3 Links For Friday: Feedback, Following and F2P Payment Models

It’s time for the increasingly-traditional Friday roundup post!

This week we’ve got an eclectic collection of posts, from a look at the difficulties of item description (in a text MUD, but applying to all games) to a combination HOWTO and travelogue…

  • Big Bear Butt chronicles his trials, tribulations and eventual solution as he used WoWhead data to search all over Azeroth for the Unborn Valykr.

    Read “Following the Unborn Valkyr” »

  • Tobold asks for a slightly more sophisticated dialogue about F2P – rather than just treating it as one homogenous mass, he argues we should be looking at the details of each game’s payments, and discussing what works and what doesn’t.

    Read “From the general to the specific” »

  • And The Ancient Gaming Noob looks at the problem of whether to describe weapons with numbers (which are immersion-breaking) or simply descriptions (which can be really hard to interpret).

    Read “The Feedback Issue” »

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Why That Kickstarter You Funded Looks Like It’s Failing

Today’s post isn’t specific to MMOs, but is so tremendously true – and useful – that we’re featuring it anyway.

There’s a saying in software development that “The first 80% of development takes 80% of the time, and the last 20% of development takes the other 80% of the time.”

As more and more games – often very ambitious games – get funded on Kickstarter, an increasingly large number of them will look like they’re slowing down, falling apart, or failing. Some of them will be.

Others will just be going through a perfectly normal process of game development.

Rampant Coyote explains more:

“In my experience, one of the main things that causes indie game development projects to fail is the incredible gulf between prototype and product. This is actually not a problem limited to indies, or even to game development. I’ve had uncomfortably close views of this phenomenon with spectacular, expensive failures outside of gaming.

In fact, let’s talk about one incredible failure at a non-gaming company. The previous management of the software department had been sacked because, IMO, they were too willing to speak frankly to technologically illiterate executives – and often told them things they didn’t want to hear, like how long a project would really take. So new management was brought in, and they selected a “silver bullet” system (which, incidentally, the previous management had considered and rejected). The sales team and techs from this third party were able to throw together a very pretty prototype of new software using our existing data inside of two weeks. On the surface, it looked like it was halfway to completion!

If halfway there, they reasoned, the rest of the software should really only take two more weeks to complete! They generously gave us eight weeks, just to be on the safe side. We needed training on the new framework, after all. They signed papers, spent a lot of money, and patted themselves on the back for finding such a brilliant, easy solution.”

Read the rest of “The Prototype Problem” »

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Of Ogre Gender And Inappropriate Suggestions

Whilst the MMO world has been pleasantly silent as far as massive inequality FAILs go recently, the ongoing fascinating discussion of sexism and gender politics continues.

Today we’ve got a couple of interesting posts on the subject, as The Godmother ponders the gender of WoW creatures and Redbeard relates a particularly, erm, surprising recent encounter…

  • The Godmother looks at the portrayal of female creatures in WoW, asking such questions as “where are the female ogres?” and “really? Bikinis on Mogu?”.

    Read “Female of the Species” »

  • And Redbeard relates a recent encounter in a PvP battleground, where, ignoring the mayhem, a fellow player asked him to do something there definitely isn’t an emote for – and then delves into just why that happened.

    Read “Where’s the Shower?” »

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See WoW In An Entirely New Way

Today’s featured post is a really short one, but it’s absolutely brilliant.

As you may know, Rades of Orcish Army Knife is a keen videogame photographer, particularly within World of Warcraft.

Today he’s sharing one of the best tips I’ve ever seen for getting better images out of WoW.

How? Well, it’s really simple: grab an item in the game, and you can get a Field Of View that’s much closer to that of a conventional real-world camera, meaning you can take much more “photographic” shots than are usually possible.

Here’s a couple of examples:

130624_ornatespyglass04 130624_ornatespyglass02

From guild photos to landscape shots, this thing’s incredibly handy if you want to increase the visual quality of your images.

To read how the magic’s done and see more great images, Read the rest of Rades’ post »

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LINK ROUNDUP: The Past, The Future, And The Present

It’s been a good week for interesting MMO-related article, about all topics and all games.

So good, in fact, that we’re having to hit you with another link roundup to get ’em all in!

From hidden bits in Pandaria to the closure of a much-beloved site, here we go:

Enjoy the weekend!

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TESTED: Just how unfriendly is WoW?

WoW, eh? Not like it used to be. Totally unfriendly now. Elitist, too.

You never get people wanting to help new players.

Or do you?

Spurred on by what does indeed sound like a pretty poorly-contrived article about how WoW was Very Unfriendly These Days, Big Bear Butt decided to test the theory – by creating a couple of new characters in WoW, and seeing if he did indeed simply end up left out in the cold. Was he spurned by the elitists and abandoned, alone and uninformed?


“I decided to test the first underlying assumption. That the community is full of apathy and nobody will help anyone, and those level 1 guild invites are evil.

I made a level 1 alt on a different realm, chose a name at random that was vaguely fantasy-ish, and started playing. No heirlooms.

Within 10 minutes, I had a guild invite and accompanying whisper.

I accepted the invite, and was greeted in a friendly way by several people.

I said, “Hi! Thank you. I’m really new to the game, um, can anyone tell me where I can find something to tell me what these buttons do?”

Guess what?

Holy crap, did I get a lot of help.

It turns out, people seem to know an awful lot about this game, and shocker! They are not only willing to share that knowledge, but they seemed very happy to be able to give advice to someone that didn’t already know it all.

I got suggestions of visiting Wowhead.com to be able to see what my specific abilities do, a suggestion to visit Tarou on Youtube to see many guides to current content, a warning that most of the videos were guides to help make gold in-game but lots of other stuff too, suggestions of MMO-Champion for the latest news, and one person took the time to take me step by step through my Spellbook and teach me how to see what I have, what specs and Talents are, how to move them onto my bar and move them around, and finally, a suggestion that I pay attention to the level 3 quest I will get that has me test an ability on a training dummy, and how I should remember that because when I get new abilities, I can put them on my bar, go to one of those training dummies in any city, and try them out.”

Read the rest of “It’s Not Looking For Friends” »

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How are random World vs World matchups affecting Guild Wars 2?

Guild Wars 2’s innovative, massive PvP setting, the “World vs World vs World” games, have had a pretty major shakeup recently.

Arena.net have changed the world matching from being heavily based on world ranking, aiming to match up worlds evenly, to a considerably more random system that can match worlds up seemingly randomly – regardless of their PvP ability or status.

As you might expect, this hasn’t entirely been met with cries of joy.

But interestingly, it also hasn’t been met with hatred and fuming. Jeromai gives us a really detailed and interesting report on just how things are shaking down, from massively unbalanced matches to reactions from various schools of player:

“Strangely though, there is another subset of players that seem to have an impact on whether queues pop up across WvW maps or not. These players tend not to post on forums, and turn up based on the scoreboard. They have been derisively called fairweathers or pugs, weekend warriors, or if one is feeling very very kind, “militia,” by those who fancy themselves a lot more dedicated to WvW. They do tend to be less well versed in the game format, and have builds not optimized for it as well.

You will rarely find them in WvW when your server is doing less well. Yet once a server pushes over 300 or so, there seems to be some kind of critical mass effect that attracts them into jumping in and riding the gravy train and pushing the server even higher and higher scores.

Hardcore WvW players tend to be very scornful of this playstyle. Me, I don’t know. It occurs to me that sometimes, majority votes can’t be wrong. Maybe it’s not so much what players say, but what they actually do.

Tarnished Coast has been massively queued across a good number of maps in this blowout week. (You could map hop freely last week against Sanctum of Rall during most times that weren’t NA primetime, and I think it got even worse past Tuesday – I wouldn’t know, I wasn’t there either.)

A number of these guys contributing to the queue are definitely beginner WvWers and primarily PvE players and probably not a few map completionists either. There are doubtless opportunists who leap at the chance to kill people when the odds are in their favor. Add on the regular WvW guilds trying to get on during their usual times for pushes, and things are definitely crowded.

I’m thinking – they wouldn’t stay in there, if they weren’t having “fun” with matchups the way they are.”

Read the rest of “WvW – Variety Or Balance?” »

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Is Free To Play worth the money?

There’s been a lively discussion around the blogosphere over the last day or so, around the topic of Free To Play games and their value for money.

Sounds like an oxymoron? Not really. After all, Free To Play games still have to make money somewhere – and that’s where the trouble starts:

  • Klepsacovic muses on F2P in three parts, in a blog post that had me really struggling to stick to our new “no quotes” policy. He’s got some superb lines as well as some very interesting thoughts on F2P, immersion, and player reactions to it all:

    Read “Free To Play” »

  • Rohan dissects the way that players often believe Free To Play games monetise, versus the way they actually do – it’s not about many players paying little, it’s about letting a few pay a lot:

    Read “A Disconnect on F2P” »

  • And Tobold gets very annoyed at players who complain about purchases in F2P games buying advantages, arguing that “fluff” purchases are equivalent to begging for donations:

    Read “Financing Games With Free2Play” »

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Adult Gaming, Lack Of MMO Blogs, And Finding Your Binding

Lots of good posts this week, and I was slightly tardy on looking through them all – so here’s a Saturday update of all the good stuff I didn’t get to in the week.


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Two Points Of View: Should The Secret World Change?

A really fascinating discussion came up earlier this week, as longtime MMO blogger Syp “finished” The Secret World.

He wrote a great piece looking at his time with the game, and thinking about things he would change if he was Game Director For A Day – which is interesting reading on its own.

But then Roawn Blaze, another longtime Secret World blogger, picked up on his post, and wrote a fascinating counterpost looking at each of Syp’s suggestions from his own perspective.

Have your own ideas on what you’d do with The Secret World? Or just interested to see some great game design discussion?

Read on:

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