Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Try To Keep Up!

Isn't there a lot of news around at the moment? Gaming news, I mean. Well, entertainment news generally but I already covered that or at least a bit of it. It doesn't stop, though, does it? And everything's getting muddled and mixed, like when they cross the streams in the first Ghostbusters movie, which is supposed to be bad. Crossing the streams, that is, not the movie, which is great. You knew that. (Although, does anything bad actually happen when they cross the streams? Oh, yeah, I guess that's not so good. Not if you had the appartment below the penthouse suite, anyway.)

What am I talking about? Well, we all know NFTs are bad, right? But now Kanye's on our team. Are we happy about that? I mean, judge a person by the company they keep, right? And Ye's only saying nay "for now". It's always good to keep your options open.

I know, I know. This has nothing to do with gaming. Okay, maybe not. But this does. "Of all the applications, gaming is a place that *players* can benefit a LOT from blockchain." So says Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park, a band I have never willingly listened to although sometimes these things just happen. 

Why gamers should listen to what musicians think about gaming I have no idea although, like every driver's a potential pedestrian, when they're not driving, I guess every musician's a potential gamer, when they're not playing. Playing an instrument, that is. Not a game. Just go with it, aright?

Wilhelm has a really solid, in-depth post up about why Mike Shinoda is, shall we say, mistaken, although the post is technically about the metaverse, not NFTs - but who can tell the difference these days? Certainly not the people throwing money. 

As Wilhelm says, in repy to my comment querying why gamers are getting dragged into this thing in the first place, "As for “why gamers?” I think that is just the easy, lazy answer to the question based on who is already interested in virtual worlds.

One of these days I'm going to have to do that post about what I think the metaverse is or will be. Is, really. It's at least halfway here already, by my definition. That day is not going to be today.

No, today I'm here to talk about a couple of much more specifically mmorpg-related news stories. The one that's getting all the traction is Blizzard's unexpected announcement, rolling over on decades of tradition and lore to prop up falling populations on World of Warcraft servers make everyone's lives just that little bit better. (Does anyone click through all these links, by the way? I seem to be hyperlinking like it's 1999 today.)

The reaction across the blogosphere is just starting to roll but what I've read so far has been a little mixed. There's a bit of "about time" and a lot of "it's a start" and some "why now?" I expect to see a lot more opinions in the next day or two but I don't really have a dog in this fight. (And isn't that an archaic expression?)

No, well, okay, maybe I do. Not as far as WoW itself, since I'm not playing and was never invested even in the slightest in the bipartite struggle between... what is it, anyway? Good vs evil? Order vs chaos? Smart vs casual? 

I do, however, have some pretty hardline views on the general concept of opposed factions in mmorpgs, which is that if you're going to have them they should be immutable and unchanging. Pick a side and damn well stick with it and that applies to devs as well as players. 

If you want to service a clientele that considers "playing with friends" an important selling point, then don't make people choose sides in the first place. Conversely, if you're constructing a narrative based around opposing forces and building mechanisms into your game to enforce compliance, accept that you're going to exclude a lot of more casual, social gamers and get ready to cater to extremists.

Either way works. Just don't cross the streams. Oh, I did that one already... make it "change horses". At least you can't say Blizzard bent with the wind at the first light breeze. It took a hurricane of bad news to shake that sour fruit loose.

Interesting though that news was, like the report of Sony swallowing up the Destiny and Halo studio for a mere $3.6 billion, I don't feel I should say too much about it. As for Sony's spending spree, the deal involves games I don't play made by people I don't pay. It would be rude of me to comment.

Another mmorpg developer I haven't given any money to is Gameforge. At least I don't think I have. I might need to fact-check that. There are various theories going around about why Sony might want Bungie on board but there's no question as to why Gameforge have decided to switch Swords of Legend Online to Free to Play: it's because no-one is. Playing Swords of Legend, I mean.

I quite enjoyed SoLO when I tried it in open beta last year. It's been on my Steam watchlist ever since and I nearly bought it when it briefly appeared in a couple of sales. I'm glad I didn't, now!

As the press release notes, the box price of the Buy-to-Play game has been "a limiting factor for a lot of people." Curiously, if you have more money than you know what to do with, the option to give some of it to Gameforge still exists, for the moment at least. The cheapest option is the Standard Edition at £35.99 but you can go as high as £89.99 if you want.

Maybe the Deluxe and Collector's editions still have some value but since, according to the FAQ, "The full game experience will be available to everyone for free. This includes all old, new and future content, like the new classes and zones", it's probably a better idea to wait until the 24th of February, when you can have it all for nothing.

Despite my previous enthusiasm, I probably won't bother. As I may have mentioned, there's a lot going on just around then, what with the Guild Wars 2 expansion, the new EverQuest II server, my infatuation with Chimeraland, New World doing whatever it's doing to make solo play more appealing and who knows what-all else. 

Don't you wish these people would get together and arrange their releases so they don't all overlap like this? I mean, they're going to have to get it together when they all sign off on the deals that allow us to take out NFT swords from one game to the next. They might as well get started on those non-competetive, non-commercial contracts right now!


  1. While I can't say for sure how much overlap there might be more generally on the venn diagram of those who might consider playing an MMO like SoLO and those who will day 1 buy Elden Ring... But I still can't help but to think their transition date is a mistake if they wanted to give themselves the best possible chance of a shot in the arm from the move.

    The cross-faction enabling is interesting. I don't have enough invested to do a whole post on the matter, but I will say it is well and truly overdue. The initial implementation still seems very limited and my wonder is whether this is part of a technical, iterative roadmap to full integration of the factions or not.

    Possibly they're still expecting some player resistance and its more of a boiling the frog style approach to the roadmap.

    Or maybe this is truly as far as they're willing to go. I doubt this one, but you never know.

    1. I have to admit I have no real idea what Elden Ring is. I keep hearing the name but it means nothing to me and so far no-one seems to have felt the need to explain it. I could google it, of course, but so far I haven't. I would realy love to see some serious demographic research on which audiences cross over for various games, though. I can only go by things I hear people say in game but from that, my impression has always been that most people who play mmos play only a tiny handful and have no awareness that most of the genre even exists.

    2. Elden Ring is the next big thing from the guys who brought us Dark Souls (and Bloodborne, and Sekiro). It follows a similar style to Dark Souls in terms of combat, ranging from various melee options to magic of various types (miracles or sorceries, or pyromancy, etc) and has a full on RPG stat and gear system behind it.

      The major difference between Elden Ring and the previous Dark Souls entries is that they're going for more of an open world approach to things, including giving you a horse and allowing for mounted combat.

      That might already be more of an explanation than you actually wanted, so will cut it off there, although happy to cover it more if desired! (And no doubt will on blog regardless when its out. Hah.)

  2. I click on the links! But I also try to put links in my own posts, so maybe I feel obligated.

    I started writing about the cross faction WoW thing here, but it quickly became a blog post, so look for that later I suppose.

    On the NFT thing, there have been quite a few celebs out there pushing the things. Sure, who would trust Gwyneth Paltrow with anything after reading about Goop, but I saw Nick Frost shilling for a new NFT on Twitter, which was a disappointment. It is almost always best not to know too much about the personal lives of celebs. They are in their own bubble and no doubt somebody told them all the usual crypto lies and how they could make a bunch of money out of it. Kanye will come through for NFTs, just you watch. He never misses a chance to disappoint.

    1. As far as pop/rock stars go, NFTs seem to be pretty much free money. I can see why some of them are all over the whole thing. I was kind of surprised Kanye seemed so dead set against the idea but I imagine he often has no idea what he thinks about anything until he hears himself say it.

  3. As someone who ate, slept, and breathed WoW lore from about age six to the end of Legion, I would like to once again state that the faction conflict never had any strong justification in lore. It was a complete ass-pull that existed only to justify the existence of PvP in the game. Warcraft III, which immediately preceded WoW and set the stage for the large majority WoW's story, was almost entirely devoted to ending the faction conflict and making clear to everyone in and out of game that working together was the only path forward. Seeing the Alliance and Horde back at each other's throats when WoW came along was both bizarre and baffling.

    (I'll spare you further rants on how WC3 had four factions, not two, and dumping them all together into the Alliance and Horde made even less sense.)

    I mostly play solo, so the softening of the faction divide doesn't do much for me in practical terms (even if I was to start playing again), but on principle I'm all for it. More than a decade late, but it's a start.

    1. Yeah, I know absolutely nothing about Warcraft lore. WoW is literally the whole thing as far as I'm concerned and I barely know who the main players are even there.

      I really like mmorpgs with strongly opposed factions in general, though. I liked it in DAOC, EQII and Rift and it irritated me considerably in all of them when the barriers were lowered or taken down altogether.

      What I really prefer, though, is the way it was done in EQ, where the hard lines are drawn between the NPC factions and the players and there's also a coherent in-game mechanic for altering that, too. It worked brilliantly because players could group and join guilds with each other regardless of their character's racial faction but then they'd have to deal with the reactions of NPCs to that choice. It meant you could be in a group, doing a dungeon and your tank might be KoS to the mobs while your healer was neutral. Better yet, the more the healer helped the tank against those NPCs, the less that NPC faction would like the healer, until eventually the healer might be KoS too.

      Those kind of dynamics, which also had methods to reverse them, made for some fascinating gameplay and some strong roleplaying. That's what I see faction as offering and we don't seem to get it any more.


Wider Two Column Modification courtesy of The Blogger Guide