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Synchronicity

In reply to my previous post, pskinner mentioned Trove, which apparently could be a crafter’s paradise. I saw that this morning, just before checking my mail…

In which I found this:

trove

And then I remember why I quit ArcheAge before the alpha phased into beta, and why I’m unlikely to ever pay for a Glyph game again. It’s one thing to give actual perks for subscribing; it’s quite another to offer features that nobody would want to be without. If you’re going to be free to play, BE free to play. If you’re going to be subs-only, then man up and admit that’s what you are – it works pretty well for WoW after all.

Maybe the whole ArcheAge thing just left a sour taste ($150 for the privilege of Alpha testing being the first thing, and I won’t get started on the rest or this will become a rant of epic proportions). It was my choice to spend the money, after all. Just like it’s my choice to not play any of their other games now. There’s just something too… grasping about the whole Glyph money model.

I’d also forgotten Trove is supposed to be a Minecraft-alike. If it’s very much like it — specifically with how the camera works — then the only thing that will happen is me hurling my breakfast all over the room, so that’s another no right there. I think if I want a voxel game I’ll just go back to Landmark; it’s been over a year and a great deal of water has gone under that bridge (which isn’t even a Sony bridge anymore), so maybe those pesky graphics issues — the ones where anyone with an nVidia card would crash — have been fixed.

 

The Repopulation – Hour 1

It’s on sale on Steam for a few more days. Find out more about the game here, or do a Google search you lazy bastards. Here are my very brief first impressions.

  • It’s in alpha. Read it again: ALPHA. Repeat after me: Aaaaalllph-aaaaaa. So stop crying about the bugs, the disconnects, the crashes, the bugs. (And it’s running very stably for me so QQ bitches.) If you don’t want that experience, wait a few months. It’ll be on sale again and it doesn’t launch till Q4 (that’s dev-speak, so I’m guessing May 2016).
  • It’s a sandbox. There’s a basic “here’s how you walk, talk and shoot things” tutorial and then you’re dumped in Mos Eisley one of the two faction starter-cities to sink or swim. However, NPCs are literally spamming your inbox with mission offers and the rest is pretty self-explanatory for anyone with a working braincell. Want to harvest? Find some nodes, swing that axe. Want to fight? Find some mobs, pewpew that pistol.
  • It feels a lot like SWG and the UI elements borrowed all the nastiest, clunkiest, screen-hoggingest crappy bits of the SWG UI (of all the things to copy), but it is most definitely not SWG or UO, so don’t go buying it because someone said it was. It’s ‘inspired by’ — and that’s definitely true. It’s not a clone. Your character may be, but it isn’t.
  • I’m not a huge fan of the graphics or even the art style, but that’s highly subjective. Bodies are reasonably well-proportioned and fairly realistic (moreso than in most games). The buildings in the starter cities are suitably grimy. The outside bits are suitably tree-y and rock-y… But somehow it leaves me cold. I’d almost rather SWG’s cartoonish art than this gritty, realistic and ultimately unpoetic view. So far the landscapes haven’t made me catch my breath, but I haven’t gone far. AND it’s alpha. Always remember alpha.

2015-06-19_00004 2015-06-19_00002

  • The crafting system looks complex. It may still  depend on grinding 1000 craft-foozles to master, but there’s very little way around that in an MMO – at least no fair way. I haven’t really crafted anything but I have chopped down some trees and harvested some flowers and ore. Oddly enough if it reminds me of anything, it’s Anarchy Online, simply because it’s so freaking complex and there are so many recipes and Recipe 1 depends on subcomponents A – M each of which is made by a different crafting profession…
  • However, the game does have a Work Order system, which is the only way you can make genuine crafting interdependence work. I have already sold little bits and pieces to people who needed them for whatever mysterious purpose they needed them for. I’m guessing grinding.
  • I have no idea what combat is like, other than a bit buggy. I pewpew-ed shit with my trusty handgun as needed to reach nodes. I don’t care about combat.

I have a feeling there is a LOT to discover under the surface, especially with harvesting and crafting and perhaps even housing. I will probably carry on discovering, but I doubt it’ll pull me away from SWG or WoW or my main games, not for a while.

SWG – The Master Speaks

I mentioned Raph Koster’s post a few days ago, but as it turns out there are a bunch of them about SWG and I’m still cursing the loss of Google Reader (yes I bloody well hold a grudge, at least in this case). So for my own convenience and that of a couple of other people who keep saying they need to read those posts — and they do, they’re fascinating — here are some links.

Designing a Living Society in SWG – Part 1

Designing a Living Society in SWG – Part 2

SWG-tagged posts

That should be enough to get you started.

It’s weird how often Mr. Koster says they didn’t end up with what they wanted for various systems in SWG (especially crafting!), when I and many others still remember it as the best crafting system ever, bar none. Actually to me it was the only real crafting system ever, bar none. All the others were just… bleh. Even EQ2, and I love EQ2 crafting — but it never even remotely compared to SWG crafting. The difference is one of several orders of magnitude in terms of complexity and depth. EQ2 is fun, but it’s whack-a-mole: once you’ve figured it out, you’ll never get anything but pristine (and yes, that was true even in the days when Death By Forge was a possibility).

And this is why SWG worked for crafters and people who wanted to be part of a society and not just someone who ran a ‘toon’ (apologies to all of you who use it, but I hate that term). It’s also why I doubt anyone will ever design another SWG. More’s the pity, but at least we have the Emulator:

I get asked this question all the time. In fact, now that I do consultancy from time to time, it’s not unusual for a company to come to me and say “can you put in crafting like SWG? Our players say it was the best ever!” Usually, they have actually, you know, designed their game already, or even built it. And I have to tell them, “No. You build your game around it, not the other way around.”

In other more fluffy news, I managed a little bit of playtime in between bouts of being sick and feeling sorry for myself. Here’s a pictorial account:

Coronet by night

Coronet by night

Poor Heidegger, can't hold his liquor

Poor Heidegger, can’t hold his liquor

A gift from a princely Master CH in Coronet. I shall pay it forward.

A gift from a princely Master CH in Coronet. I shall pay it forward.

SWG – I informed you thusly

It’s been linked all over the place these last couple of days, but I’m going to add a link here for the perhaps 1.2 people who may not have seen it elsewhere.

“It” being Raph Koster’s article, in which among other things he states

Well, my opinion is Jedi are evil. Heh.

I couldn’t agree more. The absolute BEST time to be in SWG (despite all the compromises and cuts and issues mentioned in the post) was at the beginning, before the first damn-it-to-the-ninth-circle-of-MMO-hell Holocron ever appeared on the scene. Brute force is not a good way to be doing anything in a game, unless all you care about is getting something just to say you got something.

I’ve never been like that, which is why I was so comfortable in SWG. And I know I’m not like most people, and that many people I know did (sort of) enjoy the Holocron grind — or maybe they simply enjoyed being able to say they were keeping up with the Jedi-Joneses — but yes, there was a time before Holocrons and the whole time after.

It skewed planetary economies, for one thing. It skewed player relationships, for another. And it turned the game into a giant, afk-if-possible grind-fest. That can’t be right. A repetitive activity is only a grind if it’s overly long and/or becomes tedious – but the profession grind, that was a grind and it fundamentally changed the nature of the game for a lot of people I knew, myself included. And everyone else, of course, as we ended up with NGEs and CUs and all the sturm und drang those brought with them.

The other thing that broke SWG, in my opinion, was caving in and putting in a loot system. But maybe that and Jedi aren’t that unrelated. Some players seem to care mostly about opening loot boxes and achieving things, even if they don’t value the achievement at all after it has been obtained.

Eh, I’m getting bitter and maudlin. Go read the article for yourself. Extra points if you know the title reference.

SWGeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

That pile I was talking about last month? It just got bigger.

SWGEmu1

One of my favourite games EVAR and one I miss perhaps even more than I miss Asheron’s Call (which was a wonderful MMO-virgin game nevertheless). I miss it like the spousal unit misses UO or hardcore raiders miss EQ. I followed SWGEmu a number of years ago but time, life and the state of the emulator’s progress back then conspired against me and I never got to try it out.

This is about to change. Well, in 2 or 3 days when my pooey internet allows me to update.

I’m not even going to mention the NGE and the CU and if you don’t know those acronyms you’re much better off, trust me.

Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. I’m really excited about this. My workload is pretty heavy right now but I may have to make time (i.e. lose sleep) for this one.

A propos nothing, it’s the game I was playing just before I got caught up in the Warhammer hype and started this blog. That was back in 2007-2008. Man, that was a long time ago, and despite all the changes they’d brought to the game it still had something unique going for it. Can’t wait for that update to finish…

Elite: Dangerous, you’d better be worth it…

… because so far I’m not impressed. Let me count the ways.

(Warning to those who aren’t long-time followers: This is not about the Sims and there will be f-bombs, because this is a rant. Which means it will also be entirely subjective and unreasonable. Switch channels now if needed.)

(And here’s a link to the game if the recent hype has passed you by. It’s Elite, only more. Or maybe it’s single-player EVE. I’m not sure, because I haven’t played it yet.)

1) The launcher is more interested in selling me new paint jobs than in getting me to the game.

2) There’s no proactive “Would you like to download the game now” or even an automatic-but-stoppable “I’m downloading the game now, because if I don’t you’ve wasted $60 on a game you can’t play”. You have to find the right option and click the right option. Fair enough, but do me a favour, Frontier: make the option REALLY OBVIOUS, m’kay? Like I just did.

3) There are separate play and log in buttons. Why? Can I play without being logged in? I wouldn’t know, because I only just discovered that what I thought I’d downloaded wasn’t the game, it was some sort of training simulator I think.

4) I don’t know what I did download yet, because when I told it to actually download the game (which again, should have been auto-fucking-matic, what is this, 2002?), it removed the option to play whatever it was I’d downloaded. Because you know, it’s so much more fun going to my blog and ranting about why I can’t play the tutorial while the game downloads in the background.

Seriously Frontier, those are some fucked-up launcher design and functionality decisions. And now, because I don’t live in a city and therefore have pretty crummy internet, the day I had BLOCKED OFF SO THAT I COULD PLAY YOUR GAME AND WAS SO EXCITED ABOUT I’M ACTUALLY USING LOTS OF CAPS is going to be spent playing something else.

And right now I’m steamed enough to /ragequit entirely and just NEVER play the game, but that’s sort of cutting off my nose to spite my face and I’m not actually much of a grudge-holder (except in one specific case and we don’t mention that), so I’m sure I’ll play eventually.

Just not today, and with a nasty taste in my mouth because my very first encounter with the game, via the launcher, was frustrating and annoying. Not good.

Rant over. Next week we’ll do puppies and unicorns, I promise. (Maybe.)

Here, have a picture of what I’m looking at while I wait to be able to play.  At least my wallpaper is very soothing (credit added for those who love it so much they want it too).

Elite FU Dangerous

Kickstarting Pathfinder Online

I really shouldn’t spend money when my 2012 Q4 taxes are due, but I did it anyway.

Bill Murphy must have hit just the right button on Facebook because I read his post, clicked through, and pledged $35. I liked the possible benefits if this project ever comes to fruition.

However, since I’ve only just heard of this game and haven’t acually read anything about it yet, and because said tax payment cheques have to be in the post today and I’m about to go out… I’m an ignorant dork who just pledged some money.

If you’re also a dork who likes sandbox MMOs (ignorance is optional), consider pledging. There are 9 hours to go and the funding goal is almost reached.

Click here to find out more.

PS: There’s even a token woman in the long list of dungeon designer geeks on that page! Go tokens!

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