be able to meet some of you nice folks IRL. Or, failing that, perhaps in an MMORPG.

Blizzard is again taking a great risk in putting out a game in a genre that is well represented already. Can they make it work? Are the lessons learned really learnable?

I for one, am sorely tempted. It could be so goooood . . . sort of what you said about potential.

Occhi
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Joined: August 2nd, 2001, 4:29 pm

September 7th, 2001, 11:56 pm #6

1. Has the cry from a multitude of gamers, including of course some conspicuously outspoken variant player called Sirian (who could that be?? ) finally been heard? Do we trust Blizzard Entertainment to get it right?

Who knows. Trust them? No way in Hell. Believe they have the potential? Maybe.

There's a lot right with Diablo 2. How well they will learn the lessons of things gone wrong may tell the final tale.

I have yet to happen upon a MMORPG that looks stable enough for my taste. (I have not played any of them). I want to like them, but invariably, the game seems to come down to loopholes and more loopholes. That's not going to entertain me for long. Considering Blizzard's latest effort, I'd say it's a HUGE step backward for them in terms of game balance and suspension of disbelief.

Max "promised" me in our last exchange that if they made a MMORPG (hereafter to be called "morpeg"), that it would set new standards and he hoped I would buy it. The best I could tell him was, "Maybe." The PK matter is only one fourth of the "must do right" aspects of the game to earn my loyalty.


2. If the story is too well controlled by GM's and Blizzard, will Variants be a viable concept, or even a necessity?

Variants are, IMO, solely an invention of necessity. If the game offered intelligent challenges that could not be subverted by endless loopholes in the design, the whole concept of "Variant" would not apply. That's not to say that Variants would not be designed and played, but let's face it. They are there to extend the life of the game, for the most part. If the game is well designed to begin with, you will be entertained by playing it, without a need to pile on the restrictions yourself.

The "Variant Community" centered here, with the tags and tests and stages and strict roleplaying centered here, has lost its edge in Diablo 2. By this I mean, the game itself offers a much wider variety of play. I don't think there exists any more a clear, widely held definition of "Variant". I could offer you mine, but even mine is a little blurry. Can skill choices alone define a variant? I'm not too sure about that. If you choose to develop skills other than those that would lead you to the strongest/faster killing results, why should this be defined as outside the mainstream?

To me, Variant always meant going an extra mile. I also did not call them Variants until I came here. The players in my old groups called them "Specials". When you played a "Special", you were playing by special rules -- extra restrictions. I saw no sense in insisting on preserving that term. When in Rome... and all that. A lot of people aren't connected to Diablo 1, though, and if they aren't, how can they POSSIBLY fully grasp the purpose of "Specials". In this sense, Diablo 2 opened up a great many more "Variant" possibilities, but... they also brought them into the mainstream. (What made Ember a Variant, IMO, was not her skill path, but the stat and item restrictions I tacked on). But... I seem to have lost the crusade to have more, rather than less, accepted as mainstream, as NORMAL gameplay. I lost to the loophole crowd. If it can't solo-8 at ladder speeds, it's not "normal".

sigh

They can't afford to build their morpeg like they did Diablo 1 or Diablo 2. D1 was too narrow, D2 is too wide and wayyy too shallow. D1 was insecure, and the mage class was too strong. D2 is more secure, but the number of loopholes climbed off the chart.

If there's much room for (and ANY need for) Variants in the morpeg, it won't be worth playing. IMHO.

You MUST remember, there aren't going to be any closets. You will play out in the open, subject to the "market forces" of the game, and thus, you need to be reasonably balanced relative to other characters or it's not going to be fun for you, nor will it be fun for them to have you along leeching and/or struggling.

If the game is enough of a cake walk to need variants, it's doomed. Maybe not financially -- many people will buy anything that says "Blizzard" on it -- but it isn't going to be fun to real gamers. Too hard can be boring, but too easy can be worse.

3. Is $10 per month, or whatever, a reasonable expense for playing an online RPG?

Is $10 per hour, or whatever, a reasonable expense for playing billiards in a pool hall? Come on now. There are a Hell of a lot of forms of entertainment far more costly than this. The question isn't whether or not it's reasonable (I think it's very reasonable), but whether or not the game is worth playing AT ALL.

If it's a good game, I would pay that to play it. I'd better get my ten bucks worth, though. I will NOT be happy to pay to get PKed in a PvM environment, to pay to take swings at a fat pinata, to pay to watch a bunch of brats destroy the game through endless loopholes, or to pay for a game that is otherwise NOT fun to play with random strangers.

4. Will Blizzard be able to hire the necessary talent for the networking to sign up and work for them to ensure that the WoW Realms are available for play 24/7? When people are shelling out more dinero, that would seem to be a major issue, far more so than for battle.net.

I'm not worried about their ability to handle the networking. They've done very well with that. D2 is monumentally playable when they ensure a sufficient bandwidth per player ratio (such as with a limit on number of games, and lines to create one -- or with adding more and more servers). This is one area I have good faith in them, and believe they have a leg up on the competition. They also have all the lessons of previous morpegs to draw on.


5. Will D2 players find an MMORPG as appetizing as D2, since the role playing element may be stressed? Or will WoW merely be a FPS 3D version of Diablo II?

To the first, who gives a rat's ass. Diablo 2 players on the whole are... the public Diablo 1 players. They cheat by any available means, in large numbers. Blizz will find that, in a morpeg, they CAN'T throw everyone a bone. They can't pull it off. There is no running to the closet to "tailor the experience to your own taste" by shutting out PKs, dupers, and lamers of all shapes and sizes. If they want to be successful, they will have to choose some demographics. That may well mean they lose my business, if they choose another demographic (like the pinata lovers), but better that than pleasing nobody.

In other words, if they don't target players who seek some challenge, who want to play a game instead of breaking it, I won't be buying anyway. They CANNOT fill the pinata AND have a real game. They are going to have to choose: Monty Hall or Real RPG. They can't do both. D2X proved that beyond any doubts.

My bets are that they'll go for "Let's Make a Deal". I expect not to be buying this game. However... I'm open to the possibility of checking it out.

One thing they have to remember with a morpeg: there is the initial sale, and then there's the continual income from the monthly charge, which will form the bulk of their income on this over time. They can't break promises, or deliver beta products and string consumers along with promises of fixing it later. They MUST test it thoroughly, plug all the loopholes, and maybe even reserve the right to make sweeping changes after the fact to plug new loopholes. The D2X deal... if the morpeg "ladders" (or equivalent) fill up with L99's (or equivalent) in two months, Blizz will become a laughing stock.


6. Will my Athalon 933, 512 Meg of Ram, Geforce 2 card (32MB Video RAM) be up to the task? Basically, friend Foxbat, will they get an efficient 3D video methodology right?

I suppose that's another good question. The fear is not so much whether they can assemble adequate video, as it is whether their right hand will know what the left is doing, and whether either of them will know what the gripping hand is up to. They can't afford to pull all that firewall crap, with the prettiness of the graphics coming before how well the effect PLAYS.

The sorceress has been flat-out RUINED by the spell timers. (You'd have been able to read my SCATHING report at my website almost a week ago now, but my webhost upgraded providers, and my sysadmin has not unlocked the FTP firewall as yet, pending time to go through and impose better security. I told him not to hurry on my account -- he's got a lot on his plate). So... yes, it seems QUITE possible that they will "set new standards" of graphical beauty which may well play like crap. EQ got that part right: the graphics (so I heard) were kind of subpar, but it PLAYED well. I wonder if Blizz can make that kind of choice. They are godawful enamored with appearances over substance.


I hope the game would be fun enough to play. I MAY give it a chance, if the indications look favorable come hype time. If it doesn't work out, there ARE other games to be playing, and I can entertain myself by playing them.

If a game isn't MORE FUN to play than the original Xcom or Descent, it's in trouble. I can go back and play those games over and over (every now and then) and never get tired of them. Not even Diablo 1 could live up to that standard for me -- but a morpeg HAS to, or I won't keep shelling out the dough. That, or it has to be a captivating "virtual novel", like Half Life or Ultima 4 or System Shock, that is SO GOOD you WISH you could go back and play it again. The kind of shallow story backdrop presented in Diablo 2 does not even BEGIN to approach suspension of disbelief. I have not played Starcraft, so I don't know for sure, but I don't get the sense that that game has real story, either. Warcraft and War2 had justifications for the various scenerios, but there was NO story there, just backdrop. Blizzard can pay writers to write novels in these worlds, but... they have yet to show me the first sign that they know how to implement a story within a game. If they are going to present backdrop and let you write your own story, that's fine, but don't pass that off as storytelling, and don't expect more than about 2% of the players to do anything other than ignore the backdrops and play the game like an arcade shooter.

Max can rail against "dictating the story to the player" all he likes. That is what storytelling is all about. YOU write a story and lead the reader or player through it. Making it interactive, that's tough, but it's been done and done well. Sure, it's not replayable. Replayable = not a story. You can't have it both ways. Either way can be good, but they need to pick one and commit to making it the best. They can't throw bones to everybody and pull it off. People will expect more than that from a morpeg.


- Sirian
That was a remarkably well thought out reply. I was thinking along some of the same lines my self, but, was not sure how to voice them.

I have played a few different online games, but, no MMORPGs.

Everything I have seen and head about EQ has lead me not to like it. I actually came close to buying it, but, when I read up on it, I changed my mind. (My main factor with not choosing it..... No Mac version. Means they are not serious about the whole potential audience. Sorry, I detest windows)

I hate to say this, but, as far as gaming goes, I think WoW will be another D2. A mindless clickfest for most. (Remember Whirlwhine barbarians and Multishot zons?) I firmly believe that Blizzard will leave this option wide open. Lets face it. 90% of the general population of BNet has absolutely no thinking or problem solving skills. Not saying this to be mean, but, I think most folks here might agree with me.

However, Blizz will leave a few openings in the game for people like us. The thinking folks. We will end up playing the hard to play hard to work on classes, while the mindless video zombies will have their clickfest. Now, I normaly would not have a problem with this, but, in an MMORPG, this means I actually have to play with these people. Not my thing. I like being in the secluded RBD games. Smart folks, good play, and most times, (Unless the variant is just plain nutty :P there is good teamwork)

This would mean I would have to deal with; Throg kill... Throg feel dizzy. Throg whirlwind to much.... Oooh look my 100202020202027476587265756836.95875838 magic find.. Lots of good itemz! I roxor!

What I fear most is the collision between different play styles I think.
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FoxBat
FoxBat

September 8th, 2001, 1:18 am #7

A quote from our distinguished colleagues at Blizzard Entertainment, regarding PvP and PK issues in World of Warcraft:

Will there be PVP in the game?

We will incorporate Player vs. Player conflict (PVP) in the game. The PVP system will be incorporated in a way that will be fun for those who wish to take part in this form of combat; however, we will not force players to participate in PVP.

This got my little roguish brain a-whirling, given Max Schaeffer's public discussions of the topic, and prompted me to ask myself the following questions:

1. Has the cry from a multitude of gamers, including of course some conspicuously outspoken variant player called Sirian (who could that be?? ) finally been heard? Do we trust Blizzard Entertainment to get it right? Will there be a fusion of Blizzard North and South in this effort? (I suspect there will be)

2. If the story is too well controlled by GM's and Blizzard, will Variants be a viable concept, or even a necessity? Does the focus on role playing tailor directly to the role playing desires of the folks who prefer variants to uber levelling?

3. Is $10 per month, or whatever, a reasonable expense for playing an online RPG?

4. Will Blizzard be able to hire the necessary talent for the networking to sign up and work for them to ensure that the WoW Realms are available for play 24/7? When people are shelling out more dinero, that would seem to be a major issue, far more so than for battle.net.

5. Will D2 players find an MMORPG as appetizing as D2, since the role playing element may be stressed? Or will WoW merely be a FPS 3D version of Diablo II?

6. Will my Athalon 933, 512 Meg of Ram, Geforce 2 card (32MB Video RAM) be up to the task? Basically, friend Foxbat, will they get an efficient 3D video methodology right?

I am curious as to the replies of the experts here in the Variants community. I have never played an MMORPG. Not sure I want to buy Everquest to find out.

I am also a Blizzard addict (Whose son wants him to play Starcraft more often so that my brother, his uncle, can play with us on line.) I have limited myself to D II since two games at once are more computer obsession than the delightful Mrs. Occhi is willing to put up with. (Can't say as I blame her, really . . .)

Occhi
What aspects of an MMORPG make it different than a straightfoward hack-n-slash that is D2?

1) Games with thousands of players, not 8. You may have regular party groups but they will be moving about in a world populated with many others.

2) Roleplaying potential to various degrees, after all the enviornment is more interactive and realisitc than D2.

3) PvP on a grand scale, not PKs but warring kingdoms with fealty.

Considering the public population of D2, #1 is actually a detrmient over D2. #2 will hardly exist in the public enviornment. #3 will probably not work with consentual hostility. So why an MMORPG?

In the end, you still have to find a way to shut out the jerks. The best way to do this in UO and EQ for example is to play on an unofficial free server. They can set certain rules and ban people who don't agree. Some servers are RolePlaying only, where everyone must be in character, and they do not build the most powerful/best, rather it is all about becoming your character. Some servers are mandatory PvP, and this can work quite well when you have players ally themselves to kingdoms.

For me, an MMORPG on a public server is pointless. Neverwinter Nights looks far more promising: it is built to run easily on third-party servers with low bandwith and no monthly fee (whereas in EQ and UO I think people had to "hack" to make the free servers), and it is customizable and extendable by making new levels and allowing people to take on "game master." These two add huge potential for RP as well, but it should also make for a decent dungeon crawl or MUD enviornment if that is what you would rather have.

The 64 player limit is the one downside here: if you can gather enough interesting people onto one server (and this has been done in some MMORPGS) then you can build a more convincing world with thousands of said players.

So, I'd rather not get Blizzard's MMORPG until someone cracks it. But IMHO Warcraft is a pretty uninspiring world for roleplay (unless it's comic roleplay) so I wouldn't buy it anyway.
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Joined: August 12th, 2001, 2:39 am

September 8th, 2001, 2:35 am #8

A quote from our distinguished colleagues at Blizzard Entertainment, regarding PvP and PK issues in World of Warcraft:

Will there be PVP in the game?

We will incorporate Player vs. Player conflict (PVP) in the game. The PVP system will be incorporated in a way that will be fun for those who wish to take part in this form of combat; however, we will not force players to participate in PVP.

This got my little roguish brain a-whirling, given Max Schaeffer's public discussions of the topic, and prompted me to ask myself the following questions:

1. Has the cry from a multitude of gamers, including of course some conspicuously outspoken variant player called Sirian (who could that be?? ) finally been heard? Do we trust Blizzard Entertainment to get it right? Will there be a fusion of Blizzard North and South in this effort? (I suspect there will be)

2. If the story is too well controlled by GM's and Blizzard, will Variants be a viable concept, or even a necessity? Does the focus on role playing tailor directly to the role playing desires of the folks who prefer variants to uber levelling?

3. Is $10 per month, or whatever, a reasonable expense for playing an online RPG?

4. Will Blizzard be able to hire the necessary talent for the networking to sign up and work for them to ensure that the WoW Realms are available for play 24/7? When people are shelling out more dinero, that would seem to be a major issue, far more so than for battle.net.

5. Will D2 players find an MMORPG as appetizing as D2, since the role playing element may be stressed? Or will WoW merely be a FPS 3D version of Diablo II?

6. Will my Athalon 933, 512 Meg of Ram, Geforce 2 card (32MB Video RAM) be up to the task? Basically, friend Foxbat, will they get an efficient 3D video methodology right?

I am curious as to the replies of the experts here in the Variants community. I have never played an MMORPG. Not sure I want to buy Everquest to find out.

I am also a Blizzard addict (Whose son wants him to play Starcraft more often so that my brother, his uncle, can play with us on line.) I have limited myself to D II since two games at once are more computer obsession than the delightful Mrs. Occhi is willing to put up with. (Can't say as I blame her, really . . .)

Occhi
Well, from the cinematics and gameplay previews, it looks pretty good. I'll probably end up getting it, but it's not going to be released for a while, so my mind may change by then. I know this doesn't directly answer any of the questions, but I just thought I'd throw something in.
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Sirian
Sirian

September 8th, 2001, 5:01 am #9

That was a remarkably well thought out reply. I was thinking along some of the same lines my self, but, was not sure how to voice them.

I have played a few different online games, but, no MMORPGs.

Everything I have seen and head about EQ has lead me not to like it. I actually came close to buying it, but, when I read up on it, I changed my mind. (My main factor with not choosing it..... No Mac version. Means they are not serious about the whole potential audience. Sorry, I detest windows)

I hate to say this, but, as far as gaming goes, I think WoW will be another D2. A mindless clickfest for most. (Remember Whirlwhine barbarians and Multishot zons?) I firmly believe that Blizzard will leave this option wide open. Lets face it. 90% of the general population of BNet has absolutely no thinking or problem solving skills. Not saying this to be mean, but, I think most folks here might agree with me.

However, Blizz will leave a few openings in the game for people like us. The thinking folks. We will end up playing the hard to play hard to work on classes, while the mindless video zombies will have their clickfest. Now, I normaly would not have a problem with this, but, in an MMORPG, this means I actually have to play with these people. Not my thing. I like being in the secluded RBD games. Smart folks, good play, and most times, (Unless the variant is just plain nutty :P there is good teamwork)

This would mean I would have to deal with; Throg kill... Throg feel dizzy. Throg whirlwind to much.... Oooh look my 100202020202027476587265756836.95875838 magic find.. Lots of good itemz! I roxor!

What I fear most is the collision between different play styles I think.
If they construct a pinata, anyone can beat on it a bit and out will pop all kinds of goodies. I won't pay per month for the mindless clickfest, as you described it.

It will be all about the Gap. If they make the Gap wide, where the best options are more than double the effectiveness of the worst options, you could not PAY ME to play it. A 5% increase in effectiveness should be something to celebrate. In D2, not even a 500% increase moves the average player. The game got inflated to a point of worthlessness.

Runewords sounded nice, for example... but they have added nothing. How many characters are running around now with a Stealth armor? Lots. How many are using the Nadir helm? Almost none. Stealth is the ONLY choice. At least before, you had to gamble to get an armor, and there were MANY choices: Grey, Twitch, Iceblink, and plenty of viable rares. Now? Heh. There is only Stealth. There COULD BE lots and lots more, but Blizz is doling out the runewords like precious stones, and the options suck. They've nerfed the crafted items into senselessness. They are just fumbling around at this point, reacting to a cacophony of player complaints and balance problems without a sense of real vision any more. Feature Creep has eaten D2X.

The problem with crafteds wasn't the Safety Crafts, so much as the -20 dmg affixes that could go with them. Get an amulet with -30 damage and a circlet, then another 40 or so from other safety items, and it was too much. Any single Safety Item was NICE. You could plug a hole in your gear with a useful item. Now... why bother? They have nothing left to speak for them. Might as well have removed them entirely. The Gap is rising up to bite Blizz North in the ass, and hard. No matter WHAT they do now, it won't matter. The entire system is broken.

They can't balance this many goodies. In a morpeg, they would have to include a lot FEWER options, and specifically try their very best not to create ANY uber options, in order to balance them well enough to come out with a playable product.

Or... they can make another pinata, and appeal to the lowest common denominator. That will work... for a while. Just that the ten and thirteen year olds they are appealing to with that sort of gameplay are NOT the kind of paying customers who value what they are getting. They are the kind of people who buy a CD and burn ten copies for their friends, download the latest hacks, and don't have money to spend anyway (unless they can get it from mom and dad -- but then, with Ebay sales what they are, maybe that's good enough).

I don't have faith. I don't have much hope, either. The only kind of "hard" they have a handle on, is the kind that gives us the Curve, Hephasto, MSLEBs, Nihlathak and the Orange Twistee, along with the kind of "hard" that equates to making the gameflow as a whole play EASIER when soloing in "large" games than single player, when you examine risks vs rewards, and compare whole chars instead of individual fights.

They have a long LONG way to go, and I'm now wise to their hype and loose promises and "screenshot of the week" merchandising. In the end, they will either deliver an adult game or a child's birthday party, and the product will ultimately have to speak for itself.


- Sirian
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Joined: August 29th, 2001, 4:26 am

September 8th, 2001, 6:03 am #10

1. Has the cry from a multitude of gamers, including of course some conspicuously outspoken variant player called Sirian (who could that be?? ) finally been heard? Do we trust Blizzard Entertainment to get it right?

Who knows. Trust them? No way in Hell. Believe they have the potential? Maybe.

There's a lot right with Diablo 2. How well they will learn the lessons of things gone wrong may tell the final tale.

I have yet to happen upon a MMORPG that looks stable enough for my taste. (I have not played any of them). I want to like them, but invariably, the game seems to come down to loopholes and more loopholes. That's not going to entertain me for long. Considering Blizzard's latest effort, I'd say it's a HUGE step backward for them in terms of game balance and suspension of disbelief.

Max "promised" me in our last exchange that if they made a MMORPG (hereafter to be called "morpeg"), that it would set new standards and he hoped I would buy it. The best I could tell him was, "Maybe." The PK matter is only one fourth of the "must do right" aspects of the game to earn my loyalty.


2. If the story is too well controlled by GM's and Blizzard, will Variants be a viable concept, or even a necessity?

Variants are, IMO, solely an invention of necessity. If the game offered intelligent challenges that could not be subverted by endless loopholes in the design, the whole concept of "Variant" would not apply. That's not to say that Variants would not be designed and played, but let's face it. They are there to extend the life of the game, for the most part. If the game is well designed to begin with, you will be entertained by playing it, without a need to pile on the restrictions yourself.

The "Variant Community" centered here, with the tags and tests and stages and strict roleplaying centered here, has lost its edge in Diablo 2. By this I mean, the game itself offers a much wider variety of play. I don't think there exists any more a clear, widely held definition of "Variant". I could offer you mine, but even mine is a little blurry. Can skill choices alone define a variant? I'm not too sure about that. If you choose to develop skills other than those that would lead you to the strongest/faster killing results, why should this be defined as outside the mainstream?

To me, Variant always meant going an extra mile. I also did not call them Variants until I came here. The players in my old groups called them "Specials". When you played a "Special", you were playing by special rules -- extra restrictions. I saw no sense in insisting on preserving that term. When in Rome... and all that. A lot of people aren't connected to Diablo 1, though, and if they aren't, how can they POSSIBLY fully grasp the purpose of "Specials". In this sense, Diablo 2 opened up a great many more "Variant" possibilities, but... they also brought them into the mainstream. (What made Ember a Variant, IMO, was not her skill path, but the stat and item restrictions I tacked on). But... I seem to have lost the crusade to have more, rather than less, accepted as mainstream, as NORMAL gameplay. I lost to the loophole crowd. If it can't solo-8 at ladder speeds, it's not "normal".

sigh

They can't afford to build their morpeg like they did Diablo 1 or Diablo 2. D1 was too narrow, D2 is too wide and wayyy too shallow. D1 was insecure, and the mage class was too strong. D2 is more secure, but the number of loopholes climbed off the chart.

If there's much room for (and ANY need for) Variants in the morpeg, it won't be worth playing. IMHO.

You MUST remember, there aren't going to be any closets. You will play out in the open, subject to the "market forces" of the game, and thus, you need to be reasonably balanced relative to other characters or it's not going to be fun for you, nor will it be fun for them to have you along leeching and/or struggling.

If the game is enough of a cake walk to need variants, it's doomed. Maybe not financially -- many people will buy anything that says "Blizzard" on it -- but it isn't going to be fun to real gamers. Too hard can be boring, but too easy can be worse.

3. Is $10 per month, or whatever, a reasonable expense for playing an online RPG?

Is $10 per hour, or whatever, a reasonable expense for playing billiards in a pool hall? Come on now. There are a Hell of a lot of forms of entertainment far more costly than this. The question isn't whether or not it's reasonable (I think it's very reasonable), but whether or not the game is worth playing AT ALL.

If it's a good game, I would pay that to play it. I'd better get my ten bucks worth, though. I will NOT be happy to pay to get PKed in a PvM environment, to pay to take swings at a fat pinata, to pay to watch a bunch of brats destroy the game through endless loopholes, or to pay for a game that is otherwise NOT fun to play with random strangers.

4. Will Blizzard be able to hire the necessary talent for the networking to sign up and work for them to ensure that the WoW Realms are available for play 24/7? When people are shelling out more dinero, that would seem to be a major issue, far more so than for battle.net.

I'm not worried about their ability to handle the networking. They've done very well with that. D2 is monumentally playable when they ensure a sufficient bandwidth per player ratio (such as with a limit on number of games, and lines to create one -- or with adding more and more servers). This is one area I have good faith in them, and believe they have a leg up on the competition. They also have all the lessons of previous morpegs to draw on.


5. Will D2 players find an MMORPG as appetizing as D2, since the role playing element may be stressed? Or will WoW merely be a FPS 3D version of Diablo II?

To the first, who gives a rat's ass. Diablo 2 players on the whole are... the public Diablo 1 players. They cheat by any available means, in large numbers. Blizz will find that, in a morpeg, they CAN'T throw everyone a bone. They can't pull it off. There is no running to the closet to "tailor the experience to your own taste" by shutting out PKs, dupers, and lamers of all shapes and sizes. If they want to be successful, they will have to choose some demographics. That may well mean they lose my business, if they choose another demographic (like the pinata lovers), but better that than pleasing nobody.

In other words, if they don't target players who seek some challenge, who want to play a game instead of breaking it, I won't be buying anyway. They CANNOT fill the pinata AND have a real game. They are going to have to choose: Monty Hall or Real RPG. They can't do both. D2X proved that beyond any doubts.

My bets are that they'll go for "Let's Make a Deal". I expect not to be buying this game. However... I'm open to the possibility of checking it out.

One thing they have to remember with a morpeg: there is the initial sale, and then there's the continual income from the monthly charge, which will form the bulk of their income on this over time. They can't break promises, or deliver beta products and string consumers along with promises of fixing it later. They MUST test it thoroughly, plug all the loopholes, and maybe even reserve the right to make sweeping changes after the fact to plug new loopholes. The D2X deal... if the morpeg "ladders" (or equivalent) fill up with L99's (or equivalent) in two months, Blizz will become a laughing stock.


6. Will my Athalon 933, 512 Meg of Ram, Geforce 2 card (32MB Video RAM) be up to the task? Basically, friend Foxbat, will they get an efficient 3D video methodology right?

I suppose that's another good question. The fear is not so much whether they can assemble adequate video, as it is whether their right hand will know what the left is doing, and whether either of them will know what the gripping hand is up to. They can't afford to pull all that firewall crap, with the prettiness of the graphics coming before how well the effect PLAYS.

The sorceress has been flat-out RUINED by the spell timers. (You'd have been able to read my SCATHING report at my website almost a week ago now, but my webhost upgraded providers, and my sysadmin has not unlocked the FTP firewall as yet, pending time to go through and impose better security. I told him not to hurry on my account -- he's got a lot on his plate). So... yes, it seems QUITE possible that they will "set new standards" of graphical beauty which may well play like crap. EQ got that part right: the graphics (so I heard) were kind of subpar, but it PLAYED well. I wonder if Blizz can make that kind of choice. They are godawful enamored with appearances over substance.


I hope the game would be fun enough to play. I MAY give it a chance, if the indications look favorable come hype time. If it doesn't work out, there ARE other games to be playing, and I can entertain myself by playing them.

If a game isn't MORE FUN to play than the original Xcom or Descent, it's in trouble. I can go back and play those games over and over (every now and then) and never get tired of them. Not even Diablo 1 could live up to that standard for me -- but a morpeg HAS to, or I won't keep shelling out the dough. That, or it has to be a captivating "virtual novel", like Half Life or Ultima 4 or System Shock, that is SO GOOD you WISH you could go back and play it again. The kind of shallow story backdrop presented in Diablo 2 does not even BEGIN to approach suspension of disbelief. I have not played Starcraft, so I don't know for sure, but I don't get the sense that that game has real story, either. Warcraft and War2 had justifications for the various scenerios, but there was NO story there, just backdrop. Blizzard can pay writers to write novels in these worlds, but... they have yet to show me the first sign that they know how to implement a story within a game. If they are going to present backdrop and let you write your own story, that's fine, but don't pass that off as storytelling, and don't expect more than about 2% of the players to do anything other than ignore the backdrops and play the game like an arcade shooter.

Max can rail against "dictating the story to the player" all he likes. That is what storytelling is all about. YOU write a story and lead the reader or player through it. Making it interactive, that's tough, but it's been done and done well. Sure, it's not replayable. Replayable = not a story. You can't have it both ways. Either way can be good, but they need to pick one and commit to making it the best. They can't throw bones to everybody and pull it off. People will expect more than that from a morpeg.


- Sirian
You have just admitted to not playing the best Blizzard game out . Even if you only play it for the single player, Starcraft/broodwar is their finest effort. It's definately worth picking up. It's also great multiplayer, even over the internet with a poor connection.

Starcraft had an extremely well scripted storyline which was challenging (later starcraft levels and later broodwar missions at least), but rewarding. Give it a go, it may restore your confidence in Blizzard .
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