Archive for 2011

Everquest Had It Right (And Why I’m Looking Forward To Diablo 3 So Much)

Everquest UI

Lo and behold the most advanced interface known to man!

I must be getting old. As much as I love contemporary MMOs and could probably never go back to the original days of Everquest, there’s a trend emerging that I’m struggling to cope with: spell and combat ability overload. RIFT is the worst. WoW is pretty bad, as are other games like Everquest 2. You know what I’m talking about – the floods of endless abilities that end up filling your hotbars to the brim and cause your fingers to cramp trying to hit all of the keys. It’s button mashing digit dexterity gone mad.

Don’t get me wrong, I love choice. I want my wizards to have dozens of spells to pick from and I want my warriors to be able to choose between being a wrecking ball of destruction or an armoured tin can of impenetrable goodness. Choice is good, selection is good, variety is good. Having a UI clogged up with seven hotbars and 40 abilities, each of which require constant and consistent mashing is not. I don’t want a ’standard rotation’, especially not one consisting of a dozen attacks and I don’t want to have actions taking up space in my UI that I only fire once in a blue moon. What I want is to make intelligent, informed decisions when I play, with each action generating a clear and conceivable benefit. And I want to do it all with ease and simplicity.

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I Hate The MMORPG End Game

T13 Warrior Set

Tier 13 armour. Suddenly my level 85 Warrior is completely obsolete.

Maybe hate is a bit too strong a word but ironically enough, for someone who’s been an avid (very avid) MMOer since 1999, I’ve come to realise lately just how much I dislike the end game of the traditional MMORPG. So much so in fact that in my recent return to WoW in the past month I’ve taken to deleting my high level characters and making new alts instead.

It’s not just that I find the low level game in WoW more fun than the high level, I think I actually feel that way about pretty much every MMO. If I look back at my history of playing, ever since the original Everquest, I’ve always preferred the journey of leveling up, or even low level PvP, to that of the end game. In EQ2, for example, all I pretty much did was re-roll alts with my guild so we could have fun with the low level world PvP. Unfortunately though it seems also like a lot of games are becoming more top heavy now by making the leveling process faster than ever before and creating more and more grind locks at max level to keep folk from leaving when they hit the cap. I’m not trying to pick on it but obviously WoW is the main offender in this area.

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Comics Enter The 21st Century. Finally.

Justice League issue 1 - 2011

DC's relaunch includes a skanky Wonder Woman and a fashion conscious Superman.

Regular readers will know that I’m a bit of a comic book geek and, aside from MMOs, they are one of my biggest hobbies. I wouldn’t say that I was extremely into them or a diehard fanboi or anything like that but I’ve been reading and purchasing my favourite series on a weekly basis since I was a teenager. However, over the past two or three years, it’s become harder and harder for me to keep up the hobby. Until now.

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Mists Of Pandaria Predictions

Pandas and kung fu. A natural combination.

Pandas and kung fu. A natural combination by anyone's standards.

A few weeks ago it was revealed that Blizzard had trademarked the name “Mists of Pandaria” and ever since then imaginations have been running wild as to what it’s all about. Just like most people, I’m reckoning that it’s the name of the next World of Warcraft expansion, something which makes perfect sense to me. Blizzard love their humour and also delight in giving players what they want without always being the most original in their attempts (which is exactly why I think project Titan will turn out to be World of Starcraft – but I digress). Seeing as how I balls up my original thoughts on Cataclysm many moons ago (I called it a hoax… turns out I was kinda wrong), I figured this time I’d get in their early and announce my predictions for Mists of Pandaria before it’s even been upgraded from rumour status.

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Why Blizzard Are Going To Kill The Holy Trinity

Diablo 3 Multiplayer

Diablo 3. The MMORPG of tomorrow.

For a long time people have pondered the idea of MMOs that didn’t utilise the traditional Holy Trinity model of playing (i.e. groups requiring a tank, healer and DPS classes… although interesting enough the original Holy Trinity included crowd control instead of DPS but I digress) and wondered if games could ever exist without it. While some MMORPGs skirted around this idea of trying something new, to my knowledge none of ever fully succeeded in breaking away from it. Yet. Indeed, I believe that Blizzard are going to be the first to do so and, just like the huge number of industry trends they set with WoW (love ‘em or hate ‘em), I have little doubt that they are ultimately going to be the ones responsible for killing the Holy Trinity off for good.

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Are EVE Online Players Really That Naive?

EVE Online Ship

EVE Online. Where being an investment banker makes you bad ass.

So apparently there was another bank heist in EVE Online, this time the biggest, craziest, most scandalicious ever seen in New Eden (they always say that though). Except heist is completely the wrong word for it because using that term conjures up connotations of an exciting bank job undertaken by a team of charismatic scoundrels (probably sporting pencil thin moustaches, slicked back hair and suave British accents), fighting against the odds to break into some deeply secured bank vault and then escaping with their lives after an exhilarating fire fight. That didn’t happen here.

Instead what really happened was a scam, pure and simple, and a pretty obvious one at that. Based upon the classic Ponzi scheme (he says as if he’s an old hand at conning people), the two chaps who perpetrated the fraud, Mordor and Eddie, ran a simple business of offering to accept other player’s investment and then paying out 5% interest on their funds back to them every week, y’know just like a bank. If any banks in the world were actually offering 5% interest that is. After a few months though the dirty duo closed up shop, said cheerio, and walked off with all the money everyone had ever deposited with them.

Well duh.

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Game Of Thrones And The Problem With Fantasy Sagas

Game of Thrones. Nothing like betrayal and incest to spice up a fantasy saga.

Game of Thrones. Nothing like betrayal and incest to spice up a fantasy saga.

I’ve been watching the Game of Thrones TV series and reading the latest book, A Dance with Dragons, recently and originally was going to post some thoughts I’d be having about it all on Google+ but then decided to write it up as a blog post instead as a more in-depth article. Aside from being the perfect setting for a politically motivated MMORPG (hopefully one day), Game of Thrones is the type of gritty, dark fantasy that I really enjoy, a welcome change from the happy-clappy hobbit and elven filled crap that usually plagues the genre. Suffice to say the first few books were hugely enjoyable and the TV show is rather excellent. However the latest book isn’t stimulating me in nearly the same way as the first three did (I found A Feast For Crows rather lackluster too) and, the more I read it, the more I not only grow weary of the whole setting but the more I worry about the future of the TV show too. Unfortunately the entire saga is starting to suffer from something I like to refer to as ‘Robert Jordan Syndrome’.

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