Archive for Rift

The Lost Art of Community

Posted in Blogging, Everquest, WoW with tags , , , , , , , , , on 01/12/2011 by Jeremy (Jmo)

If there’s one thing I can say was EverQuest strongest asset, it was community building. I went into EQ knowing only one other person that played the game, and came out 10 years later with more friends than I can count. It was an odd side effect to playing a game. Before EverQuest I’d only really played Single Player games or played with friend on the same TV screen. Even the people who played things like Unreal Tournament or Half Life/Counter Strike didn’t exactly get to know each other. Yes, I know there are exceptions to that rule, but for the most part that was the case.

EverQuest changed that paradigm of gaming for me and a plethora of others. See, the reason I feel that this was the case with EQ (and UO and DAoC), was that you really needed to have help to advance in the game. There were no handouts, and if you tried to go alone you wouldn’t get very far. The only way to truly level up and strengthen your character was with a group. Because of this you had to get to know your fellow Norrathians. For the longest time, and for the majority of my level, I can name 10-15 people whom I grouped with more than anyone else. These people quickly became my friends, and we ended up joining a guild together. To this day, I still keep in touch with most of them.

This whole feeling of unity and camaraderie is lost on the current generation of gamers. With the onset of World of Warcraft and other modern MMOs, online gaming has become more of a solo experience than it has a group experience. Even the higher end dungeons in games are more of a “Queue up, don’t talk, get your loot, and get out!” The whole “Brothers in Arms” feeling is gone. I really think this type of gameplay is killing the true experience of what a MMOG is supposed to be.

I’m not saying we need to bring back corpse runs, massive XP losses, or mob grinding for leveling. But something really has to be done to bring back the social aspect of these games. The closest things I’ve seen at all lately is one of the main reasons I’m looking forward to Rift. That would be the title aspect of the games, the Rifts. Trion has taken the initiative to create content that encourages teamwork early on in their game. Even so, I don’t know if it’s enough to really bring back that feeling of needing to group. While I hope it does, I think MMO developers need to come up with some sort of system in their games that encourages and rewards players to work together throughout the game, and not just in the raiding portion. Guilds and groups need to matter and feel a sense of accomplishment.

MMO gamers are starting to act more and more antisocial towards each other. It used to be said that games like EQ could help shy teens and young adults really break out of their shell and learn to integrate better into society. I wish I could find a link to the study, but there was one done at one point talking about this exact fact. As time has gone on, and games have become more and more solo friendly (or solo forced?), we are seeing a growth in players who fit into [NSFW] John Gabriel’s Greater Internet F*ckwad Theory.

Gamers already seem to get a bad wrap in the media. The stereotypes are attrocious and the growing asshat-ish attitude isn’t helping. I truly believe this all goes back to the shrinking art of community. Guilds don’t even mean as much today as they used to. It wasn’t abnormal to see guilds of 100+ players in Everquest and even early WoW. In fact, that was an average size guild. Everyone got to know each other as well. In the past few guilds I’ve been in in WoW, players rarely –if ever– communicated in chat. In fact, even most raids didn’t see much chatter. It was more “you better know the strats before you get to the fight or you’re going to be kicked,” and a lot less of “hey guys, let’s strategize and learn this fight!”

It really saddens me to sit back and look at what’s happened to the social aspect of MMOs. I really hope that some day we will at least move back in the right direction, and back to the true meaning of what MMO means. Until that happens, I feel we will continue to see a growing trend of anti-social and anti-teamwork behavior.

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?