Should We Blame The EU For Lack Of Darkfall?

Is the political instability in Greece and the European Union the reason for Darkfall: Unholy Wars’ delay?

That’s the theory Tobold advanced a day or so ago – and whilst it might sound a bit crazy, there’s more to it than you’d think:

“Why this hypothesis? Because it very nicely explains the rather long periods of being vaporware that Darkfall has gone through, and is yet again in. To make money from subscribers, you need a game that runs. To make money from well-meaning bureaucrats, you only need a PROJECT of a game that might one day run. Not running the game is actually cheaper, and thus more profitable, than having all that cost for servers, bandwidth, and customer service.”

Read the rest of Tobold’s argument here

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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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Darkfall And EverQuest 2 Roundup

In amidst the furore of all the huge new games launching, getting expansions, or generally making noise, it’s easy to forget the smaller guys. But Everquest 2’s had an expansion recently, and Darkfall, the tiny niche PvP fantasy MMO, is about to. And it’s about time we saw how they were doing.

ON which note – let’s go!

  • Chris at Game By Night has an intriguing essay up on why you should try Darkfall“If someone has told you that losing your gear when you die is a big deal, let me be clear, they weren’t actually playing the game.”
  • The Ancient Gaming Noob considers how Everquest’s new tradeable game time will work out in the long run“Let’s say you buy a Krono and put it on the market for 700 plat and it sells. Is 700 plat the real market price? Did you simply price the Krono too low? Did you just find a fat cat in a hurry? Were you simply the lowest price at that moment on the broker?”
  • And Flosch returns to the game and gives his impressions after a long absence“I wasn’t 100% sure what the story was. I mean, I got part of it, but there were a lot of Erudites running around, but the city wasn’t called Erudin, but Paineel? And everything was kinda of floating in the air?”

I must admit, Chris does make Darkfall sound tempting…

Are you playing EQ, Darkfall, or another indie MMO right now?

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Could You Go Back To An Old MMO?

Over the weekend, there was one last issue that seemed to be running around the blogosphere – and that was the issue of old games. Could you go back? Would it be fun if you did?

  • Ravious returned to LoTRO after time in Guild Wars 2, and ended up with an entirely new perspective on quests versus the “Hearts” system“I think that the Guild Wars 2 system is one of the best for an MMO, but I also think it is important to step back for a moment. In my case, LOTRO helped me do that because it allowed me to clear my mind of the subjective glee of playing Guild Wars 2. I had to return to restriction with quest chains to truly see the Guild Wars 2 system.”
  • Syncaine looks at the idea of returning to old MMORPGs as his own personal favourite, Darkfall, looms into view once again” An MMO’s design determines who it attracts. There is a reason The Mittani and players like him play EVE and not GW2. And should EVE ever turn into GW2, those players will leave.”
  • And Beau Hindeman at Massively returns to a particularly old favourite – Dark Age of Camelot, which he finds still very playable“My theory on graphics is that they can stay stuck in time, with barely an update, for years and years. Look at EverQuest or Ultima Online, for example. Like Dark Age of Camelot, these games can pretty much remain how they are for the rest of time and we can still appreciate them. “

Personally, I’ve recently been playing Thief: The Dark Age, originally released in 1998 – and it’s astonishing just how playable it is and how complex it feels. The graphics are awful, but other than that, it’s still extremely playable, exciting, and scary.

Have you revisted an old favourite? How did you find it?

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The whole “player versus character” discussion

Lots of interesting discussion  on both Tobold’s blog and Syncaine’s blog about character ability versus player skill, which appears to rather be the topic of the moment.

I’m actually going to link to Syncaine’s follow-up post intially, which is an excellent discussion of the recruitment strategies of average WoW guilds, top WoW guilds, and guilds in other game styles like EVE and, yes, Darkfall.

Mental exercise time: if you are a guild leader, what criteria do you use when recruiting?

If you are an ‘average’ raid leader in WoW, you look at level/gear/achievements, exclude the psychos (unless it’s a healer, then you just pray the psycho can be contained long enough to progress), and you are good. Come raid time you hope the new recruit knows enough not to cause a wipe, but beyond that no real test of ‘skill’ is needed or considered.

He’s making the argument that Blizzard seem to be trying to get back to a more player-centric model in Cataclysm, which I would tend to agree with – but the entire discussion, particularly that of recruitment strategies, is an interesting read. (It’s certainly true that in previous guilds Rebecca and I have prioritised player personalities and skills over character gearing, and that’s worked very well for us).

Meanwhile, Tobold is addressing the question of what, exactly, we’re talking about when we talk about skill, revisiting a common thread in his journal of gear and “passive” skill (tactics guides, etc).

But once we admit that there should be *something* to do for the player in a MMORPG, we need to decide what exactly. What other kind of video game should a MMORPG be like? One school of thought bases that decision on the history of role-playing games, which evolved out of war games: Thus it would make sense if a MMORPG would play somewhat like a strategy game, and success would be based on your strategic or tactical decisions. But that sure isn’t the only option: MMORPGs like Puzzle Pirates show that a MMORPG can be based on puzzle mini-games, where it is your puzzle game skill that determines success. You could theoretically design a game in which your success is based on your skill in solving differential equations, but presumably there is no market for that.

He’s got a very interesting model of the design of WoW, one where, quite deliberately, as your character gains “skill”, the player requires less skill in various forms (reaction times, strategic knowledge). It’s a read I’d not seen before and one I found distinctly thought-provoking. Some of the comments are also very interesting (look for some martial arts nitpicking from yours truly), although others are, ah, of varying quality.

It’s nice to have a meaty topic to dig into in these quiet times, and I’m looking forward to seeing more discussion on the subject!

What are your thoughts on the player skill versus character skill issue?

Quotes taken from http://syncaine.wordpress.com/2010/10/04/the-value-of-the-player-behind-the-character/ and http://tobolds.blogspot.com/2010/10/character-skill-vs-player-skill.html

You can find Syncaine’s blog at http://syncaine.wordpress.com/ and Tobold’s at http://tobolds.blogspot.com

Read more →

The whole "player versus character" discussion

Lots of interesting discussion  on both Tobold’s blog and Syncaine’s blog about character ability versus player skill, which appears to rather be the topic of the moment.

I’m actually going to link to Syncaine’s follow-up post intially, which is an excellent discussion of the recruitment strategies of average WoW guilds, top WoW guilds, and guilds in other game styles like EVE and, yes, Darkfall.

Mental exercise time: if you are a guild leader, what criteria do you use when recruiting?

If you are an ‘average’ raid leader in WoW, you look at level/gear/achievements, exclude the psychos (unless it’s a healer, then you just pray the psycho can be contained long enough to progress), and you are good. Come raid time you hope the new recruit knows enough not to cause a wipe, but beyond that no real test of ‘skill’ is needed or considered.

He’s making the argument that Blizzard seem to be trying to get back to a more player-centric model in Cataclysm, which I would tend to agree with – but the entire discussion, particularly that of recruitment strategies, is an interesting read. (It’s certainly true that in previous guilds Rebecca and I have prioritised player personalities and skills over character gearing, and that’s worked very well for us).

Meanwhile, Tobold is addressing the question of what, exactly, we’re talking about when we talk about skill, revisiting a common thread in his journal of gear and “passive” skill (tactics guides, etc).

But once we admit that there should be *something* to do for the player in a MMORPG, we need to decide what exactly. What other kind of video game should a MMORPG be like? One school of thought bases that decision on the history of role-playing games, which evolved out of war games: Thus it would make sense if a MMORPG would play somewhat like a strategy game, and success would be based on your strategic or tactical decisions. But that sure isn’t the only option: MMORPGs like Puzzle Pirates show that a MMORPG can be based on puzzle mini-games, where it is your puzzle game skill that determines success. You could theoretically design a game in which your success is based on your skill in solving differential equations, but presumably there is no market for that.

He’s got a very interesting model of the design of WoW, one where, quite deliberately, as your character gains “skill”, the player requires less skill in various forms (reaction times, strategic knowledge). It’s a read I’d not seen before and one I found distinctly thought-provoking. Some of the comments are also very interesting (look for some martial arts nitpicking from yours truly), although others are, ah, of varying quality.

It’s nice to have a meaty topic to dig into in these quiet times, and I’m looking forward to seeing more discussion on the subject!

What are your thoughts on the player skill versus character skill issue?

Quotes taken from http://syncaine.wordpress.com/2010/10/04/the-value-of-the-player-behind-the-character/ and http://tobolds.blogspot.com/2010/10/character-skill-vs-player-skill.html

You can find Syncaine’s blog at http://syncaine.wordpress.com/ and Tobold’s at http://tobolds.blogspot.com

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