World of Warcraft Isn’t a Social Game Anymore

That’s right; I’m going to say something bad about World of Warcraft. Shoot me! Many people think that WoW is the be-all end-all game of the last decade and that all new releases are clones. In a sense, that’s true because Blizzard paved the way for other games and it would be very hard to come up with entirely new concepts in terms of mechanics, user interface and general utilities. In short, Blizzard made MMO’s popular and accessible for the masses.

That’s all fine and dandy, but it seems to me that they’re taking it one step to far. I’m talking about the Looking For Group-system (LFG) and the Looking For Raid-system (LFR). LFG and LFR allow a player to queue up and specify their role in the group (Damage, tank or healer); they end up in the queue and wait until a group has formed for a normal instance, a heroic instance or a raid encounter. In my eyes, there are several flaws in these systems that are related to population and the amount of tanks and healers in relation to the amount of DPS. Players with a damage specialization (DPS) will always have to wait far longer than healers or tanks for their group to be formed. This is due to the fact that there are far less healers and tanks than there is DPS. I’ll pull a number out of my hat and say that there’s at least 10 times more DPS than healer or tanks.

That’s a first problem with those mechanics. The second one, and this is the main point of this post, is that this mechanic makes people act like assholes. That’s harsh and very sad, but also the truth I’m afraid. There have been numerous times when my group fell apart before the first boss of an instance was downed. There’s basically one main reason for this: It’s too easy to get another group. What I mean is that if this group doesn’t go fast enough or isn’t good enough for someone’s taste they’ll just leave the group and queue up again rather than try again. Or, even worse is when a group falls apart because they just don’t like the instance. It usually goes something like this: “Oh god, not this place again!! /leave group”. That’s just extremely unpleasant, especially for DPS who have to wait 10-30 minutes before they get a group.

Also, just as a side note: the LFG system is a Blizzard conspiracy! I swear the queue always pops up when I’m on the toilet!

Furthermore, people don’t know boss strategies anymore, and this is especially apparent in LFR. LFR is just too easy. People just stand in fire because they can’t be bothered to move, or don’t even know that they should move. Of course, this puts extra strain on healers (and they usually aren’t the best kind of players … birds of a feather you know) which often results in a wipe even in LFR! And then the shitstorm begins: “Fucking DPS! You all fucking suck, kick the slackers!”. Suffice to say, many more colorful words often follow. Then, after waiting another 10 minutes for a new tank and a couple of healers you finally get that boss down (let’s say it’s Spine of Deathwing, wipes often happen there it seems) and the looting can begin. There are people needing for all kinds of things they don’t need. Needing for off-spec, needing for downgrades (what?!), needing for Tier tokens they already have, etc. This results in another shit storm of “FUCKING NINJA OMG! KICK!).

 

And then finally, perhaps the biggest issue I have with this is that complete absence of the social aspect. Doing heroics used to be fun, you’d meet new people, have a chat, etc. and perhaps even add them to your friends list, but since the dawn of the LFG system the social contact with your group doesn’t go any further than “Hey” and “Thanks for the run, bye”. Well, I’m lying … there’s more chatting (read: name-calling) if you wipe on something). With almost every group member being from a different server there’s virtually no chance of meeting the same people twice. As a comparison, it would be the same as saying “hi” to a random stranger on the street and following them around for half an hour and then leave. This only promotes anonymity and in turn has the adverse effects I mentioned earlier in this post.

The LFG and LFR system can be a thing of beauty and could help stabilize the decline in subscriptions, but it needs some polishing. Perhaps some sort of penalty for leaving a group before completing the instance? I don’t know, I’m not a developer and I have no idea what would work. All I know is that I miss the social aspect of the game more than anything, and Blizzard would do well to attempt to bring it back in some form.

That’s my ranting done; let me know what your thoughts are in the comment section below!

PS: is it me, or is the player base exclusively casual these days? On my server at least there’s very little actual real or ‘hardcore’ PvP or PvE going on :S

70 Year Old Grandma Leading Her Own Raiding Guild

That gaming is for all ages is once again proven by this very interesting article over on WoWInsider. This article is a beautiful example of that. A 70 year old grandma wielding a legendary weapon and leading her own raiding guild. Turns out that not all grandma’s sit in front of a burning stove knitting socks for their husbands who’s reading the newspaper. Read the full article/interview below.

Today, we press forward from the warm, fuzzy territory covered by the Knitting Grandma with two window-rattling volleys in the battle against gamer stereotypes:

  1. You don’t have to be a granny to knit and play World of Warcraft. Even the author of Clique, the preeminent click-casting addon, gets his knit on.
  2. Whether they knit or not, even grannies can be GMs. Of raiding guilds. Who’ve raided since original Molten Core. And top the DPS meters. Wielding Dragonwrath, Tarecgosa’s Rest. (So yes, that does indeed qualify her to tell you kids to “GET OFF MY LAWN!”)

Meet Marthazon, the 70-year-old GM of Spartans on Dalaran (USA).

MarthazonMain character Marthazon
Guild Spartans
Realm Dalaran (US)

WoW Insider: Level 70 in real life — and of course, GM of a raiding guild in game … That’s not a usual mix! Take us back to how you got started in this crazy WoW endeavor we all love.

Marthazon: I started playing the game on the Alliance side as Marthazon in January of 2005. I had played for about a month earlier as Horde in order to play with my daughter. She had an undead warlock. My daughter, who is 33, knew that I enjoyed the genre of swords and sorcery in literature and movies. I had read Lord of the Rings to my three children as a nightly ritual when they were young. She had bought World of Warcraft when it came out and kept nudging me to give the game a try because she “knew” I’d love it.

And obviously, you did! Coming into the game via grown children who play is a pretty common method of entry for older players, although most folks your age seem to stay on the casual side of things. How did you make the jump into raiding?

I joined Spartans at level 15, and I think that our GM at the time was at level 40 and the highest level in the guild at the time. We did every dungeon in the game as a guild, but our first venture in Molten Core hooked me on raiding. I really loved learning the fights, learning to figure out the most efficient and safest way to down each boss. At the time, the guild was using signups to fill the 40-man raids, and many raid nights we struggled and watched the time tick away before either filling our raid or cancelling the raid.

I turned to PvP when raiding slowed down or stopped. The fact that I managed to reach the PvP rank of Marshal prior to the first expansion says a great deal about the difficulties of filling a 40-man raid.

Marthazon in action

Old school! And now you’re the GM …

During The Burning Crusade, our GM found that he had too much going on in his real life to continue playing, and he passed GM to me in December of 2007. Suddenly I was responsible for enabling every player in the guild to meet their own raiding goals. An in-depth discussion between all officers led to the same conclusion: Move the guild to a set team format and maintain a roster of raiders able to commit to three nights a week. Acknowledge that real life is the more important factor for all players, and do not penalize players when real life prevents participation in the game.

Topping the meters That sounds like a pretty typical raiding guild, then — nothing granny-style about that!

We raid three times a week: Tuesday, Thursday, and we end the raid week with the Monday raid. As I said, we raid with a set team – slightly more than 25 players to hopefully cover players that need to post out. We try to hold to a 25-man raiding format but when we can’t field 25 players, we are able to quickly form 10-man raids — two 10-man raids, usually. We are recruiting and hope our future holds a third 10-man — and give the 25-man raid a better chance at filling spots.

Our members all have my phone and text number, and they are good about keeping me informed about being able to play as I’ve scheduled them. I set the entire schedule up every month and adjust it as players call when they can’t play. Working the schedule every day is the first thing I do in the morning. In addition to the Dragon Soul raids, we also play two ad hoc Fireland raids on the weekends, helping several other guild casters get their own Dragonwrath staffs.

What is the guild currently working on?

25-man Ultraxion; Spine of Deathwing and The Maelstrom in 10-man. The holidays cut into our raiding quite a bit, along with demands for overtime at many workplaces. With the economy so slow, many players relish the extra pay.

Oops

And on top of all that, we spy a Dragonwrath in your inventory — congratulations! Tell us a little bit about the long road to achieving your legendary.

Dragonwrath was quite simply a gift from my guild. I only had to run around a pick up the various items while they killed or after they killed the bosses. The process of collecting the various items takes so long that it requires dedicated raiders willing to show up week after week to make those collections possible. The one solo part of the quest line — the Nexus dungeon — was amazingly fun to do, but nothing compared to the work the guild put in.

Now, your husband doesn’t raid, so when do you get to play with him — or do you?

We do dailies together, and we farm for those ever-needed mats that raids require. It is very rare that we miss a day of playing together. We play together mostly in the morning, logging off around noon. I might return in the afternoon for some randoms and those ever-needed valor points, but I also work at our family genealogy. Afternoons often have me playing, as their ads say, family detective at Ancestry.com.

When it comes to raiding, I like fielding dedicated, knowledgeable people that have that singular desire to figure out what the developers are throwing against us and how to most efficiently down the fight. My husband enjoys the storylines and leveling, but says he has no patience for raiding and the seemingly endless wipes.

Getting ready to raid

Sounds like a perfect blend. So has Marthazon always been your main? Do you play any significant alts?

Marthazon has always been my main. I do have alts — I leveled most races and classes to enjoy their storylines and zones. I have a priest that I can raid at need for the guild when we are short healers. She’s fun … but she’s not my mage. The others are only farming alts and taken down for a spin when I need some mats for something.

What’s the average age of your guildmates, without considering you and your husband?

Average age is around 28 to 33. We have a number of husband/wife players and many with young children and several with children almost ready for college.

Do you find much of a generation gap in social interactions with your guildmates?

Not really. Now and then, someone will say something (especially in trade channel) that I don’t quite understand … I just ask in guild and someone will (usually with much laughter) tell me.

Probably the biggest generation gap I experienced was back when I was around level 40. I should paint in a bit of background first. When I first joined this guild, I was thrilled that so many of the other guildies — the toons — were women. I remember thinking that that held great promise for women being involved in technology. The day came when the guild was running Zul Farrak and one of the players, a female night elf, typed something out in chat that made me say in chat, “That sounds like something a man would say.” The run came to a standstill as the other players took great pains to explain to me (with much leet laughter) that I was the only woman in the guild at that time and why they played female avatars.

Daily quests

Were you comfortable with computers before you started playing World of Warcraft, or has playing been an introduction to that world as well?

Computers have long been a part of my life. My father worked with early computers for the GSA as a data programmer after he retired from the Army in the ’50s, and I’ve always been fascinated by the technology. My last job before retiring was computer tracking a large fleet of commercial trucks and their deliveries. I helped design the in-house program to track the data we needed to maintain, and I acted as the office IT.

When my children were toddlers, we bought a VIC-20 and a handful of text games — you know, the kind where you get a clue like “The bear is sleeping in the clearing. What do you do?” The kids would offer suggestions, and I’d type each suggestion in until we got the right one and the game responded. Two of my children went into computer technology fields.

So you’ve been at this a good, long while! Is there anything in World of Warcraft you feel you’re slowing down at or getting less efficient or effective at as you get older? Would you say that your age is affecting your game?

World of Warcraft is sort of like the French Foreign Legion of games when it comes to age. As long as you can do your part, it’s rare for someone to ask “How old are you?” As long as I can maintain the same focus and the awareness that I want from other players, I feel that I can hold my own.

I’m not the oldest, by the way, in my guild. That honor goes to my husband, who is 72. He doesn’t like to raid, however. He is our AH king, keeping our raiders in repair gold. WoW is an excellent and inexpensive recreational outlet for us old codgers. A lot less expensive than golf.

Marthazon at work

Fair enough! That said, what’s the continued draw of World of Warcraft for you? What keeps you playing?

Living on a fixed income, World of Warcraft provides a lot of entertainment that is fun and affordable. At the same time the game doesn’t require using the car, fighting traffic, crowds, or weather, buying tickets or paying fees. I have to think about what I am doing in game. I’m not a couch potato just watching a cartoon on the TV. Blizzard’s work at keeping the game open-ended and providing new content keeps me coming back.

–End of WoWInsider article–

So what do you think? Personally, I’d like to think that I’d still be so active in the gaming community when I’m 70. It would be quite interesting to see the changes along the years. Furthermore, I reckon that her years of experience (both in real life, and in the virtual world) would give her an edge in several aspects of being a Guild Master, such as people skills and insight. Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below!

PS: Sorry for the absence (again), I’ve been quite busy and I’m working on a few new projects … albeit outside of this website. Stay tuned though!

/Niels

30 Day Game Challenge # 19 – My Favourite MMO

Hah! This one couldn’t be easier … Since I spent 5 years playing this game it’s bound to be my favourite MMO. I am, of course, talking about World of Warcraft. I spent a couple of years on a private server with a friend or two after which I moved on to the official version. I reckon I was the biggest noob on the realm for a couple of months, until I got into raiding. I joined a raidguild and switched my main character from a mage to a Holy Paladin. Turns out the class was exactly the right thing for me. I became quite adapt at healing and in Wrath Of The Lich King I changed factions and joined a higher-ranked raid guild where we managed to kill Heroic Lich King after about 100 wipes I think.

I had such good times playing this game, and not because of the game itself but because of the people I met there who still continue to be friends even if I don’t play the game anymore.

PS: I’m not a fan of the way Blizzard is taking it’s cash cow, Kung Fu Panda wtf?

Join us tomorrow for day 20!

Mists Of Pandaria Is The New World Of Warcraft Expansion

Hey there guys, exciting things are happening at Blizzcon but that’s fairly normal! What’s so exciting this year is that Blizzard announced the new expansion for World of Warcraft yesterday. Rumours have been surfacing about the new expansion for months now and turns out some of those were actually right. The new expansion is called Mists of Pandaria.

Anyone familiar with World of Warcraft knows of Pandaren, a mystical race with only a few obscure references in WoW lore. The expansion, Mists of Pandaria, is set in Pandaria a realm inspired by several Asian cultures.

Pandaria will feature:

  • 5 New leveling zones to explore
  • Single, unified continent
  • Influenced by Asian landscapes
  • AH, Bank, and Central Questing Hub
  • There’s 5 leveling zones but they are very large zones, and you won’t have your flying mount

Naturally, there will be a new playable race, in this case the Pandaren. They’re basically big ass panda’s that know Kung Fu. That’s very boldly stated, but that’s the jist of it. Only one new race you ask? Well, that’s the interesting part: All Pandaren start as neutral, and at level 10 you choose for Horde or Alliance.

Pandaren racials are listed below:

  • Bouncy: reduces fall damage by half.
  • Inner peace: double rested XP.
  • Gourmand: +15 to cooking.
  • Epicurean: double stats to food buffs

Pandaren will have Hunter, Mage, Monk, Priest, Rogue, Shaman and Warrior as playable classes. Apparently, they can’t be Death Knights which would make sense since there’s no Lich King around to actually make Death Knights.

The next big thing is the new playable class. Blizzard is going to implement a ‘Monk’ class, a very melee based class that starts at level 1 and as such is NOT a hero class like a Death Knight. Below are the features for the Monk class.

  • Brewmaster – Tank spec
  • Mistweaver – Healer, a healer who can stand up in melee and will let players experience a “new healing style”
  • Windwalker – Melee DPS
  • The class is very martial-arts based
  • Lots of monk-only animations, the healer and tanks will have different stances they can stand in, etc …
  • Monk Races – All of them except Goblin and Worgens

Some other features of the expansion are:

  • Level cap raised to 90
  • New class: Monk
  • New race: Pandarens
  • Pve Scenarios
  • Pet Battle System (Pokemonnn!)
  • New Talents
  • New continent
  • Challenge Mode Dungeons

Looks like there’s going to be quite a lot of changes to several systems and features as well, I’m not going to list all of the here but I’ll add the ones that I think are most important.

  • Spell books cleaned up, got rid of more junk, the goal is to clean up action bars a little more without removing the fun things.
  • Rotations will be improved
  • Spells will be automatically learned, you won’t have to go to your trainer anymore.
  • You will get a new spell at level 87, level 90 new talent point.
  • Talent trees should be fun, and you should have more choice than just a cookie cutter build.
  • There is no new central villain, the story will focus on the war between Horde and Alliance
  • Hunter minimum range is gone! (Shooting a gun from point blank range? Nice!)
  • Hunter melee weapon is gone!
  • Ranged slot for all other characters are gone.
  • Relics are gone.
  • Rogues and warriors can now throw their melee weapon
  • Wands become main hand weapons (no more statsticks)
  • 3 New epic raids
  • They will feature two enemy races, the Mogu and the Mantid.
  • Raid Finder, Normal, and Heroic difficulties will be available for all raids from day 1.
  • World raid bosses will return!
  • Increased focus on max level content, it will reward you with Valor Points
  • More quest choices, and a lot less linear
  • No flying until max level, it’s much easier to keep people on the ground and create interesting quests when you know people won’t just fly away and drop on the boss.
  • 9 new dungeons in the new expansion
  • 6 dungeons will be on Pandaria
  • Scholomance and Scarlet Monastery (Wings 1 and 2) will be back in Heroic Mode

So, what do you think? Excited or not? I’m not sure myself, Pandaren don’t seem very interesting to me from a lore perspective and I reckon we’ve almost exhausted most of the central villains in WoW so there won’t be a new one. The focus on the war between Horde and Alliance sounds interesting, but there won’t be a winning side in this conflict as it would have tremendous consequences. The only thing that really interests me is the new Monk class, as a healer myself I’m very interested in this new ‘melee healer’ style. Still, to me it seems like they’re wanting to stretch their game out for a bit longer. Guess we’ll have to wait and see until new information trickles down from the throne of Chris Metzen.

Watch the trailer for the expansion below and if you want more info you can visit the official website.

PS: The Pandaren starting zone is a giant turtle …

/Niels

It’s Easter!

Well, not that Easter is a big thing around here. Especially since I’m not a kid anymore and not particularly Christian … However, any excuse is good to post some Easter Eggs that can be found in video games. I’m sure you all saw some, even if you didn’t know. The list below is just a small part of all the Easter Eggs in video games. I hope this post will at least make you chuckle a little bit and enjoy your Easter holidays!

First of all, World of Warcraft has A LOT of Easter Eggs. Below you’ll find a few of these witty references.

  1. Diablo I & II : The weapon “Wirt’s Third Leg” is a reference to the character of Wirt the peg-legged boy from Diablo, and his wooden leg which you could actually pick up and wield as a weapon after Wirt’s death in Diablo II.
  2. Donkey Kong: In Un’ Goro Crater, the gorillas sometimes drop an item named “Empty Barrel”, a reference to Donkey Kong throwing barrels at Mario in the Nintendo arcade game and the continued importance of barrels in the Donkey Kong Country and Donkey Kong 64 series.
  3. The Legend of Zelda: In Un’Goro Crater there is a character named Linken (Link) who has a bit of amnesia. Doing quests for Linken will help him regain his memory. He will remember a raft, a throwback to the original The Legend of Zelda where one of Link’s collectible items is a raft. One of the other items you must bring Linken is a faded photograph, which shows Linken with a female princess that is similar to Princess Zelda. Other items you find in his old rafts are a map and a compass, objects that are found in every Zelda game dungeon. If you complete Linken’s quests he will reward you with Linken’s Boomerang and Linken’s Sword of Mastery, references to Link’s trusty boomerang and the Master Sword.
  4. Dracula: The Guild Master of the Undercity is named Christopher Drakul, clearly a reference to Christopher Lee, who played the vampire lord more than any other man in film.
  5. Fight Club: There is an area in the Undercity where two NPCs named Tyler and Edward are fighting. The undead around them also have names from the movie, such as Marla and Chloe. There is also a weapon in the game named Fight Club.
  6. Forrest Gump: A dwarven fisherman named Gubber Blump can be found on the beach near Auberdine; he is a reference to both Forrest and his friend Bubba. His dialogue is similar to both characters; he introduces himself “My name’s Gubber, Gubber Blump” and later recites a list of all the different ways to cook crab.
  7. Highlander: A master swordsman named Klannoc Macleod, the Islander can be found on Fray Island near Ratchet, a reference to Connor MacLeod.
  8. Indiana Jones: During the quests in Zul’Aman you’ll encounter an npc named Harrison Jones. A reference to Harisson Ford who plays Indiana Jones. He also says ‘See you later kid’
  9. Star Trek: In Booty Bay, there is a goblin named Scooty who operates the “Transporter 3000”. Completing the quest and using the transporter takes you to Gnomeregan, where a goblin named Sprock waits on the other side, with his faction labeled as “Away Team”. Also, in Gadgetzan there is a goblin named Jhordie Lapforge who stands next to a similar Transporter which serves as the destination for the Ultra-Safe Transporter available to Engineers of the Gnomish persuasion. Finally, in Orgrimmar, the NPC Engineer’s name is Nogg, a Deep Space Nine Reference. In Oggrimmar in the Valley of Honor there is a goblin named Sovik which is reminiscent of the Vulcan Saavik first introduced in The Wrath of Khan.
  10. O RLY?: After the saying became popular among players, one of newly added Goblin Auctioneers in Booty Bay was named “O’Reely”. There is also a white owl that flies around a hut near Steamwheedle Port in Tanaris named “O’Reilly”. Furthermore, there has been added an Undead auctioneer by the name of “Yarly” in the Undercity Auction House.

Naturally there are tons more, but let’s move on to some other games. below you’ll find a couple of other easter eggs with a YouTube video or image attached to make it more clear.

The Suicidal Troll (Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion)

Personally, I didn’t know about this one before I read it somewhere else. Apparently you’ll find him under a bridge southeast of Bravil, and you can grab “A Poorly Scrawled Note” from his body. Upon opening it in your inventory, you’ll read his final words:

Mee worst troll evurr
nobuddy pay brijj tole
me nott sceary enuf
mee gett drunc an kil sellf
troll droun

Nothing to see here (GTA: San Andreas)

Like Oblivion, GTA has always featured a massive open world that’s perfect for hiding Easter eggs in. If you’re one of those that likes exploring every nook and cranny of Rockstar’s cities, you may have flown to the top of the bridge that connects San Fierro to Las Venturas. After jetpacking to the top, the only Easter egg you’ll find is a self-defeating sign informing you that there are no Easter eggs.

The Lost Island (Just Cause 2)

It would seem that developer Avalanche Studios has a few employees that are a fan of Lost. Just Cause 2 features a very recognisable reference. There is a certain island in the game that will make your plane crash just like Oceanic flight 815. Now I didn’t quite get this reference the first time it happened to me, I thought it was some random bug. But when I went exploring I found the very famous ‘Lost hatch’. A great reference in a fun game, what more do you want?

John Romero (Doom II)

John Romero, the charismatic designer with the famous long hair, was the face of Doom in more ways than one. While Doom II was still in production, a late-night trip through the final level with “no clip” mode on revealed that someone in the Doom offices had made Romero’s role with the game a little more sinister. Although to defeat the end boss players shot at a large demon head affixed to the wall, the actual damage was being done to a graphic–unable to be seen during normal gameplay–of John Romero’s head on a stick behind it. To have the last laugh, John Romero and the sound designer recorded Romero’s voice for the demon, which said, “To win this game, you must kill me, John Romero”. However, the voice was distorted and reversed so it wouldn’t be obvious. To witness this egg in action, you must activate the no-clip cheat, as Romero did, and pay a visit to his face up close and personal. The pixelated picture winces as each bullet makes contact, until finally, after enough damage has been done, you complete the game.

The Cow Level (Diablo II)

If you’ve ever played Diablo II you know what I’m talking about, The Secret Cow Level.  This started as a joke when a rumor spread throughout the Internet about a cow that appears in the original Diablo game.   Supposedly, if you clicked on the cow a certain number of times a portal to a secret level would appear.  To shut down the rumors Blizzard created a cheat in another of their games, StarCraft, where the player could enter the text “there is no cow level” to instantly win the mission.  And in 1999, a screenshot was released showing cows fighting, which instantly revived the rumors.  When Diablo II released players discovered that the cow level was real.

Halo Dance Party (Halo: Reach)

Hidden in New Alexandria is a dance club featuring a DJing Brute and dancing grunts. Quite possibly the most random thing I ever saw … Hey, even the Covenant needs some leisure time I guess.

The Easter Bunny! (Saints Row 2)

In a game filled with randomness, this is the pinnacle of it all. There’s an Easter Bunny that you’ll find if you complete a series of events (including a visit to an island that worships Volition). The mother of all Easter Eggs, because you know … Easter Bunny, Easter Eggs … catching on yet?

There a tons more of Easter Eggs to be found in just about every game these days. Just think about the giant octopus in Assassin’s Creed II or Schrodinger’s cat in BioShock 2. If you enjoyed this and are now looking for more Easter Eggs you can always visit this website for a very extensive list of Easter Eggs found in video games. Happy Easter everyone.

/Niels

Gaming can help develop poor countries

Hey there guys. Today I came across some numbers on gold farming and they baffled me really and that’s when I started thinking that the practice of gold farming could really help poor(er) countries in their development.

'Gold farming workshop'
'Gold farming workshop'

While game operators expressly ban the practice of selling in-game currency for real-world cash, gold farming is lucrative because it takes advantage of economic inequality and the fact that much time is needed to earn in-game currency. Rich, developed country players, wishing to save many hours of playing time, may be willing to pay what amounts to substantial sums to the developing country gold farmers.

That pretty much sums it up really. Gold farming is the nail in the coffin for a lot of developers and players. For instance, take World of Warcraft. Blizzard is spending huge sums of money and time on keeping gold farmers and sellers out of their game. People playing World of Warcraft also get extremely annoyed when a gold farmer is camping all the good spawnpoints (and they often have hacks as well). And it doesn’t just stop with acquiring the gold, they need to sell it as well hence all the really annoying gold ads in Trade Chat (private messages, spamming, forming url’s with corpses). And have you ever wondered what happens to all your gear and gold when you get hacked? Yeah that’s right … it gets sold back to people for large sums of money.

But today, we’ll be looking at gold farming from a different point of view namely the developing countries. There are approximately 100 000 people in China and Vietnam that play online video games like World of Warcraft just to collect gold and rare items. They then sell these virtual items to western players, who don’t have the time or motivation to make the effort themselves, for (a lot of) real life money. A study of the World Bank estimates that these virtual goods are worth at least 3 billion dollars. According to the report, practices like these ensure that developing countries can grow faster because of these so-called gold farmers.

In China, companies have been founded where employees don’t do anything else but play games to collect virtual currency. Next to that, they also try to develop software that automatically collects gold and items. Even though game developers do everything in their power to stop them, the 8 largest chinese gold farming companies have an annual revenue of 10 million dollars.

As you can see, gold farming does have benefits for at least one group shareholders. Though I doubt that selling virtual currency as a third party company will ever become legal, it’s definately a booming business as more and more people engage in online gaming. Gold farming will remain a source of great frustration to players and developers alike, and I have no doubt that many many jokes will be made about it (like the clip below). Certainly something to keep an eye on!

Please also check the clips below, one is a comical song and the other is a documentary about gold farmers. Worth a look!

/Niels

Top 15 Video Game Cinematics

Hey there guys and welcome to another video post. This time I’m sharing my top 15 best video game cinematics ever! Mind you, the same game gets featured a couple of times, but their cinematics are so incredibly awesome I’m sure you’ll forgive me. Note that most of these will be cinematic openings rather than cutscenes. So let’s kick it off with number 15 shall we?

# 15 – World of Warcraft Opening Cinematic

 

 

Blizzard is still the undisputed champion of cinematics in my book. You’ll see more by Blizzard in this post, don’t worry. This one is the opening cinematic to World of Warcraft, released back in 2004. Note the extremely beatiful graphics and music in the cinematic. One can’t help but expect an awesome game after seeing this.

# 14 – Jak III Opening Cinematic

 
Chose this one for two simple reasons. One being the comical note provided by Daxter and Pecker. And two is the ‘story’ if I can call it that. Jak III starting with his exile to the Wastelands after saving everyone’s ass. Not something I was expecting at least!
# 13 – Gears of War 2 Opening Cinematic 
 
Can’t really say why I like this. Must be the unspeakable badassery of a Gears of War game. I really like the ‘Saving private ryan’-point of view, ie the massive clusterfuck that a war is. Like the narrating as well. An honorable 13th place for Gears of War 2.
 
# 12 – Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War Cinematic
 
 
What can I say? I really like massive battles in beautiful CGI. Kinda dig the cartoon-y look as well.
 
# 11 – Final Fantasy VIII Intro
 
Final Fantasy games are known for their beautiful cinematics, but personally I think this one stands out. Released in 1999 this cinematic looked pretty sweet for its time. Not to mention the music to make it perfect.
 
# 10 – God of War 3 Opening Cutscene
 
 
Ah, entering the top 10! This doesn’t really need any explanation, does it? Greek mythology, huge fights, Kratos pumped full of testosteron, beautiful CGI AND dramatic music. ‘Nuff said I think.
 
# 9 – Star Wars: The Old Republic: Jedi vs Sith
 
 
Bioware once again proves it knows how to make an RPG, and how to make awesome cinematics. The Old Republic has everything any Star Wars fan can wish for. Awesome Star Wars music, epic lightsaber battles and the list keeps going on.
 
# 8 – Killzone Opening Cinematic
 
 
Killzone, one of the best games ever in my eyes started with this amazing looking cinematic that still gives me shivers when I see it. The speech, the invasion … it’s all so amazingly good looking. A very honorable 8th place.
 
# 7 – Halo 2: Giving Back The Bomb Cutscene
 
 
Master Chief chucking the Covenant’s bomb back at them paired with awesome music and a small comical note from Cortana is enough to earn a spot in my top 10! ‘To give the covenant back their bomb’ indeed.
 
# 6 – Warcraft III: Hellscream’s end
 
 
The cinematic ending to another one of Blizzard’s top notch games. A story of bravery, honor and a royal ass-kicking. # 6 on the list, enjoy.
 
# 5 – Halo 3 Commercial
 
 
This isn’t so much of an in-game cinematic but certainly worth a spot in my top 5. Just because it got me so hyped about Halo 3. It doesn’t get much better than seeing the Chief jumping right into battle.
 
# 4 – Warcraft III: Arthas’ Betrayal
 
 
Chose this one because it’s so touching. We get the first glimpse of the future Lich King in this cinematic where he murders his own father and unleashes darkness upon the world.
 
# 3 – Dragon Age: Origins (Sacred Ashes)
 
 
Entering the top 3 we get a cinematic from Dragon Age: origins. I chose this one primarily for the eye candy that it offers. Absolutely breathtaking CGI in this one.
 
# 2 – DC Universe Online Opening Cinematic
 
 
This one is really awesome, not only because of the amazing graphics, but also because it shows a somewhat darker side of the DC Universe. Oh, and a really pissed off Superman always works.
 
# 1 – World of Warcraft: Wrath Of The Lich King Cinematic
 
 
Ah finally, number 1! And yes, it’s another WoW cinematic (haters gonna hate). Can’t argue that it’s not great though, aside from the graphics I really like the sound effects and the narrative voice. Gives me chills every time.
 
And that concludes my top 15 video game cinematics. Do you agree with my list? What would you have done differently? Let me know in the comment section below!
 
/Niels