What Everyone Thinks Of Mists Of Pandaria – The Weekend Edition

Shallow coat of paint on an old game, or Blizzard’s greatest success yet? What’s the verdict on MoP?

The reactions to Mists of Pandaria have been fascinating – but overall, the consensus seems to be coming in that as far as early impressions go, it’s a huge success. But how? And why? And what about the storytelling, the factions, the crafting, the accessibility?

Here’s our roundup of posts from around the blogosphere discussing all those issues and more!

General Impressions

  • Spinks covers a number of interesting bases in her MoP roundup, from the difficulty to the way the story plays out“There are thrilling set pieces where your character helps to defend a village from bandits, in classic wuxia style, or takes part in larger battle scenes, and these offer much better actual gameplay than previous set pieces such as Wrathgate (however cool it was).”
  • Neurotic Girl Gamer gives us a series of bite-sized points on Pet Battles, Panda seriousness and more“I think having cross-realm areas is a fantastic idea. I really like seeing other players when I’m out and about questing. However…It would have been nice if that had been turned off for the first few weeks after the expansion release.”
  • Gordon at We Fly Spitfires writes a thorough review of his experience of Pandaria so far“I have to say that Blizzard do make exceptionally good use of their game engine. Traversing through zones (if I can call them that), watching how the environment and landscape changes is incredibly immersive and occasionally breathtaking with some wondrous and beautiful sights to see. “
  • Alas covers questing as a group, dungeons, the scenery of Pandaria and Alchemy“I like the balance I’ve seen so far between interesting and engaging mechanics and straightforward AoE-festing. It seems like there’s a good mix of the swiftness one could achieve back in Wrath 5-mans with some areas that are a bit more challenging.”
  • Anafielle writes from the point of view of a comparatively hardcore player in a really interesting overview of the expansion and Cross-Realm tech“As awesome as it was to level with Theck, some of the technology behind CRZ concerns me. It’s just a bit too easy. Part of me wonders how large of an impact CRZ had on the race to realm first. “

Specific Aspects

  • Windsoar looks at the way that storytelling works in MoP“Just because there isn’t a label on the back of the box saying “EVIL BOSS #2438 SHALL DESTROY THE WORLD UNLESS YOU BECOME AN EPIC HERO AND SAVE US ALL” doesn’t mean that Blizzard doesn’t have the end-game in mind. “
  • Tobold considers how MoP has changed the crafting game“With an estimated drop rate of around 10%, and 10 motes needed per spirit, you only get a Spirit of Harmony for every 100 mobs you kill, and it’s not clear whether all mobs even drop them.”
  • Altclysmic also looks at crafting – and drinking – in a post about concerns with Mists of Pandaria“The World of Warcraft is full of alcholic drinks, they now have 2 races that are dependant on the consumpution of alcohol (Dwarfs and Pandaren) and even have a holiday (Brewfest) about the drinking of copious amounts of beer. “
  • Firespirit talks about the strange feeling of disconnect from coming back to the game after a long break“I started looking around, and browsing the forums. All the old names were gone. The top three (maybe even four?) guilds transferred out. “
  • WoW In The Details notes a tiny little thing – the Mists of Pandaria takeout service“At the Dawn’s Blossom settlement in Jade Forest, this lovely Pandaren is enjoying a quick lunch from a pretty familiar container. Notice the dragon logo and the gold border at the top and bottom. “
  • Fari waxes lyrical about the Lorewalker faction and the stories you get to hear“. If nothing else makes this whole trek worth it, it’s this. Loremaster Cho takes 2-3 minutes to tell you a story, and it’s more than telling! I’ll let you wait and check it out in order to see exactly how cool the storytelling is, but between his voice and the epic way that he goes about storytelling, the half hour I spent listening to stories made this totally worth it! “
  • And Misha talks about a number of MoP subjects, but most notably the rather alarming tenor of the Horde storyline“It’s a little rough, coming in with a Manifest Destiny attitude to an obviously well developed and lived in land (did we not see those ANCIENT RUINS and this VILLAGE WITH PANDA PEOPLE IN IT?) when throughout the rest of the game we have been Heroes of the Horde.”

It’s been a week now – still loving MoP? Or having a problem with it?

Read more →

Messages, Competition, and Cross-Realm Zones

And we close out today, once again, with discussion of various MMOs – WoW, for once, relegated to a minor role in today’s posts. How will things change with Mists of Pandaria, I wonder?

  • Lono asks us to consider what kind of message we send if we call for MMORPG innovation, but don’t support innovative MMOs like The Secret World“We’re saying: Guys! Don’t bother innovating too much or giving us anything other than swords, elves and dragons. Don’t change too much the formula either. We want our ability bars, our kill ten rats quests and our raids. “
  • The Grumpy Elf goes a fair way past grumpy and into steamingly furious about the effect Cross-Realm Zones are having on his gameplay“Don’t give up on blizzard. We pay for the right to play. Do not let them force cross realm zones on us. Keep putting in tickets so we can get back on to our nice stable servers.”
  • And Clockwork discusses competition in various games’ crafting markets, and the question of whether competition is really fun“When a gaming market has competition it involves a great deal of undercutting, taunting, buyouts-and-repostings…all to push the item towards its actual value as opposed to an artificial value mainly created by a lack of firms/actors participating in that market.”

Enjoyed today’s posts? Please consider sharing them!

Read more →

The Verdict on Guild Wars 2, 2 weeks in

2 weeks in – what’s the verdict on the latest MMO blockbuster?

Guild Wars has been out for just over two weeks at this point, and it seems that we’ve all collectively decided that now’s a good time to sit back and consider – just how much of a success has it been so far?

Bloggers from all over have chimed in today, with a tremendously wide variety of opinions:

  • Syp at Bio Break calls Guild Wars 2 the ultimate casual MMO“From my perspective, I see Guild Wars 2 as the ultimate casual MMO that respects instead of demands your time. It’s ludicrously fast and easy to log into, and mostly just asks you to live in the moment with your activities instead of chugging through a quest list. “
  • Azuriel struggles to express the way Guild Wars 2 hasn’t quite satisfied him“I will not think about Tiny Tower or 10000000 a decade from now. Nor, potentially, Guild Wars 2. Those games were/have been/are fun to play, respectively. But I am not looking for opportunities to kill time with amusing diversions.”
  • Doone rounds up opinion and debate on whether Guild Wars 2’s grouping has succeeded or failed“Most players seem to agree that there’s absolutely no such thing in GW2 at this time, that the mechanics which make the trinity system possible just aren’t there (threat maintenance). All we need to know now is how has the group experience been impacted”
  • The Mighty Viking Hamster waxes lyrical about Guild Wars 2’s dynamic events, calling them a game-changer“When you save the captured hunter from captivity he doesn’t just wave, run a few metres and dissipate into thin air. You can follow him back to town and see him reunite with his wife who is patiently awaiting his arrival. “*
  • Ravious argues that Guild Wars 2 has an entirely new structure to its in-game economy“Of Sardu’s list of 80 things to do at 80 over 15% are based on consuming or collecting gathered items, many for personal-only use.”
  • And Jeromai focuses on one small but brilliantly formed element of the game, saying it has fantasy underwater environments done EXACTLY right“Again, words fail me. I could say awesome, spectacular, fantastic and keep repeating it, but it’s probably easier to just show you what I mean.”
Read more →

Controversy Watch: 25-man Raiding, Auction Houses and GW2 Trailer

Are Auction Houses a bad idea? What does Paragon’s move to 10-man raiding mean? And WTH was up with that trailer?

Yep, it continues to be a busy time in the MMORPG blogosphere – here’s our latest catch-up on what everyone’s talking about:

  • Syl stares in bafflement at Arena.net’s apparent total surprise at how big GW2 has become” Did they not actually anticipate this game to break 1 million sales so early on? And what do we do with this information – make happy toasts to over-achievement or brood over all the implications and potential capacity issues yet to come?”
  • The Godmother believes that Paragon’s move from 25-man raiding to 10-man is less a Sign Of The Times, and more Paragon being a guild just like the rest of us“In other words, Paragon are JUST LIKE THE REST OF US. This has happened either before or after EVERY expansion in my memory: the only difference after seven years is the profile of the raiders, and the publicity that follows them”
  • Zellviren looks at what could be done to make 25-man raiding more attractive across the board“We want to promote 25-man raiding without making it mandatory, and do it in a way that doesn’t introduce more problems than it solves.”
  • And in light of the debate about GW2 economics and Auction Houses, Spinks looks at how changes in WoW crafting have affected its economic value“Every WoW player should try, at least once in their playing career, selling [Ice Cold Milk] on the Auction House during the Christmas Event where you can often get up to 1g per piece. You can buy it from a vendor in unlimited supplies for 25c (1.25s for 5 pieces) literally 5s walk away from the Auction House.”

What do you think? Is 25-man raiding doomed? Do Arena.net, like the Cylons, have a Plan?

Read more →

Controversy Watch – CoH, GW2 bans and GW2 Economy

Will City of Heroes survive? Is Guild Wars 2’s economy screwed?

It’s a busy time in the MMO world at the moment, and it’s not about to get quieter any time soon. So, here’s our roundup of the current Hot Topics in the land of MMOs…

The Battle For City of Heroes

The closure of City of Heroes provoked an unprecedented level of protest – but what will happen next?

  • Chris at Game By Night wonders what the next step will be if players actually manage to save the game“The fact is it is a lot easier to type your name or check a box than spend real money; there is no commitment beyond that “name” box. And when you’re trying to save a business, commitment and follow-through are the only things that matter.”
  • And Jeromai looks at the controversy from the point of view of someone who loved CoH, but is willing to see it go“If there is one MMO community that might fight closure successfully, it is definitely the CoH one. And it is extremely disrespectful of their efforts to tell them all-knowingly that it doesn’t matter. Because to them, it does. It doesn’t matter to you. That’s fine. Say that.”

Is The Guild Wars Economy Fried?

Several bloggers have been suggesting that there might be problems with Guild Wars 2’s economy – and one of them is presenting more evidence today:

  • Azuriel looks at the incentives for low-level crafting in Guild Wars 2, and concludes that they may present a systemic problem for the game“I have every incentive to start all eight crafting professions on all five of my character slots, and so does everyone else. Doing exactly that will continue to put huge Demand pressure on low-level mats, even if gold inflation raises prices across the board. “

Guild Wars 2 bans: Good Or Bad?

And Guild Wars 2 has also seen unprecedented – and much-applauded – use of the banhammer on rude or exploiting players.

  • Gary at Funsponge overviews what’s happened so far in Arenanet’s unusual and effective policies“There is also the argument this is what the profanity filter is for, but it’s important to distinguish between profanity and offensive language. You can easily offend someone without language that would cause a parent to cover a child’s ears. “

What do you think of this lot?

Read more →

Should you avoid crafting in Guild Wars 2?

Guild Wars 2’s crafting system is fun, reasonably innovative, and helps you level – but does it also make you poor?

That’s the claim that Tobold’s making today, as he claims that given GW2’s crafting setup and particularly its global auction house, it’s almost impossible not to make a huge loss whilst crafting

“I think Guild Wars 2 is extremely bad for making money from crafting, because the auction house spans all servers. There is no opportunity for arbitrage in such a large economy. And every player “produces” more items in the form of loot drops, or because he has to craft hundreds of them for crafting skill points, than he “consumes”. Thus the economy is in permanent oversupply, and the prices of everything are close to the floor, which is the vendor price.”

And he’s not the only one. Azuriel writes a very interesting guide to making gold in Guild Wars 2 today – worth reading if you’re a GW2 player – but in it, he too calls out crafting as essentially pointless

“A globalized Trading Post means the margins for any crafted good are always going to be razor-thin; it is not about competing with 1-2 Auction Barons, but all Auction Barons everywhere, including the ones willing to work for pennies a day. Supply for most goods is effectively unlimited, so there is no “cornering the market” without cornering ALL the markets. A few niche markets may develop along rare recipe drops (assuming they exist) or legendary materials, but again, they are “niche” across all servers… so not very niche at all.

Think about it for a second. Every weapon or piece of armor you could possibly craft can and will be crafted by somebody else. They will craft said piece multiple times because that is what they need to do to level up their skill, and they will need to sell that piece to pay for all the money they are sinking into the crafting system. Just like 200,000 other people.”

I’ve got to admit, my own inner AH baron has been agreeing with Tobold and Azuriel for a couple of days now. From the economy’s point of view, copper ore has actual “stored XP” in it, whilst the ensuing dagger is simply the biproduct of the XP-creation process. Whilst crafting has always been something of a gold sink in other games like WoW, the global AH and actual XP gain from crafting imply that it’ll be an EVE-level job to make gold from crafting in Guild Wars 2 – unless there’s some perk that none of us are aware of yet.

I’ll be very interested to hear the discussion on this one!

Will you be giving up crafting in GW2?

Read more →

How Guild Wars 2 Contributes To World Peace

An MMO that makes you feel… peaceful?

Yep, in amidst the frantic dodging, weapon-swapping and mass-zerging, Guild Wars 2’s doing its bit to contribute to world peace. How? Well, their approach to player resource sharing – from ore nodes that everyone can share in to XP bonuses for reviving fallen players – seems to be making waves within the blogosphere, as blogger after blogger comments on how refreshing, calming, and generally pleasant it is to no longer worry about another player stealing your node.

First up, Clockwork writes enthusiastically in favour, saying that Guild Wars 2’s gameplay means he no longer hates his fellow players

“Individual loot, individual resource nodes, bonus xp for contribution to objectives, xp for resurrecting other players….so many “individual” terms and yet they make the game feel so friendly. Personally I don’t miss having people swipe veins out from under me while I’m clearing the mob right next to it. I don’t miss mashing pull abilities to grab needed quest mobs before someone else takes them. I don’t miss a quiet disdain from other players as I adventure in the same area as them. I’m fine with those things in other games, but I am glad for once that there is a game that encourages and rewards cooperative activity in a meaningful way (and not just by forcing us to form a random party or get a guild). Heck, some Hearts actually are faster to complete with other people, since both players can activate the items that give credit. Playing as I write, I encountered crab traps which gave credit for a heart and spawned a crab, which also gave heart credit upon defeat. If two players use the trap, two crabs spawn, so each can get extra credit and xp.”

I’m surprised myself at how powerful this effect is. As a long, long term WoW player, I still get the sudden stab of panic at another player closer to a crafting node – followed by the sense of relief as I realise I can let him have the resource – I’ll still get it too.

Ravious, meanwhile, touches on these points as he considers the questless flow of Guild Wars 2 as a whole

“Going through the PvE zones at a calmer, realer pace is an eye opener compared to the brief periods of play I had before launch. The questless design is simply a different animal than a quest-based MMO. I wouldn’t say that one has victory of the other, but I do know that I am having more fun in Guild Wars 2 than I’ve had knocking out all the quests in a hub and then moving on.

The biggest side effect is the “who cares” effect. I am not fighting for resources or time against other players anymore. We are not racing to the shiny moss or seeing who can tag the respawn first. I am just about to kill a centaur and Joe Bob Ranger runs up and hits it for a few shots. I know he will get experience and loot, and who cares. Some people still do, it seems, as I’ve seen a few chat occasions where players whine about leeching.

For the most part open world PvE can be played “solo”. Ignore downed players. Don’t join events. Play how you want to. The game, I feel, is a lot more fun when my actions do respond to the nearby players. If I see a player taking down a normal mob, I will help out. I may have only saved that player a second or two of their time, but I also get an easier pass at experience and loot. Not a bad tradeoff.”

It’s true that GW2 can sometimes feel a bit disconnected as a result of just how instanced the world is – but as Ravious concludes, despite requiring a change in mentality from both player and developer, so far GW2’s managing to be exciting and peaceful at the same time, for me and apparently many other players. No mean feat.

What do you think of GW2’s envy-free design?

Read more →

Work, Difficulty, and The First Rule

Lots of interesting thought-starters of posts today, from ideas on how your non-standard Guild Wars 2 character came to be to the Golden Rule of crafting in MMOs as a whole. So, let’s get going!

  • Rakuno writes a great post looking at the ways in which your Guild Wars 2 character could have broken the standard mould of their race“While in the asura everyone is pretty much an engineer from birth, not everyone can simply live off inventing new things all day. Some of them needs to hold what little laws they have or fend off threats to the asura. Those would be the Peacemakers, the guards of asura society.”
  • Stubborn looks at the common arguments for why The Secret World has done so badly, from bad marketing to too much thought“As has been largely cited, the beta tests were wildly successful (so to speak), bringing in more than 1 million players, only 20% of which eventually purchased the game. Since you could have played several days before the game ever came out for free, it may be that you thought you’d had your fill. “
  • Klepsacovic has a bloody good point with his post today looking at what seems to be the golden rule of MMO crafting“You start off making copper gizmos which are used to make copper widgets. Both are guaranteed to give a skill boost. So you do the sensible thing and make a few gizmos and turn them into widgets because widgets are pretty handy to have.”

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

Read more →

Guild Wars 2 – the MAAAASIVE Blogger Reactions Roundup

So yeah, this MMO came out this weekend. Indie thing. You’ve probably not heard of it.

Or then again, maybe you have.

Guild Wars 2 has indeed turned out to be the juggernaut it promised to be, and it’s knocking down all other MMO writing in its path. So, since I’ve spent the last two days with my head up WoW Patch 5.04’s particulars, to balance things out here’s a MASSIVE roundup of all the fascinating posts on Guild Wars 2 and how, after this long, long wait, it finally turned out.

Long and Detailed

  • Ardwulf sums up his experience from beta to live in extensive bullet point form“The game overall is very strong. Barring the occasional bug or borked event, all of the essential progression elements (tasks, events and other means of gaining XP) work great.”
  • Anjin was expecting to dislike Guild Wars 2 – but turned out to love it“For all the time I spent adventuring, I spent equally as much time exploring Divinity’s Reach. That city is amazing.”
  • Matt Daniel at Massively is loving Guld Wars 2, but writes a lengthy post looking at the things he believes it could be doing better“I’m also not a fan of how large of a role these static-quests-that-occur-at-random-times (doesn’t quite have the same ring to it) play in overall progression, and the reason for this is simple: They occur at random times.”
  • Paeroka has been a Guild Wars fan for a while, but writes a really detailed pro-and-con post about her first five days’ experience“There is no “queuing” to kill a named quest mob. There is no kill stealing in general. And no stealing of resource nodes either! I do not feel that I have to go from quest hub to quest hub and check off the available quests in each of them.”
  • The Mighty Viking Hamster, who was skeptical about GW2, writes of his complete conversion to this new way of building MMOs“ArenaNet have definitely raised the bar with this one and now I understand the frequent talk of ‘changing the genre’ that seemed to come up whenever someone was discussing the game pre-release. “
  • Jeromai writes about Guild Wars 2 in detail – but apparently only managed to tear himself away because the servers went down“I truly don’t understand how people are having a problem with gaining experience. I suspect they’re just running from heart to heart and not doing anything else”
  • Psynister writes a HUUUUUUUUUGE review of the game – when I say this review covers all aspects, it really, really does – but it’s still very interesting“GW2 uses a semi-horizontal leveling system, where-in your effective character level is reduced when you go to zones that are lower level than you actually are. “
  • Chris at Game by Night enthuses about the game, which he says captured him even though as a newbie, he started out overwhelmed“You know that whole “me posting more” thing? Yeah, GW2 wants wants to end that. That should be a testament to how good I’ve found this game.”
  • Rohan shares his impressions of GW2 in a lengthy, interesting point-by-point discussion“So changing weapons means something, it actually changes your gameplay. It’s not just cosmetic. This also allows GW2 to make weapons feel appropriate.”

On The Bans

  • Ravious comments on Arena.net’s ballsy decision to publically air the reasons people were banned“ArenaNet decided that it would be better to air some dirty laundry. The effect? It appears that they are reinforcing how they want their community to be, and people appear to be rallying behind them in force.”
  • Timothy Burke also comments on this particularly interesting, and apparently really successful decision“Basically it breaks down into two major causes: first, that the account has been hacked by gold sellers and second, because the player was saying racist, homophobic, or grossly offensive things in public chat. “
  • And the thread where Arena.net actually aired the dirty laundry is really interesting reading“If you think you were unfairly suspended, or if you’d like to know the specific chat or character name that got you suspended, post your character name and we’ll reply in graphic detail with the reason for the block”

Other Specific Topics

  • The Nozy Gamer reports that the most-played MMO of the weekend was NOT World of Warcraft“Despite the gaudy numbers, the scary thing for other game developers and publishers is that this weekend was just the early launch for those who pre-ordered GW2. “
  • Green Armadillo wonders if the real MMO under threat from Guild Wars might not be WoW, but RIFT“When you look at what distinguishes the remaining MMO’s – and in particular the surviving subscription games – I’m much more worried for Rift. “
  • Syncaine wonders if the game will actually stand the test of time“The point remains that if killing boars or whatever did not lead to something, most would not spend hours killing boars for the ‘gameplay’ factor. “
  • Keen considers what it means for both the game and the player who did it that the first level 80 got there before the game was even officially launched“Guild Wars 2 officially launches today, yet many players are already max level… What does that say about the game? What does that say about the player?.”
  • Ironically enough given the game’s name, Azuriel is having real trouble with guilds in Guild Wars 2“Some random guy in Wisconsin six servers away claimed ownership first, now and forever, leaving me with choices like The Invictus, XxInvictusxX, Invictus 2: First Blood, and a cavalcade of increasingly poor choices.”
  • Syp loves the crafting aspect of Guild Wars 2, and explains why he’s just that taken with it“God bless ArenaNet for making crafting nodes non-exclusive. I hated that feeling of rushing toward a node while seeing someone else doing the same, worried that they’d get it first and feeling resentment toward them either way. “
  • Tobold wrote a post about the first boss of Guild Wars 2 – the login server“I’d love to tell you how much fun I had playing Guild Wars 2, but in reality I haven’t even beaten the first enemy of the game yet: The login server.”
  • Moxie didn’t buy the Collector’s Edition – but decided to buy a bunch of extra items for the game instead“Total: $300, the same price as two GW2 CEs, and we’ll certainly get a lot more use out of the gems, slots, soundtrack, and guide than we would the figurine or the in-game items”

Personal Experience

  • Stargrace checks in at level 30 to discuss the experience she’s had – which has been almost deleriously positive“How to tell I’m REALLY enjoying a game? I stop playing alts.”
  • Healing The Masses has been getting fully ADD on Guild Wars 2, and presents the experience of doing a little bit of everything“The world feels absolutely wonderful and makes you feel like some wandering adventurer out to help (or make mischief) where and how you please. “
  • Syncaine gives Guild Wars 2 the thumbs-up in typically cynical style“Overall though a good start for Anet and GW2, even with that stupid baseball cap they gave out to everyone that instantly kicks immersion in the nuts.”
  • MMO Gamer Chick shares her experience of playing GW2 over the weekend, both solo and attempting to play with friends“Alas, out of the many hours we spent in GW2 this weekend, our characters were only able to spend a small fraction of that time in-game adventuring with each other.”
  • Lorehound’s Mike explains why he’s in the minority as someone who didn’t like GW2 and won’t be keeping playing“Making all the quests public is nice, but it doesn’t solve the problem of having boring quests and I have no interest in completing hundreds of them before I get to some good ones.”

Enjoyed this massive list of blog posts? Please consider sharing them!

Read more →

Reality and MMOs Collide

Most of us play MMOs to escape from reality into another universe for a few hours. But sometimes, reality and MMOs get far too close for comfort.

From the reality of the impact of developer layoffs to psychological blunders, MMORPGs and RL appear to be uncomfortably close today…

  • Steve Danuser at Mobhunter, former Creative Director at recently-closed MMO developer 38 Studios, speaks of the personal impact of the demise of the studio“Work was tough and the pressure relentless, but so, so joyous as well. I got to work hands-on with R. A. Salvatore, taking the framework of a world he created and building it into something huge, ambitious, and wonderful. I watched amazing artists undertake the most startling transformation of concept paintings into game assets that I’ve ever seen. “
  • Tobold examines the impact of the AH on Diablo 3’s fun potential, and makes a case that Blizzard have managed exactly the opposite of the much-balyhooed “gamification” – workification“Blizzard’s Diablo 3 AH basically removes these game reward elements from Diablo 3, or at least makes them much rarer. They are replaced with an activity that functions more like work: A constant and steady farming and collecting gold activity in the game, with minor highlights of selling items on the auction house.”
  • And The Ancient Gaming Noob looks at the way crafting materials work in MMOs, and begs for something a little more plausible“leaving aside the rarity factor and the technology required to fashion rhenium (a furnace, hammer, and anvil aren’t going to cut it), when it comes down to it, some sort of steel alloy is going to make for a better weapon or base for a suit of armor nine times out of ten.”

Had any close encounters of the RL kind in your MMOing lately?

Read more →