I have just found a whole stack of draft posts I never published – this one made me laugh! Just look at the bloody UI!
Category Archives: LOTRO
According to my blog stats, someone is reading all my old LOTRO posts which is lovely to see. Even though I don’t play it anymore (and never will again unless it suddenly becomes a lot less grindy) I had a blast in Middle Earth and really enjoyed the posts I wrote about it, especially Keltorn’s tale which was going to follow my Warden through to the end until I lost heart in the game.
So whoever you are, I hope you are enjoying my scribblings. Leave me a comment or two and say Hi
In my last post I went over the main reasons I can never seriously play LOTRO, or any grindy MMO again and whilst it’s all very well for me to say what I hated about LOTRO maybe I should balance that out by telling you what makes me not only want to play a game but then come back to play again and again.
The answer, it turns out, is simple. Fun. Just pure, unadulterated fun. And if a game isn’t providing me with fun then I have to ask myself what the hell is the point in playing it, which seems to be a point of view Arenanet agrees with
But what, for me at least, makes a game fun? Well now that is a question that can’t be answered so simply but being the brave little soldier I am, I’ll try
Tell me a story…
First off I need a story. I’m a narrative driven lad and I can’t tell you how many games I’ve dismissed lately because their stories were either weak or sounded far too generic. LOTRO obviously had a huge advantage with me here because I’ve been in love with Middle Earth since reading LotR when I was about 13 but even when it came to GW2 I have to say I was very sceptical. Every time I heard about the game, every fan blog post or podcast that joked about its release date just reconfirmed what I thought to myself – it sounded like yet another cookie cutter fantasy game that would annoy me for poorly mimicking Tolkien. Yet something kept dragging me back, kept pulling my attention towards the game. Eventually it was Rubi Bayer’s enthusiasm in the Massively Speaking podcast that convinced me to actually look into the game seriously and almost straight away I loved what I read – here was a game who’s designers not only wanted to make it fun but wanted to pour in enough lore to sink several other lesser MMOs. I found myself suddenly falling in love with a whole new world.
Let me play, not think…
After a story I need easy gameplay. I don’t mean some kind of dumbed down system but rather an intuitive experience that is easy to learn and soon becomes second nature. The control system for Left 4 Dead 2 is a dream – it vanishes into the background and just lets me play. At the other end of the scale is the Legendary Item system in LOTRO which just leaves me scratching my head and feeling very, very frustrated. Somewhere in between is nice – the skills system in GW2 recently went from (for me at least) a big old mess of “choose anything y’all!” to a much-easier-to-understand-without-spending-hours-searching-wikis-and-forums tree system. I like that. It is powerful yet I can instantly understand it and not break my play-fun-headspace in the way that even thinking about LOTRO’s LIs does.
I vant to be alone, dharlinks…
Next I need to be alone. I want to be able to play the damn game alone. But I also want to be able to group dead easily. A contradiction I know, but one that I know I’m not alone in. I loved the group play in Left 4 Dead (ignoring the arseholes you could get stuck with), found things a little more restrictive and forced in LOTRO and breathed a sigh of relief when I played GW2. Grouping just works in GW2 so well! From formal guild membership to totally ad hoc quest groups, it is just a dream to join up and play with other people. My only note of worry about GW2 so far is about how bloody hard it can be to tackle some things on your own and make no mistake, I like to play on my own. I have kids, limited playtime, my own goals and a grasshopper mind and these things can make playing in a group a pain. I don’t always want to run with everyone else into a cave, I might want to explore the hills above instead and any game that wants to draw me in forever had better understand that. Give me a way to complete the whole damn thing on my own because I guarantee you that 99% of the time that’s *exactly* how I’ll be playing. I have lost count of how many times I simply couldn’t finish quests in LOTRO without asking kin mates for help and every damn time I felt cheated because these very nice people would come over to help with their level capped engines of destruction and reduce my experience of the quest to that of a spectator and that is not fun. Hell, why would I even buy a game I have no hope of being able to play?
Hell is other people…
Another not fun thing is other people, or rather the kind of knobends computer games seem to attract in abundance. One thing I always loved about LOTRO and have almost always hated in Left 4 Dead is the other players. In LOTRO I found a mature & intelligent community seemingly always willing to answer questions no matter how newbie they were. L4D2, on the other thumbless & rotting hand, seems to be infested with pricks. Still, it does mean when you find some good people you stick together for dear life, but that’s hardly a selling point is it. What I’m hoping GW2 manages to achieve is to take the freedom of L4D’s grouping and maintain the decency of LOTRO’s community and if it manages that then I think it will be one hell of a multilayer experience. *crosses fingers and prays to the gods of good friends*
You grind me right down, right down like a record baby…
Speaking of LOTRO and all things not fun, do I need to mention grind again? No, thought not. Still, whilst I may not mention grind I still have to explain what I want to see in its place. For kill deeds I don’t want to kill 300 bloody spiders, I want to tackle a quest chain that leads to a spider queen! For skills I don’t want to find glorified goblin toilet paper (ssorry, missing book pages) by killing 600 orcs, I want to break into a library and steal books! For reputation I don’t want to collect 400 shiny stones from 1,000 piles of recently slaughtered lizard guts, I want to save the chieftan’s daughter from a bloody scary witch’s tower! GIVE ME STORY, NOT GRIND! Make me feel like I’m a hero, not a street cleaner. Jesus H Presley people! If you ever, EVER ask me to waste my time again I’m gone. If, on the other hand, you offer fun, interesting quests and storylines I can feel involved in I will sit on your lap and stroke your luxuriant beard until the cows some home. Grind bad, play good – it is that bloody simple and GW2 gets it.
Do you know what the biggest reason me for never paying an MMO up until last May was? No, of course you don’t, you hardly know me after all but let’s pretend you all guessed correctly and at the same time. Yes, that’s right you clever lot! Monthly subscription fees! Now a tenner a month isn’t much and has always been within my budget (even after kids came along and
ruined my whole life blessed me with their sunshine) yet I could never, ever bring myself to consider paying every month for a game. I only took the punt on LOTRO after finding out it was free and even though I bought the 12 month subscription I never counted this as a recurring fee because it just feel like paying for the game. If Turbine hadn’t totally pissed me off with a stupid combination of grind and greed then I would have happily paid another £100 last month, but their loss is my gain and now I have been shown the light by Arenanet it will have to be a very special game indeed that sees me ever, EVER pay more than once to play it.
Greed is so not good…
Did I mention ‘greed’ in that last part? Why yes, I do believe I did. Look dear game companies I totally understand you have to make a profit but when that desire to make money spills over into the realms of pure, naked corporate greed then I’m off. I am *not* a walking wallet for you to dip your hands into at every opportunity and selling me a feature that I feel you should have included into the game is the surest way to piss me off royally (*cough* LOTRO *cough*). Now I have no idea how this is going to work in GW2 but my hope is they put enough items in the shops (both important & fluff) that I want to buy from it without pulling a cheap, shitty stunt like the LOTRO wallet scam. Don’t rip me off and you’ll find more of my disposable income is predisposed to you (see what I did there?).
TL/DR (What do you mean you didn’t read the rest, you rude swines!)
So, there you have it. Just make your one-off purchase intuitive games full of fun, story driven adventures that I can complete on my own or with other friendly people with occasional trips to the cash shop for fun items rather than outright system improvements and I’m all yours, oiled and ready in your tent. Oh, and don’t ever, EVER make me grind. You wouldn’t like me when I grind.
This time last year I was deeply in love with a type of game that was new to me – the MMORPG. Sure I’d played in Second Life for over four years by that point so I had experienced the MMO part, and I had grown up playing paper & pencil role playing games such as MERP & Traveller so I had some knowledge of the RPG part, but to find myself playing a computer game that combined both was a revelation!
LOTRO, for that was the game, quickly proved to be a wonderful time-sink as I had a new world to explore that was free of the irritations that had built up for me in Linden Lab’s creation (lag, crazy management decisions, fugly landscapes, dumb but powerful players) and which offered me a play experience tailored to reaching an impressive goal. Unfortunately, within a few short months I began to realise that the green grass on the other side of hill might just be concealing a lot of thorny brambles.
Now, not having grown up playing MMOs I came to LOTRO as complete & unspoilt virgin. Yes I understood about existing in a 3D virtual persistent world, but I knew nothing about MMO combat or questing or levelling & skill progression. Like a man possessed with the desire to acquire new, exciting knowledge I threw myself into learning everything I could about just how MMOs work and this proved to be such a mammoth task that in my study of the details I simply overlooked the obvious, hulking elephant sat squarely in the room.
MMOs steal your time.
I don’t mean you become addicted and want to play every waking moment. No, every game or hobby does that at some point and it’s a normal reaction when doing something you enjoy to want to do lots more of it. At one time I would have given in and played as much as possible but now I’m married with kids that simply isn’t an option and I have to ration my on-line time and live vicariously through other people’s blogs, videos and podcasts. But this isn’t what I’m getting at when I say MMOs steal your time.
No, what I mean is that in the main the MMO business model makes money either through charging players regular subscriptions or leading them to make repeated purchases from an online micro-transaction store. The games themselves have evolved to feed the business model and a toxic relationship has grown up between them and you, the player. The games either deliberately space out content so you stay in game longer needlessly wasting hours of your time just so you pay another subscription fee, or they cynically build in mechanisms whereby you have to pay hard cash to overcome some inconvenience in the game.
Now I only have LOTRO to fall back on when I want to give examples but from what I hear many other games pull similar stunts to both greater & lesser degrees. To help me explain, let me give you some examples from 10 month playing Turbine’s LOTRO.
When Ranhold hit the right level, I wanted to start the process of getting his three legendary skills from his class trainer. All classes have the same route, you hit 35 (I think) and you can buy three books from your trainer that are ancient texts on your class. Unfortunately, because of their great age, several pages from each are missing and you are tasked with finding them. Once you do you can unlock one of three skills (one per book and presumably learnt from reading the great wisdom contained in each mouldy tome). Now, putting aside many logic issues (such as why rare books are for sale from trainers all over Middle Earth to all the practitioners of your class, and just how come these pages have fallen into the hands of any old bi-pedal creature in certain areas and of a certain level) the thing that really ripped my knitting about this task was how obvious it became that this was a just a mechanic to slow me down. It took me weeks of playing every evening and slaughtering hundreds upon hundreds of bad guys to find these pages and this was simply to keep me in the game long enough to charge me more subscriptions fees. Each book *could* have been gathered in a series of instanced quests that would have felt more logical and been far more fun than mindlessly hanging about waiting for the same orcs you had just killed for the twentieth time to respawn in exactly the same spots so you could kill them all again for the twenty first time and hope against hope the Gods of Random Number Generation would smile on you thins time! But you see, the trouble with a quest line is it can be done in an evening and that isn’t good for poor old Turbine who want the poor sods playing their games to spew up more & more moolah. They can’t reach through the screen and pick your pocket so instead they manipulate their game so they can steal your time and charge you for it.
This wasn’t the only example, oh no. Reputation grinds always acted as a break on the story by stopping me in my tracks just so I could collect a bazillion twigs for no good or logical reason. Or what about kicking the crap out of several hundred (bad) dwarves in one mine just so I could get a goat from some (this time good) dwarves in another mine that would allow me to get around yet another mine full of dwarves (of which orientation I was past caring). And let’s not forget the three tasks assigned to you at around level 50? The ones that see you travelling all over the sodding place just to collect rare-ish drops from slugs and orcs and turtles and wargs and Uncle Bloody Tom Cobley for all I know? Why? For what reason?
To waste your time. To make you pay more.
And then there are the cash shop sinks. Every expansion Turbine seem to add a new grindy mechanic that includes an item you can get in game if you spend hundreds of hours killing hundreds of orcs just so you can then upgrade your Legendary Item in a system so designed to strip the fun out of feeling heroic you can only imagine it was designed by people who use Microsoft Excel to read War & Peace. Brian over at CMP said in one of his recent podcasts that he had resigned himself to the fact that every time Turbine put out a new expansion or update there is a very strong chance they will also add a new mechanic that will drive people to the store. This, to me at least, is simply not acceptable and not something I can accept.
But, I hear some of you say, I’m a Jonny Come Lately to these games so who am I to say that grinding is pointless or that adding cash item mechanics are bad form? True enough. I don’t speak for all MMO gamers, just me and I’ve spoken to lots of folks who love, or at least don’t mind, gathering reputation items and measure their success in gathering rancid pages from rotting orc corpses as quickly as possible. It’s just that it is not for me. I don’t like a company rationing my enjoyment of a game I’ve paid for. No, what I want is to buy a game and then play it how the hell I want to. I don’t want to have to spend hours and hours repeating menial, boring tasks. I may still choose to do that, but *I* want that choice and that is something I don’t think Turbine every truly offered me.
I also don’t like to feel as though I’m a wallet with legs to be opened and emptied when they feel like it. I want to feel like a valued customer and again I don’t think that Turbine have ever really demonstrated that I’m anything but a sucker to them.
Now please don’t feel I’m hitting just on Turbine here. Obviously I am but only because they are the only ones I have any experience with and I’m sure many game companies and their games are the same. I don’t play LOTRO any more and I’m damn sure I won’t play any game if I read even one review that mentions how grindy it is. Like refusing to continue reading bad book, life is too short to piss away playing games that just aren’t fun.
Today marks the end of my first annual subscription to LOTRO. As far as I can see it will also be my last.
I won’t go over the reasons for my dissatisfaction with the game again, suffice to say that although the premium wallet “scam” played its part, it’s fairer to say I just can’t face all the bloody pointless grind the game uses to keep the monthly subs rolling in. I can never collect another stupid missing page as long as I bloody live.
So today I’ll move from VIP to free/premium. I think I’ll have to cash some TPs in to keep all my character slots open but that’s fine. I spent last night consolidating inventories and upping everyone’s vault space to 120 with the gold I’d made in the auction house.
After that I tried to restart Ranhold’s trip through Moria but I found I just couldn’t be arsed. I was totally bored.
Sad times. Roll on Guild Wars 2 – let’s hope you can save me
Remember how I was a-bleating about my inability to play GW2 with just a mouse and keyboard? Well after a very lengthy & bloody useful comments storm on that post (thanks guys – you know who you are and you all really helped!) I decided to try the Logitech G13 gamepad. I also swapped back to my Logitech G500 mouse and have shoved the Razer Naga in a drawer.
Now let me say that although I’ve done this to play Guild Wars 2 I have yet to try it out with Guild Wars 2 as there hasn’t been another stress test or beta weekend yet (I’m hoping there will be one this coming weekend) so I still don’t know if works. Still, I did get to test it out with LOTRO and after mucho head-scratching, heaps of program switching and a naval carrier full of swearing I managed to get to a set up that pretty much worked *and* has the capacity to work for GW2.
At first I tried strafing with the G13 thumb stick whilst moving & looking with the mouse but although it was easy to do, I found it tied my left hand up and I couldn’t fire off the skills. I tried loads more variations, even pulling out the Naga again, but it wasn’t until I had a brainwave over a ham & mayo butty on Sunday morning that I had a break-through. The G500 has a mousewheel that can be tilted left and right for scrolling. Or, it occurred to me, strafing!
Now it took me a looooong time to actually get LOTRO to recognise these small, sideways movements – in the end I found that I had to kill the G500 SetPoint software if I wanted LOTRO to see the side-scrolling movements and edit the keymap file to disable the up/down mousewheel scrolling which was making strafing a game of crazy mouse swingball. But by then end I found that I had a system that worked!
My right hand controls the camera & where I look as well as forward & backwards movement – my thumb sits on the wheel and tilts it left and right for circle strafing. This means I can do all the movement with my right hand so my left hand can sit on the G13 and hit the skills, jump & dodge (which I just made another jump in LOTRO). I took this rig out for a spin in Moria and it worked pretty well, I have to say. It’s going to take a lot of practice, but at least I feel the end result is achievable.
Hopefully there will be a beta soon and I can regain my hope.
Oh, one piece of advice if you are interested in the G13 – get big hands!
So my first taste of Guild Wars 2 goodness is over and as expected I’ve been left wanting more. Not as feverishly as might have been expected but I blame that on the way LOTRO broke my heart and ground it in to the dirt in a grindfest of grindy heartbreak hell. Sigh.
Still, LOTRO aside, there were many Good Things about Guild Wars 2. There were a few Bad Things. There were even one Not Ugly Enough Thing. And so, Ladies and gentlebumps, I present to you in no particular order *drum roll please* my list of stuff I liked and stuffs I didn’t. Oh yes.
- The graphics were gorgeous, even on the lowest settings they managed to look lovely and let the action tick along nicely. When switched to 11 I actually gasped at the light and shadow detail on the characters.
- The sound design was beautiful, everything from the musical score to the ambient tweets of the birdies, everything sounded lovely. The script on the other hand… Oy vey!
- Dynamic Events are simply brilliant! OK, they may not be new but in this incarnation they work! Things happen in the world around you and if you go with even the smallest event it begins to blossom & branch out until you find yourself in a pitched battle and smiling like the Cheshire Cat!
- Combat is fun! Really, really fun! After it being so dull in LOTRO, so static and boring, having to retrain myself to dodge and move and find cover was wonderful. And when people just join in to help you fights really come alive. In fact the more people you get involved then not only does the difficulty ramp up, but things get unpredictable with mobs leaving areas and fights rolling all over the landscape like a bar brawl thrown of the tavern and let loose on an unsuspecting world. I never had one fight I could say was dull or repetitive and in this respect the gameplay is a hell of a lot more like Left 4 Dead 2 than LOTRO.
- The personal story was very engaging indeed. Now I’ve not played SWTOR and I’ve seen many folks saying that the SWTOR stories have the edge in terms of choices. Maybe they do, but that doesn’t take away the fact the story in GW2 really does feel as if it’s about you and the beta left me wanting more where as I can’t bring myself to carry on with the Epic Story in LOTRO because all the game wants me to do is grind through it in agony rather than just enjoy it.
- The UI was just beautiful to use. The first thing I did in LOTRO was move everything about and shrink things because the screen felt so bloody cluttered. Not once did I feel the need to move anything in GW2, hell! most of the time I forgot the UI was even there.
- The map, the way it moves, is gorgeous and the idea of way point travel is wonderful – it means no more 10 minute boring horse rides, thank fuck!
- Divinity’s Reach is the single most beautiful, impressive and amazing place I’ve every visited in a game. EVER. If LOTRO devs don’t take notes and make Minas Tirith at least as good as this then Turbine don’t deserve the IP.
- The way it scales you down so that lower level areas are still a challenge is brilliant – it means there will be no high level ‘gods’ any more – in LOTRO I found playing with high level people was just boring as they zerged everything and I struggled for some scraps at the end. That makes for dull gameplay and once again Arenanet have worked it out of their game.
- The downed state is sheer brilliance! I means death is no longer a bad thing but an epic struggle – genius!
- Underwater movement & combat is not only easy & natural, but damn good fun. Moving underwater is something most MMOs seem to have either left out or botched, but as a veteran of Second Life I found GW2′s implementation just so easy.
- Cross server play means I can finally play with my ‘Merkin friends!
- The overflow servers are just amazing – I never have to queue again!
- First impressions count. I’m going to overlook servers melting and lag booting me out a few times, this was a beta event after all. Rather for me the worst initial impression was one of absolute chaos. When I started in Shaemoor it was only because I’d watched all the videos from the Press betas that I knew what to do. The whole place felt like a riot was kicking off, and not in a good narrative driven way. Still, I’m willing to bet this was just due to the sheer number of people logging in for the first time at the same time. I reckon this will calm down immensely after launch. Mind you, if you were doing it alone I wonder if it would actually feel like a real threat? Hmmm, that will be interesting to find out.
- The next fly in my gaming ointment was the combat requirements. Now I know I said I liked the combat (and I do) but the addition of the dodge key meant I needed to re-evaluate my key bindings and this caused me great bother. In the end I had to ditch my mouse and go for all keys (I fear my hands will cramp to claws after a few hours play) and I found myself wishing two things: that Arenanet would let all actions be re-bindable to all keys, even the mouse buttons 1-3; and that they also give every possible action two possible bindings. PLEASE! Think of my hands guys!
- The voice acting, whist good, included too many modernisms that made me think I was watching an episode of *insert current American teen TV trend here* and it was very immersion breaking at times. If I hear one more “Yeah…” in a teen drawl I’ll kick something!
- Speaking of voice induced rage, the inclusion of Arnie-esque one liners into combat is a very, very, VERY bad idea. If I wanted to hear my adrenaline pumped killing machine of a Warrior snarl something to his enemy I can assure you it would not be “Eat my dust!” I won’t type what I think it should be as you may be reading this at work and most places don’t look kindly on the kind of profanities I use on a daily basis, but there seems to me a happy third option. Ditch the cheesy crap and add some combat specific stuff instead, something to notify you of, as well as help you understand & use, combination moves. “Firewall going down!” or “Fire through the static field!” would be better than “Eat my dust!” Christ.
- The camera was… erratic to say the least. For a start the game really needs to allow a first person POV when you scroll the camera right in – this would for a better combat experience inside small buildings because from what I experienced I would avoid ALL internal fights right now, they are a nightmare! Also a FP POV would make better screen shots possible
The Not Ugly Enough:
- Everyone is too beautiful. After the Black Death in the mid-1300s the population age shifted drastically and those in their 20s ended up outnumbering the rest of the population leading to a dramatic shift in the social-political make-up of Europe. As far as I can tell this hasn’t happened in Kryta, rather the devs just made everyone a frigging underwear model! For christ’s sake give us some old people, some war-savaged people, some overweight people! Give us some variety! Don’t make the most beautiful, alive city in a MMO and then populate it with boring NPCs!
A Fun Memory:
- I had lots of fun times in the beta, the dynamic events providing me with unfolding dramas and epic-feeling battles throughout and one in particular sticks in my mind. Somewhere south east of Shaemoor I came across a group of bandits, wandering into them oblivious and alone, and was killed immediately for my stupidity. By the time I had jumped to a way point and run back to avenge my murder more players had pitched in and there was a real scrap taking place. I joined in even though the bandits were pushing us further into the farm fields until we were in the middle of a ranging battle. Players were dropping and being revived everywhere and bandits were being slaughtered by the cart load until we suddenly we hit a tipping point. I don’t know what happened or what caused it but suddenly the bandits were the ones being pushed back! Soon we had them out of the fields and were fighting them into their own camp and it was at the point when I began to shout aloud “We’re pushing them back! We are actually pushing them back!” that I knew I was not fighting in LOTRO anymore. The joy of pure adrenaline-fuelled fun as we began to swing the battle in our favour and then drive the enemy all the way back is one that has stayed with me all weekend. This was dynamic events at their best working in harmony with a very flexible & fluid combat system and it was intoxicating!
My Overall Impressions:
In LOTRO I found a game mired in the past, built to stop you having fun in order that you paid your subscription every month, and after eight months it broke my spirit to the point I never thought I’d enjoy another MMO. But where LOTRO is all about rationing your fun and doling out endless grind, Guild Wars 2 is entirely about fun. No monthly fees means Arenanet doesn’t need to build in artificial brakes and instead can just give you fun, glorious repeatable fun.
If Arenanet manage to deliver on all their promises then I really can’t wait to play the finished Guild Wars. Although I very much doubt I’ll become quite as addicted as I did with LOTRO. This will be a good thing
Now, roll on the release date as I have sooooooo much more I want to do and explore!
I remember way back when I started playing LOTRO I found the combat system totally alien. I come from an almost pure FPS background stretching back to Doom and death-matching in Quake. I’ve been trained to keep moving, heal often and use cover. You chase your enemy down but you keep out of their reach. You hit them with everything you have but never let them hit you. It was fast, flexible, dirty & dynamic and I bloody loved it!
And then I came into LOTRO and it was nothing like that. Combat no longer relied on positioning (apart from being in or out of range to execute an attack skill, that is) and cover didn’t matter a jot. Hell, if I tried to dodge out of a bow or javelin attack the damn thing kicked the laws of physics out of the window and followed me like a bloody heat-seeking missile! I soon realised that combat in an MMO was less combat and more… statistics. Don’t get me wrong, it could be as exciting as a fight in Max Payne, but more occasionally than I ever found interesting. It seemed all I needed to do was learn which keys to press in which order and hope the enemy’s health bar went down before mine.
I guess the enjoyment I was feeling at learning a new system coupled with the love I had of Tolkien’s world and the pure joy I was experiencing from walking about in it all combined to blind me to the weaknesses of the central mechanic of the game I was becoming addicted to. In short, combat sucked.
I’m sure there is some skill to it. No, I *know* there is it’s just not the kind of blood-pumping skill that hooks me. I want Left 4 Dead immediacy and LOTRO (and from what I can tell, many other MMOs) offered me a spreadsheet and dice roll. As long as I didn’t pick a fight with some hug, tough bastard and I managed to remember all my skill rotations, well then all I had to do was hit my number keys in more or less the right order & at the right time and I would be OK. Some fights just became watching two health bars with no movement on the screen and only the tap tap tap of the 1, 2 & 3 keys to remind you that something is happening. If this description puts you in mind of my complaint about healing then you’d be right. Automatic pilot gaming is just not my thing. I find it uninteresting and plain dull.
And again I find Guild Wars 2 coming to my rescue. Possibly. You see it is still a skill clicky combat system with number magic crunching going on behind the scenes, but there is a major difference – you have to dodge. That’s right, dodge. When someone shoots a gun at you or fires an arrow or cracks off a lighting bolt it travels in a straight line meaning you can, if you are fast enough, get out of its way. When someone swings a ruddy great sword at you or charges at you like an enraged bull, you can get the hell out of the way. Wow! Suddenly, with the simple addition of this mechanic combat once more becomes a fight. No matter how good my enemy is at button mashing and how lucky their stat rolls are, a well timed roll or a sudden duck behind cover means I can escape being hit. True it’s not a full on FPS system, but after my failure to launch with CoD last year I’m not that fussed about hardcore combat – a mix between MMO & FPS sounds like it will be fun and after grinding myself into a coma in LOTRO, fun is exactly what I’m after
Roll on (hur hur) next weekend’s beta!
I like playing a healer yet at the same time I really don’t like playing a healer. Let me explain. I like playing support in a group, helping keep the warriors fighting and playing a vital role in the team’s victory. Yet at the same time healing the group means I’m not whacking the daylights out of the enemy and that is not what I signed up for.
Like a lot of LOTRO players I listen to the Casual Stroll to Mordor podcast and on that Goldenstar often talks about her experiences as a healer and I have to say I was always uneasy with what I heard – healing seemed to be a reactionary role where attention could be split between the game and doing something else such as watching TV. At first I was sure that I was missing something, simply not grasping what must be a more complicated job than I understood. I mean, surely a key mechanic of not only this game, but seemingly all MMOs, could be so limited and, well, dull. Could it?
And then I read a piece on CSTM by a healer named Vraeden and I knew there & that the life of a dedicated healer wasn’t for me.
All a healer ever sees of a fight is bars. Green bars. That’s it. All the beautiful architecture looks like green bars, the bosses and mobs are just green bars bobbing up and down, the rest of the team just green bloody bars. To me there seems no point in playing the game, not if you can’t actually see the game you are playing.
Until, that is, Guild Wars 2 came along with a new model and I found myself excited about healing & support in a dungeon bash. You see, in GW2 every class can heal themselves therefore there is almost no need for a healer. True some classes can provide heals to their group, but these are small and not suited to keeping everyone alive in a rumble. No, instead GW2 does away with the healer as a crutch (as well as the tank and the damage-heavy warrior or magic user) and puts the responsibility on you to keep yourself alive with self-heals and clever dodging. As a healer in LOTRO, the tank should be keeping the boss away from you so in turn you can keep the tank alive in a beautiful circle of dependency. But in GW2 there is no tank and no one can hold the aggro of a boss or mob in the way they would in a game like LOTRO which means that if you are trying to be a healer no one is keeping the enemy from knocking seven shades out of you.
In GW2 no one can take their eyes of the screen and switch to ‘auto-pilot’ No, in GW2 you have to be a vital and active part of the fight along with everyone else and this, for me at least, is bloody exciting! Yes I can heal folks, but not in a way that makes me a healer. Like me, they have to look after themselves as well as everyone else in the team. There is no longer a dependency on each other as much as a co-operation between equals and that sounds more more fun that watching green bars with one eye and my twitter feed with the other