Free To Play in Retrospec

There is a great deal to admire when it comes to Free 2 Play MMOs. It’s being called the new standard. While big releases seem to move towards the model of Free to Play after launch, the latest release of Guild Wars 2, said to the community, building games to be Free to Play should now and should have always been the standard.

While the benefits are overwhelmingly obvious. The basic lack of losing $15 a month seems all too enticing. The overall effect doesn’t seem to be any different for me. Whether GW2 released as a subscription model or it released as a F2P does not change its position to me any differently. In the end, no matter which model they went with, they only ever would have been receiving $60 of my money. The box comes with a fee month in a subscription plan. And this game doesn’t have the content of a month in it. It doesn’t really have a week.

There in lies the advantage of always being a F2P model. We don’t get to call it a failure. When GW2 sold 2 Million copies it was a success and the story stopped there. Less than a week later GW2 sales fall to unexpected lows, as ArenaNet worked to sabotage their own sales. Their sales went down 84% in week two. But no one cares. Apparently that is not worth noting when deciding whether an MMO is a success. SWTOR sells 2.1M overnight and holds 1.7M extra in sales over the next 3 months. But we call it a flying failure for not holding our subscriptions for more than 3 months. GW2 sells 2M a couldn’t move another box to save their life, and on purpose as well, and it’s a flying success?

An 84% drop in revenue the very next week and it’s still a success? I don’t get the community. They are either truly mathematically illiterate or simple easy to please people. I don’t believe the latter to be true. EA’s expansion for Sims 3: Super Natural kicked GW2 sales in the face. That’s right. A bullshit expansion to a 5-year-old game kicked GW2 balls in numbers. You think EA is afraid of GW2? Not in the least.

So while the community, for some god forsaken reason, wants all other producers to see GW2 and hope that we never see subscriptions again, I very much doubt it. I would much rather companies see the value in actual game upkeep to the community.

I think the wrong lesson is being taught in the MMO world. There is this Subscription Versus F2P Model battle. And they are both wrong. The F2P model fails to deliver us sustained playability and customer support. It lacks the very intent of MMO, which is an ever evolving world. The Subscription model in essence works, it just hasn’t seen the fruition it intended. It wanted the subscription to uphold Customer Service, to pay for continued Monthly additions, to provide wide arrays of free content. And each game released with this intention. Only to find the running the game and producing were far in different scopes. It’s sad to see the companies that wanted to provide this, felled face first. The unforeseeable failure has left us with F2P as our only option?

It’s hard to tell what is on the horizon at the moment. But I hope for better things from the future. GW2 was not the answer, in many regards.

GW2: The Story … Part 2

I wrote originally on some of my intitial impressions on poorly written story in GW2 here.

https://mrmeh.wordpress.com/2012/08/30/gw2-the-story/

I meant to write on this early, but the more and more I run the Arah dungeon, this continually upsets me. If you ever going to run the Arah Dungeon in story mode, for all that you can respect, skip the story. It’s unbelievably upsetting.

So you are fighting your way through the dungeon and guess what? All of Destiny’s Edge is back together.

Oh it’s so amazing. They hit like paper and die like lemmings, but hey, story.

So you get to the point where you need to escape. A flying ship has come, but somehow, like all of GW2 story, some poor sap needs to stay behind to defend to make sure the escape happens. Spoiler alert, this is the entire backbone of GW2 story telling. Gandolf style, I’ll hold them off but I will refuse to pull myself back up even though their is no longer a reason I shouldn’t just leave with everyone else.

Firstly, you are climbing a rope to board the ship and taking off. No one needs to stay behind. But sadly and thankfully, Logan the Human does it. We all hate this guy. If you have a soul, you hate this guy.

You leave Logan behind, everyone cries. You then take to the skies with somehow 15 other flying ships and battle in epic proportion hordes of undead dragons. Your ship flies screaming through the skies as fast as possible trying to outrun the dragons as you fight them and take them out of the sky. You triumphantly kill mulitple dragons and meet up with a giant more poweriful flying ship, since yours in broken.

Logan is piloting the new ship.

NO ONE QUESTIONS WHY LOGAN IS PILOTING THE SHIP AND NOT FUCKING DEAD INSIDE THE ARAH TOMB.

You go to talk to Logan to try and make sense of this. All he wants to talk about is how much better he and Dipcharr are doing in their feelings.

Why GW2 Will Fail

Oh no, controversy.

Let’s go ahead and put the real facts about GW2 and ArenaNet out. I like to first off tell you, despite the title I do like GW2. But … I can say upfront as well, that if it were not a F2P model, I would not be happy in the least. This is not worth $15 a month. And since it’s literally not $15 a month, I take it for what it is. A $60 box game that just so happens to be a MMO.

The reality is, if this were a subscription MMO, we would be leaving, we would be kicking and we would be screaming. If you deny this, you are either so far up the rectum of ArenaNet, no one can help you. Or you have a level 30 character and somehow have decided to have full opinions on a game early.

Here’s the reality of the GW2 MMO, with brutal honesty as best as I can give it:

Continue reading

GW2: The Story …

I’m going to be upfront before you dive in. I am particularly jaded when it comes to story in themepark MMOs. RIFT made me want to punch teenage japanese girls for their influence in our gaming culture and GW2 isn’t too far off. Adults play MMOs. Why can we not have adult stories? I don’t mean sexual. I mean, not lame. There is difference between cartoons on Adult Swim and cartoons in the early day on Cartoon Network.  I’m just saying.

I really don’t like the story. I want to hear what they say, I just get lost in the girlish bullshit. However, there have been things that have made me go, “Holy Shit” in the past couple of days (may include spoilers if for some reason you actually enjoy the story): Top 3 for me:

Number 3:

There is a Heart Quest area in which an NPC wants to make the local Hylek population more friendly. Hyleks are giant tribal frog beings. For some reason, blue ones are nice to you. Red colored ones will attack on sight. This NPC notices this as well. Her plan is to paint them blue. Clearly that is the underlining issue. Their skin color. If this is a level 20 mission area I have to assume by level 60 I will be indoctrinated into the SS.

The quest if you so chose to accept it, is to take this paint gun and paint the local Hylek blue. Note the defensive properties of the paint gun are that of sneezing. And just because you turn them Blue, doesn’t make them nice. Also note over half of them are under water.

The area, so long as populated, is filled with over a dozen players going up and spraying a Hylek and running away very quickly as they can’t fight back. The spectical is humorous to watch. Definitely not to do. But if you want to laugh, go here. 

Number 2:

There is another Heart Quest that has you “Clean Up” the road. The basic idea is you are making the road safe for travelers. To do this you need to help terminate the existence of evil nasty Drakes. They seem to attack without warning.

Alternatively, there are Poachers about stealing the Drake’s Eggs from their nest. Stop them by finding defenseless frogs, pick them up and bring them to this (no joke) handy Frog Juicer. This will make you a Frog Essence Potion that you can lob at the poachers to keep them away from the eggs. I couldn’t stop laughing. And then you have to go pick up these frogs, and take them to said juicer. You actually animate carrying a frog.

That alone is fucked up. But then the whole logic of the quest hub is annoying to grasp.

KILL ALL THE DRAKES. LEAVE NONE. Except for their eggs. Let the children grow up parentless. Let them know the pain.

Some really fucked up NPCs.

Number 1:

If you chose the story line of being on the Council of Vigil and you so chose to go help the Hylek, you will start an undead storyline in which you go make nice with a tribe of Hyleks. Who for some reason are so retarded, the undead versions of them are among their populations and they didn’t even notice. Literally, you have 7 normal Hyleks standing there and this behemoth of one rotting in place with half its skin missing and they go on as normal. Apparently the key to convincing them is by opening an eye glass shop or give them nasal spray so they can smell the rotting next to them. But that’s not an option.

One brave Hylek means to aid you to win over the tribe, but first you need to save his brother. You follow and fight numberous undead for this Hylek to only find his brother too late and transformed. You must sadly kill, I guess technically rekill, his brother infront of him. This is sad for me. As for the first time in hours I actually paid attention to the horribly written story. Then your sadness goes from sad to OMFG.

To prove to the council that the undead have taken over, the brother decides that he must take his bother head to the council as proof. This head isn’t in some magical bag. No, the developers animated said severed head grotesquely on his bothers spear. And he continues to run about for 3 missions with said head.

This one I can’t get over. First a writer has to make up the story. That somehow got by review. And then he/she goes to a graphic artist and says “I need you to make me a Spear with Rotting Undead version of a Hylek head on it.” And everyone says “why” I assume. And they get the story and go “that makes sense.”

GW2: Level 80s Before Official Launch

No, no, it’s not me. I didn’t take off this week, and I like sleep. I’m only 40. Which is still leaps and bounds it seems over many.

As of 9PM EST last night (Monday) we had our first level 80 ding. He still didn’t go to sleep. No, he spent the next couple of hours getting the rest of his buddies to 80. We now have FIVE Level 80s. With a dozen around the corner in the 60s and 70s. With a major portion over 40.

Things that I have learned about leveling in GW2:

Open PVP WvWvW does give you a ton of XP. But you have to stay on track. Take objective, defend objectives. Kills are kills, but not if they take away from objectives. The map is overall too big to maximize XP gain. But … as long as you aren’t just dwindling about looking for kills, and take things, you’ll get a ton of XP. Actually, if you have the gold. Pick up siege and defend common attack points. You’ll get massive kills and you’ll bank massive defense scores.

Group levelling is stronger, but it requires a team that stays on track. There is no split XP, so if you can group and all do everything together and push through, you’ll do fine. There are no follow options so, staying on track is the difficulty.

When completing task in an area. Pick the kill stuff option to complete it. “The Charr encampment requires help. Kill invading separatist, fix bombard stations, or train nearby troops to help.” If you didn’t take that entire area by killing Separatist, just punch yourself in the balls. You could work today and either a) get paid or b) work for the satisfaction. If you aren’t killing you aren’t getting paid. Think of it like that.

Overall my understanding of how they breached 80 so fast wasn’t just a manner of no sleep. They were levelling at amazing paces and no of it was due to XP boost purchases. They basically stayed together and did every event they could find. When they out levelled an area the travelled to lower areas and help the zone by wandering for these events. So, getting Gold in the events is your best bet. Other than escort missions. Those are apparently time sinks.

Going to buckle down tonight and tommorrow and try to breach atleast 60. I feel like a slacker now.

GW2: Launch and Mr. Meh’s Wish List

GW2 Launch went okay for me. I hear it went okay for lots of us. That seems like a success. If it wasn’t for free transfers, I would say the worrying and suffering would have been different.

I like many others just happen to take a nap Friday night, to awake a couple of minutes before Midnight. Sure enough, that special caveat that they were saving about opening 3 hours earlier wasn’t a lie. At midnight the servers opened. I, oh so delicately, made a very quick player, ignoring almost any custom designing to grab my name.

It was a good weekend overall. Levelling gets to be more annoying at times. I get set on completing an entire zone, and I keep running into Quest Areas that undoubtably seem well under-thought. I come into The Wildlands for the first time and there’s an area with an objective to Paint Frogs Blue. And then goto another area in which in wants me to kill Ogres. There are no Ogres. I have to resort to 20 mins of picking up Charr Supplies that spawn for little influence in an empty area.

Overall, I didn’t do much of story line paying attention during Beta, but took some time to listen this go. I have to say, again, much like RIFT, I much unimpressed with the story. Immersion is hard when you took all this time to write a story that makes Twilight seem deep and meaningful. I don’t get cute-sy theme park stories. Your game is played by adults. That’s just my beef. I want to like the story, I really do, but my lack of vagina keeps me from it.

As of Midnight last night I was Level 34. Top people in my guild were rounding the mid 50s.

And with that I get into my first GW2 Wish List:

WvWvW

You have multiple issues here. Mostly that the statistics and real-time data suck. It’s kind of like looking at the front number of the NASDAQ, truly, unless you are an idiot, this number means nothing if you have actual investments. Same goes for WvWvW. Oh look a Pie Chart, I know what I must do! Oh look NASDAQ is up, let me call my broker and tell him to buy something. Anything, clearly I can’t lose.

WvWvW is split in 4 ways. You have the middle map that is a 3 way server battle for domination. Then you have 3 repeat zones that represent a Home World for each Server present.

Currently WvWvW queues are a little bit ridiculous. What makes it sadder is you don’t even know what area needs help or which queues are lower. Maybe if we did, we could space out  the wait times.

We need more stats. Like how many are where and what are the approximate queue times.

I would personally like a more detailed stat display that outlined the points and the rewards. But, queue times would be nice.

Kill XP versus Chopping a Tree XP

Oh look 3 mobs. Oh look a tree. Guess which one you should pick?

I’m not saying nerf XP on gathering. I’m just saying, that killing mobs takes longer to gain XP than almost any other method.

Random Charr: I just spent 30 minutes battling my way out of that Ogre Encampment. I barely escaped with my life. But I did get 600XP!

Random Asura: I just spent 5 minutes climbing that staircase to that Point of Interest and received 750XP.

Think it’s worth it to take on a veteran or worse a champion? Nope. You are better off finding 2 nodes of mining. In some cases 1 is enough.

Though I did find a sort of broken NPC area. The clusters are packed and respawn ridiculously fast. Alone, you will die no matter what. In a group of 3, bring your XP bonuses and go at it. 6 levels in an hour. I hate my life, but I did it.

PvP Gear

Don’t make me go into dungeons. Please, please don’t do it. Give us PVP gear. Please!

GW2: Choose Wisely … or at least act like it matters.

It’s that time. A time of renewal. A time of planning. A time of … waiting.

It’s the worst of times. That little notch of space before a launch where you just casually play different games. I hate casual gaming.

I’m still buried deep in EVE for the time. And actually plan to keep playing. The PVP has just become that good. But what EVE lacks is family. It’s business. You can get along with your corpmates, but you still probably call them by their avatar’s name.

With GW2 fast approaching, it’s time to gear up and get set. It’s time to make decisions. It’s that time. Why?

Because, when you aren’t casual, neither are the people around you. This means they are there for launch, they are there for the first couple of weeks pioneering the landscape of the server, they are at the forefront of knowing their class the best, first. To change toons on Day 2 is far more detrimental than most assume.

I look back at RIFT for an example. In all terms the game was okay. It was the most amazing launch month for an MMO for me to date. No launch have I been in more interested than that one. The Open PVP server was amazing. But, then again, it was amazing because I was one of the top levels. No one was there to pick on me. It was wonderful. After that, I was only left with memories. I have to assume GW2 will be the same for me. Not the exact same way. But if nothing else the first weeks will be amazing, even if the game doesn’t work out long-term for me.

GW2 launch is actually a different start for me from all my other beginnings. In EVE I was recruited outside of game and had a Corp waiting for me. In EQII, I just plaid solo. Same happened for LOTRO and AOC. WAR I joined on my own and found many homes. It was WAR the made me realize, I wasn’t casual. From there I joined only in guilds to other games: AION, RIFT, SWTOR. In SWTOR, we made the PVP our own. We had to, BioWare didn’t realize it existed. We just assumed they would fix it. And in that wake we strategize and befriended different guilds to prepare for Open PVP in Ilum. Sadly, the complete opposite happened. BW just pulled out of Open PVP all together. Hopefully this is a testament to all future developers what it means to ignore endgame PVP.

But the guild friendships of the server endured. A collaboration of PVP focused players realized the flaws of SWTOR and prepared for GW2. After the first Betas, it became apparent that WvW would eventually mean numbers. Not the most, but numbers would mean something. These former SWTOR friends and enemies formed a joint guild to prepare. Which in itself is a neat idea. Players coming from older guilds willing to let go of the history and be apart of a new formation. It’s amazing to see the formation take place. But I have written on the subject before. To which I have heard, “What makes this so special? You think you are the only PVPers to do this?”

The answer is no and yes. No, I don’t think we are the only PVP oriented guild to form in the wake of a new MMO. But yes, I do think it will be a formidable force. But only time will tell. What will the internal politics do to the guild? What will game changes do? Will individual philosophies take over? Will the game just fall apart and claim the beginning and the end of the guild? I don’t care. What I do care about is being surrounded by the most competent professional MMO PVPers I have come across in years. And to be within a guild that discovers the best route, rather than reads up on the best route is in itself worth watching.

Right now, the ideas are set around, what class, what builds.

I was pretty much set on Guardian far before I should have settled. The class just screams volumes to the type of archetypes I play. More armour, off healing, buffs and debuffs with a little CC. It’s the Warrior Priest/DOK, Cleric design just in a new format. While a Mace and Shield will be required for any healing, I’m quite intrigued with the Great Hammer. Single DPS with a barrier. Sounds perfect.

As for a race, the Norn I thought were for me. Then I realized how ridiculous they looked. Therefore the opposite must be awesome.

I’m pretty set on an Asura Guardian for launch. Pretty set. Now, the question or the bet is, how long can I level before saying fuck it, and going straight to WvWvW? I say Level 3, the moment I have to wait to do a quest with others around me.