Tuesday, April 30, 2013

MMOs and Gambling

More waterfalls in Pandaria.  What war?
I am still coming to grips with why, as a player who plays infrequently, I don't find a free to play game and save myself some money.  I spoke to this before, but a recent post by Ocho made me realize another reason why I am back playing WoW.

I hate gambling.  I remember recently going to a charity casino and even there, where there was no real money at stake, I didn't enjoy it.  I can understand how you can get better at a game like blackjack and put odds in you favor, but in the back of my mind is the fact that most people are throwing away money and many of them can't afford to do it.

Now, I know, to some, it is a form of entertainment.  I've had friends who go gambling, put a limit on how much they will spend and enjoy the time they have.  Sometimes they even come out ahead and, when they don't, they haven't spent any more than they would going out to a movie with popcorn and drinks.  It's fine for them, and I wouldn't want to eliminate their enjoyment, but it isn't for me.

The MMOs using the free to play model have learned that gambling is a way that they can make the money they need to build a game that many people want to play.  I am glad those games are around and I am glad there is an affordable way for people to play them.  However, just like gambling, it's not for me.

As I've mentioned before, I can afford a relatively small monthly price (less than the cost of two movie tickets these days), for a game that doesn't want to find ways to nickle and dime you.  Yes, you can go buy pets and mounts from Blizzard if you want, but Blizzard knows they have your subscription money for this month and there is a good chance they can have it next month if they can keep you entertained.  The motivations are different from the free to play games, or even the single pay games like Guild Wars 2 and The Secret World.  Again, I am glad there are different models that fit different players, but I'm glad there are still some subscription games around and I hope they continue to exist.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

MMOs and Gating content

Kanter at Zouchin Village, Kun Lai Summit

After my last post, since I didn't get any suggestions on zones, I did what most people would do and searched on the web.  MMO champion had a poll about just this question.  Four zone scored close to the same, Jade Forest, Valley of the Four Winds, Kun Lai Summit and Dread Wastes.  I had already completed the Jade Forest quests, had decided to Krasarang Wilds with Kanter to make it easier for him to visit Pagle for fishing and left Valley of the Four Winds unfinished for Kantra my priest.

So I decided that I'd just get the flight path to Kun Lai Summit and head to the Dread Wastes leaving Kun Lai Summit to Kantra.  I went back to the internet to search for the path or quests that gets you to the Dread Wastes and found that you had to have a quest and you can only get the quest at level 89.

To me, this is patronizing and totally unnecessary.  I remember in vanilla WoW the excitement of going through both Wetlands and Feralas well under level, knowing that if I was attacked, there was a good chance I was going to die.  Wetlands allowed me to get to  Darnasus and Feralas was necessary at the time to get higher level alchemy recipes.  Feralas is still my favorite WoW zone, partially because of that trip.

Now, I guess because they want you to see things in order, when they think you are ready, they put zones behind barriers where you have to complete a quest at a certain level.  I believe I should be able to decide when I want to go to an area almost all the time.

I do remember a few cases where I like gates to content.  Finishing the quest to open the gate to Searing Gorge was exciting, particularly after seeing it when flying between Ironforge and Stormwind.  Raid gates for Onyxia and Karazhan were exciting to work through and I felt like I was worthy when I completed them.

However, gates just to enter a zone don't make any sense at all to me.  It reminds me a little of what I don't like about Apple.  They seem to think that they know better how you should use their products.  I'm the player, I'm the customer, I should get to decide how I want to play the game (or use their product).

At least I enjoyed the 'Thunder King' part of Kun Lai Summit.  I may going ahead and complete the zone although I'm almost level 89 now.  Kantra may just get to experience Townlong Steppes instead (one of the least favorite zones in the MMO champion poll).

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Mists of Pandaria, Pets Battles, and Family Gaming

My daughter's panda in Loch Modan
Mists of Pandaria offers many different options of ways to play the game, and, in particular, more options for casual players including children.  I suspect there was more conversation about this when Mists first came out, but since I wasn't playing then, I'm late to the conversation.

I have taken the week off for spring break for school and so I was able to spend a few hours playing World of Warcraft with my eight year old daughter.  Right now, the only rule we have is that she can only play when I am around to help her.  My wife and I are concerned about people on the internet and what they'll say but as long as I'm there with her, I feel like it is fine for her about her to play online.  Other parents will have different rules and I don't pretend to know what is right for them or their children, but I'm hoping it is helpful to hear about my experience.

This is the same daughter who was playing Lord of the Rings Online with me last year.  She likes pets in games so it's not surprising that she wanted a hunter here.  She and some of her friends at school pretend to be pandas, so it's not surprising that the offer to play a panda in WoW was exciting for her.

At eight, I don't think it makes sense for her to have her own account.  Possibly at ten I might consider it, but I realize different parents have different tolerances (and different amounts of disposable income) and some children can be allowed more freedom than others.

She also has been steadily playing Pokemon White and White 2 since she received it for her birthday last March.  So it's not surprising that she is enjoying the pet battle subgame. I decided with my limited time, I would limit myself to crafting and questing at first, so this was my first to see the pet battles as well.

It's fun!  I think it was great that my daughter was able to get 5 achievements related to pet battles in less than two hours of playing time.  She also has an older computer with no video card, so it is nice that she can take her time to decide what she wants to do.  She started with 'Mojo' as her first pet (I'm not sure why) and she promptly renamed him 'Mojo Jojo'. ;)  After getting him to level 3, she decided she wanted to play with different pets and at this point she now has three pets levels 4 - 5 and has defeated two of the pet trainers.

I'm not sure if the parents at Blizzard were behind this or not, but I wouldn't be surprised if they were at all.  This is an almost ideal way for parents with children who want to play with them to be able to play without worrying about others and in a fun, relatively stress free setting.