Glitch - Farmville meets Adventure Game, with MMO Sprinkles (But Alas, No Blood)

Incredibly cute and charming, despite the lack of blood. Ended up passing my beta ID all over the office so our coders and art folk could ogle and learn and *ahem* steal.

It isn't just the cuteness of the graphics - what really sells Glitch to me is the smoothness of the controls, the amazing intuitive polish of the UX, and of course, the utterly crazed sense of humour.

Any game that wants me to massage butterflies before milking them definitely charms me... even though it hasn't got any killing. ;)

P.S.: If you want to poke a nugget for some reason, before the beta wipes and splats everyone, I am SusieDerkins. >.> Cmon look at the default toons. I'm surprised I got the name!

Forsaken World - It seems bizarre, but I love that FW is cash shop based.

Which is rather odd, coming from someone whose other MMO 'love' is Guild Wars - which is pretty much at the other end of the spectrum. Where what you get, you pay for with skill.

More specifically, I love how FW has built the entire game architecture around its cash shop.

Yes, it's Pay2Win, just like any other CS game.

You want the BEST gear? The BEST character? Pay for it - either in cash, or in scads of time. And it works beautifully.

It works beautifully because you can indeed pay for it in scads of time. Unlike other PWE games, there really is no NEED to use the cash shop. If you play 18 hours a day, every day, you most certainly won't need to use the cash shop. This is rather different from say, Jade Dynasty, where if you wanted to play 18 hours a day, every day, without using the cash shop, it would be so agonising as to be impossible. (Yes, I know China's JD doesn't have cash-shop-fuelled, PWE-approved bots. I don't even want to think about what JD would be like without those bots - or espers, as they're called.)

By 'pegging' the prices of RL currency to in-game currency, and further balancing that by making mobs and quests give untradeable currency, PWE has solved the inflation problems that plague this genre in one fell, elegant swoop.

And it isn't just the triple currency system which makes it shine. It's how they've thought out and integrated every single thing that has anything to do with economics, the game economy, and currency. They haven't just limited their economic controls to their trio of virtual currencies, one of which interfaces with real cash. They've elegantly tied crafting, consumables, gear drops and the player propensity to trade and hoard stuff into the system as well. And they've even created a crafting system where the crafted items are valuable at least half the time. Sometimes extremely valuable - and sometimes even more valuable than 'set' pieces even with their special bonuses. It's really nice to be able to sell the stuff you make for a decent price, to other players, and at least break even from crafting, if not always make a profit. (Gear is in the Diablo/WoW style, with both randomly statted pieces, and set pieces with random stats and set bonuses.)

What's more, it's because of this thought and integration that every single piece of gear in FW is BoE. No BoP gear. Ever. There *is* BoP stuff... but this BoP stuff is advanced crafting materials used to make potions and consumables. And it's bound because they want people to join guilds - and guess where these things can be bought? Ayup, higher level guildhalls.

Guilds (or more specifically, guildhalls) in FW require daily tradeable gold to maintain, in addition to other various point system scoreboards. For those of you who've MUDded, it's very much like the old 'rent' systems you'd find in some MUDs, with the main difference being that only guilds pay rent - players don't.

But back to the pure-BoE gear.

Even with gear being pure BoE, people do still run instances for gear because it is, after all, cheaper than buying it off the auction house - if you don't count the time you spend in instances hoping that something with stats you can use / the set piece you're looking for will drop.

What it means, though, is that you really, really, REALLY don't need to kill something(s) over and over again with people you can't bloody stand, just to get more/better stuff so you can... rinse and repeat.

But what, you ask, are you paying for, O gloriously juicy one? Are you pimping your yous out with your wallet? Should you not be buying crispy battered chicken instead?

Nah, I'm not paying to be THE BEST. On the level of cash shop whales, where spending goes into the thousands, and sometimes even tens of thousands, I have neither the means nor the desire to compete. What I find myself spending money on is mostly (lol) bags for my packrattitis, and stuff like that. Since I started playing FW slightly over 6 months ago, I've dropped US$50 on it - and I haven't even spent most of it yet. Meaning, I've bought the currency, but I think I've only actually *used* US$15 of that $50.

I do like earning my in-game tradeable cash by myself, even if it only exists because *other* people are spending money. It isn't the 'I'm too leet to cash shop' mentality - it's more of the, 'I currently don't feel any burning NEED (unless I'm feeling really lazy)'.

At levels 70-80 (my highest toon ATM is 60), I have a feeling that I *will* drop a bit of cash on my gear to bring it up to a standard of passability that satisfies me. However, PWE has designed FW so well that I know that I don't HAVE to spend that cash...

...if I play 3 times longer than I do now. XD

But hey, put it like that, and I'm suddenly very sure that I'd much rather drop the cash on it!

Interestingly, because of the odd mentality in CS games, people are somewhat more easygoing in instances than they are in subscription games, and CSing is NOT seen as being compulsory if you want to get into groups. There's a curious ambivalence when it comes to players who CS, not least because there are arena rankings as well.

On the one hand, people are happy that things die faster (as long as the things aren't themselves), when they're with a CSer. And on the other hand, there's the desire to poke one's nose in the air and say, 'All people who use the cash shop are clueless nubs, and not leet like meeeee...' But the end effect is that people in FW are pretty forgiving of gear that isn't all that good - vs gear that is poorly chosen but expensive. Poorly chosen expensive gear is met with vocal derision, due to the CS dynamic, and of course - envy! He blew all that cash on his gear, and it's stuff that's totally shit for his class? NOOOOOOOB!!!!

All in all, I'm surprisingly - and incredibly - happy with Forsaken World, despite its being the polar opposite of Guild Wars. Never thought I'd say this, but I love them both!

Of MMOunts and Water Allergies, or "Hey, where'd your sheep go?"

So there the nugget was, doing Trade Runs in Forsaken World, while a faintly bemused nugget-boy watched from behind his book. The nugget-boy, you see, is not a gamer.

Forsaken World Trade Runs in a PvE server are extended run-around-a-lot quests you do to get rep, which you can then exchange for tradeable gold.

They are an incredibly mindless MMO version of a TradeWars style planet-hopping trading game, and go something like this:

1) Get Trade Run quest from Merchant NPC
2) Buy stuff from Merchant NPC
3) Open map, click on map location of next merchant NPC, let computer autorun your toon
4) Read a book, go afk and make a sammich, watch a movie in the other window, or - in this particular nuggety case - fall over on your side like a beached whale, and stare rather blankly at nothing
5) Repeat until you've gotten the maximum amount of currency allowed in that run
6) Hand in to Merchant NPC
7) Do it all again

Showing incredible restraint, nugget-boy managed to wait until the third or fourth instance of nugget falling over on her side, and lying beside her laptop like a blankly staring beached whale before asking, 'Umm... what are you doing?'

Nugget: I'm waiting for it to autorun to the next trading post. By itself. I did mention a bot could play this game.

Nugget-boy: I... see...

Continuing with business, Nugget falls over a-la beached whale a couple more times, only this time, nug-toon is dismounted because she decided to ride into a silly body of water.

Now, as all we MMO players know, MMOunts are generally highly allergic to water. There is absolutely nothing surprising about a large sheep vanishing upon contact with a small body of water.

Except if you don't play MMOs.

"Hey," quoth nugget-boy, "Where did your sheep go?"

Nugget: Uhhh *thinks furiously about how to explain what, on a fresh look, seems like utter insanity*

Nugget: *DING!* It's allergic to water!

Nugget-boy: O.O But where did it GO?

Nugget: It uh - it hid in my bag!

At this point, hysterical giggles are starting to bubble up from beneath the batter, but the nugget bravely manages to suppress them.

Nugget-boy: Your sheep fits in your bag?

Nugget: Uh, yes. It's allergic to water so it jumps in my...heh bag... and once I'm on dry land I just... haha... take it out again because you know it really fits so well in my... heeheehahahHOHOHOHO!

By this point, I've infected Nugget-boy with teh giggles, and we're both laughing hysterically at the ludicrousness of the whole thing.

Maybe this is why MMO-wise at least, this is usually done in the company of other fellow MMO-folk, or alone.

Still... Nothing like a fresh pair of eyes to inspire a healthy dose of absurdigiggles, woot!

Forsaken World - Names Have Magical Powerz!

Forsaken World's priest class is a sad example of how dev confusion with class roles, and naming classes 'priest', 'cleric', 'non-ninja monk', 'medic' (or any other name players tend to automagically associate with healers if they've a) played any of this sort of genre at all, or b) played D&D), influences class perception.

Or more specifically, it's a negative example of how to handle a class that has three talent paths or specs, with one of them focused on healing, and the other two being no-holds-barred DPS of DOOM!

Because that's what priests in FW are. Two of the trees are flat out damage dealers, one more PvP focused, one more PvE focused. They are not inferior to other damage dealers in any way (once high level enough and people get their skills blah blah), and they do, in fact, have the highest Damage Per Hit (DPH) of all the classes, if not the highest DPS.

If FW priests don't spec for healing, they are NOT healers. They heal for about as much as an even-levelled potion.

And yet the LFG tool classes them as healers, no matter what. Main healers, to boot.

Silly devs are silly!

This is where I conclude that the problem is the word 'healer', and how people (including designers) define healers. What they've done is put a Franciscan, a Templar, and a Dominican together and said, 'Wut! They're all priests!' Well yes, but they're not all healers. And that's the problem with the LFG system, and player perception once they see a word that they associate with 'HAELZ!'

The LFG does this with vampires as well, classifying them as healers, but here's where an odd thing happens. And here's where player perception straitjacketing class roles due to poor naming really comes to the fore.

You see, vampires, exactly like priests, have one healing spec and two damage ones. The healing spec is a main healing spec. It is on par with a priest main healing spec. It is, without any argument, a main healer.

The other two specs are damage dealers, very competent ones - again with a PvP and PvE emphasis.

Yet no one in instances EXPECTS vampires to be specced into the healing tree.

LFG with only vamp for heals, and the vamp isn't heal-specced:
Ugh! Crazy system! It really needs fixing. Sorry guys. Yeah understood, it's cool.

LFG with only priest for heals, and the priest isn't heal-specced:

... and so on -_-

Most amusingly, the ONLY class where all three specs are some kind of party support with low to average DPS, and high to average party support is the bard. Which the system classifies as 'support healer only'. Go figure.

So all those ancient superstitions about Namez having POWWAH? >.> They're right.

flickering colours » On Achievements: External Motivations

Videogames are a unique kind of game in that they can justify their own rule systems with fiction. Juul calls this coherence. An obvious task for this kind of fiction is motivating the player, which usually occurs by assuming an identification with the primary avatar, and motivating that character with fictional circumstances. Essentially, since the player is play-acting as the avatar, they take on that avatar’s motivations as their own. More traditional or classic games don’t bother. They take it as a given that they player wants to play, and say “If you want to play, then you’ll accept that this is winning and this is losing,” among other things. This is fine, this is how sports work: there is no objective reason for putting a ball through a hoop, we just do it because there are people over there trying to stop us doing it, and we want to show we’re better at this than they are!! The problem comes when we mix and match these kinds of motivating systems.

Fascinating stuff - never quite looked at the 'story' part of videogames from this angle before. That and lots more!