Critical Failure

I've just had an idea for healers.

When someone takes enough damage, they die. I had the thought that if the attack did enough damage, maybe the player's head would get lopped off.

I already decided that in order to resurrect someone, their wounds would need to be healed before their soul could be reunited with their body. What if, in healing someone whose head was severed, their head is placed slightly off by mistake, which affects the healed player's controls slightly? Maybe just a temporary one that the player's character then adjusts to, or could be healed away. Would this be an interesting mechanic, or just annoying to everyone?

Eh, it'd probably be annoying to everyone, but I think it would be funny to include just to watch people stumble around randomly for a moment as if their keys had been remapped.

Posted by Glyph, the Architect | at 9/27/2010 05:29:00 PM | 0 comments


I'm kind of boggled by Blizzard's decision to convert all badges/shards/whatever alternative currency into cash moneys, and the current content badges into the new points system. What exactly is the point of this? The currency is just kind of sitting there on the currency page, not doing anything and not bothering anyone. It doesn't take up bag space anymore, so it's not as though there is any issue to really be solved here.

In all previous expansions, they just reset the gear with new badges. The badges you earned previously would get you exactly squat in the next expansion. In Wrath, they even did this between tiers so all the badges you earned in tier 7 would be useless for tier 8. Why have they decided that players stockpiling points before the expansion so they can immediately buy all of their badge gear and start raiding is a good thing? Are there not many heroics and they need to compensate for that? Is the badge gear going to be absolutely necessary to clear just the trash in the first raid? Are all of the new recipes for professions going to be bought with points and players will need them just to level to 535 or whatever number they're raising that cap to?

This just seems like useless busy work for the Blizzard staff to me. Or maybe they are dangling shiny keys in front of the people who have expressed concern over how their class will be performing.

Not only this, but wiping out the other currencies like spirit shards and stone keeper's shards sort of defeats the point of the whole mechanic. You want the WG rewards, you go win WG. This allows you to get the shards to buy them. Now you can just buy them with honor without having to win? While these are going to be old hat come Cataclysm, what about Tol Barad? Are they going to introduce a new currency for that, or just allow people to farm BGs to get the rewards, or just not have rewards at all?

There are so many implications for changing these mechanics that I wonder what they are thinking.

I am also upset that they are not taking all of the old badges and converting them to a third currency called "Old Crap Points". They could have "Old BC Crap Points" and "Old Wrath Crap Points". Or maybe they could be called "Useless Bullshit Points". They need to make this happen.

Posted by Glyph, the Architect | at 9/17/2010 01:31:00 AM | 0 comments


Elements have been a part of many games for a good long time, and are established well enough that many gamers don't even have to think about it. The systems are just intuitive.

That being said, coming up with a system that makes sense is proving to be difficult. I can make cases for one type of magic dealing extra damage to another in so many ways that it would have made more sense to just remove the element system all together. If you were playing as someone who had a fire elemental pet? Hoo boy. That pet is screwed. Water extinguishes fires. Wind extinguishes fires. Earth in the form of sand extinguishes fires. When Fire melts Ice, it becomes Water which extinguishes fires. Lightning was the only one that didn't really deal damage to Fire, and could start fires. There were also cases for Wind being able to spread Fire and for Fire being able to burn so hot that it vaporizes Water.

I expanded the system a few times with different aspects of the elements separated until it had officially reached the status of Pokemon Rigmarole. Then I said screw it and went back to the basic wheel system. If there are exceptions, then they can be baked into abilities themselves.

I think it requires a light touch to be done right. Something like FFXI's system where different hours of the day will influence the strength of your elemental attacks would likely be too much (which after looking into, looks practically identical to the flowchart I came up with for strengths and weaknesses). However, something like WoW's system where elemental properties only matter for if the boss is doing them, and if you have enough resistance (a stat which has proven to be largely useless in the last few years) would likely be not enough.

The real question is "Is an elemental strengths and weaknesses system really necessary, or is it just a relic of older games that doesn't have much relevance anymore?" I'm not entirely sure where the line is between "Strategically important" and "completely irritating" and "completely ignorable".

Posted by Glyph, the Architect | at 9/10/2010 11:22:00 AM | 0 comments


I know a lot of people have been posting on the subject lately, most of it negative. I'm going to throw my hat in the ring regardless. My opinion of the game, though there are a lot of bad things, a lot of them are simply "new to the game" feelings which have diminished thus far. Let's start with the good.

First off, the graphics are beautiful. Even on my not so high end machine, the textures and details are incredible. I started my first character out in Gridania, which is the woodland area. It actually feels like a massive forest and not just a bunch of trees stuck together.

The quests are done differently than other games. There are the traditional quests, which take the form of storylines. These story lines are not entirely based around combat. The kill ten rats quests are not present here, and they instead display some kind of creativity to them. Currently, I've only done the opening storyline quest and I haven't found any more of this kind though I've heard they have removed all of these quests until release. Likely because they don't want beta testers blowing through them and putting up walkthrough sites before the game is released. I wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment, though I hope they have internal people testing out the "yet to be released" material so it's not buggy when it comes out.

The other quests take the form of levequests. Basically, the way they explain it is that instead of having a bunch of people standing around with exclamation points over their heads, any of the NPC citizens that have jobs for people to do like hunting deer or killing pests goes to the Adventurer's Guild. They probably pay them a hefty fee, and the guild says "We'll get someone to take care of it for you." Then you come along and the guild pays you a bounty to do these jobs. This makes much more sense from a logical standpoint to me than having people just standing around because it makes the world feel more vibrant with the cities having citizens actually going about their business. It also avoids any potential legal entanglements with quest givers handing out dangerous "Go kill Billy the Guy who Got My Daughter Pregnant" like quests.

They also have seem to mixed things up and are now allowing people to be in multiple linkshells (the FF version of guilds) at once. I don't remember the exact number, but this is a great idea as it allows you to have several pools of people to play with, and maybe even a way to distribute message easily (as there doesn't seem to be any mail system that I could find).

Now let's talk about the bad.

This game is very clearly a console MMO with a keyboard/mouse interface tacked on hastily. The keyboard controls are a bit awkward, and though you can remap a few of the keys, most of the functions such as opening the menu and not remappable. The game comes with a utility that you must use to map all of the functions if you want to use a gamepad. And I highly recommend using a controller. Be prepared to remap these keys several times as you figure out what the functions do and get everything in comfortable positions. The control scheme becomes much more natural once you do and the game becomes more playable.

There are large floaty crystals called Aetherite scattered throughout the game. They act as hearthstone bind points (which need no physical hearthstone item), graveyards for the corpse run, and starting points for levequests. They allegedly also act as waypoints for fast travel, though having discovered two of them already I have yet to get it to perform this function and am starting to doubt it exists. (EDIT: Found this function. Unlike everything they tell you about this, the crystals are the endpoints. The command is in the command menu, apparently.)

Most of your storyline quests are done instanced. Other players who are on that part of the quests will share your instance, so this isn't the isolation effect. However, if you fail one of these quests and get teleported out, you end up back at the floating crystal you last used. This is a massive pain when the area you restart the quest in is another five minute walk on foot. On top of this, there are escort quests in this game. If you get more than 10 or 15 feet away from the NPC you are escorting, you automatically fail and get sent back to the crystal. Sometimes this occurs without warning. Is it really too much to ask that when you fail a story quest that it sends you back to a point near where you entered the instance so you can try again without having to run back for five minutes?

There are no tutorials anywhere. Well, there is one tutorial quest, but it's for using emotes and it doesn't even show you how to do it exactly. This seems to be the general design. Don't tell players "This is what these numbers and bars mean". Let them figure it out themselves. There is a small display in my upper left corner (it starts somewhere else). It has many numbers and fractions and a few icons on it. I have absolutely no idea what any of these are, and they seem to change at random. Two of them I though might be coordinates, but after running in a straight line north and seeing them change in all directions, I have determined that this is probably not the case. Some moves (and by that, I mean the only one I have) are available sometimes, and sometimes they aren't.

There are a few minor points which can mostly be ignored: The fact that there are spelling errors in a lot of the text is probably going to be ignored by most players. There are also several bits of quest text where some words haven't been translated from their original Japanese yet.

A lot of people have been talking about the surplus exp, but I just haven't seen it kick in yet. Or if it has, I haven't noticed it. Looking at how these skills work, it is probably beneficial to switch classes and level them anyways, as it looks like there are good and useful skills spread across all of the class trees. (I find it ironic that most of the resources can list all the skills, but can't tell me what those damn numbers in that little box do. >_>)

I don't think this is a bad game. I think it just needs a bit of work. Keep in mind that I say this after only having played it for a matter of maybe 10 hours total. It seems to be getting a little better now that the initial "I don't know what the hell is going on" feeling is starting to wear off. Hopefully when the game goes to release, they will add in that extra quest content they were talking about (which hopefully is not a lie) and add in some tutorials, or at least some freaking tooltips that explain things when you hover over them. Maybe add in a glossary or some diagrams to help console players that don't have a mouse.

Posted by Glyph, the Architect | at 9/05/2010 11:35:00 AM | 2 comments