Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Uplinks x3 plus a weigh in

I am displeased with myself. I let myself slip a bit, I'm back up over 220 at 221.3. I'll need to tighten in my self control and get back to following all the rules I've built up over the last two months despite the stress of long hours. Back to all water tomorrow for sure.

For tonight I'll be reading three uplinks. The first What's your preferred raid size? What are the pros and cons to having larger or smaller raids?

This is an interesting question and I do have some specific thoughts on it. I did spawn camping of raid bosses in FFXI and I was in a server first guild in World of Warcraft back before server transfers were a thing. I have experienced 40 and 20 man raids, 10 mans and 25, heroic and normal modes. I did a small taste of raiding in SWTOR, 8 and 16. I have a good breadth of knowledge to work from.

For enclosed instanced raids I think it is important to have a larger group option available, but there is a limit where too many people creates a necessary simplification of the encounters. An example of design constraint is all bosses need to be large enough to accommodate for all of the players attacking them. Another consideration, all spell animations need to be simple to avoid FPS drops. So going too large is a problem. Another concern is multiplication of roles. If you have 25 players that should work out to 5 groups with 5 tanks, 5 healers and 15 DPS. If instead for a raid you need 2 tanks, 6 healers, and 17 DPS suddenly there is a role inequality. The exact number? I'm not sure I know the answer to that, but there needs to be a point where the fight is difficult because the fight is challenging and engaging and also the raid itself is a challenge to manage.

I personally am a fan of smaller raid groups, easier to manage, less loot drama, easier to recognize the mistakes that are being made and work to correct them.

Outdoor bosses, go nuts. 40, 100 whatever. But there is a trick there too. How do you stop it from being a loot pinata? In Guild Wars 2 this is the problem with the large scale world bosses. They are interesting encounters with good mechanics, but get enough people there an the mechanics don't matter, just go hit his toenails for 5 minutes and get your chest. I think there are ways to design these world encounters in a way where 50 or 100 people can show up and it remains challenging. In Guild Wars 2's case, I think these are designed as casual content, which is fine, but I'd feel more rewarded if the community had to work together more. Say, taking down adds who are killing NPCs that are providing a needed debuff to the boss, or destroying shields or kiting away powerful adds that try and blow up on healers or DPS. Things that if ignored will result in a failed event.

Ok, I'm getting to a lot of words here and I still have 2 more questions to look at. Short form. There should be single group content, 5 man dungeons, then there should be two sizes of raid content (the same content) for groups of ~10 and around double that. There should also be outdoor content that can be, and may need to be tackled by even larger groups. One final caution, don't have some raids that require one size and other raids that require another size, this will create frustration for guild leaders and raid leaders. Splitting up your raid team into A and B teams to tackle smaller content to maximize the loot for the raid as a whole is a pain in the ass...especially when we bring back in the notion of role dispersion. 3 tanks in the main raid, but 2 are needed in the smaller you are short a tank for one of the groups, or you have one too many for the big raid. Man...complex issue. Lots of things to consider.

In the end - Make sure it works. At launch. Players will be all over that ish within 48 hours. (To hear what everyone had to say you can check the blog entry at Wildstar's site

Next topic: What attracts you to a specific faction when you create your character in an MMO?

A fun question, and obviously a personal opinion. So, here comes my opinion. Check out other people's on this entry from October 5, 2012.

Character look is huge to me. I also learned from my time as a Tauren that I prefer to have a neck. If I am permanently rooted to a single character Then I prefer to be a heroic individual. That is not to say that I have to work for the "good guys" Evil factions have good aligned characters on their side. I played Tauren in World of Warcraft because my friends said Horde and I looked at the race options and they seemed to be spiritually good. But if I'm not constrained I like to explore different factions, I like to experience different morality if possible. One thing SWTOR did right was allowing you to be a servant of the Empire but not be evil. For my Agent I felt that I believed in a better Empire that was good to its people. I didn't like the Sith, I didn't serve them, I served the ideal of the Empire. When it comes to specific races it largely depends on class. Sometimes I think I want to be a little girl who carries a giant sword. Sometimes I want to be a towering brute. Sometimes a suave looking human with a full head of red hair is appropriate. A very personal question, fun to think about.

Final topic: What kind of character creation do you enjoy? For example, do you like your character to look pretty or ugly?

This was posted on October 12th 2012. You can read other people's thoughts as well as a developer response here.

For me I want to have multiple body options for each race, along with face options and a wide degree of color and decoration options to create a unique character. The implication in this entry is that most of the sliders and options are going to be in the face, for the most part in an MMO this is a minimal component. I think it's very important for characters to have different silhouettes. SWTOR tried to offer a lot of options, but because all the races used the same 4 base skeletal models it only magnified this sameness. Guild Wars 2 did a great job with this I feel, I hope to see a similarly robust character creation in any game. I don't expect a City of Heroes model, it included options that don't make sense out of context. I sure wouldn't want to see a full Slider system like in Aion.

Good though provoking entries today. Made it hard to watch Bones.

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