Friday, February 29, 2008


I probably could have been more constructive and less pissy, but well, I'm late for work >.>
Also, I should learn how to do linkbacks one day...

The casuals are the 'loot whores' if you ask me. Raiders NEED good gear, to progress. If you aren't running T5 or T6, why do you need epix? Most heroics can be completed with very modest gear, indeed they're more fun like that. BT will be unlocked next patch... try going in there with blues. Please YouTube it entitled "Why Raiders Don't Need Epix and are All Lootwhores".

Besides... 'casuals' has become a misnomer. True casuals don't have 150 badges. A better term would be grinders, people who are unable or unwilling to tackle the social and scheduling challenges of raiding, who want the WoW endgame to consist of one long grind after another. Why should being able to kill 8000 fire elementals or run Mech 50 times equate to mastering a boss strategy and applying it as a team? I can't overstate the social challenges involved in 25man raiding as well.
PvP is a tricky one, you don't need skill to get honor/arena but you do to get it fast. Moreover measurement of PvP skill in a BG environment is tricky... so I don't blame the devs *too* much for this imperfect system.

Your dismissal of world firsts is akin to dismissing chess grandmasters. "Pff... they've just spent way too long reading chess books, they've memorised the game big deal, get a life!". To get a world first, you can't sit around farming loot for 6 months. You can't wait for someone to write the strat for you. There aren't any nice timer bars. You have to figure the whole damn thing out by looking at combatlogs.

Oh and quit your emo QQ. "Clearly I'm the only person who worries about the Internet being a breeding ground for the lowest common denominator."? OMG internet is dying! Since when? Dumbass remarks like this don't serve any purpose.

"how do you keep all of your players happy, when you can pick ten of them, and get twenty different answers when you ask them what they want from the game? Sadly, I don't have the answer to that question, but then again, I don't have to – it's not my job"
Actually, it kind of is. Informed journalistic coverage can have a profound influence on the attitudes of those in power. Instead you chose to have a public whine, without any constructive suggestions on how it could be better. What a copout, is your mother proud of you?

So as not to be entirely hypocritical... TBH I feel Blizz have made stunning moves in this space. PvP honor and arena points are the way forward, unskilled players can gain epix but not fast enough to stay far ahead of the patch curve. Blues for reputation provide a stepping stone into PvP. Triple tier tokens, while still randomised (boo hiss) provide much faster gearing and hence progression; it truly sucks having to farm old content to overcome gearchecks. Tier tokens for PvP gear rocks.
What would I like to see? More badges from 25-man, so that 25-man raiders can stay ahead on the badge curve without farming heroics. More and more interesting heroics (Tribute run \o/), to keep the casuals entertained. 2-3 times as many nontier items. "War effort" style grinds for noncombat pets, RP outfits and gimmicks. Remember Talvash's scrying dish? Let us buy them and make more of them.

Now I'm pissed at you for sure. You're probably pissed at me for lambasting you. There's only one question I ask you, however. How could you make your next article better?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Collectible RTS

RTS games are often hard to get into. Advanced players credit their success to their 'uber micro' (micromanagement) skills; ie, clicking extremely fast and accurately. While that's certainly an impressive skill, a game which relies too much on micro often seems simply annoying and hard work to play. The original RTS, Dune 2, required you to move every unit individually, without waypoints. Not even the most emo of emo kids would inflict that kind of pain on themselves voluntarily nowadays.

More recent games take some of the micro out with groups. Moving a group of 12 units at once makes focus fire, light armor tactics etc viable. Special abilities aren't touched, however. StarCraft Science Vessels have no default attack, so when you tell them (as part of a group) to attack, they simply bob gently above the opposing forces without even activating a shield.

This leads to the idea of a squad - a group of units, produced together, with alloted roles. Put a medic in a marine group and when the group is told to attack, he will heal marines instead of trying to tase firebats. This frees players from rote tactical micro to make economic and strategic plays, and significantly enhances the value of these units. Another example - put mages with footmen and they auto-sheep the enemy's archers.

It also opens up a whole meta-game of squad design and trading, reminiscent of collectible card games. In effect it layers persistent, solo and social capabilities onto the RTS meat, helping turn it from a one-shot experience only the hardcore will truly explore into something more gripping. WoW has shown that simple base-level play with tangible advancement helps draw a mass audience. Spore is taking a page out of Facebook, it's time for RTS to join the club.

Bonus cow level: imagine an RTS with a window manager, on a multitouch screen. With cows.