Sunday, October 26, 2008

Like shifting sands in the hourglass…

… thus passes the dwarves of our lives.

Warhammer: Age of Reconing
I’m still playing around in WAR but not with the enthusiasm with which I had originally started out. After a lot of hemming and hawing, I’ve decided to focus on my Squig Herder on the Destruction side. Environment-wise, I love Order lands, particularly the Empire areas, but class-wise I’m liking the Squig Herder. In every game, I usually end up playing the short, funny race and a goblin SH is both. His “Ow, My Eye!” exclamation when I click on him is hilarious.

One thing Mythic must address is the issue of level differences: as the mean level of the server increases, the lower-level areas are emptying out. This phenomena happens in most games, but it’s a real problem in WAR for Open RvR and Public Quests – both of which rely on teams of people for any significant progression. Most of the PQs for my level are empty. I have to grind the mobs until the second phase where I have to abandon the PQ area until the reset. Open RvR has been rather off-putting in that most of the groups I’ve ended up in are disorganized PUGs with little to no coordination.

MMO Doom
MBP has an interesting discussion about WAR and MMOs in general. Several gamer / bloggers such as Melmoth and Tobolds are also leaving WAR. In spite of the prominence of some that are moving on, I think that WAR’s future is still bright. Its niche of gamers, PvP fans who like fantasy worlds in general or Warhammer in particular, will likely continue to flock to the game. I predict a million or so active subs shortly after the holidays – not close to WoW’s numbers but still a very successful MMO.

MBP’s discussion also touched on new development and whether a new developer creating an EQ- or WoW- like game would make their money back. I have to agree with him: I doubt it. The problem: it’s been done before. Making a plain old copy of the mechanics of EQ or WoW when added to an unknown or uninteresting IP are doomed to failure. An IP like Harry Potter, might stand a chance as a game marketed for much younger gamers but less famous ones will end up with problems.

What the industry needs is a company willing to stand up and take things in a different direction or at least figure out what of the “new” stuff in more recent games is worth having and bring it all together into a newer, more interesting conglomeration. The bad news is: the only company, that I can see anyway, with the talent, drive and resources to create such a game is Blizzard, and they’re too busy resting on their laurels with WoW. A Diablo or Starcraft MMO would be great if they built it differently from the ground up. Until then, I suspect there will be decreasing returns in investments in the MMO genre as a whole.

Lord of the Rings Online
On the LotRO front, I’ve been playing less as a result of my Warhammer escapades though I am still playing. I upgraded my LotRO account in preparation for the Mines of Moria expansion and am looking forward to seeing all the new goodies in store for my wee hobbit adventurer. My WAR adventures do come with a certain guilt about playing another game. I’m an officer in a kinship in LotRO and while I’m enjoying WAR I most definitely do not want to let my kinship mates down. The other officers were understanding about my break from LotRO, and I was happy to be back last night.

Also in regard to Moria, the NDA has lifted for those beta-testing the Moria expansion so expect to hear more news leaking out. Thus far, I have it from some beta testers in my kinship that:

- Classes like hunters and champs will have their damage adjusted upwards to fight the buffed mobs.
- Guardians will have improved defensive capabilities (though there is a problem with their aggro-generating skills in the current state of the beta).
- Rift and other raid gear will remain relevant for two or three levels into the expansion. It will not become immediately useless like WoW’s raid gear with The Burning Crusade expansion. Even then, expect gradual replacement of items – not a sudden realization that everything you’re wearing is useless.
- Early MoM content is very solo-friendly. None of the beta testers I spoke to complained about not being able to make some progress in the Mines even when alone.
- Moria is a gorgeous zone but it is also dark. Tip: Alt+F10 is the key to use your “personal torch.” It’s not really a torch but it increases the ambient lighting around your character so you can see better. There appear to be three light settings: off, dim, bright.

The info above was provided by a couple kinship mates so I don’t have personal experience with it (except for the torch thing which I knew about before *flex*). :P

For those hungering for official news, check out the LotRO forum's Dev Diaries page and see the dev diaries. Unfortunately, there isn’t a consolidated page of info but the dev diaries should give clues about the class changes, etc.


mbp said...

Hi Khan, despite my musings about the demise of MMOs I have started to play Lotro again in preparation for MoM. Its funny getting back in to an mmo after some time playing single player games. Everything seems to happen so slowly at first - I spent most of my first play session just travelling to the North of Forochel. I was almost ready to give up out of boredom but now after a few more sessions its beginning to suck me in again.

Khan said...

Glad to see you trying it out again! With any new MMO, there's a certain period of getting used to things again. Once you get settled, things will seem more fluid. Forochel is a huge zone. There's a quest out in the Western part (though it may start in the North-east town) called The Frozen War. That's a good one for opening up some of the quick horse paths out in the zone.

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