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  • Member Since May 29th, 2008

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Authenticator failure revisited, Blizzard responds {WoW}

Aug 5th 2008 4:03PM All this means is that, for the case in question, someone in the household did it. Or a friend who had access to the account owner's fob.

I mean seriously - the serial number was asked for and given, account information was verified in order to do the password thing. All that says to me is that somebody the account owner knew did it. Roommate, sibling, friend with access to the residence, whatever. Someone with a reason to either play a trick on you or be pissed off at you, wait til you're out, and then clean out your account or otherwise mess with your toon(s).

My husband has an authenticator on his account. Although I do know his password, even if I didn't it would be so easy for me to get to Blizzard, answer all his secret questions correctly, get the password reset. I have access to his email via his computer and his fob's sitting on the desk across the room.

So yes if the person was "hacked', it was an "inside job".

That's all this was.

The Daily Grind: Is Wrath beta news drawing you back in? {Massively}

Jul 29th 2008 3:51PM I can't decide but most likely I won't play WoTLK. I did WoW's grind fest for almost four years, quit a few months ago and don't plan to go back. If you really want to play the end game, it just requires too much time and effort, and you hardly get one grind done til another piles on - whether it's grinding t5 raids, grinding t6 raids, grinding some faction or other, grinding money for something, or whatever. The sad thing is it's almost more fun to waste time grinding the factions than it is to chain yourself in Vent 20+ hours a week for the raids, thanks to the one-level-above-neanderthal mentality most people adopt when safely hiding behind their PCs.

I had actually thought I might like to at least level in LK because I have a soft spot for Norse and Celtic art, and some of the early screenshots Bliz put out made it seem like there would be quite a bit in that style. But I just watched a vid of Dalaran that somebody posted on wowinsider... and wow it's just butt ugly. Shattrath was ugly but since Dalaran was "old world" I had such high hopes for it. Having seen it, it looks like some weird combination of Blood Elf (Arabic, minaret towers) and Tatooine sand huts. ;x

But I also saw the Order's elven area in WAR and omg squee it's quite lovely! :D Tudor! I'm so into Tudor.

Pretty counts. Bliz used to make pretty, in their own cheesy 16-bit way. Stormwind and Darnassus are pretty. Even Ironforge is pretty, and also Undercity in its own way. But so far, they utterly fail at pretty expansion content, outside the city of Silvermoon, and parts of the ethereal areas (not the dumb umbrellas, but the shimmering wires are interesting). Most of the expansion content in both BC and WoTLK looks (and was, let's be honest) extremely rushed in terms of art quality.

I guess my point is - I'm not just tired of PLAYing WoW, I'm tired of LOOKing at WoW. And what I'm seeing out of the beta is not changing my mind.

Rob Pardo talks about how WoW gets developed {WoW}

Jul 28th 2008 8:19PM OMG. "He also talks a little bit about how Blizzard works as a team -- everyone working on the game has the power to veto something if they don't feel it works right..."

No company works this way, nothing would ever get done.

Then again, perhaps it explains why they can't turn out content in any kind of a timely manner. Thankfully having some competition this year finally seems to be getting them to work a little faster.

Ask Massively: You make the call {Massively}

Jul 12th 2008 10:59PM Yes WoW had a really rocky launch as compared to either LoTRO (nearly perfect) or AoC (not so perfect but nowhere near as bad as WoW).

Lots have forgotten but Blizzard completely dropped the ball on database design and infrastructure. They made a pretty and engaging leveling game, but they did not put nearly enough analysis into transactional loads, and I suspect much else of what was associated with the back-end server-to-database server infrastructure, including internal networking.

It's like nobody said "okay I have an avatar and I can kill X mobs in an hour, and pick up Y items, and sell Z items, and craft this many more - now let's multiply that by concurrency caps and see if the infrastructure can do this many transactions per hour without performance problems".

By the time the FilePlanet 50k "open beta" period rolled around it became really clear that their servers could not handle the transaction load of all those players moving all those items (read: bits and bytes in the databases) around. Their temporary solution was to hold off on shipping copies (remember the incremental box releases for the first 6-7 months). For those of us who'd preordered and were continuing on past beta, from the start of the open/FilePlanet beta until late spring 2005 was a difficult time to play. "Loot lag" and "loot stuck" were probably tied for the most heard phrases in chat (and in our household, LOL). Crashes with rollbacks and loss of time/exp/items were daily (sometimes hourly). They put in even lower concurrency caps to at least keep the servers from crashing too much under the transaction load, which meant logging on by 5pm EST if you wanted to play that evening without waiting 1-2 hours in a queue.

In the end, they got their infrastructure redesigned and things got better, but it really did take half a year before significant gains were made. And it was much longer than that before the evening queue problems were resolved. But at the time, the only alternatives were EQ or EQ2, both of which were so painfully "slow to level, hard to play, impossible to solo" and would not run on mediocre PCs. SWG had done their deed and driven most of their customers off by then. Blizzard had a relatively captive audience. Plus there were thousands who wanted to try it, but couldn't buy it, so you had this whole Wii-like cachet going on.

And yet I still hear people say what a great WoW launch Blizzard had (clearly, it's the whole blocking-the-pain-of-childbirth-memory phenomena in action). :)

Ask Massively: You make the call {Massively}

Jul 12th 2008 10:36PM I would agree on that re: LoTRO and WoW's shadow, primarily because really, truly WoW has become the America Online of MMOs. It's most often the first thing "new to online gaming" people try; it's the most "out there", and let's face it: the barrier to entry level play is *extremely* low.

I expect WoW may retain market share when you include Asia in the figures. Their overseas playerbase now far exceeds their "western" playerbase in N.A. and Western Europe, and will continue to grow even as the West has declined somewhat. As long as they can continue to find new markets for the existing WoW iteration they will continue to maintain the concurrency plateau they're on, or perhaps even grow a bit more.

What Blizzard did best was to borrow elements from all the MMOs that came before, and make them accessible to the masses: playable on a middle to low end PC, with easy controls and "instant rewards". Solving the performance issue, alone, got them a lot of people who simply could not or would not purchase the hardware to run EQ expansions. Add the design issues that caused the social and playability problems that existed in EQ (forced grouping, among others). Oddly forced grouping and strict adherence to traditional tank/healer/required CC is what's been killing the end game playerbase for them for awhile now.

In the West though, folks are really wishing for something new. If you go with the common enough estimate that WoW has ~5 mil subs in North America and Western Europe combined, a group nearly equal to 20% of that bought AoC. Assuredly some percentage of those purchasers never played WoW but I would imagine a large majority have done so. Likewise for WAR, which has had massive numbers of beta signups and has nearly sold out the CE preorders a full 3 months prior to release day. People are clearly on the prowl for something new.

WoW, in the West, will die a death of a thousand cuts, so to speak. I don't think there will ever be "one MMO" that will ever draw that many again. As the market grows more sophisticated and more people dump the training wheels and want a gaming experience that caters to their personal interests, the market fragments into everything from EVE to LOTRO. As more good offerings arrive that will continue to be the case.

What's going to be interesting is whether these smaller player bases can support really good ongoing development of quality games. I'm sure this will come down to corporate "personality". So far, Turbine seems to be doing quite well with reinvesting in LoTRO; EVE has clearly succeeded here too. Again, it begs the question of why a company like Blizzard with (one would assume) infinitely more financial resources can't put out content more frequently than they have done, and with fewer design flaws. Something's wrong with their development pipeline. Either not properly staffed, or pinched off by too many top chefs in the kitchen, or perhaps the issues of Asia slow things down (having to vet every single change to make sure it cannot offend someone, somewhere, in however many languages they've ported in now).

Oddly we've been testing Wizard 101 lately, which is actually amazingly well done and just about perfect for the age group it's targeting. It's flown in under the radar, but for a 'tween and young teen audience whose TV, film and book tastes run to magic and mayhem (from Pokemon to Harry Potter, this game is going to appeal to all these kids), I suspect it's going to do REALLY well, and grab an audience that will certainly graduate to more adult MMOs someday. We've been terribly impressed by the quality of it, so far.

Ask Massively: You make the call {Massively}

Jul 12th 2008 1:25PM I'm a pretty firm believer that projects can be full featured and relatively bug free, and also timely. Most MMOs have failed at this: they are either fast (and buggy) or slower (and still buggy, though perhaps a little less so).

I found Burning Crusade highly disappointing from this perspective: after having 2 years 3 months to work on it, Blizzard released a product that was not only somewhat buggy (to be expected, not everything will come to light on a PTR), but it had a lot of actual design flaws, some of which took up to 5 months post-release to correct. Probably the biggest of these, and the one that cost them the most customers spring 2007, was itemization stat allocation. This is something they got right in the 1.0 iteration of their game - stuff got progressively better as you went through dungeons and raids in scale of difficulty. How they screwed this up so very badly in BC is really beyond me.

What surprises me is how few times articles like those here on Massively ignore Turbine's LoTRO in making these kinds of comparisons. I have played LoTRO off and on since it's release and, having been an online gamer since MUDs and the days of NWN on AOL (ha, showing my age), I can honestly say that Turbine has really set the standard for timely releases of content, relatively bug-free, AND they're hitting the shelves with their first for-pay expansion 1.5 years post-release. It's a shockingly beautiful, qq-free game, IMHO. About the only place where Turbine has not done "as much" as others is the interface - allowing more player customization there would be nice. But the interface is quite useable as is, so it's not a game-breaker by any stretch.

At any rate. Bloggers here keep comparing the quantity and quality of content in WoW, AoC, and the upcoming Warhammer left and right, and really kind of ignoring one of the best games on the market in terms of success in both areas. It's interesting and a bit puzzling. :)

The annoyance of status quo inventory management in MMOs {Massively}

Jul 9th 2008 1:46PM Heh. Bag space is just like raid lockout timers and other forms of artificial cappage: it limits how quickly you can progress through content. For your average MMO, limiting bag space is an absolute requirement. It still amazes me the lengths we went to in WoW to gain an extra slot or two.

Blizzard does need to address some bag issues though. Inventory management for hybrid classes is ridiculous - a feral druid has to carry a tank set, a dps set, possibly a healing set, plus any pertinent resist gear to every raid. Plus consumables for multiple roles. Gets to the point where you don't have space to pick up any actual items that drop. Hunters lose an entire slot to the quiver, and Blizzard's solution to that is to offer quiver-less legendary bows that practically no one can get (LOL!).

AoC and LoTRO have the same problem while leveling - very frequent trips to town to sell stuff, or you can't afford to train. LoTRO, to its credit, just outright gives you all the bags at level one instead of forcing you to buy them and continually upgrade them like WoW does.

It will be really interesting to see how WAR handles loot and bag space.

The annoyance of status quo inventory management in MMOs {Massively}

Jul 9th 2008 1:46PM Heh. Bag space is just like raid lockout timers and other forms of artificial cappage: it limits how quickly you can progress through content. For your average MMO, limiting bag space is an absolute requirement. It still amazes me the lengths we went to in WoW to gain an extra slot or two.

Blizzard does need to address some bag issues though. Inventory management for hybrid classes is ridiculous - a feral druid has to carry a tank set, a dps set, possibly a healing set, plus any pertinent resist gear to every raid. Plus consumables for multiple roles. Gets to the point where you don't have space to pick up any actual items that drop. Hunters lose an entire slot to the quiver, and Blizzard's solution to that is to offer quiver-less legendary bows that practically no one can get (LOL!).

AoC and LoTRO have the same problem while leveling - very frequent trips to town to sell stuff, or you can't afford to train. LoTRO, to its credit, just outright gives you all the bags at level one instead of forcing you to buy them and continually upgrade them like WoW does.

It will be really interesting to see how WAR handles loot and bag space.

The annoyance of status quo inventory management in MMOs {Massively}

Jul 9th 2008 1:45PM Heh. Bag space is just like raid lockout timers and other forms of artificial cappage: it limits how quickly you can progress through content. For your average MMO, limiting bag space is an absolute requirement. It still amazes me the lengths we went to in WoW to gain an extra slot or two.

Blizzard does need to address some bag issues though. Inventory management for hybrid classes is ridiculous - a feral druid has to carry a tank set, a dps set, possibly a healing set, plus any pertinent resist gear to every raid. Plus consumables for multiple roles. Gets to the point where you don't have space to pick up any actual items that drop. Hunters lose an entire slot to the quiver, and Blizzard's solution to that is to offer quiver-less legendary bows that practically no one can get (LOL!).

AoC and LoTRO have the same problem while leveling - very frequent trips to town to sell stuff, or you can't afford to train. LoTRO, to its credit, just outright gives you all the bags at level one instead of forcing you to buy them and continually upgrade them like WoW does.

It will be really interesting to see how WAR handles loot and bag space.

Is Age of Conan a rousing success or a stinking failure? {Massively}

Jul 9th 2008 1:04PM A lot of people like AoC. A lot of others, myself included, tried it and didn't. I may try it again in a year when they "finish" and "fix" more things.

However it's now clear that they probably will settle in for the long haul with less than half a mil subscribers. And a good percentage of those who quit, have quit because of playability issues.

People just don't have patience for imperfect anymore. Whether that's good or bad, I don't know - but it's reality. The days when developers could release unfinished games in order to get a revenue stream going to fund the remaining development are over. Blizzard knocked that one over for good with Burning Crusade - unpolished was an understatement there.

The lesson is, I think, that companies must spend the extra time to complete more and fully test it. I hope EA Mythic is paying attention. As much as I want to play WAR, everything I'm hearing about piecemeal beta testing of random elements here and there, and about what's not finished, gives me serious concern about how they could possibly be finished - and bug fixed - by October.

If they have the same kinds of problems that AoC has had, they may sell a lot of boxes, but then people will simply cancel their subs and go back to WoW to wait for WoTLK. That is, of course, if Bliz doesn't shove WoTLK out the door to compete with WAR.

Which they may do, just as they shoved an unfinished BC out to compete with LoTRO. Burning Crusade wasn't truly "completed" until June after its January release, when all the itemization and other truly broken items were fixed.