How Bad Design Can Be Great and more: Game Design Roundup

You know that feature you hate in your favourite MMO? It could – in another game – be the best thing about it.

That’s one of the controversial things bloggers have been saying this week about MMO game design – along with discussions of what the “best” MMO content is, how long MMORPGs should be maintained for, and whether MMO combat is as boring as it’s sometimes painted…

  • Zubon writes a fascinating article looking at the way that awkward, inconvenient or downright bad systems can actually work to a game’s advantage” You opened up your inventory, you opened your target’s inventory, and you dragged items one at a time. Why do this when most games were moving towards fast looting of entire groups of enemies with a single keystroke? Because Darkfall was a PvP game where you were meant to be vulnerable while looting your victims. “
  • Syncaine argues that the best MMO content is always that which you’ll play time and time again“But that genre aside, if you really are designing an MMO, or you really are looking to play an MMO, reusable content is the key.”
  • Inspired by the death of City of Heroes amongst other things, Tobold joins the discussion over when an MMORPG should be “sunsetted”” I don’t think a MMORPG should be abandoned just because it wasn’t quite as much a money maker as expected. But it needs to make more money than the cost of capital to be not a financial burden to a company.”
  • And Gordon at We Fly Spitfires takes on the “MMORPG combat is boring” canard, arguing that it’s mostly made tedious through repetition“There’s only so many times you have play the same encounter over and over again before you get fed up, no matter the genre. “

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Did Guild Wars 2 live up to its promises?

One month in, Guild Wars 2 is certainly different – but different good, or different bad?

We’ve been adventuring in Tyria for more than a month now, and it’s continuing to divide MMO gamers. Some of us are loving it, some of us… aren’t. But what’s dividing everyone? And where will the opinion eventually fall – a genuine competitor to WoW, or another “Three-Monther”?

Several bloggers have been looking into GW2 one month in today, with some really deep, interesting posts:

  • Dusty Monk looks at the various promises GW2 made – from cooperative game design to strong personal story to, y’know, being fun“in that sense, it actually plays much more like a sandbox game than an amusement park game, wherein it relies on the player to go and find their own fun.”
  • Healing The Masses takes a PvP-focused look at how WvWvW’s fairing, how the combat system is working out, and the issues the game is facing right now – *”Not be able to see the enemies true numbers or even the enemy at all is a serious issue. It is even being abused in certain ways with groups staying really close then fanning out so their rendering takes longer.”
  • And Azuriel, who hasn’t been getting on with Guild Wars 2, takes another stab at it, giving both his impressions and considered reasons for them as he plays“The mobility does feel fun. There is a sort of sponginess to the button-presses –> attack result, but even that is not the precise issue. And while my next instinct was to say it feels shallow, it is pretty clear that there is a lot that can go on simultaneously (especially in PvP).”

So, how do you think GW2 is doing? Is it achieving what it promised?

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GW2 – Dodging, Downlevelling, Friends and Gamification

It’s still full-on Guild Wars 2 mania in the blogosphere, and there’s some great writing coming out of it! Today, we’ve got a number of really interesting posts focussing on various aspects of the game – from guides to combat for the dodging-impaired to a contrarian view of down-levelling…

  • Pewter looks at Guild Wars 2’s social options, and wonders why Massively Multiplayer games don’t pay more attention to social aspects of gameplay“Currently, Guild membership is held at the account level, but active participation in a guild is controlled by the player at character level. This means that choosing to Represent your PvP guild while you arse around in the Mists results in cutting off your access to the guild chat of your RP or PvE guild.”
  • Azuriel ponders’s fascinating decision to refuse to sell more copies of GW2 right now“This sort of news story can probably be a pretty good Rorschach Test for people. Another sign of of ArenaNet’s “dream team” working outside the box? Baffling corporate hubris? Turning cash-strapped business model lemons into delicious PR lemonade?”
  • Tobold found the downside of downlevelling – when GW2’s ingenious downlevelling system levelled him below the monsters” I was level 8, but had been downleveled to 6 for that instance. But most of the mobs I was fighting were level 8! Why the heck am I being downleveled so that mobs of my level end up outleveling me?”
  • Flosch considers GW2’s Vista mechanic (and TSW’s Investigations) – replacing the old school of “climb if you like the view” – in light of all this talk of gamification“This one might be good, because it broadens the appeal of a part of the game. It might also be bad, because the original intent (get up the mountain, enjoy the view) is lost, and because more obsessive achievers might feel they have to complete an arduous task they don’t enjoy just to tick more items off their list.”
  • And Syl writes a really useful guide to getting your head out of the WoW combat mindset, and into GW2’s dodging, weapon-switching, reviving dynamic conflicts“Level-inappropriate mobs and bad pulls aside, the majority of all my deaths in GW2 so far can be attributed to not moving and dodging enough.”

How’s Guild Wars 2 treating you?

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Rogue talents in Mists of Pandaria – Assassination, Combat and Subtlety – new WoW 5.0 talent system

It’s all change time for Rogues in WoW Patch 5.0 and Mists of Pandaria – along with every other class. Yep, Blizzard have announced an entirely new Talent system – instead of talents every other level, you get one, from a choice of 3, every 15 levels. And there are no more seperate trees – instead of being locked into Assassination, Combat or Subtlety, you can choose whatever talent you want.

Here’s the complete list of all the Rogue talents, as announced at Blizzcon.

Updated December 12th to the latest talent release.

Note: If you’d like to copy any part of this to use in a blog article, please feel free – just please link back to here as the source.

Tier 1/ Level 15 talents: Nightstalker, Subterfuge, Shadow Focus


Increases your speed while stealthed by 20%.


Your Stealth breaks 3 seconds after dealing or receiving damage, rather than doing so immediately.

Shadow Focus

Abilities no longer cost Energy while you are stealthed.

Tier 2/ Level 30 talents: Deadly Throw, Nerve Strike, Combat Readiness

Deadly Throw

5-30 yd range
35 Energy


Finishing move that interrupts spellcasting and reduces the movement speed of the target by 50% for 6 sec. Damage dealt:
1 point : 437 – 483 damage
2 points: 714 – 760 damage
3 points: 991 – 1037 damage
4 points: 1268 – 1314 damage
5 points: 1545 – 1591 damage

Nerve Strike

A successful Kidney Shot or Cheap Shot also reduces the damage dealt by the target by 50% for 6 seconds after the effect fades.

Combat Readiness

2 min cooldown

Enter into a state of heightened awareness, deflecting enemy weapon strikes with increasing effectiveness. Successive attacks will deal 10% less damage per application, stacking 5 times.

    Lasts for 20 sec, but if 10 sec elapse without any incoming weapon strikes, this state will end.

Tier 3/ Level 45 talents: Cheat Death, Leeching Poison, Improved Recuperate

Cheat Death

An attack that would otherwise be fatal will instead reduce you no lower than 10% of your maximum health, and damage taken will be reduced by 80% for 3 sec. This effect cannot occur more than once per 90 seconds.

Leeching Poison

3 sec cast

Coats your weapons with a poison that lasts for 1 hour. Subsequent weapon strikes against the poisoned target will heal you for 10% of damage dealt.

Improved Recuperate

Causes your Recuperate ability to restore an additional 1% of your maximum health and reduces all damage taken by 6% while your Recuperate ability is active.


Tier 4/ Level 60 talents: Preparation, Shadowstep, Burst of Speed


5 min cooldown

When activated, this ability immediately finishes the cooldown on your Sprint, Vanish, Cloak of Shadows, Evasion, Dismantle, and Smoke Bomb abilities.


25 yd range

24 sec cooldown

Step through the shadows and appear behind an enemy target.

Burst of Speed

60 Energy

Instant cast

Increases movement speed by 70% for 4 sec. If you are afflicted by any movement-impairing effects, activating this ability will instead remove any such effects and grant immunity to their re-application for 4 sec.

Tier 5/ Level 75 talents: Deadly Brew, Paralytic Poison, Dirty Tricks

Deadly Brew

Whenever you apply one of your poisons to a target, you also apply Crippling Poison.

Paralytic Poison

3 sec cast

Coats a weapon with a poison that lasts for 1 hour. Each strike has a chance of applying a charge of Paralytic Poison to the enemy. Upon a fifth application, the poison will stun the enemy for 4 seconds.

Dirty Tricks

Your Gouge and Blind no longer have an Energy cost, and no longer break from damage dealt by your Poison and Bleed effects.

Tier 6/ Level 90 talents: Killing Spree, Shadow Dance, Vendetta

Killing Spree

10 yd range

2 min cooldown

Requires Melee Weapon

Step through the shadows to a random enemy within 10 yards, dealing a damaging strike and generating 5 combo points on that target. This ability may be activated multiple times within 5 sec of its first activation.

Shadow Dance

1 min cooldown

Enter the Shadow Dance for 6 sec, allowing the use of Sap, Garrote, Ambush, Cheap Shot, Premeditation, Pick Pocket, and Disarm Trap regardless of being stealthed.


30 yd range

2 min cooldown
Instant cast

Marks an enemy for death, increasing all damage you deal to the target by 20% for 15 sec. While Vendetta is active, the rogue may deal Vengeful Strikes to the marked target.

  Vengeful Strike costs 30 Energy, deals 100% weapon damage (145% with a dagger), has a 30 yard range, and generates a combo point.

Want talents for other classes? Text of all 5.0 talent trees

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Should We Actually Call MMOs ‘Games’?

Every so often Nils’ blog gets on a roll of good posts. Right now he’s on such a good roll it must be made of Belgian chocolate. Yesterday he put up a post which is, I grant, a little convoluted. But it’s also so thought provoking – and frankly, throwing out the idea that MMOs might not be games, not really, is going to disarm your average intelligent gamer. Like us.

So what does he mean? Nils is comparing MMOs to traditional games like chess and soccer, and what traditionally makes a ‘game’. he suggests that MMOs might not have rules, not really. If you want to kill a king in an MMO you don’t have to move your priest diagonally so they least expect it, like in chess (or Discworld). And as if that wasn’t enough, there aren’t any single, over-arching goals.

There are goals, just not one higher-ranking one. Instead, the goals appear naturally while the simulation runs it’s course. The most trivial example is you meeting a ‘monster’. That ‘monster’ attacks you and to ‘die’ is now considered to ‘loose’. Suddenly there is a goal, like ‘defeat the monster’ or ‘escape as unharmed as possible’. But this goal is setup by the player. The designer has some influence, but ultimately the player decides what he wants to do. … But how did the player even get there? What was his goal before he met the ‘monster’?

Nils’ conclusion on the whole thing is interesting, and ties around the idea that MMOs are comprised of minigames – and how they stick together. A fascinating topic and I’d like to see if anyone else adds to his commenter, who bravely ventured a view using a few long ‘n complicated (but interesting) words. Oh, and to go back to the roll thing – Nils also picked up on Melmoth’s topic from yesterday about how being a hero’s kinda over-estimated these days.

What do you think – are MMOs games, no contest, or are they something else – or take ‘game’ to a new level?

_Quote taken directly from Nils’ post

You can find Nils Blog here_

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