It seems to me that MMO designers have been creating class systems poorly starting with EverQuest. I consider EverQuest (and all the other clones since) a closed class system wherein you are pigeon holed into an archetype before you really know what you're going to enjoy - kind of like choosing a major in college. The only thing all the accounting majors out there are happy about now is the fact that they don't have to sell their man juice to put food on the table.
In my opinion designers have just become lazy and uninspired and are falling back on class systems that have been around since Dungeons & Dragons. But they aren't even doing that very well - at least in D&D you could be a fighter/mage/thief and enjoy all the benefits of those classes, you just leveled a lot slower. The only argument I have in favor of a closed class system is that the class lines are very well defined and designers may try to achieve "balance" between classes. There is probably some number cruncher at Sony who had an epiphany whilst giving their daily rim job that forcing players to start from scratch when they want to try a new class would make a larger profit. I didn't mind this as much when I was in college and had more free time than Casey Anthony - but now that I'm older with responsibilities and a child I don't intend to smother with a pillow I'd prefer to just stop playing than to start from scratch. After multiple expansions in an MMO this could easily mean 80+ hours spent mindlessly killing moss snakes and kobolds.
Have you ever listened to an album so much while playing a specific game that you start to believe the music is part of the actual soundtrack? For me, this happened with Final Fantasy VII in college. I had been listening to the Radiohead "OK Computer" album almost as often as I was watching white trash beat each other with chairs on Jerry Springer. At some point in the last 10 years I've convinced myself that the song Exit Music is playing in the background as Sephiroth walks through fire stabbing all the goody two-shoes in the face, or maybe it was when they killed Aeris. I googled this the other day to make sure I wasn't imagining it but all I can find are youtube videos made by fans...
There is a section in a book I've been reading about Cognitive Biases, one of them being "False Memory" in which your brain confuses imagined events with actual memories. It goes on to say, "Your memories are constantly rewritten in light of your current context: age, experience, worldview, focus, and so on. That incident at your sixth birthday party? It probably didn't happen that way, and it may not have happened at all." Personally, I remember sticking my face into my own birthday cake at showbiz pizza when I was six, and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't make that up for myself... I still have nightmares about the freakishly real animals playing instruments on stage. So, Is it possible the music in FFVII is similar to Radiohead and they've just blended together for me, or am I just imagining something that never was?
Single player games have to be pretty amazing for me to pick them up. I rocked the original Dragon Age almost as hard as I rocked Dragon Warrior for Nintendo circa 1986. Ahh, just thinking about metal slime, goldman, and Eldrick's Armor brings back so many awkward childhood memories. It was a foregone conclusion that I'd be huddled up in a dark corner whispering sweet nothings to my copy of Dragon Age 2 when it came out. This article was totally going to be about how "Dragon Age 2 Rocks", but the more I got to thinking about it the more I realized the wool had been pulled over my eyes. For a game I played religiously for two weeks straight you would have thought it was the best thing to happen to me since I got my Dungeons & Dragons Fortress of Fangs for christmas! No really, that was pretty much the best toy ever - the picture does it no justice. However, a few months after our separation I finally see the truth. Akin to a gold digging ex-girlfriend, Dragon Age 2 only wants you for your money.
I hope you saved some of your allowance to purchase a new space bar. The gameplay is probably 90% the same as before with small modifications to the skill trees, party commands, and equipment. Was I the only one annoyed that I could only equip my party members with weapons and not armor? The gameplay isn’t all bad, no reason to fix something that isn’t broken and keeping controls the same lets old players get started quicker. The Mage and particularly the Rogue feel a lot squishier and the Tank feels a little more solid this time around.
So there I was trying to log onto EverQuest 2 to kill a few moss snakes when I can't get past the login screen. Side-note: Not that I really want to play EQ2 mind you, but the only alternative is to spend time with my wife. Just kidding, my wife is awesome, but I just spent all weekend with her and I need a little time to myself. My alone time just happens to consist of role playing a talking, man sized lizard with magical powers. Don't judge...
Anyway - I do a search for the official forums (since finding anything on a Sony site without google is impossible) hoping to find an answer to this riddle. Lo and behold I'm greeted by an image of Firiona Vie looking like she just shit herself. Which is really traumatizing because I always imagined her like this instead. It's good to know that the original FV model has held up better than the original EQ after 13 years.
Most of you know that I created a site called guildtag.com which hosted guild/clan websites for free without displaying ads – which is a pretty rare thing. This service was free, highly available, had a moderate number of features, and did not have any showstopping bugs. The usability ranged from horrible to intuitive depending on which user you ask.
After two years of service, guildtag hosting was discontinued on March 15th, 2011 mainly due to my lack of time in maintaining a site that supports thousands (by thousands I mean dozens) of users. I really struggled with the decision to shut down guild hosting since a lot of work was put into it, and a lot of people still used it daily. I sent out a plea for help to try to get other people involved in the project so that maybe it could continue. In response to this plea I received a lot of positive support, several offers to help, and the very first donation. In the end though, the decision to shut down guild hosting was made. In future articles I'll go over many of the complexities involved in running a site like guildtag as a sort of lessons learned. To your average user, and even small time developer it may not seem like a big deal to create such a site – and you can believe that I heard from many people that claimed as much.
Instead of sharing with you the positive responses I got from our users I've decided to share some of the hate mail that comes with trying to do something good for the dregs of society. These are their entire responses, nothing more or less. Feel free to read the original plea for help email so you have a bit of context.
MMOTroll is a gaming social network and blog run by people whose opinion matters more than yours. Seriously, we're experts at what we do – which is play video games on the internet. Our "writers", and I use that term loosely, have amassed over 20 years of experience in the field. Most of that experience has been garnered with just one free hand. We've been guild leaders, raid leaders, website creators, drama whores, and top-notch-assholes. Some of us have even slept with the guild leader to get loot (that was Priapus and it was completely gay). We've basically done it all. Except dress up as our favorite characters and gone to Comic-Con. You have to be really really hot to pull that off, otherwise you're just embarrassing yourself. Our goal as writers is to expose the slimy underbelly of MMO's. You can expect in depth articles like, "How to alienate yourself using trade chat", "Who has the best raid pizza?", "Just fucking die already, EverQuest", and "The guild leap-frog for loot game".
Our gaming social network provides a means for you make friends with people who share similar interests. But let's be honest, you'll probably just use it to internet stalk middle aged men pretending to be hot girl gamers. As a community service, we'll carve out a place on this site that legitimizes the fact that hot girl gamers actually do exist. If you're a hot girl gamer, submit a photo of yourself that includes your MMO of choice in the background. Let's get those submissions in ladies - and be creative! We'll also be providing self help articles that teach you to be less socially inept in case you decide to step out of the hoard of Coke bottles and McDonald's bags that is your bedroom. It's a 7 stage process that starts with teaching you how to make eye contact with other people and ends in a successful integration with main-stream society. We think it will really be useful for a lot of you.
Guildtag.com is at a major crossroads. Unfortunately, I no longer have time to maintain the site single handedly. I was hoping things would become less hectic for me – but they have only gotten more so. The new house we moved into last summer requires its own time investment. Work has been overly busy since the middle of last year and doesn’t look to be slowing down any time soon. And finally, my wife and I are having our first child in a few months! All great things and nothing to complain about – except a lack of free time ;)
Guildtag currently costs about $1,200 a year to maintain. On Dec 14th a donation link was added to the top of every page to try and offset these costs. No donations have been made as of yet. Originally, the social network and forums (with user consent) displayed ads by Google. These paid for less than 10% of the hosting costs per month. The only reason I mention the cost of the site is because it’s the main reason I can't let the site continue on without active development. Assuming Guildtag moves past this, we'll have to work together to find some way to help support it through donations or advertising. I'm open to all ideas on this topic!
This brings us to the three options I am considering.
1,466 Minutes Destroyed