Monthly Archives: January 2015

The law of Item grinding

I know it’s a law. Or I suspect that the eternal god of ‘screwing with you’ governs this law, but I swear that when I try to get something I can waste countless shards and time running it and when I don’t it falls like confetti. I know; here I wanting a claw set to start out my Epic level 20 – a good compromise for extra damage and heal amp. Sure, there are PDK set items but I don’t want to use the armor in that set and I’m planning on using the Epic Jewel and combine a few of the possible sets for an early setup. Like the gauntlets, possibly a ring and maybe the goggles. But don’t want to use the inferior pair of braces and such.

I know, it’s not the best item, but it’s hard to argue against a stackable deadly.

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New stuff

I’m taking a break from DDO, insofar that I’m not playing it several hours a day like a week or two ago. Right now I’m instead knee deep in another F2P game – War Thunder a game similar to World of Tanks, that is Post WW 1 to circa 1950s – 60s tank and air warfare.

Before I make a comparison between WoT and WT I want to point out several differences. First, WoT is more of an arcade shooter with some basic simulated stats. Tanks have HP, some basic characteristics but both movement, aiming and shooting is too fluid to be ‘real’. Yet it tries to ‘simulate’ the idea of tank combat with some penetrating critical hits, crew that can be wounded and armor that bounces but often just crumble.

WoT is also without air combat, there’s a World of Warplanes (WoWP) that deals with that aspect alone, but WT does both and sometimes (as I will explain) melds them both into the same combat mission.

Even the arcade option within WP – the ones that provide somewhat faster repair time, easier to aim and some more hud options is different from the WoT gameplay so it gets a little wonky to try to do an apples to apples comparison. Partly because most key aspects are so different. But lets point out the most obvious one – other than a wonky Battle rating system that can put early 1940s tank up against light American 1950s tanks, the system is functionally a lot better as a Rock paper and scissor game than WoT is. And mostly because of one feature that I couldn’t really articulate before and that is, no HP.

The current problem (mentioned several times) with WoT is siege artillery in small scale combat, with no consequence or ability to counter along with premium ammo in fast shooting tanks. Putting the idea of slower firing, heavily armored tanks at a disadvantage. You’d think the same would be true in WT where the same slow tanks exists and you can research what amounts to the same type premium ammo.

But here is where the actual comparison ends. In WoT you have HP. And no real consequence other than a few critical effects to getting a penetrating hits. So hitting a tank in WoT generally only means losing HP. Premium ammo greatly reduces the protection of armor and makes each battle into a numbers game, where the slower firing heavy tank might get in a few hits per minute and some that hit for say 300-500 in damage in average but where the medium tank does 300-400 but twice as fast. In other words, the pure math is in favor of the one with the faster shooting cannon. And that is why premium ammo is such a terrible idea in WoT. You don’t do more damage using it – it’s the same as AP. But the pen factor is much higher.

In WoT there are premium type ammo as well. Something you unlock through research. But it functions differently and provide a complete different edge. First, most premium ammo have a slightly better pen rating, but the really good penetrating ammo does less internal damage. That is because it’s so rigid that when it pens it splinter into less pieces inside the tank. Unlike explosive or regular AP.

Second, in WT first strike is always the desired effect. Hitting first, and penetrating guarantee internal damage, many time fatal to crew and often damaging important component. You can do that in WoT too, but more often it has less crippling effects on the tank than in WT. And most importantly you have repair kits and heal kits; offering a way to get all or some damage fixed and all or some wounded back in action.

There’s no such thing in WT. Most stuff you repair remain somewhat broken and repair means you stop moving and you have to repair for however long it takes to get it fixed. Which leaves your tank in a pickle, often at the front of combat lines.

Now I mention that premium ammo is not a problem in WT when it is in WoT. There’s a simple reason for it; HP. The greatest consequence to flanking dashes by smaller tanks in WoT is the loss of some HP. HP a undamaged tank often can afford. Combine that will premium ammo and we’re right there trading HP, often with the heavy on the losing side as the med circles around it firing. In WT hits comes with consequence. So having a harder hitting tank, like a heavy with larger caliber gun can cripple or destroy a tank outright. So dashing around a flank comes with consequences as any hit can turn any tank into a burnt out husk.

True, the light and medium tanks do have speed and mobility on their side, but it only takes one bad hit to end it. And that’s something that often decide peoples behavior, compared to in WoT where mad dashes often pays off breaking any semblance of balance.

And that’s why I like WT. Sure – the same type of inexperienced, not very tactical players that you find in WoT also exist in WT. But the consequence, similarly frustrating is a little bit different so relatively inexperienced tankers can still take their autoloading tank and attack your flank with devastating effects.

WT avoids that by not releasing a lot of ‘concept’ tanks. Meaning a flood of strange and exotic tanks that was either never built (basically crude sketches or concepts) or in very few numbers before the program was cancelled.

So you won’t find a super dominating autoloaders or mega tanks. There are also no arty units. So no siege arty type sitting behind lines terrorizing the opponent with 200+ mm ammo. What you have is instead artillery barrages (imprecise barrages that saturates areas with explosions but most of them won’t do much in damage) that can be avoided since the interface warns you when they’re about to hit. Perhaps the most frustrating part is the air to ground air units in ground combat missions, but many times you can get a chance to shoot them down with fighters, effectively countering air to ground attacks before they have a chance to strike. Again; a great way of adding some unpredictability, to root out campers and with a way to counter it.

My suggestion is that you try it out. If you have some basic interest in shooters you can get both ground and air combat in one game. Yes – it can be frustrating to be one shot by other tanks, but with limited respawns you always get another shot and getting back in the game. And if ground combat isn’t your thing you can try out air combat.

Right now WT covers Germany, Russia, England, America and Japan. England and Japan are air only while the rest is both air and ground.

No keep in mind that the game is balanced using 5 tiers and a battle rating of each tank with basic crew/player skills. So it is possible that you’ll end up fighting a tier above you with only stuff in the tier below the quest. And for some nations that can be frustrating. Like Germany in early tiers but also like Japan in air combat.

And other nations are way to dominant. Like Russia. Because on paper their tanks and airplanes were good. Except for the fact that there were several limitations based on real usage and something few if any games ever take in account.

Like lack of proper visual aid for Russian tanks, lack of spaced compartments and cramped conditions for the crew. That generally leads to slower firing rate and harder time (and longer time) to aim. But on paper the sloped armor and great mobility makes nations like Russia stronger. Yet in reality Russia lost 96000 vehicles over the course of WW 2 whereas Germany lost 30000. That’s a 3 to 1 advantage, not reflected in the actual game.

If you keep these things in mind and that there are some frustrations to be had dependent on what nations you pick, you will eventually end up having a fun time. Russia will be the easy button nation to pick. Good early tanks and great airplanes. Germany is si and so. Good airplanes but weak tanks. America seems like a good average choice of okay tanks and okay airplanes.

Late tier German airplanes and tanks get stronger and will greatly balance out the continued strength of Russia both. And Americans remain competitive. Japan unfortunate will continue to struggle and England – nice airplanes, tend to have issues as well, but none as tough as Japan.

Personal Missions, part 2.

Since I haven’t had the chance to play much DDO, partly because of ‘stuff’ but mostly because of the now hot fixed bug – I have played a new game, War Thunder and another, World of Tanks more. And since Wargaming.net released personal missions I tried a few and realized pretty quickly that the concept is simply illogical.

First – each type of tank – light, medium, heavy and artillery (called SPG or self propelled gun) have 15 missions they have to completely consecutively. In other words, you can pick up and finish mission 2 of each vehicle until you do mission one etc. And while it ‘almost’ make sense it falls into the idiocy that we find in DDO chains like Tangleroot. Meaning you go into one room, kill X, then go back to do next, and back to do next instead of like with other chains you continue from that point onward. In WoT you end up with similar missions. Like mission one as light – be among the first 10 in XP gained with a secondary goal of surviving. Mission 14 is similar to mission one, but you have to be top earner.

So what it means is that if you’re on mission 1 and you happen to be the top earner you just wasted that rare occassion when a light tank is actually the top earner. And you can’t do that until mission 14. In other words, any time in between x mission and 14 that you happened to have a great run it’s entirely wasted until you’re stuck for god who knows how long trying to actually do it once you can unlock mission 14.

It would be a lot smarter however and less silly repetitive if you could take ALL mission but only earn the benefit of one. So if you have a particularly great run both spotting stuff AND getting XP, you can decide if you want to finish the best spotting mission or the best XP earning mission instead.

See, this type of mission behavior makes people drop all of the other stuff needed for team play just to satisfy that one mission they’re on. And that might teach you about specific behavior for the mission alone, but it also puts you in competition with other team mates which only leads to grief. This becomes especially noticeable in the meds and heavies one where a lot of the mission has to do with destroying tanks and doing damage – putting you in competition with everyone else doing the same. It also exposes you to the risk of that behavior. Especially when premium ammo makes that aggressive must kill/damage behavior a liability. In other words; the expressed mission are the antithesis of good team building (tho the word is personal missions so that’s a dead give away) but also due to the way you have to complete one mission in order to go to next, you don’t even have an alternative to fall back to if someone else shank your ability to finish it.

In many mission you’ll find that there are 2-3 tanks of the same type, so you know that as a light you’ll see some dash off right away to finish their missions leaving anyone who want to PLAY like a light according to the need of the situation will fail. Ergo, by being able to unlock ALL missions and finish the ones you meet, as suppose to unlock them in order you’d avoid the trap of egoistic behavior that is a plague now and will get worse as people try to do missions.

WoT, personal missions

Just as there are new features added to DDO (Champions etc) WoT (World of Tanks) are adding personal mission.

Personal mission work as following, you complete a set of mission for specific tanks (such as light, medium, heavy, TD and arty) and once you have done all the mission (seems to be 15 or so each) you can get a free special premium tank. A tank you can’t buy from the store. Some are easier than others, but it’s clear that some of the missions proposed are wonky.

Now I’ve played WoT from the time it was released and when I look at the conditions I see several things; first some are absurd and once in a blue moon events – barely repeatable and certainly not something a better player does. The idea (at least originally) was to help players develop a certain behavior by allowing them to do mission a specific way in order to practice good tactics with specific vehicles. Like spotting and scouting with light tanks, sniping with TDs, flanking with Mediums and block damage with heavies.

Only one problem – most of these are made pointless by the over use of premium ammo and wonky spotting. It’s not that I presumptuous in that you can’t do them; it’s just that with the broken mechanics and reality of easy use of premium ammo, there are some of the conditions that are almost impossible to meet. In one match. Not just over several matches but in one single match.

Now some of it is just a matter of practice – such as being a top XP earner. That mission with several parts goes from being among the 10 top earners (out of 15 on each side) down to being the top earner on BOTH teams. This is doable. Good players know how to be among the best. Being top in both is a challenge but not impossible for good players. Except for the fact that this is the light tank category. That’s right – you have to be the top earner on both sides (and this is mission 1 btw) in a light tank.

This is mission 14, light tank (must be a tier 4+ vehicle but if you’re going to win top XP you better be a much better light tank)

Main – Finish the battle as the top player on both teams by experience earned. Survive the battle. Damage received must not exceed 10% of your vehicle’s HP

Let me explain this. Not only do you have to be top player as far as experience earned (in a light tank), survive the battle, but you can’t receive more than 10% damage. In most cases light tanks will get damaged in just one hit for about a third or more of their HP. 10% is hit maybe through collision or by a smaller caliber enemy light. It’s ‘doable’ but we’re talking about something that happen by chance – and it’s a frustrating goal to achieve trying to actually get it done.

But that’s not really the worst mission or requirements. There are some that require you to platoon. Granted, this is a social game, but you’re already automatically socializing by joining a 15 tank team against 15 others. You can’t ‘solo’ this game anyways. And adding a lot of conditions where you have to platoon with someone makes some of the goals hard to obtain. I get that it’s nice to platoon, but making it a requirement sets a large portion that rather not (for many reasons – mine is a question of timing and finding someone reliable because quite frankly for every 1 good player there are 10 really bad and the ones asking to platoon are generally not all that good).

Are these goals impossible? No, they’re not, but some are not realistic and by limiting how you do them, in what order and also including once in a blue moon effects, you destroy perhaps one of the most important part – team play. Here’s the main truth; anytime you add ‘personal mission’ to be done as 15 players you’ll end up ‘competing’ against your team for the goals.

If there was this thing called ‘kill stealing’ before – something I personally don’t care about since killing a tank and profiting is more important than who did the killing, now it’s a condition of playing the game. A lot of the mission are of the type do so much damage, destroy so many tanks, spot and survive those and earn top XP. You will most likely achieve that by sniping and destroying as many before anyone else can.

That will soon become the anthetesis of cooperate play as everyone trying these out will want to be the ones dishing out all the damage, all the kills, all the spots and all the top XP. And it’ll rub a lot of players the wrong way when you’re that heavy trying to get your kill x goal filled and a quicker tanks swoops in destroys the last 10 HP of the enemy obliterating your goal just to gain his/hers.

If there’s a better way to make everyone care for their own and nothing for the team, this is the best way to do it.

And how can I be sure this is the case?

There are events where WG based players join teams, hunt the devs, type events. And if you kill an enemy opponent who is a dev tank you get 250 gold. People do the silliest things to be the ones killing them, including ditching good cover and safety just to be the last person who nails them. THAT is largely the effect of those events and having the equivalent of this as personal missions are a bad way to build team play.

True, these are all free to do, it won’t cost you anything other than the effort to do them; but that also means the rest of the team that have no interest in trying will have to suffer the players who does. And PUGs are bad enough just to see a bunch of unicums behaving badly.

We’ll see how they all turn out but I do wonder if these were really that thought through after all.

The year to come

So we lay 2014 to rest and Turbine is announcing what is set going forward (set as in, what they hope to do) via the Producer’s letter.
The gist of it is Temple of Elemental Evil with one large temple ground and 1 quest (BIG!). We can also look forward to Epic Shroud and a whole new quest pack for Shavarath (no news about a possible associated raid). What’s clear is that Vale is getting a bunch of re-vamped quests and Shroud remains the same but with a different/added ending. No words if Epic GS means items and weapons, if we’re upgrading existing stuff or if we’re talking weapons only etc. Whatever is the case, I’m excited because it is/was the best dang system they ever made.

We’re also getting the final 2 levels, with a cap of 30. I’m ambivalent about this. I don’t see a need for more player power and perhaps more than anything just hitting 6.6 mill XP is quote a big step, adding what will most likely be upwards to 10 for the final 30 seems harsh. Especially when it comes to Epic Reincarnation.

For me, other than maybe increase in level cap, this all sounds great. New quests and a re-vamp of the best pack bar non. True – Epic GS will most likely be upper Epics, if not 30. And that’s pity since Heroic GS is right there at 11 and 12, adding needed gear for hitting 20.

Epic GS at 22 would be super great for Epic Reincarnation but would ruin every single pack released so far (for Epic). So yes, it’s understandable that it will be high end instead but a pity nonetheless. And lets hope we get a moratorium on Epic new raids for 3-4 months when they’re first released. No raid bypasses until at least the next pack. I get the urge to just run until you have everything, but it is destroying the longevity.

Here’s an idea; since they are adding ‘Champion mysterious fragments’ they should add champions to the raids (all epic anyways) and those Greater fragments can only be used for raid specific rewards. Rewards that like the new system changes from time to time so there will always be a reason to continue running these raids. And make the level of greater shards depend on the level of the Raid.

So if you run say Chrono on Elite you get 1 greater for hard and 2 for Elite x 1, and if you do EE MoD you get 2 x 10 (1-10 dependent on the level of the raid.

These shards, dependent on how many you have can be traded for many unique things, things that can alternate dependent on the season or even provide a buff. The entire idea is to make people run all sort of raids again and add back some longevity.

Update 24, part 2 – Champions

DDO is not the first game with champions, in a sense – orange named bosses should be the champions DDO are looking for. It is a tougher opponent, or at least should be. And the idea of champions is not a bad one – to make a tougher enemy. The problem is that champions are not meant to just be, they’re meant to add a challenge, which the mechanics fails in abysmally.

I have no played with Champions since 24 was first released – when it was originally higher spawn rate and afterwards. And I can tell you that for most part Champions are entirely trivial. Constituting not so much a challenge as a blip – to be run over in normal fashion. So to say that it’s ruining my day would be complete hyperbole. No the main problems can be broken into 3 arguments against.

1. It’s far too arbitrary. The ones that should be champions frequently aren’t and the ones who shouldn’t sometimes turn out into large groups. Like Orange named mini bosses. These are ideal for making champions. Mostly because it’s a planned encounter. And beefing them up makes sense. We know the problem is coming; we plan to deal with it and we might be surprised to as what permutation of buffs it might have. That’s the case now, where the worst type of champions are regular creatures and especially the ones with broken mechanics – like say Shadar Kai.

Here’s a real experience highlighting 2 essential problems. I was running Heroic Elite Trackers Trap on my then level 18-19 PDK Pally/fighter. Vanguard with heavy investment in the Pally side. For most part the romp to the end was without major hickups. Then came the end fight with 3 re-spawns. The first 2 are Orcs and the last Shadar Kai Assassins and Guardians. That’s when insanity broke out. Out of the 5-6 assassins 3 were champions and one apparently had the ‘no fort’ debuff – autocritting with his flailing chain.

In addition – since it was on Elite the assassins had like a 5 second cool down before they could use the chain again.

Here’s the problem – it’s notoriously difficult to use tactical feats on Elite. More so on EE (almost impossible) but because there’s a bug right now in how tactical feat DC is counted most of it will land. Only due to this bug could I stun, trip or whatnot them, constantly running away since they kept swirling as soon as I stopped. Without this bug I’d be toast, forever running as they’d whip me to pieces in 5 seconds flat.

Not only was the broken mechanic an issue, but half of them being champions just made that worse. And that’s the real issue here. It’s not that some are champions and for most part are railroaded. It’s that the spawn rate and especially on broken creatures are high; making it a real possibility that you can spend a lot of time in a game, then suddenly die because of these freak spawns just to either have to waste resources or give it up. Now failure should always be a possibility and especially on the highest difficulty. But that should exclude a possibility to plan and use skills to defeat a problem. Champions are therefore terrible at adding a measured challenge that can be defeated tactically. The problem will never be because of lack of skills but despite of it.

2. Denying the very strength of classes through lazy OP buffs is a bad way of creating challenges. Like reducing the fort to zero and true vision to negate blur and displacement. The whole point with classes is that there are strengths and weaknesses and adding random buffs to regular cohorts that deny the build choices you make is just frustrating. Especially since a lot of these builds comes with trade offs – where you trade DPS for defense and now suddenly it’s entirely negated for no other reason than random buffing. In the end the frequency of these freak mobs will once more lead to more players going for ranged type classes, just as the landscape were before the armor up update.

3. Immersion. When barrels or crates, animated by the ward, starts spawning as champions you know that something is terribly wrong. We’ve seen the odd NPC, or statue becoming champions. But I think the worst part is how mundane monsters become champions and sometimes even more dangerous that the orange named mini bosses. Like shadowrats, puddings, cubes, spiders etc. Champions to me should be like the image attached – something imposing. Something that tells the player that they’re about to take on a challenge. And that it’ll cost them a bit.

Black pudding champions tells me that there’s something funky in the water when mindless animated globs of snot can suddenly gain experience. Or the animated crate. I wonder how many skulls that crate have bashed in.

When you trivialize encounters you lose effect. There’s a reason why most other games make their champions imposing and impressive. That you know that you’re about to square off with something better, and not just some little rate that you can step on to ‘defeat’. I wish there was a separate ‘champion’ class altogether. Like 10 unique champions with their own special pattern of attack. Where it takes coordination and cunning to defeat, instead of just bashing until it breaks.

So finally; the problem with champions is not that they’re too hard or that there is no challenge at times. It is that they’re immersion killing arbitrary lumps of door stops, unable to really challenge you unless you get a bunch of them in freak critters. Then they might add that glut of challenge and especially for melee. But often enough you’ll find that orange named are not champions and the regular creature standing next to it is; overshadowing what should be a trying confrontation when it’st still only a small blip on the zerg for win.

Now I don’t want them removed; I just want Turbine to refine them and add more orange named bosses or good challenges and less random critters since it makes everything so banal.

2014 gaming in review

2014 is over and it’s time to look forward to 2015.

But first, lets review 2014 and the many online based games I tried.

First the lesser ones.

    Star Wars: The old Republic Online


Maybe it’s unfair to review a game I haven’t played alot or even finished until the high tier – but I can safely say that despite me not ‘sticking’ to it, the game adds 2 features I like compared to other similar type MMOs; instances at pivotal moments and voice acted mission brief and aftermath. There’s not much to say about functionality; it’s of the regular kill x, collect that and do this. And you do a lot of that in public with other players running around in an environment with respawning creatures. But unlike a lot of them you have private instances at specific moments that immerse you in your storyline so what you’re doing feels unique to you. One of the reasons I like DDO. So you might be running around in public areas with other players not too far away, but once you enter a certain point it’s all you and your mission.

I really don’t know why I didn’t stick around long enough to get hooked, but the game itself is not bad and I can recommend it to anyone who like the lore and want to try out something free 2 play to make up their mind.

    Rift


I played Rift longer than Star Wars altho I liked it less. It’s a pretty game for sure. But every single frame sucks me right out of immersion and yet I tried and tried for longer than I should have.
It’s not just that it’s standard MMO fair with all the question done in public with the typical abysmal line of mission that is kill x that, water x crops this, save the crops from x amount of pests there and swim under water to find all of this and get so many of that fish etc. It’s that you ‘line’ up behind the guy in front of you doing the same thing; which makes the game feel more like you’re waiting in line to do the same thing, than being a hero saving peoples and areas alike from a menace. DDO have instances. Making your personal experience unique from everyone else, eventho the same quests is being done by countless others. In Rift you’re right there smacking the same dude that was just smacked by someone else as soon as it respawns.

Plus actual combat feels unresponsive. I’m used to actively doing things. From running backwards firing, from cycling through CC and DPS spells. From tripping, stunning and smacking. I’m used to a active fast pace, not slowly walking backwards, or standing still and cycling through slow firing stuff against an enemy that stands there and cycle through its attacks.

Plus everything seems large, until you realize that all areas are actually small. That forest there with 10 trees is suppose to be a HUGE forest. That plain there around the lake you can see through the forest with its sparse trees is suppose to be a large plain.

Unlike in DDO where the wilderness areas are its own instances and feel appropriately huge, everything in Rift as distant as it seems is right there and easily seen.
I don’t know what it is, but I just couldn’t get into it even if it had those cool ‘rifts’. Eventually everything seemed so rinse and repeat and I hadn’t even hit level 25 yet.

    Warframe

Warframe is a good online futuristic shooter where you’re a ‘space’ ninja/Samurai Warrior just awoken from a long slumber. The game is good. It’s free to play like everything else reviewed so far and I recommend it for the ambiance, the smooth gameplay and for some really cool features. But the longevity is definitely in question.
It’s a good looking game with lots of ways to customize your look, both armor and weapons. It’s a game where it’s easy to join up, do some quests, drop and move on. Leveling is fairly simple and the only thing that might be a grind would be to unlock armor and weapons by questing, but since it’s a F2P with micro transactions you can skip the ‘grind’ portion and buy the weapons and armors outright and start leveling them right away.

The problem is that while you can buy the items to level, there comes a point where you have what you want and there’s little else to do. If there’s a game out there that lacks a significant reason to continue grinding/playing this is one of them. After a month or so I had the weapon I wanted, a few armors and fairly well modded and leveled. Of course not perfect or for that matter as good as some other peoples setup, but well enough for my liking. Then came the update that made a few major changes and some of my investments such as harvesters could not be accessed and then I lost interest.

It’s not just the update; which added player ships – but it was a point where I had a hard time figuring out what I was going to go next. The game is good and the gameplay is fast paced and nice. But there’s a point where you have what you want and there was no system in place to really motivate me to log in and play at cap. Warframe is definitely in need of a solid and engrossing high level end game. True, it’s not a very old game so there’s still time for the devs to add it, but when I finally decided to take a break there was nothing in place to hold my attention.

    Defiance


I like the show. And the game is okay. But I will tell you right now what made me stop playing it; lack of server stability and lack of reason.

There was a point where I had unlocked all skills, had some really nice weapons but could certainly get better but I asked myself why. It is btw the same question I asked myself when playing the other games. Defiance, set in the future, is a online shooter made by the same people who make Rift, but unlike Rift it’s a active combat system and the world feels ‘expanded’. Maybe it’s a better use of topography but it feels spacious and yet have a great insta – teleportation system.

The problem is that there are no classes. No reason to try different races and no reason to try something else when you’re done with one guy. The only difference between races and classes are looks – you still have the same skills to pick from. And none of them have stats.

Plus getting your first 50 guns is pointless since many times you switch to newer guns every hour or so – you find something incrementally better, think it works fine and suddenly the critters are better and stronger nullifying your incremental increase. Plus it gets worse the more than join. It’s impossible to solo something since anyone can ‘join’ the same fight you’re in, whether you like it or not. And the more than join the stronger the creatures get. Which is fine to a point; but when you first can kill stuff with a few bullets and after a few more people join it takes an entire mag, it feels pointless and regressive.

Plus the real downfall is stability. Wasting 30 minutes for a runup to a ‘raid’ fight just to lag out after the first few waves makes for a sour experience.

    World of Tanks

I like historic reference to tanks. I like the aspect of it. There’s something cool about driving around in a monster with thick armor and a big gun. To use tactics, with the limitations that each tank represent. But what I don’t like is that the fundamental of the rock, paper, scissor functionality is so completely broken in this game.

I started back after WoT went live, when there was only 3 nations and a select amount of tanks to pick from. That was back in the day with Germans, USA and Russia to pick from. Each filled a niche; Russians were brawlers with hard hitting cannons and thick armor but inaccurate at range. Americans were a little bit of everything – more a generalist and Germans had some armor, lacked mobility but definitely had the accuracy at range.

Back in the beginning heavy tanks played like heavy tanks with thick armor and big slow guns and mediums were forced to flank and aim and Arty could be spotted by following the tracers.

But the tracers lead to exploits since some could use cheat code to make them remain permanently making it easy to know where people were hiding, including arty. And soon enough WoT started explanding into other nations and add more broken tanks to the tech trees. Like autoloaders and much bigger Tank Destroyers.

There are 3 main reasons why WoT broke.

First – the accuracy of Arty is beyond silly. Some of them comes with such a nasty splash radius that it doesn’t matter if you’re behind a rock; it can splash your tank to death. Once the tracers were removed it also removed the only meaningful way for scout tanks to detect Arty and for Arty to counter battery fire. Once that feature vanished it made Arty ghosts – free to sit in the same spot and smack everything with as much damage as possible.

The second part, and what also makes arty even more broken is that visibility in WoT is an utter disaster. You have large tanks hiding behind bushes – observed stopping there then going invisible and some tanks can remain invisible despite firing massive shells just because they have an forward observer apparently guiding these shells via targeting lasers. And since each tank that you see is visible for 6 seconds, even if they break visibility entirely (such as drive behind an obstacle or down a hill below a slope) arty can still target you for that long. That’s right; somehow large tanks can hide, eventho spotted and tanks can be targeted by indirect fire eventho they’re no longer visible.

The third thing is the change of premier ammo for ingame credits, when it used to be for ‘gold’ a purchased currency only. Kinda like buying the best ammo for plats, when it should be costing TP instead.

The basic of the rock, paper and scissor type tactics is that there are advantages and disadvantages with different classes. Roughly speaking you have 4 ‘classes’ of tanks in WoT. Arty is indirect, slow fire with lousy direct fire. Tank Destroyers are like snipers, can hide and hire very accurately. You have the brawlers, usually slow firing cannons but in return have thicker armor and then you have meds and lights, often with some variation of armor and speed, but not as good as the heavier kind. The idea is the same as a fantasy game and its classes – some tanks are good at taking hits and dishing out damage, others are good at high end AOE damage but lousy at defense. And then you have the skirmishers, avoiding damage by being in the midst and offering support by flanking.

Except it was up until premium ammo was released for ingame credits. So now there’s no limit to the use of it, which makes fast shooting flankers, usually meds very dangerous and light tanks with terrific agility and guns that would normally not pen so good, really nice. And that breaks the fundamental of rock, paper, scissor when it’s a clear disadvantage of having a slow shooting cannon when the armor is rendered pointless.

Plus autoloaders have really made this entirely pointless; imagine a medium if you will with autoloading capacity and the agility to match that can run up to a heavy, destroy or almost destroy it with maybe one shot back if the heavy is lucky and then fall back into safety. That’s the result of autloaders, premium ammo and the meds being the battlefield equivalent of Jack of All Trades.

It puts meds as the dominators and Arty’s as the doom against slow moving but hard hitting tanks.

Now all of the above mentioned are F2P so if you want to make up your own mind I suggest you try them out for a few because I gladly recommend all of them, except for maybe Rift. Sorry Rift, but that was not funny. Pretty game, uninspiring overall.

    DDO

There’s no question, Turbine got off on a high with MOTU and fell right into the trap of Shadowfell, making 2013 no doubt a painful awakening to the fact that small MMOs can’t afford to push out mediocre products. And especially if they expect people to pay in addition to their VIP and premium.

Lets not re-hash Shadowfell, but instead note that 2014 in my honest opinion constituted a slight revival and where DDO have turned into a community effort of sort. With the devs working closer with players to provide a product and that this trial and error produces nice highs and some odd communal efforts. Not always perfect but often far more agreeable.

2014 saw several major systems – a new universal tree, harper. An armor up meant to bolster heavy armor melee together with a solid new S&B tree. It saw the rise of Paladins as dominating melee and a revamp of Barbarians; which seems to be an ongoing collaboration as Barbarians are still not quite the DPS kings of the lot and it’s a fine line between survivability and DPS dominance. Paladins are strong in that respect. And making barbs sharp but yet not too strong seems to be the goal.

It also saw the first release of an old module, haunted halls – a terrific product – and 3 new raids. All which are plundered dude to duping but most of all raid timer bypasses. It’s a pity that Turbine have not instituted a moratorium on raids for the first 3-4 months when they come out so players can’t just run the raids 24×7 for the first 2-3 weeks and then leave the raids to fall into obscurity.

There was also a clear effort to convert several Eberron modules to Epic – with E3BC and ENecro4 (Macabre) and a new Eberron pack, continuing – of sort, the Xoriat madness series in 24. And no increase in level cap.

All in all the effort to serve the community better was greatly appreciated as it restored some of my faith in the game. With a revamp of the XP needed to grind out the first 20 and a readjustment of XP for some quests and now a increase of loot drop chances, it seems that Turbine is committed to providing a lot of what the players are asking for, even if this is a balance between those who want grind and difficulty and those who just want a smooth ride.

And while I don’t care for the whole roughing it and just playing type arguments I must say that champions, something I will write about shortly – the new feature as of update 24, is probably not something that will address any of it. We’ll see of course what Turbine will do about possible rewards for dealing with champions or how they’ll adjust spawn rates and distribution. But so far I’m not impressed. More about it another time, meanwhile I leave you with some of the comical effects of it as per the image.