Pacifist and game mechanics.

August 28, 2009

I played him some more today. One thing I’m noticing is how hard it is to fulfill many game mechanics nonviolently, and how absurd some seem when you view them in character.

The lions share of the points you need to rank up the healing skill are obtained by healing yourself, which makes sense if you fight-after all you get beaten up, and you cast cure on yourself. But if you don’t fight, it’s silly to have that as a requirement for a healer-why would a healer be healing themselves, and why is it weighted more than healing others?

Its fun trying to figure out ways of fulfilling conditions non-violently.

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Killing two wolf cubs.

August 28, 2009

It’s been awhile since I played pacifist, so one night when I was sick of the whole grind I loaded him up. I cheated a bit, because Niafar had some extra money and virtually nothing to spend it on-in Mabi most of player vended stuff is overpriced junk. So I sent Pacifist 20k. He bought a healer’s uniform, and a healing spell.

What happened though during that was I had no choice but to break the “no killing” rule. My current part-time job was to milk a cow. The cow though was right next to a couple of wolf cubs.

At first I tried to heal it. In mabi you can heal friendly animal NPCs, and they can fight, so the cow was fighting it off. The problem was the cow’s AI is cowardly, and it just ran before even killing one of them. So it’s either leave the cow to die and not finish the job, or step in. So I stepped in, and fought both off barehanded.

It’s interesting how meaningful it was when you have to choose combat only as a last resort. It felt different, and made me wonder why we only have the choice to kill or die.  I didn’t kill anything else. A tense situation involved me running from an aggroing bear, which was realistic-who would try and fight a bear even with a sword in real life?

So I killed two wolf cubs, and I did regret it. You can’t really stand by and allow suffering over principle-it may be very well in the abstract the harm to the cubs I cause offsets the benefit to the cow, but it’s not a human response to think of harm in that cold-blooded way. It may even be futile-eventually the cow might be meat for someone. But you have to view things as a human being as well as a philosopher (not that I am, but I mean as someone who has a philosophy.)

I do know this, that it was only done in need, in character. In the game, it would have been easy to cancel the job and let the cow die. It’s not like I lose anything by doing so. But chooing to be non-violent in character means to view it for more than the mechanical sense.

Anyways, interesting stuff. I’ll post another pic of Pacifist in his healer duds soon.


Why Science Fiction MMO’s are rare.

August 28, 2009

Everyone wonders why we see so much fantasy based MMO’s. I think it’s because people often don’t realize a greater truth; most science fiction worlds suck to live in.

As a kid, I read science fiction and fantasy religiously. Everyone from Asimov to McCaffrey to Zelanzy, to authors few people even read now, like Gordon Dickson. As I grew older I stopped, and on careful reflection, I think I understand why.

There’s a type of person most modern science fiction writes for. He is atheistic, well educated, appreciates science and venerates it (in the case of hard-science fiction MMO’s) and tends to have a specific outlook on things. He’s usually liberal, outside of alternate history and military SF (compare octavia butler and john ringo.)

The problem is they don’t realize that they ignore virtually everyone else, and the worlds they make people often find horrible. Snow Crash had a small interlude about a Junior Mafia Franchisee that killed the book for me-it didn’t matter how cool Hiroanki Protagonist was, because his world ground little people into dust. The supposedly catholic friend he had had no qualms in hacking the minds of religious believers.

Hostility to religion is a big one for me. I am an ex-christian. I no longer believe the faith I was raised in, but I took that faith very seriously when I did, and I saw others that did so. Science fiction writers though simply do not “get” religion, with the exception of a few, like Gene Wolfe, or Walter Miller. Even though I can’t believe in the claims, I find ned flanderization to be dishonest as hell. They simply are not like that.

How does this relate to MMO’s? It makes it hard to make a plot for them that won’t turn off the average MMO player. Most popular SF in general tends to be space opera, and really ignores any deep worldviews or philosophical questions. Star Trek, Star Wars, Stargate.

Most people do enjoy fantasy, because a lot of that baggage is missing, and they try to create a good world overall. It may be in peril, but you rarely get the sense that it is hell for most people, even in tragic or darker fantasy. the events may be horrible, but the book is less stacked.

It seems to be a tough thing to make a science fiction idea that can still be thought provoking and not be hellish or dystopic for many people. Until someone does, SF MMO’s will be rare, and limited to licensed IP’s. EVE itself is an exception, but it tends to be played for what it allows more than what it is.


Mabinogi issues

August 28, 2009

I’ve started to see my playtime in Mabinogi start to slow down and become less fun. I think it has to do with a few reasons:

PvP: I’ve been playing it, mostly the elf/giant war. It’s toggling on open-world PvP between elf and giant factions. It was fun at first, but there are some tremendous downsides:

-too easy to get camped: Camped means getting killed every time you “respawn.” You get up with a sliver of health, and its very easy for ranged magic and arrows to kill you in a second.

-too easy to be ganged up on. My record was 5 on 1, the one being me. Someone rescued me, by sending a duel invite-accepting it cuts you out of pvp, and lets you turn it off. But it can be insane-15 minutes of 4 people shooting you the second you get up, or hitting you with ranged attacks that stun lock you.

-Ranged is busted. Ranged actually is stronger at point blank range, because you can stunlock players, and it has a huge range;combine it with an elfs near 2x movement speed over a player and its impossible to escape.

Gameplay:

-Combat is either dull, or cheap. Dull in that you beat up braindead mobs with a few basic AI reactions, or cheap in that the mobs eliminate entire moves in your arsenal. Heavy stander enables mob to take a combo string and retaliate at the end, which forces you to use smash, ranged or windmill. Advanced HS makes EVERYTHING but windmill useless. Intuition means mobs react to your attack instantly-Gorgon mobs will always break your smash with normal attacks, even if you don’t aggro then.

-Crafting is a huge grind. It gets exponential. 5 woll to make a thread, 5 thread to make a fabric. 25 actions for one piece, and you may need to make 20 of the high restult fabrics to fulfill a level.

-Rebirth sucks. AP earnings slow down dramatically at 35 or so, with levels taking me a few days of play to get. Mostly because of boredom with above mobs.

I’m not sure how much longer I’ll play.


Why Dust will fail, in List form.

August 21, 2009

1. CCP has no experience with either consoles, or first person shooters.

2. CCP, in fact, has released all of one game, EVE, in which the action elements are minimal, and it’s detractors call “Space Excel.”

3. CCP is not releasing this game as stand alone, but instead is linking it to its one existing game. It is not only taking a risk on expanding its successful property, but it is also changing it’s existing one by having Dust affect the EVE world.

4. In EVE, metagaming and betrayal are expected, and to many generate the game’s fun points. In Dust, as in any console FPS, metagaming and betrayal are very much frowned on, with no 0.0 mechanic ever existing. FPS players do not see teamkilling or betrayal positively, even if metagame reasons make it palatable.

5. The culture of contempt. In FFXI, PC players and console gamers didn’t like each other much. To PC gamers, the reliance on console held FFXI back, and console players couldn’t use a lot of tools like extended macroes, draw distance, or parsers. Console players quickly became defensive and beleagured on forums.

I get the feeling that EVE players will make FFXI players look like pikers in this regard.

6. Console gamers don’t care about EVE. Seriously, ask them about it, most will not have heard about it or care about it. The console MMO market is small, period-FFXI at best managed maybe 200k of its 500k subs on console, and you don’t even hear console gamers ask for a port of WoW.

7. Sub model. Payment models for a MMOFPS won’t work on console compared to a traditional MMO. They work for games like FFXI and PSU because no real analogue to the full computer MMO exists, but games like HALO or Rainbow 6 are close enough to provide similar thrills for free. This ties in with #8.

8. Players in a FPS don’t care about MMO aspects. They care about the quality of the FPS experience. It’s hard to see CCP offering comparable quality in that regard versus much larger companies with experience in the genre.

I’ll make a part two as I see more reasons, but this was really a WTF moment, especially since it makes much more sense to make an EVE game in a neglected genre., the space dogfight sim.


Each MMO is new.

August 19, 2009

Obvious huh? But it seems all we hear are people thinking that you can take what worked in ultima online, or meridian 59, or everquest, or final fantasy xi, or WoW, or especially EVE, and just duplicate it with changes in style and minor tweaks.

It won’t work, because video games especially are bound to their time and place more than any other media.  Take text adventures. If you play them now, and you are honest, you realize that they are, well, crap. The “puzzles” were mostly finding which arcane combinations of words would parse and actually do something, and then which utterly illogical sense of actions you’d need to do to progress. You can’t let a cat out of a door, you have to go into the basement, find some cheese to lure the mouse in front of a window which you previously pried open with a frozen fish so the cat will chase at it and jump out.

But at that time and place, they were new and fresh, and people have fond memories over them. But those memories will always be linked to time and place more than the actual gameplay, and trying to remake modern text adventures is, at best, very niche. No one would suggest even that text adventures could even do much for modern RPG or adventure gaming. Yet people seem to think ten year old + MMO’s hold the answers to what is wrong with them today.

The problem is not forgetting the past, it’s not having enough guts to make a new MMO. It’s remembering the past too much.


problems

August 18, 2009

So in mabinogi i’ve been playing pvp. It seems i’ve been running into a lot of situations where i get pissed at the same people in it, people from the more powerful guilds in the game.

Like tonight, slayer and bigg were having some fighting. A slayer member was firing pretty impossibly fast, like he gets up almost instantly. A member of bigg didnt like that, and a pretty heated battle ensued. I got my licks in, mostly because the slayer member had shot me a few times before out of the blue, but i pulled back and watched.

So what happened was a second guild called humility, came in to back slayer up. And in that guild is someone i dislike very much, because he camped me several times in pvp.I move to go out of the way, cause its not my fight, and he shoots me. That made me see red, and the brawl spilled out into the streets. Pretty funny for such a cutesy game eh?

So i get camped again, and when i get camped, i get pissed, and I insult the people, and their guilds. I don’t like those kind of people at all. I didnt on alla, I didn’t in FFXI. So its official in my eyes, I am at war with them.

I left my guild, asashi, to shield them some from it. Not sure my conduct reflects poorly on them,, and the two guilds are pretty strong. I’m also not sure how the war will go-i’m strengthening myself, but i am still not strong enough to fight.

I know its immature, but i really see red over things like that. There is the understanding its a game in the head, but the heart boils over. I pretty much called them gimp cheaters who only know how to spam arrows and ice to their faces. It’s never so much that they win-its possible to win heavily and yet be honorable, but they use the cheapest methods and constantly camp.

It’s really odd for me to feel this way. I’ve never really made my dislike of things so openly before. In a way its liberating, and in a way its not good. I don’t usually have enemies, or try to-even with disliking people on alla i tried not to make it personal. But here i don’t know.