We need to rename PUG’s to FUG’s; let’s be honest, it’s what they are.

•March 3, 2008 • 3 Comments

As I’ve been getting higher in level in WoW, I’ve been looking to do more instances.  One of the benefits of The Burning Crusade is that there were a ton of instances added, all with a very unique style, and fun content to run.  However, the guild I have joined is 99.9% 70′s, so they only want to run the harder, Heroic versions.  Which is fine, I’m not going to try and force them to help me, unless I really need it.  However, this means that I must now PUG all the instances, to get the gear and xp/faction boosts I need to continue when I hit 70.  And PUG’s are 10/90 hit/miss for me, for several reasons.

Firstly, every time I end up in one of these groups, people never seem to want to work together.  In the groups I’m in, I’m always the tank, being the feral druid.  Normally the tank marks the targets, because they’re the ones pulling.  In order to mark targets, you have to be the party leader, which brings up the next problem; some asshat is always like “Why do you have to be party leader? How do we know you’re not going to fuck us all over?”  Even though normally 1 person in these parties I’ve played with before can vouch that I run everything fair and square, some jerkoff has to be the Alpha male and create dominance over the rest of us “puny players”.  Once we get over that, then we get to the next problem, once we start running the instance: your party members’ failure to understand their roles.  Even when I tell the party “sheep the stars”, using the in-game marking system, people STILL manage to fuck that up.  I mean, the mage has (I’m hoping) been playing their class as long as I have, and yet when you ask them to do one simple thing, they look at you as if you’re asking them to do an Astrophysics dissertation on demand.  So when the party wipes, you end up being bitched at because you couldn’t hold aggro on 3 mobs, when in reality you should have just to keep 2 mobs busy.

Finally, when you get to killing bosses (if by some miracle it does happen), the greed monster almost always rears its ugly head.  Either in the middle of a battle the loot boxes start popping up because some fucking moron is so desperate to see what shit loot we’ve gotten, they loot during the fight, instead of killing things.  OR,  You get a boss dead, and something that’s usable by several people drops.  One person hits pass by accident.  So you ask everyone nicely to pass on it, and /random for it after the fact, and some idiot always hits need/greed, saying “Well you were stupid and didn’t roll on it when you had the chance, so I’m taking it”.  This makes me want to reach through the monitor and bitchslap people.  I spent the past hour helping 3 other people (not including myself) through this instance, and you think you’re more important than anyone else? Well guess what?  You’re the same as the rest of us, asswipe.  So that person goes on my written list of “people I will never group with again”, and the good people go on my “ok to PUG with” group.  You can guess which one is three times as big as the other.

So if you see me in a PUG, please have some patience with me… every time I get into a bad PUG, God kills a kitten .  Please don’t let Fluffy die.

If Shatner was doing Star Trek II now, he’d be yelling “WWWWWWoooooooooooooWWWWW!!!!!!!!!”

•February 26, 2008 • Leave a Comment

I apologize for the lack of recent postage.  I have no excuse, I have no explanation, other than to say “I got hooked into WoW. Again.”

As Brenden always says, “Shift 8 Sigh Shift 8″

I didn’t expect for it to happen.  I started playing in our static group, and quickly realized I wouldn’t be able to stick with the unwritten rule of “you can’t touch the characters except for on game night”.  So, I made a druid, and just started playing…. and playing… and playing….

2.5 weeks later, I’m almost lvl 65, probably about to join a raiding guild (again), and playing pretty solidly every night.  Something I said many moons ago I wouldn’t do again.   To even try and describe how I’m feeling at the moment… Do you remember back in high school where you’d stay up all night writing that English Composition paper that was due, the one that if you didn’t pass in on time you’d be hearing the words “Senior Year, Part Deux”.  So you prepare your bag, make sure you’re all set to go.  You wake up late the next morning, freak out that you’ll be late for school grab everything in sight, haul ass to school, only to realize once you’ve gotten there that the paper was still sitting on your desk at home?  that moment of “Oh, fuck me!”… that’s what I’m feeling at the moment.

I don’t know why WoW gets its hooks into people as badly as it does… but it’s gotten me again. Damn my soul to Blizzard.  Oh wait, a warlock already has that. Fuck.

As a side note, Witty Ranter #3 is now up on VirginWorlds.  Go Listen!

And a HUGE  thank you to Coldheat for becoming a sponsor of Witty Ranter.  You sir, are the shiznit!

Expect more posts daily from now on.  Or Brent will kill a kitten every time I don’t post.

Tales of an RMT Whore…. who was unwilling!

•January 30, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Plenty of people have posted their thoughts on RMT, but how many of them were inadvertantly pulled into it?

I have a friend of mine who’s serving overseas, who for a little while now has owed me some money-  no big deal, it’s not as if I *need* it to survive, and frankly I’ll always give a serviceman a break given what they lay on the line for us.  However, my friend has a bit of a ‘I need to always have all my bills paid’ complex.  So I got an email a couple of days ago from him saying:

“Look, I know you play WoW, and I know I owe you money.  I don’t have a Paypal account, so I went ahead and cleared my debt to you.  You have a “RMT credit” at (insert RMT site here).”

Having never used such a service before, I was a bit shocked.

“Uh, that’s kinda cool and all…” I replied, not really sure how to respond.

“But is there any way for me to return it and you can just pay me when you get back?  I’m not really a fan of the RMT in principle”

“Nope, it’s non-refundable.”

Great.  Now I had a dilemma;  either use the credit and taint my soul for eternity, or don’t use it and never get my money back.  Wonderful choices.  So I bit the bullet, went to the site and navigated it, and sure enough an hour later some random guy whose in-game name was a bunch of random consonants runs over and gives me more in-game gold than I’ve ever had in WoW before.  As I’m pondering what to do with it, an evil idea creeps into my mind;  chuckling softly to myself, I proceed to go to our traditional Monday night instance run.  I calmly explain that I have come across ill-gotten gains, and rather than keep it all to myself, I’m going to buy all of them their level 40 mount books, thereby tainting them as well.  Now there are quite a few in this group who are against RMT, if not in principal than at least in conscience.  Just goes to show that you can’t judge a book by it’s cover.  NOT ONE of them refused it!  They too were willing to be tainted!  I fear I may have dragged the morality of our group to a new collective low.  I’m running in shame now… to the Thunder Bluff AH to buy Daddy some shinies.  God help me.

Why are people always hating on the old school?

•January 29, 2008 • 1 Comment

Cuppy recently posted this bit of post-modern trash about how an old movie sucks. Now granted, it was written with the express intent of becoming flame/troll bait… and as I am the Troll On Fire, how could I resist? There are far worse movies out there on this Earth to be bashing…. anything by Will Ferrell, more recently anything with Ben Stiller in it…. Uwe Boll films… need I say more? To denigrate such a movie as Alien because it’s “old” is frankly not fair. That’s like saying The Goonies sucks now because it’s old. First, that’s not possible because that movie rocks in so many ways, and secondly, comparing movies of old to current day is just not fair. That’s like saying “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Citizen Kane” sucked because they weren’t in color, and there weren’t any cool special effects or shit blowing up. Give the past some credit; if it wasn’t for Alien there’s a whole shitton of movies that probably never would have been made because people wouldn’t have been influenced by it, or by Ridley Scott’s direction. Don’t go hating on the old school because it’s not as shiny as what’s out now.

The same can be said for MMO’s. Almost every time I bring up one of the older games like UO, EQ, or DAOC, all i hear is “dude, those games suck, they look like shit!” So because a game doesn’t have the hyper-realism attempt of Vanguard or the cartoony polish of WoW, it must suck? Because, forgive my ignorance of game development, but if it wasn’t for these “shitty” games in the first place, and their creation of a playerbase willing to pay a monthly subscription to keep the game afloat…. YOUR SHINY NEW “BETTER” GAME WOULDN’T FUCKING EXIST!!! God, nothing pisses me off more than a bunch of ignorant motherfuckers who see “old” as bad, because it’s not top of the line. Guess what? Old doesn’t necessarily mean bad. As a matter of fact, Old usually is the means for your “new”. Like, oh.. I don’t know… “Lord of the Rings Online”. Hey, that’s a new MMO… wait, it was based on a book series written in the 1950′s? Again, forgive my ignorance, but that is “old” influencing new. Oh wait, wait… the Conan MMO, that’s new too, right? Oh shit, that’s right, Richard E. Howard started writing those back in the late 60′s. Damn, there goes that theory.

Seriously folks, learn to enjoy the old. Read some of this excellent old stuff, written before you were born by people who may no longer be with us anymore. Because in the near future, another “new” thing is going to be just a reinvention of their “old” work. I’m thinking that “new” Shadowrun/FASA MMO is going to be so new… it’s 1980.

PS: Cuppy, more hatesauce… the world needs to get out the vitriol more often :)

Ever the optimist, says I…. Bring on the Andromeda Galaxy?

•January 22, 2008 • 2 Comments

Recently John, the Ancient Gaming Noob wrote this post, in it stating quite scientifically and logically that the current market is not quite “ready” for a fully Sci-Fi MMO mass market title. However, he forgot one, teensy, tiny detail: MMO gamers by and large are not logical, nor scientific in their love/hate relationship with online games. Terms and phrases like “rabid”, “fanboy”, and “foaming at the mouth, impatiently waiting to play”, often come to mind when hearing or reading the diatribes, slobbery love pieces and general inanity that is web media reporting. Obviously this is not the ENTIRE market, or I wouldn’t be sitting here, trying to put some reason behind their ravings… nor would John have put his arguments down as eloquently as he did, and which I will more than likely fail to match. But I’ll try, anyways.

I think one of the reasons these “fans” aren’t willing to get behind a Sci-Fi MMO comes down to the fact that so many people are used to the WoW style of questing. Step One: run around, grab every guy with “!” over their head, and don’t bother reading the text, because you know every quest is asking you to do the exact same thing. On average expect to accept 10-15 quests every time you do this from a “quest hub”. Step Two: settle down and spend 2-3 minutes figuring out where you need to go to bang them out in the fastest time possible. Step Three: Complete quests in sequence, run back to quest hub, collect xp, ding!. Step Four: rinse, lather, repeat until max level or desired goal is achieved. Bleck. Now it could just be that I’m an old fart and was raised on the concept of gaming from my tabletop experiences, so the concept of a “storyline” and “plot” are not these foreign words hanging out there in the ether, but real, tangible concepts that I can understand and reason why I’m going to help these poor farmers who have a nasty undead infestation. Sadly that’s lost on our current gaming crop… they play the game because it’s something to do, not because of the storyline behind it. Reading quest text is dumb and takes too much time… who cares about knowing why the fuck you’re doing something, just let me kill shit fast. Now we’ve all been guilty of it from time to time, but for the most part I stop and read every quest, if for no reason than some of them are simply brilliant writing. I mentioned in my Hellgate London post the quest chain with the crazy old man, and his near-unitelligible gibberish, yet it was some of the smartest writing I’ve read in a long time. The sad fact is, a Sci-Fi game is almost all ABOUT the storyline, and good plot.

Fantasy has it easy…

“Oh, it’s got dwarves and hot elves, and orcs and chainmail bikinis… I’ll play!”

Sci-Fi has…

“Okaaaayyy… so I’m off on this distant world, being looked at as the scum of the universe by our new, not-so-friendly neighbors, and looking like a walking pot of E-Z-Mac to all the local flora and fauna… I’m doing this because….. why?”

For a Sci-Fi series to really grab one’s attention, it has to have storyline. David Weber’s Honor Harrington Series, Peter Hamilton’s Reality Dysfunction Series, Chris Bunch’s “Sten” Series… I can go on and on… but the reason you get wrapped up is BECAUSE of the storyline; you want to know what happens to each character, you grow to love certain characters, you follow them on adventures, and you may end up watching them be sacrificed to the insatiable Plot Monster, helpless to do anything but read on. A Sci-Fi based MMO needs to have a storyline that goddamn good to keep people playing, with less focus on hundreds of short, meaningless quests, and more focus on deep, involved storylines that get people wanting to make an impact on the game world. It takes dedicated writers to do that… ones who won’t give people the option to fast forward through text; hell, make reading it part of the next part of the chain. Fast forward and don’t pay attention, why should the game help you along? Yes, you’re not going to appeal to those people who either have no attention span or are too lazy to actually USE their imaginations. Oh well, I for one will consider that a net gain! Barring that, we’re still going to be hacking away with imaginary swords until our rotator cuffs finally breakdown from overuse. I think mine’s pretty much worn through, but I hear that soon they’ll have a robotic replacement, provided I read the instruction manual. Time to go get a cup of sim kafe and start reading.

(Insert Game Dungeon) Party of 7, your instance is ready…

•January 17, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Without a doubt, one of my biggest pet peeves in any MMO is the fact that every group size is locked at a certain amount. It may not matter that your gaming group of friends has 8 people, or 9… the fact that it’s more than the max party size means someone’s always left out. Now, they could go try and find a PUG, but where’s the fun in that? You’re all supposed to be playing together; that’s the reason you play these games. If you stick more than one group together, now you’re a raid, and almost all the content is now not able to be done by you. Bleck. I’m honestly surprised that game developers can’t simply make upscaling mobs and such, dependant on the number of people it’s fighting. If you go into an instance with say, 8 in your party as opposed to 5, then the mobs have 15% more HP, do 5% more damage, and maybe drop a couple of items that a 5 man group wouldn’t see.

I know what everyone’s going to say: “But Adam, the instance/zone is only designed for 5 people!!!!” Bull. Upscaling is as simple as including a few lines of code that says “Hey, if the party increases, scale up”. If they can do it in console RPG’s, they can damn well do it in an online game. And frankly, as much as what the game developer was hoping to achieve with said content, it honestly doesn’t matter. *I AM* the paying customer. I’m the one who’s feeding their lifestyle/livelihood with my monthly sub. I’m going to be selfish and think think that being more open and friendly to my group is more important than what you “intended” a certain thing to play out as. Deal with it. Gaming is not art, it’s business. yes, there are art assets involved, but ultimately a MMO is a business model, centered on an online experience. And I can’t believe I’m the only one in the world who has more than 4 friends I’d like to play a game with at a time…

Tabula Rasa: Not *quite* Totally Rad, but not Totally Rotten, either.

•January 8, 2008 • 1 Comment

So as I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve been playing TR where and when I can.  Given that I’m currently studying for 2 exams at work, that’s not always the easiest proposition in the world, but I do manage…  And my experiences so far have been 90% positive, with one glaring negative.

I’m currently about level 22, so about 1/2 way through the content at this time. Everything’s been fun so far.  It does take a few hours to get used to the controls and the style of gameplay, but the near instantaneous action that pops up everywhere is downright addicting.  You may be off just questing away, and the next thing you know, 2 Bane dropships drop down, and you’re in the middle of an intense firefight.  Suddenly you have some AFS guys come help, and the Bane bring more people, and in the space of a couple of minutes, it’s a pitched battle right there.  I thought it’d be hokey, but it does suck you in.  Same thing with the Control Point bases, although those happen a BIT too frequently for my taste… it’s a bit much when the Bane seem to raid every hour on the hour… you’d think the AFS would get smart and lay about 200 kilos of C4 at each of the likely assault points and just nip that in the bud.  But I digress.

The instances are very very well designed, with good scripting and pacing.  They’re a good challenge for solo or group, although to date I’ve soloed almost every one.  It is a loot based game, like every other;  the experimental guns are orders of magnitude better than the stock stuff, to the point of almost excluding everything else if you can.

My biggest issue with the game is a 2 parter, the total lack of an effective economy, and the abysmal crafting system.  I’m willing to cut the game some slack in that it’s only a little over a month since launch, but… currently the only thing money is good for is… ammo… and consumables.  There’s no real reason to craft, when everything can be bought.  And the crafting system… sweet zombie jesus, what a catastrophe.  like Auto Assault, you run around “collecting” tons of shit from dead mobs, holding on to it in the slim hope it’s what you need.  And then, the blueprint you get is good for ONE use… then you either have to buy another one, or hope another one drops.  Honestly, let’s just cut the fucking game here.  Crafting as a game mechanic has always sucked.  It’s a time sink made to be a time sink, nothing more.  Loot drops are ALWAYS better than player made in 99.9% of all situations, and farming the mats for the .1% when it is better is such a waste of time you’re betting off sticking with the lower tier stuff.

So if they can get the economy going, and either revamp or kill the crafting system entirely, they’ve got a good game… but for now, I’m going to reserve judgement… while I continue to use the Electric Cannon to 1 shot as many Bane as possible… I love the smell of cooked Bane in the morning… it smells just like… chicken.

 
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