Tag Archives: MMOG

Secret World thoughts

very brief thoughts, which I may or may not fill in later:

  • I wish the main PC had voice over and dialog choices like in SWtOR (or Mass Effect)… or maybe just dialog choices… or maybe just choices that affected dialog and mission results while still staying the silent one.
  • I wish there was follow-up with more NPCs rather than leaving them wondering if you acted upon their information by not returning to them after you report in to your home faction.
  • I wish there were fewer assholes in chat. That’s not unique to TSW though…
  • I wish there were more instances for investigative missions, so we didn’t have to constantly compete with other players who were working on the same puzzle missions. I think a lot of bugs people are reporting are actually because other players are messing up with their solutions midway.
  • I wish chat wasn’t broken. Often the group channel or whispers won’t go through, which is pretty annoying when you’re trying to group with someone.
  • I love the Lovecraft influences in Solomon Island.
  • I like how characters can dynamically adjust their build for more dps, more heals, more hate generation, etc. depending on situation and group composition.
  • And I like how individual abilities aren’t actually more powerful than others, just that you get more of them unlocked as you go, and it’s the combination of them (you pick 7 active and 7 passive abilities; the rest are just idle) that makes for interesting synergies.
  • I love the puzzle missions that have me breaking coded messages, thinking outside the game sometimes, looking stuff up on Wikipedia, reading Poe, brushing up on art history, etc.

The Secret World and TERA

I tried out the open beta weekend for The Secret World (TSW) last weekend and preordered it. (Join me on the RP server. I’m Mcdanger.) And this week I’ve been playing the 7-day free trial of TERA.

Some things I liked about TSW:

  • less emphasis on leveling. There’s still a progression but much of it is in the abilities that get unlocked and the range of things a player can do rather than a sheer numbers-based power curve.
  • non-linear (tho still tree based) ability unlocks, and later abilities are not necessarily better than earlier abilities. It’s how a player combines and chains them together that matter.
  • emphasis on story. Each NPC is voiced like The Old Republic (TOR). Unlike TOR, it’s not always in a camera-limited dialog event. This is both good and bad. You can leave the NPC mid-sentence, which may be good, but there’s much less animation during their spiels, making you kind of want to leave… The dialog can be hilarious, though, as with two federal agents bantering about popular sci-fi and superhero cliches (eg. Is it a “flight” of super heroes or a “fray” of super heroes?). The fact that it takes place in modern day makes this possible… lots of nods to popular culture.
  • first zone is Lovecraft based. Awesome.
  • players from the three different factions can group up. So I hear… I didn’t group with anyone while I was trying out the game. There’s no open warfare between the factions.
  • monsters sometimes charge up or ready attacks and the game provides an on-ground indicator of where the cone or AoE will land, giving players a chance to dodge out of the way. I like this. It makes the fights more active.

Some things I didn’t like about TSW:

Continue reading The Secret World and TERA

MMOG Farmer: A Facebook game concept

For a game design class I’m taking this summer, we got into groups and are designing a Facebook game. We decided early on to use an idea I had (inspired by Cow Clicker) about spoofing the farming in MMOGs since many FB games are pretty much repetitive farming, too. Each of us were then to write a short one-page concept which we’d aggregate together into one idea. This was my pitch to the group.

(Turns out no one else from my group wrote anything. Frikkin undergrads. While a few of them have been helpful in brainstorming, I’m appalled at the lack of work coming from the rest of my team. They don’t seem to realize I’m defending my dissertation in less than a week! How is it that someone who’s not even taking the class for a grade is doing most of the group work?)

MMOG Farmer

High concept: Playing a busy-work game in Facebook generates credits that can be transferred into external non-Facebook games where grinding / farming is needed to level-up or craft items. Instead of wasting precious time grinding / farming at home in the MMOG you care about, you can grind at work or school and stay productive during the down-time away from the MMOG. MMOG Farmer is meant to be tongue-in-cheek and self-aware of the genres it mimics, yet, at the same time, be a viable, enjoyable experience. Essential theme: This game captures the feeling of time-dependent repetitive grinding / farming found in MMOGs *and* Facebook games. The actual visual theme doesn’t matter so much, and we will allow players to skin the game from two choices: generic fantasy to space epic (e.g., WoW to Eve Online).

Player representation: Players create a character or avatar to control, choosing from several archetypes from a wide range of genres. These could come from more genres than just fantasy and space, and part of the appeal is juxtaposing someone from one genre with either the fantasy or space backdrop.
Player action: Comes in two forms:

  1. On the automated level, a player assigns a task to his or her character, ranging from things like collecting herbs, mining ore, and farming instances. He or she then waits for the action to complete, taking real-world time on the order of an hour or so, before being able to assign a new task. Meanwhile, the player can watch the game visuals depicting the character walking around and doing the harvesting or dungeon delving (see below).
  2. On the manual level, every player action is based around simple clicks to move from space to space and to harvest materials or kill / skin monsters. There is no combat, really, just a visual representation of combat. The actual player action is just clicking. Choosing to farm an instance changes the scenery and makes it more interesting but it is still easy and generic.

Look: The visual look is modeled after games like The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap. In other words, it’s a top-down 2D grid-based game. Movement is turn-based modeled after rogue-like games, especially Desktop Dungeons (http://www.qcfdesign.com/?cat=20).

Gameplay: The automated and manual versions are the same, really. The character is in some fantasy-based or space-themed setting, moving from space to space on the 2D grid, revealing more of the map. Some spaces have harvest nodes or monsters in them that can be farmed. As the character farms, he or she gains XP and levels up, opening up new areas that can be farmed for better rewards. There are no stats for the characters, just an experience level that limits the areas that can be farmed. Between farming runs, the game automatically sells the harvested items for gold or credits.

Closing: The looks attract players to the game. The repetitive, addictive grinding compel players into playing. The fact that the gold or credits or whatever resource is accumulated can be transferred to a MMOG keeps players playing.

MMOG play as barrier to getting a job (rather than seen as a bonus)

Raph Koster (MMOG developer, author of Theory of Fun for Game Design) is relatively prolific on his blog. Today he has a post about a post from a forum where the poster says a recruiter was told to avoid WoW players:

Raph’s Website » MMOG play as a barrier to getting a job


IR9, day 1, 11am: Multiplayer gaming

On the 15th I went to the In the Game workshop and then dinner party afterwards. I’ll skip that and go straight to the conference which started on the 16th, but here’s a photo of my breakfast spread. 🙂

From Copenhagen, Oct 15

Celia Pearce
Identity as place: Trans-ludic identities in mediated play communities-The case of the Uru diaspora


  • fictive ethnicity attached to virtual place
  • diasporic discourses of displacement
  • imaginary community v. imagined community

method includes:

  • feminist eth, etc. but also
  • ethnography as game (Denzen)

Refugees of Uru would evaluate different VWs and games as possible places to migrate to.
They used the same identities from place to place incl. clothing/avatar appearance.
They also recreated architectural artifacts (like the fountain, the common hub for the game Uru) to keep cultural artifacts and continuity in space/place.

It was the loss of Uru that led to the creation the identity/community.

Celia mentioned briefly a conference happening at Georgia Tech.

More info on Celia and her research can be found at http://cpandfriends.com/

Emily Hannan
Virtual worlds: Forming relationships online and offline within gaming communities

Unfortunately, Emily was a no show.

Luca Rossi
MMORPG guilds as online communities: Power, space, and time in virtual worlds

Not in so many words, but essentially, I think Luca is saying that shared goals are sometimes in conflict with individual goals, which is something I’ve been thinking a lot about as I write my expertise and socialization paper.

Luca claims that guilds are not fluid and getting in and out is difficult.

I don’t think that is true for all guilds… not true for many guilds in fact, or maybe just on my server?
Also, he conflates guilds with raiding! Why do people still do this? Did I have a completely abnormal server?
In my experience, people might have to go through some sort of application process but to leave a guild (breaking up friendships, aside) is actually quite easy.


Luca then the use of tools to manage time and to lower downtime such as calendars, etc.

How conflicts are resolved: Hirschman voice/exit concept -> when conflict happens you talk and then /gkick as last resort.

gkick is a form of power

He didn’t cover conflict management in detail but just 3 ways to leave guilds.
It would be more interesting to talk about the tension between personal and group goals. Then also talk about specific motivations for leaving or staying. What is compelling about staying that people put up with drama? Do some players recognize that management and work is needed for the labor of fun?

Also, he didn’t show us anything from outside of the game. Isn’t there a whole social economy that affects power dynamics and reputations?

I thought what he covered is basically was very superficial, but maybe it’s a language barrier…

Mia Consalvo
Where’s my montage? The performance of hard work and its reward in film, tv, and MMOGs
Mia and her students were in a seminar that did an exploration of what a Unit Operation is (from Bogost).
A “unit” is a building block, and each medium uses a different procedural rhetoric to express them.

I see units as genre conventions that have certain qualities and attributes that can be expressed across media.

They used the “hard work is rewarded” unit and tried to see how it is expressed differently in different media.

montage in films = (bypassing) grinding in games, etc.
montage is done by cutting/pasting in films, cheating in games

Rettberg’s corporate ideology (Yee says this too)
puritan work ethic, myth of american dream

Roger (who was sitting next to me) makes a good point in that there’s a performative act while playing games that is different than in other media. Does that make comparing texts harder to do even if a common unit can be found? In other words, the expression depends on the actions of the player, not just the author… and different players might do different things such that the unit is fungy.

Also, what operations are happening between units that are making unique or maybe not unique meanings to players? I thought Ian’s emphasis was not the unit but the various combinations and connections and networks they created and related to each other.

For a static text, units operate with each other and create a narrative meaning. For games, it seems like it is much more emergent and that specific units might not surface for all players.

Most of the questions about Mia’s talk came from niggling about the the content of the unit (grinding and montage) and not the concept of the unit. Ah well…

Total aside, wouldn’t it be great if Blizzard announced to everyone that we’d all be moving to a different, better game without all this crap grind?

Turn your real life into a MMOG with Google Android!

Scroll down to GeoLife.  The first thing I thought was that this was like combining quests in WoW and then using an addon like TourGuide and TomTom to show you waypoints for each of those quests…  Hmm… maybe GeoLife can be modded to allow you to gain XP for each errand…

Best Android Apps: Android’s 10 Most Exciting Apps

Oh, and by the way, Android is cool. Can’t wait to see what all is out there by the time my current phone contract ends!