The MMO Separation of Church and State

It’s been awhile, loyal readers. Yes, I know I’ve been away from awhile and even though some may not care, I am here. I will allow you a moment to shuffle towards your nearest box of tissues to clean up the mess your mayonnaise blaster just shot off.

Ready now? Good.

With that embarrassing mishap behind us, let me indulge with you a story of days past. Yes, the story will again involve MMORPGs as the major focus point but do not worry; I will stray from this tired path in the future.

Years ago, back in 2006 when some of our readers were still teething and dropping goat pebbles in their diapers, there was an archaic game known as World of Warcraft. I’m not sure if many of you have heard of it. The game is incredibly underground with a miniscule population.

In those golden days, PvP wasn’t about fighting another player for hours. It wasn’t about outlasting foes. It was like how PvP was in almost every other game in existence, including FPS. Fights were quick and fast paced. It wasn’t about every player being Batman and trying to pull off as much bullshit as possible. It was about an Enhancement Shaman with Windfury WTF raping their way to victory. It was about the Mage hiding in the back charging up a Pyroblast combo. It was about a rogue hiding and doing what rogues do best, assassinate.

For some reason or another, they decided that fights shouldn’t be so quick and involve such a maelstrom of destruction. Thus, resilence was born; a stat aside from PvE defenses where player damage could be mitigated. What were the reasons for this? Was it the ocean of tears from people that were getting taken out by one person? Could it have been the advantages a raid gear character had against hardcore PvPers? Was it so that Arenas weren’t filled with full DPS team ready to leave craters in the wake of their wrath?

All of those reasons are sound and legit. The one that I felt holds the most truth is the fact that raid geared PvE’ers were capable of casually going to PvP and whirlwinding their way to victory. It is for this reason alone that I believe there was a separation between PvE and PvP.

What is the purpose of this division? Why is that PvP’ers and PvE’ers must separate from one another? Why couldn’t there be one stat system that to keep things united?

I understand that PvE’ers are able to acquire gear through a lot of coordination and time and I also understand that PvP matches tend be much shorter than a raid encounter. It wouldn’t be just in rewarding them with equal gear as that would anger the carebear community.

Resilence only seemed to make sense for Arenas since you generally wanted to last longer in that kind of scenario and it is because of that where I believe Arena gear is the only stat difference that should be available. Mass PvP shouldn’t have this kind of separation.

Raiders can still raid to get their gear but there could’ve been a more inventive way to reward PvP players. Battlegrounds could have been divided by tiers of difficulty and/or objectives rather than how they are now. The first tier battleground could be the PvP mirror of a heroic where during the battle, mediocre gear drops off of fallen enemy players and whenever a tower was taken down or whichever of the multiple objectives in that match is achieved, a loot roll comes up for players with random loot and of course whenever each objective is completed they are rewarded tokens to use as currency to purchase gear as well. Essentially, it the same mechanic as a heroic instead it is applied to a PvP scenario.

The next tier could have a much more difficult objective to complete which would take a bit more coordination on the player’s part and so on. This style of loot progression would allow both PvE and PvP gear to be interchangeable. How come dungeons with new mechanics and situations are constantly added but battlegrounds have remained the same?

What’s sad about this situation is that since World of Warcraft is the staple of a success in the MMO genre, every game is coinciding with this stat system in their games even when it doesn’t make sense. Resilence always appeared to be an arena stat but was quickly pushed into every PvP scenario. Now games like DCUO have toughness instead of defense and Rift has whatever the hell they use. I think it’s toughness versus defense as well but I don’t give a shit. Games where these mechanics are applied don’t even make sense yet they seem to be adopting the format regardless. It causes the PvP experience to force someone in the PvE realm to start from the beginning again and vice versa.

Don’t these companies think player’s have already enough of this whole “starting over” situation every time a new expansion comes out and they have to grind new factions and gear? This shit isn’t needed. Stop pitting people into these situations and allow PvP and PvE to be interchangeable and not some form of morbid segregation.

That’s end of that rant but…

A quick note to other MMORPG companies out there,

Stop copying World of Warcraft and start being creative. This genre is becoming like the FPS genre where 90% of the games out there want to be Call of Duty and all we get are the same fucking things over and over again. Stop sticking to this format and start getting a creative team together. One day, Blizzard is going to become like Apple and sue you for copying their shit over and over again.

And before one of you asshole readers say, “WoW isn’t original. It copied EQ, and EQ copied UO, and UO copied Meridian, and Meridian copied—“ Just shut the fuck up. I don’t give a fuck who copied who. Each of those games was vastly different from one another and even the mechanics that were taken from either of those games have evolved from each generation and iteration. Fuck!

Memories of Gaming 1997-2003

3dfx logo - a symbol of quality
3dfx logo – a symbol of quality

Memories of Gaming 1997-2003 by Honorabili

Around the year 1997, I started to go a lot to ebgames to buy a lot of PC games. Rather than go for whatever was the top title that week, I would always check out what games they had for sale in their bargain bin. I did buy hit games like Carmageddon, Fallout 1, Master of Orion 2, and Grand Theft Auto 1 but for the most part from 1997 til about 2003, I stuck to buying cheap games. The bargain bin had a lot of failed games that were either bad or had failed in their marketing and distribution and nobody knew about them or they were simply budget titles that did not have the best graphics but had awesome enough gameplay that they got released.

My criteria for buying these games was that they had to cost usually about $1-10. For me to buy one that was $15, it had to have been highly recommended or praised. This shopping included buying used copies of games as well. I also bought a lot of stuff based on the brands of developers and publishers. Almost anything that got made by Microprose and Interplay was bought for sure. They were my favorite company in those years up until Brian Fargo lost control of the company and Herve Caen destroyed the company. Because I would still play the popular titles at the time but I would also played a ton of obscure and lost titles, I gained a good understanding as to why games and gaming companies fail. As far as Microprose goes, went they got liquidated I remember buying all of their games (multiple copies too) for 25 cents a piece!

Back in 97-03, my life consisted of going to college, hanging out with my friend Bruce and little brother, watching a ton of VHS movies which we usually rented from Future Video or Hollywood video (both are out of business now), playing a ton of video games, and buying video games almost every weekend. Usually Bruce or my brother and I would go and scout out 3-4 stores at a time seeing which ones had the best deals and stock. We would go a lot to The Falls, Miami International Mall, Dadeland, and later Dolphin Mall. I usually had a policy of buying at least one game each time I went into those stores, even if it was a crappy $1-2 game (of which I bought plenty of!). I remember one time that Bruce and I went in to buy what was either Fallout 2 or Carmageddon 2 and we ended up walking out with about $300-400 of cheap games.

After buying a bunch of these games, we would test out a bunch on the crappy LAN we built using our main machines which were initially powered by AMD K6-2’s and our bitch computers usually were a bunch of trade-ins I got from my PC repair/building business that were Celerons or Pentium I’s or 686’s. Sometimes we would just setup multiplayer games of a specific game to see if we could get it to run because maybe the multiplayer component of a game was utter crap.

I remember very well when I tried to run Carmageddon 1 on my AMD 486 DX-4 100 Mhz and the game was a slide-show. Quickly after that I jumped to my AMD K6-2 266 Mhz with 128 MB of RAM and a Diamond Stealth 2000 video card tied to a Creative 3dfx Voodoo 2 with 4 MB of RAM. I got addicted to Glide games quickly… Thanks to my gaming I got a lot of orders for gaming computers which paid for my college and taught me more about the real business world than many classes I took and books I read ever were able to show me.

What I like about 97-03 was that I saw the explosion of graphics acceleration for PCs. We also experienced the graphics acceleration and CPU wars. Some casualties of the graphics acceleration were were 3dfx, S3 and PowerVR. Some victims of the CPU wars were Centaur, Cyrix, and VIA. I remember the race to hit 1 Ghz with AMD hitting it stable with their Athlon and Intel’s 1 Ghz P3 being a complete mess that melted. A lot of hardware that comes to mind of these days are: 3dfx, the TNT 2, Voodoo 2 and 3, AMD K6-2 and K6-3, Pentium 2 & 3, Athlon and Athlon XP, Matrox, ATI vs nVidia, Radeons vs GeForce cards, AMD vs Intel, SDRAM & DDR, PC100 & PC133, introduction of SATA drives, introduction of RAID to gaming PCs.

Around these years we also started to see a differentiation between the kind of gamers that were attracted to PC gaming vs console gaming. I also began to see that for PC gaming some years were good strong years and some years just about nothing good came out.

In these years we also saw a giant growth in the availability of better broadband and the explosion of the internet (and the dot com bubble burst). In terms of gaming this improved multiplayer games and the availability of pirated software and games. We saw stuff like Scour and Napster and WinMX rise and fall. Then came torrents, which are still going strong.

Apart from the usual pirated games, we saw the rise of emulation. Emulation has always been around just about, even in the 60s and 70s with mainframes trying to emulate rival companies operations. Certainly around the time the AMD K6-2 and Intel Pentium II were commonly available we saw a lot of good NES and SNES emulation, as well as Sega Genesis, and even c64 (which doesn’t take much to run) and the Amiga emualators (which took a lot to run when they first came out). Playstation 1 emulators were out, as well as Nintendo 64 but initial performance and availability of these was terrible. Around this time I got to know well sites such as zophar.net. You also saw the growth of MAME and ROMs for all sorts of systems going around.

These years also saw an explosion in video game and computer music remixing. I even took part of this, even killing RKO, the home of c64 remixes. General video game remixing blew up on sites such as OverClocked Remix. I made a lot of good friends at remix64 and micromusic.

Some PC gamers in 1997-2003 were either of the camp that cared only for framerates (FPS junkies) or image quality. Around the late 90s, I felt that 3dfx had the best graphics but lowest frame rates, then came ATI, and with nVidia having highest frame-rates but lower quality renders.

We also saw around these years the rise of the mp3/ogg files. Many games before used proprietary sound formats and also a lot of MOD tracker formats. CD quality audio became a standard for games around this time. Initial games at this time had actual CD audio tracks incorporated into the game CDs.

Other trends include the further increase of popularity of first person shooters in the form of the Doom games, Quake series, Unreal Tournament series, Half-Life, Counterstrike, Medal of Honor and Call of Duty, Far Cry, etc. We saw just about the death of turn based strategy games and the explosion of more real time strategy games. Although Ultima Online was around, then came the explosion of Everquest (which made me a lot of money), and other MMOs.

Conclusion:

These were great times for gaming for my friends and I because back then we had the time to do it. Later on complications such as girlfriends and wives and shitty jobs and children interfered with our hobby. The equivalent of me getting cheap games these days are the Steam sales and the gog.com sales. I have enough old games that I can relive parts of the old days any day I want! (well, except having my old friends to LAN it up with)