Account Wide Boredom

So I am seeing that Blizzard is planning to make Achievements account wide in Mists. No longer will players have to actually play their characters to earn achievements. If they have it on another character, all they have to do is level it to the appropriate level to earn them.

These kind of features always baffle me. World of Warcraft is a subscription based game. Blizzard earns money by players playing the game for many months at a time. Players are burned out and continue to demand features which allow them to not have to play the game, and Blizzard continues to implement them despite they are counterproductive to their goal of making money. Let's look at how many times they have done this:

Dungeon Finder: Players no longer have to spend hours looking for pug members for heroic groups. They can also simply teleport to the instance instead of having to travel there. While this appears more convenient, it means players burn out much faster as the time spent forming the groups and traveling paced people and prevented them from completing content too often and getting bored of it.  Content that once took many months to get bored of now takes two or three weeks tops. (This isn't to mention the other problems this thing causes).

Raid Finder: Same as Dungeon Finder. Seriously sick of looking Deathleg's stupid face. Plus you have to deal with 5 times as many cross realm idiots which makes the number of times you want to do it even fewer.

Strangely, the random BG finder doesn't have this much effect as you can have whatever kind of fun you want in a BG with little risk of getting kicked out.

Heirlooms: How long does it take to get a fresh alt to 85 now with heirlooms? Three, four days of constant playing? Maybe a week or two of casual playing? Not only does it kind of get rid of a lot of the playing time for alts, but it also removes much of the need for the gear roller coaster ride as many slots never need to be replaced until you get to 85 (this lack of gear swapping also has a whole host of other negative effects I won't get into). As another side effect of the current expansion, there is less end game content for players to do when they get to 85 because a great deal of Cataclysm's content was the redo of all the old world quests (much of which is also skipped because of the increased XP).

Flying mounts allow faster travel. However they also completely destroyed world PvP, as players can completely avoid any enemy players. I still think there are ways for Blizzard to fix this one so that players can keep flying mounts and gain back all the previous benefits.

There are other things such as talent tree streamlining meaning players spend less time choosing talents, but players just copied crap from EJ anyways so that stuff doesn't count.

The fact of the matter is that players are getting burned out severely on the game, and for some reason Blizzard has decided that features that let them not play the game are the best way to go when it's clear that the correct answer is with not just more content, but more varied and fresh kinds of content. Content like the Pet battle system and Challenge modes could breathe some fresh life into the game, but all of the different content needs a large amount to keep it interesting, and with each new "time saving" convenience feature, the amount of each kind of content needed to hold interest gets larger.

I've also heard that they are going to make pets and mounts account wide too which not only kills all the need to collect them on alts for the new pet battle system they are introducing, but also removing a very large gold sink as well in the form of mounts for alts. It also destroys that particular segment of the market for gold makers, though I don't think Blizzard really gives a shit about what auctioneers want.

Overall, it just seems to me that Blizzard isn't even trying to keep their game alive. Every move they make to try and keep things fresh is completely counteracted by another which removes reasons to play the game in the first place!

No wonder everyone calls these guys the B team.

Posted by Glyph, the Architect | at 5/01/2012 10:50:00 AM | 0 comments

Temporal Theory

Been quite some time, but I want to just dive into a topic that is near and dear to my heart:

Fictional Temporal Theory. Otherwise known as the overall structure of time.

First of all. It is assumed that events flow logically from one to the next in a perfectly linear fashion if there is no time travel mechanism at all. How Time is structured in a fictional universe determines how the universe deals with time travel and its effects. It determines what kind of paradoxes can or cannot exist, what effects they have on the overall series of events, and several other things.

The main topic I wanted to talk about is the new official Zelda timeline that Nintendo released (and also this article). Since Ocarina of Time, the Zelda fandom has been discussing the split timeline theory. Now, instead of having two timelines, there are three. The author of the article I linked has a question (and some speculation and worries which follow from it) about "What happens if other Links failed?" The hero from Wind Waker died when they flung that barrel over the wall of the fortress and into a room full of bombs that exploded. The hero from Minish Cap gets accidentally stepped on by some guy in town. Etc. Etc.

In my studies of Fictional Temporal Theory, there is a unified set of rules I have been operating under as the true rules of the Structure of Time. These rules explain 99% of all time travel stories, and the ones it doesn't are badly written anyways. These rules have one or two which apply to this situation:

1. There is an alpha timeline. This is an immutable series of events which always happens in the same way no matter what. This series of events happens after all time travel that ever happens has already taken place. It is basically the "Final Draft" of a timeline and is unalterable (as all the alterations have already happened).

2. Every decision, no matter how small or insignificant, branches off into its own timeline.

3. Every timeline that has no bearing on the alpha timeline (I ate corn flakes for breakfast today, as opposed to cheerios) will unravel almost immediately into nothing. In this case, after eating the corn flakes, and then thinking for a second "Man, my mouth tastes like corn", everything else would be the same as before, the timeline unravels into non existence.

4. Timelines that do have a bearing on the Alpha timeline will continue on until all relevant things have time travelled, at which point it will unravel into nonexistence.

Sure. There can be timelines where the Hero of Winds failed. There can also be timelines where Link decides to take a nap and misses the important plot event. Unless Nintendo decides to make a game where this has happened, or a game where this matters in some way, then I think it's safe to completely disregard it as irrelevant.

According to my own time theories, the Ocarina of Time Adult timeline would have naturally just fizzled away into nothing, as Link had time travelled and changed it. However, since Nintendo decided to elaborate on what happened to it, then it didn't unravel immediately. In fact it continued on for three more games, possibly more in the future. This means that somewhere down the road, this timeline will have some importance.

This kind of excites me. This could form the basis of one of the best and most wibbly wobbly timey wimiest games ever. Maybe there could be three separate worlds of Hyrule, each vastly different from eons of civilizations, mining, weather, events and heavenly interventions, and what have you. Each world is the result of each of these three timelines. In one of the timelines (Say this new third one with FaiLink), far near the end of it, an ancient evil arises. In order to destroy it, the Master Sword is needed again. It hasn't been used in so long that it has lost its power and must be recharged. However, the artifacts needed to do this were lost long long ago. Maybe they fell in a volcano. Maybe they were shot into SPAAAAAAACE. Whatever the case may be, they're gone, and it appears that everyone is boned. But then a sage remembers a legend about an ancient artifact of the Godesses which was hidden away somewhere, to be used only in the most dire of emergencies. Link finds it (maybe like....a second magic mirror. The Magicaler Mirror. Or something) and it allows him to travel off and visit these other two timelines and the other two worlds. It is there that he can find the pieces needed. There could be other evils in these other worlds which must be defeated.

And in the end, the Master Sword is recharged and the enemy is defeated. However, it was just a servant of the true evil: the most powerful of all Evils. It has been growing in power since the dawn of time and is now nigh invincible. The only hope is to go back in time to the very dawn of time to defeat it when it was still young. There are many artifacts in existence which allow time travel, however their powers are limited and cannot travel back in time that far. Link must then go and seek out all of these artifacts, as well as several others (such as large amounts of that Timestone stuff in Skyward Sword) to create a powerful enough time travel spell.

It could wind up being the single most epic Zelda game ever created. They could have it span every location ever visited before. Possibly even every time period visited before.

I don't know about that guy from IGN, but I'd be willing to have a canon Hundred Dead Links if it meant I got to play that game. It is an acceptable price to pay.

Posted by Glyph, the Architect | at 12/29/2011 12:56:00 PM | 0 comments


Inscription has the ability to make the Darkmoon cards, which can then be made into decks and traded for trinkets.

Why can't the whole idea be expanded upon to be more than just a gear treadmill?

It's been done in single player RPGs before, FFVIII coming to mind most readily. Collectible card games. It would add yet another PvP aspect, or even PvE aspect to the game. Collectors can earn prizes for completing sets and collections, there can be tournaments with prizes for winning, and it could even play into questing with needing to challenge some people to card games to complete objectives or advance a personal storyline.

This also allows more to do for crafters.

There's also the aspect of external card games and potential interchangeability between them, but that's an entirely different post unrelated to in game mechanics.

I think the idea has potential if it's done right, and so far I can't recall any MMOs that have done it at all, let alone correctly.

Posted by Glyph, the Architect | at 8/12/2011 11:43:00 AM | 0 comments


Been a while since I posted. Sorry, just been in a fog.

I wanted to weigh in on the optimization issue that so many others are talking about.

Optimization, shmoptimization.

If there is an optimal path, then the game is doing it wrong.

Games are supposed to be about meaningful choices. Should I take talent A over talent B? Should I go left or right? These choices are not inherently meaningful of one if them is wrong! In an ideal game, choice A and choice B should be equally valid choices that only affect the actual play style of the game. If choice A makes the game more fun, take it. If choice B makes the game more fun as opposed to A, then take that. Both of the paths that these choices lead to have an equal chance of allowing you to succeed, but how that is done is different. If you choose to dual wield over single wield, then combat is faster and lighter feeling. If you choose to single wield, combat is slower but harder hitting.

This is probably incredibly hard to do for an MMO, and would require self adjusting talents which change as you take other talents, but I think it's doable. The question is why hasn't it been done yet?

Posted by Glyph, the Architect | at 5/07/2011 12:22:00 PM | 0 comments


I like the concept of Soulbinding items. It introduces a system of decay into a game which otherwise would have none. You find an upgrade to your equipment, the old one must be discarded or otherwise salvaged (disenchanted, sold for vendor coin, etc.). This keeps crafters in business crafting new items and it keeps farmers in business farming materials for the crafters.

However, it also seems like a massive waste. It also raises the question of what vendors do with all this vendored gear they buy that they most certainly can't sell or even wear themselves. Are they all enchanters? What do they do with those enchanting mats anyways, since they never have any for sale?

I had an idea for recycling old stuff. When gear is created, it is created as a white quality item every single time, regardless of the design. Enchanters can then enchant the gear to make it more powerful, up to a certain point. Until it is enchanted, it doesn't bind. The enchanter's magic, as a natural consequence of the magic itself, will automatically bind the item to the soul of the next person who wears or wields it in combat. If a player no longer has use of an item, they have some options. First, they can have an enchanter strip the enchantments off an item for a fee and sell the item enchantless (at which point they could use the materials, which would of course be reduced, to enchant something else). Second, they could have a Salvager deconstruct the item into its base components (minus some "waste") and sell the materials or make something else. Third, they could have the Enchanter unbind the item from their soul. This would cause the item to lose some of the potency of its enchants and become a second hand item and then sold.

I haven't decided if multiple characters per account would be a good idea, but if it were used, a second (or possibly third or fourth)hand item could be taken and have a special enchantment placed on it to turn it into an heirloom. The enchants would be set at a certain level and maybe given an heirloom only perk or two and be allowed to be left to another character on the account, or possibly given to guild members or something.

It's good to have a system which encourages trade and gathering, but second hand items could also have their own market in their own right and I think it may be worth exploring.

My next post will be about professions. I think I have a good preliminary system started that I'm working on.

Posted by Glyph, the Architect | at 1/22/2011 07:45:00 PM | 0 comments


I've been thinking about something I posted about a while ago. I like the idea of characters being able to ascend to Godhood.

The lore of the world I am building is as follows: There is a cosmic war going on between the races that the Gods belong to and the demons they are fighting. The worlds belonging to the gods serve a number of purposes for this end. Some are breeding grounds for soldiers. Some are training grounds for those soldiers. Some are schools for tacticians. Some are staging grounds for troop movements and assaults. Some are headquarters for the brass.

The world this game is set on is a recharge world for the goddess who has created it. For each world created, the one who creates it must expend a portion of their own essence for use as the raw material to construct it. They can also lose bits of themselves fighting and creating new troops for the war. This necessitates recharging ones self so as to not fade away to nothing. The mortal races of the world live, they die, and then their souls fuse with their creator, invigorating them with new strength.

The players of course belong to a separate group, the Chosen. They are exempt from being required to fuse with their world's god as they have shown potential for being able to have a much more positive impact on the cosmic situation as free beings. Their efforts can keep the world going, or possibly more. So when they die, they are allowed to be returned to life and continue on with their struggles.

As players play, try, and occasionally fail and resurrect, they become stronger. As they become stronger, they get closer and closer to Godhood as they learn new abilities and come to a greater understanding of the true underlying nature of existence.

So when they get powerful enough, I like the idea of letting players become gods, at which point they can leave the original world and go off to explore other worlds. Or if they wish, they can create their own worlds to rule over, creating their own races of mortals or immortals (or both). They could choose which side of the conflict they wish to be a part of or if they wish, they can choose their own side as new factions in the war with their own agendas.

It starts out as Everquest and slowly evolves into a sort of Spore/Civilization/Minecraft style game.

I think it could be beautiful if executed properly.

Posted by Glyph, the Architect | at 1/15/2011 10:21:00 PM | 0 comments


Getting reeeeal tired of posting comments on peoples' blogs, The Goog tells me the comment is too long, and then the post just evaporates into nothing.

Yep. That's gettin' super old.

Posted by Glyph, the Architect | at 12/23/2010 07:49:00 PM | 3 comments