Healers

Ok, no suprise to anyone reading this, I like playing Healers. To be more correct (and to agree with Abalieno, in a sec), I like playing Support characters, it’s just that Healers (the ones that make the health bars go up) are the most direct method of insuring people… don’t die.

That being said, PvE Healing in World of Warcraft is boring as hell. Why? Beacuse it’s just making the bars go up. To be more correct, PvE Healing sucks… hell, for the sake of screwing my point over, PvE sucks as a whole.

Ok, so that being said… can you make supporting abilities more interesting (although healing’s pretty interesting as it is, better then being a DPS bot), possibly better then straight healing at keeping people alive (that whole “Ounce of Prevention, Pound of Cure” thing doesn’t really apply in MMOs). Still, you’re treading on the ground of the TBCs, so that way indeed lies madness.

Honestly, healing in PvP is slightly more interesting, although it really depends on communication (i.e. Teamspeak) and telling the person soaking up the damage to not be retarded. It really comes down to teamwork and not really based on the mechanics. The whole responsibility for keeping people alive is the attraction, and if you actually care about the people you’re working with, that helps… a lot.

Still, if you look at an example of a game without healers like RFO… well RFO‘s problem is that Consumables > player abilities in terms of keeping people alive, so that’s kinda fucked up. Rather similar to the debate over Health Pills being nearly as strong as Patcher skills (in the hands of a mediocore player) at keeping someone up. It’s outsourcing in games! (Although it stems back to D&D healing potions being called “Clerics in a Bottle”.)

Don’t know, I’ll have to think over this one, but I’m not sure how you work on making “support” a better “supporter” then a straight healer (just look at CoH with groups really asking for “Empathy” over dedicated Defenders in other areas like CC or buffs) without making the proper healer completely worthless. I think some CU SWG comparisons between Combat Medic and Doctor may be useful here (I’ll have to look the math up again later today).

Pub 28 Entertainer Stuff Posted

Pub 28 Entertainer Profession Additions posted by TH over on the SWG boards.

I do like how they aren’t actually a full combat class as they only have the bare essentials of a DD special and a self-heal but if you think about it in terms of old post-CU skill points:

  • Grand Master Entertainer was 250 skill points.
  • A nice chuck of Doctor was 50-something.
  • A line in an elite Marksman tree was another 50-something.

I know that I’m probably going to be deleting my noob Jedi and making an Entertainer (on the Aen’ene account) to get a bit of the old Master Dancer/Pikeman action back (which to this day is still my second favorite pre-CU spec behind CM/Swordsman).

Teamspeak is Evil

…or Teamspeak needs logging that doesn’t poof when you switch servers/reconnect.

Apparently Kyo sent me a message sometime in the middle of her move, which of course I didn’t get beacuse TS crashed. Awesome, good to know she at least tried to talk to me (rather then generic vanish). Anyway, I stayed up way too late helping Kreamy and his brother with space missions so now I’m proper fucked when it comes to sleep cycles again.

Also, I stumbled upon a really interesting fact… there are two Monoliths. Monolith Productions are the old MxO devs and they’ve also done Alien vs. Predator, the N.O.L.F. games and more recently F.E.A.R. and Condemned.

Monolith Soft is Japanese and in addtion to the Xenosagas they’ve done Crono Cross! Oh, and the subtitle for Xenosaga Ep III is “Also Sprach Zarathustra”, again referencing Nietzsche, but also the title of a piece of music I had to study for Academic Decathlon by Strauss.

You’d recognize it from 2001.

Took a while…

I meant to do this post right after I finished the Lost and Finding one but it just slipped off my mind.

As I’ve been thinking about it the past couple of days, I’ve moved away from the “lineage” idea and more towards “sliders”. Taking the ideas from the previous post, “For the sake of latter discussion, EQ was the Grand Story-centric game, UO the PvP/PK-centric game and AC the sort of the Social-centric game…” and giving similar titles to the 1.5 games: DAoC was the Dominant game, AO was the Sci-Fi game, and WW2:O was the Twitch game.

Now, there are two large flaws with the above titles, AC really wasn’t that great at Social aspects, it was just the best of the lot at it, and what the hell made DAoC (and later on WoW) so Dominant?

Looking at it, the big thing that seperated DAoC and AO (ignoring launches) was the setting, both games had pretty solid mechanics. As two mid-line games (like EQ to some extent before it), DAoC was so successful beacuse it was a middle-of-the-road Fantasy game. WoW is rather similar, it boasts very traditional gameplay and with it being a Warcraft succeeds. Thus, Dominance isn’t so much an attribute, as it is being middle-of-the-road.

Looking back, we can define an MMO by: Setting, its PvP/PK System, its importance on Story, its importance on Socialness, and how Twitchy its gameplay is. There needs to be some clarification on Twitchyness though… it isn’t so much how “fast-paced” the gameplay it is, it’s more about how cerebral it is. Cerebralness includes more then just gameplay, but how complex is its character development and how much import it places on instant gratification.

To take pre-NGE SWG as an example:

  • Setting: Space/Sci-Fi Fantasy, original trilogy Star Wars.
  • PvP/PK: Low penalty for death, low/no reward for winning.
  • Story: Very little story integration.
  • Socialness: Required interaction among players, full classes based solely around socialization or commerce.
  • Cerebralness: Complex character development, little instant gratification with fast character progression, traditional MMORPG combat system.

Lineage II:

  • Setting: High Fantasy, generic
  • PvP/PK: Possible high penalty for death, possible high reward for winning. Very group-oriented.
  • Story: Little story integration.
  • Socialness: Near-required interaction among players for high-end leveling or raids, one class based partly around commerce.
  • Cerebralness: Traditional level development with some branching, little instant gratification with a slow character progression, traditional MMORPG combat system.

World of Warcraft:

  • Setting: High Fantasy, Warcraft
  • PvP/PK: Very low penalty for death, very slight reward for winning.
  • Story: Little story integration.
  • Socialness: Required interaction among players for instanced raids.
  • Cerebralness: Traditional level development with some character differentiation, some instant gratification with a slightly fast character progression, traditional MMORPG combat system.

Just some examples, not too well done mind you. Hopefully I’ll be able to bang this out into something more concrete at a later date.

Lost and Finding

That seems to be the common theme in all aspects of my life right now. For personal things… Kyo’s been gone for a week now with no word. I’d write more on that but it’s pretty obvious that this is a bad thing.

On something I can be more verbose about, Legion’s sorta stuck in this middle ground for MMOs, we’ve lost SWG and the only things that are keeping us there are alternate characters (which were mostly leveled via exploits, ugh) and doing loot runs on HK. As the want for loot items from the Central Volcano become less and less, I can’t really see what we’re going to do in SWG. With MxO, the Combat Revamp is upcoming, but I doubt that the game will ever rise above diversion for many of our members (myself included to be honest). All other current MMOs are flawed in one way or another (although I can’t help but feel that setting is the only thing keeping certain members from Lineage II, but more on that latter). Basically, we’re in a holding pattern.

Looking forward, the eminent release of Dungeons & Dragons: Online is basically looking like a non-event for the guild. While it is quite solid technically, and DM Text fucking rocks, it is heavily instanced, and with no economy, it looks rather beatable. Also, it’s lack of PvP is crippling. Dark and Light is looking rather weak in the eyes of many, it’s SoG preview appears to have done more harm then good for the game, as people don’t seem to get it isn’t meant to be complete. MMOs like Star Trek Online or Tabula Rasa are ethereal at best so they’re no use.

Going back to Lineage II, it does have it’s share of problems. First off, the high fantasy setting is not terribly popular among a lot of our guys. Second, for the guys coming off the FS grind, it does have a really long progression (although the “useless period” is very small). Thirdly, the way that they were introduced to the game didn’t really play to the game’s strengths and they were also sort of thrown into the game. I remember coming over to Tempest and they did the best they could to get people into the game running so as to overcome their prejudices. L2 was never really given a chance by many I feel, but it’s time has passed and it can’t exactly be re-introduced smoothly.

Looking forward I’m not exactly certain where we could possibly go. There would have to be a very solid effort on a few people’s parts to get the guild into Final Fantasy XI because of both prejudices and because the game requires coordination as a group, it isn’t solo-friendly to say the least. World of Warcraft… people are so prejudiced against it, that it’s honestly a little sad. To be honest, the game is really fun, but it does seem to leave you with a sort of hollow feeling at the end, much like MxO or SWG. It’s the kind of thing where it would be a move simply to have something new to do, nothing earth-shattering.

An earth-shattering MMO is what I feel would take to overcome the amount of inertia that SWG has going for it. It’s where we currently are, and people are having some amount of fun with it. I personally have this huge desire to move though, as I see the game as almost intellectually stifling. I enjoy it, simply because of the group I’m with. It’s a very similar analogy as to why I played Second Life at all; I played because Kyo was there, nothing more.

Talking with her at some length on that subject really brought into focus a couple of things. We wanted to be together, and she had found something fun for her (and a great engine to torment me with) and I hadn’t. I didn’t have anything against the game, but I didn’t have anything to good to say about it either. I personally was enamored with L2 again, and she didn’t like it (For the record, her complaints are similar to Kreamy’s in that the game feels like every other one she’s played. I fault that to the server they played on, but the complaints are valid nonetheless. It wasn’t new, it was just (in my eyes) the large-scale PvP/PK-centric game.) so the balance shifted to us hanging out in SL, but it did give me something to talk about at least (I am always at my most verbose when whining :P .)

I feel I can’t continue without going into a bit about MMOs as whole…

[A lot of the grouping is taken from MMOGChart.com's General Analysis section, but I layer game lineage (not the game, but as in ancestry) and archetype/niche into account while his focus is elsewhere and Age names are from MMOGChart, the generations seem to be industry consensus. Just a couple notes in case stuff starts sounding familiar.]

The First Generation of MMOs was EverQuest, Asheron’s Call and Ultima Online. This generation was based on non-cannibalistic growth, and only minor differentiation among games. For the sake of latter discussion, EQ was the Grand Story-centric game, UO the PvP/PK-centric game and AC the sort of the Social-centric game, it also boasted the least traditional character development of the three. MMOGChart refers to this as The Golden Age.

Then came Generation 1.5 (because One-point-fifth Generation looks retarded), The Age of Transition with Dark Age of Camelot, Anarchy Online and World War II: Online. This generation was based primarily on cannibalization (DAoC ripped AC a new one when it launched, EQ and UO were not immune either.) and DAoC became the Fantasy game. AO and WW2:O despite problematic launches created the Sci-Fi and Twitch niches, respectively.

Now, we come to the Second Generation, The Age of Competition. For the purpose of this discussion we’ll be looking at:

While the list is large, it’s divided into three primary groups (much like PCGamer redid their layout this month actually), the Children of EverQuest, of Asheron’s Call, and of Ultima Online.

I’m going to publish here since Bleach 61 just finished from Bleach Society and well yeah, this thing was getting pretty long anyway, so next post will be about the Second Generation.