Procrastination Amplification: Punditry on MMOs and games in general.

Too little community?

Fellow blogger and all-around witty person Klepsacovic has a post up on the topic of too much community, citing Wowhead as an example. While he admits to using (and loving) the site, he also hates it for what it does to the game. No longer do you have to find out things by yourself, you just look them up on the net and are done with them. He’s right, of course. Obscurity is no longer a legitimate form of challenge in games, especially in MMOs. Most information is at your fingertips and there is no need to explore anything. In World of Warcraft.

Once you move on to other MMOs, things are quite different. ZAM, the owners of Wowhead, have what is probably the most-used item and quest database for Rift as well. It is very closely modelled to Wowhead and awfully devoid of comments of any type. No comparisons of item X to item Y, no hints on how to complete odd quests, not even an odd “first” or whine.  (Sure there are about 30 comments a day, on a database that contains 40.000 items and 2500 quests. That’s nothing.)

Whenever I try to look something up that requires more than pure data, I fail. Quest NPC not where I expected it to be? Better run some circles. Quest item not spawning? Why didn’t I figure out for myself that I’d have to re-activate some stone half a map away? (Which is mentioned nowhere in the quest and makes no sense either.) Interested in data on the efficiency of block rating? Go parse your own damn combat logs.

Maybe I’m just spoiled from the wealth of information I’m used to from WoW, but I really really miss this in Rift. I would quite enjoy doing some theorycrafting, but I don’t really feel like doing all the ground work myself. I’m also much less inclined to do so if I feel as if my information will be read by pretty much exactly me.

You could say that a game is better off without theorycrafting anyway and I might even be inclined to agree. There is a huge difference though between a game like Dragon Age (in which I don’t care for theorycraft at all and just pick whatever feels best and/or most interesting to me) and a game like WoW or Rift. Performing optimally is a huge part of those games for me and exchange of information goes a long way towards that goal. I dearly wish I had a Wowhead and an Elitist Jerks to go to for Rift. Bosskillers and Tankspot… maybe not so much.

  • “Quest NPC not where I expected it to be? Better run some circles. Quest item not spawning? Why didn’t I figure out for myself that I’d have to re-activate some stone half a map away? (Which is mentioned nowhere in the quest and makes no sense either.)”
    This is an aspect of wowhead that I absolutely loved. And yet, is it really doing anything beside covering for a badly-written/designed quest? Community should not be there to cover up for dev failure, it should add something beyond what the devs and core game.

  • Trion has offered nice XML files on their forums where programmers can parse items and display them at their site, but unfortunately the data is not yet connected to drops and vendors. You have a lot of items but no information about their origin. I seem to remember that they’ve promised it will come later (the forums appears to be down at the moment for maintenance so I can’t verify that now).

    This is probably the reason why a lot of relevant data is missing at Zam’s site too. I have a fan section for LOTRO where the items sold by barterers can be scrutinized and I was actually thinking about making a similar section for Rift, but until the data is connected with origin, it’s a no go. (I’m not going to use images again for Rift – it’s a bit too much work in the end.)

    But if/when Trion starts offering XML files with origin connections in them too, I expect Zam’s site to suddenly be a whole lot more useful.
    Chordian´s last blog post ..New- Search for Barter Items

  • I will say it, actually, even though you did. I think the game is better off without theorycrafting. The potential complexity of the soul system makes the game attractive to me, and I know my wife (who’s very self-conscious about dps and specs and such things) prefers having more people in the dark and considers it more fun.

    Fun means a lot of things to a lot of people, though, and I have no doubt we’ll have a full Rifthead before too long. And a Riftletist Jerks. And a TankRiftSpot (that one didn’t work out so well – Riftspot seemed to vague).

    Human beings are scientists by nature, though. If we weren’t, we’d still be sitting in caves eating rocks, so it’s no surprise that this direction is where the community goes, no matter how a few of us feel. Nice post!
    Stubborn´s last blog post ..A Beginning

  • Thanks for all your comments 🙂

    @Klepsacovic (I’ll be damned if I know how to shorten your name): I consider the fixing of flaws in games one very important task of the community. Sure, I’d prefer a game without flaws but that isn’t really going to happen. Say what you wish about WoW addons, but a lot of the game improvements we expect today came from mods (and therefore the community) originally.

    @Chordian: Interesting, I did not know that they offered those files. Seems we have come a long way from how Thottbot used to work. I suppose an increase in information available will lead to more users, therefore more comments (and more non-generic information.)

    @stubborn: I’m a scientist by trade as well (or will be again from Monday on) so maybe that’s where my love for examining game mechanics and optimization comes from 😉 I love figuring stuff out for myself, but I quite dislike reinventing the wheel.
    Also, hats off to anyone who actually makes Riftletist Jerks 😉

  • Some say Klep, but that is the sound of a one-legged horse (old story). I don’t hate mods. I mean, I loved my bar and bag mods and that sort of thing. It just worries me when mods become next to necessary for parts of the game.

  • I actually came to the conclusion a while ago that I enjoy rift because it is what it is. I can just play and have fun. I can read many guides that are not often backed up by numbers and can make up my own mind if what i read makes sense or not and decide accordingly.
    If I was to play wow again id just check what spec and rotation to use nowadays read tactics for the bosses in the current raid tier… and voila all excitement is gone. There is no theory crafting involved in that… just playing as was written on ej and you are done with the game (well you could still do dailies, get all your reputations up, get pets, get mounts, play your last alt to max lvl and whatnot but that was never my kind of fun).