Wednesday, December 26, 2012

How might Google monetize Ingress?

The first question I had when I heard about the Ingress beta was: why is Google doing this?

Face it: there's a real dollar cost to anything Google does, so it has to do one of the following:

  1. Generate more revenue than it costs
  2. Enable other Google products and services to make more revenue than it costs
  3. Improve Google's positioning relative to its competitors, in order to generally benefit their other products more than it costs
  4. Meet one of Google's non-monetary goals in a way that they feel is "worth" the cost and is offset by other income

Monday, December 24, 2012

Ingress: Google's augmented reality MMO

Ingress logo
+Ingress is Google's new augmented reality game that's currently in beta. It brings together a few things: first off, it's Android-only at the moment and has a strong preference for players and developers communicating via Google+. This is an obvious play for increased adoption of both platforms.

That aside, however, Ingress is the first MMO that I've played where the first step is, "go outside," and as you play the game you get a definite sense that Google isn't kidding about that. The game won't allow you to set your phone in location debugging mode (I suppose if I loaded a custom Android image, I could defeat that, but realistically it would be self-defeating) and they choose locations that are artistic or historical for elements of the game.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Rift: Ways to level, 1-60

Leveling in an MMO is always a challenge. Often,  it's more of a challenge just to stay awake than it is to actually succeed, but more often than not I find myself poking around to see if there's any cool ways to level. In EverQuest, grinding was all there was. Quests weren't really a way to level and instanced dungeons didn't really exist (they were added late in that game's evolution).

In WoW, your options were: dungeons or quests. If you had some friends with lots of spare time to help you, there was also a grinding method that worked well, but it required a tolerance for boredom that was nearly superhuman. Later on, PvP also became a lesser, but viable option.

In classic Rift, the options exploded. You had rifts, quests, PvP, dungeons, zone events and the usual grinding strategies. Then Storm Legion landed.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Rift raiding video collection

As you may know if you've been reading this blog, I'm in the Rift guild, Ascended of Corthana, on the Faeblight server. For a while, now, I've  been doing a series of videos for them. Some of them are funny. Some are semi-serious. I've collected four of them into the above playlist for your viewing pleasure. I'll add more to the playlist as I create them, so feel free to subscribe for updates.

The music is all free, mostly from Jamendo and a few indie netlabels. If you're interested, you can check out my free music blog for more.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Has Blizzard given up on WoW?

Perhaps I'm spoiled by a shockingly productive development and design team on Rift, but I was stunned today when I read the patch notes for the upcoming 5.0 patch that's going to land for WoW. This is the first patch since 4.3 which introduced a bunch of new features including a new raid, 3 new 5-man dungeons and the Raid Finder feature. That was a good, solid content patch. Then, eight months later, you would think that they'd have something new to throw to the players while they wait for the September patch, no? Yep... a world event involving Theramore.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Rift Mage: Having fun with uitily

In Rift, I play in a guild called Ascended of Corthana on the Faeblight shard. We're a casual raiding guild that had some pretty severe numbers problems right around the time that Infernal Dawn came out. We've fixed that, and after we merged in another, similar guild we're now back on track and raiding ID while still clearing the last few bosses of HK for farm loot.

But our raiding Mage count is still very low, and as Mage class lead, I've had to bring the heavy utility to raids so that we don't end up with none. Obviously, I have to have a support (Archon) spec so that I can buff the raid if need be, but fights like every ID boss thus far in our progression along with HK bosses that I still farm from time to time like Prime and Prince require pretty specialized Mages for specific utility roles.

I've long had multiple specs to handle all of these, but now that utility is starting to become the primary thing that I bring to raids, I've been trying to consolidate. To that end, I now have two basic utility builds:

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Rift: And now an expansion

Storm Legion logo
(c) Trion Worlds
Just a quick note on Rift: it seems like yesterday that I posted an article talking about how Rift was blowing the doors off content expectations, producing more new content than anyone else had in just one short year. Well, they continue to set the bar high for patches, but have raised it for the upcoming expansion. The expansion, which is now known to be called Storm Legion, is set to come out this fall. This is a smart move. Trion is counting on some people being a bit disappointed by the other offerings like Mists of Pandaria and Guild Wars 2, and they want to be the one to scoop the refugees as they did with Star Wars.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Rift: More content? Seriously?!

MMO Report visits Trion, makers of Rift
Rift is blowing my mind. I just went back over what we've gotten for new content since June. It's... well, it's a bit daunting, really. And now they're coming out with a new 20-man raid with 2 of the major lore characters (the dragons Maelforge and Laethys) for guilds to wipe on... er, do battle with!

So, just to recap, here's what we've seen since June of 2011:

  • Twisted artifacts (ground spawn goodies visible with a specially purchased ability)
  • The Hammerknell 20-man raid with 11 bosses introduces tier-2 raiding
  • PvP rifts
  • Instant adventures: a queue for ongoing world event quests
  • Drowned Halls 10-man raid
  • Variant warfronts introduced
  • Ember Isle zone introduced with ongoing invasions to fight and its own periodic zone events with improved rewards

Friday, March 23, 2012

What the hell is wrong with MMO armor artists?!

Two of the most popular MMOs in the world, Rift and World of Warcraft. I've played them both. I like both games, though I play Rift exclusively now. Still, they have one thing in common: the raid gear seems to have been designed by blind fabric hoarders. Really, have you seen this stuff? The just-announced "challenge mode" gear from the upcoming Mists of Pandaria expansion for World of Warcraft, for example, and then there's the highest-end raiding gear sets from Rift (in Hammerknell). This stuff is a patchwork of multiple color schemes, patterns, fabrics, and materials. Why?

Let's go back and look at an old game. Here's EverQuest. Now, I'll admit that the graphics are very dated, and extremely low-res by comparison, but look at the use of extremely smooth and simple looking patterns. The gear doesn't look like it was assembled from whatever was lying around, but rather like a single, contiguous piece.

Rift, WoW, and all of the other MMOs need to stop trying to cram a much texture as they can into this gear and just make it look good.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Rift Mage: Archon

Archon is one of Rift’s mage souls. It's a versatile soul that brings great benefit to any mage that incorporates it into their build, but it's also a raiding powerhouse when used as the primary soul. In fact, the 51-point Archon is so powerful that in addition to Bard, it's one of the only two souls that are pretty much required in any 20-man raid.

This article is all about the uses of Archon from folding in a zero-point Archon tree to taking advantage of Archon talents in other builds to full 51-point Archon support.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Rift Raiding: Just the Buffs

Bluedot has a great buff/debuff list up on his site, but it's lacking some crucial information that I constantly find myself needing in order to resolve who should cast what in raids. This is his list of buffs with all of that extra detail. I'll be doing a debuff equivalent article soon.

It should be noted that I've been playing Mage for the most part, with some Rogue. I'm almost certain to have gotten some details wrong with respect to Warrior and Cleric, so please double-check my work and send me some feedback if you find a problem.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Rift Mage: 1.7 Update

Update: Props to T Karlsson who pointed out that I'd had a run-away search and replace turn all my Flame Bolts into Fire Bolts... fixed.

Since I first published my How To Do It All Wrong and Win article about pyrolock mage dps, I've done a fair amount of raiding, dungeons, solo and PvP. I have some new info to share with you, and some updates to that article.

First off, the build has changed slightly, as have the macros. I no longer blend in Archon except as a zero-point tree (my fellow guildie, Calvnan, suggested this, and while I still think there's value in the infinite mana of Archon, the flexibility of a zero-point soul combined with the dps increase of this build makes it a great raiding build). This leaves me mana-starved in many situations, so Sacrifice Life: Mana becomes an important part of my rotation, and I have to cast it about every minute in order to maintain a boss fight. This sacrifices one 1-second global cooldown (thanks to the global cooldown reduction from Pyromancer) while giving me a substantial DPS boost from the Warlock tree (remember that both Warlock and Pyro give extra dps based on how many points you spend, so taking additional dps points in those trees gives extra bang-for-the-buck).

Monday, January 23, 2012

Rift: Max-level and raiding compared to WoW

A while back, I posted a comparison between Rift and World of Warcraft. At the time, I'd just started playing Rift after a brief period away from WoW, and wanted to write down what I thought about the two. It's not really meant to be a "rah, rah, go team!" sort of piece, but an honest comparison of my experiences. This is my followup in very much the same vein, but based on my experiences since reaching max-level in two of the classes. I've been raiding extensively, so that will be a big focus.

First, I should point out that my raiding experience in WoW was very limited post-Burning Crusade. The reasons were varied, but primarily I was having fun with friends doing the leveling thing on a new server and then raiding changed and became more machine-like in Wrath, so I never got into it. So, where I talk about WoW raiding, understand that this article talks about WoW in terms of what I saw long ago and what I've read about since.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Rift Mage: How to do it all wrong and win

To skip ahead a bit in my Mage tutorial, let's talk about Parcholock Glass Cannon. I don't want this series to be about me telling you how to play, so consider this an object lesson, rather than "the answer". Really, what this post is about is the idea that a viable build is more about your ability to play and enjoy it than it is about theorycrafting numbers.

This is my primary single-target, dps raiding build. I call this article, "how to do it all wrong and win" because the theorycrafting says: don't do this. The thing is, it works very well and does the most important thing that you can do for any raider: increases situational awareness. I've given up a lot of rotation complexity for simplicity in order to know what's going on around me.

If you're not familiar with the standard pyrolock build, see Bluedot's coverage of the topic. I break nearly everything he suggests, below, and I'll concede that if I had the ability to master my priority casting the way he does and still pay attention, I'd be a better raider. The fact is, though, that you need to focus on staying alive and not wiping the raid first and only then think about doing more damage.