Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The escape pods are this way, sir..

Oh My!

A fortnight after NGE hit and the boards are still full of flames, snipers, trolls and the usual fanboi/hater slugfests.

Thing is, it's not just the official forums that are like this (despite some heavy policing off and on by the mods) but the games press review sites, Amazon product reviews, the MMO scene, geeks sites and blogs almost all have something to say. And sadly for SWG it rarely seems to be "Hey, these new changes are cool".

I think that, if you were a completely new player to the game, had managed to get into the game without looking at the official or any other boards and were able to approach it from a position that doens't bring with it any existing baggage in terms of expectations, then it's going to be a fairly average to good MMO with a few glitches, but hey, what online game doesn't have those....

On the other hand, if you were an established player and your favourite profession has gone, the skillsets that helped make "your adventure" really feel like it was YOURS and not the same one that that other guy in the same armour, with the same rifle and doing the same quest was having.

I've been reading JFreemans blog again and, frankly, I'm stunned that the guy who was such a big part of the Skara Brae Rangers, was so against the idea of WoW style level progression and who was so PRO a skill based system that gives breadth and depth to player characterisation should be so keen to be associated with the gang that have gone out of their way to throw so much of the game away 'because it'll make it simpler to code and manage'. Sheesh, on that basis, let's go back to playing Pong.

Likewise, he seems at times to be saying that Raph Koster was the best thing since sliced bread, that the enforced socialisation that Raph saw as being so important was part of what made SWG unique even though the implementation of the idea was flaky and then goes on to say that it's the removal of the Raph from the game that's making it 'fun' and (if I hear another dev use this, I'll scream) "Cool".

Sure, it was a PitA of epic proportions to have to go get a buff from a doc, then find an ent and get a mind buff and then have to wait for a shuttle to get up to Dath and go toe to toe with rancors or NS. But all that time was, if you had a slightly wider notion of 'fun' than just going clickyclickyfightfight, actually time well spent. it's when you got to find out about new content form other players, got tips from the old hands about how to do this task or that mission, got TALKING to folk and making friends.

And it's the friends that I'm missing now. My pals list seems to have dwindled down to having two folk online from 40-60 of a weekend evening. Most of the people I got to know thru the game have taken to the escape pods and are heading off elsewhere. The new players, well, they're maybe playing a different game to the one I know.

Still, I guess it's 'fast combat and fun and exciting' so that's cool, eh?

Friday, November 25, 2005

Finally I got a Ranger with a hat!

Okay, this was an ongoing injoke on the SWG Ranger forums. We didn't need traps that worked, camps that repelled critters super ninja concealment skills, we just wanted a fricking HAT!

Something cool, maybe a fedora...

Well, finally got me a Ranger with a hat. City of Heroes. Yup, The Lost Ranger has gone all Crocodile Dundee on the denizens of Paragon City. Watch out bad guys, I've got a longbow and some sticky web traps...

Sad. Isn't it? ;)

Where Do You Go To My Lovely

Kinda weird that one of the first things I've found myself mulling over when thinking about "what goes into a good MMO" was the question of what happens to your toon when it 'dies'.

This was sparked off by Nate's - The Disappeared

Okay, we're all familiar with the idea that sometimes, because you made a dumb decision, or as you put it "That chuffing great monster lag warped and ate my head... where WERE you guys???", and we end up either on a corpse run or magically reincarnated in the hospital.

What if death in games was permanent? Would we be so prepared to take on the improbable? I guess there has to be some sort of mechanism to allow the player back ingame or they are going to take their membership elsewhere. Fair enough, but I do think there should be consequences to choices and that the corpse run or a spell in the sick bay is the games way of telling you that

b) That was a really, really stupid thing to do...
c) Look, you are part of a TEAM, start playing like one.

What if...

Your character has a limited number of lives and, with each death, that count goes down and their artwork is modified to show they have wounds, scars and are getting older?

Managing to avoid death for a period ingame, say a week so that the weekend warriors have time to 'recharge' then you start to gain lives back. On the other hand, you go mental over the weekend, die more than n times, well, PermaDeath beckons.

Give the player enough prompts so that they know what they are getting themselves into. Maybe the spectre of the Grim Reaper coming closer and closer and just telling them "Oi, muppet, die another n times and you are all mine..."?

What happens when PermaDeath hits, as surely it must do one day? Where do you go to? Back to the character creation screen to be reincarnated as your toons long lost brother who has a fixed amount of time to make the ultimate corpse run? Pick up the remains of ther dead kin and 'inherit' their worldy goods? Or does your toon wander off into some spirit realm where they can see the world and intereact with a limited number of items but can only communicate with 'believers'.

In a SW world they might become a blue glowy. Able to pass on information from beyond... That and maybe do a bit of table rapping in the cantina to freak the afk dancers out, lol.

Hmm. That's got me wondering about the idea of a 'belief' system in MMO's...