Memoirs of an MMO player: UO PK Hunting

UO is broken up into two land masses one is called Trammel the other is Fellucia.  Trammel was the no pvp area and Fellucia was the full PVP area.  So one weekend my friends and I decided that it would be a good idea to go and hunt murders.  This would be the first time that we had PVPed in UO.

So we get all geared up with our best armor and potions and weapons and transport to fellucia using stones we found on lizardmen.  We throw the stones on the ground and a little gate opens, we walk through and arrive in a barren dead land.

We then make our way to the brit bank, thinking that we will be able to chat with the locals and maybe get the scoop about where to find us some reds to kill. We arrive, and there is no one there. We stand around for a few minutes and discuss what we are going to do now.

About this time I notice that someone is snooping my pack. Great I will get some action! So I reveal the vile person thinking I will smite him where he stands. I start to cast Corp Po….. crap the little bastard stole my black pearl. By this time he has gotten on a horse and is getting out of town. We mount up and pursue.

We follow him over the bridge and out of city limits. He decides to stop and face us; we surround him and start casting. At that time about 6 other people pop out of hiding and kill us in about 3 seconds.  So we run around as ghost watching these people loot all of our best gear and laugh at us.

We run back into town as ghost and get resurrected by the healer. We get some spare gear and head back to get our stuff back. We die again, and again, and again.

So we decide that trammel really is a better spot to play. We decide to head home and realize that we don’t have any more of those magic stones.  So we begin our search for more stones to get us back home.

To be continued….

Three things that are wrong with current MMOs

1.  Quest Based Advancement

All current major MMOs advancement is based on completing quest. This started with WoW and that trend has continued. In the beginning of MMOs this was not the case. UO did not have any real quests and while Everquest had that in its name questing was not the main way to earn experience. Everquest relied on the camping mechanic, stay in one spot and kill lots of things for hours. The quests were a way to get loot not advance your character. Every game after that point used this mechanic in some way. They all tried to stop the camping problem but none of them were very successful.

Then the “Next Generation” of MMOs were released, these were World of Warcraft and Everquest 2 both of these games brought quest based advancement as the main way to level. There was still some camping involved but most experience was gained through completing quests. Now every game that comes out tries to take this to the next level and does it wrong. The problem with quest based advancement is that you spend to much time getting to and from the quest objectives. They are really just running exercises. They are all the same, go here and kill this, go here and talk to him. Camping has pretty much disappeared entirely.

A middle ground should be reached where camping is still an option. Camping was a good way to build community because you get to talk to your group mates instead of running around trying to find the last sick bear. I think they should mix up camping and make more instanced dungeons for groups. Maybe make them random with a token system so that you can pick what you want. This way they could make some generic story lines and make some really cool instances. DDO does this very well. You could also combine the questing and grinding by giving out xp rewards for killing 1000 spotted owls. They would need to bring back static spawn points to make this work. Players need a wide variety of play options and each one needs to be about equal to keep a play type from dominating the other.

2.  WoW

The Juggernaut World of Warcraft is going to destroy MMOs. Every game since WoW has followed them. Just like EQ before, it sets the bar and is the game that every new game is judged against. The problem with this is it is not a very good game. It is not revolutionary. It looks like crap. The classes are all generic. It is really a casual EQ. But it has become so big that any game that does not manage to get 1 million subscribers is considered a failure. Before WoW EQ was king with 400,000ish players. This is what every one strives to be and if you got half of what eq had you were considered a success. No one can ever dream of getting half of what WoW has. They would need 4 million players to reach half the numbers that WoW has, and I am not sure that it would even be considered a success then. WoW was a fluke and will not be duplicated for some time to come.

The industry is striving to reach an unreachable goal. They are coping WoW to try to reach that goal. Any new game that comes out should hope to get over 100k and budget every thing for that many people. Expecting to much really hurt WAR and forced it to do server merges not even 6 months after release. It did the same for Age of Conan.  A subscriber base of 100k will bring in $1.5 million a month. If you can’t claim success with that kind of revenue you are aiming too high. When publishers start aiming lower they will start to see more chances being taken and with those chances we will get the real innovations that are needed to take this genre to the next level.

3.  Casual Players

I happen to be a casual player I play maybe 10 hours a week. Casual players are what made WoW so successful. But what makes WoW push the boundaries of game design are the hardcore players. They are the ones that eat through the content and demand more. They are the ones that find the bugs and exploit them. They make the guides, websites, and plugins that really make the game. Because of them we get interesting instances and new content. They are the ones that complain on the message boards and test the new changes. They are the raid, guild, and group leaders that make a lot of instances and raids possible for most players.

They play to be the most uber player on the server. With out them the game would go stale and die. I do not think that you should have to be a hardcore player to get the items that you want. But the games MUST be made for these people. The raids must exist the new content must be put into the game to keep it fresh and growing.

Returning to an old love

Over the weekend I went home and had kind of a family reunion.  I was talking to my brother who also plays WAR and he had mentioned that he had gone back to his first MMO, Ultima Online. I talked with him about all of thing things that he loved about the game and we talked of our old times in UO.  I decided I would download the new 3D client and take a trip down memory lane.

After downloading the game I created a new trial account, logged in, walked around, closed client, logged into WAR. Every thing I love about that game can not make up for how ugly and clunky it is.  I love the skill based system. I love the crafting and resource gathering. I love the housing. It is the only game I have played that got all 3 of those things right.  It is second to none in those areas.  But the horrible combat and lack of 3D just kill it for me.

I miss being able to just log in and do some thing different. Maybe I want to go find a rare color horse to tame.  Maybe I want to go treasure hunting out on the open sea.  Maybe I want to go mine for ore. Maybe I want to decorate my house. Maybe I want to start a mall. Maybe I want to go tame a dragon. Maybe I want to go find a place to put my new house.  Maybe I want to become an archer.  Maybe I want to go deep into a dungeon to get a pair of rare red sandals.

All of this could be done on the same character. This game has so many things that no game to date has been able to get right.  What it did not get right is combat.  Combat is horrible. It is unbearable to today’s standard. I do not know if any game in the future will have everything that UO does. All new games are following the WoW style of game play.

I think I am over my first love. I have quit judging other games agianst her. I still dream about the day that a UO2 comes out but it is just that, a dream.