Rift: 1.1 Event Disaster and the Future

I would love to say that I was even apart of the mayhem that was Saturday’s closure to a the World Event we have been waiting for, but I wasn’t. I was in queue for a good 2 hours and gave up trying to play. The world event should be a sign for what not to do. I’m not quite sure what bring designers to layout such flaws and hope for the best.

“Let’s us make a World Event that uses our Rift System to the fullest”
Very cool.

“Let’s make it have stages of building up to a climax.”
Still, very cool.

“Let’s make the first stage last for weeks and only contain players doing repeatable grinding daily.”
Ummm … okay. Not exactly what I want, but it’s technically new content so …

“Then let’s have the Epic Stage 2 and 3 of the event take place on a Saturday at Noon only.”
No no, that’s cool. Having something happen only at one point for a short amount of time is totally not asking too much from the player base.

“Let’s make sure this event happens in one place on the server so everyone is in one spot.”
Yes, please keep testing your server to the fullest. We all know you are so invincible that your game and servers are fully capable of handling every single player in one place at one time. Good idea.

“Since that would be a tremendous burden to the server, let’s also significantly lower the population cap for each server.”
Oh, that’s not asking for trouble. On top of forcing players to be at one place at one time to be apart of this epic event, let’s also make it so they might not be able to get to log-in. No please, keep going, you have clearly thought this design through and through.

If you would have posted how you planned the World Event to work weeks ago, you would have had plenty of feedback early from the entire player base telling you how this was the dumbest design plan ever imaginable. Yes, I saw the immediate response from the forums that will basically just give us the rewards through the mail. How nice. We all love just being given things, we hate working for it.

So hopefully 1.1 is a giant lesson learned.

  1. Don’t build up to a 1 day, couple of hours event. Events should be done in my leisure. As that is what gaming is, leisure. Not scheduled and marked on my calendar.
  2. Don’t build your epic event to happen in one place for everyone on the server to come crash it. Should be obvious.
  3. Queues well over a month after release is not a good thing. That’s a big point, I think you are missing, Trion. Your forum post is very nice in how you are concerned about that the event wasn’t the spectacular thing that you wanted it to be for those in-game. I think you forget not only that many couldn’t get in-game, but that some were not even available on a Saturday afternoon to see this failure take place.

In the future we want less dailies that are just a grindfest. Go find 3 shadows around city. Make me. Bump your crap rewards and this extra set of quests trying to get me to something useless. Make the close 3 rifts quest a bit more challenging by making it Majors or something. Take away grind and replace in somewhat challenging a rewarding.

Center focus is not a good idea. 1 thing + 1 place + a short amount of time = disaster.

Only slightly disappointed,

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A Gamer’s Journey to the Marathon (Part 3)

If you missed Part 1 or Part 2, they are linked for your reading pleasure.

I have to apologize for the delay of this article to my constant readers. It has been sitting in my draft section for months now, and I know a bunch of you have been anxious to read on.

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The Quacks

I ended my last race in the Maryland Half Marathon, completely worn out and with a leg pain of suspect shin splints to worry about. The days after the Half were filled with pain and regret. I would pause training for days of rest, then put on my shoes and go out to run. Each one ending in under a 1/4 mile with a very sad limp back to the house. I would spend more time soaking in hot water, then I did in my shoes, and it was eating me alive. I went and sought medical help.

My first doctor, must have had 5 loved ones murdered by marathons. Her outspoken hatred for them was not something you expected to hear. She proclaimed marathons as a sad large-scale boast to the aging masses as a way to prove that they weren’t as old as they so were. Running is great for you, but apparently up until mile 7; after that your body starts to eat away key nutrients. And marathons are apparently the worse thing for you. She didn’t understand that it wasn’t that I didn’t agree, I just didn’t care. How do I get through this?

“You don’t.”

My second doctor (imagine that), who’s English-speaking skills weren’t too different from his free hand writing skills, had no problem spending all the money in the world on tests. No interesting hatreds or life stories from this one. But it did end with the result in 3 weeks of tests and exams. Prognosis: “You just need to rest.”

And so I do for a near month, plenty of Co-pays and testing bills later.

The Booby Bus

Months ago before my Half Marathon, our company participates in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure and offers to pay each employee’s entry in. Normally it is a 5K walk around, for women to parade in pink holding signs in an inspirational thing. Not normally a race you jump onto as it’s not organized in the normal tag and number on your chest. But this one is free for me.

Don’t get me wrong, I love tattas. But I am big donator to Winn and to other causes that go directly to research organizations. When your claim to fame is $1 billion spent in marketing awareness but have nothing to show for money to research, you ain’t getting my money, willfully with a smile. But to each their own. This race is two parts, a 5K run and then the walkers get to walk about after somewhat in parade style. All paid for by my company. Why not?

I’ll tell you why not, because you will be the only dude not wearing pink in bus full of very cranky angry old women, ready to murder you for simply having a penis. That’s why. There was a point on the way down to D.C. in which I thought they were going to throw me out of the bus. The front most eldest crank has a giant cache of signs; heavy signs. One of which is far too large for any normal lady to carry, but surely the only male to be on the bus would surely oblige.

“I’m running, sorry.” I said very cautiously. “I’m not doing the walk, I’m in for the run.”

“So, you won’t be holding this sign, is what you are saying?”

“Ummmmmmmmm ………… ummmmmmmmmmmmmm…….Yes,” I responded with a flinch.

It was an awkward 3 miles left in the ride in silence and daggers of anger in my direction. There was at least one girl there under the ripe age of 137. In fact it was my little long distance running friend from work in Part 1. The one that didn’t answer her phone on the St. Patties Day Race. I had someone to talk to at least.

I instantly disappeared from the bus area as we landed. And found my way to the race area with Ms. Real Runner.

The Booby Run

This small 5K would be my first running activity since my Half Marathon near a month prior with small spurts of failure of trying in between. I had not even jogged once before this time in hopes of saving my leg. At the start of the race I had been chatting it up with the Ms. Real Runner and she proclaimed that she had not been keeping up this year and was extremely slow. Well, so it my time to shine and stay with her pace. Awesome. Apparently, her out of shape pace is almost my pace. If only you used this equation:

HerPace  = MyPace * LudicrouslyFaster

It’s just a little Ludicrously Faster. Who doesn’t have a little Ludicrously Faster in their back pocket? So even though 3 miles should be extremely easy, it is not when you attempt it at speeds 2 minutes under your traditional pace. You want to know how to impress someone? Don’t do that. That’s how.

Wait, but it gets better. That pain that should have gone away by now, just has erupted in full-blown sensation of agony. Pure unadulterated agony. This marathon just isn’t going to happen, I thought.

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I was going to just end the series as a Trilogy. But the actual Marathon story itself was so large, it was no longer an enjoyable length of reading. So my Trilogy is now a Saga. Be on the lookout for Part 4 coming soon.

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PVE and PVP Harmony is Impossible

I was reading an article over by Sprinks on SWTOR class design and ultimately she gets to a point in which she asks the question: (major paraphrase) with all the off specs and specialization, what’s the likelihood that I choose the best class for that function? And that I just don’t “… pick a warrior/ burglar and the paladin/loremaster outperforms me in every respect.

Now, I don’t normally interact with her blog, but I do get around to reading it as I read lots of other bloggers far outside my normal genre of MMOs and games. But it struck me immediately odd that this was even a question. As soon as I read it my response in my head was, “Of course.” Every game with classes (IE themepark fantasy) are going to be inherently imbalanced. That’s why all developers always spout the same post launch reflections and that is always about class balance. They always say it because it’s just guaranteed to be a problem.

And not by a little bit. By a lot. It’s just the plague of the game design. You start with the basics of your design which is MMO PvE. I need something to take a punch, a tank is born. Then I need something to heal that tank, and a healer is born. Then I need to something that can kill that monster, so the DPS was the next obvious choice. Simple enough. But then it’s going to, even in the simplest of concepts, turn ugly. Because there must be some sort of PVP/PVE balance Tanks and Healers are too strong for what they do. Our PVE needs to be challenging. So it moves in a direction that forces the Tank to be super hard-hitting to retain agro and our healers have too much healing to make sure they are on their toes healing. The result in PVP from the PVE checks are Tanks that hit too hard and then healers that are unkillable. It’s the same problem in every game. 

On top of that we need separation in our DPS. So comes the Ranged vs. Melee. In itself in PVE is bound for imbalance right there. Just the concept of a class being able to be full-time ranged is room for disaster. Because ultimately, the PVE will be designed to challenge the Melee by putting in DPS stops with AOEs, meaning the ranged have the full advantage by never having to stop DPSing. We then give the melee a much stronger single target hit to make up for all the stops and obstacles and by doing so we make a PVP nightmare by giving a class the ability to one/two shot someone. Now the ranged is jealous that they have cast times and so we give them tremendous AOE and Magic Power as an advantage. And so the AOE balance game will take place. It’s the same evolution in every post-launch game.

Now, we don’t stop there. We need mass variety. So then we invent at least 10 different versions of a healer and then multiple different versions of a tank. And then we make the DPS so complex we can’t even map what the hell most the classes do. So then the problem with diversity in this aspect is if your function is to do this one thing, IE, Tank and hold agro, Heal and keep it alive, DPS and kill it fast. If I only need to do one thing absolutely the best, then at some point, one of these multitude of ‘classes’ is going to have that aspect far better. This class is better, nerf it. This class is pointless, buff it. The circle of jealousy and regret evolves forever and ever and ever.

And it doesn’t just end there. You still have games on top of those moves, then going and making different versions of mirror classes on the opposing realm. So not only can you be potentially jealous of a team-mate, now you can be completely frustrated with something your side can never have. The problem with class balance isn’t that a developer can’t seem to do it right. It’s because it was impossible to do based off the design itself from the very start.

So what can we tell about SW:TOR advanced class system? The same thing we can tell about every game that has ever had classes. One class will be better at what it does; Everyone will notice during Beta; That class will be over played; That class will get nerfed; A new star will take the role of major complaints; And in months take a nerf. Atleast one class will be gimp for a major term of the game, it may never see a buff. Rinse and then repeat, until everybody at some point is unhappy from jealousy, being nerfed, or being ignored. As a developer in charge of balance, you just can’t win. Someone’s going to hate you. By the 2nd year of your game, a guaranteed everyone will hate you.

Our current themepark is an evolution of a PVE concept that has a major focus for One Boss to kill. As a result, we want tank, heal, dps. However, its impossible to have our PVP work that way. So, we have imbalance. Because the two worlds don’t work the same. Now if a game came along and said “I’ll make the PVE like PVP, and then we can all enjoy the Pizza,” that would be balance. However, it would be the worst PVE that anyone has ever played. PVE acting like players. Just a bunch of random NPCs running about /shout obscenities. What, would you encounter a boss that’s major attack was demoralization by nerd rage logging off so you couldn’t kill him? I can see it now, the ultimate boss; The Troll. As you enter his chamber he /emotes, “LOLUMAD bro?”

I don’t really have a suggestion on how balance this mess we seem to enjoy to complain about. The only real thing that I understand about playing a class is to find a way to enjoy it. If it’s too good you are just going to get nerfed to oblivion. If it’s too gimp, then you are bound for a buff. At some point you have to just enjoy what you play and make it your own. I have a lot of respect for those players that found something they liked and stuck through it, despite the disadvantage. They made it their own and wore the badge of honor, till they finally nerd raged and played another game.

So when SW:TOR hits I will roll and play something I think I can enjoy based off the synopsis I am given. Most likely a Jedi Consular, even despite the fact I hate what I see in the videos. I don’t think I’ve seen such static movements on a character since Mr. Grim from Twisted Metal. Don’t know what I am talking about?

If you are planning to play one like I am, prepare for the most graphically impressive left hand movements you have ever seen, ever. No, these aren’t strategically taken screens. Its’ literally because the Conuslar’s body pose never changes. Despite this, I will still play it. Even if they do made a healer class based on the Hutt race that was 100% more effective, I will still play what I want. But like every gamer, I’ll bitch the entire time. Such is what the developer deserves for making their game the way it is.