Yesterday, Blizzard released the Celestial Mount and Lil' XT in their store. I won't lie here. I did buy a Lil' XT. I wasn't originally planning on it, but when I saw that it blows up those god damned train sets.....I don't think my credit card has ever flown out of my wallet faster (really. Unlike the regular train wrecker, this one has no cooldown, so even those jackasses that have three or four train sets can go to hell).

What confuses me is all of the people, both on the blogosphere and the publication type websites who are just aghast at the concept of buying things with real money. There are a variety of reasons why people are up in arms, each one just as confusing as the last.

1. "I don't like that they're selling this mount because then everyone can buy it and it won't be cool since everyone has it!"

The mount is cool because of its graphics. If you don't like the way it looks, why would you buy one? Blizzard releases something for money. In order to make as much of that money as possible (as is the goal of most businesses, which Blizzard is), they must sell it to as many people as they can. This includes anyone who happens to have 25 dollars laying around that can be spared. While 25 dollars may be a bit of change for a digital item, it's not a ton of money in the grand scheme of things and a lot of people have it laying around. If you had any illusions about this somehow being a unique mount that would add 500 points to your Equivalence Potency Number, then you are simply an idiot.

2. "25 dollars is too much for a mount!"

Ok? I agree that it is too much money for a mount, but then I suppose that's why I DIDN'T BUY ONE. I know that's a difficult concept for many people to understand. "Luxury items" or in plain English "Crap you don't need to survive or achieve your goals" cost money. If you don't buy it, you will not be any worse off.

3. "This is a travesty! Allods and Champions Online and other games release items in their cash shop and the fanbase revolts! Blizzard releases items in their cash shop and players line up around the block to get one even though they are already paying subscription fees! There is such a double standard going on here!"

No, you are comparing apples to oranges. The Free to play games with their cash shops are releasing items which, if you choose to buy them, give you a competitive edge over other players. You buy a bigger bag upgrade, you can hold more stuff to carry to town to sell and make more money. You sell potions and scrolls of Experience and self resurrection, you can keep playing while other players have to wait out the rez sickness or other penalties these items get around. The players revolt against these items because they make the game almost unplayable without them. Blizzard is only releasing COSMETIC items which look cool and have absolutely no impact on the game play. I can assure you that if they were to release Epic Gear for sale in the cash shop, there would be just as big an uproar (or bigger on account of the much larger player base) as the free to play games.

4. (This one is my favorite, seen in a comment on the Massively article, and quoted): "The intresting part about this new mount is that you actually will (I assume the word "not" was omitted here based on the context of the complaint) need to buy ingame mounts at all. So... Blizzard is not only selling a mount - they are also selling ingame gold that you will save if you had to buy a "real" ingame mount."


Ok, so you're saying that if people spend 25 dollars to buy this mount, then you won't have to buy any more mounts? Let's think about this. The first level mount costs 4 gold. The epic land mount costs 10. The regular flying costs 50. The epic flying costs 100. You still have to buy all of the training required to actually use these mounts, which amounts to 5304 gold (+1000 for Cold Weather flying). So while it is technically true that Blizzard saves people 164 gold on mount costs, it's not as though this is a massive amount of money. One day of dailies will get you that much, and that's an hour or so of play time. Not to mention the fact that there are mounts at all levels of riding which don't cost any money at all anyways. PvP rewards, Argent tournament mounts, Rare drops, Death Knights get theirs built in through a quest, some cost badges, achievements, or even some quest rewards offer mounts which cost absolutely nothing. Nothing is being offered here that couldn't be had already. Not to mention the fact that if I was going to spend 25 dollars on gold, I think I could get a lot more than just 164. Gold spammers regularly advertise prices which could get you between 4 and 6 thousand gold for the same price as this mount (and these prices seem to drop daily).

In summary: I'm not entirely sure what the big deal is here. It all seems like a bunch of whining over absolutely nothing.

(I had a post I was going to write about something else, but I still need to collect my thoughts on that. It'll be up soon.)

Posted by Glyph, the Architect | at 4/16/2010 01:40:00 PM | 0 comments


I've been thinking about tanking mechanics. As I'd want this game of mine to be more realistic, tanking would have to be vastly different than it is in most others. In WoW, the guy with highest threat has aggro. Doesn't matter that other people are doing things which logically would be much more threatening like stabbing the mob repeatedly or riddling them with arrows or worse....healing the guy they are attacking so that he NEVER DIES. As a player, if another mob is healing the guy I'm trying to kill, I immediately change targets and kill that damned healer.

Ideally, I'd want a game that feels like you are fighting opponents with real AI. If you were fighting something like a dragon or a giant serpent or bear or something without much intelligence, sure the standard tanking model works great. The tank stands there and waves their arms loudly and does all kinds of flashy things to hold the mob's attention. But when you are fighting something like the warlord of a keep (or a Lich King), then you would assume that an intelligent being would say to themselves "It's kind of futile to attack this guy while that person over there in the dress is wiggling their fingers and casting healy magic on them" and go kill the one in the dress.

So what if different actions had different threat values assigned to them based on the situation? Healers would likely have spells like illusion magic which prevents enemies from seeing them casting healing magic on different people but casting heals on the target the mob is currently focusing on would have vastly greater threat than casting it on someone else. As fights go on, the threat that damage causes would go up relative to threat of people in the raid. A rogue dealing 10K dps vs. a tank dealing 3.5 for example would quickly anger a mob. 10K dps would cause 10k threat per second, and for every second they do more DPS than the tank, the amount of threat that causes would go up by .1K. Pulling aggro would be an eventuality. Maybe the DPS would have abilities which suppresses pain in the target (such as a rogue poison or a warlock curse), meaning it won't feel the damage as much and cause less threat. Or maybe the tanks would have to have high DPS to maintain threat.

It's possible that with this model that tanks would need several abilities which cause massive amounts of damage (and therefore threat) on a cooldown. It's possible that any given fight would need several tanks to taunt off each other with these cooldowns so that they could be healed effectively (healing the mob's current target will cause the healer to be instantly targeted). It's even possible that all of the tanks will need to be DPS at the same time or DPS will need some kind of tanking survivability, even if just temporarily.

The whole idea is that for a game that makes some kind of logical sense, the "tank and spank" fight needs to go away. It's unrealistic. It's boring. To be honest, I think it breeds thinking in players that they don't have to pay attention to what's going on around them as long as their threat meter says "Hey, you're good." Raids don't really feel like a bunch of players working together, it feels like tanks and healers working together with a bunch of other guys just running around doing whatever, and I think that needs to change.

Posted by Glyph, the Architect | at 4/12/2010 12:55:00 PM | 0 comments

On a break?

I haven't been doing much work in the design area. I've been working more on the lore side of things recently. I'm not entirely sure if lore is super important in an MMO, but I figure it's like design. If it's done correctly, then all is right with the world. If it's done poorly, then people will notice and call bullshit on it. Even the most hardcore of gamers who cares for nothing more than getting frags would agree that if the atmosphere in a world just feels dumb and tacked on instead of adding to the feel of a game, then it detracts from the game experience. It would be better to just have no story at all than to have a poorly written one that makes no sense (or worse...tries to make sense and fails miserably).

I'll likely still post on design when something strikes my fancy, but for now I'm just trying to get the story aspects done. It's fairly important to do this before doing things mechanically, since I want the story elements to affect that actual mechanics. For example, Warlocks draw their magic directly from Demon lords whom they have made pacts with. If those demon lords are killed by players, then Warlocks will lose those abilities. I'd try and provide them some way of regaining them, but it would still make the actual story of the world matter.

Posted by Glyph, the Architect | at 4/11/2010 01:26:00 AM | 0 comments