On Following Your Friends To New Games

So, if anyone noticed I did not write anything yesterday, which kind of breaks my posting every week day goal. In my defense real life crap came up and I just didn’t have the time. One of the responsibilities I have on the project I work on is taking an on call shift once every five weeks. This involves a lot of small things, but mostly making sure things are working. Yesterday we started having issues with one of our servers in what we are now referring to as “Fileocolypse”. So yeah, just didn’t have time to come up with coherent thoughts. Today I passed that on to someone else and it’s not my problem anymore.

So for a quick post I though I’d talk a little bit about how we choose games. I think I’ve touched on this before, and hopefully I haven’t already written this post. What got me thinking about this was the recent release of Wildstar, the latest MMO that people have jumped on. Personally I have no opinion on this game because my time playing with it amounts to maybe 1 hour. This is just an example. I have previously stated that I have chosen several games because I like the group of people I play with and want to play the same games as them. Wildstar is one of the few examples that I can think of that I did not “jump on the bandwagon”. I don’t feel guilty about this though, I like my friends and I like playing with them but there comes a point when you realize you only play games because you’re following other people around.

Is there anything wrong with that? I don’t think there is. I mean I’ve done it enough myself so what right do I have to judge? Do I think it’s a good reason to buy a game? No I don’t. I’m getting over this myself, but the internet definitely makes it easier. There is always a wealth of information available if you look for it. The hardest part is hearing strong arguments for playing a game from a friend. Because then are you following them or are you there because you want to be?

I think that really is a personal opinion. I personally don’t think that would mean you followed them in to a game. They may have made a very persuasive argument or they had information on a game you were already interested in that helped you make that decision. When I think of “following” people I’m thinking of blindly playing a game because everyone else is. It’s like when you’re a kid and someone asks you if all your friends jumped off the cliff would you too?

There may have been a time where this was less of a big deal because there were limited means of communications but now voice chat is readily available and it is easier to communicate across games. Now if there was a good solution for cross platform voice chat I’d be all over that.

I’ll admit that having people to play with is a factor in some of my PC gaming decisions. I do prefer to play with friends but I find that is no longer a requirement. I find that I want to base my purchases more on reviews and features and maybe seeing some game play footage. Just enough information to help me decide if I want to drop $60 on it. That to me is the main thing I look for now, is it really worth paying $60+ for?

 

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On League Of Legends Beginners Night

Okay, so I’m possibly going to have a shorter post today, and more of a tale of wonder rather than waxing philosophical. Mainly because I’m super busy at work today and don’t have  a whole lot of time to come up with a good topic. Also a slight schedule change, but I am planning to change my publishing schedule from 7 days a week to just weekdays. I tend to feel less inclined to write over the weekend, plus it would be nice to have a couple days to come up with and prepare for multiple days of posting.

So, with that said, on to the story.

Up until this point I have never played any MOBA period. Quite frankly I had no interest in them since I am not a big fan of PVP or RTS games, because honestly I suck hard at both of those. For a long time though many of the people I talk to regularly on voice chat either played or had played enough to know the lingo and often talked about the matches that they were watching. Which often left me confused when they started talking about lanes and jungle-ing and what not.

So earlier this week (or last week) my friend Bel decided he’d like to put together a League beginners night to try and get some more people interested in the game. I felt like I should join in because I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to have a choice, and figured it might also help to know what these people were always talking about.

So after I got home last night I downloaded and installed the application, and while that was patching up listened to them playing a match. Again I was confused due to lack of personal experience but it sounded like they were having a good time. Eventually I got in, and after a little while we had enough people for a 5v5 match (with one AI controlled character).

I feel slightly bad about how bad I did at the game, especially because my team got stuck with 2 of the 3 lesser experienced players. I didn’t really understand the strategy involved or what I really needed to be doing. Thankfully my friend Ash was in the team channel with us and was able to provide some instructions and answer questions. We did end up losing the match, but overall I had a good time. At the very least I have enough personal knowledge I might know what they are talking about. Not everything though, there are still plenty of things I don’t know. Such as the differences in game modes, or character abilities. But I can at least recognize some of the terminology now.

Overall I had a good time. I think the next time everyone is getting together to play I might try a different class of character. This time I was a melee character and that is not the kind I’m best at. I felt like the character moved to slowly, though I’m sure there are probably items I could purchase to fix that. I think though, next time I would play a ranged character.

On Free to Play Games Vs Subscriptions

This topic has come up a few times lately, well, a couple? Enough that I want to write about it, and this is my blog so “I do what I want”. Mainly this topic seems to come up whenever a new MMO comes out that is either Free to Play or has some form of monthly subscription. The latest game to cause this was ArcheAge and the fear that it will be full of jerks. This isn’t to say that every free to play game is full of them, but it feels that way some times. This might be an over abundance of immature players (ie teenagers, or children) that can’t afford to pay monthly fees.

I think the concept of Free to Play is fine as long as it is done correctly, and so far at least Trion seems to be the ones that do it best. They have a nice balance of free content, a cash shop, and an option subscription service that gives you added benefits but does not give you an unfair advantage in the game you’re playing. In fact in their last few live streams about ArcheAge they’ve specifically said they don’t want to make Pay to Win games. I have no problem supporting these games either through cash shops or the optional subscriptions because I know where those payments go. Just like subscription based games it goes to maintaining the network, and paying their employees so that there is ready customer support and content development.

Really the only thing I don’t like about Free to Play games is the risk of having a bad community experience. If games games that have optional subscriptions such as Rift or ArcheAge offered a subscriber only server I would gladly pay the $15 a month for it so that I would be a little bit less worried about a bad experience. Now that isn’t to say having a subscription means there won’t be players that want to ruin things for everyone else. That is a risk of any game that allows you to interact with so many other people from around the world. The only way to avoid it is to play single player games.

I know a few people who don’t understand the whole subscription model, especially if it is a game you went to the store and paid $60 for to begin with. They don’t seem to grasp the concept of the company having to have at least enough of a profit to pay their employees. I would like to think that everyone that is capable of paying for an optional subscription would because that just means better support and possibly content.

That being said, would I choose a subscription over a free to play game or vice versa? To be honest I’m not sure. I like the concept of free to play games because there is no commitment to a pay schedule. If you stop playing the game for a couple months you don’t have to worry about paying the monthly subscription with no personal benefit. The first thing I tend to look at is the quality of the game, and if I find it interesting enough to compel me to want to play it. If I’m on the fence and can try it for free I will be more likely to play it. If I was on the fence and had to purchase the game first I don’t think I would. I would have to wait for someone else to tell me about it or watch videos to see if I would be interested at all. Like I mentioned before, I have absolutely no issue paying for a subscription if I feel it is worth it, even if it is optional. Some people may think that is dumb, but as a professional software developer I understand why they need that money and as a gamer I love having new content and customer support if something comes up.

On PVP – Player Choice or Mandatory

PVP is something that I’ve discussed a little bit before when talking about ArcheAge and that games “always on” PVP. After reading another blog by my friend Ashgar where he mentions PVP I thought that I’d go a little bit more in to the subject.

It is an established fact that I am not the worlds biggest fan of PVP in games, whether it is option or required. One of the most annoying things that can ever happen to me is being killed by another player, in some cases repeatedly. The first MMO that I ever played that had what I’d consider “always on” PVP was Lineage 2. Leading up to the game I thought it looked amazing, the graphics looked great and I thought I’d have a lot of fun playing it. I don’t remember the specifics of their PVP system, but I know that if you attacked another player you were basically red flagged as a player-killer (pk’er). This essentially flagged you for pvp allowing anyone to come and kill you without consequences.

So naturally the first thing that happened when I hit left the starter area? Someone attacked me and immediately disengaged, but I still ended up killing them in self defense. However, since they had disengaged from the fight I got the flag. This lead to them standing there farming me, so every time I would respawn they’d just kill me again. Needless to say I got tired of that very quickly and I stopped playing that game within a day and I haven’t played it since. That’s probably the prime example of why I don’t like a PVP system that doesn’t give me a choice. People are jerks.

As I’ve mentioned the one aspect of ArcheAge that I am not looking forward to is PVP. From my understanding there are areas where you will always have to worry about being killed/farmed by other players, but, you can also be attacked and killed by players of your own faction. That in and of itself is a problem, but where it gets annoying is that the game seems to reward certain types of players for doing this. In ArcheAge players can become pirates by essentially being a-holes. Every time you do something illegal you get crime points, and the justice system allows players to judge you and sentence you to jail. Eventually this will make you a pirate. So what’s the quickest way to be a pirate? Be a jerk.

Now, I don’t have a problem with responsible PVP. If you want to do that it should be up to you. I don’t want it forced on me when that is not something I enjoy. In my opinion games like World Of Warcraft and Elder Scrolls Online have it right because, while they have PVP, they don’t require you to do it. There are certainly benefits to it such as titles and other rewards, but you certainly don’t have to do it. World of Warcraft has specific server types that do allow for “always on” PVP, but you don’t have to play on those servers. Personally I prefer RP servers because the communities are generally more mature, not guaranteed but at least more likely.

Now there are also games that are specifically designed for PVP and they are gaining in popularity. These are games like League Of Legends and the upcoming Heroes of the Storm from Blizzard. These types of games are called MOBAs (Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas). I’m not to familiar with the objectives of these games, but I would consider them PVP based so these types of games will probably never be installed on my computer.

So to summarize, I don’t think PVP should be required in a game. If it has to be there then I think it should be optional either by having non-required areas set aside for it, or servers where you opt in to always being PVP flagged. I can guarantee if I play ArcheAge the minute some jerk starts farming me just so they can become a pirate I will quit the game.