Quote of the Day – MMO Longevity March 27, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EverQuest.
Tags: City of Heroes, EQ2 Wire, Quote of the Day
Games should never die. If you continue to develop the game and feed your fans what they want, you should be able to keep those alive. It’s only when something really drastic happens that’s business related… City of Heroes shouldn’t have died dammit! That was a great game. *applause* MMOs are designed to last forever. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to play EverQuest in 2050.
Dave Georgeson, on the Future of MMORPGs at PAX East 2013
Dave Georgeson seems to be on a roll for quotes this week. First there was the camera insight and now this.
Can a game like EverQuest bend with the technology and stay relevant, or at least playable, for fifty years or more?
Talking About the EverQuest Camera View on NPR March 26, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EverQuest.
Tags: Marketplace, NPR
Video game years are kind of like dog years, and that makes the game EverQuest, which turned 14 this month, positively ancient.
-David Brancaccio, host of Marketplace
The interview will annoy some, as the host kicks right off in calling EverQuest being “the first big game to be an MMO,” a phrase which will make those into the genre raise objections almost immediately. What counts as an MMO, what counts as big, and what
(And I am going from the actual audio in the interview, not the transcription on the linked page, as that differs from what was actually said. Nice work NPR! So listen to the audio, it is less than three minutes long.)
Once Dave Georgeson gets on the line there is a lot of talk about free to play and making that work. And then comes the question about what makes games like EverQuest so compelling to some people, which Dave pins on the camera view.
To me, that seemed like an odd thing to pick, all the more so when he spoke of the whole first/third person camera view being something new at the time. In 1999 there were plenty of games with first person or over the shoulder points of view, though they were mostly shooters.
How important was the camera to you back then? Did EverQuest really go some place new with that? Did the game defaulting to first person view (I played in that mode for a long time after launch) impact how you felt about the game?
I had to find a screen shot of the original UI in first person mode to remind me what things looked like 14 years back.
And another view:
Wow, how things have changed.
Image sources: Ten Ton Hammer and Something Awful.
Fourteen Years of EverQuest March 16, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EverQuest.
Tags: Meaningless Milestones
Another anniversary in Norrath has come. 14 years ago I was coming home from Fry’s with the game, only to install it and be captured by it.
That seems like a lifetime ago, so much has happened in my life and the world since that day in 1999. But the game still stand, still runs, is still alive.
A year ago, EverQuest became a teenager, an time of change in most lives. For EQ it meant a change to the free to play model.
This year, things are a bit more subdued. There were a few changes to what was free. SOE no longer charges for races and classes, though I am not sure how much of a difference that will make. Races don’t have the burdens associated with them that they did back at launch, and I have to wonder, if SOE is making them free was anybody paying for them? You don’t give away a best seller. Bag slots and shared bank slots though, that seems like something you could sell quite well. Here was what they said:
- We are opening up ALL CLASSES.*
- We are opening up ALL RACES. **
- All bag slots are unlocked.
- All players can now use the shared bank slots.
- The quest journal restrictions are lifted entirely. Quest away!
- Additionally, EverQuest is allowing all players to send delivery parcels!
That will make it easier when people go back to visit.
As for visiting, nobody in our last guild on the Vox server has been on in nearly a year besides myself. But there are so many other games to play these days.
Five Games I Want to See Revamped March 15, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EverQuest.
Tags: Autoduel, Bolo, Civilization II, Diablo, Nostalgia
The announcement that Hidden Path is doing a revamp of Age of Empires II, along with such refreshes as Baldur’s Gate Enhanced Edition, naturally made me think about what other games ought to get cleaned up and brought forward into the current age.
Here are the five that I want to see.
1 – Civilization II
Civilization II remains my favorite version of Civilization. I have continued playing this through all the follow up versions. There is a simplicity to it that gets lost in the later games that I find quite endearing. And by reports I am not alone in continuing to play. One of the most popular posts on the blog is about how to get Civ II to run on Windows 7 64-bit.
Which, of course, brings up the question of why it even needs an update if it runs already. It doesn’t even look horrible and thanks to the Microsoft programming doctrines of the time, it runs in a window that resizes to whatever screen resolution you need.
Well, it runs, but not without difficulty at times. You have to get the right version of the game and use somebody’s home grown patch to get it to run on 64-bit. And you still need the CD in the drive to play, and I’ll admit right now that I managed to lose mine… again. And there are a number of long standing AI issues that could be cleared up along the way.
Basically, I would like to buy a fresh copy that works on my machine. I don’t care if it comes from Steam or GOG.com, I will make that purchase.
Why It Won’t Happen
The game was published back when Sid Meier was doing games for the now defunct MicroProse, so I am not even sure who owns the rights to the code itself, though Sid did manage to wrest the Civ name from them. Sort of. There were issues. And even if Sid and Firaxis owned the rights free and clear, they would much rather you buy Civilization V and some of their DLC than some code that is going on 20 years old here.
2 – Diablo
Again, back to a simpler time. My first thought was Diablo II, but that actually runs on my system okay and doesn’t look that bad. So no work to be done there. But the first game in the series?
I can almost get the original Diablo running on my machine. There are a couple of tricks to getting the palettes to load correctly. The game loads, you can play for a bit, but it is about as happy as a summoned demon about the whole thing. The palettes are muddy, the lighting clearly has another agenda, and things lock up at inopportune moments. And the whole thing is presented in a very chunky 640×480 on my big monitor.
But it is nearly there. You can just get a taste. You can hear the sound effects. You get a sense for a moment how dark and moody the caverns under Tristam were. I think a rework of this would do well. And, of course, Blizzard owns it all and could roll a fresh version is the desired. I would subscribe to another year of WoW to get it.
Why It Won’t Happen
I see a vision of Mike Morhaime explaining how Diablo III is really the superior product while dismissing the idea of a rework of the original. Blizzard never moves backwards. Old products get some support, but once a new version is out, the old one is pretty much dead to them. This is why there will never be an official version of the WoW Emerald Dream server. Blizzard just doesn’t do that.
Plus, I am not sure I would trust Blizzard with this. They didn’t even make the original. That was the long-gone team at Blizzard North.
3 – Bolo
At this point I suspect that most of you are going, “Huh? What is Bolo?”
Bolo was a fun little networked tank game on the Mac back when adding network capabilities to your typical DOS box took an expensive package from Novell. Created by brilliant networking programmer Stuart Cheshire, we used to play this for hours on Friday nights at the office. There was an interface that allowed people to create AIs to drive players, and we would set up a series of AI boxes in the lab and have horrible, bloody, never ending battles. Great stuff.
Why It Won’t Happen
Nobody could make any money from it. Mr. Cheshire said he was done with it ages ago, but I don’t think that means he’ll let other people take it over. And, honestly, as a game, it had some issues with coming to a final resolution. It was hard to win. Basically, one team generally grew tired first and gave up. And if it was AIs versus humans, well, the AIs never got tired.
4 – Auto Duel
Autoduel was the great mid-80s computer game manifestation of Car Wars from Steve Jackson Games. It took the vehicular combat game and forced it into the computer RPG mold quite successfully. There was an unfolding story and goals and side tasks and character development and buying new crap to bolt onto your car all wrapped into one game.
I spent hours sitting in front of my Apple II playing this game. It was great. What could possibly go wrong.
Why It Won’t Happen
Well, to start with, it was an Apple ][ game. (Along with other such now defunct 80s computer platforms.) You cannot, would not, should not literally translate it to a version that runs on today's machines. Which means that you would need to re-imagine it in the way that the Wasteland 2 group is trying to redo Wasteland. But I have my doubts on that. It might be that this (and Wasteland) were only great in the context of the limited computer hardware we had at the time. And... you know... Auto Assault.
Plus, if that weren't enough, Steve Jackson Games owns the rights and doesn't seem to have any interest in such a venture, seeming content to work on their own board game nostalgia instead.
5 - EverQuest
This one is probably the least realistic as well as being the one to which people are most likely to take offense.
Here we are, the day before EverQuest's 14th birthday. The game has a huge amount of content added in over 19 different expansions. It has grown, expanded, and adapted over time, first setting trends and later following them. It has gone free to play, so money isn't even a barrier to playing the game.
SOE has worked to remove many barriers to getting people to play one of the great MMORPGs of the 20th century. But one huge barrier still remains.
I don't mind the bad linoleum textures, the primitive animations, the intermittent sounds, the decrepit character models, or some of the crazy, grindy game play.
But every time I go back to play the game, wrestling with the damn client is a royal pain. They have tried to bring it up to date or to adhere to conventions that came into fashion for MMOs after it shipped. Things like WASD movement keys as a default.
And they have managed it quite well. But the client feels like it has too many features stuffed into it, while still showing some of the flaws it had back in 1999. For example, how frickin’ big does the contact area around my character need to be. I am constantly trying to click on something off to one side of him and ending up with him as the selection.
So I dream of an all new client, designed and built from scratch that delivers a smooth and modern user experience. And it pains me to say that, as the cardinal sin of every young, and many old, programmers is the heartfelt need to reject anybody elses code, opting to rewrite things from scratch. But I cannot get to my desired state by continuing to pile on to the old code base. A fresh start is needed.
In my mind, I see what is essentially EQ running with WoW’s client.
But I would accept the EverQuest II client frankly.
Why It Won’t Happen
There is no money in it. Having gone free to play, if it doesn’t come from the cash shop, it doesn’t bring in any money. The only exceptions are subscriptions and expansions. The client is free to download.
And, of course, even if there were money in it, it would be a huge operation and many a company has gone under rewriting code rather than pushing forward with new features on top of old spaghetti. See Netscape. The costs would be huge, and the benefits likely marginal at best. And I may want a better EQ client, but I suspect I am in a slim minority. Plus, how well did such revamps serve other games in the past?
Of course, there were other games that came to mind. I was tempted to list any version of SimCity besides the current one, just because. GetFudgedPopulation FTW! But we already have SimCity 4 on Steam.
I was also wondering about Ultima III and the original Wizardry. But I suspect that neither would make good games today. Or they might make fine iOS/Android games, but not something that would compare favorably to what we have available now on our desktops. Basically, almost anything from the pre-Macintosh or pre-Windows era is likely mired in the time before GUI and has to be re-imagined to be brought forward. Only dedicated hobbyists are likely to show any interest in games from that time.
Still, that does leave a good gap in time, and a whole pile of games that do adhere to at least some of the standards to which we have become accustomed and which could be reworked, polished up, and re-released.
What else should be on the list? What would you like to see reworked and brought up to date?
RuneScape Embraces Nostalgia February 22, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EverQuest, Misc MMOs.
Tags: Dark Age of Camelot, MMO Nostalgia, Nostalgia, RuneScape
RuneScape, a popular (200 million accounts created is their claim to fame metric) browser-based fantasy MMORPG, has decided to farm the nostalgia sector by opening up servers aimed at those who want to relive RuneScape’s past.
Officially called “Old School RuneScape,” the setting will be August 2007 version of RuneScape.
Jagex, the game’s developer, has taken an interesting approach to bringing these servers to the community. They have a poll up to gauge how much interest there is in the servers, with more interest by the player base yielding more focus by the studio itself.
Omali has some condensed details over at MMO Fallout about what happens at given result levels. (There is an update to go along with the final results.) There is also an official FAQ up about the servers.
Interesting to me is that by default… with the likely poll results… is that people interested in playing the classic version of this free-to-play game will have to pay for a subscription. That seems right to me. I don’t think people looking to relive a “classic” experience do so because it might be cheaper.
And that is how SOE has handled things with the Fippy Darkpaw server in the post free to play EverQuest world, making it available only to subscribers.
So RuneScape joins the rather short list of MMOs offering official “old school” versions of their game. I only know of two others. There is SOE with its EverQuest progression servers and Mythic with its past classic Dark Age of Camelot server (and its never to see the light of day Origin server).
And while there will always be arguments about what point in time is the “best” and whether such a server should be stuck in time or move forward, I think this sort of exercise is a good way to reach out and revive interest in your game with a big chunk of your current and former player base.
Of course, this sort of things probably works with some games better than others. World of Warcraft is an obvious target. Few expansions and slow improvement over time gives it a series of identifiable eras. EVE Online, on the other hand… their whole single server approach pretty much precludes such a nostalgia path… plus who wants to go back to the days before “jump to zero?”
What MMOs would you like to see embrace nostalgia? Or does that even have any appeal for you?
EverQuest: More Popular at Launch than WoW is Today… February 15, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EverQuest, Humor, World of Warcraft.
Tags: Air Warrior, Camelot Unchained, Friday Blog Wars, sarcasm, Trolling Tobold
But only if you use the Bizarro metrics.
For example, on Planet Tobold, it ISN’T how many who play your game that matters, but how many people DIDN’T play you game.
Taken to logical extremes, there are more than 7 billion people today who do NOT play World of Warcraft today.
However, back in 1999, when the first player logged into EverQuest, there were only 6 billion people not playing it!
A clear victory for SOE, putting it a whole billion “non-players” ahead of Blizzard!
But wait. Back in 1987 when Air Warrior was finally rolling, it only had 5 billion people not playing it!
Who is the most successful online game now, bitches?
Meanwhile, SpaceWar, running way back in 1961 had a mere 3 billion people not playing it!
A clear victory in the unpopularity race!
And yes, I am stretching Tobold-logic to humorous extremes on purpose. But even trying to work the negative player numbers in a serious manner… potential player populations, target populations, subscription rates, and what not… seems like building a castle in a swamp.
Of course, so does trying to measure how many people remember a game. I suspect there are games out there that more people remember than actually played them. But how do you even begin to measure that and, more importantly, how does that equated to success?
Being remembered certainly doesn’t pay the bills.
Nor does historical significance which, by definition, is an assessment of something that happened far enough in the past that it has ceased to be contemporary and actual becomes history. Real history, in the serious academic studies sense, only starts when those who were there to witness it… and thus have invested opinions about it… pass on and things that had to be held secret to protect governments and individuals alike are released to the public.
Which is to say that neither I nor Tobold can really make anything besides guesses now about how the future may view this era when it comes to MMOs and the like.
But when you’ve soured on a genre to the point that your agenda seems to be deny that any MMO with numbers south of 250K can possibly be a success merely because WoW exists and heap scorn on anybody who wants something different, I guess you have to take whatever crazy ammunition you can find.
I am certainly not saying WoW isn’t a success. It is certainly what keeps Activision-Blizzard funded for the three quarters each year when they don’t ship a new Call of Duty game. But success is not an absolute bar, now set so high by WoW that nobody can ever succeed again. Mark Jacobs’ Camelot Unchained plans are not an automatic failure merely because he is targeting a small audience. It is an experiment. It has risks. It has to live in the current MMO ecosystem.
But that alone doesn’t mean it won’t work.
Of course, even Mr. Jacobs isn’t above pulling out a silly metric himself now and again.
The Success of Krono? It Has Come to EverQuest January 21, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Sony Online Entertainment.
1 comment so far
Krono, SOE’s version of PLEX, which they introduced back in October, seems to have taken root. Back then they announced that they would keep an eye on it, and if things went well they would introduce it into other SOE games.
Well it has come to EverQuest, which I guess means things are, in fact, going well for Krono.
As with EverQuest II, there is a FAQ for Krono on the EverQuest site detailing its integration with the game, cost, and so on.
I took a peek at Krono prices yesterday on the three EverQuest II servers where I have characters, and the market price seems to have remained stable, though supply varied from server to server. When I first looked at Freeport it was around 650p. Yesterday I saw:
- 80 Krono for sale from 19 different sellers
- Likely price you will pay – 600p
- 31 Krono for sale from 15 different sellers
- Likely price you will pay – 750p
- 18 Krono for sale from 10 different sellers
- Likely price you will pay – 750p
Those servers represent different population levels, with Freeport being the most active of the three. So I suspect that if you visited the Antonia Bayle, pricing and availability would be closer to the Freeport range, while lower population servers would likely be in the range of the other two.
And, as I noted before, at that price Krono is cheaper than RMT currency prices for EverQuest II, when you can find them. EverQuest II is not popular with RMT vendors, and has probably grown less so with the introduction of Krono.
But will that be the case for EverQuest?
The EverQuest market has been on a down slide for the last couple of years, with people willing to camp characters in the Bazaar 24/7 dwindling to a shadow of former days the last time I logged into Luclin.
However, in addition to raising the level cap to 100 and continued opportunities to kill off halflings, the Rain of Fear expansion also introduced offline selling in the Bazaar. No longer do you have to log in a character to setup shop and sit there in order to peddle your wares. That alone will probably revive the marketplace in EverQuest somewhat and help make Krono more viable.
The other question is the price of Krono. EverQuest has seen nearly Weimar Republic levels of inflation over the years due to various issues.
Okay, maybe it hasn’t been that bad, but prices of things in later expansions seem to be adjusted for the decreased value of the platinum coin, making items you can vendor for a couple of copper feel like they are not worth the effort.
What will the price of Krono be on the EverQuest servers? And how will that related to the RMT price? I have not had a chance to check.
Of course, one of the things that might help Krono along is that for certain scenarios, buying Krono is cheaper than renewing your subscription. At least if you are using it to renew your SOE All Access Pass.
Anyway, the Krono experiment presses onward as SOE attempts to bring a PLEX-like offering to its customers while killing off what remains of the RMT market servicing their games. I expect we will see Krono in Vanguard by Summer.
Would you want to see something like PLEX/Krono put in place by other publishers?
What The Hell Do You Spend Your Station Cash On? January 18, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Sony Online Entertainment, Vanguard SOH.
Tags: Station Cash
As mentioned previously, in writing about eight years of EverQuest II last week, I got all nostalgic for the game and went back and played for a bit. Such is the power of the blog.
And in going back I did go visit some places, added about 10 levels to a character, and generally did the tour.
And then the tour petered out, as these nostalgia ventures usually do, I unsubscribed and went off to other things.
But when not subscribed, SOE sends me a monthly Station Cash account balance message via email. I am not sure why they don’t do this when I am subscribed. Maybe they want me to stay subscribed and are afraid that bringing attention to themselves will remind me to unsubscribe?
Anyway, the last one I got said I had more that 9,000 Station Cash on my account.
Some of this was left over from a triple value event back when EverQuest II Extended was fresh and young, along with the 500 SC you get every month when you have Station Access, which I tend to subscribe to when playing SOE games. (And then Station Access became SOE All Access, because if marketing can’t change the names of things every so often, they might as well just go home I guess.)
500 SC a month doesn’t seem like much, but it adds up when you never spend it.
And no matter how I got it, it seems like a lot of Station Cash to have hanging around. Theoretically, that has a cash value of $90, though my actual out of pocket investment is probably $20 at the most. Having that big of an asset sitting around seems wasteful, so I started to poke around in the to see if there was anything worth buying.
Well, you cannot buy expansions with Station Cash any more.
And you cannot buy a subscription with Station Cash.
You cannot buy any of those shiny Krono.
And you certainly cannot simply buy the in-game currency. Not that I expected to be able to do so, but looking at my actual in-game currency balance, I might have gone that route had it been an option.
You cannot buy armor, or weapons, or crafting materials, all of which you could buy during the EverQuest II Extended experiment, when Smed was calling them “convenience” items. I imagine a Wand of Obliteration would be very convenient to have around now and then.
You can buy account services, but I think I have done my fill of transfers, renames, and the like. And I have too many characters already, so I do not need any more character slots or race or class unlocks.
I might be tempted by experience boosting potions if I did not already have a giant stack of those sitting around on every character from veteran rewards. And if I ever used them. I don’t like the “timer” aspect of them, as they make me feel like I need to save them until I am going to be in an hour of constant combat or crafting… which is almost never. I much prefer the way Turbine does some of there boosts, where it matches you gained exp for a given amount of exp over however much time it takes you to earn it.
Which sort of leaves cosmetic aspect of the game. That includes cosmetic gear.
And I did buy a rabbit hat once.
But so far that is the only cosmetic appearance item that has appealed to me.
There is housing. And while SOE has some stunning housing options, my housing needs are pretty simple. I did buy that first player created housing item, the chest, just to support the person who made it. And it looks good. But it doesn’t do anything and it doesn’t have any particular meaning to me, so I doubt I will go down that path again.
And then there are mounts.
Let’s just skip over mounts before I start ranting on the many variations of ugly that SOE seems to have discovered.
Which leaves me with… what?
Well, there are bags. I did buy one of those. And I unlocked all the bag slots on Sigwerd so I could play him when not subscribed. But with the removal of weight as an aspect of the game, he has that single 44 slot bag and some storage crates that give him more storage on his person that I think any three of my WoW characters have in total.
And I did that already and still have all that Station Cash.
There are some things I would pay for in Station Cash if I could.
I would pay the weekly Guild Hall fee now and again to have access to that. That Guild Hall rent isn’t bad in currency… I think it is 4p a week… but it does eat up a lot of status, and I haven’t earned much of that in ages.
I might consider paying for access to the broker, though not via the current “per item” method SOE currently has. Though since there is a back door way to sell without that, and selling is 99% of what I do with the broker, they could easily make that one over priced. Still, I would be interested in buying broker access for a week as opposed to for 10 items.
One thing SOE has on its side is that you can use Station Cash in all of their games… or all of them that aren’t on FaceBook or on the PlayStation 3 at least.
So I could spend Station Cash in EverQuest… except that the choices are even more limited, the cosmetic items more grim, and the mounts even uglier. Oh, and I am not actually playing EQ. Details.
Likewise, PlanetSide 2 is an option. I do log into that now and again, though my recent World of Tanks revival has eaten up all of my shooter mental bandwidth. And I did buy an experience booster once… I think… when I was playing PlanetSide 2 early on. It was hard to tell. There were a lot of options and boosts and weapons and unlocks and other crap on screen which were difficult to distinguish or compare, all of which got me to skip the whole thing and just go out and die while trying to shoot at some people.
But given how freely I can spend gold at times in World of Tanks, PlanetSide 2 seems like it might be a place to spend my Station Cash some day, once they rationalize things a bit.
And, really, there are no other SOE games I play right now. I said I might look into Vanguard at some point this year, but I suspect that the Station Cash store there will look like its EQ and EQII brethren. So I am pretty “meh” on my Station Cash prospects. Not that that is a big change.
Which makes me pretty much “not a customer” in SOE’s eyes, no matter how much Station Cash I have, since I do not spend it. Idle currency has no influence.
So what should I do with 9,000 Station Cash?
(And no, I am not going to just give it to you.)
Bosses and Gimmicks and Nostalgia January 15, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EverQuest, Rift, World of Warcraft.
Tags: Ultima Online
Last week’s post about the instance group covered our first attempt at the Exodus of the Storm Queen instance in Rift. The title of the post was A Journey of One Hundred Deaths, which alluded rather accurately to how many times individuals in the group died in total. There were five of us, so 100 deaths works out to about 20 for each of us.
Sounds like we did not do very well, doesn’t it?
We didn’t bring down the final boss, that is true. But I would estimate that more than half of our deaths happened before that point.
What happened was that each of the four bosses in the instance had their own special behavior… their own gimmick… which we stubbornly insisted on learning on our own. We have a general rule about giving a boss at least three runs before we turn to the web.
That can cost you in wipes. On the other hand, we are there to play the game, not to win the game as fast as possible. There is a balance to be achieved between making some progress and being engaged with the game. Getting to either the “no progress” or “no engagement” ends of the spectrum means we lose.
The post lead to a Bhagpuss mini-rant about gimmicks and expectations, which I will quote in part:
That’s all I ever wanted. My character has spells/skills. The NPC has spells/skills. I use mine as I see fit, he uses his according to his AI. To counter my ability to improvise he gets a much bigger HP/Mana pool.
And I am sympathetic to what he is saying.
Like many old hands at the MMORPG thing, I do recall with fondness some simpler times. SynCaine has a piece on simple elegance of combat in Ultima Online. I have raged against talent trees and and the proliferation of skills in games like EverQuest II and Rift.
At times I do pine for the way things were in the days of MUDs or early EverQuest where you took a class that got a pretty limited set of skills and spells by today’s standards, and you played it in the role it was designed to play. If you were a cleric, you were going to heal. If you were an enchanter you were going to crowd control. If you were a warrior you were going to tank and damage. And if you were a ranger you were going to sit around in town hoping for a desperate group while cursing the fact that you didn’t make a druid instead.
Now a days, if I tell people I am a cleric in Rift, it doesn’t tell them anything about what I do at all.
Of course, the flip side of Bhagpuss’s rantage is that 99% of the mobs in Rift and just about every other fantasy MMORPG behave just as he describes. They are just a stand up fights, no tricks, no gimmicks, which the player probably wins more than 90% of the time.
Plus, the whole five player dungeon routine is something you have to actively seek as opposed to something being forced upon the player base.
And while the stand up boss fight is the exception as opposed to the rule these days, you do still run into them. They get labeled as “simple tank and spank” and generally pose no issue to any group that is within the range and equipment parameters of the dungeon.
And that is the problem, really. They offer little or no challenge, unless your group isn’t up to par. I actually think that the first boss in every instance ought to be a hit point heavy tank and spank that tests the group’s ability to perform their basic roles, if only to act as a “you must be this powerful to hope for success in this dungeon” gate.
Fight gimmicks are in boss fights to make things interesting, to change things up, and to keep things from getting boring. And such things have been in for a long time. Dragons back in the MUD days always had special attacks and breath weapons had special effects. I recall one that would cause your bag to be destroyed if you did not have protection from cold on you. There would go all your extra gear and loot!
Granted, the gimmicks in boss fights used to be less subtle at times, and I am not sure I want instance level bosses to start becoming like the elaborate dance routines that raid level boss fights have evolved into.
But in some ways, the gimmick is part of the fun of facing a new boss.
There is a reason, beyond simple pride, that our group doesn’t look up boss fights in advance. Figuring things out is part of the experience. We do have our limits. We are not as young or as talented or as patient as we used to be I suppose. So after a few tries we start looking for hints or help online. But it is always satisfying when we figure out the gimmick successfully.
I think, in the end, a boss fight… or at least the final boss fight… in any instance is defined by the gimmicks and surprises it brings. And if the gimmick doesn’t pan out… it can be a bit of a let down. I remember our last boss fight in Wrath of the Lich King against King Ymiron. After our struggles, it seemed like a bit of a let down that we were able to simply pile on and take him down.
So I think I am pro-boss gimmicks. They can make boss fights stand out, though I recognize that they can also turn a fight into a rote learning experience as well. There is a line there somewhere.
And let’s face it, boss fights with gimmicks have been around at least since Mario started facing off against Bowser.
What do you think?
Boss fight gimmicks, good or bad or somewhere in between?
Sayonara Fippy Darkpaw January 12, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EverQuest.
Tags: Fippy Darkpaw, Progression Server, YouTube
An homage to the Fippy Darkpaw server.
Meant to evoke the spirit of the Sayonara Norrath video.
Not quite there for me, but still full of fun sights.