Tuesday, May 27, 2014

MMOs: Variety or Niche

Into the Maelstrom
As I was playing World of Warcraft yesterday, I was thinking about why I am still playing it after 10 years, when there hasn't been any new content for several months, and I am uninterested in any of the normal end game content (PvP or Raids).  Part of it is the people I know who play, but the game has only some control of that.  The other things that keeps me coming back is the variety of casual things I can do and enjoy.

As mentioned in my last post (and several before that), my focus now besides daily farming and cool downs for gold and crafting, is to get the Vial of the Sands.  This is just a cool toy (a mount that allows you to carry a friend) that is behind requires two specific profession (Alchemy and Archaeology), several random number generators, 836 gathered components and quite a bit of gold (29,000 assuming you don't buy any of the gathered components).

The random number generators mentioned comes from how you obtain the recipe.  The recipe is a Canopic jar that will only contain the recipe about 10% of the time (RNG 1).  The Canopic jar only randomly appears as the Tol'vir artifact (RNG 2).  Originally, the Tol'vir sites where the fragments for the artifacts were found only randomly appeared in set of Kalimdor sites (RNG 3) (this can be avoided now since you can use Pandoran artifacts to create the Tol'vir components, but 40-60 Pandoran fragments only lead to 6-10 Tol'vir fragments).

Not that many people have it because it either takes a lot of time or a lot of gold if you want to buy it off the auction house.  Like a lot of things in life, the value doesn't so much come from what it is but from how difficult it is to obtain.

There are a lot of different ways to fill your time that a casual player can do (e.g. Pet battles, Achievements, Alts, Crafting, Gold-making, Mount collecting).  I think this is Blizzards answer to keeping players around.  It won't keep those that just want to push end content, but they are likely to want to try other games anyway.

People have posted that games need to be sandboxes, that the players need to create their own content and I agree this is another alternative, but I don't think they will ever appeal to as many players as the casual themepark style MMO.  Eve is a great example of a successful game where the players create the content but I see it as a niche game.  The Secret World is another game that doesn't try to appeal to everyone but some people really enjoy it.

I'd love to see more niche MMOs and if we see enough I'll probably find one that appeals to me and will lure me away from a game designed to appeal to the largest possible audience.

P.S. My other MMO goal right now is to level my mage to 90 and she reached 94 finishing the Mount Hyjal quests along with the intro quests for Deepholm and Uldum, including the flight with Aggra from the picture above.

Monday, May 19, 2014

A Week in an MMO Life: Waiting for Warlords

Drought at the Farm

I should probably retitle these posts "A Month in an MMO Life", but you never know, maybe I'll start posting more.

I thought the picture was appropriate because I have been spending most of my gaming time, dutifully visiting my three farms each day and many are complaining about the drought in World of Warcraft content.  My primary objective is still to get the Vial of Sands.  I found a survey someone did to figure out on average how many Canopic Jars it takes to get the recipe.  The results after 147 posts was 9.5.  I just recently past this with 10 Mummified Organs (which I still have in my bags).  I am somewhat disappointed but I still rather enjoy doing archaelogy about 2 to 3 times a week, visiting 2-4 sites in Pandaria, getting achievements, and getting my five Valor points whenever Uncovering the Past is available.  I still have hope to get the drop soon.

I also am very glad I spent some time trying out Wildstar when I could for free.  I don't think it's for me (as I've descibed in my previous posts), but I believe it is a well designed MMO and I hope it is successful.

Leveling Kantrina has pretty much stalled in Cataclysm.  She is now level 83 and has Pandaria in her sites, but I can't seem to find the time to spend leveling her.  She is still in Mount Hyjal and it looks like she can stay there until she hits level 84 at which point I'll finish leveling her to 85 in Twilight Highlands because I've never spent much time there.

I have added Serpent's Heart to my daily activities and have my Sapphire Cub pet and will keep creating them until I am able to create a Jade Owl, too.  I have been gathering ore in two of my farms for Trillium for the Living Steel transmute, Blacksmithing, Jewelcrafting, and Engineering.  Once I prospect enough Jewels, I plan to use them and gold from auction house sales to build all the Panther mounts.

I find it interesting that my goals are focused on mounts right now (Vial of the Sands, Panther mounts, and Chopper).  I enjoy crafting and they are long term goals that let me avoid LFR which really doesn't appeal to me.  I still hope once Warlords is released I'll be in a better place to join my guild in Flex Raids once a week when they are active. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Good and Evil sides in an MMO

Good vs evil is good in movies, not in my MMOs
First I want to say that this post will be about what I want in an MMO, and I am willing to admit that I may be in the minority.

As I was reflecting on my last post about Wildstar and watching others have fun in the game, I realized there was something larger at work for me that I didn't capture in that post.  I now understand that I don't want to play an online game where some of the people are playing the 'evil' side.

I have never role played in an MMO, but I do have roles for my different characters.  I wish they were as clever as those in Tome of the Ancient but it is nothing so complicated.  When I created Kanter, I knew that he would be a herbalist and alchemist.  It didn't have anything to do with how it would help him earn money or be stronger, it was all about what kind of hunter he was.  He has never changed professions since the beta for that reason.

I play good characters.  I admire people who can play evil characters in television in movies, but I've always been the kind of person who gets emotionally involved in whatever I'd doing or watching and I can't imagine playing an evil character myself.

That could still allow me to play the good side, which is why I played Alliance in SWToR.  However, that leaves half the players (hopefully, for balance) playing the evil side.  With all the bad behavior in MMOs, I don't want to encourage it others by having their NPC role models do horrible things.

Superficially the Horde is the 'bad' side in World of Warcraft, but Blizzard has done a lot since Warcraft II to make it more complicated.  Yes, there are evil characters, but I don't feel like either the Horde or Alliance is being portrayed as evil.  Having your new Horde character hit lazy peons on the head is a far cry from performing experiments on people that kills them as happens at the beginning of Wildstar for the Dominion side.

I know there are a lot of people enjoying Wildstar right now and I'm very glad about that.  The combat is interesting and even though I proved yet again that I can't do jumping puzzles by dying three times while trying to jump up a cliff in the game, I think it is great there is a lot to do besides combat.  We need more polished MMOs with different ideas and I believe Wildstar contributes to it.  But it isn't for me, and, I don't believe I'll ever seriously play an MMO that has a side that is portrayed as evil.