Wednesday, June 11, 2008

HG:L response

re: Hellgate:London Autopsy, Part 3

Where HG:L really screwed up is not in making crafting a viable way to obtain and customise top-end items, but allowing it to eclipse the other methods. WoW has several playstyles which reward loot, each generally has a few best-in-slot items to offer which encourage diversifying one's experience.

For the most important gear (read: stuff you might use), WoW is moving towards point and token buy systems. This avoids some of the real-money-trading issues around gold while providing the guarantee of item X after Y points. The Diablo concept of maybe, juuuust maybe a SoJ dropping off a random zombie has been dead for a long time in favor of custom loot tables.

The HG:L tooltips aggravate me more than anything else in the game. One of the revolutionary innovations in WoW was simply putting a DPS (damage per second) number on weapons. It's a small but significant step away from pnp handwaving. It speaks of a culture that cares about mechanical balance and a confidence that 'exploiting' the system is simply playing well. *

The (generally) extremely accurate and detailed tooltips allow theorycrafters to construct wonderful spreadsheets to allow you to figure out your actual DPS. Programmatic access to the combat log allows in-depth postmortems and metrics.

It all comes down to providing control and continual positive feedback. These are key to the usability of any system, not just games.

Veering briefly back to the OP, HG:L has none of that. It's a game-killer to a systems junkie like me. WoW's transparency culture produced the armory**, HG:L can't even tell me what my spells do before I buy them.


* AD&D is phenomenally exploitable so there was a continual game of "what can we get away with?". There's a theory that munchkins find this question so inescapably fascinating they are unable to focus on actual roleplay while it stands. Consequently they test the DM to destruction.

Technically coins can be thrown 3/round for 1 damage. Plus strength modifier. That gets pretty crazy with a haste (6 coins /r) and a +10 strength mod. They're more like Stinger missiles at that point.

** The Armory is an inspiring example of a web application. There aren't many websites this sophisticated.

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