Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Finally Some Brawler Love

A dev post on the main forums hints that EverQuest II brawlers will be getting some love in the expansion pack. FINALLY!

Brawlers are getting a lot of changes with the expansion so I would recommend a little patience until we can reveal the full scope of what is being done.

There are no details yet, but brawlers have had a hard time in recent expansion packs since we don't DPS as well as scouts or mages (nor should we) and we don't tank as well as (equally talented and geared) plate tanks. The only consolation is the fact that we solo very well. Which is nice, I guess, but if I just wanted to solo, I'd probably be playing Neverwinter Nights...

Hopefully, the devs will realize the brawlers have a little fighter icon next to them, and we will be able to tank with better survivability and manageability so parties will no longer feel the need to specify "LF ***PLATE*** TANK" when they need a tank.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Gotta Captcha Them All

Aion is going to have a change in an upcoming update to help keep bots from monopolizing the game's resources. On paper, that sounds great, but they decided to implement it by putting a debuff on the player after gathering, which is removable by answering a captcha.


While combating bots is a good thing, I think this is a very poor and laughable implementation. I'd prefer it if they did something that was in the context of the game. Age of Conan, for instance, sometimes spawned NPCs that would attack you when harvesting, like bandits or druids [angered that you were felling a sacred tree or whatever]. They posed little threat to a player that was paying attention, but a bot would be taken down eventually.

A better alternative would be to make harvesting/gathering involve a mini-game, like the ones in Free Realms.

Devs, if you really want to combat bots, just make the gameplay fun. Don't make crafting and harvesting a simple matter of clicking on a button and waiting. Make it something you have to play and react to.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Legends of Screwing You Over

Sony has decided to change the "Standard Format" requirements for Legends of Norrath gameplay to invalidate the oldest sets of cards. This makes cards from the earliest decks illegal in tournaments, and in raids and Scenarios you must use a Standard Format compliant deck or else it will not give a reward.

I can understand some of the reasoning behind it. As they add new sets with new cards, the complexity of the game grows exponentially. I think it even makes sense in tournament play as it helps to create a more level playing field. Veteran players are more familiar with all the cards since the game first came out, but by limiting tournament play to the most recent sets, newer players only have to learn the most up to date cards to become competitive.

Where I have a problem with this is that they decided to make it so the Player vs Computer Scenarios in the game (which sometimes give rewards such as new Legends of Norrath cards or loot cards) no longer reward the player if they aren't using a Standard Format deck.

This means, among other things, that you can't get a reward for playing an Oathbound Scenario using cards FROM THAT SET.

I understand limiting some cards, especially from older sets, that are unbalanced, but invalidating entire sets at a time for casual play against the computer is simply ridiculous, especially when it invalidates cards that were perfectly valid against those scenarios when they were introduced!

As a casual player, I simply do not want to constantly have to rebuild every single deck every time a new deck comes out because I have tons of cards from a now obsolete set. I think, IF Sony simply HAS to make these kinds of restrictions, they should instead have three formats:

- an Open format which allows any cards for casual competitive play or unrewarded play against the computer
- a Tournament format which, like the current "Standard" format, eliminates the oldest sets
- and a "Scenario" format which allows any card from any set except the cards that are the most broken... there should be very few of these cards.

But even this approach would still has its disadvantages:

One of the main reasons to play a trading card game is to be able to trade cards, but now they are making it so old cards become worthless! This is backwards. In Magic: the Gathering, my oldest cards became MORE valuable when they went out of print. In Legends of Norrath, they are useless to trade. They are useless in tournaments. Hell, they are useless when I'm sitting at home, just playing by myself!

Imagine that: a collectible card game where there's no point in COLLECTING. Great job, Sony.

I can accept having to replace a few cards on occasion. But having to rebuild every single one of my decks that I've constructed that have cards from pretty much every set (and therefore will break every time a set comes out) is simply not my idea of fun. And not being able to gain rewards unless I rebuild all my sets takes away a powerful incentive to keep playing.

While I understand that Sony has some good reasons for wanting to make this change, this really comes off more as a cheap money grab. It comes off more as if they are just being lazy so they can simply reintroduce existing cards with new artwork in new sets instead of coming up with new ideas; and a way to force us to buy new cards just to keep playing the game.

The sad thing, I WAS going to buy new cards. Until I read about this. Now, I'm simply not going to bother.

Monday, October 12, 2009

You Are Not Worth $15 A Month

Apparently Alganon, the WOW clone you probably never heard of will be distributed exclusively by Direct2Drive, which isn't surprising since this isn't a AAA game shop with a AAA title we're talking about. Yet for some reason they are thinking of charging $15 a month, the same as all the AAA titles out there.

Seriously guys, what are you smoking? If you charge $15 a month, you better offer something really amazing, because you are competing with Aion, WoW, Age of Conan, Lord of the Rings, and the EverQuest games.

You, Alganon, are in a different camp entirely. You look like a painfully clunky WoW clone and your major competitor is FREE. And it's pretty apparent from your forums that you aren't blessed with the same kind of financial backing.

I'm going to bet Alganon reinvents itself as a free to play game - like Spellborn did - within 6 months. Or goes under. Hopefully I'm wrong.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

It Sounds Wrong

The sound effects in Aion bother me. There's nothing necessarily wrong with them. They sound like the kind of effects you'd hear in any JRPG. And I'm a huge fan of the Final Fantasy series which has similarly video game-y sounds. But, for some reason I can't quite explain, it bothers me in an MMO.

The jarring sound the guards make when you alert them in Metal Gear Solid doesn't bother me. But the metallic beep-beep sound that occurs when you draw aggro in Aion irritates me to no end.

I guess I'd rather hear the bear growl or the monster shout or something a little more "realistic" in an MMO. I don't want a constant reminder that the virtual fantasyland I'm immersing myself in is just make believe. But that's exactly what the video game sounds do for me.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Travelers Might Get Me Traveling... to Another Game

When Legends of Norrath was first introduced, we were told that the loot cards would only be "fluff" and would not impact the gameplay. The new Legends of Norrath card game loot pack promises exclusive "new quests in EverQuest® and EverQuest® II that open all new chambers and rewards of loot and XP". To me, that goes well beyond the definition of "fluff"...

In EverQuest II, I have not specifically bought cards for the loot cards (I have bought packs but I play Legends of Norrath on occasion. Most of my loot cards came from the free ones that come with the subscription.) I have never bought in game items for Station Cash.

I HAVE bought things (hirelings and unlocking the monk class) in Dungeons and Dragons Online. Willingly. It doesn't bother me there.

The main reason why I'm ok with the RMT in Dungeons and Dragons Online but not in EverQuest II -- it FEELS optional in Dungeons and Dragons Online. I'm not subscribing so I control exactly how much I want to spend.

On the other hand, in EverQuest II, the really valuable RMT is locked up in loot cards which you MAY OR MAY NOT get. You could spend hundreds of dollars and end up with nothing but trash. The Station Cash items I don't have much of a problem with, except I'm already paying for two subscriptions and some of the best looking items in game have to be paid for! Unlike Legends of Norrath cards, I have NO chance of getting them with my subscription alone. That's simply doing RMT wrong.

EverQuest II is obviously not going to get rid of RMT and microtransactions now. But it needs to do a Dungeons and Dragons Online makeover soon or I'm probably done with it.

- Subscription fees need to be optional, like in D&D.
- You need to be able to level to the cap without spending a dime, just like in Dungeon and Dragons Online.
- You need to be able to play much of the content in game (maybe reserving some instances like Nektropos Castle for subscribers or people who unlock the individual instance), just like in Dungeons and Dragons Online.
- Subcribers need to get a stipend of Station Cash just like we get free Legends of Norrath cards every month.
- Subscribers should be able to earn Station Cash in game by completing quests (just like Turbine Points are awarded in game)
- Do Legends of Norrath boosters still drop in game? It's been ages since I've seen one. Put them back or increase the drop rate for subscribers. (It can be an extra loot popup just for subscribers just like quest loot appears only for the people who need them.)

Subscribers should be able to get anything you can PAY for just by PLAYING for them.

Dungeons and Dragons Online does microtransactions right. They work (for me) because they FEEL optional. I don't FEEL like I HAVE to buy anything. So I am quite willing to. They've made a lot of money off of me when I had written the game off at launch. My friends and I are thinking of starting a guild in game (none of us subscribe so we have to pay for the right.) Hell, I think in this first month I already spent more than a one month subscription costs.

But EverQuest II seems like it is treading down a road where every month it feels like my subscription is worth less and less. Which makes me want to spend less and less money on the game. See how that works, Sony?