Lost Rambling

Lost has a lot of potential, but doesn’t apply himself.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Division by expansion

No this has nothing to do with “new math”. I have mentioned before that I have been playing Guild Wars some with mixed opinions on the game. This week the “Factions” expansion was shipped and gone live which I opted not to buy. Now I find that most of my guild mates are off exploring the new area and I’m left to struggle in missions by myself. I know that I could directly ask for help, I don’t want to take away from my friends fun/time by helping me in something they have done already. I had experienced this to a certain degree with UO from the other side, were I was the person that went out exploring and then had someone without the expansion ask for help.

So what is my point? While expansion help the company’s profits and maybe even draw in some new players, what does it do to those players that are on the fence? Also what impact does it have on drawing in new players when you consider how much they will have to spend so much to buy all the expansions just to get up to speed? I would be interested in finding out what type of numbers that a game like EverQuest II in truly new players, but I’m sure those numbers are well guarded and will not be released any time soon. This isn’t meant as attack on EverQuest II (I have never played it, I just know that they have had a large number of expansions over the years) or Guild Wars (given the lack of subscription fees, having to buy a expansion once in a while could be viewed as the fee).

In close I’m not going to say if expansions are good or bad. I just think that it’s worth remembering that they can create divides within the communities that occupy them and could have a long term impact on drawing in new players.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Maybe Dear MMORPG Industry?

Let me start with quoting two other blogs, which I hope will help bring out my closing point(s).

From Jeff Freeman:
Tabletop RPG

"So I’ll backpedal a bit and apologize to Open Source advocates for saying ‘Open Source’ is killing the tabletop RPG market. It’s not Open Source, it’s this "let’s put all of our eggs in my basket"-strategy of the Open Gaming license. I’m sure it was good for the Player’s Handbook sales in the short-term to convince potential competition to make content for the d20 system, but in the long-term it’s bad for the entire tabletop RPG industry to produce content for a single product.

There are times when I fear the MMORPG industry is following the same path: making tanker/nuker/healer, level-n-class based systems that are all essentially the same game with a fresh coat of paint."

From Grouchy Gnome:
Casual Games Kill Hardcore Gamers

"Before I played an MMORPG with many casual elements, I didn’t care about them one bit. I was happy to type a line of text to examine an item, I was happy to type [a question] to NPCs to advance a quest, I was happy to sketch crappy maps on a notebook to get around, and I was happy to keep a spreadsheet to tell me what I had to do for the many quests I was on.

Now you may look at that and say, "no, you are stupid GG, those are not elements of a casual game. Those are, in fact, inconveniences that have been eliminated from MMOGs, and for good reason." Well, you might not state it exactly that way, but it’s a valid argument. I just disagree with it.

Casual games take the tedium out of everything you do. They make finding quest givers convenient, travel simple, they even the odds between skilled min/maxers and less experienced players. All the elements of convenience and simplicity combined make a casual game."

Part of a response that Grouchy Gnome made after other responses:

"Because the convenient features are just too convenient. When you know you can achieve the same "uberness" in a more casual game with significantly less investment, it reduces your drive to play the games that require the huge investment to become uber. The same thing with features. Now that I’ve played games that tell me where the next piece of a quest happens to be and has a journal showing me what I’ve done so far, I can’t go back to games that don’t include those features."

Whew.... with all that quoted out of the way, you might be scratching your head and asking what do these two topics have in common and why am I writing about it? (Even if you didn’t I’m still going to humor myself in thinking someone is going to read or care that I’m writing this.)

In my last post Dear MMORPG, I tried to touch on the infatuation period that is at the beginning of most MMORPG "relationships" which may mask some of the underlying problems that are there from the start (this also covers nerfs to a degree, since a nerf that creates problems in the relationship was already a problem in the first place in the overall game). "Hardcore" games tend to mask these problems longer with their complexity in driving the gamer in finding a way to over come them. I contend that casual games don’t kill hardcore players, it is the standard rock/paper/scissors, level-n-class, item driven systems that kill hardcore players. Casual game features are the flowers everyday that keep the relationship going despite the acknowledgment by the player that there is a problem in the first place. Which is the true reason that hardcore gamers are killed off. Casual games simply offer better relationship (albeit it is still flawed) than the hardcore games do, because while the player knows that it is flawed, they also know that the cost could be worse.

So in closing, maybe "Dear MMORPG" should have been "Dear MMORPG Industry" and written more suited to meet it’s name.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


In my previous post, I had suggested that my "major" post was beginning to sound like a breakup/Dear John letter. With that thought floating around in the back of my head, I came on the idea of taking a tongue in cheek posting in keeping with Ernest Adams' Letter from A Dungeon and A Letter from the Cockpit. Drawing on my own experiences and from The Daedalus Project's interviews in Why We Quit and some Googled "Dear John" letter for templates/ideas.I give you: Dear MMORPG.


In the beginning, everything was fresh and new to me, you showed my things that I could only imagine. I can not even begin to count the hours or late nights that we spent together. Some of my family and friends didn't understand what I saw in you, but I always defended you no matter what.

Which is what makes it so hard for me to tell you this, but in the past few months, I have been seriously thinking about canceling my subscription. I don’t know when it happened, if it was you that changed or my view of you that changed. But I found that I had to force myself to login, the spark that had been there at the beginning was gone. Sure we tried new skills, trades, and even change of scenery to keep our relationship alive. But I finally realized how silly I was being, I can not force that spark to be rekindled.

I do not see this as losing something, but rather as having gained knowledge and wisdom. Out there is the perfect player for you that will love you and not find a single thing to criticize about you. And I hope that the perfect game is out there for me. Hopefully with the knowledge and wisdom that we gained in our time will help us both in that goal.

I think we both need to let go of the past, and be grateful for what we had for a time and move on from there. It is a little sad for me knowing that I won't be able to visit your world anymore, but I think I will be a better person in the end.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Next major post

So I was working on my next "major" post and as I re-read it to keep it on topic, it became clear that it was a break up letter to UO. Describing what I liked only to tear it apart for how it changed. While it's not surprising given the amount of time I spent there. But given the time I've been away from UO, I would think that I would have moved away from it.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Profound posts or more the lack of.

It feels like that I should have posted more profound by now.
I do have a write up/reworking/expanding on earlier "Suspending reality within RPGs & MMORPGs" in mind. But at the same time I don’t want to just rehash what we already know. Frankly I don’t know if I can write something that hasn’t already been worked on by multiple people, some of who have much more experience on the subject than I do.

Some history about me (at least in gaming terms):
  • Still have it installed and even had started playing it off and on again, now stopped.

Warcraft BNE:
  • Played it while waiting for Diablo II, I have played off and on since.

Ultima Online:
  • After giving up on waiting for D2 and permanently Blizzard, I played religiously everyday for about 4yrs. I still log in most every morning to get the broken chair daily rare on Baja and replace it with the much less rare daily tall candle *Yes I’m the sob that does that ;)*, but don’t play beyond that.

  • I was there from the launch, but after the first year or so my interest began to drop off and with friends playing Guild Wars I found very little interest in logging in. My account still active, but that could change in the near future.

Empire Earth II (demo):
  • Fun for kicks. I’ve never felt the need to buy the full version, other than having a wider assortment of units and much better graphics it might as well be Warcraft BNE or Starcraft.

Guild Wars:
  • I have been playing for the past few months. My opinion on it is are still mixed and I will leave it at that.