Everything Else: The Weekend Roundup

WoW’s still the sleeping giant as we wait for Mists and Pandas, which means the non-Guild Wars discussion happening right now is unusually diverse.

So, strap yourselves in for the last roundup of the weekend, as we go from SWTOR to LoTRO to WoW to Wurm…

  • Avatars of Steel writes a serious, intelligent post on the problem of tacitly tolerated bullying in Wurm Online“But be aware that (hmm from personal experience and very roughly) 75% of people you alert will do nothing, a hefty 15% will find a way it’s your fault not the perpetrator’s, 5% will join in and bully you too. Somewhere in the remaining 5% is salvation.”
  • Klepsacovic compares the reaction of WoW players in other MMOs to that of rude American tourists” “Why is the character screen called a hero screen? It should be C, not H. And why are bags I for inventory instead of B for bags?” They don’t like the responses, for any response suggests that another game could have sprung up and done things just as correctly yet not the same way.”
  • Shintar attempts to nail down just why she’s still enchanted by SWTOR“Many features that I like about it are available in similar or equal quantity and quality in other games. While it matters that the general flavour of the game, the setting and character design appeal to me big time, that’s not all there is to it. “
  • And Roger Edwards argues that the LoTRO community needs to get more angry about Turbine missing their release schedule“Here we had customers who had paid up front, thanking the suppliers for failing to meet their pre-arranged schedule. Why were they not irate and demanding some sort of compensation?”

Enjoyed today’s posts? Please let other people know about them too!

Read more →

Do You Ever Feel You’re Spending Too Much Time Maintaining Your Virtual Life?

Have you ever felt that a sandbox MMO was just too real?

I know I have. Indeed, that’s basically the reason that I quit A Tale In The Desert, one of my favourite MMOs, but one that simply demands too hardcore a gaming lifestyle for me. So today, I was particularly interested to see I’m not the only person who has had this problem.

The Noob Raider outlines the reasons why he is quitting Wurm Online, a game he loves, in a really interesting post that sheds an interesting light on “frontier / crafting” MMOs –

“I should not be worrying about a computer game on my anniversary! I also turned 40 last year and have been experiencing all sorts of “omg what am I doing with my life?” type thoughts since. Then at some point yesterday whilst panicking about being 40, it dawned on me that I had less than 4 months to go before the next birthday! Where on earth has the last 8 months gone?

I have a history of game addiction and it can become fairly all-consuming but I thought I had it under control. Well I kinda did until I started playing Wurm. You see the problem with Wurm, online just about any other game, is that it requires daily maintenance for many things and it just so happens that the aspects that I most love about Wurm are those things that need the most looking after – animals, farming, cooking. If I don’t login for even a day, the animals run out of food, stomp the grass, crops that have been growing for days turn to weed, food rots in their barrels and everything just starts to decay.

Now if I could login for maybe 20 minutes and keep things ticking over then maybe it wouldn’t be a problem but it doesn’t quite work like that. When I login there is such a strong pull to do all the daily ‘chores’ such as tending to the farms, grooming the animals and so on that each session tends to be at least an hour. ”

TNR details a problem that I’m sure more than a few of us have had. In their quest for immersion, sandbox MMOs in particular tend toward the “maintenance problem”. In ATITD, the daily chores of feeding camels and sheep and maintaining my homestead started to become a serious problem when I had to travel for work. But I’ve equally seen these issues in WoW – notably in the great “Valor Point capping” debate of last year.

Have you found that an MMO’s maintainance was simply too much? And how did you deal with it?

Read more →

All Around The MMO World – Weekend Links

Loads of fun, useful and generally readable stuff from the blogosphere from this weekend! Whether you’re hanging on in Wurm, observing TERA in amusement, or could really use a laugh after an awful LFR run, we’ve got something for you:

  • Tobold considers the current “guild size” discussion from a game design point of view“There are other ways, for example in games like A Tale in the Desert. Not only can you be in several guilds in that game, but also everybody can contribute in his own way to the guild’s projects. If the guild needs a huge amount of bricks for a project, for example, everybody can contribute at his own pace.”
  • Avatars of Steel provides some quick tips for Wurmians still avoiding the game’s forums for virus reasons
  • Rohan at Blessing of Kings observes some strange behaviour in TERA, as players proceed to mostly ignore the ingame LFG tool“Because queues are instant, the choice as a Lancer is very binary. You either run the dungeon or you go questing. But maybe after doing a few quests, you’re sort of wavering between continuing questing or going for an instance. Seeing a request for a tank can tip you over to one side, and might even allow you to feel altruistic for helping out an existing group.”
  • And Bravetank offers some more cheering alternative definitions for popular LFG and LFR terminology“In ancient times huntards were esteemed for their wisdom, strategic minds and military prowess. Only the truly gifted could ever hope to reach such heights. If you are called a huntard then you are playing your hunter class flawlessly. Do not be surprised if some people leave the group after calling you this – it is simply that they do not feel deserving enough to be in your company. Forgive them.”

Enjoyed those posts? Please consider sharing them!

Read more →

Should Auld Aquaintance Be Forgot? Plus Landscape Gardening and other things…

Today we’ve got a great balance of links to round out the day – two controversial standpoints, one example of fantastic craftsmanship, and one call to a cause I think a lot of people will want to rally around…

  • Syl of Raging Monkeys is seeing many MMO communities fall apart as people leave for various other games, and in a stirring editorial, she exhorts us all to not let our friendships go so easily“Today, take heart and reach out to some old online friend or guildmate. Today, choose to be the one who takes initiative, never mind how long it’s been quiet. “
  • Moxie of the Wild Boar Inn has been designing a new deed in Wurm Online – based on the historic Medway Plantation in South Carolina. Impressive landscape gardening lies within“I typically like to start my deed designs from the token in the middle and work to the outside. In Wurm, your deed token looks like a sundial, so when I saw this picture of a sundial in the middle of a formal garden area, I knew I had my perfect starting point. “
  • Beruthiel of Falling Leaves And Wings would like to stop seeing players use lack of gear as an excuse for poor play“For me, I look at having lower gear as a challenge. It’s the true “hard mode”. When you don’t have the same resources as someone else, it forces you to think outside of the box and be more creative.”
  • And in contrast to Anafielle’s impassioned post last week, Lono of Screaming Monkeys explains just why he doesn’t want to see a combat log in SWTOR“If you give me a choice between performance and building community I will always chose the latter because I believe it will give us a better game in the long run. “

Enjoyed these posts? Want to share the call to reach out to old guildies? Share them!

Read more →

Fourth! Of Sheep, Wolves, Motivation, and the uniqueness of Wurm

We never do four posts a day on the Melting Pot – not since I nearly killed myself trying to do an impression of BoingBoing a while ago.

But this weekend – this weekend had too much good stuff. And so, I present a historic fourth-post-day, with awesome stuff from Tobold, Big Bear Butt, and The Wild Boar Inn:

  • Wurm Online is impressing me more and more – unlike EVE, its brutal landscape seems to pull people together. When have you ever heard of an MMO where people got together to reforest the land ? Or one where the legendary monsters can only ever die once ? (both from Wild Boar Inn)
  • Big Bear Butt has been thinking about how to get other people off their own variously-sized buttocks, with a discussion of LFR and motivation“Instead of casting Ice Tomb, why not have her summon a pair of Spirit Wolves, which she then sics on whichever player queued as DPS actually has the lowest DPS?”
  • And Tobold has a really interesting piece talking about people who love ruthlessness, people who love cooperation, and the fact that they don’t necessarily play games as such“But do we really want games that work like real life? You don’t have to be a sheep to think that it would be nicer if people wouldn’t constantly try to hurt each other. In fact the very concept of civilization is based on the premise that we get further if we cooperate instead of bashing each other’s head in with a stone club.”
Read more →

Why Play Wurm?

Scrappy indie MMO Wurm Online is rapidly becoming a contender in the world of MMORPGs. But if you haven’t tried it yet, why would you? Will you like it?

Today, Massively’s answering that question in a new column I really like – “Why I Play”, where individual columnists explain why you should play their favourite MMO. And in their inaugural episode is, yes, Wurm Online – and just why you’d play it

“I play Wurm Online because it speaks to a primal side of me that just wants to hide in a secluded part of the world and build my own place with my own two hands. I can build my home in a hole or on top of a mountain — heck, I can even build that hole or that mountain. I can build my own island from a patch of sea or live in a dark cavern. I can choose to create a small hut or a large castle. I can become a shipbuilder, farmer, animal breeder, miner, jeweler, ropemaker, weaponsmith, champion warrior, priest, or about three dozen other jobs that aren’t constrained by a talent tree, class restrictions, or any “holy trinity.” The freedom in Wurm is really unlike anything else you’ll find in any other MMO. You may scoff at that, but it’s true.

The first time I knew Wurm had grabbed me was when I was making my way up to Beau’s village. He had claimed a small piece of an island off the coast of the Independence server’s mainland, and it was up to me to find my way up there from the starter town. The game has no minimap and no compass (although a compass is now standard-issue for new players). I was to refer to a player-created map I found on the web, navigating only by landmarks and sheer luck.

It would take another two or three articles for me to describe that adventure in detail, but it really was the most exciting and challenging journey I had faced in any MMO thus far. It took me three play sessions of probably an hour each to finally reach the northern shore.”

Wurm sounds a lot like A Tale In The Desert to me – more and more each time I hear about it, in fact. The huge expanses, the sense of adventure at going out into the unknown, the maintainance problems – all sound very familiar.

And Shawn Schuster does a superb job of selling the strong points of a hard-simulation game like Wurm in this article. It sounds exciting, challenging, and refreshing. And above all, it sounds real – or at least as real as I want a virtual world to be, for now.

I’ll be interested to see how the “Why Play” column progresses, and what other games I find myself being sold on.

Go on, your turn. What game would you say we should play, and why?

Read more →

Sandbox experiences, Insane in the Membrane and Dragon Soul vs Firelands – the Wednesday roundup

Loads of great posts from the blogosphere today, and in keeping with the increasing trend, for a variety of games! So, if you want your daily dose of WoW or the indie MMO de jour, Wurm, read on…

  • Klepsacovic at Troll Racials Are Overpowered is thinking back on why he enjoyed getting the (crazy hard) WoW achievement Insane in the Membrane“I liked this. It kept me entertained for a long time. Was this high-intensity screaming with joy fun? No. It was not fully voiced, fully animated, or even fully scripted to tell a complex and engaging story. But it did send me all over the place to find what I needed at whatever pace and in whatever order I wanted.”
  • The Renaissance Man at Children of Wrath has been crunching the numbers on the last tiers of WoW raiding, and has some interesting conclusions on Firelands and DS difficulty“Wowprogress shows us that there were 19,500 Deathwing normal kills by January 19th, the date that the article was published. That was 52 days after the instance was opened up on November 29th. On August 18th, 52 days after Firelands was released, there had still only been 9,500 Ragnaros kills. 10,000 more guilds have killed Deathwing than killed Ragnaros in the same time span, a 105% increase. “
  • MMOQuests is trying an experiment in Wurm Online – an in-character report on how a solo, helpless character does in the viciously hard sandbox MMO“I dropped down a large slope, and I lost my barrings. With no idea where I was, I knew I couldn’t return for the cart. Darkness closed in around me, some where, I heard a mountain lion join in with the spider and I swear I heard one of the Gods cackling at me and my trial. The sky went black.”
  • Spinks is looking at the downsides of sandbox MMOs in general – more work for your fun“They tend to strongly favour organised groups, there is often huge amounts of politics (I mean, to an extent that would dwarf guild drama in WoW), they strongly favour people with large amounts of time, or flexible playing schedules, there can be long extended periods of boredom and no guarantee that you’ll actually be around when the exciting stuff happens.”

What are your feelings on sandboxes and their difficulty?

Read more →

Star Trek Online F2P, Wurm woes, Rift Endgame, Floating LoTRO – and no WoW!

I think today may be something of a record for the Melting Pot – we’ve got literally no WoW posts on the features list today! (Although I’ll admit I have a couple on my “to feature tomorrow” list.)

In many ways, it’s a breath of fresh air to see so much discussion of so many different games in the MMORPG community. And I find it comforting – even if the giants of the field do slowly fade away, it’s easy to see there’s plenty of other interesting stuff happening in the smaller games too!

  • Random Waypoint considers a small but significant aspect of MMO play, specifically LoTRO – the effect of floating nameplates on your in-game immersion“You tend to not notice the scenery any more, or the mobs themselves; what you see is a target, and a beeline in your mind to said target. Run, kill, loot, run, kill, loot.”
  • Syp at Bio Break is shocked by six really great things about F2P Star Trek Online“People who denounce F2P as being this great evil that’s corrupting our beloved MMOs from the inside-out don’t often acknowledge that there are many ways to do F2P, and while some are aggressively bad and harmful to the game, others are finding a great balance between giving a free experience while tempting players to pony up dough. “
  • Player vs Developer is reporting on the RIFT experience at endgame“I’m starting to see why this game seems to draw the older-school crowd from the days when MMO’s were more of an activity than a game. “
  • In Titan (yes, Titan) news, Rock Paper Shotgun have noticed Blizzard are looking for an in-game advertising specialist for their next MMO“Blizzard are looking to recruit a Franchise Development Producer for their “next-gen MMO”, with one of the main responsibilities being to “work with major consumer brands to facilitate product placement and licensing within the world of Blizzard Entertainment’s next-gen MMO”. Hmmmm.”
  • And MMO Quests offers both advice and caution for potential players on the extremely hardcore nature of Wurm Online“For those gamers who are often enthralled with sandbox games then Wurm is probably a fantastic MMO for you to sink your teeth into. If you struggle with those types of games you may be better off simply reading about it – and I don’t say that to be insulting but I say that because over the course of time I have played I have seen MANY people in Freedom Chat expressing their frustrations.”

Found these posts interesting? Please share them with others!

Read more →

Solitude, crafting and hard work – the first few days in Wurm Online

It’s not all doom and gloom out there in the blogosphere, or even pointed criticism and discussion. There are plenty of people getting into new MMOs and thoroughly enjoying them, too.

I’ve been considering getting to grips with the indie-ish MMO Wurm Online for a while – it’s a hardcore crafting, you-vs-wilderness game, sounding very reminiscent of Minecraft and A Tale In The Desert. That’s why I’m very interested to read Ffafner over at MMO Symposium today – he’s been spending some time in Wurm, keeping a diary every day, and so far it’s sounding both very interesting and pretty darn hard work

“You need to set up close to water until you can get some pottery to hold water in. Fairly quickly you can carve yourself a stick and make a wooden fish hook. If you then succeed to botanize some cotton from a grass tile, you can make some string and then finish a fishing pole, which means an end to starving AFAIK. I havent found any cotton yet though.

Each crafting step has a timed component to it which is annoying but quite fair. After all it wouldn’t be fun if it took under a second to mine a wall. The time component scales according to the quality and condition of your tools, your nutrition-, water- and foodlevel, your skilllevel and your current stamina. Some actions require you to keep an eye on a lot of different craftingitems at once. Try juggling a campfire that needs to stay lit by adding wooden scraps and the heatlevel of iron lumps inside the fire while trying to craft nails from glowing iron before it turns cold again.

Right now, Im trying to build a wooden fence around my shed, but I need more iron for nails….and it’s cold outside and there are wolves after me *sniffle*””

A lot of people post “first impressions” of a game, but Ffafnir’s succeeding on several levels with this post. It’s very focussed on explaining the game to the reader, rather than purely on recording his own experiences. And he really gets to grips with what makes the game fun, and what emotions you’ll be feeling as you play – satisfaction and pride as you master a difficult craft, fear of the wolves and hunger, and from the sounds of it, a fair amount of frustration too.

Currently Rebecca and I are pretty busy with WoW, LoTRO, and Dark Souls, but I think Ffafnir might have just subtly improved the chances that, at some point in the future, we’ll get around to Wurm too.

Does Wurm sound like fun to you, or is it a bit too much like Real Life?

Quote taken directly from Ffafnir’s post .

Find MMO Symposium at http://www.mmo-symposium.com/ .

Read more →

Stop And Smell The (MMO Equivalent Of) Roses

Yesterday we briefly featured Moxie’s tales of creating an idyllic homestead in Wurm Online. At the time I also left her a comment asking how Wurm compared to Minecraft as they sound like similar, build-whatever-you-want type games. Today she’s put up an entire post in response – and it’s fascinating.

First, they’re both nature-based/quasi-medieval sandbox games. You start the game and as a total newbie get plopped in the middle of a world full of trees, lakes, and mountains with few to zero tools and no direction other than “Go, Survive, Have Fun”. Players are able to do pretty much anything they want in both games. There’s no quests, no levels, no instances, no real goals other than whatever the player wants to do.

Moxie takes a look at how Wurm and Minecraft are both similar and different to each other. Moxie does a good job of explaining how different they actually are – for two create-your-own-stuff sandbox games I’m surprised that the list just goes on. In each example she compares one game to the other – for example, how the world you play in is pre-defined in Wurm, whereas in Minecraft you could play in a world decided by your own imagination.

I don’t know about you but occasionally I hanker for a chance to put down the sword and fireballs and build a nice little farm with some orchards that aren’t there to to be full of  bandits for me to kill.  But thanks to Moxie’s post, I now have a much better idea of how each of these games would help me achieve that – especially given she’s particularly clear on how realistic time and effort spent is in each game.

What about you – are you already playing these and have things to add or do these sound like something fun to you? (go on, even a small part of you underneath the gruff heroic countenance)?

_Quote taken directly from Moxie’s post_

_You can find Moxie’s Battle Priestess homepage here_

Read more →