Thursday, December 18, 2008

Culling the Herd

OK, I've gotten ridiculous. I'm subscribing to too many games. I have two subscriptions to EverQuest II plus Warhammer Online, World of Warcraft, and Eve Online. I've also jumped in and out of Guild Wars a lot lately.

EverQuest II

This one is definitely going to stay. This game is where I spend most of my online time. I have too much to do in game.

Last weekend, I earned a few void shards with my monk. Scion of Ice is always a fun zone.

Then I did the new Frostfell zones. I like how Frostfell keeps a lot of the quests from the previous years, with a few minor tweaks to the rewards and so on. Basically, the festivities get bigger and better as the game progresses. This year, we have a few quests that let you earn tokens and the loot you can get for the tokens are actually pretty nice. None of the armor looked like something I would use, but there were some 15-token charms that were very nice.

I helped some guildmates out with their epic updates, and then tried to run Chelsith with my Defiler to get her epic update. That didn't go too well and we had to abort the mission for now. That zone is really hard, with lots of wandering bubbles (floating hordes of elementals), and you either need two healers or a very competent mezzer. I was solo healing it. We got several nameds down and we burned through fights quickly. The only time we had trouble was when we had a bad pull and got two encounters at once, or if we pulled a bubble. That happened a few times, and then the illusionist left. By that point, it was too hard to find a replacement so we called it a night.

On Monday, some guildmates went back in to Chelsith to help someone else. They were kind enough to leave Majora Leviathan up, just for me. I have the best guild ever. So my defiler is now one step closer to having their epic.

I've been keeping my monk busy working on Far Seas Supply Division faction. I also took some time to level up some alts. I took my Berserker through Splitpaw and finally earned their trust. It only took four years; my Berserker was actually my first EQ2 character, but I stopped playing it early on and switched to the monk. Now I finally got it to level 43...

On Tuesday, I did the daily double in Obelisk of Ahkzul. Except it wasn't really a daily double since it normally has zero shards to offer. But people kept calling it that. I'm glad it wasn't really, since the double of zero is zero, and I got two, which makes me happy, since I will soon have my third piece of void shard armor.

Yesterday and today, I worked on my defiler's epic weapon. Yesterday, we took on the Priest of Fear in Unrest. Today, we took on Huntmaster Viswin in Castle Mistmoore. I understand the need to make an epic weapon quest difficult; if it was easy to get, it wouldn't be as valuable. But some of the epic quest updates are more time consuming than difficult. It took two hours to grab enough people to take on the x2 content in Castle Mistmoore and once I had it, only about 15 minutes to kill. I guess gathering a group together to take on the content is part of the game, but the more quests the game gets, and every time the level cap moves, or a new expansion pack comes out, it gets more frustrating to do the older ones.

Granted, it feels great when you finally accomplish it, but I still think that leveling games that emphasize grouping like EQ2 could still maintain their risk-reward nature and still be more fun if there was some kind of way to reward people for helping others out. That is, if I'm grouping with someone and they get a ding, I earn some kind of points which can be exchanged for some rewards. Just so there's a little icing on the cake for the people who lose two hours of their day travelling through Unrest or some crazy zone that they get absolutely nothing from. Sure, that's what guilds are for, and mine has been very helpful so far, but a little social engineering to help encourage more grouping couldn't hurt.

Warhammer Online

I did a few scenarios last weekend but I just can't get into this game anymore. I guess I'll let this subscription lapse.

The game has had a lot of changes lately but the major flaw with me is the level grind. This game tried to be too many different things. It should have focussed solely on the RVR and dropped the whole lame WOW-clone PVE portion.

The PVE had some nice features, such as Public Quests, but those don't work when the population spreads out. One of the major changes in the recent update: they made several Public Quests soloable. So they're basically just lackluster ring events you can grind on your own now.

Mythic made a bad design decision when deciding to make this yet another leveling game. They should have used Renown ranks and Influence and the story progression in the Chapters as the carrot. They could have added hundreds more renown ranks to give us a good effective grind. But by throwing battle ranks into the mix, you spread people out, you have the weird tiering system, where as you level you become uber powerful (for your tier) and then suddenly DING! and you are a weakling again as you get promoted to the next tier. The chicken system is idiotic; they should let people mentor down so that at least the lower tiers will have life, even if its only bored high level players running around filling up the Influence for Chapters they skipped.

World of Warcraft

I keep hearing how Wrath of the Lich King has improved quest design dramatically, and I'd love to see it. I'd especially love to see how they use phasing. EQ2 uses it in a few quests, and I always enjoyed seeing the world actually change because of my actions. But Blizzard must have done something truly incredible with it, considering everyone's acting like they invented the concept...

So I resubscribed, but I have hardly played it. I start to, but the quests in the original zones are so bland, being little more than your typical kill/fetch/deliver quests. I'm not a huge of the solo quest grind in EQ2 either, but the quests in EQ2 have always been a little more involved.

Blizzard should release updates to the old world to liven it up and make it more attractive. Just tossing all the improvements at the tail end of the game might keep their existing player base entertained, but there's probably a few million (or at least a couple hundred thousand?) of us out there who probably WOULD play WOW if they would just steal the handful of ideas that the other games still do better and revamp the 1-70 part of the world too.

Eve Online

This game has a lot of depth and I love the sandbox be what you want to be, do whatever you want to do nature of the game. People in game can become researchers, miners, pirates, pirate hunters, archaeologists, traders, and more. And its very relaxing, though that's mostly because its a game you can more easily play distracted. Like right now, I'm targeting a Pithi something or another in between sentences, and my destroyer takes care automatically.

But that strength is also its weakness. Lately, I've wanted more active entertainment, so I haven't played Eve much. So much of the game is on autopilot that it can get really boring at times. That's perfect when I'm only half paying attention to it, otherwise its not.

Guild Wars

I spent a little time in here, finishing a few more quests that my Dervish had been stuck on. This is a game I rave about on other people's blogs all the time, but sadly, I never actually finished more than one Campaign. While I love the game mechanics, the excessive use of instancing does have a tendency to make the world feel empty. The towns and other hubs are often filled with people, but there isn't much interaction there either.

Culling the Herd

I guess its time to say goodbye to Warhammer Online and World of Warcraft (not that I gave it much of a hello.) I'm playing EQ2 and enjoying that, but one can only play so many leveling games.

I like leveling games, even though I may complain about them from time to time. However, I also like sandboxes, and wish there were more options there. Sometimes I want a goal set out for me, and to be guided through a story. Other times, I want to tell the story. Unfortunately, there aren't many sandboxes out there; Eve Online is the main one.

So Eve Online gets a reprieve for now, but I think I like the IDEA of Eve more than its implementation though. I love the sandbox nature of the game, but I kind of think I'd prefer the game if it had a free flight model, and combat wasn't a matter of clicking auto attack and watching your ship orbit the other while HP bars drop. This games greatest strength is also its weakness. I can play it while distracted, but that's because most of the time I'm watching it, not playing it.

But it looks like there are a lot of sandbox games coming out soon... I wonder if Jumpgate Evolution would be the sci-fi sandbox that I'm really looking for. Or maybe Earthrise? Or maybe I'll find what I'm looking for in a fantasy sandbox like Darkfall? Has anyone heard anything about any of these games?


Hechicera said...

The playing EVE on autopilot comment really amused me! Though, I do know exactly what you are saying. You will fairly quickly run out of things you can do on autopilot in high security space. That's design, you're game enforced tutorial will be over then. The one suggestion about joining a training corp (like Eve U) is a great recommendation if you think you might continue in EVE. A corp is a must to enjoy this game past tutorial.

After the high sec honeymoon you have three choices. Only play on autopilot in high sec until you die of boredom or join a high sec corp and get wardec'ed. Start flirting with low security space. Get into a corp that does no sec space (aka 0.0).

Basically the choices are: merchant casual fodder for gankers high sec, gank on gank low sec, and player-factional in 0.0. You can't really do any of the top end merchant activities without entering into 0.0 player politics. All options almost require 2-boxing 2 accounts, three is optimal. Its all about naked competition in all arenas whichever path you pick.

Unless you chose option one, EVE has given me more adrenaline rushes than any game, perhaps including "Thief" solo-rpg. Even a high sec, toothpicks required for eyelids freighter run will now require regular route checking every hop, preferably a second box "decoy" to jump before you, and constant vigilance.

All non boring options require time and grind commitments, afk not a great idea.

I did manage to finish all GW campaigns now btw. My guild there died for the holidays. I'm so bored. So, War & WoW are no goes hmmm. Interesting.

Lars said...

Bored? Well, come back to EverQuest II and join Via Solara on Najena! Why did you quit it again?

Re: Guild Wars - Add "Akshobhya Dhyani" to your friends list in Guild Wars if you still play.

As for Eve: I two box in EQ2 but I don't think I want to play a game where I feel like I "have" to. If that's what it takes to compete in Eve, I'll probably look elsewhere for my sandbox gameplay.

WAR is fun, but wouldn't be for you, since the gameplay is probably a little too fast paced and active.

WOW is fun, it's just a no-go for me since I already play one leveling game, and it doesn't have anything I'm interested in that EQ2 doesn't, but EQ2 has plenty WOW doesn't.

Hechicera said...

On EQ2 quitting:
I quit due to a trio of bad things. First, and the biggie, I have no max level characters in EQ2. Second, both Najena and the other guild there at that time was vewwwy qwiet. Solo grinding for levels/early AAs during the daytime with silent server channels, no guild chat and few pugs was mind numbing. Then when everyone else got on in the evenings the only chat was about how they didn't have enough raiders. You may remember the time. It was "GAH!" inducing. So, I swapped to AB, on which I had great fun setting up characters. But, before I could really advance any of them ... MMOADD hit! Thing three.

If I can find folks to talk to while I level something and a few pugs, It'll be fun. Otherwise, I'll start thinking I could play Oblivion (been modding) and get distracted or bored again.

On Eve:
You may be many months from where 2-boxing and/or the heavy time commitments kick in. IMHO, it's worth the ride to that point just to explore the game and the game system. The meta-game that many of the corps and alliances play on the main boards is really something.