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Archive for March 23rd, 2009

Shamus hits the pricing issue with a side dish addressing the shelf life of games.

The Price of Fun

It’s a good article, and well worth reading.  Shamus is also hosting comments over on his site:

Twenty Sided

I’ll just sign off here by noting that I’ve purchased two games on Steam in the last 10 days, both on sale.  That’s more money than they would have got from me otherwise, even for good games like World of Goo and AudioSurf.  There’s a recession on, and people are paying attention to these things.

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I’m still not sure how I happened across it, but a new MMO titled Project of Planets caught my attention this last weekend.  I’ve downloaded the beta client, and will test it out when I can carve out time.  In the meantime, I’ve prowled the (obviously translated) documentation.  The game looks a bit like Armored Core writ large and multiplayer, so as an old Battletech/AC fan, it’s worth exploring a bit.

What caught my eye prowling through the relatively scanty data is the existence of a rudimentary Tank/DPS/Healer trinity.  They call it Defense/Shooting/Command, but at a glance, it looks to be much the same sort of core philosophy.  I can’t help but be a little disappointed.

Yesterday, I was perusing an old MechCommander manual, and noted that there really isn’t much in the way of a trinity in Battletech.  There are three ranges, an elaborate interplay between heat and firepower (DPS throttling, of a sort), mech tonnage which limits armor/structure/weapon builds, and a ton of customization options.  (Options that I have spent WAY too many hours tinkering with.)  Combat itself is more about dancing around in certain ranges, maximizing your weapon use while trying to minimize exposure to enemy fire.  There is no healing.  There are no classes.  There are a few mechs that serve as fire support, and some that specialize in single weapons, but that’s about as focused as it gets, since most mechs are fairly general in their approach.  They have to be flexible because of the combat range dance.  Overall, it’s a pure endurance match, kill or be killed, driven by pilot skill with evasion and firing accuracy.

I miss it.

I’m not the only one to wish for a Battletech MMO, to be sure, but in a world of DIKU trinity design oversaturation, a little simple toe to toe combat where pilot skill is key would be a breath of fresh air.  I’m not certain that I’ll see that in PoP, but I’m going to at lest dabble to see what they have going for them.  If it’s just a mech-flavored reskin of typical DIKU grinding, it will find an audience… but I really could go for something a bit more in line with the core design concepts of Battletech and/or Armored Core.

Perhaps it’s time to pontificate a bit on mission-based MMO design.  Muckbeast has blasted the degeneration of quest-based MMO design lately… but what if we embraced the inherently chunky  (mission based) gameplay of the Battletech/MechWarrior/AC gameplay?

…I’ve burned up most topics that I want to rant about regarding the current state of affairs in the MMO genre.  It’s time to dig a bit more into creating, not dissecting.  As much fun as I’ve had throwing darts at sacred cows, I’m itching to do something more constructive.  Wiqd’s projects are one place to spend a bit more time, but for the occasional moment when I want to write here, I’m thinking this might be fairly fertile ground for a while.

Loading the dropship…

…oh, and is it terrible of me to be thinking of ways to crossbreed Steampunk and Battletech?

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