August 2006

Ubiq’s a Classy Guy

No, really.

I tend to agree with him… if anything I even come down harder against advocates of skill systems. In my view, skill systems are simply class-based systems where the players design the classes. This both adds a needless level of complexity more hostile to new players and makes game balancing even more of a difficult exercise than it already is. There are ways to allow character build customization within a class-based hierarchy that don’t completely suck (and Damion listed a few). I’m partial to the skill specialization system of DAOC, for example, and was so even before they let me break it…er, work on it.

All this of course assumes a D&D style game where you hit things until candy pops out, which regrettably apparently is all we know how to make, and is also the game you guys seem to buy the most. (Enough blame to go around!)

At any rate, I suspect the discussion there will be interesting (which is why I blocked it here… go mess up his yard, you wacky UO veterans with your insistance on use-based skill systems!)

True Transcripts From My Second Life Visit

Me: “So, part of this tour is for you to prove to me that Second Life isn’t completely a rancid pit of cyber.”
Her: “It is so totally a rancid pit of cyber.”
Me: “But there’s golf here. Thus it’s not totally a rancid pit of cyber.”
Her: “OK. It’s MOSTLY a rancid pit of cyber.”
(Right about now a half naked prostitute wanders by)
Her: “See?”

Her: “You’re wearing a pyramid on your head.
Him: “It’s a character from Silent Hill.”
Her: “No, it’s a pyramid that you have on your head.”
Me: “I’m pretty sure your sword is from Final Fantasy 7. I’m an expert in oversized Squaresoft weaponry.”
Him: “No, it’s from Silent Hill.”
Different Him: “It’s a tetrahedron, not a pyramid.”
Me: “I’d trust him. It sounds like he knows his polygons.”

Me: “Why do you have a problem with my wearing a box on my head?”

I have seen the future, and it involves repetitive tasks!

The current “We’re E3 now! Really! Auf Deutsch!” Leipzig Gaming Conference had a “Future of MMOs” panel with some businessy types from EA Mythic, Europe’s CDV, Korea’s Webzen, and Sigil.

Eugene Evans from EA/Mythic pointed out that the casual MMO gamer as a term is fundamentally oxymoronic and that Mythic isn’t setting out to capture a casual gamer with Warhammer Onilne. Evans indicated that Mythic plans to continue to pursue hardcore gamers. Cindy Armstrong disagrees. “The future is not hardcore,” Armstrong said. She pointed out that in order to reach the masses MMOs would have to move beyond the largely fantasy-driven worlds generally associated with the genre. Armstrong detailed a casual MMO model she’s seeing in Korea (her company, Webzen has had success there) where players are completing six to eight minute quest objectives and then repeating them for two hours.

Sigil Games’ Zack Karlsson pointed out that in Vanguard: Saga of Heroes (due sometime this winter), they are finding gamers well outside of the typical 18-35 year-old male demographic. Over a third of the Vanguard players right now are female and of players over the age of 40, Sigil found half of them to be female.

So your takeaways? Basically, the future is in hardcore gamers, except not, and casual gamers like repetitive mindless tasks, and in Vanguard there’s a good chance that elf really is a woman. So there. And you thought the industry had issues!