Thursday, June 14, 2012

Guild Wars 2 and The Secret World

I haven't really posted anything about a couple of anticipated MMOs: Guild Wars 2 and The Secret World. This is because I'm not really enthused about either of them, but for different reasons. Also, I may just have New MMO Fatigue.

Guild Wars 2

I find the hype and advocacy for this game a little off-putting. It might be really good. But the atmosphere and situation really reminds me of Warhammer Online, and we all know how that turned out.

I'm also not a fan of F2P and cash shops. Game devs need to eat, and invariably game design ends up pushing you towards the cash shop. In a subscription game, the necessary monetary transaction is taken care of up front, rather than needing to push the players into it. As well, I don't like how F2P games end up relying on a narrow slice of the player base. Sub games end up resting on the shoulders of the entire player base. I think that is more fair, and more likely to lead to good results for everyone.

As well, there just hasn't been any element that has jumped out and grabbed me. There are several elements that look somewhat interesting, but nothing seems worth getting up for.

Finally, it's a non-Trinity game. I don't see what the replacement basic game skeleton is, and so I assume it's going to end up as a zerg. I'm not a fan of zergs.

The Secret World

Here's four requirements for a successful MMO:

  1. Responsiveness [1]
  2. Lack of Bugs
  3. Polish
  4. Low System Requirements
I do like Funcom's willingness to try new things. I thought Age of Conan broke a lot of new ground in mechanics, as did Anarchy Online back in the day. I am sure that The Secret World will continue that tradition.

But I was there for the launch of Anarchy Online and Age of Conan. Those four requirements above are the antithesis of Funcom's modus operandi. I would be absolutely shocked if The Secret World met any single one of those requirements, let alone all four.

I guess I just don't have the patience to work through buggy messes any more, even if they are highly innovative buggy messes.

Also, I'm still unhappy about Dreamfall.

1. Responsiveness is the lack of delay between pushing a button and the action occurring. WoW is still the gold standard here.

18 comments:

Fn0 said...

Someone who plays a sub-based MMO twice a week for 2 hours pays the same amount as someone who plays 16 hrs a day. When I played WoW a lot many years ago (tho not as avid as portrayed) I saw this as a minor issue and being on the higher curve compared to the casual 2 hr a week player I felt blessed. I had a "good deal", they were sortof paying for me because I got to play more than them.

Realizing that may change one day (and it did) I dismissed it, and I kept believing sub-based games were more fair than F2P because everyone pays the same amount and is also allowed to play the same amount (endless amount of time per month on one account). You pay to improve the game with your subscription leading to more content inbetween expansions. The horror stories of F2P (from Gevlon's WoT revelations to LOTRO's mandatory shop)... boy, was I wrong.

First of all, GW2 is not free to play. The BWE are not even free to play because you need to buy the game before you can participate. At least, that is how it is for most people. The beta is essentially a way to market the game. Nothing new. But the combination of paying for the game (like P2P, but without sub) and containing a store (like F2P) is rather unique. I'd argue Diablo 3 has something similar because of RMAH mechanism. The compare is moot though: I can tell you, from first hand experience on BWE2 as well as based on developer quote, that in GW2 the shop is not used to improve your performance in any kind of way. It is purely vanity and utility; not output-related. You will not gain 1 more damage from it. This is in stark contrast with Diablo 3 RMAH.

Recently I finally learned how sub-based games keep one hooked. The trick is that they all include a grind mechanism in end-game, and they all require end-game to make the game start. The grind exists solely as filler content inbetween content patches and resets inbetween. In WoW, this has gone as far as players getting to last lvl without even knowing their class because the player was never challenged during lvling experience. In end-game because other players grind, you must grind too to keep up with them and beat the next difficulty in PvE or be more effective in PvP. You either succeed by wasting a lot of time (feels like work), doing your dailies (same shit different day), or you fail and are outgeared (why am I always lowest? Ahhh..). To achieve this you must play the game as much as possible, and you must keep subscribed. It makes these MMOs not about skill, but about gear thus lowering the skill level as competing factor. Also, the people who grind the gear have more experience as a direct result of their grinding. A player who'd like to play the game casual cannot compete with these players. Because GW2 is not about grinding gear but all about lvling, gear playing little to no role, and also encourages teamplay in a natural instead of enforced way I am definately enthusiast about the game. A main in GW2 will be the character you play most, and people are encouraged to play alts to play different storyline (much like in SWTOR but with less overlap and more ways to level up, and with a far superior game engine and gameplay experience IMO).

Fn0 said...

About the zerg: the zerg in Diablo 3 multiplayer inferno worked because ressurection was quick. This has been nerfed. It works still because people get oneshot, and because repair bill are low. Repair bill will get higher, and burst received becomes lower. Recently, in multiplayer damage of enemy is already not increased anymore, only health. In theory it is impossible to do zerg on boss fight because then the fight would reset. This makes it also, again in theory (don't know from first hand experience), impossible to do zerg in a 5m dungeon in Gw2. You can only do such in a game if you outgear and/or outskill the content. I have seen no proof of such while questing as low level. I suspect in 5m dungeon it only works on easy difficulty till some degree, depending on your definition of zerg. The hard difficulty will instead be challenging and instead of healer healing the fire dancers or PvP geared tank who managed to to press the magic random button, each person has their own responsibility to survive when they have to tank. This means players need to respec inbetween fight to get the best out of their play while surviving when they are tanking. You still beat the boss together, but with a lot of personal responsibility and certainly without a bossmod playing the game for you. You can easily recognize the people who fail: they die first every try, and the good news is that this time there is no healer to blame (OOM or not, working his ass off or asleep). Players in GW2 are also motivated and intelligent enough to find the dungeon entrance.

Helistar said...

In end-game because other players grind, you must grind too to keep up with them and beat the next difficulty in PvE

Actually, the strong point of WoW compared to the competition is that you don't need to grind at all. All activities are self-sustaining: you gain PvP upgrades by doing BGs/Arenas, you gain PvE upgrades by doing raids.
I've not run heroics in more than one year (except for a single run in the last patch's ones, to see them).
This means I can do the activity I like, and ignore the rest.

It makes these MMOs not about skill, but about gear thus lowering the skill level as competing factor.

Again, wrong. The top level gear for raiding is obtained through raiding, and the much-criticized "dance" approach makes it so that gear is a lot less critical than you may believe. Execution is the key.

If you really want to go WoW bashing for the sake of GW2, at least do it on real information, and not on misinformed stuff you got from random bloggers here and there.

As for GW2, I've yet to understand what is so new about it. And it still has the feature I hate most: LEVELS, which more or less guarantees that I will not be able to enjoy it at the pace I like if I even remotely hope to play it with my friends. I'm still undecided whether to buy it or not, but the "buy once, play forever" model is very tempting.

This means players need to respec inbetween fight to get the best out of their play while surviving when they are tanking.

A game which forces people into roles that don't care playing: what could possibly go wrong? :)

Predictions:
- it will be zerg.
- mass exodus from the game after the leveling content has been experienced.

Fn0 said...

"[…] don't need to grind at all"
Only if you don't play competitive. As soon as you want to play to win you must grind, and you must grind a lot. Even more so in Cata due to VP change. If you did not grind enough you are falling behind. You decided to go on vacation for 2 weeks as a hardcore raider? Now you're lagging behind. Actually, no hardcore raiding guild wants a player who does that. Too unreliable. I tend to go on vacation 4 times a year, so guess what. I went on vacation the day after Diablo 3 was released. Not only were all my friends level 60 when I came back, I was unable to play my class pre-nerf in inferno which hampered my progress (and virtual income, drops) compared to them. In PvP it is the same story. I don't think a game should feel like a full time job due to the grind.
"[…] Execution is the key."
Bollocks. That only counts for healers on farm content. As soon as you overgear the content you have to be less focussed, but since you want to kill ASAP you must focus and execute correct. Better gear only makes you kill faster, from healer POV allows more mistakes to be made. However since you still need to defeat the end boss (which is always very hard; ie. Raggy and Spine) you need gear and as much as possible. Week after week you must farm. There is also an RNG factor in loot. Even if you killed end boss and have him on farm better gear allows more flexibilities e.g. in setup or indeed mistakes made or "luck with crits".
"[…] misinformed stuff you got from random bloggers here and there."
I am not even bashing WoW; I am pointing out the design flaw in subscription-based MMOs. It is the same in SWTOR and RIFT. I have raided hardcore in WoW. I have PvPed competitive in MMOs. I know exactly how the trick works, I don't need to read other people's posts to learn that. I've also actually played GW2 during BWE2 so my posts are based on experience.

"[… ]And it still has the feature I hate most: LEVELS […] "
Azuriel made some posts about GW2 past days based on his first hand experience. Also, in contrast to subscription-based MMOs like WoW, the leveling IS the game in GW2. If you really want to play with friends but they play much more than you they can as high level come to you at low level and they will be downgraded to your level. There is also the everlasting option of lvling buddies (alts). PvP-wise you can queue together at any level.
"A game which forces people into roles that don't care playing: what could possibly go wrong? :)"
Tanking merely means aggro in this context; not tanking like WoW. So basically the player is following the boss tactic (without being pampered by mommy DBM), and has to evade his abilities. Players have been forced into doing that from level 1, so this ought to feel natural to them. The respec goes flawless: press `. If you hate having aggro in an MMO go play holy trinity and be DPS or healer. Play class with good threat reset like hunter, priest. And never solo. Ever. Except when you outlvl/outgear because then targets will be dead before they reach you. Won't work in GW2. In GW2 you will kite. In GW2 you will evade abilities.
"mass exodus from the game after the leveling content has been experienced."
True for any MMO, even WoW, but there they are apparently able to keep people on a leash with grinds. At level 80, there is still sPvP and WvWvW (both for any level) and there is reason to try out alts due to personal story and 5 different areas where players start questing. Also, it takes 120 hours to reach level 80. If you assume the game costs 60 EUR that is 0,50 cent per level. Due to lack of subscription there is no rush to play, you can play at your own pace. Other people too, which means there is less reason people zerg to level 80. Completely casual friendly.

Fn0 said...

I meant "even more so in MoP" instead of "even more so in Cata".

Anonymous said...

"Only if you don't play competitive. As soon as you want to play to win you must grind, and you must grind a lot."

"At level 80, there is still sPvP and WvWvW (both for any level)..."

Seems a bit contradictory there. The PvP crowd is normally the first to scream about how competitive they are and that they 'play to win'.

And I'm frankly not sold on the F2P model. I had multiple max level characters in LotRO when they went over to the dark side. The initial propaganda was very clear that this was just going to be cosmetics, nothing that would ever impact game performance. That stance obviously lasted. The simple fact is that a game requires a certain income to survive. If they don't have subscriptions, they need a cash shop. If people don't buy enough cosmetics they will add other items.

And D3 isn't an MMO. I wholly disagree with the AH, the RMAH, and the always-online requirement they spawned. You do not need to use them if you don't want to do so. I haven't and I can't say my enjoyment of the game has been diminished. Of course, it helps that I play solo or with other people who don't want to buy success.

Fn0 said...

Hi,

Any kind of PvP scales up to level 80. Gear is irrelevant because of this which means skill becomes more relevant (skill + gear = win). A level 3 has all the same abilities as a level 80 if they trained their weapon skills of the weapons they opt to use (which goes quickly). You do not even see the level of other players because it is irrelevant.

Gear is used in leveling but nothing dramatic. You cannot outlevel content because you will be scaled down. I noticed no grind requirement while lvling up; I noticed I required to improve my gameplay. That is what I have missed in games like WoW and SWTOR.

"That stance obviously lasted [...]"

LOTRO, LoL, and WoT are pure F2P; GW2 is not F2P, it just has a cash shop like F2P games (even WoW has it but rather small). It isn't their primary source of income like previous mentioned games.

GW2 is as F2P as CoD or BF3; it isn't. You need to buy the game and just like those games you do not need a subscription. So LOTRO required income much earlier before a game like GW2 (right at the start they had no profit whatsoever from players; only expenses!). Rest assured GW2 will get expansions if there is demand for it, just like GW did. In LOTRO such expansions would be F2P.

Nobody said D3 is a MMORPG. D3 is an ARPG. GW2 isn't a pure ARPG, nor a pure MMORPG. It is a crossover. Therefore some compares make sense.

D3 was designed from the ground up to be multiplayer, and for reasons related to RNG and cheating it has Warden and requires always-on. D2 item dupes, botting, etc are deadly for D3.

Anonymous said...

"LOTRO, LoL, and WoT are pure F2P; GW2 is not F2P, it just has a cash shop like F2P games (even WoW has it but rather small). It isn't their primary source of income like previous mentioned games."

Yeah...so, you do know that LotRO requires that you purchase the expansions, correct? And that the 'free game' doesn't include most of the content, that you have to buy it on the installment plan? It is exactly as F2P as GW2 and I rather expect that GW2, unless they have a novel solution to cash flow, will go the same route.

SWToR, at least when I played it, scaled levels in instanced PvP. It was hardly the perfect solution that people who haven't experienced it in actual play seem to think it will be. When levels are normalized, especially with a limited skill system, gear is even more important. I know, 'm@d, 733t 5k1lz' and all that but it will come down to either class imbalance, gear imbalance, or both.

I would love to be proven wrong, but too much of GW2 reminds me of the early days of SWToR, where no one was permitted to question anything because this was the greatest game that would ever be released. BioWare would have been better served to listen to the people asking the serious questions and not the true believers who didn't think anything could ever go wrong.

Anonymous said...

"LotRO requires that you purchase the expansions"

Editing this part - you could grind out deeds and the like to gain the virtual currency to purchase the new content but that rather defeats the premise that F2P =/= grind. If you play casual and want to be close to the new content, you will have to fork over cash.

As one of the original lifetime subscribers I probably have enough in the account from the monthly allotment to purchase it without cash but that's again a special situation. And that I haven't touched the game in the years since it went F2P.

jonreece said...

GW2 is not a 'trinity' game, but it is also not a 'zerg', even in outdoor large events.

'Trinity' games operate by dividing responsibilities in a way that is enabled by the interaction of two specific things - first, free and open movement, and second, the behavior of the AI - specifically, targetting based on a 'threat' table that is modified almost entirely by the actions that players undertake. Without the free and open movement, melee mobs cannot switch targets freely, and without a threat table, they won't choose to do so. Both of these factors together allow players to manipulate a simplistic and unrealistic AI, forcing it to make poor decisions (attacking a highly survivable target that can generate 'threat' but isn't actually a threat). I'm not knocking this game mechanic - I was a long time WoW tank and had a blast doing it.

GW and GW2 violate both of these. GW1 had explicit 'body blocking', where you couldn't move past other characters. This allowed melee characters to physically prevent mobs from attacking the back line with careful positioning. This isn't true in GW2, you can move through other players. But the AI (from what I've seen in the time in the three betas I've been in) respects it and doesn't run through players. I haven't seen the "inside" of one of their models yet. Also, they don't switch threat quickly or easily. Proximity seems to be a significant factor in the decision making they have, as does the condition of the health bars of nearby targets. The AI seems to like finishing off weakened foes.

The net result of this is that play requires lots of paying attention to placement in the world. You have to watch out for enemies. If your health runs low, you might consider ducking behind a friend or disengaging. People who are supporting other players (healing, buffing, etc.) need to be cognizant of this and think about where they place their heals (all of which are ground targeted and visible to other players). I had very good effect as both a tank in some encounters and as a support buffer / ranged DPS in others. As a tank I wanted to get in the enemies face, watch my backline, and keep between, as an example. Different playstyle, different approach. I found it very fun.

skapusniak said...

My plus points for GW2, solely from what I've heard:

1. Being automatically downleveled to fit my current zone/instance.
- Since the point I start outlevelling the content is the point I start to lose interest, and modern MMOs seem to be intent on pulling that point closer and closer to character creation, this is potentially huge for me. It's not my favorite system for ameliorating the problem, but the fact that they've got *something* in there as part of the design for launch, when most other games just look at you funny for complaining about it until about five years later, gives me unreasonable hope that the playstyle of wanting to doing lots and lots of the different available stuff whilst leveling but not wanting it to be utterly trivial, nor wanting to race to the level cap, might be legitimately supported for once.

2. Buy and sell orders in the marketplace
- Really, it's about time someone ripped that off from EvE. It's such a petty little thing to be stoked about, but here I am all stoked :)

3. Powers being tied to weapons as well as class.
- It just makes sense. And provides an excuse for a ludicrous number of powers. I like ludicrous numbers of powers.

4. No subscription
- I'm bursty on games. I'll play intensively for a few weeks, then wander off to something else, then come back a month or so later. That really doesn't mesh well with subscription. I'm either wasting money on a subscription I'm not using, or having to remember to do the cancel/re-up dance, or lying to myself that I actually do want to log in, when actuallly I don't.

Minus points:

1. Level of hype/excitement.
- It's the current unreleased FoTM, it's been the current unreleased FoTM since before the last FoTM was released to quick disillusion, just like all the unreleased FoTMs post-WoW. So, yeah, automatic mental downgrade as a defensive mechanism.

2. The effect of PvP on the design.
- PvP endgame, so I'm going to have to put up with all the seemingly inevitable PvP annoyances like not having cosmetic outfits that are usable in general gameplay, and nerftastic crowd control. Those are going to niggle on 'doesn't do endgame, doesn't do pvp' me.

3. Longevity of the public quest mechanic once Beta and the initial rush is done.
- Maybe this will be the game that cracks the 'public quests that are fun with low population' problem. I'll believe it when I see it. And since it's all public quests...

4. 'Action Combat'
- Oh c'mon. How many times have I heard this? How many times have I heartily disliked whatever they've done to justify the tag, and wished they hadn't bothered? Also, I can't dodge for beans :P

So, haven't pre-purchased...yet. But some of those plus points are mighty tempting, and there's that public quest longevity thing where getting it later might mean missing the point when it was actually fun.

Helistar said...

You decided to go on vacation for 2 weeks as a hardcore raider? Now you're lagging behind

As soon as you overgear the content you have to be less focussed, but since you want to kill ASAP you must focus and execute correct.

You have no idea what you're talking about, right?

Also, doing one boss once per week is most definitely not grinding or farming, otherwise I'm farming the local japanese restaurant....

Quote me on this: GW2 PvE will end up being zerg. Or it will be trivial, like STO's one is.

Rohan said...

You know, Age of Conan played somewhat similar to Jonreece's description. A standard group had two tanks, and the tanks would often trade the boss between them, because AoC's healing was entirely HoT-based, so one tank was always taking damage while the other was regenning health.

jonreece said...

@Helistar

Quote me on this: GW2 PvE will end up being zerg. Or it will be trivial, like STO's one is.

Could be. Since nobody outside of ArenaNet has seen high level content yet, nobody knows. 5 man dungeon instancing certainly isn't "zerg". But you could be right.

Just like every game has some "zerg" moments (Alterac Valley bridge, anyone?) I'm sure GW2 will have some of those as well.

@Rohan

Dunno, never did try Age of Conan (the wife didn't like the background, outfits or who they seemed to be trying to gather as their audience) so I can't compare the two. But GW's combat has a very different feel from either WoW or EQ2, without feeling like a mob of people playing in parallel. What little I've experiecned in GW2 feels somewhere between an Alterac Valley zerg and good arena PvP, weirdly enough. Watch yourself, watch your teammates, and really watch the enemy. Sometimes you are in small groups, sometimes big mobs. But the big mobs are dangerous -- not only does the spawn rate go up, but they get additional abilities to use on you.

Looking forward to it. Now, who knows if they can keep it up, or how retention is after your "personal story" ends, or anything else! But the combat felt pretty good.

Fn0 said...

@ Anonymous about LOTR/SWTOR

When I looked into LOTRO there were no expansions yet so I didn't know that was the way LOTRO worked, but it is still completely true you can play LOTRO for free. That is the "lure" to get you hooked, and after this "lure" they have not earned anything from you yet. This is the same as other F2P games like WoT, but is in stark contrast to games like WoW, GW2, CoD, SWTOR, ... although WoW and SWTOR do have a demo mode. F2P or P2P, games have expansions or DLC.

In SWTOR, twinking is possible because of PvP stats (expertise) just like in WoW (resilience) but more so there because you can take mods out of PvP weapons who contain expertise (only source of expertise at low level). If you are facing 2 remotely skilled, twinked level 40+ snipers in Huttball you are going to have a hard time getting past. Also, if you are level 10 you do not have all abilities (you got barely any) whereas players of higher levels very well do have tons of abilities; in GW2 everyone has access to all abilities. Finally, in SWTOR the gear does scale additionally to the "equalizing". WoW's solution is letting people of equal level play against each other (5 level max difference) w/o any further amount of balance which nerfed twinking.

"You have no idea what you're talking about, right?"

It is a twist you've quoted. Apparently you were unable to comprehend it. How unfortunate. Try to read it again?

"Also, doing one boss once per week is most definitely not grinding or farming, otherwise I'm farming the local japanese restaurant...."

One boss a week? Nobody who is hardcore raiding in WoW kills one fucking boss a week. Stop using these bloody fallacies. In order to kill Ragnarons on HC you need to kill every other boss before that on HC. That is in total 7 bosses for FL. In order to kill Madness on HC you need to kill every boss before that on HC. That is in total 8 bosses DS.

You know how it is called when you were able to kill Morchok every week on normal? You have him on... yes.. on...? On farm, bravo Helistar!

The showstopper before Rag is Baleroc, and one before Madness is Spine or warmaster. You need good gear for these bosses, besides perfect execution. Your armory proves you have been farming and grinding to get the required gear with the outcome of killing Madness on june 4th.

"Quote me on this: GW2 PvE will end up being zerg. Or it will be trivial, like STO's one is."

Quote me on THIS: it is perfectly viable to develop a ARPG/MMORPG crossover with commercial success w/o having the gear grind as the primary reason determining the outcome. And I have played GW2 BWE2; you have not even touched the game.

Helistar said...


One boss a week? Nobody who is hardcore raiding in WoW kills one fucking boss a week. Stop using these bloody fallacies. In order to kill Ragnarons on HC you need to kill every other boss before that on HC. That is in total 7 bosses for FL. In order to kill Madness on HC you need to kill every boss before that on HC. That is in total 8 bosses DS.


It seems like we have a VERY different definition of "farming" or "repetitive grind". 8 bosses -> 8 DIFFERENT bosses each week.
The term "farming a boss" refers to the difficulty (= zero) and not to the repetitiveness.

To see what "grinding" or "farming" means go on LotRO and raise your virtues to 10.

Anonymous said...

Some terms that need to be defined:

F2P(Free to Play): No up front cost and no sub, game income is entirely through cash shops.

P2P(Pay to Play): monthly sub required, up front cost and cash shop may or may not be included.

B2P(Buy to Play): Large up front cost required to play, usually no sub, cash shop optional.

GW2 is a slightly modified B2P, the cash shop "currently" has little effect on both pvp & pve. Also, I will say ANet used the same model on GW1 and it was a very notable success. 5 years and the cash shop only somewhat affects pve, pvp is untouchable.

gw2 said...

Loving both secret world and guild wars 2 actully. They are both such unuqie games (i know ALOT of you dont think so but thats how I feel) I find it hard to compair these games that's why,. But I have fun playing both these games and I guess thats what mathers.