Category world of warcraft

Searching For The World of Warcraft-Clone

We shall rule the galaxy like father and clone!

In 2004, World of Warcraft was released and changed the face of the MMO-genre as we knew it. Millions of people flocked to the game, driven by Blizzard’s brand and reputation and the now almost legendary streamlining of the genre. At the same time, some critics say, the genre changed for the worse and the “virtual world” became a thing of the past. World of Warcraft was easy, too easy, and by now everybody want a piece of the cake that they set the table for.

From that criticism comes the term “WoW-clone”, a term that describes a game as nothing except a lazy copy of the WoW-formula. Just like the idea of the “WoW-tourist”, a WoW-clone is a derogatory term that has been used against more or less every MMO released since. While World of Warcraft itself copied shamelessly from games that came before it, like Everquest and the DIKU muds that EQ itself took its foundation from, but it is the streamlining and the sudden ease of play that is important here.

It’s an interesting term. Perhaps it is because I’ve taken one of the most hated MMOs to heart that I’ve started to see things differently. For a long time, I had the same ideas – that MMOs were killing my interest in them by too much streamlining – but lately I’ve tried to take what I think is a look at the bigger picture. Is WoW actually killing innovation in our genre? Do developers constantly play it safe?

To find out, I’ve decided to compile a list of some of the most important MMOs that has been released since World of Warcraft was released, including events that happened as a reaction to its sudden popularity (the SWG CU/NGE). Will such a list point towards the end of the virtual world that certain critics seem to believe is happening?

I’m not a fan of the direction Blizzard took the game after Wrath of the Lich King, don’t get me wrong. If there’s one MMO right now that I have no interest in playing, it’s World of Warcraft. I will return in Cataclysm, there’s no use denying that, but I feel that the game as it stands right now does not cater to my tastes at all.

Despite this, the list and my take on these various games will be tainted by a pretty positive outlook. It is not objective. It’s as much an examination for my own sake’s, as for anyone that actually bother to read it through. Also, even if an innovation “failed”, I will try to bring it up – after all, ideas can be a lot better in theory before thousands of real players are released on them.

So, without further ado…behind the cut are the games (in no particular order):

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Understanding The RMT Economy And Sparkly Ponies

AT-AT in SWG

It's pretty! I'll take it!

I am really glad for all the interesting comments I received on my last entry, and in case you’ve read them I’d direct you over to the Buzz-version of the thread where a couple of other MMO-bloggers (including Tobold, Spinks, Chris and Pete) chime in on the subject. Thanks to everyone! I have been giving this a lot of thought ever since the sparkle pony was released for World of Warcraft, and it’s great to take part of other views on RMT in subscription MMOs.

But I thought that I’d take an entry to explain why I believe this is happening. The reason for this is that I believe that partly the item shops are misunderstood, as I see the word “greed” thrown around a lot by critics. Ark pointed out, again, that there might be a difference of opinion depending on political standpoint of the viewer, and I am starting to agree with him. Because I don’t think it is about greed at all, except for the greed inherit in the capitalist system. It’s all about the money and how economics work.

Disclaimer: I am not an economist. I have never studied economic theory. This entry is based on my understanding of economics through the very limited reading I’ve done on the subject, including books like The Undercover Economist and various books by leftist economic and cultural theorists that would drive the more right-bent readers nuts if I mentioned them by name. If you are an economist, or have studies the subject, or just happen to know more than me – please comment and enlighten me. Economy is fascinating and I would love to learn more. Neither am I saying I am the only one, or the first one, to bring this up.

There are a couple of scenarios that I believe are bringing this change to MMOs. They have nothing to do with greed, at least not from a developer standpoint. Some have pointed out that they’d support the cash shops much more if they knew where the money goes – if it is invested back into the game or to the money-men at the top. The answer to that is complicated, as the money goes straight into the pockets of the company itself. But the company have to give money to a lot of people, including the ones on its payroll, investors, shareholders, etc.

Despite being highly critical of the highly overpriced mounts (subjective, I know), these reasons make sense to me. They are legitimate, even though I don’t condone them. But in an economic reality, we’ll probably have to accept them – especially when it comes to games like EQ2 and WoW.

Cataclysm goblins

Improved goblin graphics are not free, you know.

Reason 1: Development costs go up, while the subscription price stays the same. Stargrace (and someone else, I can’t remember who right now, sorry) names this as her reason to support this RMT over on Nomadic Gamer. It’s a perfectly fair point. Development costs do go up, a new MMO is much more expensive to develop now than it was 10 years ago (or even five, or two). Cataclysm is probably much more expensive to produce than The Burning Crusade was, for example. SOE is developing at least one new MMO (DC Universe Online), which is probably even more expensive than Cataclysm (since developing a game from scratch takes a larger team and more tech than a live team working on an expansion). And we know that Blizzard is working on a “next-gen MMO”.

At the same time, we can probably expect operation costs to go down – bandwidth gets cheaper and cheaper, and storage space gets cheaper by the minute. That’s not to say these costs evens out, even though most of the development investment is returned by box sales at launch. The live team, which then will keep the game updated (new content, squash bugs, QA, etc), is normally a lot smaller than the development team so the running costs become smaller again. These are all columns on a spreadsheet, but they do lead us on to the next point…

Reason 2: World of Warcraft and Everquest 2 are not making as much money now as they did. This is not to say that they are dying or anything of that nature. World of Warcraft is alive and kicking, and Cataclysm is bound to make Blizzard a crap-ton of money. Everquest 2 seems to be doing alright as well. But they are not as big as they used to be. People keep throwing around the 11 million subscriber number for World of Warcraft still, despite the fact that it’s been a long time since they published official sub numbers (which is enough proof for me to draw the conclusion that the game isn’t growing anymore). Also, there is all the trouble Blizzard has had in China – that’s a huge loss of revenue, and a lot of lost players. There’s also the simple fact that the games are aging.

New Halas housing

Fluff items cost a lot of money to develop. Housing included.

World of Warcraft is still making Activision Blizzard millions of dollars each month – the large Western player base is enough to secure the game’s future for many years to come. But that doesn’t matter, especially since the two companies merged (Vivendi culture was a lot different, trust me). What does matter is that it isn’t making as much money as last year. If we put last year’s earnings, and this years earnings, next to each other it will produce a red number. And God forbid we compare it to two years ago! In this economic system, what matters is growth. Not subscriber number growth, the shareholders don’t care about that. Economic growth. You might have made us a billion dollars, but last year that number was 1.2 billion! Disaster!

While Activision Blizzard expect to make up for the investment for Cataclysm this year, we have to remember that they are working on their next MMO which probably has a long way to go before it is released. That’s a pure expense, it is making them no money at all right now. And as development ramps up, the cost will do nothing except increase. Saying that it will make the company even more billions in 2012/2013 doesn’t really cut it today.

SOE is developing DC Universe Online, which is another cost on the already pressured games company. The last game they released was Free Realms, and despite all the news we hear about registered accounts, we know nothing about how much money they are making from it. Insider sources, and with that I mean people in the actual MMO industry, have told me that Free Realms has been a disaster for SOE. Take that with a grain of salt, as with any unnamed source, but personally I have no real reason to doubt this person. More red numbers, more money that must be gained elsewhere.

I think that’s the whole reason why Blizzard introduced the pet shop, the reason why SOE started to dabble in pretty small scale RMT (not sure we can call the virtual card game small scale, though). With that success came the sparkle pony and with its success followed the prowler (I subscribe to the theory that SOE’s price point is not a coincidence). Not because they necessarily wanted to. Not that a developer thought it’d be a cool service. Not because they are greedy, or because they believe it gives the player more choice (the amount of mounts in both games are quite enough to give the player a lot of choices, with more or less grinds involved). But because they simply had to.

Free Realms dog

If you're lucky, you might be able to pick this up in Vanguard soon!

The price point – $25 – was with great certainty not picked out of a hat at a Activision board meeting. There’s probably a lot of science behind it, just like the 1200 point price for the Stimulus Package for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. It’s all about perceived value, and similar economic buzz words. That’s what they figured people would pay, and that’s what they needed to sell it for. And they were right, with the sparkle pony being a huge success (we still don’t have numbers for the prowler, do we?).

The other alternative would be to raise sub-prices, as Tobold mentions in the Buzz-thread linked at the beginning of this entry. And just like the $25 for mounts, I believe that only Blizzard can set that precedent. Expect a higher subscription fee when their next-gen MMO is released, or at least a pricing model that will be radically different from what we have now that will make them more money every month. Then the rest of the genre can follow suit. Otherwise, you risk having potential customers stay in whatever game they are playing now.

You know what? I can kind of buy it, if this theory is right. It doesn’t mean I condone this form of economic system, it causes a lot of problems, but I’ll accept is as a sad part of modern life right now. If this is what it takes to keep old games rolling (let’s face it, WoW and EQ2 are old), then it might be worth seeing 200 000 people rushing to buy a sparkly, flying pony the second it is released. It will sting in my eyes, but if the prowler keeps EQ2 out of trouble for a bit…well, I’ll accept it. I guess that’s where the choice comes in – more MMOs on the market is a good thing.

For now, this might be the price we have to either pay (and get a mount) or simply accept to keep our favorite games alive as they grow older. Let’s face it, a lot of us have rosy colored glasses on when it comes to what MMOs used to be back in the “good old days”. Many of us play games that were released 6 – 7 years ago (which includes World of Warcraft). If we don’t want the shareholders, or CEOs, or board of directors, give the developers we love trouble we might as well just pay the $25 when a sweet mount is put on sale. I know my gnome would look awesome on a proto-drake (preferably without the sparkles, please).

I can’t be bothered to be upset anymore. I’m just gonna go “meh” and move on. If they truly try to screw us completely in the future and the slippery slope we’re worried about becomes a landslide, I’ll be back. For now, I think I’ll just stop caring. Buy a prowler, support your lovely developers, and be happy.

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Give Me A Convincing Argument And I’ll Stop, Honest

I has pony! Or, well, not me. I'd never play a Night Elf male to level 80. Brrrrr.

Oh no! This piece of juicy drama is not getting away from me. I know you’re all fed up reading about the Celestial Steed, so instead of beating that old dead horse (pun very much intended) I will keep this quick.

A few points on the discussion about the sparkly pony in World of Warcraft:

- The people that are sceptical, in a sane way, will not be persuaded to like the sparkly horse by being told to “deal with it” or “if you don’t like it, don’t buy it”. Those are not very good arguments, since they have nothing to do with the matter at hand. I’d go to as far as to say that they are not arguments at all. They are dismissals.
- The people that are sceptical, in a sane way, are usually grown up and have enough disposable income to buy the horse themselves. They are usually not jealous of the people that spent $25 dollars on it.
- The people that are sceptical, in a sane way, are usually worried about what kind of message this sends to the developers. Or, in this case, the publisher who is happy to charge outrageous prices for content already.

I’m not angry at the people buying the horse, but I’m not convinced this is a good move for the consumer either. I think the pricing is outrageous and don’t believe that the hundred of thousands of people that thought it is alright to pay $25 for it make the whole thing alright. I don’t think the pricing of the Stimulus Package is warranted either, but obviously the 2,5 million people who downloaded it during the first week thought so.

That’s where I believe the standard for future DLC from Acti Blizzard was set, by the way. If people will pay 1200 Microsoft Points for 5 maps (two of which are re-used from the first game), then why wouldn’t they pay $25 for a sparkly horsie? Obviously, they would. (Would I pay $25 for a proto drake? I’d rather not think about that, considering the amount of time I spent hunting for the Time-Lost Proto Drake.)

D&D Online

Here's what I think of your offer wall! Haiiaaah!

Neither will I ever apologize for thinking that Turbine made a mistake when they introduced the offer wall and only being glad that they took it away. Too many scams have been perpetrated through such offers, enough for me to believe that no serious business should get themselves involved with it. I don’t care how much money is being generated, or that a lot of people like the system. Being told that it’s the future, without any more tangible proof why I am wrong, will not convince me otherwise.

Zynga made a similar mistake during GDC. Instead of trying to explain why their game actually had something to offer, or explain in a good way why other devs could learn real and tangible lessons in gamedesign and not only new ways to milk the audience for more money, they just alienated themselves even further from the people who already hate them. And probably made even more people dislike them in the process.

Oh yeah!

Oh yeah!

The sparkly pony is just another move towards a future that I’m not sure that I like. Should I shut up about that because it seems like that future will win over one I’d prefer? Hardly. There might be great changes coming, I don’t doubt that they will. But I want more proper arguments why these changes will be good for the consumer before I accept them as a good thing. So far, I have yet to see one apologetic reason that has me convinced. Until then, I will remain sceptical and critical – of the F2P genre (which I really weren’t, until Allods and the rise of social gaming gave me another perspective on things), of the offer walls, of any sparkly ponies being sold for $25.

I am only happy to be proven wrong, though. There’s a comment section below, feel free to use it to convince me why I am not making any sense. Please, give me an argument that will blow my little ship out of the water. I’m inviting you to do so!

And while Activision Blizzard keep overcharging for their content, and offer walls keep generating income for the companies that use them, I will sit here hoping for someone to actually give them some competition by simple virtue of being less outrageous. Modern Warfare 2 has Battlefield Bad Company 2, which might give Acti a run for their Call of Duty-money in the future. Now we just need someone to show the consumer (and the industry) that you can deliver a great MMO (or social game), and show the industry that you can make a lot of money, by being much more reasonable when it comes to pricing.

Next up on DFTM: A happy post! Enough with the grumbling, let’s hold hands and be happy.

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Late Night Rant: Let’s Talk Security

I want to start out with saying that my hacked account story had a happy ending – all my stuff is back and my account has been returned to me. It went fast, I am extremely happy. I won’t be touching the game again until I can get an authenticator though, I don’t want to go through this again. I trust my friends will let me know if something dodgy is going on, but the password is changed and I’ve gone through my own security habits and updated them a lot. You won’t get my stuff again!

Pantless gnome

My character ran around like this for hours, farming elementals for the hacker.

But let’s talk security. When your account is hacked, who is really to blame? This is all a thought experiment, this is not actually blaming anyone for what can happen to your account. Don’t get upset. But I can’t help feeling that the usual defense – “it’s all your own fault, Blizzard/NCsoft/Game Company X had nothing to do with it” – can be a bit, well, weak.

Because frankly, we don’t know. We don’t know what is going on on their side. While I am quite sure that this was all my own fault, somehow, it is hard to not hear warning bells ringing when every sweep of my computer turned up nothing at all. Now, no anti-virus or malware-scanner is infallible. Something might have been missed. It might not even be on my computer, perhaps it’s from a forum or WoW-related site that I used the same e-mail and password for (I just love logging into WoW with my e-mail, btw. Absolutely love it. /sarcasm).

There has been a rise in hackings lately, we certainly saw a huge rise in it around Christmas. There might be all kinds of reasons for this, but I won’t rule out that there might have been a security breach at Blizzard. It’s unlikely, a huge company like that can of course afford the best security money can buy. At the same time, the hackers are getting bolder and bolder, and – worst of all – richer.

Do you seriously believe that they would add an official authenticator to your account if they couldn’t afford to buy one just for that particular hack? They get your username and password, add a $6 authenticator to it to buy themselves enough time to grab as much gold as they can before Blizzard can intervene. That’s $6 dollars off the bottom line that they just have to hope will be worth it in the end (I doubt that my account was worth it, I hardly had any gold worth mentioning and not many emblems for gems), for every account. It’s no longer a quick hack and run. It’s a hack and fortify run.

There’s so much money in World of Warcraft now that these schemes are getting more and more complicated. The hackers constantly come up with new plans to circumvent the security measures that are put in place. Even the authenticators, hailed as a way to end hacking, are being used against the poor sods (like me) that don’t have one. And they will keep doing it, until either someone comes up with a security system that is fail safe, or the market in World of Warcraft gold collapses. And only the players can make that happen.

Because of this, I don’t buy into the whole “it’s always your own fault”-idea. It is probably true, but since we don’t know what actually is going on at Blizzard, I think we should at least be open to the idea. People make mistakes, every security system can potentially be compromised. And the hackers have shown, over and over again, that they are able and willing to do whatever it takes to get hold of your gold. There’s just too much money in it.

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Joins The Hacked Masses, Blames Gold Buyers

It’s not like I really needed more proof that buying gold makes you an asshat, but to drive the point home even further I got hacked today. A friend called me up and asked if I was playing, since I was online, not answering in chat and had emptied our guild’s bank at 7am. Considering that I haven’t logged into World of Warcraft for several days, it was easy to draw the quick conclusion that my account has been compromised.

Now, it would be easy for me to play the blame game and start to point to some form of security fault at Blizzard. It might be, considering the rise of hackings lately. At the same time, hackers might just have found more sneaky ways of getting into our accounts – or simply, the market might be lucrative enough these days that there are just more hackers around now. I’ve really tried to make sense of where I did wrong, uninstalling applications that I’ve downloaded lately, doing a full spyware and virus scan. The virus scan is still running, while the spyware scan turned up nothing.

Victor pointed my to this post at Destructoid, which might give further clues to what happened, while Balsakian mentioned addons. Could be a mix. Could be all of them. Could be neither. I have no idea. I might have clicked a bad link, or an addon is infected, or…I just don’t know. I feel a bit clueless right now.

My virus scan just finished, deep scan on my system and external drive. Nothing found. I’m at a complete loss where to go from here.

Really though, I am not as mad at the hacker him/herself as to the culture that has caused this. They hack accounts to get to the gold, which they can sell. Don’t get me any crap about bad game design and that’s why you buy gold. You’re an idiot who keep fueling money into an industry that is illegal, immoral and has no qualms about hacking into peoples’ accounts.

My gnome is running around in Northrend without pants because of people like you. I love MMOs, I love the culture and the communities. But you, Mr or Mrs Goldbuyer? You’re an asshat. Go cheat in The Sims 3 instead, where you can feel all high and mighty instead of screwing your fellow MMO-players over. The spam, the hackings, they wouldn’t happen if there wasn’t a market. Go QQ somewhere else. You’re scum.

I’ve filed a support ticket, with all the information I could enter, and I hope that Blizzard get back to me soon. I don’t really care that much about my current gear, it wasn’t all that anyway, but I want my old stuff back. My 7/8 pieces of Tier 1, my Onyxia Scale Cloak, the old Onyxia attunement amulet that isn’t available in the game anymore. My Perdition’s Blade, that I still had stashed in a corner of my bank. Those are things I’ve been holding on to for years, because of nostalgia. I will miss them.

Krystalle has written up a good guide on how to spot those fishy mails that you might get. She’s also written down some of her own thoughts about hacking and buying gold. Very good read.

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The Armory Is An Invasion Of Privacy, Period

Big Brother Is Watching You

And posting your details on the Interwebz!

So, there are some new fancy features over at the WoW Armory, including a nice 3D model viewer of your characters. It’s really nice and I can’t believe it took this long for them to get it in there – FigurePrints have been able to access that data through the Armory backend for a long time. But good stuff, finally! And then there is the feature that has got some people up in arms – the “Recent Activity”-log.

It’s a simple feature, it simply updates what you’ve done in the game lately and on what day you did it. Like what bosses you’ve killed, which achievements you’ve pulled off, what loot you got. All that stuff that’s not really interesting to anyone except yourself most of the time. It’s even RSS-enabled, so if you want to pull your friends’ activity feeds into your newsreader of choice, you can do that. Why you would escapes me, but you can.

The problem with the activity log is that there is no way to turn it off. I can’t choose if it should be included on my Armory-page or not. So anyone who knows what my character is called and what server I play on can see what days I’ve played World of Warcraft and get some form of idea what I did on those days.

This has caused a discussion about invasion of privacy. A lot of people just don’t want their activities to be shared with the world. This has caused quite a debate on whether Blizzard, by pulling this data from their own servers, are invading our privacy or not. And, if they do, if it’s actually important. All kinds of weird stuff has been said, some valid, some insanely stupid. I thought I’d just sum up my thoughts on the whole affair…

…because I believe, quite firmly, that the activity log on the WoW Armory is a blatant invasion of my privacy. My privacy as a customer, a player and a private person. By not giving me the option to opt out or in, Blizzard is now sharing what days I’m playing WoW with the rest of the world. Not only that, they also show what I’ve been up to. No matter how you twist and turn it, it is an invasion of my privacy. I might not care, but it still is.

A lot has been said about how this feature could be abused, with the pro-camp pointing out how hard it would or how pointless it would be for a (for example) cyber stalker to use this information. I agree that in 99,9% of all cases, the WoW Armory data won’t do anyone any harm. But in that last 0.1%, if the option to opt out of the log would have helped someone from being hurt, it should have been there.

It’s not actually even about that. It’s not about what the data being shared by Blizzard could potentially do to harm me or anyone else. Maybe nothing will ever happen, chances are pretty good that it will never be abused. But I should still be able to choose if I want to share my in-game activity with the world or not. Seriously, you don’t have the right to see what I’ve done or haven’t done while I’m logged in. I can show you, if we both agree on it being in our mutual interest, but Blizzard just going ahead and putting it up there without asking me first will always be an invasion of privacy, no matter if I’ve signed the EULA or if it’s “only a game”.

Nayboor kitteh lolcat

I really couldn't resist including this picture, I am sorry.

I don’t have anything to hide. I am a rather public person. My contact information is readily available, my Raptr account sends an automatic tweet every day and tells the world what games I’ve been playing in the last 24 hours (including WoW). I will happily link my Armory profile (ignore the level 73 ring, I just came from a hiatus, remember). My name and e-mail is printed, every month, in a magazine that’s read by about 100 000 people. There’s a whole list of contact information on this very site. But I’ve chosen that. I choose what to share and what not to share. I will not have Blizzard making that choice for me.

I will keep logging in to World of Warcraft, even if I know what I am doing in there is being broadcasted to the world. I won’t rage quit, even if it was close there for a minute. I believe that Blizzard should have treated this matter in a much more delicate way. My gaming times, my achievements, my loot, my heroic dungeon runs…all of those things are my business and my business alone. Blizzard might have the legal right to do whatever they wish with that information (I did sign the EULA blahblahblahfnordblah), but I don’t think they have the moral right.

Finally – props to companies like Turbine, who allows you complete privacy control of what characters and activity logs to show on your my.lotro.com-page. Oh, here’s mine!

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Late Night Post, Which Way To Rivendell Again?

I got a lot of good feedback after writing about some of my issues with leveling. Even though I have further thoughts on the subject, some of which is probably going to be published on another site in the near future, I decided to be a good boy and give Lord of the Rings Online another chance.

Mr Smirky

Redthir the Rune Keeper, or "Mr Smirky" as I prefer to call him. Such a lovely hat, Mr Smirky!

I can’t get over the fact that I used to be a huge Tolkien fan and I’ve hardly explored Turbine’s version of Middle Earth yet. It’s silly, but the small child in me is always filled with such fuzzy geeky feelings when I run through Bree, or see the rolling hills of the Shire. My biggest problems with LotRO are, and will probably always be, the character models. They don’t do Middle Earth justice in any way or form, so here’s hoping they have to launch the game in some part of the world where alternative models will be needed.

Or something, I don’t care, I just want an Elf female that doesn’t look like she’s kicking her own buttocks when she runs.

I keep nomading from game to game, World of Warcraft showed its true face pretty fast and the bright idea that I was going to try my hand at raiding again flamed for a brief second (or day) and then fizzled out completely. I will treat it like a dungeon parade, doing an instance or two when I feel like it. Until Cataclysm, there really isn’t much else to do – I will just have come to terms with the fact that I will never get to kill Arthas.

I am sad to say it, but sometimes I feel that Blizzard are losing a bit of their touch. They re-invented the MMO, they made end-game raiding the norm, they’ve shown over and over again that they are at the kings of the genre. They do sweeping changes to the core of their game, changing and mutating it over time. But what some of us raised our eyebrows at when Wrath of the Lich King changed the raiding game completely from the hardcore days during The Burning Crusade, keeps mutating. That…”thing” that I can’t put my finger on, keeps growing and twisting.

Not always in that good, innovative way. Over the next couple of months, we will see what the gating of ICC means for the raiding guilds and what the LFD-tool will mean for the larger community. Then Cataclysm will land on top of the situation (said in the most neutral way possible) that Blizzard have created. I’m a bit confused on how the game will develop from here, how open world content will be made interesting again. Exciting times!

But until then, I will once again try to find my way to Rivendell and Moria. It’s taken me quite a long time, and I’m not sure I’m going to make it this time either. But it would be a boyish dream coming true if I do!

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LFM LFDs In MMOs PLZ THX

Fall of the Lich King

Replacing "fall" with "fail" would be such an easy joke.

I had planned to write a post about the LFD-tool, since it’s been one of the hot MMO-topics lately. I had even written a paragraph or two before going back, reviewing what I had written and then deleting that chunk of text. There’s been so much said about it lately, that I’m not really sure that I can add very much to the discussion (feel free to point out more links to LFD-related posts or forum entries in the comments).

All I will say at this point is that it’s a powerful tool. There’s been a LFG-tool in WoW for a long time, but it’s never been very useful. Blizzard just took that tool, revamped it, made it easier to use and added cross-realm search and voila, you get LFD. Are we getting less social because of it? Not me, since I never PuGged before. The whole idea of the dungeon quickie, where all you say is “hello” and “thanks for the group, bye”, fits me perfectly.

The only daily I might do is the Jewelcrafting daily, and I’m always extra happy when it’s the daily to kill members of the Scourge – that means that I won’t have to go out and, you know, look for mobs to kill. Pop into a dungeon run through the LFD, kill an undead or two, hit up the bank, craft, cash the quest, profit. I did the Tournament dailies for a couple of days, but I don’t really see what they have to offer for the absolute drudgery that is WoW’s “mounted combat”. I also bought my way to Exalted with Sons of Hodir, one of those reputations I should have fixed way before entering Naxx, so I didn’t have to do their horrible daily quests. Yuck.

Will it always be like this? I certainly hope not. Cataclysm will hopefully stir things up a bit, but that remains to be seen. It’s not that there hasn’t been any new content added to WoW since I left, but I’m just tired of Northrend. I just want to get that continent over and done with, just like Outland before Wrath of the Lich King was released. Some new zones, not just new content added to the old ones, would do wonders right now. Until then, I’ll be happy just popping into quick dungeons – just like I spent most of my time in Warhammer Online queuing up for PvP scenarios.

Fail of the Lich King

Oh, wait... /cry

Are we becoming more and more anti-social? Maybe. But haven’t we been that way for a long time? Blizzard have always got a lot of flack for turning their MMO into a more and more solo focused game. The LFD is just the logical follow-up for this kind of gameplay and I’m sure that most people love it. I can’t help feeling that the tool in itself isn’t complete, that it needs the updated guild tools/functions. We’ll see.

Actually, I wish that more games had similar tools – especially for people like me, who moves from MMO to MMO, would benefit greatly from a system like this. It would be an awesome way to see group content without having to bother with finding a guild first. I usually feel like the annoying newbie when I end up in guilds with players mostly sitting at level cap (like in Vanguard, SWG, LotRO and EQ2). Right now, there is a wall between me and the community in most new MMOs I try out. Until now, the same could be said for new players to WoW – now, they can easily get to see dungeons that just a few months ago stood completely abandoned. Deadmines and Uldaman are still really cool instances, and newbies no longer have to beg level 80s in Stormwind to rush them through that content.

Ooops, I did end up with an entry about the LFD-tool anyway.

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What’s Wrong With This Looking For Dungeon Picture?

An added disclaimer: I came home from the office, tired, angry at the trains for always being late, stressed and all that usual stuff. In the entry below I might sound a bit harsh at times – if so, I’m sorry. I will not edit the entry in any way though, I shall leave it as is. But this is what can happen when you have a personal blog that is yours and yours alone. Be kind, and please, if you disagree with me, let me know in the comments.

Since the release of the Dungeon Finder tool in World of Warcraft, a lot has been said about it. It’s been praised, ridiculed and criticized – people can’t decide if they love it or hate it. Neither can I, after only having spent one evening with it (yes, I’m resubbed to WoW, will get back to that later). All that I can state is that World of Warcraft, with the introduction of said tool, is a completely different game compared to only a couple of weeks ago.

Copra, on Twitter, linked a blog entry that caught my attention more than the others though.

The Basic Premise

The post is called The Porn Star and the PUG, written by Elnia at The Pink Pigtail Inn. The basic premise of the entry is twofold. Number one, Elnia applies a quote from Sharon Mitchell, former porn-star turned doctor (who runs the AIM Institute, which tests actors/actresses in the porn industry for STDs), to her own life and later to PuGs through the LFD tool. Number two, she draws an analogy between porn in general and the LFD tool.

Read more

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Let’s go to Ulduar! Wait, where did you guys go…?

When Ulduar was finally introduced to the live realms in World of Warcraft, I started to consider going back to World of Warcraft for a bit just to see the place. It seems like Blizzard actually have addressed some of my concerns with WoW and that Ulduar is more challenging than Naxx. The fights all sound fun, the design of the place looks great, and the graphics are pretty. And since I’m not actively playing a MMO that steals all my free time, a trip or two to a  new raid sounded like a good idea.

A quick look at my guild’s forums later and I’m as desillusioned as ever. They are going back to Naxx?! What just happened? The officers’ desperate threads for Ulduar raids get more or less no sign-ups, while Naxx raids are full? There’s just been a whole new raid introduced to the game and people want to go back to the same raid they’ve farmed for months?

I can only see a few reasons why this could be happening. It could, of course, just be a bad week. For some reason almost everyone in our guild is away on the Ulduar raid days, while available to raid Naxx on the non-official raid days. That could be it. It’d be a weird coincidence, but hey – anything is possible.

I know that my guild did have some initial troubles in Ulduar. It could be that people feel they need better gear. Which I really doubt, since they’ve been farming heroics/Naxx/Malygos long enough to at least have more than 10 people ready to hit higher content. I haven’t been playing since February, but I’ve been keeping track of our forums almost daily since then (force of habit) and there’s been two or three raids every week. Add all the heroic badges I know people have been getting and you got at least one Ulduar-team ready to go.

The last reason I can think of? People are lazy. Naxx made them lazy. Naxx was easy, people got used to it and when they are suddenly faced with a real challenge in Ulduar, they get scared. Wiping is no longer a way to learn, it’s now a sign of boredom and frustration. They’ve already forgotten what it was like to learn Kara, or they never wiped for weeks trying to down Vashj. I don’t know.

/sigh

Good thing Free Realms went live, I suppose.

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Virtual worlds, massive multiplayer games and assorted ramblings

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