Friday, November 2, 2012

It lives!

Readers of this blog dropped by about 40% since I stopped writing in March. … This makes me wonder whether those 60% actually ever read my posts, or only the link list. Anyway, I might write a bit again in the future. No promises, though.

There’s a lot to comment on since my last post. For example, Guild Wars 2. I bought it; I played it; for a few days. I stopped playing. What did I like? Some basic concepts. Having different abilities depending on the ‘weapon’ you wield is a great idea. The graphics look nice.
What didn't I like? Hearts seem artificial, gamey, to me. So does under-water play; I’m not a fish; I don’t want to play a fish. Group combat seemed chaotic; I think I said before that the holy trinity – as much as I dislike it - shouldn't be abandoned lightly. .. And that’s it. GW2 just didn't catch me. The reason is not that playing in itself wasn't fun - it was about as much fun as playing any other MMO. The problem was that I didn't have any perspective – no goal to reach. Not even exploring the world. Markers that tell me what to explore next are ridiculous, in my opinion.

Diablo III - that was a fun game; for a while. I played a mage on all difficulty levels and only stopped at the highest difficulty, which was ridiculous to solo-play / pug. I’m fine with that. I played D3 for about as long as I played D1 or D2. I only used the AH for the second highest difficulty level because it was necessary. D3 won’t capture me or many other players long-term, I think. Blizzard, of course, agrees. Otherwise they had asked for a monthly subscription.
In my opinion, the developers couldn't resist and handcrafted too many areas. And the areas, which they didn't handcraft, don’t contain any gameplay-relevant features. For a random map generator to be useful, it has to create more than just noise. If I don’t need to care where the next randomly-generated corner is, I don’t.

What else ... Well, Keen has a good post on money and MMOs. Of course, he is right. Money is not the issue. I didn't stop playing GW2 because it costs too much. When I think about what to play next I never, ever, look at how much it costs. I’m an MMO player - I’m not looking for distractions, I am looking for something to care about. I would easily spend 50€ a month for a really good MMO. Even at that price a MMO can be cheap if it only replaces eating out every now and then. Oh – and f2p isn't just a business model. It changes the gameplay!

Syncaine is correct, too. Games that only offer 20-minute activities are fundamentally different from what is traditionally called a MMO. A good MMO offers all kinds of activities – dungeons that require 10 minutes and dungeons that require 3 hours; battles that last for 48+ hours which you can enter and drop out whenever you want. Activities that require lengthy preparation and activities that you can participate in just after you logged in. Did I mention that I liked farming mobs in dangerous areas where joining a party is useful but not mandatory and the question how to attack which mob from where provides an interesting decision?

Oh – I played WoW with my girlfriend lately. A friend told her about it and she knows that I have *some* experience with that game. We made new characters and stayed below lvl20. She has no experience with computer games (only consoles and facebook). She had real trouble controlling her priest with the mouse; constantly running into walls and complaining that she didn't know where I am, when I was usually right behind her.
She found it silly that I can swim in full-body armor and I successfully resisted the urge to defend ‘my game’. Making rivers and bridges irrelevant from a gameplay point of view, makes potentially interesting decisions irrelevant. And then, suddenly, around lvl16 she told me: "This is boring, everything dies so fast." She is a holy priest and she’s right.


  1. Welcome back!

    What race did she pick in WoW. I want to hear that you two played pandas. :)

  2. We were both humans. If she had wanted to play a panda ..
    I'd rather not think about it ;).
    Btw, I hadn't noticed so far, but the barber seems to be a significant money sink ;)

  3. I really hope you get back at blogging nils, not that many good bloggers around me thinks.

  4. I second the above motions! We're glad to have you back and hope you hang around!

  5. welcome back nils :) not only was reading your post but most of them still use them on various forums

  6. For quite a while after you stopped posting your blog was still one of the top referrals to mine. I asked whether people were using it as jump-off for other blogs and several people confirmed they were doing just that.

    On the underwater thing, don't most MMOs have underwater gameplay? Pretty much all the ones I have ever played do. What's different about the GW2 version?

  7. Welcome back :)

    BTW ask her: would it be more fun if the mobs took longer to die? :)
    (they do in Pandaria, BTW, at least until you're not full raid geared)

  8. Wordpress is years behind in adequate blogroll technology. These days I subscribe to everything via Google Reader so I can bypass the firewall at work, but up until that point I always came here.

    Also: yay!

  9. I knew it ;)
    you've been commenting more again, he he...

  10. Hrm, that sniper owes me a refund.

    Well, good to see you back anyway. ;)

  11. Welcome back, Nils. I've been a reader of your blog for quite some time and this year took up blogging myself, so I'm looking forward to debating with you in the future.

    Also, did you tell your gf that the "real game" starts after max level? By trivialising the content, Blizzard only furthered this idea. Perhaps she would change her mind if she got a glimpse of the PvE scene in LFD... Unless you love her well, in which case you should not take her near any such community cesspits. Roleplaying is the solution ;)

  12. Thank fuck you're back.

  13. Good to see you posting again :)

  14. Great to have you back. Do you regret deleting all of your high level characters yet?

    I'm still trying to convince my s.o to play an MMO. Or anything that isn't solitaire. So far, no luck.

  15. I too bought and played GW2. Actually, the verb should be 'play', even though MoP is taking up the bulk of my time. I mostly agree with your characterization of GW2, but one thing I love is the chaos of group combat. Good riddance to the holy trinity, I say.

    Even in WoW, the best group play was always when either the tank or healer died or dropped group. Then the group came alive! People started to think instead of just sticking to their same old habits.

    The same is true in GW2. It seems chaotic at first, but after a while you see new behaviour emerging: crowd-control and kiting stand in for tanking; swapping aggro to allow you a chance to self-heal; buffs and potions, and talking to each other! Oh, yes, they're back in vogue again!

    Also, so is wiping. WoW has got to the point where people expect always to complete an instance without wiping, and if a wipe happens, somebody must be blamed and crucified. The days when wiping was a learning experience seem to be far behind us in WoW, now replaced by wiping as a whining experience. In GW2, wiping is not unusual, and people are fine with it as long as they can see what went wrong and how to improve. But in WoW, instead of looking to see what we can improve, it seems we look for somebody to blame (I rarely see any constructive criticism, such as suggestions for what to change. just whining of the form "rogue, your DPS sucks", or "healer, wtf", or "aggro, tank"). Once a scapegoat is found, it seems to absolve the rest of us from any examination of our own performance.

  16. Thank god you are back, I missed all your posts on the Euro crisis / politics and economics in general / in depth game analysis :)