Server Status on the Launcher?

I’ve always wondered why it was so bloody hard to put the server status right into the launcher. I mean, if you start the game and it takes you to a launcher before you can play, doesn’t it make sense to tell the users right then and there, “Hey, servers are down!” or “Server status is:  (list)”.

I understand it’s tougher for Blizzard to do since they’ve got more servers than some countries have computers, but a simple mechanic of setting up a server watch. Person fires up launcher, goes into options, selects Show Server Status, checks off a limited number of servers to watch, launcher pings those servers for status and displays them for the user so the user doesn’t have to click play, log in and discover the servers are down.

I’m not even really talking about Blizzard here.

Think about it.

  1. Start game.
  2. Doesn’t actually start game, it fires up the patcher/launcher. Okay, sort of needed for MMOs, gotten check files and make sure you’re up to date.
  3. Click play.
  4. Game actually starts. Depending on the game you might have to deal with the cinematic and various sponsors or companies involved. Some actually fail to have a mechanism to bypass this or require interaction to skip (WoW doesn’t it notes that you’ve seen the cinematic and likely want to skip right into the crack, er, game.
  5. Type username (if it doesn’t save it for you)
  6. Type password (maybe even an OTP from an Authenticator)
  7. You might have a loading screen here.
  8. Here is where games deviate; same will have a server selection, some will have character selection but almost all of them will tell you at this point if the servers are down.

That’s roughly 8 steps to tell you that the servers aren’t available when you could inform them as early as step 2, but instead you decided to fill the launcher with advertisements.

Yes!

Why wait or make a customer do a bunch of stuff only to discover the service isn’t available?

I’m flagging all the MMOs I think this applies to. I could be wrong because it’s been awhile since I looked at any of them and I hate to admit it, but I think DDO actually does show server status on the launcher. For others I simply can’t remember (DAoC, AoC).

Multiple Subscriptions…

I dropped WAR already. I have no motivation to play outside of when the Red Haired Giant fires up Skype. Here’s the catch… I’m not on the hook for the month subscription fee.

When I re-subscribed Mythic padded 10 free days to the front of the account and tacked the month sub on the end. The 10 free days on the account expires on the 16th so I haven’t exceeded the first 10 days so the actual charge for the month hasn’t gone through yet.

Is it bad that I feel relief at that?

I had fun playing with ‘the guys’ but I don’t really want to pay cash for something I’m not motivated to play on my own. Another plus is that I’m not too worried about all the charges adding up for when I pick up The Burning Crusade expansion for my oldest son since he’s almost at the level where he could set foot in Outlands.

Peer Pressure?

You’d think I’d be beyond peer pressure by now, no?

I ended up subbing for one month to WAR yesterday. I played a bit more with those guys I work with and posted about previously. Good guys, lots of fun. I do admit I enjoy the lower level PVP but suspect I’ll get tired of it when I get to the higher levels.

Okay, I know I’ll get tired with it. I could already feel the ‘playing through mud’ feeling yesterday when doing some of the scenarios. Some people might get what I’m saying – the controls just seem a little unresponsive still, the performance isn’t all that much better (even with my newer video card) and there is no feedback when click or push buttons.

But ultimately, I caved to peer pressure.

So now I stand at a crossroad where I’m carrying three MMO subscriptions; two for WoW and one for WAR. That ends up being about 45$ a month.

Rationalization time…

Now that is still cheaper than when I wasn’t playing a MMO and would blow over a 100 bucks a month on console or PC games that actually had endings – I would consume somewhere between two and four of those games per month.

Previously, I was buying lunch at a local place here that was buffet style and you paid based on weight of the items you picked up. This was running me anywhere between 5-10$ per day. Five days a week and I’ll looking at 25-50$ a week. I cut that out so now that opens up more room for just one more sub… right?

The tough part is going to be juggling these two games (work guys play nightly, WoW guild is just starting up and hoping to try raiding), family time, and finding a little extra time to get some extra work stuff done including learning a new (to me) technology.

I don’t see it happening.

Quiet Blogging Week…

I’ve been on vacation since, well, this entire week. I went off to Montreal/Granby area with the kids on Sunday/Monday but otherwise haven’t done a whole lot else aside from local attractions. There is a bit of grey cloud hanging over us and it’s raining on us regularily… literally.

Figuratively, the wife’s employed days might be numbered because the company she works for has filed for credit protection and seems unable to function with the employees they have left. That’s a bit of a downer but I’m trying not to let it get in the way. I’ve put my ear to the ground to see if anything is coming up and she’s polishing off her resume. Worst case, she goes on Unemployment Insurance for a bit, stays home with the kids while trying to find a job.

That’s a bit of a mixed blessing, I’d prefer that one of us stays home with the kids but my preference isn’t that its her! :) Of course, she’d need to be making a bucketload more than she is now for that to happen.

World of Warcraft

On a happier note, the Dwarves are level 46/48 – with my son’s Paladin being the higher of the two still. I’ve been tacking levels onto Galiana (also 48 now) with his granted levels so I should soon have a bunch of level 60 characters.

I’ve also been farming with Lannister to get him back up over the 2k gold marker – I keep wavering there because I have to dole out cash for the two Dwarves (greedy buggers). Soon I’ll have to dump some gold onto the Mage as well, but I think I might be able to get around that if I can get some TBC gear from farming TBC instances with Lannister.

Now the Little Big Ogre didn’t do all the leveling on his own, I was running two instances of WoW on the same system just had each one (windowed) in each of my monitors (I have two side by side). With them being windowed, it was easy to move the mouse over to the other one, click on it and press the hotkey for what ever. I set up macros for healing, following, bubbling and stuff like that. Very easy.

I’ve also switched guilds but not for any bad reason. I was content with Red Light District, they raided at a good time, they were nice enough to me, they were a little odd and seemed to have a lot of inside jokes. I also sort of felt more like an outsider than really part of the guild – sort of a body to fill the raid spot. I don’t think there was anything intentional, it’s just a bunch of long time friends who have been part of the guild for a long time.

The new guild is called Ninefold Dragons, I got a whisper from Huntingwolf about it and thought it would be a good idea. The people I met are nice so far, but I worry there might be some drama attached (I hope not) since it sounds like a splintering from the Hounds of Tindalos. I don’t really want to see this implode. I’m going to trust that HW was always even keel so probably wouldn’t get tied up in that sort of stuff.

Warhammer: Age of Reckoning

Earlier today I got a Skype call from the Red-Headed Giant (the guy I work with that sent me a WAR refer-a-friend invite) who was asking how things were going and if I wanted to play some WAR. Luckily (for him) he caught me when I wasn’t doing anything so I popped into WAR for about an hour or two with him and another guy from work. It was fun, but felt sort of shallow.

Now I was playing a Bright Wizard (level 10) which amounted to pounding on the Fireball key and maybe a few dots if I thought they’d help (I should macro those). That’s about one fourth of the keys I need to press for the Retribution Paladin (Excorcism, Judgement, Divine Storm and Crusader’s Strike hehe).

Coming back to the fun part, it was fun because the two guys I was playing with were good spirited, easy going and fun to play with – I’m not sure it had too much to do with the game but I’ll hang on to it for a little longer and see where it goes. Of course, we had a good little trio with an Iron Breaker, Warrior Priest and Bright Wizard (tank, heals and DPS) so that was something (even in spite of the RHG still wearing his starter gear at level 8).

It was fun playing with them, I just don’t think I’m all that into WAR. It’s also hard to justify paying for three monthly fees when the wife might be looking for work soon though I guess if I had to stick with one, it might be healthier to stick with just WAR.

I’ll have to see.

Sneaky Bastid…

A co-worker popped over to talk about WAR yesterday afternoon. Of course he suggested I should try WAR again and mentioned he’s having all sorts of fun. There have been a lot of changes and nerfs. He switched to Order side and made an Iron Breaker. That character is already level 40  but his Realm Rank is trailing because they’ve made changes on how easy that is to raise.

It seems they’ve made it so you have to switch up the scenarios, you can’t just run the same one every time. They’ve also made flipping points in the open RVR areas (lakes) little value, but flipping them all gets you a nice big reward. (I seem to remember that being the case when I was playing)

Oddly enough, when I was doing my MMO thrash (flailing about trying to find a MMO to hold my interest) I didn’t really consider WAR. It just seemed to be a little… well… weird. I couldn’t find a class I was happy with and there were some really bad balance issues. A lot of false promises like balancing the Order vs. Destro pops? Hah, yeah, right… that still isn’t working.

I guess it was just a matter of the mouthpiece of WAR did his job well and hyped it up. I can remember thinking, “Man, this guy can make hemorrhoid cream sound fun and exciting.”

The first 10 levels were a lot of fun, but as you got into the higher levels, I just found the PVE a little too bland. PVP had some still crap like not being able to LOS turrets, LOS not impacting those magnet thingies, being able to blast people through walls and stacking AoEs on top of each other for quick wins.

Ah well. I’ll likely try it for ten days, but I doubt I’ll stick it out.

I’m so positive lately.

Lemmings Play WoW…

No really, it’s true. See?

I didn’t leave WAR because I thought WoW was better or because I thought I’d be less cool for playing it over WoW? I’m not playing WoW because the masses are. I’m playing WoW because it’s entertaining and fits in with the amount of time I want to spend playing a game (though I do play it a little much at times).

I left WAR for the following reasons:
- The begining content was fun but after awhile I got bored or frustrated
- PVP was fun until people figured out bugs and used them to their advantage
- Known, class breaking, issues weren’t resolved
- If you didn’t play at prime time you were left to do PVE stuff
- The PVE content was pretty lame
- The dungeon experience wasn’t even close to meeting my preferences
- The controls weren’t very responsive
- The game didn’t perform very well (coming from someone that had no performance issue with EQ2 or VG on release)

It didn’t add up to a fun time for me and it clearly didn’t add up to a fun time for several others.

Oh well. /cry

Something To It…

Darren is doing an “I told you so” indirectly, because it was more Brent telling us so… which he does link to. I do admit, he did post shortly after that he did feel that WAR wasn’t the next MMO messiah but I can’t find that so no linking to it.

Regardless, there was a comment in that post that is likely truer than more people realize or want to admit. Wanna play spot the comment?

Oops, did I do that?

And no, I’m not agreeing that Darren is a “fairy princess”…

My subscription to WAR runs out on the 14th… it had some really fun moments, CoW folks were great but after some of my posts I got thinking and RVR that few (enemy) people get involved in doesn’t really justify me spending time leveling up a character through content I’m not really enjoying. I’m probably better off playing a FPS.

I’m currently playing Fallout 3, I’ll likely pick up Mass Effect when I’m done with that and I do have a subscription going to WoW again (as a mangina Undead Mage named Msdemeanor) since I have some real life friends in the area that are playing on Firetree server. I also have a Hunter on there that I’m working up slowly and checking out some of the Hunter/pet changes.

I haven’t logged into WoW since Tuesday when I got Fallout 3 which might be saying something about Zubon’s comment.

Whew… I Almost…

… went ahead and tried out LOTRO. I know, I’m waaaay behind the times. I went looking for a trial, just to see what it’s like since Scott seems quite content with it. Fortunately, Turbine has disabled their trial period pending the release of Mines of Moria.

And I won’t buy this game without a trial to ensure it will work fine (unlike DDO).

I also almost picked up a year subscription to D&D Insider. It is reasonably priced if you buy for a year, it’s about the price of any PC Game. However, I’m not sure how that would work out for a number of reasons.

1. How good are the tools?
2. How much time do I have to sink into playing around with it?
3. My D&D group hasn’t bought into 4e so I won’t get added benefit from that.
4. Today was the first day all week where I was able to sit down and play WAR so will I even have time for it?

I’m also wondering if I should fire up WoW again and fiddle around with a Rogue, Mage, Shaman or Paladin. I’m not sure where that is coming from because I’ve no desire to go through TBC again or any of the earlier content yet again. I suspect Blizzard implanted subliminal messages in their sound effects and musical scores. Okay, I don’t really suspect that… but it did come out of the blue.

I’ve even considered giving Vanguard another look since I did enjoy most of it, I just found it leveled to fast to really explore and enjoy a lot of the dungeon content. Maybe I’ll mess around with the trial isle thing. I can just see myself end up playing the Cleric again, getting into raiding and getting burned out or bored of it all.

Which brings me to WAR… two of players in my D&D group commented that I seem to dislike WAR from all the complaining I do about it. That’s an interesting observation that I’ve been reflecting on.

Do I dislike WAR?

I dislike the lack of dungeon content – I’m talking EQ1 style dungeon content where there are always dungeons available. Zipping down into Mount Gunbad was neat and I do like that they’re open dungeons and allow you to go in with a large group/warband because they have PQs inside, but I miss the frequency of them in the game world. Caves/mines/tombs/etc. that take 20 minutes to explore solo, just don’t do it for me.

I dislike the lack of depth to the PVE content. It’s all very solo friendly so I find myself doing it alone even in spite of the fact that there are almost always good guild players to group with. The PVE content seems very directed and witht he built in location spoiler, it is sort of easy. Yeah, I could hop over to another faction (which I may have to do because I’m running out of content on the Avelorn side of things).

I dislike that the scenarios all seem to be the same ones popping. I’m also noticing that the bolstering of rank doesn’t really help that much. If you’re in the bottom half of the tier, you’re still going to get creamed while you’ll feel pretty godly at the upper end of the tier. To me, this just screams for a need to drop bolstering in the Scenarios and divide the tiers in half.

I do like the idea of PQs but I don’t see a lot of people on when I can be on* (more on that bit later) so it ends up being a grind to max out influence for the Chapter without ever actually completing the second step of it.

Open RVR is the best aspect of the game by far. It’s fun, the gameplay is variant, especially when it isn’t taking unguarded keeps. Right now it’s the main thing I look forward to, it’s just too bad there are all these levels in the way of getting to the point where the playing field is even and everyone can participate.

Is that a “the game starts at max level” thought? Ducks and hides from Ysharros Naw, I think its the same underlying hatred for the level mechanic and everything that it comes with.

Really, I enjoy the aspects of playing with others and trying to take keeps, defend keeps, grabbing objectives and having open field fights. It’s really too bad the whole level thing is there.

*Back to the point about time. Last week I spent more time at work than I did getting sleep. It was pretty rough and a big part of it is that the fun part of WAR – open RVR – seems to get happening late in the evening and run until midnight or later. That really hurts because I lose track of time easily and sometimes find myself going to bed around 2am only to get up at 5:30am.

Looking at the things that I like from WAR, it almost seems I’d be better off messing around with FPS games or something. The problem is, I don’t get that sort of feeling from the FPS games.

I’m sticking with WAR for awhile longer.

Thanksgiving and WAR

Happy Thanksgiving Canada!

Last night I got to do a bit of everything in WAR. I did some scenarios in T3, some dungeon crawling and some open RVR. It was a good night, though I still didn’t level.

My biggest complaint about the dungeons is that they didn’t put any in earlier. At least not in an obvious way. Maybe the Sewers are awesome or the crypts/vaults, but I didn’t get into any of those. I think if there were more dungeons with the scope of Mount Gunbad earlier in the game, I’d never leave them.

Gotta run, little ogres are attacking me…