Daily Archives: October 7, 2008

Ad Experiment

Up until now I have not run any ads, sponsored links, or other revenue generating items on the site.

While I do pay WordPress.com a little on a yearly basis for extra storage space for pictures posted on the site, it has not been a burden and not worth putting up with the potential for gold seller ads or annoying any of my regular readers.

Recently though I received an email from an email from a company called BlogRollPlease.com about their scheme for paying sites for simple links.  The promised payout was modest, being based in some way on a site’s Google page rank, but the format was low key and, thus, quite acceptable in my mind.

So I signed up and, just this evening, received the first sponsor link for the site, which now appears at the top of the right hand side bar of the site.  It is for Find Your Art School, which has some connection with gaming through related programs in game design.  I’ll even give them an extra link in this post for being the first.

Ideally this will offset the yearly fee for my extra storage space on WordPress.com plus, perhaps, a monthly MMO subscription fee.

We will see in a month or so if I get paid anything or not.

You can be reasonably sure you’ll hear about it if I do not, but I’ll also give credit where credit is due if this all turns out to be legitimate.

Does this mean I can be bought?  I’m not sure that was ever in doubt, so I’ll just say yes, yes I can.   But it will take a bit more cash than they are offering to get me to write a single undeserved kind word about any product and or service.

Five WAR Quest Log Gripes

There are a lot of things I do not like about the quest log in Warhammer Online.  I have some of them listed out below.  But I doubt Mythic will ever fix most of them simply because the quest log is part of the Tome of Knowledge.

Being part of the ToK means that the quest log inherits a bunch of restrictions.  It has to keep that “book” feel.  It has to be that huge, screen obscuring size.  It can only display a single screen of data at a time.  This seems to me to be one of Paul Barnett’s “strong” ideas breeding some poor offspring.

To aid in my complaining, I have the quest log from one of my tier 1 characters here.  Refer to this picture to see what I am bitching about below.  Clicking on it will let you see it full size.

With that, on to the list.

1) Much Too Small

Not the quest log window, which is too big frankly, but the number of quests which the log holds.  Twenty seems to be the limit, a surprisingly small number when you feel the need to keep the six current tier RvR scenario quests on hand at all times while you run off to earn experience via quests and exploration.

I spend too much time dumping quests to pick up new ones because Mythic failed to notice that other games that started with a quest log that would only hold 20 quests (EQ2, LOTRO, WoW) eventually felt they had to expand that number at least a little bit. (+55, +20, and +5 quests held, respectively)

Of course, Mythic might have noticed that whole “20 isn’t enough” thing, but since they stuck the quest log in the Tome of Knowlegde, there isn’t room for more quests on the page while keeping to the style of the ToK.  I am going to bet there is a style guide for the ToK and one of the entries says “no scroll bars.”

2) Side By Side

And while we’re on the tyranny of the Tome of Knowledge, I might as well get this gripe in.  I like to be able to look through the quest log at two or three local quests to see what I am hunting.  In other games this is easy, because the list of quests is in one window while the actual quest detail is in another.  This makes it very easy to see two or three quest entries rapidly.  The quest content display window just updates to show the current quest you have highlighted in the list.

In the ToK though there are no child windows allowed it seems, so there is a lot of extra clicking and finding your place back in the list of quests that makes the effort feel extremely awkward.

3) The Missing Counter

And then there is the magic question, “How many quests do I have currently?”  This one seems to be such a no-brainer that I keep going back to the quest log to make sure I didn’t just miss it the last one hundred times I looked.  There should be a small counter of some sort that says “16/20” to let you know how many quests you have and, more importantly, how many free slots you have without having to count them or estimate blank space at the bottom of the list.

4) Poor Icon Choices

The icons in the quest log are, in my opinion, sub optimal.

First, there is the column of “quest type” icons.  None of them mean a thing to me.  They are too small and too cluttered to convey detail.  What does a yellow circle with two black exclamation points mean?  They took the time to put a UI help bubble at the column headings, then put a set of icons without context below that have no such help.  I only figured them out over time.  Ah, those are two foot prints, this is a quest that requires travel to find someone.

But nowhere in any UI design book that I have ever read, and I have a few on the shelf, has anybody suggested that an icons should be mysterious.  If you have to guess their meaning, you have failed.  Mythic would be better off removing the icons and putting in the words “Travel,” “Kill,” “RvR,” and “Scenario.”

Then there are the icons for quests that are completed.  A circle, and if it has an “X” in it, the quest is complete.  Not the worst choice in the world, certainly, though not quite universal.  The flaw here is that there is already a UI convention for quests that are completed.  It is that orange dot in the star.  Orange is the color of quest completion in WAR.  It is what the quest giver’s icon turns to, it is what the color that the text in the quest tracker turns to, so why come up with something new?

So the quest icon in the log should be the same as the quest giver icon on the map.  Consistency of message.  In my mind, an incomplete quests should be the green quest giver icon, to provide maximum visual contrast, but a quest giver whose quest you actually have is yellow on the map (though why they are on the map with an icon at all is a mystery to me), so I will take the consistent if not best choice and go with the yellow icon.

But, since there is that row of useless quest type icons right next to the quest complete column, you have to take care.  Two similar columns would just be more visually distracting.  Mythic opted to tone down the wrong column in my opinions.  Quests that are complete should jump out at you, not be a subdued circle next to a column of bright icons.

5) Opening The Log

A lot of times a UI convention that seems awkward at first becomes natural over time.  That is the sign that the developer made the right choice.

If, on the other hand, what was awkward pisses you off more and more over time, the developer may have erred.

So it is with opening the quest log.  I am more annoyed about that now than I was way back at the first preview weekend when certain individuals were railing against my inability to find the key command that did not exist.

I started making marks on my note pad every time I opened up the quest log to look at the quest list.  I do that about six times an hour.  Basically, I get mad at the game every ten minutes for not having a way to open the quest log directly.

I want a key that opens the ToK to the quest log list.  Not to whatever other page I was viewing last, just the quest log list with no additional clicks.

And the key that does that should be the “L” key.

Why the “L” key?

That was the key that WoW used.  I am trained to use that key.

That was the key that DAoC used.  You too may very well be trained to use that key.

That is the key that Mythic says it should be!  No, really.  Go look at the Key Command chart that came in your Warhammer Online box.  It is on the other side of the Product Registration Code.  Look at the “L” key on that chart.

It says, “Quest Log.”

Somebody at Mythic agrees with me.  I am not alone.  I rest my case.

Do You Care?

If you are going through ranks doing nothing but open RvR and scenarios, probably not.

If, however, you score high as an explorer and you want to see more of the world than the current three endlessly repetitive scenarios in your tier and actually gain some experience via quests while doing it (because the tome unlocks are nice, but I’m not gaining many levels on those alone) then you probably do care. You care because managing your quest log becomes a bigger effort than it should be.

Warhammer Online is still new.  There is time to correct these errors.  I fear, however, that they tyranny of the Tome of Knowledge, one of the most overrated features of the game, and its format restrictions will prevent any meaningful changes when it comes to the quest log.