Thursday, January 11, 2007

Pickups and hickups

Did more of EQ2 last night...and yes, I got my alter for Solusek Ro. The fire imp is a nice compliment to my Wizzy. The quest was fun and had a good story to it. Still need to figure out how to get favor with him though.

Couple things I want to talk about. First are pickup groups. Ahhh...the good 'ol PUG...it can be a pleasure or pain, like Russian Roulette except without the bullets. I've gone on two pick up groups in EQ2 in the last week, and each one has been lots of fun. Last night we hit some Giants (always fun), and the pickup group before that we hit RoV. Everyone knew their rolls, everyone was polite and funny. I've experienced many pickup groups in EQ2 and around 90% of them fell into this category. I walked out of most groups with good exp, good loot and a good feeling of my fellow man. I also found some good PUGs in the current Vanguard beta. So...my question: Why do PUGs work in games like EQ, EQ2 or Vanguard, but not in games like CoH or...God help me...Wow?

I remember making a point not to get in PUGs in CoH because I usually had a good group turn up around 20% of the time. I usually left frustrated and generally unsatisfied with the lack of progress during grouping. In WoW, I don't do PUGs...ever, ever, ever. The experience is about the same as CoH was, but the good group percentage hovered around 10%. The quality of the PUG always seems to be proportional to the type of game you are playing. In general, the mixture of high fantasy and complexity of the game seem to bring together a stronger community. Open questions to me remain why WoW's community, and to some extent CoH's, seem to remain the worse. Why are PUGs in these games such a bad experience? Why do these games attract selfish people? And no, I don't think its just a numbers issue.

Tobold put up an article today regarding the possible fact that maybe might be a little too negative regarding the Beta Preview coverage for Vanguard. This did get me thinking, and a kinda "oh shit, was I too negative??" feeling came over me. I am kinda new to the whole blog-o-sphere thing...and the last thing I want to do is misinform people who do me the honor of reading my stuff. But, once I thought about it more, I think my preview was not really that negative. The previews that I read fell into two camps, a) its not ready, dear God, don't ship this b) its a great game with some flaws. I think I was an honest (a). I really do think its being rushed. Add to the this little statement I found this in the Vanguard forums from Brad McQuiad himself:


We all agree performance is #1 -- we expect to see about a 10% improvement by launch for low-mid level machines. There's only so much we can do in the time we have.

We don't want to rush things but like I said we have a solid launch date. People are crunching and working long hours but the financial reality is we need to lauch commercially, and soon.

I know that's not the answer you want to hear, nor I, but it is what it is and I've always been straight up with you guys. We will have a lot of work to do post-launch and the first couple of months post-launch will be just as busy as beta 5 with lots of patches, bug fixes, new feathres, etc. In that sense, things won't change.

I promise you we are doing the best we can with the time we have, even though we all, the players and Sigil wish we had more time, but like I said, there are financial realities. We are still I belive the 2nd most expensive MMOG to-date after WoW and that is something, despite the desire to have more time, I have to be grateful to both MSFT and SOE for.

Its very telling and kinda sad at the same time.

We also now have the launch date now. It's not going to be a fun first year for Vanguard, however, I know that it will get better with patches and expansions. I'm sure I will play this game in the future, but I refuse to go through another rough launch of an unfinished MMO again.

1 comment:

Van Hemlcck said...

I'd have to agree entirely with your PUG observations, (save CoH, which I've never played).

I'm too much of a cynic to believe that in EQ2, 'people are just nicer', and so continue to try and work out what other reasons might be responsible. Let me know if you figure it out, because I'm dying to know too!