I’m really missing the “cosmetic apparel” feature of Lord of the Rings Online. In that game, you could control your appearance independently of your actual equipped gear. So, I could have Lulzy maintain a consistent look, even though she was constantly changing gear in the low-level areas of the game. It made it easy to keep her distinctive (to the reader) look without gimping myself with old gear.
World of Warcraft doesn’t have that feature. This is one of the reasons I decided to play a character in a robe. He’s still wearing the same robe he had at level 1, but underneath I’ve been able to replace everything else, several times over. This isn’t a big deal in the early stages of the game, but as you go up in level you need better gear – the game is balanced with the expectation that you will be wearing the appropriate stat-boosting equipment.
The stat-boosting stuff actually annoys me a bit. Like any character-building player, I love upgrading gear. But World of Warcraft does a horrible job at teaching you how to do it right or telling you what you need to know in order to make an informed decision. Check out the stats on my hunter:
On the right we have Damage, DPS, and attack power. Then we have both Speed and Haste. Then we have Hit Chance and Crit Chance. Note that I’m level 62 and the game has never even directed me to look at these numbers. It’s never explained what stats are important for my character or how they interact. (Except when I created the character, and it suggested agility was important.) Should I just stack agility? Is there a system of diminishing returns? What other stats are worthwhile? This armor has ten times the defensive rating, but one point less agility, but I have no way of weighing either of those numbers to know what I’m really getting.
A good system is clear and understandable right away, but will reveal interesting trade-offs once you get to know it. (Diablo 2)
A boring system is straightforward and there is always a single, optimal answer. (Most BioWare games, at least until they abandoned gear-hoarding altogether.)
A bad system is one where you have no idea what decision you’re making and you have to do a bunch of homework and run a spreadsheet before you can know which hat you should wear.
A horrible system is one where you have to read the wiki just to know what options you should be researching. A system where you have over twenty attributes and most of them are synonyms. A system where you can read the wiki, a forum thread, and a leveling guide, and still not really have any idea what you’re doing because nobody agrees on how the stats work, which ones might be bugged, or if all of their calculations were made obsolete by the latest patch.
I don’t need absolute perfection or maximum power. I’m not trying for the most optimal build in the world. But the game is constantly presenting me with choices I don’t understand. Last night I got my first socketed item. The game made no effort whatsoever to explain it to me. “Hey, here is a totally new gameplay mechanic. No, we won’t explain it to you. No, don’t bother looking in the knowledge base. Or the website. Maybe some other users have studied this and maybe they put it on the web and maybe it’s not out of date and maybe you’ll find what you’re looking for after skimming through a half-dozen ‘Pro Guides’ that are 90% ads and scams.”
Ugh. This could be done better, is what I’m saying.
Another PC Golden Age?
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The Death of Half-Life
Valve still hasn't admitted it, but the Half-Life franchise is dead. So what made these games so popular anyway?
Even allegedly smart people can make life-changing blunders that seem very, very obvious in retrospect.
Project Button Masher
I teach myself music composition by imitating the style of various videogame soundtracks. How did it turn out? Listen for yourself.
Why Google sucks, and what made me switch to crowdfunding for this site.