00:00:30:00 and counting

I have 30 minutes left to go home.

It’s not often that I find myself chomping at the bit to get out of the office. No, wait, that’s TOTALLY a lie. I’m ALWAYS chomping at the bit to leave this God-forsaken hell-hole that passes for an office. HOWEVER – it’s not often that I’m also a total space cadet toward the end of the day, and edge my door to near fully closed, leaving but a sliver of hallway light into my room, granting me virtual complete privacy. Said privacy is even more complete thanks to the holidays and me being one of two people in my wing of the office.

I now have 27 minutes left to go home.

I’m partially jazzed to get out of here because the Rifts third beta started today, and I’m wanting to give it a try. I’ve read it this elsewhere, but as a game, this things didn’t really seem to be heavily on my radar. I was mostly disinterested with it, as at first glom it appeared to be little more than a petrified WoW rehash. Yet, I have to admit, the level of reported polish has me intrigued, and beta test numbre trois being focused on the PvP aspects of the game, well, it seemed like a good chance for me to give it a go.

I don’t have any real expectations, or knowledge even, going into this testing phase. I’ve been mostly ambivalent to this games production, so there’s no strength of motivation for me in terms of comparison. I’m hoping that makes me a relatively good candidate for testing. The cynic in me says, “Ha! Testing? Hog-wash! This is just another developers pre-release, selective hype distribution, you silly naiveté!”. The cynic in me is oddly mild with his language. And while my inner cynic may be right, others have also said that Trion Worlds has actually made considerable improvements between testing phases, and seems to be related to feedback from the events.

There are now 20 minutes on the clock till my freedom.

So, I’m left wondering, what is this development studio like? I know it has industry people from a slew of games from Lord of the Rings Online to Warhammer (including Adam Gershowitz, whom I and a large host of the SW community was less than gentle about calling out for blunders). So, with a diverse pool of talent like that, what do those different waters bring together? Also, their site claims ingenuity and innovation in the standard location that calls for commercial buzzwords, but players have said that many systems feel “just” iterative, and not ground breaking.

Iteration isn’t a bad thing though. Iteration can mean refinement, polish, and completion. Building up from an already laid foundation is easier than laying one yourself. More than just using the ideas from elsewhere, the concepts used to implement them can be seen in action and evolved from, so there is less process in making it, and more time spent making it right. That’s the heart of iteration and design. You might say design IS iteration.

Fifteen (15) minutes are all that remain, slowly ticking out the seconds till I put on my coat, and leave.

So, with a development studio that is hopefully focusing on iteration, and have the experience working on all those various systems from different projects, will the genre finally see an incredibly polished game at launch? Despite what many say now, Warhammer was a fairly well polished game upon release. Servers stayed up almost the whole time, the dreaded word “rollbacks” were never uttered since the game started, and the client itself was mostly stable at first. But even then, the game had bugs that were frustratingly huge to some players, and many look back now, and declare anathema on the game for what they perceived as unforgivable broken-ness. So will Trion be the game to break that mold? A year from now, will people look back and say – “RIFT was incredible at launch. I’m not playing it now because it just wasn’t a good fit for me”, or something similar?

The genre as a whole has needed something like that for a long time. I think that we as players have been conditioned to accept substandard products and releases from development studios for a long time. I just don’t know if that’s because we’re too demanding for release schedules, or because it’s just impossible to TRULY do all the ironing necessary with a limited test population and play hours. Having 250 people play the game for 5 hours a day, for five days 6,250 play hours. Compare that to 50,000 people playing a game for 3 hours a day, for 5 days straight (750,000 play hours). The difference is monumental, and bound to find more problems. Perhaps the testing cycle needs to be opened up for pre-release betas. I think it was Mark Jacobs that said (paraphrased), “The more time spent in beta testing the better a game will be…”, and I think it may be as simple as having gamers rampage through your world for a while and break shit left and right.

In any matter, I now have four minutes left to post this, close down my computer and get out of here. Have a good night one and all!

Three is better than four

Tomorrow is the first night of testing the mechanics of the new RvR Campaign. Wednesday, the 6th, at 8 PM est is the scheduled kick off time, and the event will be taking place in Tier 3. So start patching now, get your character ready, and be ahead of the curve in preparation time, lording it over the foolishly unprepared miscreants holding back progress. Sometimes, knowledge of moral superiority is all that you have to fall back on.

So, get on there, and run around like maniacs, getting to be a part of the group that gets the first glimpse of how this will all work. I envy you, because I’ll be busy trying not to be bored in class. I expect reports from all of you on my desk first thing Thursday morning. No late work will be excepted.

No, that’s not a typo above, it is Tier 3. I actually had an interesting conversation about this on the forums today. This is the first event of many, and as I see it, it’s analogous to revving the engine of your car some before taking it out on a road trip. You want to make sure that everything is in working order and functioning as intended before you travel 2000 miles at 80 mph across highways and freeways on your trek across the country.

Hold on, let me test that

Friendly Player Collision (FPC) is remaining for now.

Good news for me as I go off into the weekend. I’m rarely a fan of big, last-minute changes, and this definitely qualified on both accounts. The adjustment that a change like this would have on the game as a whole is extremely far-reaching. More so than upping the resist cap, and that’s not something they’re eager to do without a lot of consideration first. So, if for no other reason, we should all be happy that Mythic heard the playerbase, and recognizes how big this really would be to the game, and have decided to give it more time.

The way I see it, is that removing it would be like a social entitlement program (think Social Security in the states). Once it’s there, it’s as close to impossible to reverse as to not matter, and a lot of people demand it, but in the long run, there can be some very bad side effects. It should not be something done lightly or with a minimum of testing. Seeing the company take this change seriously speaks volumes of them being thoughtful and considerate (the literal translation, not the “that’s so nice-of” type).

New City Infoz

The “z” makes it edgy and hip (really, I just couldn’t think of an interesting title).

Andy put up another set of bug fixes for night 4 of the city testing. While not as robust as the changes for night 3, I think there is one key area that is going to make many of those who expressed worry and concern have their fears allayed. The biggest gripe that was echoing across the forums was about players who went link-dead, or crashed in the middle of the city event, and then being forced to eat a lockout timer for all three instances. Well, they’ve implemented what they call a “lifeline”. We were all confused at first when, with no preamble or segue, Andy said, “Okay testing the lifeline”. He was met with a lot of “Ehh???”.

So, we all broke up into individual players, ran toward the city like a bunch of kids hearing the ice cream truck from the living room. We played in the city, happily smashing people’s faces in, romping around with wonton care of the safety of our environment, and then, told to summarily force-crash our clients. With great reluctance (because this has been FUN), I alt-tabbed, and told Warhammer to turn the fuck off. That’s right, you heard me, turn off Warhammer. It protested, and didn’t want to cooperate at first, but I showed it who’s boss by implementing my leet ctrl-alt-del skills. I win! Happily, the lifeline worked and I found myself in the same instance I had left from, with only one minor hitch. It took me two tries to log-in. I think my client started back up too quickly for the game to recognize that I was actually out of the game. So, I went through the loading screen, then immediately back to character select. I told you it was minor.

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Absence makes the heart grow fonder

I hope so, otherwise, this multi-day sickness of the lungs I’ve had may have been for naught. I’m back, mostly healthy. I’m only spitting up small chunks of phlegmy chunks of yellowish-green mucous. Mmmm…visuals. So, if you’re wondering why I haven’t been posting, that’s why. I’ve been playing some, sleeping a lot, and the energy to be creative and insightful was about as hard to get a firm grip on as the whole inhale/exhale thing was for the time period. But nevermind me, and the boring “who-gives-a-flying-fuck” details of my life, let’s talk about WAR.

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Information Conglomoration

Who's predictable now?

you’ve probably heard a lot of the news elsewhere by now. Everything from the chosen guilds for the closed city testing, to the WAR box no longer needing to be purchased, the new Gromril Plating changes, and bitching and moaning, and everything in between. The WAR blogs have been busy. Well, I’m here to dig out the official announcements, and put them all together, so you can ignore all of them.Other than my weak attempt at alliteration yesterday, I’ve been a bit inactive this week. If you read comments, you know it’s because I was ill on Tuesday and Wednesday. The post that went up on Tuesday was one I actually scheduled in advance, against the grain of my typical habitual posting habits, so +1 for me. That said, I picked probably the worst two days to “incognito” in the WAR-verse (WAR-o’sphere? WAR-circle? bah! whatever). So,

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1.3.2 Last testing, for realz

baby bumI got to poke about on the test server for about an hour last night in WAR (thanks to my buddy who let me look around). I finished my class last night, and headed straight home, eager to play around with the changes. I booted up the test server, and waited patiently as a 20 minute (or so) download began. I whipped up a delicious meal of left-overs, chit-chatted with the wife, then jumped onto Warpstone. Of course, first thing I did was make a template, RR80 Shadow Warrior, my first true love. This was around 8:30 PM EST. At around 9:00 PM EST, I actually finished picking gear, socketing items, setting up my UI, and choosing my mastery/renown abilities. 30 minutes isn’t too bad of a time to do all that, but time was a commodity I didn’t have. I was down to about 30 minutes of playtime before I had to log off, and I wanted to fight with every bit of it.

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Responsibilities of the Player

chore1With all the frustration that I’ve been feeling over WAR of late, I’ve been browsing the forums a lot more than usual. I’ve always been a crazy forum addict, and every game I’ve ever played, I’ve at least had a mild interaction with the community via the forums. WAR is the first game that ever got me off my ass and into writing, and plunged me even more-so into the community that was there. To me, it’s always amazed me when people report that less than 10% of the games population uses the forums regularly. They have always been a wealthof information, a place to vent, a community to share with, and a great ground for initiating gameplay. All of the benefits of the forums help ensure my own willingness to stick around for the long haul.

While burning through all the posts on WHA and the officials, I got to thinking about what the role of the player is when seen in regards to the development of the game. There are tools in the game to do bug reports, and to report cheaters/hackers/botters/etc… Official forums are a good place to set up communication between players and those who have a line to the ears that need to hear what the players are saying. So we have a few different tools at our disposal to TRY and get information to the people that play the games we love. However, has anyone stopped to ask why? Why should we do all this? When did it become our responsibility to do work to enjoy a game?

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