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Anofalye Blog

Lack of diversity = automatic death

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These days, every publisher is trying to push forward a tactical FPS, action RPG/Shooter hybrid of some type.

I am tempted to used an "anal-ogy" here. Remember the time you see, for the first time, an amazing girl? Prolly happen in school somewhere in your life, and you most certainly have a vivid memory of that precise moment, where your heart stop beating for a moment. In the following month what happen? Many other girls try to mimick her. Suddenly, your classroom was full of blondes(or red hair, or whatever style of clothing). Did many of these girls manage to strike as well or better than the first one, maybe 1 or 2, but mostly they didn't at all. Eventually, another girl try something totally crazy and different and she was the "hot one". Of course, this expand merely over a period of a few weeks/months.

But games/companies follow the same patterns, yet on years/decades. I am expecting more MMO-FPS-RPG-Tactical-Simulation-management games...Blizzard or another similar studio will prolly outdo older games. But the next new champion won't be redoing old stuff. Some studios will be "whoring themselves" as well, and lose their fanbase.

What will be the next big champion about?

- Graphic? Name me champion games, you will realize they usually have subpar graphics with lot of details/love in them. But bottomline, the graphics are not selling the title.

- L33t reflexs? Unlikely, Tetris is prolly the game with the highest focus on reflexes which achieve success, and the amount of l33tness required is limited to say the least. The blend fact is that most peoples with ubah reflexs are out there, not playing video games.

- Time consuming? Yeah, but it will most likely be totally optional and not a requirement to have fun...

- Will it be the first game to bring an idea? Unlikely, most champions games are rehaste of ideas which where never developped properly. EverQuest and WoW are rehaste of older MMOs/MUDS, Guitar Hero is the oldest gameplay I can honestly recall trying...and so on, with a few exception such as Tetris, yet Tetris is the rehaste of a gameplay which was not on computer and you integrate an impartial progression...

- Will it be an expansive title with tons of support? We see examples of both world, so I don't think the budget is a key factor, yet it is always nice to have more ressources, more shiny things.

- Will it be multiplayers? It is my belief that game which OFFER multiplayers options (aka, not enforce it) will always come out ahead of single player games, we are social animals after all.

Despite this: 95% of the games coming will be some form of RPG-ACTION-FPS-MMO-TACTICAL hybrid (take or remove a few).

My ideal MMO

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Here comes the blog, so I don't spam the forums anymore about this. :)

Here are the key features, bulletpoints...explaining the details would take over a thousand pages, but the overview will fills in a 1 page quickie.

- Level cap on each zone & gear cap. Example, in the first zone, everyone above level 5 is brought back to level 5. Gear-wise, only the helmets are open in the zones, all the best helmets of the game are to be earned here...other items slots are greyed and are considered like giving you 1 AC, nothing else...tons of junk drop in the zone to fill these items slots, and the junk often have interesting looks...

- Each zone is flagged with SOLO or GROUP or PvP or RAID.

- Items in a solo area have the best raw stats (50 hps for example).

- Items in a group area have a stats per group member (20 hps per group member for example...would give only 20 hps in a solo zone, but 120 in a full group of 6 or in a raid zone)

- Items in a raid zone have a tiny stat per raid member (10 hps per raid...so only 10 hps in a solo zone and 60 hps a full group of 6 in a group zone).

- PvP items give combat bonus against players (damage absorbtions, extra damage, etc)

- 4 characters sheets are swapping and automatically adapting to the current zone(the player can check the other items but can't swap the used sheet in the designated zone). Intuitive.

- Sidekick and examplar as in City of Heroes, see unlimited levels below for examplar.

- 1 zone with unlimited levels, the deeper you go in the zone, the higher levels the mobs. If you examplar to a lower level, you still earn XP for this segment post-level cap of the last zone. So even if you are hunting in a level 10 zone, you still earn XP (less since easier setting) for advancing you unlimited levels...NOTE: This is only for level past the level cap, you can't level up to level 50 in the first zone, you would be a level 5 + 45 levels waiting for the day you enter the unlimited level zone only (accessible only at level cap).

- 30 lives per month, reset on a fixed day. You run out of lives, you can't play that character until lives are resetted (might apply or not to raiding/PvP zones, a team focus on these aspect have this decision...aka, not me). You can't lose more than 1 life per 2 hour of play, so a casual can't be affected by this, the idea is to have a death system which sting for peoples who don't care about conventional death penalties. Races give different amount of lives, stronger races give less, while weaker races give more. Epic race to be unlocked might have only 1 such life. Rez spells may restore a portion of lost life, but never more than 50%.

- Debt system, if you died more than once per 2 hours, the debt you earn is exponential. No debt prior level 10, increase with your level.

- "Class system", but you divide each class in 2 half. The player can pick any combinaison of 2 half he chooses. But a 3rd set is automatically awarded to "balance" the game. For example, if a player pick HASTE-MINDBUFF, the 3rd set would give awesome mana regen, the ability to buff the whole group, low mana cost on buffs and some basic attacks. If a player pick NUKES-HASTE, he can haste himself and another player only (best haste buff of the game still), he has the best nukes of the game and he regen mana extremely well. If another player pick NUKES-NUKES2, he has a damage bonus, low mana cost on each nuke, awesome mana regen. Another player pick MELEE-NUKES, he also has a damage bonus, low mana cost on any attack, but his endurance regen at a poor rate...and so on. Think a little as in City of Heroes...but improved.

- Each time you level up, you can specialise a power you already have and you gain 1 new power (might be the version2,3,4 of a previous attack, having fireball2 is better than waiting a few levels to get a new power), which you select from either half you pick for your class or from the 3rd which was automatically assigned.

And that is but a start...writing more would require a contract! :P

Not losing your subscribers, at any cost?

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Many MMOs, are trying everything to keep you subscribing 1 more month. No matter the cost or the consequences.

Ruining you whole experience with the game? Sure, if it can give them 1 more month.

Ruining any chance to get you back later? Sure, if it get them 1 more month.

See, this is where they fail. They have no long term plans. They think, immediately, now, in the near future. If I would have not meet raiding in old EQ, I would almost certainly have come back and purchase each and every expansion. Arguably only for 1 month or 2, but eh, I would keep coming back. Maybe at some points it would not have been at the immediate release of the expansion, but it would definitely have been within a few months of it. Now, instead, I never gone back there since 2003, and I will never. Raiding lack that much to me.

Other MMOs, they think they need to please a precise crowd which feedback them more. See, if players feedback you a LOT, they are not anywhere representative of your majority of customers. Applying nerfs/changes all the time, it is a real bad idea. I dunno what make you believe otherwise, but players won't play the game because you nerfs another players, but the other player may very well quit if you nerf him. New changes for the rules of the game? Sure, open a new server!

I understand that most of these devs don't play their game, nor any game at all...and they want to keep their job. But, they need to have a longterm vision.

See, atm I am looking exhaustively for a new game. I come on the old MMOs I quit...and I spit and run away. I shiver just at the though of it. If I run accross any other game which I play for 2 weeks or more, I smile nicely...and would most definitely consider buying an expansion for it. But for a MMO...noooo...I run away! This show a clear weakness in their design. They add me, as a player...and in order to keep me 1 more month, they lost me. They ruins everything with this "endgame". And now, I am a customer, looking avidly for a new game...and their games are not options...yet some have as many as 6 expansions since the last time I played it. If there would be any number of expansions to BG, ID, Planescape...I would go buy it right now unless they change the gameplay. Now, why isn't it the same with these MMOs? Simply because they ruins everything...for a tiny extra month...they lost 1-6 sold boxes...and 6-12 subscribtion months.

GBT, a falling art

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Sometimes I wonder...what is the future reserving for GBT?

They even mostly change it name, usually referring to these games as TBS, in order to make peoples used to RTS able to understand what we are talking about, similar sigle help to make peoples who are not interested in the first place to understand, but is it a good thing?

Personally I always love the GBT games, from the first moment I discover them on a boardgame. The reasons are many, they focus on thinking (usually, not all however), they are relaxing (I am a nexus of stress even if I appear calm), they play at my own pace, always waiting for my every movements.

I have nothing against other games, but sometimes it is as if, the kids would be expected to all dislike the GBT genre...I was liking it as a kid...and I am liking it even more now. As video games replace sports, it is normal to have more action-related games, but I just hope this doesn't happen at the expense of the existing market.

Most of the good recent GBT games...they come from FAR AWAY. Are we, westerners, unable to produce good GBT anymore (Civilisations are the exception which confirm that bold statement)? Are our devs all focus on the golden market and unable to produce and developp a good thinking GBT game?

The gold boxes, Warlord, Heroes of Might and Magic (not anymore westerner), Celtic Legends and countless others where produce a little everywhere in the west! Now, beside Civilisations titles...everything comes from far away. :( I mean, it is great to have good games coming from foreign countries, but are our devs unable to bring that forth? Or have they gone so comfortable as to sit and refuse to think and just focus on cooler and faster gameplays?

Are we going to be, we westerners GBT fans, be denied any "local products" and confine to imports? I have nothing against these again, and I love them much...but...wouldn't be a western dev able to understand stuff foreigners wouldn't in theory, as what could be fun in a GBT game?

Or are we even going to see foreigners devs become plagued like westerners devs and unable to produce good GBT games? Not that I really like FF series, and not that I think they were great to start with, but I think Square Enix is turning away from the genre as well (not going to even shed a tear there, as I didn't like these much).

Is there an anti-GBT trend in the world devs? Cause I doubt the players change that much. Yeah, new players are likely to be action-driven, but that doesn't change the nature of the pre-existing player base. I guess I could always turn to Games Workshop...

Or maybe I am cynical or blind by my own desires to see more GBT? At any rate, this year has been wonderful compared to the precedent years, and I have to thank FOREIGN devs for it, as if, we, westerners, where not able to create GBT anymore (except for Civilisations games)