Here’s an example of how not to modify a quest that’s already in the game.
In WoW, there’s a daily cooking skill quest, one instance of which requires you to find 4 sacks of sugar for the poor orphans of the city. Up until about 6 weeks ago, these sugar sacks spawned in about 5 or 6 buildings around town, in a single location — it was a bit of a wait to get them all, sometimes, but mostly people would queue good-naturedly and just wait their turn. (You could also buy a sack or two at a time from certain vendors, though respawn is fairly slow. This hasn’t changed.)
A few weeks back, this was changed. The sugar sacks still spawn in the same building locations, but now they spawn in up to five different spots in each building, and they don’t spawn any faster than they used to. Which means that now everyone is running around like a loon trying to be the lucky bastard who catches one of the 1-5 spawn locations in a given building. Any sense of good nature is gone as people snarl at and elbow each other out of the way — it’s like Sale Day at Bergdorfs, only with more F-bombs. Camping and queueing is more a case of spitting and clawing.
So the designers basically did one of two things: either they did a very well-meaning but insanely stupid thing, or they’re downright sadistic and someone thought it would be fun (for them, anyway) to make this irritating daily quest even more frustrating and time-consuming. If the former, then I’d have thought they were paid to be smarter than that, unless this got shoved off onto some noob designer; if the latter then thanks, and if I ever meet you, I will not be buying you a beer. Count on it.
Sometimes I love the blogosphere: it binds us together, it enables us to share and circulate ideas, and it allows us to have far-reaching and far-branching debates about all manner of gaming things under the sun.
Sometimes I loathe the blogosphere, for exactly the same reasons.
So as I read the various posts and discussions spawned by Eric of Elder Game’s original post — including my own (Eric link at top, everyone else at the end of the post) — I end up wondering: do we actually read each other, or do we just use each other as opportunities to bang on our own drums, grind our own axes, and stand on our own soapboxes?
I’m bemused and almost irked enough by it to be doing one of these petty, self-justifying set-the-record-straight posts, which in itself irritates me even further. (Doesn’t help that I’ve only had one cup of coffee, come to think of it.*) On the bright side it’s the weekend and nobody reads blog posts over the weekend, so I can mutter quietly and mostly to myself in my corner.
Record–straightening #1. I never said classes were better than not-classes. I said Eric said skill-based is hard, and I agreed with him based on my personal gaming experience. Actually, I do believe I said once or twice that classless is very rewarding, but it’s a lot more work — granted that my only “development” experience of that is for tabletop games, but while I didn’t mess about with million-dollar budgets, I do have some idea of the relative amount of work-time required between managing a classless, skill-based campaign and managing the opposite.
(For those who like this kind of thing underpinned by “evidence,” the tabletop game I ran for the longest time — about 8 years — was Ars Magica, which is pretty much a skill-based game with incredibly messy and open-ended rules, at least the ruleset we used, which was mostly 3rd ed with a smattering of 2nd, 4th and house rules.)
Once again. In a purely theoretical sense I still don’t see what’s so contentious about “skill-based is harder to design and balance than class-based” — I really don’t. As an extremely general statement, it seems pretty straightforward to me. Given the perils of speaking for others at this stage, I won’t — but I certainly never said that just because something is more difficult to design, nobody should bother with it.
Record-straightening #2. I never made any comments about easy/hard and choice/not-choice. Other people’s drums. Sure, I have stuff to say about those things, but I didn’t say them in that post.
I’m still boggling at how this has, once again, become a debate about easy-mode versus iron-man Mr. Real Player, even in terms of development. If you like structure, you’re a sheeple. If you like to be able to screw up your character without hope of recovery, you’re a brave pioneer forging ahead into the wilds of game adventure.
Yes, I’m paraphrasing rather inaccurately. I felt it was my turn.
I’m definitely starting to think it would be useful for the gaming community as a whole to lose the “if it made me want to chew my arms off, it was BETTER” elitist attitude we’re dragging around with us whether we notice it or not. There are arguments to be made for both simplicity and complexity and they’re a great deal more, um, complicated than simply saying one is better than the other, which is a pretty meaningless assertion without context, actually.
I’m done griping now. Move along. Nothing to see here, classy or otherwise.
* Please. No advice on how I should quit drinking so much coffee if it makes me that grumpy. Can’t a person even use hyperbole on her site anymore without being adviced-at? I’m really just grumpy by nature and coffee has nothing to do with it. Now get off my damn lawn!
… it occurs to me how much fun I have when I’m gaming, and I remember to take a screenshot. I’ve been taking quite a few screenies in WoW of late, and while most of them aren’t blog-quality, some of them are quite fun and I am hereby inflicting them on you all.
Ironically, for a game that touts its All About The Endgame nature, WoW is amazingly good at the levelling part. It’s been about a calendar month since I came back to WoW, and my main was 55 when I did so. She’s now 82 — and yeah, that’s probably not much in a month for most people, especially in WoW, especially with the new levelling curves, but to me it still seems amazingly rapid.
The thing is, though, I don’t feel like I’ve been rushing through anything or skipping content in my level-ho attempts to climb the ladder of MMO social importance. Quite the contrary. I’ve sampled a zone here, a quest hub there, and every time I’ve wanted to move on because a zone got tedious or because I’d just had my fill of bloooooo (Zangarmash, I’m looking at YOU!), I’ve been able to do so and find another fun and interesting place to explore.
The Cataclysm content, which I finally reached a couple of days ago, has been very similar. I could be organised and do each zone (or one of each pair) in a methodical fashion… but I’m not methodical. It’s almost a dirty word as far as my brain is concerned, and that — among other things — is why I will never be a computer programmer or a brain surgeon (though I haven’t quite given up on rocket scientist yet). So yes, I’ve been working through Vashj’ir in a relatively linear fashion, which isn’t difficult because the zone is very linearly organised, but I’ve still found ways to a) get side-tracked, b) miss quests and have to go back for them, c) accidentally enter the Horde quest hubs despite the enormous RED-NOT-ALLIANCE flags outside, and d) explore other places, like Mount Hyjal. Speaking of Hyjal, I’m not sure I like the place, but I’ll give it more than 3 quests before I make up my mind.
Okay, that’s my stab at content for the day. Have some pix.
I can actually remember a time before mail in games. Better yet, I remember dropping stuff on the ground in Asheron’s Call (because you could do that there) and hoping I could swap characters before a) someone else ran by and nicked my stuff or b) the landscape sweeper code made it all vanish. Hoping, at that time, that my ropey dial-up singing-modem paying-local-calls UK internet connection wouldn’t crap out and dump me out of game, metaphorically hopping up and down in a frenzy to try to get back to my stuff before it was gone forever.
Then we got housing and chests we could use for item swappage, so that pleasant little ritual ended. Whew.
Then came SWG, which boasted a mail system — because, you know, it’s a galaxy far, far away where they have decent electronics and the only medieval aspect is sartorial. (Robes and cloaks? Srsly? And we ate it up.) Problem was, rather like the chat system when the game launched, and rather like many other systems when the game launched, mail didn’t work all that well. And you couldn’t mail stuff, you could just mail words. (I think. Don’t hurt me if my memory is faulty. I only seem divine, but I’m as human and flawed as the rest of you.)
And then came WoW, with its apparently antiquated but actually rather useful mail system. And cheap. Let’s not forget cheap. In LOTRO, mailing a packet of tissues is going to cost you half a year’s looting pay, mailing armour is going to give you sticker shock, and you can only mail one item at a time. Faugh!
Okay, so the WoW mail system is pretty much just for mailing items back and forth. The text font used is barely legible and it’s not like you get enough space to do any Abelard & Heloise-level correspondence, even though you can save the text as an item to keep forever in your bags or bank space. Well, almost forever. I’d saved a message from not long after launch, where somehow I won some spontaneous Ironforge-chat competition (back when IF chat was still bearable) and a char called Mordeci kindly sent me — I can’t remember, but it was a whole wodge of money at the time. 100g? Something like that. Anyway, said saved message was still in my bank when I came back a couple of weeks ago, but couldn’t be read. I guess even saved mail has an expiration date in WoW.
So I’ve been mailing stuff back and forth, mostly blow-uppables for my half-assed (and not only because she’s a dwarf) Enchanter alt. But I keep wondering if it’s really worth it. Crafting in WoW is painful and expensive and it’s level-limited, and my alts are mostly in their 20s and 30s, not high enough to really get any of these skills to a useful-output level. It’s probably going to be a lot cheaper for me to beg, borrow or buy what I need from much-leeter guildies who do have useful crafting skills, or from the Auction House. I should probably be selling those crappy greens I loot to some other poor bastard who wants to level their Enchanting.
Well. At least it’s not costing me much to mail.
PS: This week, I shall be mostly titling from Emotional Rescue, probably my third favourite album of all time (though the rankings vary), partly because of the huge number of angsty teenage memories associated with it. Wonder where my vinyl went…?