Thursday, December 11, 2008

Tabula Rasa - I need a Group Hug

Well, it was to eventually happen. I have hit a snag in the fun of Tabula Rasa. It deals with something that has been discussed before...

Spawn rates.

Now that I have entered the Divide, the mobs are not only more powerful, there is more of a variety. Due to various invulnerabilities, I must continue to switch weapons to attack, stay on heals, and run around like an idiot basically.
And not more than a few moments after you have cleared out that mob?

Here they come again!

So, where does this leave a game that the population is almost non-existent? Well, leaves me in a heap o' mess! No one is around in these zones. OUCH!

I am unsure of why the spawn rates continue to be set for a larger population. As well, this may have been the issue with the game when the servers were fuller. No mobs for missions, equals disgruntled players due to low spawn rates.

This game had really progressed though in fun and stability. But, this is what happens when a game is just a niche. Populations dwindle or are too small to deal with certain quests. Areas empty out, and players who start are left wondering why they even play.

This was argued in a previous post, as someone stated in comments "What is wrong with niche?"

This is what is wrong with niche....

Look at WAR, thanks to it's RvR bent, has empty zones, issues with getting groups for specific PQ's, etc. LOTRO with it's focus on forced grouping for specific storyline quests forces the player to find a guild...or else (and I have seen posts by players whose guild of course is too high level, and not wanting to go back to help the player). AoC thanks to it's high entry system needs leaves a large population not even willing to TRY the game due to worries of performance..DDO languishes with no grouping for earlier areas thanks to low populations.

This is why my argument still stands that 2009 may not be the best of years for MMO's thanks to such a large group of niche titles. They will be fun at first when everyone tries the game...then the game loses that luster. The new shiny if you will, will become dull. Literally.

I guess for now, TR needs to be put away (or I can just continue to grind small fun is THAT?) until the January free play. I really can't wait to see this game full of people.

But, I sure do dread 2009 for this genre....


Scott said...

My own experience in LOTRO, guild or no, is that PUGs exist for every level bracket and are not the dreaded PUG of WoW or GW. LFF (or GLFF user channels) are very popular and very utilized rather than being a last resource.

DDO... I dunno, on Thelanis at least I can make an alt and have no problem finding groups for any of the low content in a *very* short time. It's always been the 7-9 bracket that is rough as hell.

TR though... on the one hand I like the idea that the mobs fight to take over camps. LOTRO does the same thing in two zones. However, in LOTRO you need more players (possibly a near-full group) to flip the camp back to the player side. Maybe that's as it should be? At some point grouping should enter the equation for certain things rather than expecting to be Rambo who solo's the entire enemy nation. However, this article specifically mentioned respawn rates being unrealistic for a solo player -- not camp-flipping -- and in that regards I do think some sort of scaling mechanism needed to have been put in place based on player population within the immediate area.

Hudson said...

Alrighty there we go. That didn't take long. The spawn thing hit me 3weeks in and that was it for me. Like I said: ammo/inventory management system is a good sub title for this MMO.

Openedge1 said...

Yet, I can constantly read OVER and OVER how groups are hard to find in LOTRO.
My personal experience coincides with this.
In LOTRO there is also no incentive to go into lower dungeons (like EQ2 with AA and mentoring as well), and this may make for issues with PuGs.

DDO has been quite empty each time I have tried to play, and again you can head to their forums to see the number of players in need of groups.

All I can do is congratulate you on perseverance and long hours of LFG'ing.

Tell me about it. I had forgotten how this zone really mass spawned. But, there were always others to join with before..
Now, it is like suicide to even try some of the quests...
Solo is difficult now, and the reason the game needs a break.

Anonymous said...

Weird, I don't remember that spawn rates would be a problem in Divide in most places, even if there were almost no-one else around.

Fighting Control Points is another matter though, that is pretty much impossible to do solo and needs a few people around.

Openedge1 said...

Nope...not control points.
The main valley in the Divide is one section.
Also, now anywhere that you go that has a group of mobs, if you do not kill them fast enough, then prepare to have them respawn quickly and be right back on top of you.
For example, their is one Boss by the name of Sol needed for an important quest.
Not easy to kill.
I finally killed him on the 3rd try..
No sooner am I looting his body when a spawn of two groups of mobs gank me dead.

No, it is not pretty at all.

Scott said...

I dunno man, I can't say that I've ever read difficulty in finding groups in LOTRO... I take that back -- groups can be a little hard to find in the Lone Lands because a lot of the vets just got sick of doing it over and over on alts. Now there's other options so we're not forced to stay there. But even then, I see groups being formed. But I don't read forums looking for group problems nor do I have characters on other servers to make a comparison. I can only say what Arkenstone is like.

Same with Thelanis on DDO like I said. Every time I login I see tons of groups for 1-4 quests (even before the new starter area), a handful of 4-6, then tons of 11-16 quests and raids. That leaves the 7-9 or so bracket untouched and is the reason my wizard has been level 7 for 6 months. (Finally level 8 two weeks ago.) Both guilds I've been in tell me 7-9 has always been a rough spot. But I don't have characters on the other servers so I can't say what they're like.

And trust me, I'm not an LFG guy. I don't have much patience for that crap. I'll give it 10mins tops then I'm off doing something else or just logout.

Is this zone in TR necessary? Like, you're funneled through it and have no choice? Or are there other places to quest or whatever people do in the game?

Openedge1 said...


The area is a "Forced to be there" zone, and the mission that screwed me the most is a required one as well..
And it sucks that it is doable, but for the spawn rates.

As to groups for LOTRO
Google search to get an idea...

Or look at this older article from Kill Ten Rats

What LoTRO has is tons of group quests, and not enough people to do them. People will join for a single quest and not want to help you with another. Not always, but it’s the norm. The looking for fellowship (group) channel is constant spam of someone looking for help on a quest. Non-stop. To me, that’s an indication of failure. If I cannot possibly progress without help, and there is no help available, then that’s a critical failure.
So, I am not alone in this.
Like I said...maybe luck o' the Irish for ye?
All I know is the LFF system got annoying when you could spend up to 30 minutes trying to find someone to group with, and then have it fall apart, and logoff.

I am glad you love LOTRO, and we know I hate it, but really, I can give you so many more of these discussions about grouping, it is pitiful.

But, even worse, we should even touch on the "forced" grouping issue...
Even if it is "easy" to get a group...forcing me to do this is another problem all together.
If I want to finish the "story" line quests, I MUST group or not be able to do it..

Plain and simple, it was Turbines belief that LOTRO would be like WoW in numbers, but is not even close.
And the "niche" RP setting with quest mania just adds to this lower than expected subscriber rate..

Tabula Rasa is in the same predicament though.
Luckily, the instances are scaled, which means I can do most missions that are story based solo or grouped (luckily, I can continue these to at least play if I wish)

The zone itself is the problem. Like I said before, once the free time kicks in, I think it will be a major difference at least...

I hope.

Nilson said...

WAR and LotRO are *niche*? Niche? These are as mainstream as they can get: fantasy settings, conservative game design with just a few innovations, based in old, strong and established IP (that's the case with LotRO, WAR's IP is more obscure) and lots of pre-launch media attention? C'mon, you can't say these games are niche, if you do think they are, you need to explain your readers that what you think "niche" is isn't exactly what the word means. :)

If I start thinking like that, I'll have to believe there are, now, only four, maybe three, mainstream MMOs: WoW, Lineage II and Runescape - *maybe* Lineage one.

Openedge1 said...

Sure thing Nilson

LOTRO - Niche due to several factors.

- PvE focused with minimal or no PvP
- A story already encapsulated, where the player is still on a single path to the end. No control of your own story, as it has already been written.
- Game focus is on those who enjoy the story and enjoy the lore, but as a "game" has a limited scope for players.
- Forced grouping takes away from the player who wishes to play the way that they want to
- Casual play, as a hardcore player burns through the content too quickly

WAR - Niche for one simple reason

PvP focus.
The PvE is almost non-existent
Long leveling curve to get to the content people want now.

WoW - Not niche

PvP, PvE, Solo or Group, Casual or Hardcore

Guild Wars - Not niche

Easy access and no monthly fee
PvP, PvE, Solo or Group, Casual or Hardcore

Any Sci-Fi game? Niche, as a limited audience has been proven to enjoy Sci-Fi.
Same with other genres.
Fantasy has the largest per capita population of players in an MMO.

This is how I define the niche games.

Nilson Soares said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nilson Soares said...

Then you also believe games like Lineage II and Runescape are also niche, despite having more than 1 million "subscribers" right? Because Lineage II is korean and anime-based and the characters can't even jump there. And Runescape is, not only free to play, but it's "free to get", since you don't need to pay for the software, and also it's broser-based, which together(I'm just trying to understand the way you think) could only be a "niche" thing, right?

Scott said...

Even if it is "easy" to get a group...forcing me to do this is another problem all together. If I want to finish the "story" line quests, I MUST group or not be able to do it..

But as you said, you only have to group if you choose to finish the storyline quests. If you're just after the XP or just trying to get to level cap or whatever, you're free to skip the story quests just like you'd skip any other quest.

I guess I don't have a problem with throwing in a few group quests now and then because otherwise I'm just playing a single-player game with chat. It's Lord of the Rings, they were a Fellowship. Even split up there were at least 2 (Frodo and Sam) grouped at all times. Star Wars was about all the friends and they only had a few "solo" (not Han Solo :p) moments. Even at Hogwarts, despite Harry being the star of the show with his name the only one in the book/movie titles, the adventures are nearly always with his friends accompanying him, though he gets some solo time as well. For the "big, climactic" moments, those aren't solo, however, and I view it as the same philosophy for LOTRO's story quests.

Niche? I'm tempted to go for numbers since you seem pre-occupied with subscriber numbers (incidentally, an MMO other than WoW *does* have over one million subscribers: Runescape! lol). Looking at DDO and some others I could just pull 100k out of my ass and say any MMO with less than 100k subscribers (DDO, UO, MxO, PS, etc. et al) are all niche. But I tend (and I doubt I'm alone) to also consider EVE as a niche game and it has 250k subscribers. It's niche because of it's broad (or niche!) appeal. EVE and DDO certainly aren't for everyone. For that matter, despite having 5+ million box sales, GW isn't for everyone either. Is it a niche game because it's design limits its broader appeal despite the number of boxes sold?