Adventures in gaming, whilst seizing Saidin.

27th February 2014

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A world for all of you, and all of me!

As some have pointed out, I’ve been on a pretty solid kick lately of expressing opinions in hopes that I can bring my “dungeon master,” storytelling RPG playstyle into one of the many wide open “build a fantasy world” sandboxes in development.

Having recently placed Windborne in my interest sphere next to TUG, one question has popped up amongst my observations of this budding sub-genre of online gaming. As a proud “altoholic,” having liberally utilized the multi-character potential of MMORPGs to tell large-cast stories with small casts of players since I first discovered these games, I have to wonder if the minecraft ethic of “your singular avatar is just your in-game building hands, not really a character” will carry over and thus limit the “voxel RPG” experience.

I don’t even know if Landmark will support multiple characters, being the “building engine” end of the EQN family, but when I asked the TUG community their thoughts on alternate characters in their voxel-based, survival crafting world, I was presented with multiple opinions, and was exposed to what may very well be the greatest point of resistance in fitting my hopes for a personal ensemble cast into a voxel RPG future: Social competitiveness.

*sigh*

I love the storytelling, creative side of RPGs of all kinds. I love when they spawn microcosms and societies of their own, and while I can sort of see how some might have fun in settling into even the smallest “political PVP” in these multiplayer microcosms, every time any incarnation of “but then you won’t be community-accountable for your actions,” or “but I should know who you are and that I have more/am better than you” plagues the storytelling potential of my online worlds, part of me dies inside.

There are a series of competitive survival playtests currently being conducted in TUG’s “alpheta” stage, and mechanically speaking, that’s a sound idea, really. What I implore the good folks developing “build your world” games, and specifically Nerd Kingdom to consider for their privately hosted “no ‘always on’ rules” implementation down the road is the idea that while having large communities of players to barter, politic and compete for survival with is fun for some, there are those of us that would rather co-operate and colonize vast communities consisting of few players and many characters. If official servers are to be “one player, one avatar,” for whatever reason, that’s fine, it’s clear that there’s a market for those that would like to get back to shaking hands with a familiar face in trade and in community politics… But I’d also like to see support for the capability for a handful of players to populate a frontier with a bunch of alts. Not all alts visible and online at once, mind you, just different faces and hats to wear in our procedurally generated, handcrafted frontier towns! We don’t care that multiple characters will benefit from one character’s work and structures, we actually prefer that. Obviously banning tools would preferably be on an account level. Competition can exist on many levels, and on every level, a preference to co-operate instead of compete can feel drowned out by rigid development toward those that prefer the competitive.

The potential for world-building in the future of online gaming is bright, and those worlds can be enjoyed by many players with one avatar apiece, or by few players with many differing faces, different perspectives from which to see and contribute to the world through roleplay, and I truly hope that one of these forthcoming titles will allow for both ends of this spectrum. TUG seems to be the frontrunner for this degree of flexibility, but I hope it becomes a widespread consideration, which I can guess would best come hand in hand with private hosting!

I’m pretty excited for the future, and thank you once again to everyone involved in forging ahead in developing these sets of world building tools for many to enjoy!

Tagged: TUGWindborneeqn landmarkSandboxMMORPGthe untitled game

18th February 2014

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Supporting the single player in MMOs

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Why, I’ve looked at the calendar and it appears we’re due for me to go off on how toxic the MMOniverse at large is, and why the solo player deserves design consideration always.  Good thing massively.com posted a wildstar column that sparked such a rant from me, in which they mentioned solo content, and the inevitable backlash such a topic unfortunately receives.  Here are my comments. 

 
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Honestly, my favourite counter to solo/duo content in an MMO, from a comedy standpoint, is always the tired old: “But if people can progress solo, they won’t group.”

Yes.  That’s correct.  Because grouping with today’s internet public at large is, more often than not, “tolerated,” not preferred.

Oh, I have no doubt that the preference exists, and should be supported, but if adding soloability to an MMO “kills the grouping game,” then the grouping game isn’t the dominant preference, and shouldn’t recieve such an extreme lion’s share of the game’s focus (“raid or die”).  The people leaving the grouping game to solo… most likely never preferred it, and it just shows up more when the option exists, and those people gravitate to what they likely wanted to do all along, but were just tolerating the drama of their raid group for personal progression.

This also bites into the ol’ “raid content should have better rewards because drama/logistics/organizational work.”

This boils down to “I should get more because I’m enduring not-fun-things on my fun time.”  Why should that be rewarded?  You’re contributing to a toxic “don’t suck on my time” atmosphere.  That’s not good.  Why are we incentivizing that?

If you LIKE the idea of group content, and have a group of actual FRIENDS to play with together, and have the communal sense of humour to eat wipes, learn and burn, and progress, yes, you belong in group content, but there’s no reason that should have a higher reward output, because you’re not “working” any harder (in a well designed scenario) because it’s ideally all fun.  Your group size is just being catered to, which an MMO should do, but if you’re enjoying the company of friends, why do you need bigger upgrade numbers for your efforts?  If your efforts aren’t “work,” just “playing with the group of FRIENDS I have,” why should that reward more?

Before anyone says “because it’s rewarding socially healthy interaction,” ok, but by doing that, you’re dooming the game to vast amounts of socially UNhealthy interaction when groups of NON-FRIENDS form to upgrade faster… and you get the spiral MMOs exist in now on the social quagmire front.

The answer is to have people want to work together if that’s their thing, not need to work together “to be a real person” or to “progress reasonably,” and to support all group types, starting at the group size we all pay and log in as: one.


Man, I miss City of Heroes/Villains.

Tagged: mmorpgwildstar

12th February 2014

Question

Anonymous asked: I've noticed you've written several VERY long rants about relatively specific game mechanics and tagged TUG in your more recent ones. But some of these rants aren't really related at all, and I'm wondering why you're tagging TUG in these rants?

TUG is actually a very common thread to many of the things I’m discussing: private servers, survival crafting, voxel-based building, sandbox, and flexibility of rules are all things TUG (the untitled game) have touched upon in development :)

I’m also pretty sure I mention TUG in most if not all of the posts you’re referring to.

12th February 2014

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Less rules, more guidelines, more worlds.

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I have to be honest, I never thought I’d get into the whole “MMO sandbox” thing, simply because it usually came part and parcel with open world, no consequences PVP, and all of the “community” issues that surround it. As I’ve said before, I’m not really down with PVPing with the faceless internet any more, but as I’ve also said before, I’ve played on and helped run a less massive, sandbox-ish world, even thrived in a situation of relatively open PVP before. As I contemplate that, It occurs to me that there are two words in the “MMO sandbox revival” conversation that really need to be louder, and not necessarily limited to only a few games:

Private servers.

No, I’m not talking about the illegal “I have a bootleg copy of X themepark MMORPG to host,” I’m talking about the intentionally provided option to host a professionally maintained and patched game privately, exclusively, and at one community’s own pace and rules set. It’s not a new concept, but it is certainly an… “off concept” in the MMO-niverse. I mean, after all, throw in all of this “exclusivity,” and is it truly “massive” anymore? That’s a good question. My answer to that would be to suggest that the game can still have “massive” level appeal, with hundreds of thousands of people playing it, just maybe not together, all at once, by the same rules.

I will come right out and say that if you are rolling your eyes at the aforementioned scenario, you and I probably weren’t meant to game together, and that’s ok. See, the beautiful thing about private servers, is it allows for hubs of shared interest to congregate and enjoy themselves their own way. Do you like PVP? Host a dog-eat-dog version of the game that’s all about survival of the fittest! Do you like building and cosmetic creation? Host a version of the game with a rules set focused on crafting, gathering, building and less about combat! Want something in between?… You get the point.

Some people may have a problem with sacrificing the “massive” aspect of MMORPG for this sort of approach, but to them I submit this question: how is this fundamentally different from insular, devoted guilds with different goals in your local themepark MMO? I have a feeling that some of the dissenting answers here will take one form or another of “where is my/our show-off audience?” Perhaps some people need to feel they are invested in a huge world with many, many players for whatever reason. That’s a valid point, and a sandbox does somewhat thrive on “players as content,” and fewer players means fewer perspectives meshing into the pool of ideas. I propose that the freedom to populate one’s own world around them with their friends, or a world belonging to a tight community, makes up, somewhat, for the latter issue. I’ll admit, the people that need a “show-off audience” don’t really get any consideration from me, as I don’t think those impulses should be stoked or encouraged. I do think that a central “game community,” hubbed by forums and social media, can plug many of the social holes that a game “fragmented” by private servers might end up having. I also think that official servers should probably exist in parallel with the private servers, because if every server is exclusive, that’s not conducive to the game growing in popularity for newcomers and fresh blood. Also, I’m sure that those developing the game have their own ideal for how the game should run. The difference is, with a private server option, and a flexibly configurable game, those ideals potentially exist less as rules and as more of… a guideline (said in a pirate accent!).

The game that takes the private server approach should also exist mechanically in a way that can potentially support solo play if need be, that part’s important, because I can tell you, as a former NWN server admin, nothing kills an open to the public, private world’s growth and ability to meet new people like hosting a game that is immediately dependent on other people. Players need to come into these things at their own pace, and angling a game toward “have friends or fail” doesn’t work on this front if the community has downtime or off hours, with the game still hosted as an “always online” attraction. Now, yes, it must be said that it is a privately hosted community’s prerogative to host a notably codependent game if they so choose, but the game’s core mechanical existence needs to support this spectrum in both directions to give help to communities that do not want that barrier of entry to exist on their version of the world. I personally would think that more inclusive models should be given priority, but I’ll also freely admit that my own server would be pretty exclusive on fronts not related to gameplay, so different strokes and all that.

I’ll take a moment to address a common thread to themepark MMOs that this sandbox revolution would need to look at carefully: Lore and storytelling. TUG, for example, has a core of lore to it, and I’ll be honest, I’m so new to the game that I’ve spent almost no time looking into it yet, but the rune language and base core of story that I’ve seen seem sound and flexible enough to be taken in a few directions by creative individuals wanting to host their own worlds. What developers of lore for these games should bear in mind is that lore should be another switch or tool in the game, because I can tell you that as much as I respect what goes into the lore of the themepark games I play with my friends online… we usually ignore most of it. My mind never really left the “NWN dungeonmaster” frame, and my core posse and I have used housing dimensions and generic elements of RIFT’s lore (for example) to just back our own story in that game. Lore for the privately hosted sandbox I’m envisioning here should be composed of tools (like TUG’s rune language, great idea!) and generic themes, and be potentially, well, ignorable in details and specifics. This is just my opinion, mind you, and I’m not trying to tell said storytellers (who I’m sure are just as passionate about their stories as I am about mine) how to do their job. I’m simply saying that story and lore do have their place here, but I suggest that they need to fall into the same category of flexibility as it relates to prevalence and relation to core, mechanical gameplay.

What I’m using a lot of words to get at here, is that many of the issues that come up in “massive,” public-server games can be alleviated by simply expanding the toggles and switches available to players, and letting the community itself be its own series of checks and balances, through private servers. Themepark games will forever struggle with pleasing all of their audience all of the time, and systems, content, resources and developer time will be aimed at this equation for as long as the game exists. Am I crazy to think that aiming development time at instead creating more options to let players populate and configure their own sandbox worlds would be time and money better spent? The most effective systems to address so organic an equation as “people want different things” seem to be the organic ones that let people pursue those different things. Themeparks have shot off in different directions for years now… what I submit that we need now are sandbox games that let the players take a set of tools off into their own directions, with resources, data, ideas, and, somehow, funding flowing back to the developers to design more tools and ideas for those separate, private worlds to potentially use.

I’m not talking all in the hypothetical here either, I’ve seen this happen, I’ve seen it succeed for its community, and I’ve seen it essentially shelved and discontinued by the powers behind the game because it couldn’t be “sufficiently” monetized in a time when other online games were getting subscription money. That game was Neverwinter Nights, and I may sound like a broken record here, but this needs to happen again! Games like TUG, Star Citizen, and perhaps others I don’t know about yet could be this return to privately hosted sandbox bliss, and I’m excited to see that happen!

Here’s hoping we get this toolset soon!

Tagged: TUGthe untitled gamemmorpgsandboxStar Citizen

9th February 2014

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I’m not into sandboxes “for the PVP.” Not by a long shot.

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Today’s entry is another “comment copy-paste” from a massively.com piece on forthcoming space sandbox “Star Citizen.”  I’m not a Star Citizen guy, but today’s article about potential PVP presence in their sandbox left me with a few thoughts I wanted to post.  The article can be found here:
 

 http://massively.joystiq.com/2014/02/09/stick-and-rudder-ok-so-star-citizen-might-be-a-pvp-game/

Here are my comments:
 
 Not a star citizen guy, but I’m becoming a sandbox guy, so this column is relevant to my interests, and I agree with every word.

I used to run a NWN persistent world roleplay server with somewhat open PVP… around 10 years ago.  It was a 100% “by invitation” experience in the sense that we were open to the public, but the banhammer was very very close at hand at all times.  The thing is, I rarely had to use it, indeed the most infamous PVP’er on our server was my own character, who would often act as the in-character enforcement of “you’re going to get banned for being a dick, stop being a dick,” which earned that character a reputation as a dick… but people knew what I, the player, was doing, and no one who wasn’t a dick on an OOC level needed to fear my shady assassin in character. Ironically, that “reputation” was earned by, maybe… three or four kills, tops.  That’s how often I needed to dust off the darker side of my character “the enforcer.”

I honestly likely wouldn’t leave PVP that wide open on today’s internet, were I to run that world now, as open to the public as we did it before.  I am watching The Untitled Game very closely because, like Star Citizen,  it will come with the capability to run private servers.  Our potential server will (should the completed game meet my expectations) have a very very tight lock on PVP, meaning I don’t want any, as we won’t be inviting the kind of players that would “need it to enjoy themselves.”  Today’s gaming internet is much further along that dark road of “griefing entitlement” than the world we knew only 10 years ago.  The internet, and its anonymity, aren’t shiny or new or special or sacred: it’s commonplace, it’s expected, and it’s seen in most modern households as something as “just there” as tap water.  That’s… not necessarily a good thing, but I’m not getting into that.

My point is, sandbox developers are right to consider any and all PVP implementation very carefully, and I honestly think that private servers are the best solution here, most notably trackable private servers that feed data to the developer.  I’d be very interested to see, once empowered by the freedom of private server hosting, the stats on how many players are utilizing PVP when given a choice, and just how popular, in this genre, to today’s gaming public, the idea of “a world where you’re free to be a dick” is, next to simulated worlds for “carebears” escaping the most cutthroat, cold, evil PVP world there is: the real world.

Tagged: TUGthe untitled gamesandboxstar citizenmassively

6th February 2014

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If you can build it, and keep it, they will come…


I’ve spent a few entries now talking about what I want and what I’m hoping for out of the next wave of sandbox games forthcoming, and in that wave I’m focusing a lot on “The Untitled Game” for a few reasons. One of the main reasons is their offering a private server option, and with that comes a pledge that there will be no standard “always on” rules set of base mechanics for the game itself, which is just a phenomenal opportunity that, again, as stated elsewhere, I haven’t had the pleasure of playing with since Neverwinter Nights. What I’d like to talk about right now is one major on/off switch that I’d love to see in the game, a constant in other games that keeps me from truly investing myself in games with voxel-based building opportunities.

I must be able to bank on keeping artfully built structures intact amidst the gameworld’s dangers.

A lot of people are comparing anything with voxels in it to minecraft, the game that made voxels cool, and so I’m going to draw a straight line to the very thing that keeps me from making anything special in survival mode (my favourite mode) of minecraft: Creepers. One thing that every rough, functional, hole-in-the-ground habitat I’ve ever built in minecraft have in common is that their “front porch” are usually composed of stone that has been placed, and re-placed, and re-placed again due to creepers sneaking up on me on my way in and out, exploding and destroying what I’ve made. Sure, eventually I upgrade to something with walls and windows and heavy lighting, but honestly, what stunts that development is the idea that the same process could conceivably happen to anything I build. Also, what works as functionally “creeper proof” might not fit artistically in the concept I want to build. I’ve asked creative friends why they don’t like minecraft, and immediately the “unwanted destructibility” issue comes up. My best friend is a wizard at creating home dimensions in RIFT, because she feels safe building things there: if she places it, it’s not going away, and so she can truly create masterpieces. That’s exactly why she feels free to create, and I totally get this logic.

This is not sour grapes from a minecraft player that has had his stuff ruined, that just comes with the game, and it’s fun, in that game, to try to eke out a creeper-proof existence… but I can also hope for a situation where I don’t have to think about building around destructibility hazards, and that’s what we’re talking about here.

I’d bet a large sum of money that most if not all of the screenshotted and spread around impressive structures we’ve seen out of the minecraft phenomenon have been built in minecraft’s creative mode, which boasts no monsters. Specifically, no creepers, and no “unwanted destructibility,” in that the only one taking down blocks are the folks that put them there. I’m sure that in multiplayer games, people also chip away at each other’s structures in a sort of builder’s PVP. What I want out of TUG or some game like it is the ability to remove this on a private server. Make the world dangerous for my character beyond my walls, but don’t make it dangerous for my walls. I’d love for myself or my friends to go crazy like it’s creative mode, while in survival mode (or “adventure mode” in TUG), because danger beyond the walls gives the walls meaning in the context of a dangerous world.

Yes, I know “danger to the walls gives the walls meaning too,” but honestly, threatening one’s artful creations threatens the motivation to create them in the first place. The greatest RIFT home builder I know has straight up said “I will not build a stone if it can be destroyed, or taken from me by time,” and I can’t really blame her. I want to bring this creativity into a dangerous world, and I can’t do it in minecraft because of (among other reasons) creepers and unwanted destructibility.

This is an opinion piece, this is something I want to toggle on a private server that caters to our specific finicky whims. It doesn’t have to be part of everyone’s game, but it must be an option before we will invest in a game the way we could truly get into it and make some beautiful things, beautiful places that we will run to when the sun goes down, slam the door and enjoy an evening by the fire as the monsters rail against our walls. It will make us appreciate these walls when we are out exploring and have to hole up in a cave for the night because we won’t make it back home in time…

But we need to know that home will be there, and that the structure isn’t threatened by the world itself. Other players we can screen, it is going to be a private server after all, but the mechanics of the game need to be “creeper free” for us to truly enjoy ourselves.

I’m trying not to get my hopes up that a game will emerge from the primordial ooze of this new era with absolutely everything we need to make the jump and truly invest into it… but TUG’s flexible rules make it incredibly possible, so I’m tentatively hopeful.

Here’s hoping we can build and depend on a lovely home in a dangerous new world sometime soon!

Tagged: TUGthe untitled gamesandboxminecraftmmorpgeqn landmark

3rd February 2014

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I’m “persistently” curious and excited about future of online sandbox gaming.

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Perceiving my personal timeline with any degree of pinpoint accuracy, before facebook, is a tricky thing, particularly since I’m trying to think in the realm of websites that have since been taken down (thanks a lot, EA) and can’t be referenced for dates any more, but… let’s say about ten years ago, I was swept up, by a friend I played EverQuest with, into a brave new world that would forever change how I viewed online gaming, indeed, gaming in general!

No, I’m not talking about World of Warcraft, that would come after… before WoW, and after EQ, was Neverwinter Nights, an experience that would permanently colour my MMORPG impressions going forward.  I started as a player, on a friend’s persistent world (I wouldn’t touch the single player aspect almost at all), very very briefly, because like my time as a Dungeons and Dragons storyteller (heck, ten years before that), as soon as I perceived the toolset for storytelling that this medium allowed, I wanted on the other side of the DM screen.  

My friend helping to run the server I started on decided to start his own world, titled “Imperial Dusk” and asked me to be a DM.  I took the offer without a second thought, and built areas and told stories on as free a canvas as I had ever been allowed before without stacks of paper and handfuls of dice.  I kind of sucked at the area building aspect, and had to be reminded of the finer points time and again, but thankfully my more experienced friends had the patience to correct my building work.  On Imperial Dusk, I got to tell one of  my favourite stories ever, of a dryad who sold her soul to the darkness to save her daughter’s life, and one of the most iconic characters of my own personal, multi-game-spanning lore thread was born on Imperial Dusk.  I still play her to this day as my druid in RIFT. ;)

After some time on Imperial Dusk, I got the ambitious idea, because of a strong support base of good friends from LARPing and from Imperial Dusk, to launch my own world.  With the respect I’d had for my friend that started Imperial Dusk, it seemed an insurmountable task.  I was, after all, just a guy with stories to tell.  I sucked at the building and the scripting ends of things, but my friends did not, and so “Dracontide” was born.  A world in the decline of a dominant age of dragons, and a rising age of man, where the gods (the same gods of Imperial Dusk and my highschool D&D campaign) wanted mortal man to own the next age, and gave them the canvas to paint their destiny.  On a backdrop of an incredibly repetitive grind in varying, artfully sculpted areas, and an “ethic of earning,” EverQuest inspired degree of endgame exclusivity (which I would later regret and thus 180 on after playing WoW and relaunching Dracontide years later for a short time), we told the story of the Union of Adventure, assisted endlessly by an elite playerbase and storytelling and building/scripting team that would help each other to create what was, to me, the golden age of online gaming, and a reason why I don’t really have much of a “bucket list” left for my gaming “career.”  Dracontide was one of those “I can die happily after this” moments in my life.

Over time, the allure of games that were much bigger, prettier, and professionally maintained lured us off of Aidar (the world of Dracontide) to WoW, and the MMORPG sphere beyond, where we, after many years of adding to and then whittling down our numbers, have now largely settled upon RIFT because of its robust personal expression and, surprise, area building opportunities.  Neverwinter Nights’ unique opportunity faded into logistical headaches, as EA bought out the rights and made hosting servers an unintuitive mess, and the multiplayer gaming sphere moved on to more easily and quantifiably monetized projects and habits.

… But a new wave is on the rise…

Rust, Minecraft, The Untitled Game, EverQuest Next: Landmark, and gods know how many others jumping on the sandbox bandwagon in various ways with various ideas are starting to carve out a “new” (let’s call it “newly profitable”) niche in multiplayer gaming.  One where, once again, building tools are in the hands of the players, and the first “M” in MMORPG is optionally traded in for, in some cases, private, themed worlds.  Heck, in many cases these worlds are endlessly and procedurally generated in landmass and adventure.  The middleground between “you can have private storytelling” and “you don’t have to place every brick in the world” is just… the opportunities are endless!  Literally!  Actually literally!

Before and amidst my MMORPGaming, I was also a LARPer, on and off, for about 15 years.  One of my favourite themes in these games was that of a frontier town on the edge of wild, untamed mystery.  Danger in every new nightfall, and a need for protected shelter were powerfully motivating themes here. In Neverwinter Nights, as the DM, of course I’d know the answer to the mystery, and would have a hand in almost every assault on protected strongholds and shelters.  In a procedurally generated landscape, I could plant a seed of storytelling where the settlers on this frontier had a motivation and a connection in this wild new world, and let the game do most of the work!  Running back to the “in development” shelter of civilization as night falls and the monsters come out is just such a fun and compelling vehicle for adventure and exploratory storytelling!  I WANT THIS!  I want it with graphics less extremely stylized than minecraft’s gorgeous but blocky look, I want it in a more traditional fantasy setting, and I want it now!

I won’t sugarcoat this: I do not have the time or inclination to build and maintain another Dracontide from the ground up, but I DO have the time and interest to take a procedurally generated world, or a world that my friends can help fill out, and turn it into a hotbed of RPing and storytelling among not only my friends, but perhaps some new faces… so long as I can boot the undesirables.

This is what I want out of this wave of sandboxes coming out.  Amidst all of the titles, some have this part or that part, some have most parts.  If a game can come out that hits a home run on all fronts (Honestly: TUG is looking to be the frontrunner here) I know I’ve made a lot of bold claims in gaming and creativity that haven’t panned out, but this sort of allure is so embedded in my gaming bones… I’m simply chomping at the bit to share this new wave of sandboxes with friends…

Bring on the spiritual successor to Neverwinter Nights… bring on my mysterious, online LARP frontier.  The race is on to see which game will deliver first, and I will be waiting…

We will be waiting.

Tagged: TUGthe untitled gameRiftneverwinter nightsMMORPGeverquest nexteverquest next: landmarkeqn landmarkeqnextminecraftrustlarplarping

31st January 2014

Link with 4 notes

Steam Greenlight :: TUG: The Untitled Game →

More detail and excitement on this title to come as I get more time, but in the meantime, check out and greenlight-vote on this exciting super sandbox MMORPG in development! I’ll be checking out the “alpheta” version very soon and will have more insights forthcoming!

Shout out to “Nonsensicles” (can’t link his Tumblr from an app entry) for pointing out this game to me!

Tagged: TUGthe untitled gamemmorpg

26th January 2014

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Omedon’s guide to *efficient* leveling in RIFT (as of patch 2.5)

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For the longest time, in the Storm Legion phase of RIFT’s existence, I had a boatload of characters at either level 50 or 51, because the brick wall of demoralizing experience curve upon hitting Storm Legion had me and my closest RP-partner and best friend viewing 50 as the “reasonable endgame” for our largely dimension-and-RP-based purposes. I did eventually gun my main to 60, but man, that was the most painful process ever. That all being said, I am certainly not an advocate of the seemingly industry-wide trend to “take leveling out” of MMORPGs through insta-capping via microtransactions, particularly in those games as personally progressive as RIFT with its conceptually artful gameplay palette of character options that blossom through the soul system. Leveling is part of the RPG, and RIFT does a great job of having levels be fun goals… I just found the pace post 50 to be not worth the slog at 2.0, as most of my builds were well since filled enough to be considered “conceptually done” by 50, and so another 10 points weren’t as attractive and compelling to spend the same amount of time earning them as I earned the first 65 or so. “Effortconomics,” I call it. 


When RIFT recently tweaked the post-50 leveling curve, I was ecstatic, and made a triumphant “return,” to the game, subscribing pretty consistently, and started leveling my army of alts, even making new characters. It was because of this “boom” that I now consider myself somewhat of an expert in efficient leveling, now working on my 10th character on Faeblight server. Yes, I know, there are crazy people that fill out multiple servers of characters, and good on them for their dedication. I need a character and a concept to power my enthusiasm, so I have ten.

The following series of suggestions are just that. I don’t know what the “best” route is because I personally am not interested in every item on the menu of RIFT’s leveling game. I don’t do dungeons, I do tend to use XP potions, I don’t do PVP. While XP potions are certainly not mandatory to level, I’m not going to be all PC and dance around the feelings of those that feel the game should be “all free all the time and how dare I suggest that you have to spend money because that’s not fair.” Straight up: XP potions make you level faster. Every tip I’m going to give you will work better with potions up, because that’s what potions do. Don’t want to use potions? That’s your right, don’t use them. I personally have been doing RPGs for so long that I enjoy the journey, but at the same time, I’d like to have all my powers, so I use them when I have ten frickin’ characters to level. And that’s all I’ll go on about that.

So, from inception to “endgame” here are my tips for efficiently leveling your characters. Some people will find my suggestions “unfun,” but keep in mind, for me, much of the “fun” is in quickly seeing my conceptual builds fill out. If you’d rather take other routes, please, have fun with your time and do that, but for “bee-lining,” this is how I did it, and how I’m doing:

Level 1-10.

Just do the tutorial. You don’t need to put a lot of thought in here. I will say that the methods I’m going to suggest going forward would benefit GREATLY from a build designed to survive somewhat. If you build a glass cannon DPS character, you’re pretty much chained to the codependency of dungeons, which is fine if you like that, but having your leveling pace dependent on dungeon queues, especially DPS dungeon queues, is anything but efficient. I find no method of survival beats a gross amount of self healing or a pet to hide behind and support properly.

Level 10-19

Queue for instant adventures. Do your daily randoms, then perhaps queue specifically for your favourite between silverwood and freemarch. Don’t forget to do the daily instant adventure quest, and to utilize rare planar goods vendors to gear yourself amidst loot caches now and all the way up to 45 or so. Simple stuff, doesn’t get complex just yet.

Level 20-25ish

Do your daily random IAs, do the quest, same as last bracket, BUT be aware that you will be at the low end of the stonefield and highly annoying gloamwood IA levels. If you find you’re getting smoked in gloamwood/stonefield, keep dropping group until you get freemarch or silverwood for your randoms. Heck, if you find you hate gloamwood for the unnecessarily annoying terrain (because boy howdy do me and mine ever do) don’t feel you have to do it. IA’s are low obligation content, and while you’ll never see me recommending you just AFK and collect XP, you don’t have to do an area you don’t want to if you’d rather fish for your favourite area to come up in random queue. Once your randoms are done, queue specifically for your favourite areas. At this point, the XP difference between the first and second bracket of IA’s are so miniscule, just queue for wherever you like best.

Level 25-29

Same as 20-25 only maybe start picking your favourite between gloamwood and stonefield (mentoring to 20) instead of just any of the four areas open to you. Again, if you hate the higher areas enough, honestly, the 1-50 instant adventure XP income is pretty consistent, so don’t feel bad about queueing specifically for silverwood or freemarch from 10-48 if you really like it there. You’ll take a hit to your time efficiency, no question, but not as steeply as the difference in XP pursuits in storm legion… more on that in a moment.

Level 30-35ish

Same as 20-25 only the role of gloamwood/stonefield will be played by scarwood reach. This is where the pre-50 leveling grind starts to really set in, so I hope you don’t hate scarwood reach.

Level 35-48

The magic number for mentoring to queue specific, scarwood’s max level, is level 35. Start mentoring for scarwood (after daily randoms, you know the drill) as soon as you can play there at a level you’re comfortable at.

NOTE: I recommend very strongly against utilizing shimmersand and/or stilmoor (available at 45) instant adventures for leveling. If you get them as your randoms, gods help you, because almost all of these IA’s are set up for people approaching 50, so unless you’re in a huge group and are very survivable, these will be unnecessarily hard. Do not feel bad about bailing from these areas and fishing for other areas for your randoms.

A few words on “defend this place from planar invasion “Instant adventures:”

Participate at your own risk! If you are in a large group, and someone deigns to upgrade the wardstone, the difficulty spikes ridiculously, and to “LOL PUGs” levels. Since IA’s are designed to be PUG’ed, this does not end well. I went into detail in a post I composed for the official RIFT forums, which you can read here: http://omedon.tumblr.com/post/71568397634/rift-official-forums-post-planar-defense-ias-are

The major reason I recommend IA’s so heavily from 10-48 is because they scale incredibly well with XP potions (being a constant river of mid-level XP numbers) and are kinder to many different builds. Your survivability levels DO come into play, but not as drastically as they might in the specifically challenging solo quest grind, which you can better prepare for with more soul points, which can be better attained in a “safer” environment like IA’s.


Level 48-58:

And now we come to the recent, exciting change that makes storm legion leveling so much more tolerable! Most “story quests” from 48-58 will grant over 110k XP, up to 130k XP or so, while every other quest around them will continue to grant their original 40k-or-so XP. 99% of all story quests can be identified by the “gold plated” background to their direction and story text. There are the odd deviations from this pattern, (where the quest has a green background) but those deviations are usually clear and obvious transitions, as well as a single side quest I can remember from the “eastern commons” segment of the brevane story that grants a glove upgrade… that probably should have been a story quest.

I can not stress enough, unless you really like the other options around you, how efficient it is to just tunnel-vision the story quests. Going out of your way to get a few more kills for the odd carnage quest is ok, but anything beyond that will be less time efficient. There is, I must reiterate, absolutely no XP income that I have seen that is more efficient than turning in story quests. For the time-efficiency-minded player, this is the only highway lane worth driving in. I really and truly hope they bring instant adventures up to date on this front, but if they were only going to pick one content type to augment in this fashion, they picked the right one, as story quests give gear upgrades, and, well… tell a story. A better one than 1-50, I might add! Also, 48-50 on this newly tweaked highway lane is disgusting, like, 1/3 of a level per turn-in disgusting, with a 40% potion up.

Also, do not feel confined to one side of the brevane/dusken divide. As a matter of fact, with or without using potions, you will absolutely have to continent-hop to have enough story quests to feed your leveling pace.

Finally, if you’re really stuck, and you have a build that can solo rifts, the Torvan hunters storyline is on the same “gold plated” XP curve. Use it as needed. It does take some pretty hefty level hops from quest to quest, but it is an option for those not using potions that may need to bridge some gaps here and there.

Level 58-60

This gets its own entry for a very specific reason. It plays just like 10-48, except the XP per quest takes a nosedive to hover around the 100k mark as soon as the quests ding to 58. I have a theory about this that I’ve put into practice in leveling my alts. My theory is that 3.0’s content, like Storm Legion, and most WoW expansions, will start two levels before the old cap. In this case, 58. It’s a gamble, but because of the slower pace, and my having 10 characters to see to, I’ve stopped most of my alts, after the first couple, at 58. It should also be noted that the dailies that appear/unlock in ashora, steppes of infinity and the dendrome are around the 100k XP mark as well, so if you aren’t using potions, and can cross the finish line of level 58, thus making level 60 quests more reasonably completed, you’re in the clear! Just be careful in the dendrome, they hit hard there!

I am sure there are points where other methods of leveling will come close to the efficiency of story quests as a whole, but when you hit some points that are literally: “talk to this guy, 130k XP, ok now go over here, 130k XP, now gather these five things, 130k XP, ok now kill this singular boss, 130k XP,” it really makes up for the few lagging points. And the mass turn-ins of 3-4 quests of this magnitude are just things of beauty!

If you’re using XP potions, a good tip I have noticed is to not stress if potions are running out while you’re out and about with many to complete, just don’t restore your potion buff until you go to turn your quests in, because honestly, the kill XP is not even in the same universe as the augmented story quest XP.

Also, keep an eye on the level of the quests you’re doing, and always keep the other continent’s most current quest in your log so you can potentially switch away from slogging through par-to-slightly-above-par monsters for the same XP as you’d get for a quest involving monsters a couple levels below you. The curve is pretty consistent: if it’s storm legion, and goldplated, and pre-58, you’re getting around 120-130k XP, whether that’s level 52 or 56, so don’t waste time on level 56 monsters at level 54 when you can go steamroll the 52’s on the other continent for the same XP reward!

I hope this “guide” helps rejuvenate some fellow altoholics’ interest in RIFT like it did mine! Remember, your “funtime mileage” may vary, so don’t feel like this is all gospel, this is just what worked really well for me!

Have fun, and thank you for reading!

Tagged: RIFTmmorpgguide

18th January 2014

Post with 1 note

WANTED: A pretty, fantasy-themed, survival crafting game.

image


I posted a quick “hey, anyone seen a game that does this” request to facebook recently, and apparently I’m not alone in noticing an important niche that needs to be filled out there somewhere.  I’m going to post a longer version here today, for solidarity or, better yet, in hopes of some suggestions!

What I want is a fantasy themed survival crafting game with more attractive graphics.

I tried minecraft for awhile, and one aspect of it that really grabbed me, despite the personally unattractive style of the blocky graphics (more on that in a moment) was the idea of building increasingly self sufficient forts and defending them from random monsters, or just walling up and enduring the night in an increasingly comfy home of my own creation.  Now, there are a ton of games that let you build things, there are even more game that let you fight things, but I’m going to spell out just what exactly I need in a game to maximize the thrill I got out of minecraft while I was really into it.



1) Starting with nothing,  in a world full of near endless amounts of resources to move up from nothing with.  

Many RPGs with crafting, online and otherwise, use limited or competitive access to resources to gate what the crafting can provide for you.  Minecraft says “screw that” to most entry to mid level resources, and instead gates things behind spending time just getting it.  This is also something I loved in FFXIV’s crafting: owning a stack of wood wasn’t a matter of luck, observant searching, or competition, it was a matter of time spent exploring and gathering, not looking for hidden or limited gathering places.  Access to most materials for normal use was instanced, personalized, and near endless.  In minecraft, it was a matter of travelling and looking for the right colour landscape, or digging and creating one’s own mines to then clean out, inevitably, on one’s own time.



2) A non-pvp cycle of danger that comes to you.  

If you stand still in minecraft at night, in plain sight, you will probably die.  A zombie or creeper will find you and kill you.  This motivates you, on your first day in the game, to build, rig, or dig something or somewhere to hide the night out.  Eventually you work your way up to stone walls that spiders can’t climb up, from which you can shoot wandering monsters with your bow.  This was my funzone, and it all starts with digging a hole to get through night one.



3) Monsters I recognize, screenshots I will proudly show off.

 Here’s where I start to get specific, picky and subjective.  Minecraft’s graphic style is charming and distinctive.  It also is way too generic for me to “be my character” in.  It has swords and skeletons and even a dragon, but I can’t call it specifically, attractively fantasy.  My room mate is currently playing a game called Rust that does pretty much everything I want in my search, only it’s in a post-apocalyptic setting, with radiation and shotguns and low tech.  It’s not blocky, it has first person RPG level graphics.  I want my fantasy version!  Minecraft has very good, but very stylized graphics.  I’d like a more standard modern RPG style please.  Blocky can be beautiful, as I recently discovered by checking out “cube world,”  but honestly, I’d prefer an aesthetic closer to a mainstream fantasy RPG.



4) It doesn’t have to be multiplayer!  

The more I truly pick apart what I want here, the less I want it to be ruined by uninvited, other players.  I certainly do not want PVP to ruin my dream game.  I’d love a game that lets me create a visibly beautiful world or zone for visibly beautiful characters that I can then share and defend with friends, but honestly, it doesn’t need to be this mainly social experience as a core tenet of gameplay.  Indeed, if it gets all codependent in its survival and resource ethics, that’s a HUGE turnoff!  I have an MMO that I enjoy and share with friends, so yanking them into something new isn’t necessarily what I need.  Incidentally, if RIFT were to put in a “place this wardstone in your dimension and it will randomly be invaded until you remove the wardstone or elsewise switch it off” feature, that would solve most of what I’m looking for, to be honest!  Hint-hint, TRION!  Speaking of…



5) Combat.  It doesn’t need to be complex, it doesn’t need to be hard, but it needs to be there.

It’s kinda hard to defend the homestead with taunting and bad words.  Unless you’re french.


6) And no, it’s not necessarily EQNext or Landmark.  

SOE has recently said things that I don’t like about these titles in the context of what I’m asking for here.  They, understandably, want an MMORPG community that people are invested in and will stick around in.  That’s not what I want.  I want a side game that’s powered by my interests, where my work won’t fade away or inconvenience others if I put it down for a month here and there.  I have a niche to scratch in my gaming, and I’d like to be able to walk away from it once scratched, and then come back later.  No subscription fees, no upkeep costs.  I will obviously pay for such a thing, but this needs to be my world, my game.  Sharing is optional.

So that’s the long and the short of what I think the gaming sphere is desperately missing.  If I’ve overlooked an existing game, please let me know!  Basically a fantasy themed “Rust” or more visually thematic/appealing (I know that’s subjective, but it’s a thing for me) minecraft would be all I need.  Again, though… PVE-assaulted RIFT dimensions with an on/off switch (and no destructibility, given how resources are gathered in RIFT) would also be perfect!

Tagged: RiftminecraftFFXIVrustrpgmmorpgeqnexteqn landmark