Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling remarks from my mad, muddled, meandering mind.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Many Worlds Theory

Brian "Psychochild" Green and the MMOBro recently had a little debate about whether it is better to have a single mega-server architecture for an MMORPG or multiple independent servers. Many of Psychochild's arguments for independent servers reflect a developer's concern for technical issues. While design and implementation are important considerations, ultimately both serve to enhance or detract from the player experience.

I like the idea of monolithic MMOs, but I get Psychochild's point about communities and playstyle. Allowing communities to congregate based on common interest gives the developers a chance to tailor aspects of the game to serve those interests. At the same time, isolated communities tend to develop elitist, exclusionary attitudes that may not be healthy for the game. I agree that some communities need to be protected from trolls and bullies, but it should not come at the cost of ghettoizing individual players who might like to branch out.

And what about friends you meet outside of the game, whether online or in the real world? I've met plenty of people in my travels who play World of Warcraft, for example, but never any who actually play on the same servers I do. When character progress becomes the driving force behind most games—and don't deny that it is in MMORPGs, despite the "RP" factor—it sucks to divide time and resources between servers because you might occasionally like the thrill of open world PvP, but still enjoy high-end raiding with your friends to don't PvP at all.

The big issue, as MMOBro says, is whether friends can easily play together if they meet or discover their common interest after establishing themselves in the game. Much of the problem with multiple servers could be solved by lowering the barrier to play together. TSW (which I am not currently playing, but which I consider one of the better games out there) does this fairly seamlessly. While there are multiple servers, the game design (and the story) work around the idea of a hub (called Agartha) where, unless you are in a group or get invited to another server/instance, you always return to the default server. The default server becomes more of a home rather than a confinement. The servers definitely have their own flavor, but there is no barrier for players who want to (occasionally) play together. And some world events encourage the mixing of the entire playerbase.

I have no problem with multiple servers if transferring characters from one to another doesn't involve a money grab by the developer. As Psychochild points out, in the currently typical MMO, people have to make hard choices about who they are going to play with. Friends have to coordinate ahead of time what server they want to play on and what community they want to be part of, as in real life. But isn't that kind of what the internet is all about, being able to form friendships and communities that are not based on a limiting factor like geography? The real world forces these choices, but why should the gaming world?
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Creative Commons License
This article from I Have Touched the Sky is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. If you repost part or all of the work (for non-commercial purposes), please cite me as the author and include a link back to the blog.

Scooter proofreads almost all my articles before I post them, for which I am very grateful. However, any mistakes are mine and mine alone (unless otherwise noted). If you are reading this post through RSS or Atom feed—especially more than a couple hours after publication—I encourage you to visit the actual page, as I often make refinements after the fact. The mobile version also loses some of the original character of the piece due to simplified formatting.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

For the World is Hollow . . .

In some ways, it seems silly to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the premier of a show that limped along in the ratings until it was mercifully killed off at the end of its dismal third season. But, of course, Star Trek is so much more than a failed TV show. Like many cultural phenomena, Star Trek was not well understood by those in charge of its fate on television.
As a child of the 70s, Star Wars, with its cinematic luster and cutting edge special effects, loomed larger in my young mind. Star Trek, like Lost in Space, was a relic of an earlier, less cool era. I was 7 when The Motion Picture was released. Not that my parents were likely to have taken me, I had no interest in seeing it.

My love of Star Trek began with books. My brother had a copy of Death's Angel that I borrowed when I was maybe 9. More aliens that were more alien than 1960s television production technology could have permitted, much less the budget. Let's say I was intrigued. This was not the lame show that came on in reruns after Saturday morning cartoons. More books came from the library, until I was primed for The Wrath of Khan (even though I had never seen the episode that inspired it.) And then Spock died. And this ten-year-old bawled.

Then came The Next Generation. More movies, more shows. I've attended a few conventions, including the 25th Anniversary TrekCon in Los Angeles with my brother (we could only afford passes to the vendor floor). Made my ex-wife watch so many episodes that my nerdy daughters were shocked by her Trek Fu when they were watching reruns decades later. Scooter and I are in the middle of a Voyager re-watch, and I'd love to actually see all of Enterprise (military deployment caused me to miss a couple seasons).

I was so excited by the new Star Trek (Kelvin timeline). While Into Darkness was disappointing, I wanted to see Beyond, and finally got my chance this past Saturday. It was amazing, and has me excited to see where they take the franchise next.

It's been 50 years since Captain Kirk led the crew of the Enterprise on a trek through the star and into our imaginations. Countless people have bee inspired to pursue careers in science because of Star Trek. Others have been inspired to pursue the kind of society where everyone can fulfill their potential regardless of their race, gender, or whatever makes them seem different. People have met, fallen in love, and had children because of Star Trek. Is it silly to celebrate a show that made history and impacted (created) so many lives, including my own?
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Creative Commons License
This article from I Have Touched the Sky is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. If you repost part or all of the work (for non-commercial purposes), please cite me as the author and include a link back to the blog.

Scooter proofreads almost all my articles before I post them, for which I am very grateful. However, any mistakes are mine and mine alone (unless otherwise noted). If you are reading this post through RSS or Atom feed—especially more than a couple hours after publication—I encourage you to visit the actual page, as I often make refinements after the fact. The mobile version also loses some of the original character of the piece due to simplified formatting.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Blaugust Blowout

Valerija is Unimpressed
My anticipation of the Legion launch yesterday was such that I almost forgot August has thirty-one days, leaving with a chance to another post. This much more casual Blaugust was a bit more to my taste, I think. I did mange to post 12 times (including this one), which on average is about every three days. On the other hand, I don't know that my posts were any deeper than last years' on average.
Scooter and I, playing our Demon Hunters, did the quests to transport Dalaran to the Broken Isles and then our Artifact Weapons, plus a little dabbling in Azsuna. We finished out the evening on two new characters (I know!) in Teldrassil. It was actually nice and quiet after the crowds and minor chaos of the expansion zones.
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Creative Commons License
This article from I Have Touched the Sky is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. If you repost part or all of the work (for non-commercial purposes), please cite me as the author and include a link back to the blog.
Scooter proofreads almost all my articles before I post them, for which I am very grateful. However, any mistakes are mine and mine alone (unless otherwise noted). If you are reading this post through RSS or Atom feed—especially more than a couple hours after publication—I encourage you to visit the actual page, as I often make refinements after the fact. The mobile version also loses some of the original character of the piece due to simplified formatting.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Legion Launches

Today's big event seems almost anticlimactic. Much of the changes to basic game mechanics (e.g., the talent system, spells/abilities, transmog) came out over a month ago. Demon Hunters have been available to play since early August. And, of course, the ever increasingly frequent Invasions of six prime targets had everyone in a frenzy of XP and loot. After creating and boosting a pair of characters, Scooter and I started our own DHs, ran all four through the high-level quests prepping us for a counter-invasion of the Broken Isles.
I started a solo mage and leveled her to 52 purely through running Invasions, only completing all six last night after a couple laborious treks because I was missing flight points. I know others have gotten fresh characters from 1 to 100 due to the event.
It's been fun—if a bit frustrating at times due to the vagaries of random number generators. My level 52 still has the level 1 staff she started with, and Scooter's Paladin never got a weapon drop. But I suppose it kept us on the hamster wheel. Frankly, I'll be happy to return to regular questing. It will be up to Scooter whether we return to leveling our low-to-mid level duos, or jump into the Broken Isles stuff—or both. Scooter still hasn't really seen Outland or Northrend, and neither of us has seen Pandaria or Draenor at all.
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Creative Commons License
This article from I Have Touched the Sky is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. If you repost part or all of the work (for non-commercial purposes), please cite me as the author and include a link back to the blog.

Scooter proofreads almost all my articles before I post them, for which I am very grateful. However, any mistakes are mine and mine alone (unless otherwise noted). If you are reading this post through RSS or Atom feed—especially more than a couple hours after publication—I encourage you to visit the actual page, as I often make refinements after the fact. The mobile version also loses some of the original character of the piece due to simplified formatting.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A Leveling Play Field

Belghast hit on something today I've been contemplating for a bit since the Legion Invasions started. If you've been following him this month, Dear Reader, I am sure you are aware of his progress in getting several characters both leveled and geared solely by running the Invasion content. I am sorely tempted to do the same thing, but two things keep me from doing so.
Tough Girls
One, Scooter is resistant to the idea. We leveled our rogues up about 20 levels and got some great gear along the way, but on our freshly minted 100s (mine a warrior, hers a pally) she has been frustrated by the RNG gods and still doesn't have a Felforged Weapon. Meanwhile I am fully geared with a couple Warforged pieces and a Mace seems to drop for me every other Invasion. If they weren't soulbound, I could share. But the past few trips to Invasion zones have only led to disappointment and frustration for Scooter.

Two, having a raft of 100s is not the reason I returned to World of Warcraft in the first place. I've essentially missed three expansions (due to my own burn-out), and that's a lot of content I am now interested in checking out. It's been long enough that, while I recognize many of the old quests—in slightly modified form—it's more like returning to an old favorite book rather than rehashing content for the umpteenth time.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Glow!
I've said it before—just the other day, in fact—that leveling is not as important to me as experiencing the quests and storylines, a major reason I disagree with the "story is bunk" philosophy of MMOs espoused by C.T. Murphy, for example. I agree with Belghast (and Murphy) that Blizzard has left the leveling process a bit disjointed, and Scooter and I have skipped entire zones to get somewhere challenging. But hey, with a little planning, we can get those zones with other characters on a different occasion.

It's not that I don't want to level. If I wanted to do that, I could turn off XP gains while running through a zone. But I wish the leveling were smoother, more in line with the vast amount of content available in WoW.
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Creative Commons License
This article from I Have Touched the Sky is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. If you repost part or all of the work (for non-commercial purposes), please cite me as the author and include a link back to the blog.

Scooter proofreads almost all my articles before I post them, for which I am very grateful. However, any mistakes are mine and mine alone (unless otherwise noted). If you are reading this post through RSS or Atom feed—especially more than a couple hours after publication—I encourage you to visit the actual page, as I often make refinements after the fact. The mobile version also loses some of the original character of the piece due to simplified formatting.