Archive for the ‘PvP’ Category

A Day Late & A Dollar Short

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

Realms Online is a good example of an idiom my grandfather used to say when I was a kid: A day late and a dollar short. Too little. Too late. Too… meh.

Created by Argentinian developer NGD Studios, Regnum Online was originally released in South America in 2007. According to its Wikipedia entry, it was one of the first online games ever published in Argentina. Which makes me wonder what on earth the good people of Buenos Aires ever did to deserve such a boring wreck of a game. American publisher GameSamba released it as a free-to-play MMO here in the US earlier this month, under the name “Realms Online”. Because, you know, the American market needs more out-dated, third-rate F2P MMOs? And also, we can’t read Latin?

While most MMOs make some pretense of lore, Regnumalms Online decided that back story was for wussies and dumps you straight into the game with no context or tutorial. I couldn’t even find any information about the game’s mythology on their website, which is a rather surprising omission. These cut-rate F2P MMO’s always have some ponderous, generic, vaguely complicated back story. Maybe you have to pay Sambas for the privilege.

Realsmgnum Online boasts that it has 3 realms, 9 “fully customizable” player races (I could not put pants on any of my female characters, so I’m not sure how they define “fully” or “customizable”), and 6 classes. This might be impressive if it wasn’t for the fact that Dark Age of Camelot did it better – and six years earlier.

One review of this game stated that its RvR aspects were enjoyable, even if the PVE portion were “lackluster”. I never got that far. I spent the first 20 minutes of the game trying to figure out why my interface disappeared whenever I entered combat. (Answer: The tab key was bound to the ‘hide interface’ function by default.) By the time I got my keys remapped, my avatar had already fallen asleep.

Good Grief

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

Like many fans of World of Warcraft, back in 2006 after the Burning Crusades expansion had been released, I created a Draenei character to experience the new content designed for this race. At the time I had been playing WoW for only a couple of months, so I was still relatively new to the game.

As I adventured my way through the Draenei starter area, I came to a small village called Azure Watch, which was home to several quest-giving NPCs. When playing any MMO I prefer to complete as many quests as possible en masse, as this saves on the tedium of running back and forth; kill the 10 boars, collect the 6 wildflowers, find the murlock with the umbrella, kill 10 more boars, give the pipe wrench to the owlkin, then return to the village for my rewards.

During one of my return trips in which I had at least a half a dozen quests to turn in, I was met by an entire village of dead NPCs – and one Orc Warrior with a lot of blood on his blade. Helplessly I stood there and watched as he killed every NPC in the village, then waited until they respawned just to kill them again. Unaware that killing quest-givers is permissible in the game, I spent several minutes being completely, utterly confused.

And what does a new player do when she is confused and needs help? Contact customer support, of course!

To Blizzard’s credit, my support ticket was answered very quickly. Certain that the orc player was somehow cheating by killing the NPCs, thus preventing me from completing my quests, I was more than a little surprised by the customer service representative’s response:

I’m sorry, but GMs are not allowed to interfere with this type of player behavior.

This type of player behavior? He’s killing every NPC in sight! I can’t complete any of my quests.

It’s Blizzard policy that players have to police each other in these situations.

But I’m level 5! I can’t do anything!

We recommend that you ask for help from your guild, or solicit for help in the general chat channel.

You can’t stop them?

Sorry. It’s against game policy. Is there anything else I can help you with today?

Realizing that the situation was hopeless, I thanked the GM and logged out of the game. At the time, I wasn’t a member of a guild, and being so late at night I doubted than anyone would respond to my pleas for help in chat.

This entire episode led me to wonder just why Blizzard allows this type of player griefing. Do they think this encourages community interaction and cooperation? Is this somehow an adjunct to the PvP portion of the game? And are they completely unaware of how off-putting and alienating this is to new players?

I have since asked members of my guild (Pig & Whistle Society) their thoughts on this issue. Although many agreed with me that it’s a form of player griefing that shouldn’t be allowed, one member stated that he approved of the killing. In his words, it would “break immersion” if there were NPCs that were immortal.

I guess having players stand around for 10 minutes waiting for the NPCs to respawn is not immersion-breaking? Why not just have the NPCs kill each other off?

By their twin brothers.

Who wear pink dresses.

(Yes, I know it’s absurd. That’s the point.)

Baby Seal Clubbing

Friday, February 19th, 2010

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I’m no fan of player-versus-player (PvP) combat in MMOs. According to the Bartle Test, I fall squarely into the “Explorer” category. I’m more interested in surveying the virtual world around me than in being pwned by a 12 year old.

Although some MMOs are PvP-centric, most keep it cordoned off from the PVE sections of the game, and provide players with the choice to opt in or out at their discretion. Often, if PvP combat is the central theme of an MMO, the game designers still provide a protected “beginner” area where players can learn the game’s mechanics before being thrown to the level 50 Wolves of Ganking.

Player versus player combat has always been a part of Pirates of the Burning Sea, and for this game’s genre, it makes sense. Epic sea battles are its mainstay. But what doesn’t make sense, is the developer’s decision to allow high level players to attack low level players in the beginner areas.

PotBS has a map conquest system that I profess to not completely understand. It involves seizing your enemy’s ports by attacking their ships as they sail in or out. Players often exploit this by camping outside the ports of the beginner areas, because they know that low level players will be attempting to move between the ports to complete PVE missions. It makes sense strategically, but it creates a miserable experience for new players. I recently got stuck in a British port at level 10, unable to complete any more quests because high level pirates would attack anyone who tried to leave. I asked in chat if there was any solutions to this problem. Someone suggested – without a hint of irony – that I should log out of the game until the pirate players had left the area.

PotBS’s player population has been declining since the game launched 2 years ago. Slow, repetitive combat and a steep learning curve were some of its biggest drawbacks. Currently, Flying Lab Studios is in the process of closing 3 of their servers, leaving only two – a US and a European server – remaining. In light of this waning player base, it strikes me as odd that FLS would allow a game mechanic that is so detrimental to the retention of new players. One veteran player cynically referred to it as “baby seal clubbing”. I call it “going bankrupt”.

Chopping Wood In Your Underpants

Saturday, October 31st, 2009

My mother always told me to wear clean underwear in case I needed to chop down trees.OK. Let’s just get this out of the way right now: I HATE PvP!

Yes, I realize that making this acknowledgment is akin to screaming at the top of your lungs, “I’m a giant pussy!” But I just don’t “get” PvP. It’s not fun for me. I simply have no desire to beat up other people and take their lunch money. I’d rather decorate my in-game house.

So what was I doing playing Darkfall, an MMO that hubristically bills itself as “THE player versus player” game? Who the hell knows? I’m easily lured by pretty in-game screen caps.

Here’s a short quiz for you: Did you bully the other kids on the playground in 5th grade? Do you secretly wish you could beat up people in the grocery store and steal their Twinkies? Do you enjoy painfully unintuitive game interfaces and the complete lack of a tutorial? Then Darkfall is the game for you! It is every sadomasochist’s wet dream.

Darkfall has full looting with corpse retrieval. This means that when your character dies (which, if you’re me, happens every 10 minutes), a tombstone is left in your place that contains ALL of your equipment. Everything. Which can then be gleefully looted by any nearby player. Meanwhile, you resurrect at the nearest bind point wearing nothing but your skivvies and a interminable sense of shame.

Quickly realizing that I was more of a “gankEE” than a “gankER”, I decided to join a clan (guild) as a full-time crafter. Resource nodes in the game are unlimited. Essentially, if it’s a tree, you can chop it. If it’s a rock, you can mine it. But since the potential for being attacked and subsequently looted while chopping a tree is exceptionally high (The game hijacks the camera while harvesting a node, so you can’t see if someone sneaks up behind you. Because we all know that when you’re chopping wood, you lose your ability to turn your head. Right?) wearing any armor while doing so becomes impractical.

The end result? I spent an entire month hiding in remote areas of the game chopping wood. In my underpants.

At least they were clean.