Thursday, February 18, 2010

Some short answers

Time flies, it's already Friday and I haven't answered all the questions from the open Sunday thread yet, plus I got some mails I haven't blogged about. So to clear my to do list, I'll bunch all the short stuff in this one thread:

Void from A Green Mushroom asked about unfinished games, which are the rule rather than the exception in the MMORPG business. I think the answer as to why that happens too often is in Scott "Lum" Jennings' post on MMORPG legendary failures: Scope. If you don't define very well from the start of the project what exactly you want in the project and what not, you'll never be able to "finish" it. Case in point: Blizzard is still answering questions about when they'll add the housing they promised in 2004. If they had more clearly defined their scope early on, people wouldn't expect that part to still "get finished".

Nefastos comments on tanks having the hardest job in PuGs, because not only do they have to play their own role well, they are also expected to lead the whole group, know the instance, and set the pace. So he wants extra rewards for tanks. Blizzard was considering extra rewards for group leaders for the Dungeon Finder (another announced feature that never made it into the final scope), but dropped the idea because they couldn't guarantee or measure whether whoever signed up for that extra reward was actually a good leader. Extra rewards for tanks pose the same problem: While the tank being the leader might be the general rule in pickup groups, I did play in groups where the leader giving the instructions was somebody else. Then the tank getting an extra reward for a job he didn't do is somewhat unfair.

Bernard asked about my views on the "limited attempts" system, but I kind of answered that in yesterday's post: The current raid circuit is defined by having to learn generic tasks, not by having to play your class very well. Thus the difficulty increase from one raid dungeon to the next is going up by not very much, and people can go directly from heroics to the hardest raid dungeon in the game. Limited attempts was an artificial crutch to prevent people from beating the last dungeon too fast. Didn't work, and Blizzard removed them from normal mode.

Gravitiy sent me a link to his Allods Online review, plus a link to screenshots at Keen and Graev showing players lining up in an orderly queue to stand in line to do quest objectives. Hmmm, I think I better wait before starting to play this. While queueing is obviously superior to killstealing, it still points to some fundamental flaws in population distribution.

Finally Solidfaith already some time ago sent me a link to an article in a Korean newspaper about the Korean supreme court ruling that exchanging the virtual currency of Lineage for real money is legit, because that currency is earned by skill, and not by gambling. That is in line with other courts in Asia ruling on virtual property rights. American and European courts on the other hand seem to consider virtual property to not exist, and follow the opinion of the game companies that any virtual property belongs to them, not the players, due to copyright. While that sounds somewhat less enlightened, it also means that I don't have to pay taxes on my glyph business (now sadly defunct anyway), so I'm not sure I'd actually want virtual property rights.

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