Oooooohhhh you just know I’m gonna have something to say about this…
Before anyone misunderstands, no this isn’t about STO’s reputation with players as a game or about trying to “save” the game. The game doesn’t need saving, it’s already an amazing and successful MMO. This is about their planned improvements/additions to the game’s Reputations system. STO is adding another Reputation to the game in the new expansion coming this May. Frankly, I consider this a good thing, and honestly feel that their moving many rewards into the reputation system is a smart move. That said, the reputation system is in desperate need of a lot more of these reputations.
I really feel that making the whole game based on these reputations is a much smarter idea than what they started with. I’d like to see them put in a Starfleet reputation for FED players, a Klingon reputation for KDF players, a Neutral Factions reputation, a Borg Invasion reputation (to separate it from the Omega Task Force reputation system), a Cardassian/Bajoran/DS9 reputation, a Mirror Universe reputation, a Breen reputation, a Deferi reputation, and I’d like to see the Events reputation evolve to a Featured Series reputation and a Fleet Actions reputation (this could reward players with Fleet Marks and even Fleet Ship requisition items similar to those in the C-Store), among others. Or, alternatively, they could take their current Commendations XP tracks and change each of them into separate reputation branches, each with it’s own “projects” for rewards that were previously only rewarded as mission rewards, then just adjust all the current mission rewards to instead offer various different reputation marks for whatever of those CXP reputations most fits that mission. Most current mission rewards could be fairly easily swapped to special marks/commendations for these new/alternate reputations, and PvP rewards could also be swapped over to this system as well.
If you ask me, it’s just a smart direction to take Star Trek Online. It makes adding new rewards into the system easier, and allows for seasonal rewards to be slotted in and out of the system with ease. It also makes re-playing older missions more worthwhile for many players, because they’d be re-playing not for obsolete items, but more reputation marks towards the gear they want. From what I’ve seen and experienced, the new reputation system has made a lot of things more interesting to play and even replay, even more interesting than simply adding Dilithium to mission replay rewards. I’d much rather they swapped out all the old-style quest rewards with a reputation system, then took the old rewards and made them available through the reputation projects. It’s been rather successful so far, and most players keep wanting more reputation tracks and projects to be added to the game. I think that this system could even be applied to the games crafting system, using various anomalies instead of marks to put towards a crafting project. If they could implement a way to have specific or even custom weapon/item bonuses as more expensive crafting projects, I think a lot more people would both craft and would farm for anomalies in missions. Add that to being able to re-play older missions for CXP marks, and you’ve just turned 75% of the game into worthwhile replay for most players.
I have a sneaky suspicion that this is the direction STO’s dev team is probably going, and I think that others in the industry may go that rout as well. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see; if ‘m right, we probably won’t know for another year or two, at least. Until then, I’ve got some Omega marks, New Romulus marks, and soon event marks and Nukara Strikeforce marks to be earning. Quapla’!
I’ll warn you now, this one’s a long one.
So it’s all over the gaming news by now. Disney has officially pulled the plug on LucasArts and laid off about 150 employees. The official statement from Disney said:
“After evaluating our position in the games market, we’ve decided to shift LucasArts from an internal development to a licensing model, minimizing the company’s risk while achieving a broader portfolio of quality Star Wars games. As a result of this change, we’ve had layoffs across the organization. We are incredibly appreciative and proud of the talented teams who have been developing our new titles.”
And LucasArts is dead, just like that.
Sure, it’s clear here that they intend to keep the label alive by letting it Read the rest of this entry
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about success and failure in PvE content in MMO games. Specifically, there really isn’t any. Not really. We all just simply succeed; even dying isn’t a failure any more. We just keep re-doing the quests until we finish the task. So are we really succeeding?
In the latest Captain’s Log on Massively.com (written by the amazing Terilynn Shull), a fellow by the name of Dunnlang had a large response and made a few interesting points about what he felt were desperately needed improvements. This one point especially Read the rest of this entry
Player housing and player-made cities in MMO games have been around for a long time, yet is an often ignored or secondary feature in many games. Some games give an illusion of player housing, but these end up falling far short due to inability to be customized and lack of functionality. (eg.: Star Wars: The Old Republic and Star Trek Online currently suffer from this). From Ultima Online to Shadowbane to Star Wars Galaxies to Rift to the upcoming Wildstar, several MMOs and their players have enjoyed a place to put their feet up and show off trophies of their adventuring exploits. Yet despite many Read the rest of this entry
Video Gaming has come a long way with regards to sexism in its games; the days where Duke Nukem was the embodiment of typical gamer attitudes are long behind us. Sure, we’re still juvenile, and the stereotype isn’t completely quashed; but for the most part, gamers in general are more mature when it comes to sexism in games.
Apparently, no one gave Aria Games that memo on sexism. Their latest delve into MMO games is Scarlet Blade. I’d heard a few concerning things about this game already. The premise as I understood it was that in the far future, earth was invaded, almost all the men were killed, and all that remained to re-claim the surface of the planet were bio-mechanically enhanced women warriors… that are constantly wearing very little. With very bouncy breasts. And all have the tight, fit bodies of anime super-heroines This, in and of itself, seemed pretty sexist, but I was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and try the beta. Sure enough, all 6 classes are scantily clad ladies. But that wasn’t the part that rustled my jimmies.
The dialog has to be, by far, the most sexist dialog I have ever seen in an MMO. It was downright insulting, to both male AND female gamers. The dialog has been written from the perspective that the player is not their character, but rather a human survivor counterpart in some kind of cybernetic symbiosis with the character that they control. Apparently, every female NPC you come across all assume all players are oggling their lady-bits and have the one-track mind of a prepubescent teenage boy. Even your own character that you control. Combine that with the ridiculously bland cookie-cutter gameplay and you have a F2P game that is nothing but sexist fan-service for hentai addicts.
Now, I fully admit, I enjoy the female form as much as the next heterosexual guy. I do admit that I oggle female sprites in games from time to time. But I consider those icing on the game’s cake; if there’s no good story, solid gameplay, etc. then it’s not enough for me to call it a good game. This game blatantly accuses all it’s players of being perverts only interested in sex with disproportionately sexy anime-styled ladies.
But does it take that sexism so far that it flips around and becomes a farce? I have to admit, when I was reading a lot of the dialog, I could not decide whether to be insulted or laugh. The artwork for the game is colourful and vibrant, with a lot of creative details in a decidedly anime style. The gameplay is cookie-cutter simple, but I saw few to no gameplay bugs beyond some minor auto-pathfinding issues and some balance issues in mob location. For a F2P game, it’s not bad. It’s not great, but it’s not bad. The fact that it is drowning in sexism towards women AND towards male gamers is the biggest and only real point of contention I see coming out of it. The developers are shooting for an M rating on the ESRB, and I can definitely see them getting it.
This game actually brings to light the whole topic of sex, nudity, and adult content in MMO games. I really feel these guys were the prepubescent teen males that the dialog assumes all players are, and they just never grew up. But is there a place for adult content like sex and nudity in MMO games? There’s a place for blood and violence, as many games before have shown. But can sex and nudity be depicted in a tasteful manner?
Well, I am in college learning to make video games, right? Maybe we’ll find out.
Hey all, I know it has been a LOOOOOOONNNNGGGG time since I’ve posted anything, but life has been nuts with school and trying to get onto ADHD meds and so much happening. Well, other than a social life; that’s still practically non-existant. I’ve been playing a few games still, though, this time for both de-stressing and for research into various gameplay mechanics. I have several blog entries started, and I’ll be finishing them as soon as finals are over this week. Stay tuned!
I’m going to break from my usual MMO game reviews and impressions for today. I want to talk about Mass Effect 3. Namely, the ending… and the stupid backlash about “space magic” that so many knuckle-dragging idiots seem to be on some kind of damn witch hunt over.
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD Read more after the break –> Read the rest of this entry
I love the social aspect of MMO games. I think being able to build a community within the community is an amazing and glorious thing. I love the whole idea of banding with guild mates and taking on challenges, working together, exploring, crafting, and even roleplaying together are what make MMO games so Much better than single player games or typical shooter games.
So where is it all?
I’ve been noticing a distinct decline in socialization in MMO games for some time. Game developers are making people playing together easier and easier; but playing together with random strangers on a dungeon or a raid is not the same as socializing. There’s nothing that is making it worthwhile to make new lasting contacts with other players outside your limited social circle. Guilds are made up of large, sterile organizations that cannot name every guildie without a written list in front of them, or of small groups of close friends that have known each other for years and don’t want to make the group bigger.
The game developers are doing their best, I have little doubt. Trying to balance the need for grouping to be worthwhile and preventing exploits through grouping is a tough balance to find. Most games out today have a nice boost when in a party with other players, but that does not encourage people to group specifically with each other regularly. EDIT: How about a slight boost to XP and drop rates when grouped with people in your friend list, and perhaps additional rest bonuses when grouped with people from your friends list in social zones fore more than a certain length of time? There’s only so much developers can do, though. In the end, it comes down to the community. It’s up to us to be open to making new friends, not just getting the next level or taking out that next boss. A lot of the problem is caused by anti-social behaviours we learn from society that we end up carrying over from real life, and assumed expectations of what we should share or ask people to share. These need to change, not just in-game but in ourselves as gamers. And just like everyone else, I have to start with me.
Guild Wars 2 introduced a few mechanics that make it much easier in some ways. For example, being able to revive downed players without needing to be on a team with them or use a specific healing skill ; you just have to be close enough for interaction, and you automatically get the option to revive them for free. One afternoon, I took an hour and simply ran around reviving anyone I came across. In fact, today I was in the Iron Citadel and stupidly took a leap off the 3rd floor when I was only level 6. Of course, I died; but a nice player who happened to be right there anyway revived me. I, of course, said “Thank you” somewhat embarrassed at my foolishness. They said “no problem” and ran off.
Did you catch that? That’s the problem right there. He just ran off. The art of sporadic conversation with random strangers is kind of lost these days on most people. People aren’t too chatty with strangers (outside the general chat channel, and don’t get me started on the issues with that. 2 words: Barrens Chat. ‘Nuff said.) which is just as true in real life. And, frankly, most of the general chat doesn’t make sense to me. The conversations are too broken and incoherent and overlapping… It’s like being in a room full of couples, each having their own conversations, and trying to listen for something worth adding your own comment to. IF they decide to be cool with someone butting into their conversation.
Most people don’t strike up sudden unsolicited conversations with random people they pass on the street, either; not in-game or in real life, and that’s just sad to me. There was a time when people at a bus stop or some equivalent would politely strike up conversations; not so much any more. “Don’t talk to strangers” has become ingrained in most people, and I feel it’s a sad thing. It’s expanded into the online gaming world; now, the most common conversing I’ve found people do in games is explaining in excruciating detail to your online PvP opponent how many different ways you fuck his mom.
Star Trek Online (STO) is another good example of this. The game is built with “open grouping” which, supposedly, lets players entering a specific mission map that other people are entering as well get automatically grouped together into a team. I’ve tried this back before STO went F2P and it worked well. But I found that few people I ended up grouped with ever bothered to talk at all; they just went off and completed the next mission objective, oblivious to other players in the map. I got tired of it. I was getting as much social interaction as I would running the maps solo. Sometimes, they’d just leave half-way through, as if annoyed someone else was there.
I’ve even gone in from the perspective of someone entering a new game for the first time without their friends, by actually doing that. In WoW, for example, I tried a new server that I knew no one on. Any time I did that (which happens a lot more often than I’d like), It felt like I’d moved to a new town without a job or friends. Anyone who’s done that kind of thing knows how hard it is to do, and it’s just as tough in an MMO to start making new friends. I find that people in MMO games generally are becoming more and more clique-y every year. They’ll play with their friends but then generally ignore most people, with maybe at best giving some casual platitudes when helped or when giving help. PUGs, even the one’s I’ve seen that work well, are less and less often staying in touch. My STO friends list is filled with at least a couple dozen people I just don’t even see online any more, or when they are online, they don’t really say much. I am hoping GW2 is going to turn out different, but I’m not holding my breath.
I just feel people need to be more active in attempting to make and working at maintaining new online gaming friends, beyond recruiting for your guild, and be more receptive to other players doing just that. When you revive someone you randomly pass, maybe ask if they’re needing help with a task. Be willing to come to the aid of newer players. When you’re running a mission that involves random other players, be friendly and chat them up; compliment them honestly when they get a good attack in, offer positive encouragement to those around you. This is all no-brain-er and easy stuff. How about simply saying hi and chatting up people randomly as you wander? Not in whispers, of course, that might be creepy, but in general or local chat, for sure. And when someone starts chatting you up randomly, take it as an opportunity to make a new friend to adventure with. You don’t need to get overly personal to get familiar with another player; ask them things like what they like best about their class or why they chose the crafting skills they did.
My point is that making new friends in an MMO is vitally important, and it’s a 2 way street. The answer to the problems I face, and the problems many others share with me, isn’t simply because everyone else are assholes, and it’s not simply because I’m anti-social. Not only do we all need to be more active in trying to make those new friends in-game, but we need to be more receptive to others who might be looking to make new friends as well.
WoW announced today that, in the new 5.0.4 patch, they are making all races playable for everyone, regardless of which expansion you have. On top of several other changes, including the move to making levels 1 – 20 F2P, it’s looking more and more (to me) that they are going to be shifting to a F2P or Freemium model sometime in the future. They already have a cash shop (though I haven’t checked if it’s in-game or just web only). I’ve been on record as saying I won’t ever play WoW again unless it goes F2P. Honestly, even if it does, I’m not sure I’d play it. With so many triple-A games going F2P, I’m just not sure WoW has enough to make it worth my while over other games. The community on most of the RP servers turned me right off, and the gameplay just isn’t that innovative. I might try it out again and level a toon to max, but the story has just become… Well, old. The grafics would run super smooth on my system, but they’re pretty dated now.
What do you guys think? Does it look like WoW is going F2P, and if so, would that be a good thing? If you’re not a WoW player, would F2P make it worthwhile for you to try out? Why or why not?