An email led me to the NY Times conducting an interview (found in the Sports section of all places) with Blizzard's Tigole "No more EQ suck for me. Now I control the suck" Bitties, discussing casual versus hardcore, everyone's favorite farming event in the form of Ahn'Qiraj, and Naxxramas, the next 40 person raid dungeon that was first seen at Blizzcon.
Two items of interest:
1) It appears the effort to open the Ahn'Qiraj gates will be bolstered by the arrival of NPC delivered materials in a few weeks, regardless of how many your server has turned in. Hint: May as well stop your farming now and sell while the prices are still high.
But we don't want to punish players on realms that aren't cooperating, so in a week or two the resources will start to just come in on their own. So we gave just enough time to let all of the servers show their feathers and strut their stuff; this is the time to see which servers can really put in the effort.
2) Naxxramas will own you. At least until the second try when uber guilds figure the strategy.
Q. What can you tell me about Naxxramas?
A. Naxxramas is going to be the most difficult thing in the game until the expansion pack comes out. It will be the pinnacle, and it's absolutely massive. You'll see this big necropolis floating above Eastern Plaguelands. It's a 40-man raid zone, and it's bigger than the Undercity [one of the main cities in the game]. Things could change, but we're up to something like 18 bosses in there, and they are really cool, too. But it's going to be hard. Really hard. We're hoping to release it in the spring.
Q. Will we need to open Naxxramas with a big farming event like Ahn'Qiraj?
A. No. Naxxramas will just be open. But we do want to do a world event, which we want to call the Scourge Invasion, or hopefully something cooler than that, that would basically be something for everyone who's not going into Naxxramas. So they would see the impact without having to actually go in. [In other words, get ready for undead to pop up in some unlikely places.]
18 bosses, and perhaps even more? Prepare for some downright punishing loot tables, kids.
Checking up on the recent happenings of Funcom and their Conan MMO currently in development, I braved the IGE taint and was drawn to this interview with Gaute Godager (previously lead designer of Anarchy Online).
C) The unique Conan-only "Drunken Brawling," where you fight not with your normal combat abilities or level, but rather with stools and based on the amount of alcohol you have consumed.
If anyone is going to get that right, it's going to be those Norwegians.
Boing Boing links to an In Newsweekly article that tells the story of a woman who received a warning from Blizzard for her actions in WoW. The warning? "Harrassment - Sexual Orientation". Her actions? Recruiting for her own GLBT (Gay/Lesbian/Bi/Trans) guild.
Remember, this is a gay woman. Oddly enough, I think gay people tend not to insult themselves - it's kinda something people don't tend to do when recruiting for a guild.
Back to the article.
In her follow-up letter to the company, Andrews explained that there was an obvious misunderstanding and that she was not insulting anyone, but merely recruiting for a "GLBT friendly" guild.
The response from Blizzard was, "While we appreciate and understand your point of view, we do feel that the advertisement of a 'GLBT friendly' guild is very likely to result in harassment for players that may not have existed otherwise. If you will look at our policy, you will notice the suggested penalty for violating the Sexual Orientation Harassment Policy is to 'be temporarily suspended from the game.' However, as there was clearly no malicious intent on your part, this penalty was reduced to a warning."
Yes, that's right. Andrews was warned off because of hateful remarks other people might make. This, from a company that fosters sexism through the creation of a female succubus slapping its arse every 5 seconds, does nothing to stop the calls of "fag", "that's gay" or "u homo" in chat channels, and which also employs a flagrant and hateful homophobe in the form of a Webmaster. And hey, aren't half the Night Elf population homosexual anyway?
So, is it harrassment to advertise for your own GLBT guild? No, I don't believe so. Would Blizzard have done the same thing if Ms. Andrews had advertised a Black guild? Or perhaps a Muslim guild? That last one may be tough to call, but what if it were a Christian guild? I'll bet they wouldn't have clamped down on that one. And yet, each of the previous guild advertisements could be considered harassment under Blizzard's wonky guidelines.
Cory Doctorow, in the Boing Boing article, offers some great food for thought.
Will a game ever give players citizenship instead of just customership? Will players always be willing to treat games as their online homes if they have to rely on customer service ethos instead of the Constitution to assure them of a fair shake?
If it is ever on the cards, it's a long way off. MMOs are still seen as a business model rather than an actual virtual world (aside from a select number of people such as Raph et al), and observers are still struggling to reach agreement on whether Zag's Sword of +3 Pwn is real or not.
But I'll be damned if it wasn't an interesting game.
The much-awaited introduction of PvP into EQII has gone under the microscope for its first round of whines, rants and pre-emptive cries of nerf with the announcement of the PvP ruleset. At first glance, the EQII PvP ruleset appears to be a watered-down version of WoW PvP much to the chagrin of EQLive Zek refugees looking for a FFA (Free For All) experience. Oh, and of course those looking to be the next Fansy.
Regardless of how many ex-Zekers claim that this carebear form of PvP will be detrimental towards a healthy PvP community and lacks any semblance of true PvP, it’s quite clear that SOE wanted to steer clear of a Zek ruleset in EQII. SOE has seen that they don’t need hardcore rules in order to encourage players to PvP (i.e. WoW) and that the hardcore PvP servers don’t bring in the wave of customers that the vocal minority on forums around the internets claim to be (i.e. the low populations on the EQLive Zek server – recently merged into one – and the low populations on the DAOC ‘Dred servers – also merged into one). Some may say this is easy-mode PvP, but others have also said EQII is easy-mode PvE, so perhaps it’s a match made in virtual heaven.
But just how much of a chance is SOE giving PvP in EQII? Are they planning to give a stable, useable ruleset, or are they content with throwing up any old thing and seeing where it’ll take them? If the announced North American servers can be any kind of gauge, PvP seems to garner low expectations amongst the suits at SOE. I mean, two servers and one of them is Station Exchanged enabled? Of course, more can always be announced and open, but already it seems the enthusiasm is lacking – except for a chance to tack on the leech that is the Station Exchange to another server.
Enough theorizing. Onto the ruleset.
The general gameplay is as follows: You start off aligned with the city you choose at character creation—
Freeport (Evil) or Qeynos (Good). You will hunt and battle with members of the opposing alignment to gain experience, status, faction and titles. Further rewards will become available at PvP merchants as you earn standing within your city—you will have the opportunity to purchase items and other rewards from these special merchants.
Nowhere in Norrath is safe, so be on your toes. While you are relatively safe within the protective walls of your home city, you'll have to watch your back nearly everywhere else (see "City PvP"). Let's get that adrenaline pumping!
It was quite clear before the PvP was announced that EQII would run with the
side-based rather than FFA ruleset: the conflict between Qeynos and
What exactly these PvP rewards are, and how much they are worth, remains to be seen. However, I cannot see SOE making any equipment reward good enough so that players may do nothing but PvP and yet remain viable in both PvP and PvE (as Blizzard has done).
Communication and Interaction
On EverQuest II PvP-ruleset servers, there is a distinct language barrier between citizens of Qeynos and citizens of
Freeport. All players aligned with Qeynos will speak Antonican, and all players aligned with Freeport will speak Lucanic. This means that members of opposing cities cannot understand each other's language.
Regardless of the language you choose to speak in—be it draconic, oggish, or otherwise—members of the opposing city will be unable to understand what you communicate in /say. Similarly, anything said in /auction, /ooc, and /shout channels will only be seen by members of the same alignment (good, evil, betraying).
Things you CAN NOT do across alignments:
- Group with members outside of your alignment
- Join a guild that is not of your alignment
- Send /tells to characters not of your alignment
- View /auction, /ooc, /shout from characters of another alignment
- Join chat channels created by characters of another alignment
- View members of another alignment in the zone with /who
- Send mail via the Norrathian Express
- Trade items or coin
- /duelbet (/duel still functions)
Out of all of the PvP mechanics outlined in this ruleset, this above decision has actually been one of the most hotly debated. One side claims it will help stop verbal greifing, thereby alleviating some customer service and hurt feelings issues. The other side claims that being unable to verbally taunt, brag, demand, surrender, negotiate, try your hand at diplomacy dulls the PvP experience. For my liking, I don’t mind the lack of chat across the factions. Some of my fondest DAOC RvR memories stem from facing a horde of tree-hugging Hibernians, made more mysterious and dangerous by being unable to speak with them, emoting a “bring it”, and then charging into battle. Any remarks stated during battle steered away from “STFU you haxor!” and instead centered on maintaining tactics amongst group members or the occasional “Wow. They sure fucked us up good.”.
Spells, combat arts, and combat in general may not function identically to PvE during PvP. We have the ability to define any level of differences in the combat system for PvP, from global changes like "all spells and arts do slightly less damage to players" to specific changes such as "this particular effect on this particular spell works slightly differently in PvP."
Here is a general outline of how combat-related effects are changing on a fairly broad scale. Note that the changes that are described below only have to do with PvP combat, as PvE combat on PvP servers functions the same as on Standard-ruleset servers.
That’s a given. Trying to balance PvP with PvE abilities is the suq. Glad to see more people are learning this.
Taunts and Hate Reduction
Taunts have the ability to change players' targets in PvP. They can also keep targets focused on the taunter for short durations of time.
Spells that reduce hostile hate or lower your position on a creature's hate list can force players to completely lose their target. Examples would include a Scout's Evade or Templar's Placate.
Honestly, what can I say here? I like this mechanic. And if you don’t, well, play a tank trying to get a rogue off your healer. You’ll change your tune.
The default maximum range for melee combat has been increased. Positional spells and arts that require the caster to be either behind or flanking the opponent will work if either requirement is met. *Note* This is only the case against other players.
Solid. This is needed so as to ensure melee users aren’t just fodder for spell casters. Glad to see it was thought of now, rather than 6 months from now.
Control spells (Snare, Root, Stun, Fear, Charm, Stifle, Mez, and Pacify) will carry an immunity placed on the target for 2x the duration of the spell. Essentially, if you are rooted for 10 seconds, you will be immune from any root effects for the duration of that root and for 10 seconds after the spell wears off. *Note* You'll only be immune to these effects from other players; these immunities will not protect you from NPC spells.
Same as above - Solid. There’s nothing worse than being chain stunned (I’m looking at you, WoW Rogues). As someone who was part of “Stungard” in the early days of DAOC, I should know. *stifled muahahah*
A character that would normally be invisible or stealthed to you will appear with a shadowy outline if within a specified range (currently 30m). Characters that would normally be visible to you (i.e. if they are significantly below your level or you can see-stealth or see-invis) will remain visible with the shadowy outline outside of this range.
Not as much of a stink being kicked up about this as I thought there would be from the Scout classes fearing a lost advantage. Regardless, it helps bring the stealth game onto an even playing field, so that’s a plus in my book. However, I’d probably go one step further and implement full stealth for characters not moving- gives Scouts some of their, well, scouting abilities back which are useful in lead up to a battle.
Upon zoning, players will be immune from PvP combat until they initiate a hostile action or move. No need to worry about zoneline campers as long as you don't make yourself vulnerable.
No timer involved on top of that? So I can still hide and wait at the zone line and essentially gank players before they have taken their second step? I doubt the above rule will truly get rid of zone campers.
A separate inspection option has been included on PvP servers that will allow players to view how Spells and Combat Arts perform in PvP combat (you will access this in the right-click context menu).
Logical. But even that is hard sometimes, so hooray for this.
Death and Rewards
Currently, deaths from PvP kills will result in moderate experience debt. You will not receive any armor damage. *Note* If you are on any creature's hate list at the time of your PvP death, you will take normal PvE death penalties.
Regardless of how much experience you gain in PvP (see below), losing experience as the result of a PvP death is, plainly put, a stupid idea.
1) Unlike on a PvE server, half the time on a PvP server you are not chosing your fights – your fights are being chosen for you in the form of a twinked out spellcaster 5 levels above you nuking your arse from behind a rock.
2) Even on a PvP server, the very notion of experience loss will have people thinking twice about when and how to PvP, if at all. As a result, most people will ignore PvP up until they are at the highest level and experience loss is nil. This causes less PvP for the lower level players, and ultimately those looking to join the server for some PvP at any level will show a higher chance of leaving the server altogether due to no action to be found at their level.
3) There is no advantage to counter-act PvP experience loss’ disadvantage.
Rewards for engaging in and triumphantly winning a PvP conflict vary depending on how the kill took place. Rewards and definitions for kill types follow.
Honorable Kills: Any kill of the opposing alignment that was first engaged while the target had greater than 80% health. The first group or player that engaged will receive experience, status, and faction.
Neutral Kills: Any kill of the opposing alignment that was first engaged while the target had greater than 50% health. Neutral kills result in moderate faction gain, but do not reward experience or status.
Dishonorable Kills: Any kill of the opposing alignment that was first engaged while the target had less than 50% health. Dishonorable kills result in a loss of faction with both your alignment and the opposing alignment. Losing enough faction will cause you to fall out of favor with your alignment, and will restrict or remove any access to the rewards system.
The Kill List: Honorably killing another player will place them on a list tied to your character, designed to reduce friend farming and griefing. Any Honorable subsequent kill of the same player will result in a neutral kill until you have killed 10 other players. Neutral and Dishonorable kills have no effect on the list.
Honestly, too many questions here must be answered before any worth can be extracted from these rules. What happens if I attack someone at 100% health, kill him, and turn to his 40% group mate – is he a dishonorable kill, or that fact is negated due to his group mate being engaged? What happens if I come across a friend and enemy fighting where the enemy kills the friend with 30% health remaining – can I attack him for an honorable kill because he was engaged by a friend, or is this check reset and the enemy is now a dishonorable kill? What happens if I, a tank, attack a Wizard who has no mana – he clearly is at 100% health, but he can’t fight back with all his tools (as this honor system seems to be trying to maintain). Is this an honorable kill? Twisting the second question around, what happens if I get to the friend and enemy before anyone is killed, but the enemy is at 30% - can I engage because he was already engaged by the friend at 100%, or now that he is 30% he is a dishonorable kill to me and an honorable kill to the friend?
Gaah. Head ‘splode. Why a simpler and better system that risks no fun hasn’t been planned on, I’ll never know – though I can hazard a guess that it is due to EQII PvP servers having no safe areas for PvE experience gain or battlegrounds (ala DAOC and WoW) that funnel the majority of PvPers away from PvEers. Either way, I’d settle for something like:
- Engaging and killing an enemy whilst they are involved in a PvE battle results in no rewards, faction or experience gain. Dead enemy receives no experience debt.
- Rewards, faction and experience gained from killing an enemy scales according to damage that the attacker inflicted.
- The dishonor system comes into play with the level ranges. Killing someone way below your level results in loss of faction etc unless the low level attacked first.
I feel something like the above system, as loosely stated in the 30 seconds I took to form and write it, would provide more fun and, equally as important, foster PvP. Really, the dead player doesn’t care if they were an honorable or dishonorable kill for the guy that killed them – they’re dead, and that’s all that currently matters.
While PvP servers are, for the most part, very dangerous and intense worlds to live in, there are a few rules that Norrathians must still abide by. These rules are outlined below:
Players under level 10 are protected from and cannot initiate PvP combat. While some players will be ready to have at it swords a-swingin' and spells a-flyin' from the get-go, others will need to familiarize themselves with their character a bit before joining the fight.
A required “feature” of PvP these days. However, sub-level 10 characters should be able to flag themselves for PvP if they wish to. The flag will reset after a duration of PvP inactivity.
Players cannot openly engage in PvP within their city walls under the same rules. This currently refers to both
Freeport and Qeynos main zones, districts and villages. PvP within the city walls is handled in the form of City PvP Flagging, which is outlined in the section below.
Comment below in the relative section.
For the opposing alignment, players' names will have a red outline indicating that they are a valid hostile target. Any players +/- up to 8 levels are valid targets, and their names will appear as a color based on the level difference:
- Green: 5-8 levels below you.
- Blue: 1-4 levels below you.
- White: Even level.
- Yellow: 1-4 levels above you.
Orange: 5-8 levels above you.
- Player names more than 8 levels below will appear grey, and non-aggro.
- Player names more than 8 levels above you will appear red, and non-aggro.
You cannot attack any player that cons grey unless they attack you first.
Aside from the clamp down on communication across factions, this level rule is the other mechanic currently being touted as too restrictive. For the most part, I agree with them. These rules appear to disallow any type of cohesiveness or collective pride within factions (something PvP servers are great at creating) in that a level 50 Qeynos Paladin coming across a group of level 30 Freeport natives killing a couple of level 25 Qeynos natives cannot lend a hand to help unless attacked first. Gaining backup in the form of some level 30, or even level 35, Qeynos natives would be sporadic at best. Factoring in the mentor system here (allowing the level 50 Paladin to group with the level 25s and effectively be brought down to, or near, their level) may help, but no mention has been made of it.
Additionally, it appears that these rules restrict PvP at the upper echelons of levels – a place where abilities become more even and player skill tends to have a larger impact – in that a level 60 cannot fight with the two level 50-51s currently camping thoroughfare. Providing a level-free PvP system that kicks in once past a certain level, Anarchy Online style, would result in a better and more enjoyable high level PvP system (those 3 level 50s that had an awesome running battle with my level 60 Druid would agree here).
As previously mentioned, when you zone you will be immune to PvP combat until you either move or initiate a hostile action. Conversely, you will be unable to attack someone who has just zoned until they either move or perform a hostile action.
Already commented on.
PvP within city walls works a little differently than it does in the outside world. The idea is that you are relatively well-protected within the walls of
Freeport and Qeynos. Under normal circumstances, a player cannot attack another player within a city unless they are specifically flagged for this to occur. The rules for City PvP are as follows:
- Attacking any NPC in a safe zone (i.e. city) flags the attacker for "City PvP"
- Anyone flagged as "City PvP" can be attacked by anyone of the opposing alignment in any zone who meets the requirements to engage in PvP.
- Anyone that attacks a "City PvP" flagged player also becomes flagged for "City PvP."
- "City PvP" flagging lasts for 15 minutes from the last hostile action taken against a safe zone NPC or another "City PvP" flagged player.
Seems straight forward - allows for risky PvP in enemy home territory without causing risk for those that don’t want to be involved.
As a whole, it seems that this iteration of the EQII system may have some success with those players new to the PvP system or those that prefer their PvP watered down. Yet, these types of players are likely not going to move from their existing PvE servers due to not wanting to give up their established characters/guilds/relationships for something that hardly excites them. So, why not open up those restrictive rules a bit? Make it a bit more fun to PvP instead of looking for another chance to add the Station Exchange to new servers? Your guess is as good as mine.
SOE has stated that these rules may change with testing (the patch is currently on the Test Server, so jump on if you wish). For the sake of some good PvP, I hope they do.
Thus far Smed is the only employee to grace the page with his scribbles (I had always wondered if he refers to himself as Smed. You learn something new everyday.), waxing lyrical about PC sales and PC Gamer choosing to drop their IGE ads, but with it being touted as a "company blog" more people should eventually show up. No doubt Raph is first in line.
Now Smed can tell me how to run my blog and poke fun at my marketing campaigns.
Whilst doing my normal blog runs (say that to a non-computer type person and see what reaction you get) I came across a link to the dance-based MMO called Audition over at Raph's. I haven't played it yet, but I do plan to as it looks quite entertaining. Plus, I'm a sucker for rhythm games.
Continuing on my run, I found Ubiq had also linked to Audition, where his main point seems to be "Hooray! An online game without fruity men in fruity tights.". Ubiq then goes on to bring up our previous trackback extravaganza.
While I applaud and look forward to dipping my fingers in the ocean of Audition, I still stand by my, well, stance. I never said non-fantasy games couldn't survive in the market, nor couldn't be fun, nor couldn't be successful. But unless something drastic changes, like aliens invading the Earth which cause people to have a sudden and vested interest in science fiction (perhaps those same aliens will force everyone to dance the funky chicken, thereby increasing the popularity of dance-based MMOs), fantasy MMOs chock-full of the regular fire-breathing dragons, giant rats, and men in tights will continue to remain perched at the top of the market.
I still wish to be proven otherwise.
(MMO) Hell is other people. With that in mind, Something Awful provides a helpful guide on how group with someone and not cause them to damn you to the deepest and darkest ends of the internets.
Note: It may come as a surprise, but the upper picture is the interaction and outcome you want to aim for, not the lower.