Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Moving out...

But, not moving on.

I wanted a way to micro-manage my thoughts, while still semi blogging. Seems my brain cannot work well with the thought of sitting down and having to write so many words to form thoughts I have, which fit within 140 characters on Twitter. Whether this is a concern of Graves Disease...or just my overall business in my life (Work, Family, RIFT!!!)

So, may I introduce my Posterous blog - Simple-N-Complex

A more fitting name could not be welcomed in respects to how I will post on the new site.

So, I will be looking to play with this for a while and see if I can continue to write, and keep my commentary within reach of my capabilities at this time...

Make sure to bookmark, and of course, follow me on Twitter at Elementalistly!


Monday, May 30, 2011

X-Fire Game: Raptr has left the building...

So it is, with glee, that I say goodbye today to Raptr.

Thanks to a new system in place this past week converting Raptr into a news style RSS feed service, data for games has been lost in the shuffle. But, as I said...happiness ensues. The numbers have been a thorn in my foot due to calculations showing oddities not matching the norm. Like when a game has anecdotal evidence, like free play time or trials and then having losses on Sunday, while Saturdays being higher in player counts; Raptr just fell apart.

So, using X-Fire's data, hopefully we can take time to discuss why games are changing in numbers. Better commentary on the state of the current MMO's should help us understand why the game is ranking where it is.

So, lets get to this weeks numbers. Previous rating comparisons are from 5/16/2011.

  1. Rift - 2835 ( 3325 ↓ )
  2. EvE Online - 2159 ( 2005  )
  3. Aion - 2039 ( 1988  )
  4. Lord of the Rings Online - 1623 ( 1800 ↓ )
  5. Age of Conan - 402 ( 287  )
  6. Dungeons & Dragons Online - 288 ( 277  )
  7. Star Trek Online - 279 ( 327 ↓ )
  8. Champions Online - 182 ( 217 ↓ )
  9. Warhammer Online - 139 ( 133  )
  10. Final Fantasy XIV - 119 ( 112  )
  11. DC Universe - 32 ( 57 ↓ )
Lets start with our mover shaker award this week. 

Age of Conan takes a major jump and lands in the top 5 this week. Thanks to promotions about the movie tie ins, free account restoration for older players and the final piece of free to play coming down the pipe...AoC may just start to look good on the charts and become a winner.

Rift took a small plunge, but as has been happening...week by week Rift fluctuates. The numbers are still tops to make it our number 1 game.

EvE had some major movement in numbers this week. One report though is CCP is fighting a bot infestation, so not sure if the major jump is real. The fact they were at around 1900 last weekend is suspect. Still good to hold number 2.

Aion continues to climb. Patch 2.5 is here with the graphical upgrades, and reactivations were also key here. As a side note, I did get an email from Nvidia offering me a FREE copy of the game AND 15 days (odd, I know). So, not sure how many will try that offer.

Lord of the Rings Online has been showing some losses the last few X-Fire games, so not sure what is happening. Maybe the koolaid is wearing off? A recent update should have shown growth here, so it is confusing. Of course it could be a client issue, and the game runs like crap with X-Fire on...hard to say. I will continue to watch this one, as this has proven to be of interest.

Star Trek Online and Champions Online both fell. Wonder if this has anything to do with the news about Cryptic being flushed by Atari? We will continue to watch this and see if any repercussions are to be felt.

This weeks big loser is DC Universe. How SOE can even recover from the damage of their hacks is beyond me. I for example would never touch another of their products. But, people are odd...especially MMO players, so we will see if DCUO can recover.

It was a holiday weekend, but seems numbers did not move that much. Overall steadiness in most titles, but a few surprises as well.

Lest we forget...the elephant in the room, lets see how Blizzards monkey on everyones back is doing.

World of Warcraft X-Fire chart May 30th - players  31,533 (33,787  )

That is a bit of a drop. Again, may be the weekend or is the behemoth finally showing signs? Hard to say. The fact growth was shown after the initial Rift launch, this may just be a holiday fluke.

Overall, our main games hold strong. Rift still rocking the new launch, Aion and Eve both growing and Age of Conan showing that it could still have life.

Can't wait to see how this all plays out over the summer.

Cheers for now.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The X-Fire Game: Trial (s) and Errors

What a great title for this weeks X-Fire game.

Trials due to Rift's push to be the best #2 MMO out there, and SOE's error and their progress to be the lowest dev on the totem pole.

The previous results we're comparing are from the weekend of 5/1/2011 - Lets see how the 2 weeks have changed.

  1. Rift - 3325 ( 2973  )
  2. EvE Online - 2005 ( 1928  )
  3. Aion - 1988 ( 1929  )
  4. Lord of the Rings Online - 1800 ( 1859 ↓ )
  5. Star Trek Online - 327 ( 345 ↓ )
  6. Age of Conan - 287 ( 280  )
  7. Dungeons & Dragons Online - 277 ( 324 ↓ )
  8. Champions Online - 217 ( 235 ↓ )
  9. Warhammer Online - 133 ( 155 ↓ )
  10. Final Fantasy XIV -112 ( 122 ↓ )
  11. DC Universe -  57 ( 25  )
First off, nice job to Rift. The upswing this week is something most of the MMO's from the last few years have NOT been able to do. New content, new updates, new trials all add up to a game that is flourishing.

Looking at the graph for Rift, we can see the standard drop most MMO's experience. But, we also see a stabilization there. Then the upswing toward the end. Will see how this looks in two weeks.

Other games of note: EVE broke 2000. First time in a while. Aion over takes Lord of the Rings Online to become this weeks #3. Excitement must be building for Aion thanks to the paid transfer service and the upcoming patch 2.5 with major graphics enhancements and new content.

I really need to note here: Sub games are NOT dead, and Free to play, though a help to games suffering, is not the panacea of sub-dom some believe it to be. Just IMO.

Age of Conan has also moved up the charts. Major buzz is going on with this game, with the upcoming movie reboot, discussion of new land masses and overall satisfaction with the new engine changes. We will watch this one in the coming months.

SOE games are back, but of course, DC Universe still trails the bottom. But, note more players. I assume that free time is helping. Not going to help much when someones ID is stolen though. 

Overall quite a few games down this week.

  1. Rift -  2366 ( 2394  players
  2. EvE Online - 803 ( 1010  ) 
  3. Lord of the Rings Online - 771 ( 766  )
  4. Aion - 418 ( 530 ↓ )
  5. Champions Online - 232 ( 192  )
  6. DC Universe - 182 ( 136  )
  7. Dungeons & Dragons Online - 167 ( 173 ↓ )
  8. Final Fantasy XIV - 142 191  )
  9. Star Trek Online - 110 ( 96  )
  10. Age of Conan - 83 ( 89 ↓ )
  11. Warhammer Online - 56 86 ↓ )
What drives me nuts right off the bat...Raptr has Rift with MORE players on a Saturday (2426)...I mean, WTH? Raptr and reliability of stats is really starting to irritate me. But, I will still post them....just expect me to bitch about them EVERY time also.

Ah well, lets take a look at what else is happening.

As we can see, Raptr still plays "Opposites" day of X-Fire with their stats. EVE and Aion are both down, yet LOTRO is up. Of note, like Rift, Aion is UP on Saturday...just down on Sunday, which has not been par for course for ANY game.

Champions is up? LOL. And look at how many slots DC Universe moved up. Interesting bunch of users, these Raptr players.

The biggest travesty here is Age of Conan. All anecdotal evidence points to a rise in activity, yet in Raptr it still runs at the bottom of the pack, with even a LOSS this week. Raptr is just not telling the full story here.


Before I forget, lets take a look at Blizzard and their beast of an MMO.

World of Warcraft X-Fire chart May 15th - players  33,787 (33,611 ↑ )

So, WoW is still on the rise back up. People just cannot let this game go, and it is truly sad to see no other game even has a chance.

Nuff' said here


So, some good numbers for several games, with Rift really showing it can hold on, and could be our number two game in MMO's for a while.

Raptr though is becoming suspect in tracking, and I am about ready to throw it out. It keeps having strikes against it in regards to how their numbers work. When games we know show anecdotal evidence of upswings, yet fall on Raptr...I have to question their systems. Time is ticking down for Raptr stats.

Until next time...Cheers.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Continuing this series of articles on how Rift approaches aspects of gameplay compared to other MMO's. Today I am touching on content. What is it? Does Rift offer enough?

Like yesterday, I wanted to get an idea of what "content" means, so lets start with our Dictionary term. Note, this one is hard, as several terms could be used here...

"something that is contained: the contents of a box."

This first description is interesting, as it basically means ALL inclusion of items. If a box has a manual, a DVD, a map, etc...for an MMO, this is the boxes "contents". Does this work for what is IN the actual gameplay? What does content equal?

The BIG Twitter discussion of quite a few MMO heads had some variations on this topic.

Rowanblaze - "Yes I say "content" is the reason for doing something in-game. IOW, the story. Everything else is grind."

Adarel -"I think story is just one form of content though. The world is full of activities, all of which are content."

Ardwulf -"Even social tools can be content. Depends on the game."

Three different perspectives right off the bat. How does one player look at content as one item, yet another player requires differences in their game for it to equal "content"?

I had remarked how Rift had about as much content as WoW...after it's first expansion, which some would disagree with. Why is that? What MORE did WoW have at that time? A larger world? More "quests" and "dungeons"? I do not remember invasions on a regular basis in WoW. I do not remember Guild Leveling or Guild quests, shinies hunting...the list goes on.

But to me, this is a form of content.

If a player logs into the game, decides to shop on the Auction House, then will craft, then logs off....did they do content? Or did they do something else....features? mechanics?

Again, another perspective. What if the word meant something different...

How about we look at the meaning of "content" as another form of it's definition...

"satisfied with what one is or has; not wanting more or anything else."

Here is where the game changer is. Is the player "content" with what the game offers. This I think describes our MMO's more than what the game gives you to do.

If there is not enough "content" (whats inside the box) then the player is not "content" (happy?). But, this is perspective. What one player will see as con-tent, another will not be cun-tent with.

Phentari stated "I dont know I think they are nuts, that means they ran out of new things to do including features"

"Features" was one word that was used to describe everything that had no "story" to it. Was it then that the player exhausted the "story" and the "features" would not make this player cun-tent?

A slippery slope here.

Lets use the latest news for Rift as our example of new "content" (according to Trion). A new event coming called "Spoils of War" prelude will be offering daily quests to gather various items to purchase unique items, etc.

Is that content?

"As the name implies, the Spoils of War is related to the River of Souls event. Telarans and the Ascended successfully overcame Alsbeth and her minions and now the rewards have arrived. The prelude offers players four new daily quests centered on the mysterious treasure-like items literally falling from the sky in some cases."

What is interesting here is it seems to be a standard "stuff to do" type of event, or features if you will...but also is a continuation of the story from the first big event Rift had, River of Souls. So, we have a story, but it is just "daily" questing to get items to get more items.


mythokia "Producers think they can get away with disguising dailies as new content."

Ouch, clearly mythokia thinks adding in dailies...even for a NOT new content.

Do we see the pattern? We can note that each player has their own opinion on what content is. Just look to that link about "Spoils" (and try not to burn your eyes out, thanks to the MMORPG readers commentary) and see what is being said...

"Just dumping a couple daily repeatable collection quests in the game you need to do a horrible amount of times and increasing the frequency of Rifts and call it a Live Event is not what I call original nor very attractive in my book.

Rift was great at launch. Very polished and fun to play for a short while.

But so far these so called live events just end up being nothing more than an ordinary boring grindfest!"


"It sure beats other games. You don't have to wait, sometimes years, for content."

Within the first few postings, we see two varying viewpoints.

So, is Rift lacking in content? Or is a specific player not "cun-tent" to play what is offered.

As I saw on twitter, there was not an end to the conversation, and so many roads were taken by various players. But, it is mans junk is another's treasure. To even think there is not enough content in specific MMO's...especially Rift, is subjective to each players outlook.

I will use my family of an example of how Rift is approached each day.

My wife is the one who does the daily "shinies" hunt and craft runs. My son will login and is working on leveling, and feels questing is where the game is at. Myself, I feel running zone wide invasions, rifts and dungeons are fun (but, I try to do a little of EVERYTHING).

We are CONTENT to play with the CONTENT as it is...and just see another patch with more to do as even more fun to be had.

If only others could do the same.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


After spending an awesome weekend running massive events in the various zones of Rift, I started to wonder about an issue. Several of us in the community (of bloggers) and, of course, the infamous "forums for haters" have had an ongoing discussion about Dynamics.

Does Rift really have dynamics?

I think mostly people are expecting something different from the actual word, and are not using it in proper context. Lets take a look at the word itself, and see where THAT leads us. If we head to, I find this little bit of information.

"pertaining to or characterized by energy or effective action; vigorously active or forceful"

This is interesting. When we look upon the complaints of most, dynamics is suppose to harbor change. Nothing is indicating that "change" must take place. The actual meaning of the word describes Rift more readily, and shows just how dynamic the game can feel.

So, for something to be "dynamic" it is not that it has to change, or be UNIQUE or must be an effective action. When an EVENT takes place zone wide, this is "forceful" and needs "effective action" to take care of or else it causes issues in the zone. When invasions happen a player must become "vigorously active" to take care of it. I could go on and on (for example, thanks to mob density in Rift compared to most MMO's, there is more vigorous activity than most games).

The facts remain. Rift is a more dynamic MMO than we have normally dealt with.

So, how did the concept of dynamics come down to something affecting the world we play in and must equal change to happen? When we look upon the descriptions for Guild Wars 2, a game being touted for it's changing world dynamics, we see...

"Dynamic events evolve and cascade across the world in response to how you, the player, interact with them,"

So, somehow, Arenanets description looks to "evolving", but not "changing".

Yet, Guild Wars 2 is one of the games most people look to for "Dynamic" events, because somehow it can "change" how the world works. But, GW2 does not really say major or even minor change is the key. It is the ripple effect. Something happens that leads to another...thus causing the dynamic gameplay.

Rift does have the same effect. The "ripple" from an event leads to hubs being shut down, roads overrun, specific quest areas being inaccessible due to rifts. These may happen regularly and may even be the same event from yesterday...but, is still "dynamic" enough to cause the "ripple" effect.

So, what about "scipting". This was one argument I read that really led me here...

"Yeah, really? DYNAMIC.....where is the dynamism? Is it those mushrooms that randomly pops here and there spewing out scripted npcs? "

Can a movie not be dynamic? Is it because a movie has a script that it is not dynamic? I would beg to differ on this and would see how a movie can be vigorously active. One sequence may be a car chase....but another may appear later on that has a different aspect to it (example: Bourne Movies - thanks Matt!). Is this not dynamic because it is the same thing; a car chase?

We need to look over all of the MMO's released to this day and see...How dynamic have they been? And just how dynamic is Rift compared to them?

When a game makes me drop everything and run to defend a hub, take down a major colossi or forces me to make a decision about the area I am questing in due to being blocked by a rift or foothold...this feels dynamic, to me. If I must do something that is NOT scheduled, how can that not be dynamic?

So, maybe the next time you wonder what is dynamic about Rift, lets look to what "dynamic" really means....and then we can see that Rift is truly (and hopefully) the first in a line of dynamic MMO's.

Monday, May 2, 2011

X-Fire Game: The one week reprieve

So, I am back with another installment of our much loved (hated?) game of statistics (voodoo?) using our all time favorite (reviled?) tools...X-Fire and Raptr.

From this point, I will pull back reporting these to maybe every two weeks. This should allow us to see if any drastic changes are happening in the market...and lets me try and write a bit more "commentary" (arguments) on a regular basis.

Lets get started. First off, all data listed is from two weeks ago and will be versus this Sunday's numbers.

(KEY: Click the logos to understand what X-Fire or Raptr is. For the symbols...↓ Means the game had a loss; and the game is in green text, means it had more players. Thank you.)

  1. Rift - 2973 ( 3982  )
  2. EvE Online - 1928 ( 2017  )
  3. Lord of the Rings Online - 1859 ( 1892  )
  4. Aion - 1929 ( 1878  )
  5. Star Trek Online - 345 ( 287  )
  6. Dungeons & Dragons Online - 324 ( 326 ↓ )
  7. Age of Conan - 280 ( 245  )
  8. Champions Online - 235 ( ??  )
  9. Warhammer Online - 155 ( 130  )
  10. Final Fantasy XIV - 122 ( 131 ↓ )
  11. DC Universe -  25 ( 41 ↓ )
So, as we can see here, Rift still has not found the floor. What will it's actual ceiling be?

We could look at how drastic this loss is and do this little bit of fun...

World of Warcraft X-Fire chart April 18th - players  33,611 (32,822 ↑ )

And of course find out where most everyone went.

Rift does still have a large lead over the number 2 game, and with patch 1.2 coming in less than 2 weeks, I expect my next report to see some added player action.

The rise of players in other games were minimal (except for a few stand outs)...

Aion had a big jump. I could look at this as the bonus of "paid transfers". I also think accounts were activated over the weekend too (I got an email about it). So, this may most likely be temporary. Or is this a sign that the game may hold a few new subs?

Star Trek rocked some nice numbers, with a great leap, making it our #5 game on the chart.

Several; other small triumphs was Warhammer, who has been patching their screw ups recently, Champions client was fixed and is reporting again (last report, CO was broken and reporting ZERO players) and Age of Conan also seeing some numbers increasing.

A pretty good week for the games considered failures by a contingent of players.


  1. Rift -  2394 ( 2705  players
  2. EvE Online - 1010 ( 967  ) 
  3. Lord of the Rings Online - 766 ( 751  )
  4. Aion - 530 ( 457  )
  5. Champions Online - 192 ( 225 ↓ )
  6. Final Fantasy XIV 191 ( 152  )
  7. Dungeons & Dragons Online - 173 ( 159  )
  8. DC Universe - 136 ( 179 ↓ )
  9. Star Trek Online - 96 ( 101  )
  10. Age of Conan - 89 ( 94  )
  11. Warhammer Online - 86 ( 84  )
And as is normally the case, Raptr tells us a different story.

Rift's drop is not as harsh as for X-Fire. And if we look around we can see where some of these players are heading to.

Of course, Raptr is also BIZARRO world, where Final Fantasy XIV...probably the worst rated MMO in a long time, has a huge jump. Oddities indeed.

The one thing we can always count on here is our top 4 though. Rift, EvE, LOTRO and Aion seem to hardly budge from their respective slots. Rift as we can see here has over double what EvE is showing and EvE is almost doubling Aion's numbers.

I think we can safely say that players having such an abundance of MMO's have more places to go and play around in to try various new worlds.


Whats clear here is the hold World of Warcraft has over it's player base. Hard to pull players out and into other MMO's. With the news that most of the newer MMO's coming down the pipe, specifically Star Wars, a noted WoW killer, being too much like WoW...where does this leave the genre?

This report is pretty much a statement on the sad affairs of our market. We have quite a few good games here, but WoW truly holds sway over all of this domain, and could color the future of every MMO until someone decides "Lets give up".

For now, players need to accept that the genre has been built, thanks to WoW ingenuity (/snicker) and that all MMO's to come will try their best to mimic it until they get one that has all 7 years of content, can be 100% polished and ready at launch with a whole new endgame that no one can describe, but REALLY want to be meaningful.

I'm out...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Rift: The Rebuttal (or who mentioned "Jesus"?)

Seems the discussion about my posting on Rift and why I am let down by the MMO community is making the rounds. My favorite remark in one post has been used several times, and I think we need some rebuttal here...

Rift: No, it’s not the “Jesus” game

If I may...myself, I have never noted Rift as the "Jesus" game. First, the remark makes no sense.

Jesus died....MMO's have not died (at least not yet)...Jesus was resurrected...uh, doesn't something have to die to be resurrected. Jesus is our savior (according to the Christians!)...

So, is it the savior part? Is Rift here to SAVE us?

It could be. But, only for those who are willing to help this market grow.

But, I digress on this point...maybe on another post? Lets get to the nitty gritty of this debate though.

Some of the commentary on this particular posting has a few concerns that I think we should look into. (Check out this link to Massively Multiverse for more on this story).

"Apparently, if I have loved WoW at any point in WoW’s history but haven’t fallen head-over-heels in love with Rift in the same fashion, then I should leave the MMO genre entirely because I am nothing more than a burnt out, jaded gamer who has simply played far too many MMOs in his day. Come to think of it, I am a burnt out and jaded gamer during these, my MMO twilight years….*snickers*…but that’s beside the point!"

Not entirely true. But, to instead look upon Rift as just "copying" WoW is where the main issue lies. If you cannot look at Rift with an open mind and either like it or leave it alone, is where it causes concern.

Again, I must refer to the infamous Metacritic rating by a standard user who felt the need to give Rift a ZERO ...and why?

"There is really nothing NEW here that hasn't been done before."

Fair enough. I have no issue with this. People will find a lot to not like in other MMO's. I can clearly point out EVERY issue with Lord of the Rings Online and why I feel this is an inadequately made game. But, I would never give it a ZERO, because it still has some things going for it, like a company who cares, a community who rocks. This would be a FAIR rating.

A lot of what I read about Rift is NOT fair. Again at Multiverse...

"There are only two things in Rift that are somewhat unique. The Invasions and the Soul system are the two features that should be touted by Rift fans everywhere."

So, the AOE looting, map transparencies, instant change loadouts for class skills between specs, hover over healing,...all the background workings that advance the way we play don't count because you can't see them?

This I think is the main issue in that Rift has advanced a lot of game mechanics that we normally do not think about (like the invasion mechanic...though not entirely new, used a different way here makes even quest hubs a danger zone... or how about the quick change soul specs, though mainly seen in Guild Wars, has the added option of being able to use it ANYWHERE).

Lets talk about the off-healing mechanic. What game has a smart heal system that looks at all players in a group and decides who needs the most healing when group heals take effect?

No, these are not innovative, because they are not TANGIBLE to the player. These are not NEW.

Multiverse goes on to say...

"As for the Soul System, it was probably the key ingredient that I enjoyed the most while playing Rift. It is a step in the right direction for MMOs, and I am more than happy to applaud Trion for its creation. But at the end of the day, it has two things working against it. First of all, that many souls will prove to be horribly difficult to balance over time, especially for PvP. I’m not sure if Trion will ever be able to get the balance right. Secondly, just like the talent system in WoW or EQ 2, certain flavor of the month builds will emerge and dominate as they always do, proving once and for all that we don’t really need a better class based system."

Good point. Yet, no one has done it yet. What MMO is 100% balanced and ready to play? What MMO does not get some type of balance change on a regular basis?

WoW is still not balanced to this day. Why should this be a strike? Instead it should be noted as ongoing development...because isn't that really what MMO's are about? A never-ending cycle of patching and balancing, content addition, etc.

What about a "better class based system"? As I discussed in my *Futura* post yesterday, only one of many MMO's releasing will have it. How will it work? And will the current MMO player of course find a way to ruin it?

Moving on...

"The bar has been raised and developers need to adjust their ambitions accordingly."

This one says it all. Who raised that bar? Who said that the genre MUST be 100% different to be a GOOD game? This is where the "jaded" gamer comes in.

My constant example is the "Halo/CoD" argument. Even though in different settings, they are basically the same play style, same gameplay...gun, run, don't get killed or be killed. THAT's IT. These games continue to thrive...yet, the MMO genre must make a whole new change.

Better yet, lets use our current market. LOTRO, EQ2, WAR, AoC (lets even go ahead and leave WoW out of this). What unique features does each of these games offer that the other does not? Out of all these, WAR is the most different of the lot. Tiered gameplay, Realm vs Realm....actual crafting that requires the player to really be involved...

Yet, it is one of the lowest populated games on that list. Can we blame the bugs? Maybe. But, DEDICATED players will look beyond this and wait for development to take place. Instead everyone gave up as the game was not READY yet.

Rift is ready though. Trion is committed to listening to their customer base. Talk about your concerns with the devs and support a growing game. But the outright slamming it for trying to appease a large audience who wants similarities to begin with (heck, look at all the posts on the forums for those who WANT the LFD know, what another game has), seems out of hand.

That has been my main issue all along. The growing need of a "jaded" MMO community who want things to be different from WoW, but cannot see it if it hit them in the face leads to bickering about a game that should be able to let itself grow.

Finally...and in line with what has been said...

"Rift offers little in the way of true advancement. And just because it does its job well, does not mean we should all conform to hailing it as the greatest MMO on the planet."

Again, as I have said before. The background technology, the emergent gameplay (even though it is something YOU do not like, does not mean it is not an advancement), the willingness to ask the player what they want and ADD it (that alone is the single most advanced feature, thanks to so many devs of other MMO's ignoring their playerbase), already is a step up.

Rift is NOT the greatest MMO. But, it is what other MMO developers and games should aspire to be. Great at launch, fully fleshed out and ready to play.

The bar has been Trion actually. It is not JUST about the gameplay and features, but about the company. If we as a playerbase decide that because the game has similarities to another game, it should not be supported, then maybe we need to accept that all future games will be like WAR and AoC.

As well, until proven to me otherwise, I do not believe players want a NEW experience anyways. Otherwise they would support titles who are trying to make changes to the genre (Age of Conan was a perfect example of a game that had skill be the single most important requirement...yet players cried until it was revamped 6 months later to be a standard MMO).

So, is this market the way it is because of WoW? Sure is. Is the playerbase largely responsible? Yes...

But, is Rift "Jesus"? No. But, it sure is a damn fine game, well made..and if you can just let go of your preconceived notions of WoW and the "been there, done that", you could enjoy it more.

Psalm 69!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Crystal Ball-ing: Futura MMO-itis

Some appreciated linkage took place yesterday on my post about Rift and the difficulties of the current MMO gamer to just let go of the WoW mentality. (Thanks Common Sense Gamer)

Reading through the comments on his post got me thinking...especially one specific posting.

SmakenDahed said: “Guys, what do you want?” Something different.

This got me, of course, looking at my Crystal Balls for our future in MMO land. Can the genre really offer enough change that everyone really wants? The major complaint is how Rift is so much like the old MMO's, why would anyone want to play it?

But, will the new generation be that different?

Lets take a gander while I do a reach around and look at our future in MMO's...

This one has my ire up. The spectating I have done on this game has so many looking to Bioware for their next gen relief. Can the supposed "story" pillar really offer the change in this genre the MMO player craves?

Hell, all I need to do is go to my previous post and look at comments to see how "story" will be to the standard (WoW) MMO player...

Allen said "MMOs are about the gameplay. That's what makes people pay money every month to play. People aren't going to shell out $15 a month for a story, no matter how good, once they've completed that story. The gameplay is the hook."

So, is that how you feel? Rift has a unique IP and original story, but according to this player...who cares? But, is it the fact that so many are attached to the Star Wars IP and the legendary story, that it will be the key to their enjoyment?

Even though discussion has been rampant on some unique gameplay styles, SWToR will still have various issues that have plagued our MMO's since WoW began. Talk is there will be dual faction RvR...uh, everyone complains that true factional RvR needs three to survive. Dual factioning equals imbalance. What about the standards? Kill 10x? Gonna be in at launch. Raids? Sure thing.

What is unique? How about the companions...oh crud, DDO and Guild Wars have these....

Ok, will graphics...oh, fudge...NVM.

Again, next gen? Where?

Why will Star Wars be your MMO nirvana?

Ok, this one is easy. Right off the bat, we have Funcom at the helm. Yes, Ragnar, the man who supposedly can do no wrong is in charge. BUT...two launches of an MMO, both gone horribly wrong...Can the third time be the charm?

This issue alone will most likely turn away a good bit of audience.

Right off the bat though, gameplay is unique in respect to no "levels" per se, but a skills based system. The setting is also unique (modern day instead of renfaire fun). So, where could it possibly go wrong?

First off, the main push is the "story"... Yep, another game that believes players want story. I know I do. Age of Conan was awesome in respects to that first 20 level run. Story was incredible. then they pulled it out from under our feet and the game fell on it's ass. It has since been polished up quite a bit, but is still a sore spot.

What about progress? We do not know much in that respect. Here is what the website says...

"The Secret World does not force you down a set path of progression. You are free to do anything you want at any time. If you ever get tired of doing missions or slaughtering demons, why not return to your secret society and perform tasks for them so you can rise up in their order? Do so, and you will unlock even more powers, weapons, and even unique uniforms. And, of course, untold secrets!"

Lets check our words...Tasks? QUESTS. Missions? DUNGEONS. Slaughtering? GRIND.

Did I get them all? As you can see, anyone can take any part of the "hype" a game developer builds and see that even our next gen games cannot escape the routines we have grown accustomed to.

Out of any game I will discuss today, Secret World has the most chance to offer a unique experience. The fact the developer is frowned upon and the mechanics still have that "similarity" will be hard for the game to escape the discussion that surrounds all MMO's.

Why this is on ANYONE's radar, is a mystery to me. With it's Aion like graphics, why does it appeal to the MMO gamer?


Ok, well, there is also action based combat, but still....Vindictus does that already.

So, what does it offer? Quests? yes....Raids?...yep, yep. Story....meh, who cares, right? Most likely a lot of text boxes based on the videos I have seen. Hey, WoW does that too.

So, the game engine is definitely next gen, using Unreal 3. But, this is another issue. The game will hardly run on the hardware most gamers use (especially with the complaints so many give Rift of FPS issues, yet a friend of mine runs on a laptop with built in graphics, adequately, ...)

No, what we have here is another Korean MMO. Though they are popular to a large audience of manga/anime lovers, the derision most of these games receive due to poor westernization and shoddy UI's, etc...all add up to another game that will be reamed on a regular basis...(again, looking at Aion as our example).


This one I saved for last.

Though still stuck in Fantasy tropes and using some standards, GW2 is set to try and change the MMO genre as we know it. No quest markers? No grind? No Holy Trinity of Tank/DPS/Heal?

What could possibly go wrong?

First is the requirement of "story". Guild Wars, the original, did this well. But, people were not that interested in this aspect. But, the game DID sell 6 million copies, so that built in audience who cares about the story will exist.

Even though there are no true "quest" markers or this feeling of "following the path", there is still a need to somehow notify players of what is happening, so some type of system will be used to say "Hey, come here and kill 10 of these...", etc.

But, guess what? Dungeons? Still there. Raids? Still exist. Those same features that EVERY MMO HAS is still in GW2. Also, PvP, which is notorious in the realm of balance hell, will of course lead to the inevitable nerf, which is the purview of the MMO complainer.

Guild Wars 2 should be my choice for most innovative here, and it will be huge. But, I can smell the rampant MMO player waiting in the wings to take each NEW element, and turn it on it's nose and make us believe it has all been done before.


Basically, our future, though bright, is fraught with the MMO burnout. That player who, jacked up so much on MMO gameplay, is crashing when it comes to the newest innovations in this market.

Though we have a list of games that each offer something to advance the genre...just like Rift did.. they will be frowned upon. I mean, if I can find the issues (and two of those games on that list are my most wanteds), what will prevent that burnout from doing the same?

Though Rift is a really great game, the player feels the need to attach themselves to the "similarities" and not let go. I feel each of these upcoming games, no matter how hyped our MMO player is, will offer that "same old" feeling.

My suggestion right now is that if Rift is too much like your old MMO to let that feeling of sameness go...then let MMO's go in general until one of these launch.

Maybe by then you will remember what you loved about MMO gaming.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Rift: This is where the MMO community let me down...

As I log in to my server now, though still quite busy, I can feel it.

It is somewhat emptier than it usually is.

The city still bustles with people during prime time hours. The guild fills up a bit late Saturday and mostly Sunday. But, the feeling that the game is emptier than it has been, is palpable.

I started to really think about this after reading the article...5 Reasons Rift is the New WoW.

His points are precise and spot on. Rift, though familiar, is as well, a very good game. Why it now is emptying out is beyond me...besides the fact that probably most who are leaving are MMO burn outs.

Lets look at each point and see why I think the MMO community is starting to disappoint me and why there are those who just need to stop playing MMO's altogether.

1. Rift is a finished product.

"Unlike just about every MMO released in the last five years, Rift isn't half-assed or half-finished. The game has PvP, PvE, and a large diverse world for questing."

Which is true. Just most people wish to see it as EXACTLY like WoW. And to a degree it is. YET, there is so much that could make the game different if a player put in the effort. This I think is the main reason people leave.

WoW did not launch to such a glorious lead off. It took time to get there. The patience of todays player is ludicrous though. If it was a year into Rift's game and they had hit a roadblock of no new content, no fixes, no balancing...then I could see the players point. But, it's is barely two months in.

Effort, people...effort.

I will talk about this more later...

2. There's an endgame.

"Taking a page from WoW, there's a lot of loot to work for in Rift."

Loot. We love it, but then we sneer at it, thanks to so many factors.

Grind...Gear Scores...repeated dailies...just a few of the reasons people look at this factor as a letdown in most MMO's.

But, I try to figure out this elusive "endgame" nirvana that most MMO's supposedly do not offer that some players continue to ask for...and wonder "WTF do you want then?". I see the term "meaningful" endgame mentioned, but never explained. Do YOU want to tell me what you expect? What does that mean? Yet, I never see anyone flesh this out. Some throw out expectations of huge sieges and what not...but, really, expectations are set too high for what our current technology can do. It has been proven time and again.

This is why I think what players REALLY want....they can't have for another 10 or 15 years. So, for my own benefit, just quit playing MMO's for that amount of time and leave the forum punditry to those who still enjoy this genre.

Oh, and that effort thing I mentioned? Applies here as well....more soon.

3. The game isn't buggy.

"Bugs have killed off more than a few MMOs. Age of Conan and Warhammer were both decent MMOs and both of them were so fraught with bugs they brought about their own too early demise."

This is the one that kills me. Every time I see another "I'm right forumite" spout off verbal diarrhea stating "Rift will be just like WAR, and fail over" "I expect Rift to fall to as many subs as Age of Conan", I want to slap someone (and my Wife is STILL pissed about that to this day...sorry Hon, did it sting a little?).

I have yet to have ANYTHING in this game stop me from completing a quest or asking a GM for help. I expect they may be there...but, the consensus has been through my guild and a lot of people writing about Rift, that we have been playing a well made game. PERIOD.

This is huge. To this day, Age of Conan, Warhammer, heck...even EQ2, all have existing issues that I am FORCED to communicate with their tech support to help me out of a jam. This is ridiculous.

Rift is just a well made game, that will progress...if people would just shut up and play.

4.  There's a lot to do.

"Rift has something for everyone."

This one is important...and true. So much exists in Rift to keep you occupied. The problem is ...a lot of it existed in other games, thus this makes Rift an instant bore for those who have played MMO's to death.

This is why I think a lot of MMO players need to just leave this genre behind and go do something else for a while. Anyone crying they have nothing to do in Rift is either not looking, has no friends, or is done with MMO's in general.

Every time I log in, I instantly have plans, or at least can look at my roster of alts and is a good day for..."____" (you fill in the blank, as I already decided...and I can't make that decision for you.)

Now, if you will excuse me...I need to go take a break as I already thought of something else I want to do in Rift.


5.   Rift is the cure for your WoW ennui 

Rift doesn't suck. Rift rocks. It's addictive and fun. It's what an MMO should be. There's nothing fancy about, but what it does it does well. Rift is the excuse players have been waiting for, the excuse they needed to leave the comfort of WoW for something new."

Yes it does rock. But, the issue continues to be WoW. It is like saying Crack can be replaced with crocheting.

Whats funny is, that is what WoW is. Just like Crack. The problem is most MMO players have been "users" for so long, they cannot understand what it would mean to leave that behind. This is where that EFFORT really pays off. Put an effort into not thinking about WoW. Put an effort into not playing Rift like WoW. Make a concerted effort to try and work through the soul system, find what you have not found, play the game like you have not played before.

Laziness is my only assumption here.

EFFORT is what Trion put into Rift. Why not do the same?

The one way it shows the most effort is the lore.

For the first time in quite a while, we have a unique IP. A new story, a new world ...something that is NOT WoW's warcraftian world. Something not based on a released novel, movie, comic book, etc.

Yet, no one puts in the effort to look upon this aspect...and instead are banking all their chips on... you guessed it... another non-original IP (Star Wars: ToR will be our Saviour...blah, blah).

This is why movies like "Scream 4" (though still not "too bad", is still regurgitated material) are made, and sell quite well...while critical and well written movies like "Source Code" fall over.

The McDonald's consumptive world ruins our MMO's.

And for the first time, I want to just hang up my hat for my fellow players. I want to leave them behind because they let me down. They want pre-existing IP crapola on a stick, and want it to be unique and interesting.

It won't be though.

I guarantee we will be in the same boat come launch of SW:ToR. Players will complain about features that Star Wars has that are unique. Yet, the base will be full of players who will pry open the gem that is SW:ToR and note how "It is just like WoW".

And it will be.

No matter how good the story, no matter what unique aspects they add to the game...there will be that contingent that state.."It's like WoW".

Well, I will continue to log into another brilliant game, that will most likely be watered down in the hopes the masses will return. It has happened to so many good games who had great ideas, but due to the buggy nature of their release and the need to balance based on desk jockey programmers who want THEIR class and playstyle to be "meaningful", plummeted in subs and could never get back up.

Rift is a damn fine game...just no one will know it because WoW has already ruined their perception of what a good game is.

I feel let down by my fellow gamers.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Rift: Oh the troubles YOU have seen...

"Nobody knows the whining I've seen..."

Yes, a spiritual to describe the dire nature of the current MMO market. Especially when it deals with a game I am really enjoying. I try my best to find the awful issues most seem to be experiencing as I read their blogs and forum posts of "Whaaa". I just can't do it.

Rift: Planes of Telara feels like a true world I can inhabit for a long time.

It has been a while since I have talked about my gaming habits, and Longasc was kind enough to remind me of what I am doing.

Playing an MMO I enjoy.

Though small, our guild of family and friends has been moving along at a decent pace. Most are in their low 40's, and we have already started to discuss endgame. The set grouping levels mechanic I have used in previous games has worked out well, though not as we planned. Instead of choosing specific days, we just noted levels and tried to play together when we could...but, hold up leveling until others arrived at that juncture.

As I continue to enjoy my travels in Telara, I note all sorts of little items that really help me enjoy this game above most.

When we journey together, finding the highest peaks and grabbing that snapshot for the memories is just one pleasure. The fact the game has so many of these "climbing" areas is a fun little side note in my overall trudge to max level. While climbing, finding little goodies like the "shinies" or more resources just adds to it.

Another measure I have taken to in Rift that I have not done much in previous games is avoiding that level grind by trying out different ways to play. Jumping into vent, chatting away while killing mobs for mats, dungeon runs with various group sizes and combinations (2 heals, 2 tanks, etc.), or straight rift running. 

Rift has opened this new playstyle and helps me through what most consider standard play.

One of the major complaints I keep reading is about mob density. Too much and it keeps you from getting to your objectives too many times. Is this the "easy mode" mentality of most players kicking in? Or is it this need to speed through and crush the roses (sniff those roses buddy or get a thorn in your....)?

I still have to wonder if it is because I avoided World of Warcraft that I can enjoy even the simplest things in my MMO of choice? Has WoW really ruined so many? 

As Tipa wrote at West Karana "I really like Rift, I do. But then, I really liked World of Warcraft, too. I was an absolute fanatic about that game for a long time. Thing is, I’ve DONE WoW. All I want from Rift is stuff I couldn’t do in WoW. "

Did this kill Rift's pleasure for so many?

Well, I will keep moving along. I have plans. Fun plans...BIG plans to enjoy every moment of a game that has really made every effort to try and be great.

They have succeeded for MY book.

Now, quit causing trouble and go play.