Friday, June 25, 2010

Midsummer Snap(s)shots

You’re innkeeper isn’t here today. It’s just my voice. As you’re reading this post the real life Larísa is most likely swirling around in a pole dance.

Not in Azeroth though, I’m done with those. It’s funny how achievement driven those seasonal events are. Since I have the title already, I can’t motivate myself to do anything in it, apart from possibly tossing the dices and see if I’ll get the vanity pet of the year.

I’m taking a couple of days off from everything WoW, to celebrate Midsummer in Swedish style. It’s just as silly as the in-game version, if not worse. Grown-ups are imitating frogs, jumping around gigantic flower decorated phalloses, worshipping the light that for a few sweet days briefly breaks up the Nordic darkness. And on top of this huge amounts of snaps, indulged whilst singing traditional songs.

Here's your guide on how-to-do-it if you want to try it for yourself.
While you’re imagining this gnome doing her pole dance of the year, I’ll share a couple of snaps(shots) from the past week.

1. My thoughts about Real ID
Let’s start with Real ID and be done with it. Probably you don’t want to hear another word on this matter. And mind you – we haven’t seen it in Europe next. So we might have yet another week of blogging about it to look forward to – the European bloggers should get their shot at it too, I suppose.

I haven’t got much to say about it though. I’ve raged a good many times before about integrity, such as the activity feed in Armory that you can’t hide, which I still think is a bad idea. But this feature is different because it’s voluntary. I can’t stress this enough many times.

It’s not for me; I barely know anyone ingame who’d come up with the idea to exchange e-mail addresses and I can’t see myself using it. I agree that it breaks the immersion for the ones who use it. So what? If people want to move their MSN into game, let them do it. It doesn’t affect MY gaming experience the slightest. The Noisy Rogue sees conspiracies:

"They did not put this in out of the love of their hearts so teenagers can communicate more. They did it for purely finacial reasons, some of which perhaps are not that clear. Right now it is optional. We’ll see about the future. "

Hm. I love conspiracy theories, who doesn’t? But I’m afraid I can’t really follow the idea of this one. My current sentiments towards Real ID is: /shrug.

2. Why we need the casuals
In case you missed it, I suggest that you go and read a post by Systematic babble on the topic of elitism and if hardcore players should get themselves an exclusive MMO of them own.

Systematic bubbles argues why players at both end of the scale of skill and dedication benefits from playing together. He reminds us that casual players actually are the ones that flesh out the world.

“Casual players, despite the scorn heaped on them by self-styled hardcore players are vitally important for the success of online worlds; they form the constant buzz of activity that is the backbone of any good game. Sure, these casual players may not know how to grind efficiently from level one to the cap, they may not have mastered the combat system, and they may be dreadfully unreliable for guilds striving to constantly progress through the endgame, but they are more important than most players are willing to admit. […]

Not only that, causal players act to fill up a world, and make it seem massive. While hardcore players are often grinding as fast as possible and trying to maximize their playtime, casual players can be seen filling up the landscape – sometimes in areas that would be desolate if not for their ignorance of the “best” route to the end game. Towns are abuzz with casual players hanging out, chatting, and just generally filling up space. Battle grounds and PvP areas are populated by these noobs, most of which the hardcore take great pleasure pwning. An MMO without a casual base would be much different beast from a game where all types of player is welcomed; casual-friendly games feel alive.”

That’s damned well said if you ask me. Over the time I’ve been playing WoW it has become clear to me how important the player density is. An MMO where you don’t meet a soul feels dead. This has bugged me quite a bit as I’ve been trying out LOTRO.

I’ve hardly met a single living soul in the entire Shire . Now I’ve ventured for Bree, hoping that the somewhat bigger city would attract some more players, but there’s no difference. It’s void and creepy and the NPCs that are around just can’t make up for it.

Casual’s flesh out the world. Indeed.

3. Voice IP in game – a waste of effort?
The official WoW website has published another five year anniversary interview with a staff member, this time the production director J. Allen Brack. Like the previous interviews it’s a good read. What I especially noted in this one was that they’ve changed their method of designing the game completely. They used to make one zone at a time, working it to perfection before moving on to the next one. Nowadays they work on several zones at a time in a way more flexible and easy-to-change manner.

He shares stories from his own experiences as a WoW player. Apparently he’s playing multiple hours a week and has just killed the Lich King.

He reveals that they try to keep the design team focused on doing what they’re best at – making the game. When they’re doing work on the side projects, such as the Battle Net system, designing plushies or making racial changes available, they bring in their seniors, such as Alex Afrasiabi and Tom Chilton.

He also talks a bit about the design team – at this point about 140 people and still growing. Whenever they bring in someone new they have the ritual to bring them up in front of the entire team, telling about themselves, where they’re coming from and what they’re exciting about doing. Even if the team is big, they try to be a close-knit group – a family.

What stood out most to me in the interview though was the following:
“From a development standpoint, one of the things that have taken me the most by surprise is the introduction of voice chat in World of Warcraft. It seems straightforward, but it ended up taking far longer than we expected. We had to rewrite a lot of the sound implementation to make it work; we ended up making a number of mistakes in terms of how we did it. The amount of time we ended up sinking into that feature was far more than I expected -- it doesn't seem like a complicated feature, but it is.”
Heh. Considering how few players I’ve ever met that use this feature, I wonder if they’re really happy about this time investment. Was I worth it?

4. This week’s raiding
I’ve only been into one raid since last week. It was an “interesting” experience, as our diplomatic raid leader put it. Our 25 man raids are far and few between these days, so we take turns in running the 10 mans. Tuesday night the turn had come to me to be in the raid. LK was all that remained in ICC and we barely could get a team going, due to tank shortage. We ended up with a reserve tank, one of our ret paladins who used his off-off-spec and dressed up in his so-and-so gear.

For this reason we decided not to even bother to try LK on heroic mode, but we spiced it up with an achievement, Been waiting a long time for this. How many tries do you think we needed? He was one-shotted. One-shotted. I felt cheated.

After this we swapped out a couple of members in the party, and headed to Ulduar to get a few more achievements and hardmodes under our belts. And do you know what happened? We wiped at Freya trash! I’m not sure, but I think one of my mirror images decided to play a little prank and ran off, pulling several more bunches of trash mobs out of the blue.

I think it’s a natural law in raiding though: The more overgeared we become, the sloppier we play.

The end-of-the-week toast
And now, as a homage to the Swedish customs I’ll end this week, bringing out a Midsummer toast.



Anonymous said...

Enjoy the break!

Cheers and good weekend!

*pssst, everybody, bartender's gone, help yourself to all the ale you need - watch out for the Orcs though, they hurt when they pass out drunk on you.


chewy said...

I love that you have "Nubbes" in your real life celebrations although I imagine they're far more palatable than in game.

Have a great weekend and enjoy your fun

doofman said...

Is that picture from the Skansen fest? I was there 4 years ago and had a great time!

Larísa said...

@Doofman: I don't think it's Skansen. Can't find this picture on the webs again atm, but I remember it was somewherre else. Those places tend to look a bit similar though.

doofman said...

You Swedes and your predictable festivals. Stockholm is my second-favorite city, though.