Wednesday, September 5, 2007

On Whining and Entitlement

I am so proud to be a gamer, and yet frequently so disappointed in the behavior of certain members of my ilk. What we often seen on the forums that is expressed in whiny rants appears to be a form of steadfast tunnel vision that renders people totally incapable of forming reasonable conclusions about many topics. Legends of Norrath is scheduled to launch today, last I saw, and I'd like to hit a particular issue that's been driving me batty.

What I want to talk about are LoN's "Loot Cards." These are the rare-ish cards that occasionally show up in your booster packs that give you the ability to redeem and claim spiffy little items in EQ1 and 2.

The whining takes different directions, but they generally boil down to a few arguments:
  1. People getting special access to items that should be available in EQ without playing LoN
  2. People spending real life money for in-game items
  3. The items are overpowered

#1 actually crosses over to another thread I noticed yesterday, regarding a cloak in EQ2 that's only available to attendees of the recent Fan Faire.

The notion is that people who invest money in Trip X or Game Y are getting perks that others feel entitled to. I could understand the "unfair" argument if the special prizes involved Fabled equipment, Master 3 spell upgrades, or the like, but they don't. They involve TOYS. In almost every case, the prize-factor of the items gained from attending events or participating in LoN are based on visuals.

For instance, you can get a cloak that gives you a featherfall-type ability and, depending on which cloak, lets you breathe water, turns you into a box (illusion), or a couple other things. Featherfall and Water Breath are handy powers, but nothing that can't currently be obtained in game, just on different items. Turning into a box is a very unique illusion that can't be obtained elsewhere (yet), but it's JUST an illusion, and therefore a toy.

You can get a few different mounts that have 50% runspeed boosts. This equals the fastest mounts currently available in EQ2, and anything coming out with Kunark isn't likely to be more than a couple percent faster if faster at all. At worst, people who aren't in Level 60 guilds can RARELY pull a card out of LoN that lets them get a Guild Level 60-quality mount. Once again, the only distinguishing factor about these mounts is that the graphics are currently unique to LoN rewards. These are very nice toys, but toys nonetheless.

The most polarizing of the Loot Cards seem to be the items (one in EQ1, one in EQ2) that give/gave a whole ton of mana/power back to the user, but could only be used about once per REAL LIFE day. These aren't toys, and they certainly aren't visual, but with a 20-24 hour recast timer, AND being extremely rare, you wouldn't think they'd be that unbalancing. But we'll come back to that...

Argument #2 has a bit of feasibility to it. Yes, I can spend oodles of RL money to increase my chances of getting a cool EQ2 item. But there is a difference between spending a set amount of cash to get UberItem Q transferred directly to me, versus spending potentially infinite amounts of cash and possibly never getting the item I want.

And alternatively, there WILL be a few lucky punks who never play LoN, one day stumble upon a booster pack drop while adventuring, and redeem it only to find one of the most sought-after items out there. That'll totally happen, and because it can and will, I think #2 loses its steam. Spending money is for the impatient who "need" their cool items NOW.

The impatience factor is, as a general rule, the same factor that drives the RMT market, but with three key differences: You're mostly getting toys, you aren't guaranteed to get your toys, and the toys you get don't come from exploits/duping, theft, scripting, accounts funded by stolen credit cards, etc.

So as much as I'm against RMT, and even though I feel the purchasable card packs are way overpriced, I still don't see a problem here.

But that leads us to Argument #3: Are the items overpowered? Firstly, anyone who argues the illusion items or featherfall toys are overpowered can take a flying leap. Toys toys toys.

The 50% runspeed mounts - Overpowered? I don't deny I'd love to get one, but because of the visuals, not the power! My guild did recently hit Guild Level 60, so I have 50% mounts available to me anyway, and in a plat-to-dollar conversion, it'd be cheaper to buy the mount directly than to buy pack after pack looking for one. While it's true that this mount allows players to skirt the normal guild level requirements to get the top speed mounts, this is, once again, a very rare item. Besides, there's lots of high level guilds that accept members of wide level ranges, so it isn't really that hard to use a guild just to get a mount if you don't mind being a twerp about it. I've certainly known quite a few people that have done just that!

The big item causing controversy, as mentioned earlier, are the power/mana recovery items. In EQ2, this item has already been nerfed, but did it need to be? In EQ1, the item sounds to have retained its original form, which should be more or less a full mana heal once every 20 hours. What this has led to - amazingly - is raiders complaining that these items are destined to become standard, required gear for raiding guilds.

Will a power heal make a raid easier? Sure, of course it will. Will it make impossible raids possible? Once in a long while maybe, but not commonly! There's two main steps to raiding that we need to consider:
Step 1 - Get the baddie under control.
Step 2 - Sustain healing AND DPS until the baddie is relieved of his burden of life (or unlife).

Step 1 is extremely important, very difficult, and all the power heals in the world won't save you. This is the step where most aspiring raiders fail. Pulling, placing, and setting-up a raid encounter requires a great deal of patience and timing, NOT mana.

Step 2 is the tactical phase. Keep your DPS up without falling to AE or adds, and keep your tank alive without running out of mana. Here is where the LoN recharge items can help you. YES, if you have a team of 6 healers and all 6 have one shot 100% power recharges, that can win a raid for you.

But for gods' (plural 'cause it's Norrath) sakes, that's ONE bit of victory assistance PER DAY. If you use it help you clear a zone, then you won't have the oomph to beat the boss. If you use it on the boss, congrats, but you still did all the hard work to get to him in the first place!

At worst, you could use the new persistent instance rules (EQ2 only, so far as I know) to have these power refills help you on 5 nameds in a zone over a 5 day period, but that dooms your no-doubt amateur raid force to one really SLOW, BORING week. Is it worth it? You still need the pull and setup, you still need the tactics, ALL this item does is get you over a hump that's probably caused by not being equipped or tactically-prepared for the raid you're trying.

Was it really worth all the bitching and moaning that led to a nerfing on the EQ2 side of things? Had I gotten one of these items in my boosters, it might have been nice in my non-raid, casual play once in a while, you know. Nothing to imbalance the game, just an occasional get out of jail free card. Not that the nerfed item isn't still useful, but not quite the same level of emergency lifesaver. Thanks for ruining it for the rest of us, whiners. Have fun protecting your elite raider status.


Hubby & Me said...

Lol, well spoke!

Kiara said...

* applaud *

Afrellingmen my friend.