Non combat MMO?

Bhagpuss wrote (and again) about a non-combat *thing*. I used that term, because even he is uncertain if the *thing* can be called a game. But the post still made me think.

First thing first: what is a non-combat game? Sure, having a pixel gun and killing mobs is combat. But is Magic the gathering a combat game? How about chess? Football? Boxing? I would use the following definition: in a combat game you are winning or getting closer to winning by removing enemy game pieces while the opposing player attempts to remove yours. So WoW is combat game because you are removing mobs from the world who are trying to send you to the spirit healer. Heartstone is a combat game, because you are removing enemy cards while the other player tries to remove yours. Boxing is a combat game because your are attempting to knock out the opposing boxer while he wants to knock you out. On the other hand tennis and football are not combat games, despite being fiercely competitive.

There are few non-combat video games: racing simulators, economy simulators, minecraft (zombies are combat, but they are a flavor). Subnautica (there are hostile mobs, but they are so weak that you can ignore them). Detective story games.

Can these games be turned into productive MMOs (even using the term loosely, including games like League of Legends and PUBG where you play together and against a large group of players)? Hard to say and I haven’t seen big successes on this field. While FPS-es often has massive multiplayer (matchmaker, lots of players, living scene), I don’t know about such in car racing simulators, mostly because you are racing against the clock and not the other players.

It is possible to make a huge economy simulator game where players compete for profit without ability to actively hurt each other (combat), but unaware of its existence besides as a niche side game inside EVE Online. So no great revelation in this post, but I recommend the idea of non-combat MMOs to linger in the back of our minds.

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PS: probable last thought: “we have the lowbie cornered and outnumbered”:
outnumb

I just “love” the random matchmaker. I mean I like to carry, but this is ridiculous:
carry

Spending caps doesn’t solve the problem

Tobold lives in a country where lootboxes are banned. Since Belgium is small, most companies just stop selling their games there, or at least the lootboxes. He isn’t happy about this.

As I have stated repeatedly in the past, I am not totally against games with in-game purchases. There are a number of games which I started for free and then decided to spend modest amounts on loot boxes and other in-game advantages on. As long as you stay reasonable in your purchases, that is an okay business model. Of course if you spend more money than you would have spent on a full price game, or even hundreds or thousands of dollars because you became addicted, that is a different problem. And I can totally see the need to restrict that legally. Which, in my opinion, should then be done in the form of spending caps.

While in-game spendings in itself can be problematic (pay-to-win), it’s not the problem here. The problem with lootboxes is that you aren’t paying for an in-game item. You are paying for the chance to get an in-game item. This is fundamentally gambling. Even if you can’t sell your account (you always can), these system enforce a moron attitude: that results are out of your control, depend on luck. If I plant rose seeds in my garden, I always get roses. Or maybe nothing but weeds if I suck in gardening. They never-ever proc into orchids. The result depends only on the materials I use and the skill I have. Early games worked like that: kill monster, get reward.

This system did not serve the morons and slackers who lack skills or effort. To still get their money, various systems were introduced that gave in-game rewards for nothing. The lootbox is the pinnacle of this: you pay real money (no in-game effort) and get something out of your control (absolutely no skill, not even “buy in the shop”). These games teach players all the bad things. They should absolutely not be sold to children and preferably nobody. There is a reason why gambling is regulated everywhere and children are banned from entrance.

Having a stop-loss is only good in stopping already serious addicts from losing their homes. It won’t stop normal, but vulnerable people from going addicts. This isn’t something that anyone should support. Not because someone might get poor, but because no production is done. Nothing of value is created in the casino. This crap has no place in gaming.

Go Belgium! I hope the whole EU soon adopts the no lootbox rules.

LOTRO Legendary and other progression servers prove something

Lord of the Rings Online just launched a “Legendary” server. It’s a standard progression or “Fresh Start” server, where everyone starts as lvl 1, without account-wide boosts. Most MMOs have such things. WoW will have “WoW Classic” which will not only be new, but its content will be like it was a decade ago.

MMO devs surely don’t start these out of boredom. People play them. People want them. Some bloggers absolutely love them. This proves something: players are interested in leveling content. Sure not all, there are still those who just want to play the endgame, but there is a significant playerbase wanting the quests, the open world, the stories, instead of grinding the same content again and again for upgrades a little chance to get something that has a chance to proc to high ilvl.

One can wonder why there are no separate leveling MMOs? Ones that do not have endgame, but a “you finished the story, see you next expansion” screen. The answer is probably that such playerbase is too small to pay for the expensive leveling content. On hour of endgame content is much cheaper to make than one hour of leveling content, because the former is repetitive, so the player is doing the same thing as yesterday, so you create it once and get lots of hours of playing. Leveling content is played once. Splitting it among factions or classes or races doesn’t help: one player may play multiple times, but you have to create different content for each time.

So unfortunately leveling MMOs won’t make a comeback in any other form than they already did: niche servers.

The mobile gaming disgrace

Tobold disagrees with the critics of Diablo III mobile version, who are many. To be exact, the trailer – which is in itself is OK – got the most dislikes in the history of youtube.

the announcement of a mobile version of Diablo evoked an incredibly negative response among the fans. … The common thread behind all that is grumpy old gamers being angry about a move of their game towards a broader market…

millions of people who haven’t played Diablo on PC or consoles will play it on a phone or tablet. And even people who already played one or several versions of Diablo on one or several platforms might be interested in playing it on a more mobile device. The angry people tend to be hardcore fans, who want Diablo 4 on their PC and console, and who feel that Blizzard developing Diablo for a different audience is taking away something from them.

Well, because it does. You cannot open to the “broader market”, without taking something away from the existing customers. Why? Because devices aren’t equal. It’s not like making a Mac port to your game. Consoles have very different controls, ergo, the game needs to be dumbed down to be playable with only a few buttons.

Mobile devices aren’t simply “even dumber” than consoles, having much worse CPU and GPU. While consoles exist to give a cheap alternative to gaming PCs, mobiles aren’t created for an even cheaper alternative (some are more expensive than gaming PCs). No one in his right mind would play in a tiny screen, small graphics, bad CPU, laggy net when a PC or even a console is available. People use it when they are on the road, away from their gaming set.

Why is it so bad that now they have a way to play? Because “being on the road” greatly limits your ability to play with any seriousness. You play in very small sessions, very randomly, having to interrupt many times. To make the game playable in such setting means making it a total joke. Diablo III mobile will be an absolute crap game, not because the devs are crap, but because you can’t make anything that isn’t crap, yet playable without player attention.

Why should any “real” D3 player care if there is a joke version? Because very much likely there won’t be separate realms and ladders. Likely the very same champion will be playable in all devices of the player. However to allow any kind of progression, the mobile version must be ridiculously easy to progress. It will likely allow some auto-progress feature, practically built-in botting. Ergo, the hard-earned progression of the “real” players will be trivialized by mobiles, as they allow the same progression without effort. And that’s without pay-to-win, which is extreme on mobiles.

I would instantly stop playing any game if it would have a mobile version (and not a companion app, that allows certain side-activities to be done, like WoW garrisons or EVE market).

It’ll be good to play Shimakaze next season

 
I ranked out in a Shimakaze after a long march. I expected to rank out much faster next real season. Then Wargaming decided to help me. There were 3 significant balance changes that will help my little Shima and 1 that hurts.

Let’s start with the bad one: Battleship AP shells will now overpenetrate destroyers, meaning that battleships can’t instakill destroyers. This looks good, because it protects my Shima against battleships, but it actually hurts, because it helps the other destroyers more. Shimas are usually hidden, while gun destroyers are visible, so they get more battleship fire.

Continue with the first good: Worchester radar is nerfed to 9km. They were an absolute bane of hiding destroyers. Not only because of their ability to outspot the DD, but because the damn things were everywhere, creating massive exclusion zones. With the nerf, they will have much less effect.

Shimakaze HE shell will damage 2150 instead of 1800. This is a 20% gun DPM buff. Sure, Shima will still be the worst gunner and it’ll still lose every single 1v1 gunfight, but the buff can help win against a damaged enemy destroyer.

But the crown jewel is the Yueyang nerf. YY was a bizarrely overpowered destroyer with its radar. Sure, it could still lose due to idiocy (engaging in close range and getting torped), but if someone knew what he was doing, he could easily defeat or at least deny any enemy destroyer.

The torpedo nerf won’t effect Shimas, and the guns, even nerfed are much better. Sure, the nerf can mean the difference between dying and escaping with 10% HP, but it won’t help much. What they help with is getting this pest out of the picture. YYs will regularly lose to other destroyers (except Shimas) and their torp nerf will decrease their DPM on battleships, the owners will say “hell with this crap” and play Harugumo or Gearing instead. Those ships are much less threat to Shimas.

How to get 5 stars on the hard Haloween mission?

I decided to create more directly in-game posts, even if they are not so revolutionary or great. I probably spent too much time in abstract game ideas than actual gaming stuff that people can act upon. Not to mention the 54212th installment of “Falcon and Goons are being horrible”. I just have to accept that they are, they won’t change and probably they won’t be forced to, until EVE is at the direct threat of imminent server shutdown.

So here it is, a simple guide how to complete the weekly World of Warships scenario, which is hard mode Haloween submarine mission. “Get 7 stars” is often featured in the Royal Navy tasks and you can complete them in 2 runs. It was trivial to get 3.5 stars on average on earlier missions. Not now. Defeats often happen, when players are killed by Rasputin and his crew.

gerfalcon2

How to get this? Get a Gerfalcon! While you can do it in other sub, there is no point making your job harder. Gerfalcon is the fastest and stealthiest sub. While it has the weakest firepower, it is capable of firing backwards, while all other submarines have forward facing firepower which means you have to sail towards the enemy.

Your job is simple: sail full speed towards the Black Castle. Missions are failed because the castle isn’t reached, so Rasputin has heal, making him practically unkillable. Also, you get 2 stars for finding it in time and finding all catapults, 2 hiding behind the castle. So even if the players are good enough to kill the escorts and then overwhelm the healing of Rasputin, they still only get 3 stars.

Everything is secondary to your rush to the castle. Never turn towards enemies to shoot them. You can shoot backwards while still approaching the castle. If you do so, you get significantly ahead of the friendlies:

gerfalcon

Your approach will spawn Rasputin. Keep sailing, let him spot you, then dive. If you can, you should torpedo escorts. Ignore Rasputin! Keep advancing to the castle and emerge when within 5km. Then keep going towards the catapults, spotting them. You will probably gather a nice following of enemy ships. Good! As long as they are chasing you, they are not protecting Rasputin.

When you’ve done spotting, you’ll probably be cornered, out of air and will die. It doesn’t matter. You completed 2 secondary tasks and lured away the escorts from Rasputin. Finishing him won’t be hard for the rest of the team, assuming they aren’t total morons and slackers.