Sunday, April 21, 2013

Changes to Defense rewards in Warframe

I remember back in Warframe's closed beta, long before defense-style missions were added, that someone posted a thread in the forum suggesting that the game become more like Left4Dead by adding a "horde mode" where players would mindlessly kill wave after unending wave of mobs, as is a current trendy fashion (soon to be dead) flavor-of-the-month playstyle gamemode popular with younger players. Prior to this suggestion Warframe only had 1 single tileset and only a few different mission types, and obviously more content was being added at a good rate, and everyone knew that included different types of mission objectives.

The suggestion to add Horde Mode to Warframe was met with enthusiasm with the vocal forum-posters with only a few people disliking the idea and voicing concerns about future issues rising with these endless defense style games - myself included. What we're seeing now is the repercussions starting to play out, as more new players come into the game and consider Warframe a horde mode endless defense game at its core, with a few filler mission tossed in to farm mats to get better gear so they can last longer in the endless defense waves.

The shame is that it's not what Warframe is supposed to be - although of course its DE's game and they can make it to be whatever they want it to be. But this is a case where the players seem to be making the game what THEY want it to be: an endless defense game. That's all they play it for, they don't even enjoy or have fun with the normal missions, they only complete them because they must be unlocked along the chain to get to the next endless defense. What we are seeing now with all the complaints and threats to quit the game because "now the game is ruined" by the changes made to endless defense is saddening to see happen, but it is one of the effects of adding this game mode to Warframe.

In my opinion the strength and greatness of WF does not lie in the defense missions (in fact it cheapens the experience imo) but rather in the dynamic level design and enemy ai (in non defense missions) that makes is almost seem as if your doing combat against other human players instead of artificial intelligence. It's an easy and simple thing to just throw endless wave after endless wave of enemy mobs who run straight at the player, but the beauty and elegance of Warframe deserves much better than this cheap and lazy style of endless defense objective. There are so many other ways this game could go than to just become another horde game flash in the pan. It's okay to have the occasional defense mode level, they're enjoyable and mix things up a bit, but we're in danger of it becoming how WF is defined, and all the problems that go along with that definition.

Sunday, March 10, 2013


As a gamer, I'm a victim of my own perfectionist mentality. I firmly believe that if you're going to do something, then do it right. After years of playing thousands of different games in dozens of different genres I've pretty much got this down to mixture of somewhere between a science and an artform, although sometimes I find myself limited by by own demands on myself. I'll find myself making a conscious choice not to play a particular game, even though I enjoy and admire it, simply because I know through previous experience the magnitude of demands it will place upon me to do it right.

Much of this depends on what my personal goals are in a particular game, and this is where I can somewhat get around my own self-imposed perfectionist demands. This especially comes into play when trying out new titles as my goal is simply to learn about and experience firsthand what the game has to offer, and to have fun doing so - hopefully! Nothing more than that, just explore the game's world and features and how it handles the new player experiences. Once this grace period has ended, the time of which will widely vary depending on the game, I'm faced with a decision based on what I've learned so far - the decision whether to continue onwards into forward progression into mid-game and then ultimately end-game or to move on to something else. This threshold tends to move a bit depending on the number of current game offerings. During slow times in the year when new releases are few and far between I'll be much more inclined to stay with a game, since there's not much else of interest to get involved with, and alternatively during those times when it seems like there are 3 or 4 simultaneous releases of major games it's much easier to jump ship to try a new offering.

When I do decide to stay with and further progress into the game, well that's when it starts getting real. I'm not going to settle for doing something half-assed or flat-out wrong, that's just a huge waste of time and effort that could be better put to use on something truly worthy of the cost. Usually at this point right after decided to continue onwards, a goal I will have is to progress forwards entirely through my own personal solo effort, without entirely ruling out non-solo group efforts. Mainly though I personally dislike having to rely on someone other than myself, and attitude I've gained throughout life in general and gaming in particular. If I can see a path forwards through mainly solo content, with perhaps a small smattering of co-op then I'll likely stay around for a while as long as all my other requirements (engaging gameplay, decent depth and customization, good performance, reasonably sized playerbase, art design, etc) have been met. Even with these requirements there are still a good number of games that meet them all, which means some games that I want to play simply get left behind because of time constraints.

The games I intentionally stop playing or uninstall usually have a chosen to take a certain path which I can see ahead of time will only lead to a dead end. A dead end game. Sometimes, but rarely, a game which otherwise fully passes all my other personal requirements for being a great game and worthy of my time and effort is actually a dead end game. In other words a game where I can see far in advance that there is going to be a huge wall that the player will hit. More often than not that game's wall will be a requirement to pay (often huge sums of money) to truly progress forward. Oh, you'll still be able to putz around with some crafting or daily quests, but actually moving forward will be next to impossible even if you throw huge amounts of time at the wall, the wall won't budge. After spending literally thousands of dollars into game after game (sometimes even into a single game) it's a road I simply will not go down anymore whether I like the game or not. I might love the game but if there is a wall somewhere down the road then forget it. And I'm an expert at seeing these walls even if they are invisible to most other players until such time as they actually hit them. I can see them well in advance through a combination of wisdom gained through personal experience, and research.

Research plays a huge role, and usually it's not even that difficult. With forums, YouTube, and guides put together by more advanced players from overseas which have played the game in advance of a stateside release, you can really put together an accurate picture of what getting to late-game progression with entail. And sometimes it's just not pretty. Doing it right means crashing up against and then through a wall that is just too thick by design - the developers have created it that way on purpose and you either go through it or crash to a halt. The decision at that point is whether all the other game elements that are so awesome actually warrant the time, effort and currency to proceed. There are very very few cases where the answer is yes, almost next to none.

Thankfully there are tons of good games just waiting to be tried out, all vying for our attention at the same time. There is even a growing resurgence of sorts to older ways, surely a backlash against the current over-homogenization "no effort required" money-grab style games that are so popular with the casual mainstream audience. These new "old-school" games often prove to be well worth the time and effort, with the added benefit of making it much easier to be a perfectionist gamer and to actually do it right.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

I received an email from Nexon Games a few days ago that there was a mandatory password reset in effect, and that to login to any installed games I would first have to change my password. After logging into the my user control panel at Nexon I went ahead and made the change but ran into a huge roadblock: any changes made to my account would require a confirmation email first be sent which would contain the link to reset my password. Unfortunately for me I had created my Nexon account quite some time ago - several years in fact in 2007, at which time I was using a hotmail account which has since been deleted by MicroSoft due to non-use.

This is not the first time it's happened to me, as this old email account was one which I had for many years (since 1999 actually) but had set up that all email be forwarded to an actual active account. The problem is that Hotmail used to require that users log into their account at least once or month or the account would be inactivated, and that is exactly what happened to me. I've lost only several game accounts due to this such as my Runes of Magic account which Frogster Games refused to re-activate under a new email address and there have been a couple others that I don't care about. RoM I did care about but that is water under the bridge at this point, and I've put in behind me, especially since I'm rather burned out on Fantasy MMO's at this point.

However, I had forgotten that I used that old now-deleted non-restorable Hotmail account to register with Nexon so it seems as now I've lost access to all Nexon games. I originally registered with Nexon in the first place for Combat Arms way back in '07 which I stopped playing long ago for superior games such as A.V.A. so no big loss there. The problem is that I do have several current games which I'm active in which includes DFO, most recently Dragon Nest, and most importantly Vindictus which I have put roughly 100 hours of playtime into - all lost to me now. Very sad.

Nexon - like several other game portals - use the player's email address AS THEIR USER ID and therefore the user is inextricably linked to their original email address at the time of the account creation and no changes are allowed to be made due to this link. I like security as much as the next guy, but I think this is just a very bad method of account creation because of the situation similar to my own which the use occasionally finds themselves in.

Over the past several years I have developed a personal method of Game Account creation across the various game portals (Aeria, gPotato, ijji, T3Fun etc etc) which I've honed to perfection to avoid such circumstances, but I still feel the sting of losing accounts from an earlier time before I was wise to the ways multiple game accounts. Its a tough lesson to be learned though.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Gaming Biases

Speaking as someone from North America, something which has amazed me over the years is how we gamers here in the West take such a narrow-minded view of the world, the internet, politics and finance and how they relate to the world of online gaming. We tend to think that we here in the West all feel pretty much the same about such matters as payment plans for the games we play. We make broad statements such as "if a game is F2P then it sucks because if it were any good then it wouldn't be free". We go to websites and forums and leave comments as if we were looking at something that only we here in North America can see, as if the entire audience is made up entirely of Westerners from North America - we forget that there is an entire planet made up of worldwide gamers that can access the very same websites that we do. The internet is worldwide. With a very few exceptions anyone from anywhere can access the same sites we do. The only real barrier is that of language and being able to speak or read English, and of course many sites have several options which eliminate that barrier.

So why do we make statements such as "as soon as someone makes a F2P game that is actually good and successful, then maybe I'll try it out". Why do we seem to not understand that there are hundreds of great successful F2p games that have been around for years with huge dedicated fanbases of worldwide players? Why do we not join that vast universe of F2P games, or even acknowledge that they exist? Why must our narrow view of the world exclude the majority of online gamers as we embrace such a comparably tiny market comprised only of games created by Western developers?

There are many answers to these questions most of which are fairly obvious. This is not about the answers however but rather the question itself. Why are so so biased that we don't even ask ourselves these questions? It would be as if a gamer who only ever owned an Xbox and who had only ever accessed online gaming through the Xbox LIVE! network thought that's all there was and that no other gaming options even existed. Sure there are plenty of games for Xbox but it is just a tiny portion of everything else out there that exists. Only accessing content through Xbox LIVE may be enough for some people (and it IS actually) but for those of us who are more than simply casual gamers we need more. Much much more than a single platform could even hope to provide.

The online games created by Western developers for a Western audience of gamers might be enough for some, and apparently it MUST be as our myopic view of the world seems to exclude all else from our realm of thought. We'll just keep playing our Xbox or our subscription-based MMOs and ignore everything else and keep believing that everyone else does the same as we do. If somehow the news of something outside our simple view of the gaming world does happen to make it through to our attention we'll just dismiss it as something made by those "crazy Koreans and their grindfest mmo's" and go back to playing WoW or Rift or Eve or whatever the current Star Wars game is in fashion this year.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Hellgate Global

I've played a bit, although I'm waiting for the dust to settle before really sinking my teeth in. The technical problems in the past few days since ob launched have been more than I'm willing to put up with, and I've been watching very very closely their twitter feed, fb page and the forums so I'm aware of the massive problems players are experiencing with the rollbacks, undelivered mail (including items purchased at auction house and cash shop), lost loot and lost levels after rollbacks/crashes and so on. I'm sure they'll get things running smoothly eventually, so I'm not sweating all the launch problems. It's pretty much to be expected although this has tended to be towards the far end of the spectrum of "failed beta launches".

I actually really like Hellgate, as a player of the original, and two things have struck me as an initial impression - neither of which are catastrophic flaws but more like little annoyances when comparing the Global version to the original.

(also, it really shouldn't be called "Global" since it's not, right?!)

The first thing is the dialog which wasn't great to begin with, has so obviously been translated from the original English into Korean and then back into English again that it's painful. Mind you that I have a very high tolerance for this so it's not a big deal but somehow I find it worse than most translation issues I've seen before, and I've seen plenty as I play many foreign games currently and in the past. Why don't they just used the original English dialog instead of the text that has been re-re-translated? Most people are not as forgiving as myself and are sure to ridicule and dismiss the game as a shoddy job by the localization team.

The other thing that really turns me off are the graphics which even at the highest settings are substantially worse than those of the original. Of course we knew that the DX10 mode would not be available in this version but even when comparing the DX9 mode of the original to the new version it seems as if the whole top tier of the highest settings of the current client is equal to the Medium settings of the original. It's more than simply the textures, it's the lightmaps, it's the shadowing, it's the bumpmapping and the detailed texture level and reflections - everything is set at Medium even when you crank everything as high as it'll go. I have the orginal game on one of my harddrives so I can make side-by-side comparisons, and all I can say is that hopefully a future patch will add improved graphics as the current client is frankly pretty awful. They really should integrate the DX10 mode as well, especially considering that even if they DID it would still have graphics that would be 3 or 4 years out of date.

Other than those fairly minor issues I'm looking forward to a hopeful future for the game. I don't like having to pay the extra $4 either - no matter how minuscule - it's more the principle of the thing, but that's a whole 'nother topic!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Yes I'm a L4D2 "boycotter".

The main issue I see is that Valve keeps vowing up and down that L4D2 is a true sequel but the problem is that it is simply not true. They can say it over and over or scream it from a mountain-top or tell the press it really really is a sequel but that does not make it so no matter how many times they say it.

Quake 2 was a sequel. Half-Life 2 was a sequel. L4D2 will seem so much like L4D that you almost won't be able to tell the difference - they are very very similar in feel, look, playstyle, setting, weapons, and characters. Several tweaks to a few textures and models and then swearing it's a true sequel ("really it is! You'll see you'll see!! Just wait, then you'll see!!) is insane. Well, insane not to realize that all of us can see right through all Valve's positive spin.

Sure it'll probably be a great game because L4D is a great game and they are the same thing with a few tweaks and additions that should have been released for L4D to keep the franchise rolling instead of stopping it DEAD in its tracks like they are now. It's sad really and a shame to see Valve fail to understand some basic principles about gaming in general and sequels specifically. They should know better by now.
DDO just went FreeToPlay. Very good news imo especially because I never in a hundred years would have played this game - now, I will. What could be easier to understand? I'm positive that the same will be true for thousands of other players too. This pricing model just WORKS for gamers and developers alike.

We're right now on the edge of a huge shift in the industry and starting to see more indications trickling into the mainstream. What we'll end up with once the transition has completed in a few years time, is more gaming choices for the player to try out without having to resort to piracy. There are very few reasons NOT to at least try a F2P game, and once you are trying it then it becomes the developers job to get you to stick around and play for a while.

The pricing model of the future mainstream will certainly be Free to Play in my opinion, it is highly successful already in dozens and dozens of games right now under the radar, and we'll continue to see more and more companies dipping their toe into the waters to see if it's hot enough. If done right, it IS.