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Zugg Posted: Thu Mar 24, 2005 6:47 pm
The WoW, EQ2, and other MMORPG topic
Rainchild
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Location: Australia

PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2005 4:47 am   
 
I started writing a NWN-based MUD, but I found the engine too limiting. Not enough variety of world and monsters, and the way you had to kludge things like repop etc. I'm kinda hoping NWN2 is better for customizing... then I'd try again :)
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Rorso
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PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2005 6:44 am   
 
Rainchild wrote:
I started writing a NWN-based MUD, but I found the engine too limiting. Not enough variety of world and monsters, and the way you had to kludge things like repop etc. I'm kinda hoping NWN2 is better for customizing... then I'd try again :)

I think NWN has changed a lot with the two released expansion packs. However using NWN as MUD-base would be a bad idea for many reasons. One is that it would again put the developer in the same set of issues that Diku brings. That is you can't make it commercial should you one day need to. It is in theory possible for a MUD to die due to popularity (that is at some point the admin cant afford the bandwidth or work required).

As a multiplayer game NWN isn't too bad. It has decent graphics, and often pretty good modules. Yes there could be more variety but what needs to be kept in mind is that Bioware limited a lot on purpose. The toolset is really directed to both gamers and more experienced modders. Also NWN isnt about mmrpg-like games but ad&d 'modules'.

Don't get too optimistic about NWN 2 yet. The developer isn't Bioware and it is unclear if they'll support that game as much as Bioware did with NWN.
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Juliao
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2006 8:40 am   
 
Hail adventurers,
i noticed the games you guys mentioned and agree; so much is lacking already invented long ago in great text games.

I have played most online mmorpgs.
For the record, WoW is boring & easy & unrewarding.
With the inability to ressurect UO or EQ from back when it was still fun & new, the times before the onslaughts of Pkers, griefers, etc were constant (from game flaws imho) I still find pure brilliance in one game that isn't text only.

FFXI
===
Has anyone played Final Fantasy XI?
It is one of the few rpg franchises that has surpassed most of its old single-player game standards to transcend and actually grow online.

Features that impress the hell out of me:

1) Time, weather, elemental, & moon systems. Each system completely linked to monster patterns, treasure, crafting, and much more we STILL do not understand.
Few crafting systems have ever been so immaculate. FFXI also features the highest amount of rendered items for any game, most craft-able from multiple harvesting methods, including gardening, fishing, & chocobo digging. All are so sensitive to time, that only very wise players figure out that it is all connected. Yet the multiple phases provide wide enough arrays of variable times that players often end up developing moon & element superstitions. All magic & attack values change according to this as well.

2) No grind. Many would argue with this, intensely, but they are noobs. There is no grind in FFXI because of the powerful world affinities. Smart players form well trained parties that align themselves and their various attacks to the affinities of elemental weather, day & moon. There is a time for everything. FFXI almost punishes power-gamers by creating so many world variables. The player whom grinds through XP whilst ignoring crafting & farming will find themselves stranded mid-high level & surpassed by the more well rounded player who "went with the flow" of the elements. The elements run through everything, at home & in battle. A simple example is the element light vs. the undead. On Lightsday, light elemental, full moon, a party aligns to hunt undead & practices skill chains of light elemental, effectively combining magic, attack, ability, & timing of every party member to win the battle. Drastic changes to damage occur, all the sudden impossible things start to happen... and then the time of day slowly changes, and the regular damage of random unaligned elements and weathers returns. This level of complexity may be the first of its kind. If there are other games this dynamic in battle and basic game play, please tell me. The grind is the illusion & excuse that the grievers cannot usually overcome.

3) Regulated pk & rmt. I love playerkill, it makes a real world... but now, i play games to escape from the intensity. Eq & UO are great, but the death is ridiculous with unrealistic circumstances & penalties. FFXI has regulated PK tournaments & games of different styles. Monster player kill is also illegal. The Gms are fast, reliable, & AMAZING now. Our past problems with RMT (real money traders) have been neutralized, and our economy has returned near to what it was years ago. FFXI is VERY serious about keeping the fantasy separate from the real world & making it equally fair for anyone who plays. If you want an SE game where there is rmt, EQ2 is waiting, and the grind is on; ffxi is not that game. Thus, money is easier to gain & we have a very successful low level economy that progressively supports all the items that spawn around the world. The balance really is remarkable & pleasant.

4) Sub jobs. We get a main job & a half cost subjob (nothing new) but the system is set so players are constantly returning to their original nations & homes to level low jobs with new friends or just because they changed their mind about end-game. Cumulative levels across multiple jobs are unlimited, each to level 75, the player may change at free will with the help of a moogle. This way, you are never stuck with a great end-game character you don't like to play anymore, & if you don't WANT to say, do god runs all day, you can simply enjoy the simple parts of the game.

5) crafting. I mentioned how it works earlier, all influenced completely by elementals, but it is worth separate note, as it is so extensive. Crafting may also be cross-guild, so multiple craft abilities are needed. Each synthesis requires a different type of elemental energy crystal catalyst. the moon is crucial to success. In fishing the moon acts as it does in real life, full moons being bountiful fishing trips, especially when the weather is good, one gets more skills and fish. Gardening allows for a dynamic introduction to every craft, as it is possible to grow almost anything, & they justify it well. One grows foods by the usual methods. Yet one can also expose plants, cactus, and cuttings to elemental crystals, rot them, starve them, over saturate them, & begin to understand how things such as ore & alchemical materials can be grown given the right conditions. gardening is variant to seed elemental, pot elemental, house elemental, & then as well as all of the planetary ones. The advances realms of the craft guilds are fascinating & perhaps one of the best thought out craft systems ever made.

6) Make your way as anything. Craft, adventure, trade, breed, grow, harvest, mine, and many others are all possible & lucrative ways to make it to the endgame. All are needed in ways to support "styles" of living, most learn what is needed. This is something lost of most modern games that muds perfected.

7) Story. Yes, a real one up to final fantasy epic standards. XI's story is far superior to those of FFXII, FFX, FFIX; it is far more epic. Most of us believe that the world will in the next year or so be physically destroyed or at war, or both. The very seams of reality are starting to come undone, and they render some beautiful concepts of planar reality. The governments are all at sort of peaceful odds, & a new empire has recently been contacted across the ocean... our world map is far from complete & it would take years to see it all. I am constantly fascinated after almost 3 years to still be coming across places i never saw.

8) Skills, armor, weapons & alternate advancement. Skills are separate and difficult to raise (bards must play in town, parties must take time to skill separate from xp sometimes) and are cross-job, yet varied in ability. ALL of this is alternate advancement past 75, yet limited to genres where the player is forced to customize their character in a unique fashion. The end-game armor and weapons right now are +10 stats. Thatís it. +1 is nice at any level. The majority of them are crafted. . Not to mention, that the player must choose sometimes between advancing a particular ability OR gaining new abilities. This means that standard Xp setups are changed end-game and heroes do start to emerge, people who can do what no one else can do.

9) Quests & events: There are so many hundreds of quests it is mind-blowing. Many take 1 person, many take more then we have yet to discover and understand. Some unlock doors, some unlock planar realities. Some are for guilds, some for nations, some for mercenaries, some for garrison, and many many more styles. FFXI has successfully created many new systems for players to gain various types of quest points and items. The newest, Besieged, runs hordes of monsters into the new imperial city for a "defend the city' free-for-all for all levels. Players are awarded xp and soon merit alternate advancement to work together, hang-out, and show-off. We also have multiple holidays & events throughout the year, always different, always new low level quests to get high levels and low levels together.

10) auto-translate. Japanese <=> English. French is rumored to be on the way. Having Japanese friends to learn from without a language barrier is revolutionary. We NEED these in MUDs for all languages! But for now, it is incredible how great it is to have a set of auto-mated phrases both countries can read real-time. Also, our international player base, & semi-random server assignment means people are on all the time, no matter when you choose to play.

well, i could think of 10000s more good reasons, but I really have loved this one.
Hope that some of you will give it a go. Understand as well, if you play, the game opens up after 30, & everyone has to earn their newbie points. After achieving subclass at 18 one is 2x better at least; the elite classes at 30 offer solo ability & massive party usefulness. but go slow, take your time, because everything one does in the game will determine everything in the time to follow.

All that said,
nothing stacks up to the ability in MUDs and the zMUD system. =)
I've played so many games now, I have turned to creation. The ability in MUDs is still far superior, and there is still much that has not been done that will shape the future of virtual worlds to come. zMUD's commands are still more dynamic then the commands that most MUDs make available in game. Definitly far beyond the simple macros of modern 3D games (although FFXIIís gambit system is getting close).

so yah, i have an end-game FFXI character & love it...
but it will still never be as good as our imaginations in books & text.
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Fang Xianfu
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 11, 2006 8:02 pm   
 
RAAAAAAAR! Back from the dead comes the infernal MMORPG thread!

Since we're discussing them again, though, I'll tell you that I was fortunate enough to be given WoW, GuildWars and FFXI to me for the same birthday by separate friends (should tell you something about my private life :P) and WoW is the one I've stuck playing the longest. FFXI never really got off the ground for me, especially because, like you say, you can't do ANYTHING without a party. And I hate looking for parties in MMORPGs - it's all about being in a guild you can group with regularly.

I've heard not a peep about EQ2 though. I don't think it's really kicking off over here.
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Rainchild
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PostPosted: Mon May 26, 2008 11:25 pm   
 
Time to resurrect ye olde MMO topic... Age of Conan just came out, and sold out here in melbourne in the first couple of days... which makes me wonder, maybe it's living up to the hype?

Anyone played it/have any opinions of it? Personally I like the idea of a mature ago MMO so we can get all the wholesome blood and gore and decapitations Twisted Evil and hopefully at the same time lose the chuck norris jokes (although, some of them are kinda funny Razz ).
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Fang Xianfu
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PostPosted: Tue May 27, 2008 5:28 am   
 
Chuck Norris doesn't sleep. He waits.

I think I've been living under a rock or something, because I hadn't heard of Age of Conan until a couple of weeks ago. There're lots of reviews around, though, and I'm not sure I like what I hear. Without going into lots of detail about my criticisms, it sounds like they've made grinding more interesting and instances more boring... which is the exact opposite of what I want in an MMORPG.

It also seems like it needs some sort of nuclear-powered supercomputer to run at high res. Lucky for me, since I have a nuclear-powered supercomputer, but not so great for the (millions of) people who don't. People with minimum-spec hardware are going to really suffer in crowded areas (eg. large-scale raids, Ironforge equivalent) which is going to shut them out of end-game play. Which is a shame since end-game play requires groups, often large ones.

Also, is there some kind of implication to "Chuck Norris jokes" I don't get? I know it was a tradition to spam Barrens chat with them for a while, but I haven't heard any in a long time. And they are funny :P So what's the beef?
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Rorso
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PostPosted: Tue May 27, 2008 8:22 am   
 
Playing a mmrpg is not very constructive. Not when there's science to be done Smile. Seriously WoW and Age of Conan look like very cool games, but in the end they are both subscription based. That means the developer earns money by making you addicted to their game. It is very nasty business.

Take a look at how much time you all waste on those subscription based online games. Time that could have been used to do something like learning new skills(in real life).
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Guinn
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PostPosted: Tue May 27, 2008 9:24 am   
 
Quote:
Take a look at how much time you all waste on those subscription based online games. Time that could have been used to do something like learning new skills(in real life).

If it's time wasted then I've wasted far more on traditional MUDs though (one of the reasons I'm not playing any atm).
I like the look of Mortal Online though, uses the Unreal Engine and looks pretty impressive - it'll be another one of the 'mature' MMOs but its not in beta yet.

Caught the Portal reference, incredible game ;)
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jpolen2
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PostPosted: Tue May 27, 2008 11:44 am   
 
Rorso wrote:
Seriously WoW and Age of Conan look like very cool games, but in the end they are both subscription based. That means the developer earns money by making you addicted to their game. It is very nasty business.


And therein lies the biggest difference (for me anyway) between MUDs and MMORPGs. I've never once felt obligated to skip out on RL to mud, however I've lost so many friends to MMORPGs that its ceased to be amusing - people with whom I used to go to bars or movies or baseball games, people who used to have plenty of time to chat on the phone and who were always up for RL adventure suddenly have no time. They've got to do their raids and other daily activities on whatever the MMORPG of the week is. The only time I hear from them is when their addiction of choice is down for maintenance and then only to complain because they can't log in.

In fact a friend of mine who identifies as a WoW widow sent me this website and I can't help thinking how sad it is that a site like this is needed for a game http://www.wowdetox.com/.
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Arlie
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Joined: 09 Jun 2006
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PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2008 12:02 am   
 
I don't understand how anyone could let themselves become so addicted; we can't really blame game industries for it. If I wanted to spend time learning new skills, I'd spend time doing that, but every once in a while we need to relax and take it easy. Games are there for that reason. If people are getting addicted and such, that's something they need to learn to deal with, not something that can be glamed on a game company.

Nevertheless...

One of my friends who I play MMORPGs with said he played AoC and wasn't impressed. It had a 30GB requirement (not a problem for most computers, but still a whallop), and just didn't seem to offer much that he wasn't already getting from WoW and EQ2. Nevertheless, he also said AoC does a decent job of really marketting to that different group of people. Whereas WoW is fairly group-based, he said AoC feels very much like it was made, or at least centered around, single player content. Perhaps that was just his experience with it over a few days, but he said he bought it and played it with his wife for a while, and they didn't actually feel like they were playing that much together.

Perhaps they'll be able to get a foothold in the market with that?
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Fang Xianfu
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PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2008 3:02 am   
 
I agree with Arlie. I've played WoW since release and never once felt addicted. And by "played since release" I mean "played on and off since release". I take breaks of up to about six months, play for a bit, then stop again. Reading that WoW detox website, most of what people say isn't the fault of the developers. "the only reason i still play wow is because i dont wanna let my "friends" i meet in game down" - you can't blame the developers for having a nice community :P

The trouble with MMORPGs is that they are a time commitment, and you can't deny that. If you've said you're going to run an instance, you've said to four other real people that you're going to spend two hours helping them out. You can't just bail out halfway through. An ex-girlfriend of mine didn't get that and, well, look what that got her. It's weird, people don't seem to get that you're playing with other people - I know how annoyed it makes me when people leave halfway through an instance, so I don't like doing it myself.

I also agree with Guinn about playing MUDs far more. Back when I was at school, it wasn't uncommon for me to play my MUD all evening (and I mean ALL evening, from about 5pm to about midnight) and then 8-14hrs each on Saturday and Sunday. I can't play WoW for that long, even if it is awesome :P

Also, Rorso: no video games are productive, really. But then neither is watching TV, and America alone spends hundreds of millions of hours every year doing that. If we put all the time we spent watching TV into working, the world'd be much better off. But it'd also be much more boring - can you imagine working literally all day, every day? You'd go mad.

Anyway, on the topic of AoC - 30GB is nothing. I have 1.5TB of storage now, and I need more. A 500GB hard drive is about fifty quid these days.

And if they wanted to make a single-player game, perhaps they should've made a single-player game? People who play mumorpuggers aren't looking for a single-player experience :S

EDIT: Oh, and Portal is the best thing to happen on a computer since the internet. Such a good game. In fact, just go and watch the Zero Punctuation on the Orange Box, it's pretty much spot on.
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Zugg
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PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2008 8:51 pm   
 
Rorso makes me feel guilty because by his definition, I'm wasting all of my non-work time. When I'm not programming, I just can't handle anything that requires brain power....my brain is tired! So video games, TV, etc, is just what I need to unwind. Without that, then my brain keeps trying to solve bugs in my sleep, making it hard to sleep. This makes me tired and hard to concentrate and just makes it all worse and worse and worse until I collapse from mental exhaustion.

So, I think there is something to be said about playing video games to give the brain a break. It just depends on what you do all day. If I was digging ditches all day, then I'd want a physical break at night and would want something mentally stimulating. In fact, back when I was in management, I *had* to program at night just to keep my brain active (because management work didn't require much brains). So I think we just all need to remember that everyone is different and one solution doesn't fit everyone.

But back to the recent question about Age of Conan. I've actually been playing it myself for the past couple of nights. From what I understand, they originally were going to have the first 20 levels as a free standalone single-player game. They changed their minds and put this into the "paid" game, but it's still there as the single-player "destiny quest". You can choose to play the single-player destiny quest at night, or play with other people during the day part of the game, where it works more like a typical MMO. Almost all of the daytime content is also very soloable. The goal is to get you to level 20 and then you leave the initial "newbie town" and the game opens up.

At least that is what I have read. I am still below level 20 myself, so I haven't seen the rest of the game yet to see what it is like. But I actually disagree with Fang. I *do* want a solo-friendly MMO because much of the time I only have about a hour to play. During that hour I play solo because the time spent putting a group together and then doing anything useful is too short. But I still want to play an MMO instead of a single-player RPG because I still want to chat with friends, and I still want to group on those occasions when I have more time to play. So I want *both* a group and solo-friendly game. WoW fits that pretty well until the end-game content, which is all raid. Since I've hit lvl 70 in WoW and never play long enough to raid, I'm pretty bored most of the time. Once I finish the remaining quests and get enough for my epic flying mount, then I'll probably be "done" with WoW until the next expansion.

But back to AoC. Yes, it takes 30GB, but it also takes a *fast* computer with a really good graphics card. Since I've been replacing parts on my gaming system to try and track down the crashes (hasn't crashed since I replaced the RAM and fixed the RAM voltage setting), my system runs AoC pretty well. I've got an NVidia 8800 and a dual-core processor. It will play on lesser hardware if you are willing to tweak a lot of the video settings.

If your computer is fast enough to meet the requirements, then it probably already has a hard disk big enough so that 30GB isn't really a killer. I had to free up a bit of space on my system since the main disk is only 200GB, but it wasn't hard. Yes, 30GB is rather shocking, but when you see the graphics quality of the game, you will understand why. The game is simply gorgeous. Definitely the best graphics of any MMO, and as good as any standalone RPG (Oblivion is probably the closest comparison in visual quality). They also have speech for all of the quests up til level 20, and that probably takes up a lot of space too. In my opinion their voice acting quality isn't very high and they could remove the speech and I wouldn't care. I take the time to read the quest stuff anyway, so I'm already immersed, but I know the speech helps with some people who might otherwise not read the text.

AoC is *heavily* instanced. More than even Guild Wars. It feels a lot like the starting areas in EQ2. Every zone has multiple instances. If you are in a group, then you all get put into the same instance, so that isn't a problem. But if you have multiple characters soloing, then you can easily end up in a different instance of the same zone and never see each other. There is an instance menu in the upper-right part of the UI that can be used to force a particular instance. It actually comes in handy because unlike other MMOs, it actually does collision detection with people and mobs. So a bunch of people can stand in front of the door to the inn, for example, preventing entry. When that kind of grieving happens you can just switch to a different instance and then enter the inn. I haven't run into this myself, but I've read about it happening.

Funcom has learned a *lot* about marketing since their bad experience with Anarchy Online. They are doing an excellent job driving the "hype engine" for AoC. I'm enjoying it so far. I love the graphics. I like the graphics in WoW too and appreciate it's "artistic" style. But this is the first MMO that has "realistic" graphics that I've liked. In EQ2, for example, everything just seemed gray and dingy. In AoC the colors are much better.

As far as gameplay, a lot is mentioned about the new combat system in AoC. Basically, combat is real-time and you select the direction of attack (left, middle, right) using the 1,2,3 keys on the keyboard (or clicking icons on the screen). You and the mobs have "shields" that can be moved to the different positions. So as you watch the shields on the mob you can hit the unshielded areas for more damage. In addition, you have combo skills that are like skills on other MMOs except that they sometimes require a followup direction button to activate the "combo" attack. In general, combat is more involving, but it's really not all that different. On my WoW Pally I have to be very active too, selecting various seals and timing various skills. Sure, on WoW it has autoattack and you can just sit back and watch it pound away. But for anything other than trivial mobs, that's not a very good idea. In AoC there isn't any autoattack, so just sitting back will get you killed. But it's not as different as some of the reviews would want you to believe. It certainly isn't "revolutionary", nor does it make AoC feel like a twitch-based console game. I actually like the combat system quite a bit.

The UI of AoC is pretty basic. But that's because I'm used to playing WoW with a dozen different MODs. When compared to "out of the box" user interfaces, it's about the same as any other MMO these days. It has a quest tracking, a chat box, some action bars, a mini radar map, etc. All of the standard UI features. It definitely needs some work, but it's definitely playable.

The quest system is very nice. You also get decent XP for just killing mobs, but you never really feel like you need to grind. At least not so far. The level cap is 80, which is a long way from where I am now, and it will be interesting to see how much grinding is needed after leaving the newbie area at level 20. A lot of games put much of their quest content into the newbie stuff, so I'll have to wait and see how many quests are available at the higher levels. From what I understand, the quest system remains quite good even past level 20 though.

There certainly is a good variety of quests. Yes, when boiled down almost any quest is a "kill x of this" or "fetch this item". No way around that. But they have done a very good job putting the quests into the context of a story and breaking them into multiple quest chains that are interesting. They usually give you a good reason why you are killing x mobs or fetching an item. So far I'd rank the quest system as a bit more interesting than the WoW system, but pretty similar.

I haven't tried any PVP stuff yet, since I don't really care for PvP very much. From what I understand it can be a bit of a pain as snipers will hide near the entrances to various dungeon instances and try to kill you as you enter. Since they are usually stealthed, it can be hard to spot them. I don't like this kind of PvP grieving, but at least there isn't any penalty for dying via PvP and you don't lose any stuff. Of course, the people who like PvP are complaining that there isn't any reward and they *want* to be able to loot the body. I just don't think you can satisfy both types of players in a single game. Like most games, you get the choice when you pick servers. There is PvE, PvP and RP-PvP (which has rules that I don't fully understand).

AoC claims to have 3 races, but they are just variation on "human". Certainly nothing like the different races in either WoW or even EQ2. It just determines which classes are not available to you. But using the advanced model controls, you can really make your "human" character look how you want. The character models are quite good. And yes, it's a M-Mature game, so if you make a female character and then take off the clothes, then you get nudity. There is a bit of blood and gore, but not much that I have seen so far. And very few people run around without their clothes since that decreases your armor. Judging by the standard immature OOC chat channel, you'd never really know it was a Mature game. Apparently FunCom is trying to police this and ban kids who don't meet the age req, but that's pretty hard to do.

Anyway, AoC is fine. It's not going to kill WoW, but I'm enjoying it for now. Having played most every MMO ever created I'd agree with most of the reviews that it *is* one of the better ones. Definitely better than Vanguard, and I think it's probably better than EQ2, although I need to wait until I pass level 20 to really evaluate the real part of the game. Crafting doesn't start until level 40, and they just fixed the Auction House system in the past couple of days, so it will definitely take a while for the game to settle down a bit. And I'm sure they'll be nerfing/balancing their classes just like every other MMO always has.

P.S. Portal is one of the best games that I played in years. Too bad it was a bit short. But the "song" that is played when you win is hilarious and one of the best "rewards" for finishing a game in a long time.
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Rainchild
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PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2008 11:12 pm   
 
After an epic battle to find an AoC box anywhere in Melbourne, I managed to score one just by complete fluke when I walked into a games store right at the tinme they were unpacking a shipment.

I'm really enjoying it so far as well, some of that is the thrill of a new game which I'm sure will wear off with time, but it's a nice refresher from EQ2 at the moment. I'm still trying to work out to chop someone's head off, it appears that if you kill someone using one of your combo moves timed just right, you are sometimes rewarded with a mortal-kombat "fatality". Different weapons do different things, like I ran my 2 hander into someone's gut, laughed evilly while chesting up to them, then ripped it out with the obligitory blood spatter on the "camera". I'm still trying to perfect the timing to get "fatalities" more often.

I don't think I've really noticed the instance thing, I mean I know there is instancing, but that's just like having a "Qeynos Harbor 2" or "Thundering Steppes 3" due to heavy server load and seems pretty normal to me. One of the things which annoys me is like with LOTRO you have to "zone" into most buildings, rather than just having the door swing open. That might just be a mechanic for the newbie area though? My highest is level 13, so it's too early to say anything about the higher end game.

Overall I think the launch has been pretty smooth, I mean there's bugs and downtime, but the game is quite playable. I agree on the UI, but I'm sure it will get better with time / 3rd party mods.
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Fang Xianfu
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PostPosted: Thu May 29, 2008 3:48 am   
 
Zugg wrote:
unlike other MMOs, it actually does collision detection with people and mobs. So a bunch of people can stand in front of the door to the inn, for example, preventing entry. When that kind of grieving happens you can just switch to a different instance and then enter the inn.

This is all kinds of stupid. Players, or allied players at least, shouldn't ever collide. There're too many ways for it to be annoying (eg, think of the huge crowds in the auction house on WoW) and it provides no benefit at all. That's very pants indeed.

Zugg wrote:
I love the graphics. I like the graphics in WoW too and appreciate it's "artistic" style. But this is the first MMO that has "realistic" graphics that I've liked. In EQ2, for example, everything just seemed gray and dingy. In AoC the colors are much better.

I actually saw a review (of AoC) that described WoW's graphic style as "cartoon". Now, I'm sure there's no controversy about calling it stylised or something, but cartoon? XIII and Precipice of Darkness are cartoons. Bleh.

Anyway - haven't you heard? Grey/brown + bloom = realism. At least, that's what graphics designers for the past 5ish years have tried to claim. I hope AoC not looking like that (seen some gameplay videos on the 'tube and it looks very nice indeed) is a sign of a good trend :)

Zugg wrote:
The UI of AoC is pretty basic. But that's because I'm used to playing WoW with a dozen different MODs. When compared to "out of the box" user interfaces, it's about the same as any other MMO these days. It has a quest tracking, a chat box, some action bars, a mini radar map, etc. All of the standard UI features. It definitely needs some work, but it's definitely playable.

Am I right when I think that AoC includes some interface modding? I'm not sure where I heard that, so I don't know if it's true, but it makes me quite optimistic. Mods really make WoW for me - interfaces are one of the most subjective things, so it's great that I'm able to get a mod to shore up something the developers didn't think was needed - like, say, a quest log that lets me display all the quests I currently have, or a knowledge base that tells me where I can find a mob.

Zugg wrote:
it's a M-Mature game, so if you make a female character and then take off the clothes, then you get nudity.

12-year-olds of the world, rejoice! Bet you a tenner that before the year is out, Mothers Against MMORPGs will be pounding at FunCom's door crying about their children being exposed to breasts. The horror. And as if decapitation wasn't a clue?
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Zugg
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PostPosted: Thu May 29, 2008 3:49 am   
 
Yeah, I haven't figured out the "fatality" stuff either...seems mostly random so far, but it's cool when it happens. I don't know why they made so many of the buildings a "zone", but at least it loads pretty fast (at least on my system). I'm at level 16 right now, but hope to break 20 soon and see what the "real" game is like.

But as a newbie area, it's been more fun than the newbie stuff in any other MMO that I have seen. Although WoW and LotRO get points for having different starting areas for different races at least. And yes, part of my enjoyment is definitely the "thrill of a new game". I had the same thing when I first played Vanguard, although the bugs killed the enjoyment of that pretty quickly. I actually cancelled my SOE station pass a few weeks ago because SOE has just broken too many of the promises they made at the Fan Faire last summer. They never re-launched Vanguard, and their EQ2 expansion last fall wasn't as good as they promised. I still have my LotRO account, at least until I can update the zExplorer map again, and I might keep it until the Moria expansion to see what they do with that. So right now I've got WoW, LotRO, and AoC. Well, and Guild Wars of course since that doesn't have a monthly. But I never bought any of their expansions.

Anyway, going to play AoC some tonight and see if I can get past 20. Let me know if you figure out fatalities and if it's just a timing issue.

Fortunately, ever since I tweaked the RAM voltage my gaming computer has finally been stable again. With the new 8800 graphics card and the new 6000+ processor I can actually run AoC on High settings with 2xAA. Although only at 25FPS ;) I changed it from anisotropic filtering to bilinear and turned the shadow detail down to Low, set the Textures to Medium and increased the system memory texture cache. Then decreased the draw distance to 1000m. Now I get 40FPS, so I'm very happy.
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PostPosted: Thu May 29, 2008 3:59 am   
 
Quote:
This is all kinds of stupid. Players, or allied players at least, shouldn't ever collide.

I have mixed thoughts on this. They claim to do it on purpose to add another layer of strategy. And I'm sure it changes the PvP game quite a bit. So far it hasn't bothered me at all.

And yeah, I agree with your comment about "Grey/brown + bloom = realism.". Fortunately, AoC isn't like that at all. I think I saw the same review that called WoW "cartoony", and while I understand what they mean, it's not quite the right term. "Stylized" or "Artistic" is more like it. I think they see the over-large buildings, trees, etc, and the exaggerated architecture and think it's like a cartoon...I don't think they are saying that it is "cel-shaded" or any of the other aspects of cartoons that I think of.

Yes, AoC supposedly has some sort of modding system, but I haven't looked into it to see how extensive it is, or even what scripting language they use. If it's as open as WoW, then they might have a great future. The mods are the thing that keep me playing WoW these days...it's just amazing what you can do with them to customize your interface. It was the smartest thing Blizzard did.

About the M-rating, I saw an interesting post where someone was asking about how mature AoC really was and if they should let their younger brother watch while they played. He was worried that half the people in the world would be running around nekid. One of the best replies to the thread talked about how sad it was that the U.S. was so concerned over the possible nudity but didn't seem to care about the violence. So yeah, we seem to have our priorities all turned around on this side of the ocean (I think we talked about this in the Witcher thread too, but it applies here also).

Too bad they can't really tell if a kid just used his parent's credit card to pay for the game. Don't know how they'll really police the age limit, but I wish them luck. Too bad even adults can't carry on a civilized chat on the OOC channel though. These days it's still pretty full of people arguing over which is better: AoC or WoW. Like it really matters.
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PostPosted: Thu May 29, 2008 5:56 am   
 
I found the pixel shader was what killed it for me... I mean I tweaked things like the shadow too, but I refuse not to use high rez textures. My lappy is only a 7900GS, pixel shader 2.0 = 20-25 fps, pixel shader 3.0 = 3-5 fps! I don't really care too much about my FPS so long as it is above 20, I prefer the picture quality and will trade off a little bit of smoothness of animation. But for a year and a half old laptop, it's doing pretty well to run a brand new game.

I'm on the PvE server "Gwahlur" (recommended for us aussie types), I'm thinking about giving the PvP a go at some point, but I hear there are PvP zones in the PvE server anyway, so I don't know if I'll roll on a proper PvP server, maybe one of those RP PvP ones? They sound a little less gankfesty.

Yeah I haven't found any problems with colliding with players, I don't know if you can bounce them if they're blockading a gate or not. I guess open PvP that gets fixed easily, but not so easily on PvE.

There's already a few interface mods on the AoC forums (though it can be a fiasco getting forum access)... I haven't downloaded anything yet, but I do want something to make the buttons a bit smaller.

Back when I was a "younger brother" I found a lot of easier ways to acquire "M" material than watching someone play video games. Not that LSL wasn't fun, but newsgroups were far less effort, and nowdays you only have to go as far as Google. As for violence, I wouldn't let a "younger brother" watch or play GTA I-IV, Conan, or any number of other brutal games that I've played in the past. Neither would my parents. I don't think that age is something they really can police, and nor should they have to - parents need to take a bit more interest in what their kids are doing, and for that matter, put the PC in the family room so they can be supervised until they're old enough for "M" content.
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Fang Xianfu
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PostPosted: Thu May 29, 2008 7:30 am   
 
Rainchild wrote:
I'm on the PvE server "Gwahlur" (recommended for us aussie types), I'm thinking about giving the PvP a go at some point, but I hear there are PvP zones in the PvE server anyway, so I don't know if I'll roll on a proper PvP server, maybe one of those RP PvP ones? They sound a little less gankfesty.

I feel this way about WoW. Now that there're world PvP objectives, arenas and battlegrounds, there doesn't seem much point in a PvP server. You can do the PvP that matters on a PvE server, but you're not getting ganked every ten seconds. Someone in my guild on a PvE server is trying to level with PvP mode enabled, and she was corpse-camped for 20 minutes yesterday. 20 minutes is a long time not not really be playing the game.

Before BGs, the arena, and world PvP, PvP servers were the only way you could ever fight another person, and going out and randomly killing people was the only way to do it. But now there's all that extra PvP stuff, why bother with the hassle?
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PostPosted: Thu May 29, 2008 8:06 am   
 
Fang Xianfu wrote:
America alone spends hundreds of millions of hours every year [watching TV]

Managed to get some more concrete numbers on this - Clay Shirky reckons that America spends 200 billion hours a year watching TV. By contrast, Wikipedia - all of it, every edit in every language, he reckons - is 100 million hours. So in the time America spends watching TV each year, it could make 2000 wikipedias.

He goes on to say that America spends 100 million hours a weekend watching just the ads. That is to say that all of Wikipedia could be written in one weekend, if Americans spent the time they spend watching ads writing articles instead.

I don't mean this by way of criticism; far from it. I'm just saying that people clearly have plenty of time to waste, and are quite happy to waste it. 100 million hours on adverts is a very long time, but people do it. MMORPGs are a drop in the ocean.
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PostPosted: Thu May 29, 2008 9:19 am   
 
Fang Xianfu wrote:

100 million hours on adverts is a very long time, but people do it. MMORPGs are a drop in the ocean.

Myself if there is something to watch I record it so I can skip the adverts. It is crazy in my opinion to to pay for TV that is stuffed with advertisements every 10 minute of the movie/show. I don't know how people can be so foolish that they actually sit down and waste time by watching the ads.
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PostPosted: Thu May 29, 2008 9:31 am   
 
I never watch TV on the TV any more because of that. Well, Dr Who on the BBC, but that doesn't have adverts anyway.

Credits are bad as well. I've seen all fourteen seasons of Stargate - that's about seven and a half hours I personally have spent watching just the credits of just that one show.

EDIT: More from Clay Shirky on what he calls the cognitive surplus. Transcript is here, video here.

Clay Shirky wrote:
In this same conversation with the TV producer I was talking about World of Warcraft guilds, and as I was talking, I could sort of see what she was thinking: "Losers. Grown men sitting in their basement pretending to be elves."

At least they're doing something.

Did you ever see that episode of Gilligan's Island where they almost get off the island and then Gilligan messes up and then they don't? I saw that one. I saw that one a lot when I was growing up. And every half-hour that I watched that was a half an hour I wasn't posting at my blog or editing Wikipedia or contributing to a mailing list. Now I had an ironclad excuse for not doing those things, which is none of those things existed then. I was forced into the channel of media the way it was because it was the only option. Now it's not, and that's the big surprise. However lousy it is to sit in your basement and pretend to be an elf, I can tell you from personal experience it's worse to sit in your basement and try to figure if Ginger or Mary Ann is cuter.

And I'm willing to raise that to a general principle. It's better to do something than to do nothing.


Thinking about the WoW interface is interesting in this context, given that it's all created by the community.
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PostPosted: Thu May 29, 2008 4:52 pm   
 
Yeah, I'm still waiting for the complete collapse of the advert-based "free" TV in the U.S. when they finally realize that more/most people are recording shows on their "Tivo" and skipping the commercials. Our cable system here practically gives away the DVR boxes, so we *never* watch any live TV anymore with commercials. I even skip the credits most of the time too.

I guess there are probably still enough people who don't use a DVR yet. They are probably the same people who actually watch the home shopping channels, or who actually make purchasing decisions based upon ads they have seen. I'm not one of those people and I've always had a hard time understanding them. I'm obviously not the "target market" for advertisers.

I only made it as far as level 18 last night, so I still have another couple of night to go to finish the newbie area. I actually really love this idea that people are forced to get to level 20 before they can get into the "real" game. It should really help keep out the gold farmers and such. And since the OOC and other chat channels are separate, maybe the post-20 channels will be better and more mature.

Rainchild: I'll take a look at the shader option and see if it makes a difference on the 8800 card. Since my gaming system only runs at 1280x720 resolution (but via a projector onto a very large screen), I wasn't sure if I needed the high resolution textures. But I'll play with that and see which I prefer. I agree that I also prefer picture quality and will suffer a bit on FPS for it.

Actually, most of my "lag" or FPS-drop is caused by disk access. I am defragging the drive to see if that helps. I think it's probably loading textures or something from the disk, even though I maxed out the texture cache amount. But if I run around, the disk always gets accessed when my frame rate stutters for a second. So I'm not sure any graphics tweaking will fix that.
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PostPosted: Thu May 29, 2008 5:31 pm   
 
Your gaming system is hooked up to a projector? Sounds sweet :D

I think it'll be a long time before purely subscription-based TV arrives. But I really do look forward to the day when I'll be able to pay a few quid and legally download a season pack of a show I enjoy watching, ad-free.

The problem, as always, is bandwidth. The weird thing is that I'm perfectly willing to donate, say, $90 to my bittorrent site of choice in exchange for 300GB of upload credit (which lets you download 600GB of content, because their ratio limit is 0.5), but I probably wouldn't be willing to pay $90 for access to a similar peer-to-peer-based system owned by the makers of the shows. Like WoW patches - I'm never going to seed them because I don't think it's my responsibility to. The game's developers and publishers are responsible for making their content available, not the end-users.

But then again, my $90 gets me a lot of video. In this country, for example a complete DVD collection of Farscape costs £130 - call it $250. To download Farscape illegally, it would cost me about 12GB of download - about $1.80 by my above calculations, call it a pound. That's less than 1% of the cost of the box set, and it has the added convenience that I don't need to faff around finding the DVDs, not losing them, changing them over, making sure they don't get scratched...

The key thing, I think, is that by seeding, I reduce the cost of the box-set - the more I upload, the less download I have to spend to get the show. If the producers of Farscape were selling peer-to-peer downloads for, say, a tenner, they'd have to give me a similar discount for my upload, and I doubt they would. It'll be extremely interesting to see how TV networks will use this technology in the future - I just hope they're able to do it fast enough. The BBC is leading the way (which is weird in itself) with its iPlayer, which uses peer-to-peer for downloading its shows and regular streams for watching them online. A bit bizarrely, they have DRM that allows you to only watch your downloaded content for 30 days, but it's free so I won't moan too much.

Hmm. I'm sure there was a point in here somewhere. Oh yes - I do very much look forward to the day when I'm able to download my TV shows for a price. And I hope that if it involves peer-to-peer technology (which it presumably will), they won't do it stupidly.

EDIT: I just realised that the RRP of that Farscape collection is £250. This is insanity. 250 times the cost of downloading it. Unbelievable.
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PostPosted: Thu May 29, 2008 6:17 pm   
 
Fang Xianfu wrote:

But then again, my $90 gets me a lot of video. In this country, for example a complete DVD collection of Farscape costs £130 - call it $250. To download Farscape illegally, it would cost me about 12GB of download - about $1.80 by my above calculations, call it a pound. That's less than 1% of the cost of the box set, and it has the added convenience that I don't need to faff around finding the DVDs, not losing them, changing them over, making sure they don't get scratched...

tsk tsk tsk is that a confession? Mr. Green
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PostPosted: Thu May 29, 2008 6:18 pm   
 
Yep...720P projectors are much cheaper than big monitors these days...less than $1K. And the latest prices I saw at BestBuy and CircuitCity for large TVs was >$1500. With a projector you can display it on a wall (or I built a custom screen for about $50). So I get a 10-ft picture. Of course, it's limited to 1280x720 resolution, which is fine for games, but I couldn't do programming work on it. So that's the tradeoff. It's great for movies though!

It's definitely going to take a while to get pricing down to reasonable levels. That's why I don't *own* any TV shows (well, except for Stargate). We just use NetFlix to rent everything. Download services need to compete with this and handle both the rental and purchase options. Download speeds will get better, but it's still going to be a pain...if I want to watch a rental movie, I want to watch it *now* and not wait hours for a download.

Comcast has a pretty nice Video-on-demand system here in the states. I'm pretty impressed with the amount of content, and a lot of it is free. In fact, it made my movie channel premium (HBO, etc) worth a lot more since I get all of the on-demand content for the premium channel included. For example, I don't need to watch a movie on HBO when it actually is shown...I just select it from the on-demand list and watch it whenever I want. This VOD system isn't getting a lot of buzz, but I think it's really great and a real satellite-TV killer for now. Especially since they also have a lot of HD content too. Paying for a new release is about the same as renting the DVD. Doesn't replace Netflix yet, but it's getting better.

There there are sites like Hulu.com where you can watch a lot of TV and movies for free with some ads in it. Most don't have any ads, but some have ads less than 1 minute every half hour, which is a *lot* better than over-the-air ads. I think this business model might make sense in the future too. I don't object to a small number of ads. But I *do* object to 15 minutes of ads in my 60 minute show.

Anyway, lots of interesting possibilities for the future I think. Not sure how we got onto the TV download topic, but I guess that's what blogs are for.
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