What’s the Deal with Addons?

Posted in Gaming, MMO, MMORPG, Rift with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 01/11/2011 by Jeremy (Jmo)

A common topic over at the Rift forums is about the pros and cons of addons. Some people want certain ones in game, and others oppose them. Having played MMOs since EverQuest, I can definitely see the ups and downs of having addons and meters. Here are some of the major ones, and reasons that I feel they could be a blessing or a hindrance in the world of Telara:

Raid Helpers

Back in EverQuest, no one used to share strategies. It was up to the players and their guilds to figure out how to take down a boss mob. At the time, everything was open world and highly contested. There were no instances. If a boss was dead, you’d have to wait anywhere from 24 hours to a week to actually see it spawn again, and most likely the guild that took it down knew its spawn timer and were there waiting for it to rear its ugly head.

With the inception of instances, this practice slowly fell by the wayside. It wasn’t until very recently in EQ that people started giving up their secrets, but not long after raiding became popular in WoW, add-ons such as Deadly Boss Mods and BigWigs started popping up. Now, don’t get me wrong, wiping over and over again trying to get a boss strategy down sucks, but it’s a part of the game, and something I always found extremely fun. Once you finally figured it out, you could feel the sense of accomplishment. Unfortunately for those folks like me, the Raid Addons actually detract from the whole experience by basically holding your hand throughout the entire encounter, telling you move for move what to do.

For those that don’t have the time or the patience to figure out a strategy, or just want to kill the boss and move on to the next big thing, these programs are a God-Send. Seriously, who needs the countless wipes and repair fees when you can have someone else do all of the hard work and just tell you and your guild how it’s done. These mods helped streamline raiding, and made it more accessible to a majority of gamers.

While I fall into the first camp on this and find that these addons detract from the gameplay, most guild require them now and will kick members who do not have it installed and ready at the time of raiding. I’ve gotten used to using these types of mods because of raiding in WoW, but that added extra of figuring it out yourself is something I feel is being lost now-a-days.

 

DPS/Threat Meters

Everyone wants to perform their best, right? Well, that’s what these types of meters were designed for. If you don’t know, DPS stands for Damage Per Second. This is the amount of damage your character can put out over a period of time. If you play a DPS class such as a rogue or mage, this meter is a must have in modern MMOs. What plays in conjunction with this is a threat meter. It tells you how much aggro you’re drawing on the monsters you are facing, making sure that you don’t pull threat off of the tank. Rangers in EverQuest were notorious for out DPSing everyone else and drawing high amounts of threat, often resulting in their death or the complete wipe of the raid party.

That was part of the experience, though. You had to know how to manage your DPS and Threat so that you didn’t die and/or cause everyone else to die. And trust me, your guildmates would help keep you in check (or never let you live down the time you pulled the entire zone of Kael Drakkal on them). Ranger jokes aside, I’m very neutral on these type of addon. It’s a nice perk to have to know that you’re for sure pulling your weight, and also that you’re not going to have the boss giving you a black eye. On the other hand it is just another chance for your guildmates to belittle you if you’re not living up to their expectations, an attitude I wish could be wiped off of the face of MMOs as we know them.

Gear Score

Gear Score addons are the ultimate E-Peen meters. It used to be fun walking through town in an MMO and seeing the higher levels in their awesome gear. It looked cooler and usually had some kind of special effects. It gave you something to strive for. I remember plenty of times setting goals for my character based on seeing someone else in some awesome gear and thinking, “I want to be wearing that some day.” It just added to the adventure. It wasn’t a requirement though.

With Gear Score mods, games have turned from “Oooh, look at the pretty armor” to everyone else judging you on NOT having the armor. Now it’s more like “You’re not allowed to group with me until your addon says you have 10,000,000,000 Gear Score…N00B!” I honestly can’t stand it. People used to help each other get gear. You would go camp a mob for days on end together until everyone else in your group and/or guild got what they needed to move on together. Because of things like Gear Score guilds have become more exclusive instead of inclusive. If you don’t meet the Gear Score requirement, come back when you do. Guilds used to try and take on an encounter regardless of the members gear, and now you can’t raid unless you have the Uber Suit of Uberness +5.

If you can’t tell, this is the only addon that I loathe. I really feel that Gear Score has completely changed the face of the end game of MMOs. Grouping and Raiding is supposed to be about fun, exploration, and adventure, not about what level of gear you have. Am I saying that someone wearing starter rags should be dragged along on an end-game raid? Not by a long shot, but if someone has been working their character and trying their hardest, and is a good player, they should not be held back by an arbitrary number. A lot of times (and especially back in EQ) skill outweighs the level of gear you’re wearing. I really hope the Developers over at Trion keep this type of mod out of Rift.

Games like Peggle and Bejeweled

Game addons are the orginal addons. In fact, not a lot of people knew this, but if you typed /gems in EverQuest you got a Columns style game to play while you were waiting or meditating. This evolved further in WoW with Peggle and Bejeweled being added as free mods. Other spawned from this as well, such as TriviaBot that could get an entire Raid Force involved when recovering from a wipe.

The only downside to these in my eyes is the message “Healer01 has beaten their high score in Bejeweled,” during a raid or a dungeon. Usually this happens right as everyone is dieing. Bad healer, bad!

Auction House

Love it or hate it, auction house mods are some of the most popular. In game they allow you to keep track of your servers market, usually with up to date prices. If you’re an auction house junkie, or aspiring entrepreneur, these addons are for you. In fact, these are the first type of addons to make their way to smart phones so that players could keep up on their auctions while on the go. While some companies such as Icarus Studios don’t charge any extra to use the Fallen Earth App (outside of the $1.99 to buy it), businesses such as Blizzard choose to charge an extra $3-$5 per month to have access to the Auction House features.

This is another type of app that I’m neutral on. I’ve never been a big Auction House player. I don’t like to spend my time in game — or my time away from game when it comes to the apps — standing in one spot and cancelling and resubmitting auctions just so I can buy and resell things for a profit. I’d rather go out and earn my money the old fashioned way, but killing lots of evil creatures and stealing their bowels…er…*ahem*

I know that these are not the only Addons that we see in games today, but they are definitely the most widely used. Love them or hate them, they have become way too popular to ignore. While there are some that I hope see an untimely death, there are others that help enhance gameplay in ways that we didn’t think possible 10 years ago. That’s enough of my ramblings on the subject though. What do you all think? Do you enjoy Addons in games, or should they get put by the wayside? Which Addons do you love, and which do you hate? And which would you do away with if you could?

 

Writing on Gaming

Posted in Blogging, MMO, MMORPG with tags , , , , , on 01/10/2011 by Jeremy (Jmo)

Sometimes there’s just so much to write about I don’t know where to begin, or what topic to choose. This is my biggest problem when it comes to blogging. When I first started “Jmo’s Gaming Blog,” writing every day or two was something I didn’t have a lot of trouble doing. As time went on, though, I feel I started reading way too far into the “topics of the day” and really started writing less frequently. This started becoming a real hindrance for me. I love writing and I feel like I let myself down each day when I didn’t post something. As time went on though, I became more numb to the feeling. It took me by surprise after yesterdays post that it had actually been almost a whole year since I had updated my personal blog.

Now, I have been writing at MMOVoices and Vagary.tv, but I really feel like I failed by letting my own blog disappear into the nether. For that, I apologize to those that used to read this site regularly, and to myself for becoming so complacent. I feel that I really did a disservice to myself as a writer by not keeping up on a regular blogging schedule of sorts. I really have to thank Cindy and Gavin for helping set me back in the right direction with this week long “Blogging Bender.” It has really given me the desire to force myself to write on a schedule again, which is something I hope to keep up from this point forward.

It’s odd that I ever really did fall out of practice with how much I enjoy discussing the whole “gaming” world in general. When you think about it, it’s a very interesting and exciting place to be. There’s always something to talk about, and always some new bit of drama hitting the blog-o-sphere. In fact, even on weeks that we as bloggers and podcaster may complain that it’s been “slow on news”, we can always seem to find something to chat about. That’s because our hobby is an ever-changing, ever-evolving one. And no matter where anyone’s views may fall on a certain subject, and even how we may stick away from certain bloggers because of conflicting views, it’s rare that you’ll hear bloggers in our little niche of the internet speak truly ill of each other. It’s one of the few communities that I feel has a mutual respect for each other, even if we don’t always agree.

That’s one of the reasons that I feel MMOVoices actually took off the way it did. When Beau and Leala first started talking about it on Twitter, I was quick to jump aboard. The original plan was for it just to be an experiment in the wake of GAX folding, with maybe 20-30 members max. Now, just under a year and a half old, MMOV is working its way towards 400 members. It sounded like a great idea in the beginning, and it is really refreshing to see how it has grown. This goes back to my original point, and the one thing we all have in common: Gaming.

No matter how we may feel about Free to play, certain studios customer service, or features we’d like to see in the next big MMO, it all comes down to us enjoying a good game. That’s what makes our community stand out above the rest. You don’t find that kind of all around camaraderie in topics like politics or religion. In fact, it’s almost a sad fact that people agree more, or can at least agree to disagree more over such a topic like games, but will kill each other over religion. But this is a blog about gaming, so I won’t even go into my thoughts on that topic. Still, that speaks highly of our hobby.

That’s one of the biggest pulls to keep me writing. The feeling of being important, one of the group, and surrounded by friends at all times is something you can’t find anywhere else. Regardless of what someone may think about how a development studio does business, at the end of the day we’re all gamers. We come from all walks of life, different political and socio-economic backgrounds, but we can all agree on one thing: gaming rocks! Whether we write about gaming on blogs, talk about it on podcasts, or just play the games to have fun or even to escape some of the crappy situations we end up in in our day to day lives, we all embrace the same thing in the end. That is what sets our awesome community apart from all of the crap out there, and is what is my motivation to not only keep writing, but be involved constantly. I hope others feel the same way.

Daily Blog Challenge

Posted in DDO, Gaming, MMO, MMORPG with tags , , , , , , , , on 01/09/2011 by Jeremy (Jmo)

Hey everybody! It’s been quite a while since I’ve updated on my personal blog. For those that have been checking back, I apologize for not writing on here as much as I would have liked. For some reason, I always feel like I have a lot to say and then just never really know how to put it on a page. This week, though, I hope that all changes. My good friends and fellow hosts of the MMOVoices Podcast, Cindy and Gavin, decided to go through with a Daily Blog Challenge. What this is is that every day at 1:00pm CST for the next week, everyone involved will write a blog post about whatever is on their mind at the time. Anything will do, and then you just need to post it to Twitter to show the others that you made your post. I’m sure plenty of heckling will be thrown in for those that don’t. So today, I figured I’d talk a bit about my return to DDO.

DDO (Dungeons and Dragons Online) was a game that I had originally  played during beta and when it first launched. Unfortunately, it quickly lost its luster with me. Something about it just didn’t set right at the beginning, and another part of me just couldn’t leave Everquest. My good friend Andrew played it from launch, but even having a friend there couldn’t keep me around. I came back about two years later to try again, and found myself in the same place I was the first time, this time unable to really leave WoW. I wanted to like DDO, I really did. But for some reason I just couldn’t. To this day I still don’t know why I couldn’t get into it, or what it was about the game that couldn’t hook me. I just couldn’t bring myself to want to give $15 per month to play another game.

Then last year Turbine pulled a fast one. DDO went free to play. Again, I gave it a shot. Again, I stopped playing after a couple of days. We even had a MMOVoices static group that was playing DDO and I was having a blast, but for some reason I never really clicked on the icon again after the group dissipated. For some reason that all changed in these past two weeks.

My buddy Andrew was in town for Christmas. He and his wife came over to join my wife and I for dinner, and we got to talking about gaming, and particularly DDO. Andrew was still playing the game and is the officer in his guild. He asked me to come back and give it another shot. I figured “why not.” I’m not really playing any MMO steadily right now, in fact the only game I’ve been playing regularly at all has been League of Legends (a post for another day).  So, for the first time in a while, I opened the DDO patcher with optimism. I’m really glad I did.

I first created a sorcerer on Khyber to play with Andrew. I could have picked up my monk, but it had been such a long time since I’d played, I figured it’d be best if I started from scratch. I was actually having fun. And then something else happened. Gavin was mentioning something on Twitter about a “Permadeath” Experiment in DDO. It couldn’t have come at a better time. The flame of my interest in DDO was just starting to light again, and the whole idea of playing with Permadeath rules intrigued me. So, I got the information and rolled a Favored Soul character on Thelanis, to play with the Sublime Permadeath Guild. It’s a guild whose members have to follow a strict set of rules about death. If your character dies, it’s dead forever. The only way around this is if you have a class that can ressurect you with you when you die, and they are actually able to cast it on you right then and there. And if you release from your body, too bad. Delete. That’s it.

Because of this ruleset, I’m back in hook, line and sinker. I haven’t felt this attached to a character in a long, long time. In fact, I haven’t really felt in touch or truly immersed in a character since my original Cleric in Everquest. On top of that, the guild members themselves are awesome. Everyone is friendly and is having a good time together. There are quite a few people who have been in the guild for years now, and have said outright that the Permadeath guild is one of the only things keeping them around. They love the adventure of it, and it almost makes DDO feel like the original Pen and Paper game, where permadeath is a normal way of life.

For the first time with DDO, I look forward to logging into the game. It’s a new feeling for a game that I’ve always wanted to like, but could never find a way to do so. I played Dungeons and Dragons in High School, and this game feels like it should mimic that experience, but with a GUI instead of just your imagination. And now I found the missing link. That one piece of the puzzle that was holding me back. Can I be sure that I’ll stick with the game for the long run? Who knows, but the immediate future is definitely certain.

The Skill Cap Issue

Posted in Gaming News, MMORPG, PC, Star Trek Online with tags , , , , on 01/26/2010 by Jeremy (Jmo)

Cryptic has done it now. They have churned the cesspit and the trolls have risen! Enter the 500+ page post of whining (at your own risk of course).

Long story short, people are mad (read PISSED OFF) that Cryptic has a Cap on the Skill Points you can earn in Star Trek Online. Now, unless you’ve ONLY played EVE Online, this shouldn’t be anything new. But by the responses on the forums and on many blogs, you would think that Star Trek Online is the ONLY game to have a skill cap. it won’t be the last. In fact, there are some very livid bloggers who keep making the comparison over and over again. A lot of these people are personal friends of mine, but I still disagree with the comparison. STO is not EVE.

Now, before I get into that, one of the big arguments people are trying to make is that Cryptic is doing this solely to be money mongers, and to sell Respecs through the Cryptic Store. A Dev posted already (sorry, can’t find the link now) about how it’s not to sell Respecs at all. Respecs will be available in-game for in-game currency. So, that argument is shot down.

As for it being like EVE-Online, it’s nothing like EVE. I really think that since Star Trek is space, everyone is trying to compare it with EVE, and that should not be the case. This is not the first time I’ve heard the EVE argument come up, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. In EVE, there are literally thousands of skills that take 250k+ skill points to completely master, where the final tier can take anywhere from a week to several months to actually complete training on. STO isn’t like this. You earn skill points while you level/do missions/kill things, and you spend these to learn your skills. No person is meant to be a master of every category. In EVE you can, but in almost all other MMOs on the market, you cannot.

Players are meant to specialize in one area, while having secondary and tertiary skills that they are “OK” at. There would be no need for strategies and finding certain players if everyone could do everything. In fact, I think the best example with the way the STO skill system works would be Fallen Earth. You get AP while you level and do quests, and you spend that AP to specialize your character in a certain way. There is an AP cap and you cannot master everything. Everyone is meant to have their own niche.

And just when it thought there was a chance I might be wrong (hell, 500+ pages of people telling me I am was sure to get to me, especially since I take official forums so personal! /sarcasm off) StormShade, the Cryptic Community Rep, posted a response backing up my theories.

My other argument for this cap is one of game balance. Unlike EVE, all other games try to maintain some sort of class balance, especially in PvP. While STO doesn’t have “Classes” per se, they have character and ship types. There would be no point to having this, or having one main area of focus, if there was no cap on Skill Points. If everyone could master everything, why would you have to choose a Tank, DPS, or Healer? I for one have always spoken out against the “Holy Trinity” of classes, and wish there was a better way around it (see Fallen Earth), Cryptic isn’t going in a “New” direction with STO. It’s the same old gameplay, and that’s how they, and the majority of people enjoying the game see it.

Let me be straight forward in saying that my only qualm with this decision on the cap is that it comes towards the end of Open Beta, and not sooner. Should it have been done months ago? Probably. But with everything else Cryptic was focusing on, I’m sure it only recently became and issue, after they opened up End Game for testing and saw the effect it was already having on the game.

And for the love of God, do NOT even begin to categorize this as an NGE type event. NO (read Notta, Zilch, Zippo) major gameplay was changed by this at all. All it did was put everyone on equal ground. The game still plays exactly as it did before the cap was put on, it just means people have to think when they spend their points, with repsecs easily available if any mistakes are made, which is exactly how it should be (you hear me Icarus?).

With all that said, this kind of goes back to Cindy’s post on MMOVoices last week. Who’s fault is it? It’s the players (or non-players as it is), who are trying to find something to blame on Cryptic for them not enjoying the game. Listen up folks, if you don’t like the game, you don’t like the game. There were no gameplay changes at all, and harping on the Devs for putting something as simple as a Skill Cap in the game is only causing them undue stress where it is not needed. Take a look in the mirror, and take a cold shower to cool off. It’s not the Devs fault you don’t like the game, it’s your own for buying into the hype and not getting what you expected.

(Sorry for the lack of writing lately, I will try to remember to share all of my writing from MMOVoices.ning.com to here as well. Bad Jmo! /slaps hand.)

MMOVoices Podcast

Posted in Gaming, Gaming News, MMORPG with tags , , on 09/05/2009 by Jeremy (Jmo)

For those that haven’t heard yet and follow my blog, I am one of the hosts of MMOVoices.ning.com ‘s Official Podcast! Head on over to the site to check it out, or look it up on iTunes, then let me know what you think!

MMOVoices – MMO Bloggers and Podcasters Rejoice!

Posted in Gaming, Gaming News, MMO, MMORPG with tags , , , on 08/09/2009 by Jeremy (Jmo)

For those of you out there familiar with GAX Online, and it’s impending doom at the end of this month, know what an MMO Social Network is. Basically, the MySpace or Facebook of the Massively Multiplayer Online Gaming world. Now the problem with GAX, and one of the main reasons it’s downfall (from what I’ve been told and what I witnessed as I browsed from time to time), was that it wasn’t moderated much, if at all. The posts were strewn with obscenities and flames made very pointedly towards the authors and podcasters. It was not a safe haven for anyone, and environments like that seem to just push people away in the end.

But what if it could be different? What if there was a new “GAX” of sorts that WAS moderated, and EVERYONE’S opinion was appreciated and respected? Well, thanks the MMO Blogger and Podcaster Beau Turkey of the Spouse Aggro Podcast (formerly Voyages of Vanguard), and husband to Leala Turkey (top notch podcaster and former lead host of Epic Dolls),  we now have a new MMO Blogger and Podcaster Social Networking Site. And that site is MMOVoices! I’m proud and excited to be a part of this rapidly growing community. The word went out less than 48 hours ago about the site going live, as nothing more than an experiment at that, and it’s now about to reach 50 members. At this rate, by mid week it should have well over 100 and growing.

I am completely stoked to be a part of this new community, and I strongly urge anyone else out there who fits into the MMO Blogger and/or Podcaster mold, to head on over to http://mmovoices.ning.com and get signed up! You won’t regret it. I look forward to what the future holds for the site, I for one know that I will be starting up another PodCast to go along with the site soon as well. Hopefully with a co-host this time, as Not-A-Cast was weird (talking to a wall and all) =p .

Anyway, for now, Jmo out. See you on the flip side, and hopefully on my friends list at MMOV! (and no, the blog isn’t dead, I swear!)

The Raid Leader’s Manifesto

Posted in DDO, Everquest, Gaming, Guides, MMO, MMORPG, PC, SWG, SWTOR, WAR, WoW with tags , , , , , on 07/10/2009 by Jeremy (Jmo)

Those who read my blog and know me in game (whether it be WoW, EQ, SWG, or any other world I’ve stepped into), know that I’ve spent much time as a raid leader. And if you didn’t know, you do now! If you know anything about raiding in MMOs, you know it’s hard work, but if you think that just being at the raid is hard, try leading it! I garuntee your stress level would be through the roof. Anything that goes wrong is pinned on the raid leader, regardless of actual fault. For some, being the leader of 25 (72+ when I was leading in EQ) is not an easy task, to others it’s a breeze. It can be game making, or game breaking. In the end it’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.

Clockwork Gamer had this awesome post yesterday about what it means to be a raid leader, and I thought I would share (full article at the link).

The Raid Leader’s Manifesto

I am a raid leader.

Time is my enemy. I recognize that the most important number on any raid is not the mitigation of my tank, the health of my target, or the damage of my raid force – it is time I have left on this raid.

Anything or anyone that interferes with the limited time I have before my raid breaks up is aiding my enemy. Raiders who show up unprepared, raiders who have not read the strategies I’ve written, raiders who do not listen while plans are discussed, raiders who get into conversations during fights, raiders who did not work on their character since the last raid – these are all collaborators I must halt or overcome in order to perform my duties within the time my raid force has alloted me.

As a raid leader, I am impatient. By definition, patience is a virtue that requires time. Time is my enemy. I grow frustrated when the raid is taking too much time. I do not care about dying…I care about dying slowly. I do not care about wipes…I care about recoveries which take too long. I do not care about careful pulls…I care about pulls which hold us up. If I must repeat myself, I am wearied. If I must wait for a recovery, I become irked. If I our raid wipes frequently due to the same mistakes, I grow upset.

When we run out of time, the raid is done. If I have lead my raid well, they will have accomplished something new, performed better, or moved faster than they have in the past. They win when they gain new loot, see new enemies, or learn something different. Any or all of these things are referred to as progression. When my raiders do not progress, I have lost the raid. In order to avoid losing, they must progress…and they must do so within our time constraints.

Whenever I am online, I am either raiding or preparing for a raid.  When I am online between raids, I talk about raiding. I discuss raiding. I ask questions about raiding. I try to get my raiders thinking about raiding. I want my raiders to understand that success in a raid does not start in a raid zone.

Groups are the way to success. Before I ever step foot into a raid dungeon, I know that our raid force’s success has already been largely determined. I realize that the best way to prepare for raids is to prepare raiders and the best way to prepare raiders for raiding lies in groups. I know that we bond in groups. We gear up in groups. We prepare for raids in groups.

Mine is a thankless job. I accept this. I accept that if I am polite and the raid fails, I will be berated. I accept that if I am kind and the raid is slow, I will be judged. I accept that even if the raid is a success, so long as I am not polite, I will be criticized. I accept that when I do well, I will rarely hear it. I accept that when the raid fails, it is my fault.

If I believe I am acting firm, I am being rude. If I ask someone to leave the raid, I am a jerk. If I call out someone on their performance, I am elitist. If I reserve any loot for a critical raid class, I have favorites. If I remain quiet, I am weak. If I chat, I am distracting. No matter what I do, I will never please all of my raid force. No matter what I do, I will always be compared to other raid leaders who do things better than I.

It is irrelevant that the very people who tell me what I am doing wrong as a raid leader are rarely people who have ever been a raid leader. It is irrelevant that the reason a raid failed is due to one person making the same mistakes over and over. It is irrelevant that the target was just too hard for the raid force we brought. Any time we fail the raid and any time I am criticized, the fault is mine.

I take failure personally. Each time we fail, there is something that I could have done differently. I could have explained the strategy differently. I could have benched a different raider. I could have chosen a different target. There is a never a raid which fails which is not my fault. That is the responsibility which is mine as raid leader.

There are no second chances on raids for the leaders. Each raid is a trial. Each raid is a judgement. Each raid is a review. If I perform well, raiders will continue to follow me. If I perform badly, they will stop attending my raids or even seek a new raid force. This is the reality I live with. This is the the only thanks I will ever truly know – that if I do my job well enough, I will be allowed to continue to do my job again in the future.

I am a raid leader.

110% accurate, so you followers out there, remember this the next time something goes wrong on a raid. Don’t be too hard on the guy organizing it all.