Thursday, August 18, 2011

Vacation News Roundup

I'm still on blog vacation for another week and a half, but I've noticed a few tidbits that I felt like commenting on anyway.  Comments remain moderated, though I expect to be able to approve them over the next few days.

  • Disliking the fourth pillar
    Spinks' rundown
    of the SWTOR classes mentioned a detail that I hadn't considered.  Apparently, George Lucas is continuing to maintain that Jedi cannot get married without turning to the dark side.  This makes me less interested in the game - not because I really had my heart set on cyborz with my NPC's, but because the notorious forbidden love story from the second Star Wars prequel was not the one part of the Star Wars Universe that I've been dying to re-live in an MMO setting.  

    Specifics of this particular case aside, I see a potential issue with the "fourth pillar" approach here.  If you are going to put the story front and center, it becomes a bigger issue if players dislike the story you are trying to tell.  Moreover, I would imagine that Jedi who romance their NPC's are going to be the majority of players - the former because of the lore and the latter because that's what you do in Bioware games. If the gameplay impact of being a Republic-faction Jedi with Dark Side status turns out to be disadvantageous to game mechanics, Bioware will have some unhappy customers. 

  • WoW 4.3 update
    This week, we're hearing details of WoW's patch 4.3.  The mega-patch will include the now industry-standard cosmetic gear option that Blizzard has been resisting for about five years now.  There's a new storage system that will save Blizzard disk space by having a vendor who will create a new copy of item number whatever upon request, rather than storing all the details of your existing item (e.g. enchant, crafted by, what bank slot it is located in).  There will be new five-mans, which was basically expected.

    The one thing that I find surprising is that the patch will feature the Deathwing raid, and therefore will presumably serve as the Cataclysm finale.  I had expected this to be bumped to next year to shorten the window between Deathwing and the expansion now believed to be Pandaria.  While it's not uncommon for the last raid of a WoW expansion to sit for 9-12 months, Cataclysm is already somewhat widely viewed as a failure and nothing from this list sounds especially game-changing.  Unless Blizzard can finally deliver a WoW expansion in 18 months instead of 23-24, 2012 may not be kind to the WoW subscription count. 
  • Reinventing Warhammer
    Werit has the details
    of the free to play Warhammer spinoff. My view on this project echoes Tobold's.  Back in 2008, I genuinely enjoyed Warhammer's instanced "RVR" scenarios but generally found that the PVE game these battles were attached to did not compare favorably to the many other options out there.  On paper, ditching the PVE game allows Mythic to focus on balance, while opening up the door to more exotic races/classes/heroes/etc that might have been harder to fit into a holy trinity PVE game. 

    However, as Tobold suggests, this revamp almost certainly guarantees that I will never pay for the existing version of the game again.
Overall, it's been an interesting week.  We'll see if next week follows suit. 


Xaxziminrax II said...

>The mega-patch will include the now industry-standard cosmetic gear option that Blizzard has been resisting for about five years now.

Let me see if I can say it like they did the first xpac, the dungeon finder, and phasing, and fighting the Lich King, and everything else.

This will be the death of WoW!

Actually, on second thought, there was one thing the players complained about even more than appearance tab: dance studio! So I guess this is the attempted fix to raise subscriber numbers before the fabled dance studio is released in 4.4, and then, once players have everything they ever wanted, they can stop playing.

Bronte said...

That's a great point you make there. So many developers today hide behind this convenient fourth pillar, touting the story as the most integral part of their game, an element that is completely missing from other games (at least according to them).

The double-edged sword comes into play when their fourth pillar turns out to be made up of complete and utter crap.

Yeebo said...

It's about time WoW added appearance slots. Honestly though, I think it's another example of an industry leader refusing to bow to common sense until players start to leave in droves. Remember how much more responsive to player requests SOE became about the time EQ started bleeding subs? How about the addition of "classic" servers to DAoC after TOA gutted their subscriber base?

On WAR, I agree that the scenarios were basically the only fun part of that game. I'm a bit disappointed that the new game will let teams mix and match from any faction they please, it very much disagrees with the IP. However, at this point I doubt they have the resources necessary to create a third viable faction even for a scenario focused game. And 6x6x6 battles will help them distinguish themselves in the space they are entering.

TyphoonAndrew said...

swtor's story based game might suffer a short life, only because it will need to be a story game, and then an end game raiding game. play the story with deep immersion to level, then join instances. There is not anything new suggested as yet in the mechanics that make me think they are changing the world. Not that they need to, a SW mmo is a powerful marketing tool.

Wow wise I'm hoping that the p4.3 Deathwing means that the p4.4 and the expansion is around the corner. It would be ideal if it was announced in the next 2 months, and delivered 6 months after p4.3. Wow will need to ramp up rather than slow the patches and content to retain players.