Archive for April, 2011

Blizzard Missing The Mark On Diversity… Again

Posted in HFL, MMO, Role Playing, World of Warcraft on April 18, 2011 by Armada

Two steps forward, three steps back.

That is how it feels sometimes when trying to read the tea leaves on Blizzard’s often schizophrenic and clearly myopic stance on end game diversity. In a recent official question and answer session Blizzard was once again asked about diversity (which should be a clue in and of itself) where upon the development team took to the art of “talking out of both sides of their proverbial mouth”.

The initial response indicated that Blizzard “hears loud and clear” the desire of the player base for more customization, only to then fire off a miniature and misdirected rant on the merits of the barber shop feature which apparently was not a “cheap feature to add in terms of development time” going on to ask (in about as sarcastic a manner as one can perceive via text) “Is WoW more fun for you now that you have a Barber Shop?”

The fact that the barber shop is one of the worst examples of end game diversity and yet was used as an example in the response shows just how off the mark the development team (or to be fair, perhaps just that specific developer) is when talking about end game diversity.

Now I could have just bitten my tongue and moved on if the obvious bias of the developer had just stopped there. Perhaps the developer was just confused in assuming the question was specific to the avatar features (hairstyles and skin tone) and not end game diversity (gear redundancy). However the demarcation point for my tolerance of ignorance was quickly crossed with the following misguided quote; “Dumping a bunch of dyes on the game might have a similar effect, where some players might have fun playing around with the system for a bit, but a lot of players might change their colors once or twice and then forget about the feature after that.”

Really? Colors? Dyes?

That might be the most uninformed and/or misguided answer to a legitimate question as I have ever read. To boil down character customization and end game diversity into hairstyles and a bucket of dyes is bad enough. However to compound, cloud and slant the argument by going completely off path and into the weeds was disingenuous at best and only serves to bolster the ever growing opinion that Blizzard really is out of touch with its player base.

The idea that Blizzard might be even considering the use of dyes over a simple yet elegant implementation of an appearance tab tells this writer that the development team/developer is either really out of touch with the customer or that they have been in the ivory tower counting money too long. I have yet to grasp where or why the mention of dyes even originated as that would not be the ideal or even proper solution to the problem in terms of resource cost, potential negative side effects and impact to the game.

On every level conceivable, an appearance tab or wardrobe system would be the desired solution.

The need of character customization stems from the simple and Blizzard acknowledged fact that at the end game, every character of a given class (and in some cases multiple classes) is driving for the exact same gear and hence the exact same look. For a game with so much content, meta games, varying styles in terms of art assets and emphasis on lore, it is amazing to me that appearance tab functionality is not in game already and absolutely stunning that Blizzard seems, at least to some level, resistant to all the powerful benefits the feature would bring with it.

As a final note, I find it ironic that the developer opined that one of the concerns would be that this diversity, in whatever form, might only be used a few times. Ah the crowning jewel in this bewildering response for the simple fact that something approaching 99% of the Blizzard player base would in all probability use an appearance tab. And while it may only be used a few times or as one acquires all the legacy gear available in game (gear that sits dormant and unused I might add) to display, the effects of such a feature would be active at all times, meaning its impact to end game diversity would be felt throughout the game world 100% of the time in the now diverse appearance of each and every player in game.

That is diametrically opposed to the apparent belief by the Blizzard development team that any diversity might not be used by the player base… astonishing.

Blizzard... really?

Defiant for Life Episode 1

Posted in HFL, MMO, Rift on April 17, 2011 by Armada

There are no rules forbidding self professed MMO addicts from enjoying the love of not one but two massively multiplayer online RPG’s… as so Defiant for Life was born!

The newest production from the studios of the End Game Operations Network, DFL is a podcast dedicated to Trion’s Rift MMO. If you are playing Rift or really have any interest in the game or MMO’s at all, check out Defiant for Life which can be found on iTunes or you can stream it directly HERE.

Horde for Life Episode 9

Posted in HFL, MMO, World of Warcraft on April 15, 2011 by Armada

Episode 9 of the Horde for Life podcast is online and covers the recent additions to the incoming patch 4.1, Immortal Dungeons, Rich takes aim at a Blizzard developer and HFL announces the EGO Network and its newest podcast addition.

You can download the podcast from iTunes or stream it directly from our site by clicking HERE

Blurring the PvP Lines

Posted in HFL, MMO, PvP, World of Warcraft on April 8, 2011 by Armada

Blizzard has recently included another round of updates to the incoming and impressive looking World of Warcraft Cataclysm patch 4.1 that appear to have the intended effect of changing a clear dichotomy that exists in the World of Azeroth. Among the 4.1 patch’s many quality of game life improvements come many, much needed improvements to the Player versus Player facet of the game.

In addition to increasing the honor gained from open world kills and battleground participation come a host of new changes that strongly indicate Blizzards’ desire to fuse what have been up to this point in the 7 year old game, two distinct and often incompatible play styles.

Blizzard has crafted the World of Warcraft with a clear line of demarcation between those that enjoy PvP encounters and other players that prefer to only fight scripted and predictable PvE type engagements and the Irvine based development team has been reluctant in the past to blur that line in any way… until now.

With patch 4.1, justice points (PvE currency) and honor points (PvP currency) will be convertible, both ways, at a conversion rate of 75%. This means that any player with 375 points of one currency can convert that into 250 points of the other. While we love this added flexibility, we cannot help but notice the impact that this philosophical shift may have upon the game moving forward.

History may look back at patch 4.1 as the start of a dedicated movement by the Blizzard creative team to erase the distinction of what have been two very dissimilar play mechanics and now that we can finally stop wasting resources on keeping the lines drawn and the mechanics distinct, it is time to start asking the relevant questions such as; how long until we can remove resilience altogether?

Image courtesy of Dungeonrun.com

Blizzard Must Shed the “Father Knows Best” Mentality

Posted in General, MMO, PvP, World of Warcraft on April 2, 2011 by Armada

For all the encouraging signs I see coming from Blizzard in terms of listening to the player base, sometimes they do or say something that leaves me scratching my head in disbelief. One such occurrence came from the Blizzard QA Session # 2 held toward the end of last month. It that forum based session, the following legitimate question was asked;

Q: Why can’t we have a pure, straight up, unadulterated Death Match style Battleground?

A: We think Battlegrounds work better when there is a goal that the team can work towards. Huge melees with lots of players tend to be chaotic by nature so there is less room for skill to influence the outcome. It feels more random, and the more random the system is, the more arbitrary the rewards will feel. It might be something we try someday.

Now perhaps I play on the one single server that is completely and utterly diametrically opposed to the thoughts and desires of the other 200+ realms. Perhaps my circles of guild mates and friends, on an RP server no less, are just the exception to the prevailing wishes of the player base as a whole… but I doubt it. I believe Occam’s Razor is in full effect here.

The simple fact is that in my experience nearly every PvP player I know would welcome a death match style battleground. So to see Blizzard not even acknowledge that it is something the player base wants is myopic at best and downright arrogant and insulting at worst. I believe I speak for the PvP player base as a majority when I state that we tire of overly complex and contrite vehicle mechanics that get old about 10 battles in.

Most players would embrace any battleground that brought simple but visceral combat back into the game, much in the same way the old Tarren Mill versus Southshore open world skirmishes would ignite the entire zone. Blizzard should know what you and I know… that the player base does not want another Tol Barad. Just put the battle back into the battleground and your player base will thank you.

Please no more stupid vehicle mechanics in our battlegrounds