Wednesday, November 10, 2021

New World's Surprise NFT Announcement.


That's "Need For Testers", by the way. It's a play on "Looking For Group". Yes, I know it should be "LFT - Looking For Testers" but that wouldn't have been nearly so eye-catching, would it?

Before we get to the main topic of the day, since I built a whole post around it last week, before it even existed, and more especially since I had to get up before six am for a ridicuously early start at work this morning, meaning I'm now too tired to come up with anything original, I guess we probably ought to have a look at Billie Eilish's Sesame Street appearance. I don't think the whole show she guests in has actually been broadcast yet but the clip of her singing the wonderful Happier Than Ever with The Count was all over the media channels I follow yesterday and today and it's on the Sesame Street YouTube channel, so here it is. 

It is really sweet. It also brings out the Great American Songbook feel of the song, something I hadn't entirely appreciated until now. It's very easy to imagine some 1950s, jazz-inflected pop singer like Vic Damone or maybe Peggy Lee giving it one of those hard to parse, back readings that make that stuff feel so eerie and alienating now.

I'm so tempted to go on a stroll through popular music history but I fear there may have been too many musical posts here of late, although not for me, obviously. I could do one every day. It's not all about me, me, me, though, is it?

Hmm. Well I guess maybe it is at that, what with it being my blog and all. Still, I can think of one or two non-musical topics that merit a mention. There's been a flurry of news out of New World for one thing. Maybe I should get on with that.

There's talk of server merges for a start. We all knew Amazon was planing for them even before launch, when they went so far as to beta-test the process. The unexpected oversubscription that led to the hasty addition of dozens of extra servers was only going to make the eventual collapse more inevitable. (Point of order: something's either inevitable or it's not. You can't have degrees of inevitability any more than you can have stages of uniqueness. And now I'm heckling myself.)

Belghast has commented several times on the problems he's experienced due to dwindling populations on his server, Minda. Until the last few days I hadn't really noticed much change on Zuvendis but I have to say that this weekend seemed quieter than usual and the last couple of nights have felt positively spooky. 


 

Mourningdale, where I've perforce been spending a good deal of my time, is often quiet but last night I visited the normally busy Weaver's Fen and Brightwood City and both felt empty. Weaver's Fen in particular was all but deserted. I don't think I saw more than one other person in the ten or fifteen minutes I was there.

I'm in two minds about merges. It's quite true that some of the mechanics of the game just don't work without a critical mass of players. You can't have wars without soldiers and invasions are going to turn into occupations if there's no-one to resist them. On the other hand, fewer people mean less competition for resources and at the moment I'm enjoying having most of the nodes to myself.

Other proposed changes include making it easier to swap weapons and the concatenation of all the Trading Posts. The first of these I don't much cotton to but fully intend to ignore. The second I disapprove of in principle although I'm sure I'll hypocritically benefit from it in practice.

I haven't bothered with weapon-swapping since I was in the twenties. It didn't seem to help much and I found it annoying so I stopped. Amazon have stated they want it to be a significant feature of the game, which is classic "Devs telling players they're playing the game wrong". It happens in most mmorpgs I've played and I find it both amusing and annoying. Seriously, if I'm happy just hitting things with an axe, why should I have to lug a second weapon about and hit things with that as well? If I want to be inefficient and unimaginitive, that's surely my prerogative.

I always approve of games having geographically discrete local economies. I like the idea of being able to travel from one part of the world to another so as to make a profit on things that are easier to get in one place than another. I also like the idea of having to travel to find the items I want at the markets where they're being sold, rather than having them automagically delivered to me across continents. 


 

The key phrase in that last paragraph, you'll notice, is "the idea of". The "reality of" is something else entirely. Separate auction houses or trading posts for different towns or regions always sounds like it would be authentic and immersive but in practice it's more likely to be frustrating and irritating.

Yes, if you're running a virtual business where your profits come from trucking plenty to scarcity, you need those silos but if you just want, as I did last night, to buy an upgraded set of gathering tools, it's not so much fun as you'd think having to spend twenty minutes running to one of the few towns where everyone chooses to sell anything worth buying.

Anyway, it doesn't much matter what I think. We're getting a universal Trading Post and that's that. I think just about every mmorpg I've played that started with separate markets eventually caved and combined them. It's just surprising that Amazon gave in so quickly. It makes you wonder how the feature even made it to launch. Did no-one kick up a fuss about it in the two years of alphas and betas? I mean, they changed everything else people didn't like...

You can go look at the new version right now if you want. Amazon have also just announced a Public Test Server. Sorry, Public Test Realm. Let's get the jargon right. 

It's a bit of a faff to access. Not only do you need to download an entire new client (Something SOE/Daybreak did away with so long ago I forget which of them it was that did it.) but there will be separate PTRs for different regions and not all regions will get one. And places will be limited so you might have to queue.

Yeah, count me out. I've done my share of unpaid testing and I wouldn't even bother if access was as easy as selecting a different server from my regular login. There's no chance I'm going to jump through all those hoops. 


 

I'll just read the patch notes or in this case the press release. There's a lot going on. 

As well as the Trading Post changes there's a new weapon, the Void Gauntlet. Thanks, but I haven't tried most of the old ones yet. There's also a new bunch of baddies, the Varangian Raiders, the setup for whom reminds me strongly of certain things that happened in EverQuest and EverQuest II. Like most things in the game, in fact.

There are changes to the Main Storyline Quest. Amazon say it's been "improved" but I'll reserve judgment until I see for myself. It just won't be on the PTR. I can wait. If they've dropped the compulsory group dungeon segments I'd call that an improvement but I'm not sure I'm cheering for the addition of "wave events, destructible objects, and proximity nodes for tracking".

Given the relative paucity of mob types in the game you might expect a more rousing welcome for the proposed increase in "enemy variety" but the list sounds like yet more reskins of the ones we already have. There is mention of something called "Beetle" though. I haven't seen any of those before. I hope we're getting more than one.

There are some changes to PvP missions that sound quite substantial but since I've yet to do any of those it's a notional change for me. I was thinking about doing some but maybe now I'll just leave it until the new ones appear.

I think that'll do for now. It's going to make quite a substantial update when it arrives, I'd say. 

Let's hope all those willing volunteers have stomped on the bugs by the time that happens. Just not the beetle, okay guys? Leave that one for me.

2 comments:

  1. on the question concerning server population: in principle, I like a small server as well; ever since playing in Gilrain in LOTRO I've preferred a smaller server.

    However, New World has some mechanics that punish small servers: Outpost Rush, for example, needs 32 people to start. There were 281 online on my server when I logged in last night - so 10% of the population has to be in Outpost Rush for it to start (and thus, not in dungeons, not running around the world, not farming elite chests or whatever).

    And more importantly: territories need income to run town board quests, to maintain upgrades to workshops, and to start new upgrades. One of the reasons the trading post is being unified is no-one trades in territories outside Windsward, Everfall or Brightwood - so none of the other territories get to benefit from the trading taxes. Unifying the trading posts will fix that, at least.

    What it won't fix, and the biggest problem, is the 4-day cycle of invasions. A lost invasion (and at this point, there's been only 3-4 successful defences of invasions in all NA and EU servers combined, that I'm aware of) means between 2-7 territory upgrades get destroyed. In less travelled territories and on small servers, there simply isn't enough income to repair what's destroyed, let alone progress the territory. My server currently has no T5 loom, and no T5 stonecutting table remaining - so goodbye any high level crafting needing thread or bricks. That's a failure cascade happening, and either we get a 2nd server transfer token (good for individuals who leave, but not good for the server as a whole), or servers merge.

    Still, for the life of me, don't know why they went for discrete servers (and 2 alts per region!) when multi-server MMOs (GW2 and BDO, in very different forms) are so common.

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    1. The way New World is set up, it's hard to see how they could go to a non-server set-up without basically tearing up the blueprint for the entire game and starting again. When GW2 moved from a server-based set-up to a megaserver, they kept the servers unchanged for the territorial WvW part of the game, which was easy enough since it was already wholly separated from PvE anyway.

      Even when they bring in the new Alliance system the structure that underpins WvW will still use seperate servers as the foundation. They're just going to rename them, I believe, unless that plan has changed. I'm not sure how BDO or ESO handle their territorial PvP though. Maybe someone who's played that part of those games could explain. I have a feeling ESO's is separate from the rest of the game in some fashion, though.

      As for the two character limit, that is inexplicable and something i imagine they could change with no structural repercussions if they wanted to. I don't see any sign they do want to, though, and i'm not even sure if it's something most players even want to see changed. A lot of people woud probably only ever want to play one character anyway, I imagine, so maybe it's a niche issue.

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