Sunday, August 14, 2016

Summer Fun : GW2, WoW,

Over these last few weeks it seemed as though I was settling into the kind of gaming routine I'd been hoping for, juggling half a dozen MMOs and pottering around from one to another at whim. A few things have conspired to obstruct that happy state of affairs but not in a bad way.

For one thing I have been playing slightly less overall. It is summer, after all, and the weather has finally decided to admit it. It's not quite as tempting to sit in all day playing games when the sun is streaming through the window. Plus I've been working late most days this week so that cuts into the available gaming time.

Then comes the choice of which games to play. Factors to be considered include an increased attendance and interest in GW2 from Mrs Bhagpuss, who added Heart of Thorns to her second account and is now busy gearing up a whole new set of characters, a much better WvW match than we've had for a while and some very enjoyable new content that came with the Out of the Shadows update.

The upshot has been a week of nothing much but GW2. Even the pre-Legion fun over in Azeroth hasn't managed to pull me away although I do want to get to it at some point before it's all over, if only to try out the "Dark Whispers" fun Tyler mentioned in the comments.

I also need to log both the All Access accounts into Legends of Norrath one last time before the shutters go down for the final time on the seventeenth. Contrary to what was expected it seems there was a final stipend at the beginning of the month so I still have a last hand to collect.

At least I don't have to worry over whether or not to fork out for No Man's Sky. This could have been the summer of non-MMO gaming for me, with We Happy Few entering early access and NMS launching, but it seems both aren't ready for PC prime-time quite yet. Going to wait until the bugs are all ironed out and the gameplay's plumped up before I lay down any money for either, I think.

In the meantime GW2 is doing a surprisingly good job of keeping me entertained despite what can at best be described as a thin period for new content. Although the Summer Update, which is officially all we are getting in the way of New Stuff for at least two months, only really took a matter of days to run through it has more lasting appeal for me. I really like the new map and for once I want the items you can acquire by grinding playing there.

Better yet, the "Current Event" that came with the following bi-weekly update is a good one. Well, I'm enjoying it although I know that's not a universally-held opinion. The way in which ANet are able to turn excitement into frustration is depressingly predictable. As seems to happen more often than not some poorly-designed mechanics left players first puzzled then annoyed as large groups gathered and stood around waiting for anything up to three hours for events that didn't happen.

It's clear that the people designing these events still don't have a handle on the psychology of the players who they are designing them for even after four years of seeing how they react every. single. time. If you create an event with rewards or achievements a huge proportion of players will try to complete those achievements and gain those rewards in the minimum number of attempts at the fastest pace.

If that means standing around doing nothing for literally hours waiting on 30 seconds of action then that's what they will do. They won't like it. They won't enjoy it. They will complain about it. But they will do it. What they won't do is carry on playing normally and allow the achievements to fill themselves out over time and the rewards to arrive whenever.

Repeatedly designing events that expect behavior that the playerbase as a whole has never exhibited throughout the lifetime of the game is either incredibly stubborn or incredibly unobservant. Or maybe it's pure wishful thinking; "They'll get it this time, won't they?"

Well, no they won't. And it doesn't help when you give them something to click that tells them the opposite of what they think it's telling them, either. At least it only took a day or so to hot-fix that - an improvement on the days of denial we've suffered over similar design flaws in the past.

Despite all that I had a good time chasing down my Bloodstone Sightings and Bloodstone-Crazed Creatures. I had them all in a couple of sessions and the longest I waited around was about an hour, during which there was good party going on with fun boxes and fireworks.

I still have to find all the Bloodstone Slivers but that's the easy part. I just haven't gotten around to it yet because I am the kind of dilettante, whim-driven player the devs apparently wish they were making this stuff to entertain.

I did collect my 5,000 unbound magic and earn my 200 blood rubies to buy the Ascended back item although I have yet to decide who gets to use it. I'm currently stockpiling more for the jewellery although I may not spend it just yet. I believe these currencies will be in play for the whole of Living Story 3 so there may be better things to buy later. That_shaman knows but I prefer not to spoil my fun by peeking ahead.

Looking ahead I'm hoping to return to something of a more balanced MMO diet as the summer wears down and we head into autumn. The long-delayed arrival of Project Gorgon on Steam is supposedly due "soon" so there's that. Again, I might opt to wait a little longer and glean the benefit of the promised optimization and graphical improvements before wading in.

P:G is one of the few upcoming MMOs that eschew the action/console controls for traditional hotbar and tab target, a very strong selling point for me. The other one I have my eye on is AdventureQuest 3D. AQ3D, like P:G seems to be another MMO with a very quirky, humorous approach led by a strong, individual personality, but it has a considerably larger team with an established track record so I'm expecting great things. Or things, anyway.

It seems I've been saying this every year for the lifetime of this blog but despite the never-ending pronouncements of doom and gloom for the entire MMO genre, there is always far more on the table than I am ever going to be able to consume. If this is a dying hobby then god forbid I ever move to one that's on the up.


  1. Yeah, the bloom is off the EA rose, for me at least. I've had pretty good luck on what I've backed so far, but there's been enough strike outs or horror stories among the games funded this way that I'll probably wait in the future for launched games. Also there is the issue of burning out playing a game that is still in alpha or even pre-alpha. You reach that point where you're done with a game and it isn't even launched yet!

    The whole EA movement (and the game bundle craze) came at a good time though. GW2 went in an undesired direction, Wildstar wasn't really a longterm keeper and ESO had massive launch issues. So I spent a good two years on Steam down the rabbit hole in the all the genres and the games I had missed while playing MMO's. What was the conclusion? That an MMO is still an MMO, and very different (as I think you've said many times on this blog). ESO has improved so much that it looks like a longterm home.

    EA games backed:

    Camelot Unchained - development
    Empyrion: Galactic Survival - development
    Grim Dawn - Launched as expected
    Legends of Eisenwald - Launched as expected
    Savage Lands - development

    Of those only Savage Lands looks like it might not pan out. The lead dev left and they moved from Unity 4 to Unity 5, effectively changing engines. For some reason this meant new art, which is absolutely terrible compared to what they had before, not to mention some machines that could run U4 choke on U5. Thus, changing sys reqs are another risk.

    My friend said Empyrion was the closest they'd come to playing Star Wars Galaxies since it shut down. If you're looking for immersive Sci-Fi survival it's worth checking out (alpha).

    There were massive Steam sales during that time too (up to 90% off), though this era seems to have passed as well. Some details here (excellent blog from a Brit game designer):

    - Simon

    1. It's curious how Early Access has changed my attitude to getting in at the ground floor. I used to be very keen to get into betas but now I am increasingly feeling that I want to wait until at least Open Beta before trying anything. For all the reasons you list it's becoming increasingly unattractive to jump in at the first opportunity. I wonder if this will all go full circle in a few years and companies will make a big noise about not releasing games until they are "finished" again, like they used to do.

  2. Given the new non-two week lack of cadence, I dallied for a couple days or more on the latest Bloodstone current event. It was a good decision.

    I spent one night being a bit puzzled by Levvi's detector, stumbled into a Crazed Arctodus spawn, aimlessly zoned a bit looking for sharks, getting mildly annoyed at the detector and eventually lucked into one by Mount Maelstrom. Since it was entering the window period of wyvern (probably dead already) and then nothing, I called it a night, went to bed and the next day, they patched the detector to offer slightly better feedback as to whether the rare spawn was dead on that map or no.

    It was much easier that following night to intelligently check on moa, devourer and wyvern availability on the map I was in, and then intentionally hunt and pop the rare spawn. (I managed to pop the moa one in Diessa, and it was fun to see how quickly the whole map descended on my location, without a single word of communication from moi.)

    Then I spent a nice weekend hunting the shards with the clues provided, and managed to get most of them without reference to a guide. Only the Rata Sum one wasn't helpful enough, and I had to sneak a peek at dulfy after half an hour of running around the city.

    1. I found most of the slivers without a guide but I had to check the Mount Maelstrom one and I'd already read somewhere else where the krait one was. Don't think I would have guessed that form the clue. Overall it was an enjoyable collection "quest" despite the shambolic presentation.

      I am getting quite irritated by the deliberate gating of all content behind a purchase of HoT though. It has the perverse effect of making me more determined not to upgrade my second or third account even though I'm siting on an unused HoT key.

  3. The Legion pre-launch has what sounds like a very similar mechanic - "standing around doing nothing for literally hours waiting on 30 seconds of action" - with the Dread Infiltrator spawns for a rare Toy reward. Players basically have to spam an NPC until a randomly timed dialogue option becomes available, at which point the NPC will morph into a demon. 30 seconds later it's dead and you may have a Toy.

    I guess the devs were thinking people would luck upon the demon spawn in the course of their daily activities, but of course what has happened is NPC camping and custom raid groups.

    At least it's quite social, as the GW2 stuff sounds too. And the Legion invasions are entertaining and fun - the famed GW2 zerg making it's appearance in WoW. Definitely worth experiencing.


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