IAMA RIFT Exec Producer, Awesome WoW Toys and more

Let’s change things up a bit today! The blogosphere’s still resounding with the news of SWTOR going F2P, but that’s not all that’s going on – so here’s our pick of the thinking and discussion from elsewhere in the blogosphere today:

  • Beruthiel discusses going beyond “heal the tank” healing in WoW into really dynamic and adaptive healing” I’ve watched players who smash the meters completely fall apart on a fight like Yor’shaj. I’ve watched a healers who sailed through as top healers in Dragon Soul find that they are uncertain of how to heal a more interactive encounter – simply because they don’t know how to be dynamic and react to changing circumstances.”
  • Big Bear Butt waxes lyrical about an unexpected delight – the surprising quality of the WoW-licensed Mega Blox toys“The craftsmanship on the Lich King is just absurd, and the Dragon? Seriously, I am extremely happy with Sindragosa. If there was any one set I would recommend buying, it would be the Sindragosa/Lich King set. It is a masterpiece. It is “pose on my desk and make my geek friends exclaim in delight” levels of awesome.”
  • Zellviren looks at the news of staggered raids for Mists of Pandaria, and asks how this will impact future patch release cycles“There are now “Cutting Edge” feats of strength that are awarded to players who kill these bosses within their patch cycle and without nerfs of any kind. That means the nerfs themselves are now going to be a staple of future raiding, which shouldn’t surprise anyone.”
  • In a particularly cool move, the Executive Producer on RIFT, Scott Hartsman, has been giving long and interesting answers in a Reddit Ask Me Anything interview” The thing with ultra-complex games is that you will have one of those moments, where you log into the game to see how the patch went, and find yourself with your hand on your forehead saying, “What the f….” pretty much every week. “
  • And The Ancient Gaming Noob looks at Cryptic’s PR statements about Star Trek Online – and compares them to Nixon’s “I’m not a crook” speech“Nobody buys a paper when the headline is “Nothing Bad Happened.” Likewise, a headline like “STO Worth $50 Million” or “STO is Perfect World’s Top Performer” do not grab attention… at least not like that “dying” quote does.”

When are you predicting WoW patches? Do you think STO is going down? And have you (or your kids) played with the WoW Mega Blox?

Read more →

Looking Ahead: Gating in MoP, 50 Reasons for GW2, and balancing the two

It’s all about the future right now in the MMOsphere – at least for Guild Wars or WoW enthusiasts.

So here’s the latest discussion and debate on That Which Is Coming Up, from the news that Mists of Pandaria’s raids will be released one at a time, to the question that a lot of us are facing – how the hell we’re going to manage to play both games…

  • Beruthiel at Falling Leaves And Wings considers the news that MoP’s raids will be released in stages, and doesn’t see this as a bad thing at all“I’d ask “What’s the rush?”. If you are worried about rankings, aren’t you in the same boat as everyone else? I’m curious what is so wrong with getting through the first zone before the next is released?”
  • Sunnier at the Art Of War answers the question “How the hell will we fit MoP and Guild Wars 2 in at the same time?”“So what’s a GW2 and WoW lover supposed to do? I can’t be a progression raider in WoW if I’m (shudder) casual, but I can’t become a PvP superstar in GW2 if I spend all my time dying to the disconnect boss in Mogu’shan Vaults.”
  • And Syl at Raging Monkeys looks back on her “50 reasons to look forward to Guild Wars 2″ and considers which of them have been borne out by the beta tests“For direct comparison, I will go with the list of 50 reasons I presented this April 2012 with no first-hand gameplay experience whatsoever. I expect to see few changes but not to get ahead of myself, let’s rather examine each point once more.”

Are you annoyed by MoP raid gating? Shuddering at the thought of fitting both games in? Or do you have 99 reasons to play GW2 (but a raid ain’t one)?

Read more →

Three Bloggers Defend Attunements

Could it be that attunements aren’t awful ideas best left in the past?

Despite the many arguments made against attunements of late (here’s the latest installment), most forcefully by Matthew Rossi of WoW Insider, it seems there’s two sides to this particular argument – and today, the other side’s speaking out.

Yes, we’ve got three bloggers in favour of the return of attunements today, with posts ranging from passionate defence of the concept, to theories as to the less-idealistic reasons they might never return…

  • The Grumpy Elf argues that gated content is just plain good design“As simple as gating could be, it is the prefect way to prove someone is willing to try. To some extent at least. If they are willing to go through the quest line to open the raid, then maybe they are worth me putting in the effort of teaching them how to raid.”
  • Zellviren of Unwavering Sentinel writes an extremely combative but nonetheless interesting post arguing that there are no good reasons, at all, why attunements can’t return“If you’re wholly incapable of queuing up and completing the Hour of Twilight dungeons, you really need to work on the basic principles of playing the game before inflicting yourself on others. The busted learning curve is a problem in the game as it is, and attunements are one part of a solution”
  • And Spinks suggests that maybe the real reason Blizzard don’t want attunements to return is that it interferes with the flow of players to the LFD and LFR tools“WoW doesn’t even want to make people locate the dungeon instance before they are able to queue for it because some players found that sufficient of a barrier to harm the queueing times. So remember this when you hear anyone suggest tweaks to the group finder that would result in fewer people queueing (like more stringent gear/ spec checks, or attunement checks); they won’t happen.”

A quick note to conclude – let’s not let this debate turn into a flamewar! As the saying goes, no matter how heated we are feeling about this issue, there’s far more that unites us than divides us…

What do you think of today’s points in the attunement debate?

Read more →

Why does your iLevel need to be THIS high to get into Looking for Raid?

GearScore.

It came. It was widely reviled. Blizzard made fun of it.

And then they implemented it as a standard mechanic in WoW.

Sacred Duty, whom I’ve just started following, are on an absolute blinder at the moment, looking at the upcoming WoW Patch 4.3 and coming up with intelligent critique and alternatives. Today, writer Meloree is looking at the minimum iLevel requirement in the Raid Finder . But rather than simply point out the flaws in the system – namely that it’s a bad idea with more problems than Dan Savage’s email inbox – he proceeds to quickly and intelligently sketch out a far better system

“I propose this: set up solo “scenarios” in 5.0. If you pass it, then you qualify for LFD. If you don’t, gear up some more, and try again. Give us a performance-based metric for qualifying, rather than a grind-based metric. Anyone can step up and overgear it – with relevant gear only. It’s solo, so you can’t be carried – you progress at the rate of your skill.

A system like this allows the designers to offer some actual feedback to players. You’re either succeeding or failing at your task. If you’re failing, the game can offer you some tips or feedback. You can even add a few mobs to act like party members – the tech already exists from the Ursoc Quest in Grizzly Hills.

Why would I prefer a system like this? Obviously it benefits me, I can circumvent some of the grind, because I expect to be able to pass any check relatively early. It benefits LFD and LFR as a whole, in my opinion, by guaranteeing a performance threshold from the people participating. By actually creating a system that offers a gate to the content which is relevant to succeeding at the content, it encourages players to consider their own performance – something the game is sorely lacking right now.”

This idea’s spot-on. It would be more fun than iLevel grinding, and more immersive to boot – rather than an error message saying “because of GAME MECHANIC X, you can’t play”, you actually have to challenge and defeat an in-game foe to gain access to a new level of content. It teaches and requires skill, not gear. It’s already totally doable within the game – Blizzard are already using gating fights in both Patch 4.2 and 4.3’s Legendary quest chains, to ensure that you need a certain level of skill before you wield a Legendary.

Read, enjoy, and hope to hell that Blizzard’s system designers are following blogosphere links today.

Do you think this idea would work? If not, why not?

Read more →