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.