Hey look, it is morning again… and once again time to push random thoughts into Live Writer. I wish to god I knew what the hell was up with my sleep patterns. Last night I started attempting to go to bed around 8:30, but I still tossed and turned and woke up half a dozen times. I feel slightly less zombified than I did yesterday… but it is still not that great. I am beginning to suspect this is all thanks to my friend allergies, and then fact that I have been stuffed up for weeks. Maybe tonight I will try taking some Benadryl before hitting the sack.
Yesterday I wrote a rather long ramble about how the subscription model is something I am only wiling to pay these days, if I am really committed to a given game. I provided for an example the fact that I would be more than willing to pay a monthly subscription fee for the Elder Scrolls Online for example, whereas I simply am not for Wildstar. At the time of writing the post at 6 am… I did not realize that at 4 am that same morning it was announced that ESO would in fact be a subscription based game, and be charging something along the lines of the standard $15 a month “wow rate”.
The thing that I am comforted by is the fact that they seem to understand that for a subscription fee you have to give a kind of “premium” access. In the age of free games being really good, and easily accessible… you cannot simply allow players access to your game for the monthly fee. You have to sell your players on a service… that you will provide regular updates to them for free as part of that monthly commitment. The original interview that announced the information leaked a handful of details to this fact.
- 30-Day Free Time when you purchase the game, and then a monthly fee to play.
- $14.00 / €12.99 / £8.99 per month.
- Discounts for setting up multiple months at a time.
- Game card support.
- Promise: new content every 4-6 weeks.
The last part is going to be crucial. So many game developers have promised regular content updates. Some of them deliver for awhile, and then taper them off over time. Not to pick on them… but The Secret World was supposed to have monthly episodic releases… yet a little over a year into the game we have had 7. Granted there are multiple mitigating circumstances, namely the loss of most of their staff… but still very few companies have ever actually delivered on the promise of regular content updates. To the best of my knowledge the only two that have really excelled at it are Trion with Rift and Arena.net with Guild Wars 2.
Elder Scrolls promises to provide us a massive game world to explore, with two decades worth of land mass… literally every area we have ever explored in an elder scrolls game. But we all know that there will be a string of players that has burned through every inch of that content in a single week of playing. The success of this game will be to provide a constant stream of updates, and at a frequent enough pace to keep the players always engaged in the game and not gobbling up content in a purely episodic manner. That is the problem I currently have with The Secret World, the content is infrequent enough that I stop playing while waiting on the next “issue” to release… only to come back and gobble it up and then leave once more.
I feel like the trick that Elder Scrolls has up its sleeve that we are really not even fully capable of wrapping our heads around.. is that fact that it will be a fully fleshed out MMO experience launching on a console. Currently DC Universe Online is the best “MMO” experience that console gamers have, and at the end of this month Final Fantasy XIV Realm Reborn will be joining it. However both of those are limited to PlayStation 3 players only. ESO will be launching on both the PS4 and XBone and will be adding a completely different dynamic to the sink or swim equation.
Elder Scrolls in general is already massively popular among console gamers… so it will be interesting to see just how many of them are willing to pony up a monthly subscription fee to continue that experience. To me it feels like the console market is relatively untapped territory… and it could be the thing that ultimately pushes ESO over the top. There was a lot of gnashing of teeth among the PC gamers that we would be getting a watered down experience since ESO would be launching on the consoles as well… but I look at it in a completely different light. If we want regular content delivery… we ultimately want Zenimax to make as much from this game as they reasonably can to keep funding constant development time.
It will be interest to see how this all plays out in the end. I have been shocked at just how civil the discussion has been on the Bethesda forums. Sure there are a handful of doomsayers explaining how that ultimately this will lead to the end of Elder Scrolls as we know it… but the majority seem to be taking the announcement of a subscription model well. Normally that forum is a wretched hive of scum and villainy… that is known for its completely outrageous demands. My hope is this is a sign of how the Elder Scrolls community as a whole will take the announcement. Ultimately this is the community that Zenimax has to lock down as far as a subscriber base, not necessarily the roaming community of nomadic gamers.
Fear the Reaper
Another surprise from Gamescom yesterday was the announcement of the new Diablo 3 expansion… Reaper of Souls. What is so surprising about this to me… is the fact that Blizzcon is only a few months away. This is the type of announcement I expect Blizzard to hold in reserve for their own convention. This does however provide them a little bit of momentum and building anticipation as they move towards November. I will admit… this cinematic had me dusting off my Diablo 3 account and playing some last night.
Like many of my friends… I ultimately lost interest in the game once I finished the main storyline. We beat the game and then retired our characters completely. For me at least it has always been a problem with the click to move control scheme. However thanks to regularly getting coaxed into playing League of Legends… it feels a little less foreign than it did… and as a result I rather enjoyed playing my little monk last night. Overall I was a much bigger fan of Torchlight 2 than Diablo 3… but returning to it now it feels better than I had remembered.
Ultimately my one major problem with the game still remains. I hate the fact that I have to play on their servers, and as a result have to deal with server lag while playing essentially a single player experience. Most of last night things were going peachy… however there was one moment when I died due to a massive lag spike and went from full health to dead almost instantly. This is at the end of the day the most damning strike against the game. There should still be a “Lan” mode… even if you have to dial home every so often to save character data… the bulk of the interactions should be happening independent of the server.
I still feel like a complete sucker, that a pretty trailer got me to break out a game I had not played in over a year. I have always been a fan of the blizzard cinematics, and this is no different. They always manage to tell a compelling tale for whatever they are choosing to show. Overall I really don’t much care for the design of Malthael… but he does seem sufficiently creepy to carry the role of bad guy for another Diablo 3 chapter. WoW Insider has a rundown of the features… that include:
- A new Crusader class, wears heavy armor as a tank, buffs/debuffs friends and enemies, not unlike Diablo II’s Paladin
- Reaper of Souls will officially by Act V of Diablo III
- Level cap raised to 70
- Paragon level cap removed
- All classes will get new spells as they progress to level 70
- Something called a "multilevel Legendary item"
- Substantial updates to the loot experience, "Loot 2.0" as named by Blizzard — you’re more likely to pick up items tailored to your current class
- Overall loot reduced, not picking up as many items not needed by your current class
- New Crafter: Mystic — re-roll stats on items, gives chance to create better gear
- Two new endgame modes/activities: loot runs and Nephalem Trials
My hope is that the overall experience is far less forgettable than Diablo 3 was for me… and this will add features to the game that make me want to play it more often than you know… once a year.
Well I need to wrap things up and head into work. Yesterday we got the new washing machine installed and I was able to do the loads of laundry that had gotten wet and soured due to the flood. Things feel like they are mostly back to normal. At some point we need to rent a carpet cleaner and try and get rid of the massive water stain in our bedroom, but that can be done later. The rest of my week will be focused on getting read for the wedding I have to photograph on Saturday. I hate weddings… so here is hoping that sitting behind the lens of a camera will make it less heinous. I hope you all have a great day, and I hope your weekend is going to be far less busy than mine.