Archive for 2012

How Hard Is Hard?

Wolfenstein difficulty level selection

Ahh, remember when games used to insult you for picking the easiest difficulty setting?

First up, apologies for the porn film style post title. Finding a suitable image wasn’t easy either.

Anyway, today I want to talk about difficulty in games as, although it’s not a MMO, I’m sure most of you have read that Diablo 3 has now been completed on Hardcore Inferno setting. This means that those guys played through D3 several times in a row to get to the hardest setting, a setting that Blizzard touted has being insanely difficult, all without dying a single time. Not once, not ever. Having played the game on Hardcore myself (I’m still on Act I), I have a little appreciation for just how difficult this feat is.

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Gimmicky Features, Promises And The Things That Really Matter In MMOs

Wildstar

Class stereotypes in this image? Don't be ridiculous.

Watching the latest video from Carbine Studios about Wildestar (see below) made me realise two things: one, Jeremy Gaffney sounds eerily like Alan Alda from M*A*S*H and two, developers really like to sell us gimmicky features with the claim that they’ll radically change our MMO experience, rendering everything that came before shallow and obsolete. Whether it’s mechanics like ‘battlefield control’ in Wildstar or the ‘missing 4th pillar of story’ in SW:TOR or the incredulous manifesto from ArenaNet that Guild Wars 2 is literally going to reinvent the entire MMO landscape (I can’t wait to find out), we really do get promised a lot of fantastical guff.

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The MMO Industry Isn’t Dying, It’s Just Evolving

Evolution

I've already evolved passed this diagram

I gotta agree with Syp on this one - I don’t think the MMO genre is dying out. Although one could easily point to abundance of new titles and expansions on the horizon as clear proof of this (which Syp did), I actually think what we’re witnessing these days is simply an evolution of the industry. In fact, I’d be more worried if the genre was just sitting still and stagnating. Sure, 38 Studios went belly up and SW:TOR isn’t exactly proving to be the huge success BioWare was hoping (there’s a shocker) but that doesn’t mean the genre is crumbling. It just means it’s changing.

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Putting My Money Where My Mouth Is (And How I Made Diablo 3 Fun Again)

Hardcore Barbarian

So hardcore I don't even need to cover my nipples

I went through a spate of not logging into Diablo 3 for a few days and was going to write some ranty post about how I was utterly bored of it due to it’s exceedingly trivial easiness. I mean, playing with my level 28 Wizard is quite alike the good old days of activating god mode in Doom (iddqd) and walking around blasting everything without a care in the world. Quite literally I cannot die. Even boss fights are a breeze as all I do is wonder up to chaps like Belial, stand right in front of their drooling chops, activate Diamond Skin, and spew forth Disintegrate right into their ugly gobs. Hardly tactical.

And then I remember something Tobold mentions a lot – he usually points out how people who complain about games (or feel nostalgic for old ones), never do anything about it. So I thought I would. So I rolled a hardcore character.

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EQ2 Announces Late April Fools Joke

I almost spat my coffee out when I saw this video over at Rock, Paper Shotgun this morning. I still can’t quite figure out if this ‘SOEmote’ feature for Everquest 2 is all just an elaborate hoax or not. Indeed, if it had been announced two months ago, I don’t think any of us would be having any doubt that it’s just an April Fool’s joke gone awry on the part of SOE. Even the presenter, David Georgeson, is so incredibly enthusiastic that it’s verging on the sarcastic. I was half expecting him to turn and wink to the camera at the end.

But alas, it does seem to be the real deal and I can’t say that I get it. Voice fonts, whilst a nice ideal ‘n all, really just aren’t at the stage where they can actually be effective and I was practically cringing when ol’ David there gave us a sample of what they would sound like in-game. Call me strange but I really don’t want to be having conversations with people who either sound like the serial killer from Scream or one of Alvin’s long lost chimpunk brothers. After a few minutes of utter hilarity, it’s going to get very old, very quickly. Personally, until a MMO can make me sound like Brian Blessed, I think I’ll just pass on the whole thing.

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A Few Things MMOs Could Learn From Diablo 3

Enter Leoric's Passage

Every game should have a quest entitled "Enter Leoric's Passage".

Like a lot of people I’m currently engrossed in Diablo 3, shunning my MMO activities for the past week in favour of battling the demons of hell throughout the realm of Sanctuary. It’s a good game and I’m having a lot of fun although I daresay it’s not quite as tremendously incredible as I somehow expected. To be fair though, that’s probably more due to the fact that nothing could have possibly lived up the excessive amount of hype that Diablo 3 had heaped upon its shoulders, a grand accumulation of 12 years of nostalgia, impatience and seductive teasing.

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Looking Forward To Diablo 3’s Real-Money Auction House

Diablo 3 Auction House

"Sorry honey, but I just spent this month's mortgage gearing up my Wizard"

I have to say that I’m quite looking forward to Diablo 3’s Real-Money Auction House (RMAH), not because I intend to buy or sell anything through it (although I can’t say that I won’t) but because I think it’s going to be fascinating to see how its introduction affects players and online gaming in general. See, I reckon Diablo 3 is going to sell by the bucket load and make Blizzard a mountain of cash, a mountain that will turn into Everest itself one they start raking in revenue through the RMAH, so much so that I’d bet real money (see what I did there?) that the feature becomes a staple in every online game to come from now on.

Of course, I don’t think we’ll be seeing real-money auctions springing up in every online FPS or MMO or what not overnight but I have little doubt that it will happen slowly and surely. Just like 10 years ago the idea of a cash shop in a MMO or a free-2-play subscription model would’ve sounded inconceivable, I honestly believe in five years time almost every game with online capabilities, and most certainly all MMORPGS, will have some sort of real-money trading system. There’s just too much cash to be made out of it.

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