I may have mentioned a while back that I’ve been dabbling with pottery lessons.
They started out great, staying that way throughout the six weeks of beginner handbuilding.
The teacher was appropriately attentive, both in demonstrating what to do with practiced hands and in taking a step back to allow the student to get the feel of the clay, while observing mistakes and offering tips and fixes to solve issues that came up.
Some time through the intermediate lessons, the teacher’s attitude inexplicably changed.
Perhaps it was me – maybe I unknowingly offered grievous insult to his honor with a humble jest that I -thought- demonstrated student modesty.
It was an offhand smiling remark to another student and him about how all the great bits of my piece were the mark of a master’s hand, after he had helped, and all the lopsided bits were mine.
Or perhaps it was him. Over the weeks of the lessons, he seemed perceptibly disinterested in teaching – complaining bitterly to older hands and partner potters that he had to rush to prepare for suddenly booked corporate events; that student works were piling up needing to either be kiln-fired or collected by beginner students who never returned after the first six weeks; bitching within earshot of existing students that the various newbies showed up with no or last minute notification or didn’t bother to attend lessons as they felt like it – and generally evincing distinct signs of burnout.
My last couple of intermediate lessons felt like an exercise in deliberate inattention.
He’d walk by to offer the odd word of advice to the one or two beginner students, then walk out the door and put himself incommunicado, leaving us to flounder on doing our own things.
Now and then, again in earshot of all the struggling students, he’d express his belief in his supremely hands-off teaching style to another obviously experienced artist potter who was just sharing the same venue.
“Give us time and space to make our own mistakes and screwups, and then figure out how to fix it for ourselves” seemed to be the general gist.
Inside, I was fuming with frustration.
No, really, I get the hands-off method.
I think it makes sense, judiciously applied, but:
a) the student has to feel that the teacher -cares- (the vibe I got was mostly laziness, judgmentalism and burnout)
and b) the student has to have some basic grounding in HOW to even begin looking for answers to fix the problems they’re having
With both missing, chances are fairly good that a sizeable subset of students will drown, for every one student who flounders on to reach shore, having figured it out for themselves.
Tossing people into the deep end of the pool after demonstrating a swim stroke once and waiting to see who comes out is -not- good teaching.
In my book, anyway. I expect a good teacher to be able to break things down for a student, encourage step-by-step practice and gradual progress, observe errors and offer guided advice on how to fix the problem and in general, scaffold the student’s learning.
After the end of my intermediate lessons, I took a short break and really questioned if I wanted to go on to the advanced lessons of wheel throwing with said less-than-good teacher, especially since he seemed to be doing everything in his power to dissuade me from even paying him for the next set of lessons.
Mostly, it was the sunk cost fallacy that did me in. The beginner and intermediate lessons were a prerequisite for the advanced ones. If I walked now, and sourced for another teacher, the effort, time and money sunk into the previous months would likely have to be written off, as I’d end up fulfilling said teacher’s cynical prophecies of a student that would never come back.
Also, it didn’t seem polite to end abruptly. Leaving after a beginning, middle, end sequence was another thing altogether. One could then seek out another teacher and say truthfully that one had completed a pottery course, but was now looking for further improvement and new perspectives from a brand new teacher.
So I went ahead and signed myself up for another six weeks of instructorial neglect.
Halfway through now, and it went about as much as expected. One demonstration and then left to one’s own floundering devices.
Maybe I frustrate him as much as he frustrates me. Maybe he just doesn’t know -how- to teach me.
I remember things slowly, especially when it comes to visual bodily demonstrations. Perhaps my mirror neurons are somewhat dysfunctional, I do not really learn viscerally. Dance, exercise, pottery, you name it, I cannot see once and automatically ape.
It has to be repeated multiple times. I have to preferably read it, in step-by-step fashion. I have to see pictures and photographs and rehearse placing my hands in the demonstrated positions. Theory must come before practice.
Instead, full of frustration, I’m often left googling up “pottery concept X” after the lesson that introduces the name of concept X and not much else beyond the realization that I’m making a right muckup of concept X because I don’t even know what I’m actually supposed to ideally do in the first place.
I learn more by eavesdropping. Imagine that.
Said teacher is having a extended cheerful conversation with another experienced potter, just chilling and hanging out and steadily ignoring me, and he pulls out his phone and shows her some Youtube video of an advanced technique from a potter of a different country. He does -not- show the video to me.
I make such a right muckup of concept X (centering, if anyone knows pottery) for hours and look so distressed and woebegone, that after the “bad” teacher has rushed out of the workshop to grab his lunch before his next batch of ungrateful students, that the other experienced potter comes over and offers me a completely free demonstration of the way she does it – and by the way, more emotional support in those five minutes than the last five weeks.
She then promptly screws it up with a perfectly overheard conversation to the teacher who just came back, expressing her own helplessness at trying to explain concept X to me, while he offers her a commiserating knowing smile and shrug.
Here is a woman who makes me feel better because she’s had an even worse time of it than me.
At least my piece of clay didn’t turn into a flying projectile, but just sat there as an insistently lopsided soppy wet yet hard and sandy lump that evoked the ever unproductive ritual question and answer from student to master:
“Is this centered?”
“How about now?”
I bite back on the words, “What the FUCK is centered then? How does it even look? What the FUCK am I aiming for here?” because I know I’ll get no words, just the guy’s hands coming down on my piece of clay doing magic stuff with me none the wiser.
I did learn one thing though.
When you have a bad teacher, the Internet is your best teacher.
After seeing the Youtube video being shown to the other potter, angels descended and sang Hallelujah in my head because my eyes were suddenly opened to the source of a DOZEN good teachers.
Ten Youtube video clips of “pottery centering” later, I had the foundation concepts and the scaffolding that I had not been privy to before this.
No one had told me that I was supposed to brace my hand against my leg, or that the wheel had to be at a decent speed, or that the idea was to push in one direction while easing up in the desired direction so that the clay had some place to go.
They knew how to do it, but they didn’t know how to teach it.
Those on Youtube did.
The following week, I magically produce a 98% acceptable centered piece of clay after a couple of false starts and self-experiments.
(No doubt I also just confirm in my teacher’s head that his style of teaching is perfect.)
Things go well until I run aground in the next progression step of “lifting the clay to make a tall cylinder.”
We engage in a failure cycle of call and response again until the end of the lesson.
This time though, I know what to do in order to progress my own learning next week.
So why I have spent 1400 words telling you guys about my pottery lessons on a -game- blog?
It strikes me that learning is learning, regardless of the subject.
We all want the ideal of the understanding good teacher that cares and knows how to break it down just right so that we can learn what we don’t even know, let alone don’t understand.
(Or maybe that’s just me. Maybe you have some other ideal of the perfect teacher that is just right for you. Goldilocks style, not too soft, not too hard.)
Chances are bloody good that we’re not going to get one.
We would be immensely lucky if we strike gold on the first attempt at sourcing a great teacher.
Chances are far more likely that we’re going to hit judgmental people; people too self-absorbed in their own lives to bother much about your learning; people far too ready to go for the expedient assumption of “unteachable, boot him/her out of here” much more often than a good teacher with a heart of gold. (The latter burn out real fast, I hear.)
They’re going to do shit things to your emotions.
But there’s always one person that -is- committed to your learning, and that knows -exactly- how you like to learn.
Perhaps that’s the teacher to really have a heart-to-heart conversation with.
“In most games, you get the best you can and a year later, all your hard work is invalidated and you have to do it all over again. That’s why it’s called gear treadmill, but in reality you’re not more powerful, your armor is. All you really are is a coatrack for greatness. I don’t know why so many people see this as progression. The numbers get higher but you’re not actually going anywhere.”
We’re about two weeks into the Heart of Thorns expansion. I guess now’s a time as good as any to finally come up for air.
The 64-bit client has worked wonders for me as a stopgap measure to stave off memory leak crashes (at last, upgrading to Windows 7 and a new computer with 16GB of RAM has been rewarded.)
On average, it chomps about 3-3.5 GB of RAM just doing normal things and goes up to about 4-4.5GB consumed during insanely packed meta events where a hundred players are in the vicinity, all sporting their own combination of wardrobe and dyes and particle effects.
Bright side, it doesn’t crash (at least, not yet, *touches wood*)
(I stress tested it the other day by walking into the Svanir Shaman Frozen Maw daily with full default graphics and name tags on. I figure, if it doesn’t freeze up and die then, it’s probably okay.)
Thus I get to see more of Heart of Thorns on a graphical setting beyond potato.
Granted, it’s rather hard to frame a screenshot sans UI when you’re worried about getting randomly gibbed by a Mordrem sniper, a punisher, or *urgh* a stalker.
One thing I’ve noticed is that I’ve become rather relaxed about goals in the expansion.
A seasonal cadence of two weeks/four weeks lent a level of stress that encouraged me to grind out all the rewards I wanted “before it went away.” There was a “limited-time” pressure that was sometimes obvious and sometimes subconscious, which made me more prone to frustration and impatience.
Faced with a deluge of possible rewards to buy and skins to collect, one would think that I’d be freaking out right about now, but knowing its permanence (assuming the HoT zones stay unchanged reward-wise as long as Dry Top and Silverwastes has existed is likely a safe bet), I’ve been looking on most of it as a long term goal. The slow chase will likely last me another year, if not two, and I’m okay with that.
If anything, I’ve been confronted by that age-old lateral progression bugaboo that we veterans keep advising newbies about: “Help! I’ve reached X threshold, and there are so many things to do! What should I be doing first?!”
My usual naggy refrain to these folks is that beyond a certain point (ie. get exotic armor as a baseline, strive towards Ascended trinkets and more,) we can’t really tell you what to do next because it all depends on what you value and want to prioritize.
Like story? Like dungeons? Like shiny skins? Like gold? They all head down different roads.
Similarly, I look at Heart of Thorns and I’m like, “Masteries? AP achievments? Raids (be it prep for the closed ones, or open world ones?) Gold + Relaxation? (So many nodes to hit, so much money players are willing to spend *twitches compulsively*) Shinies? (Like chase a HoT skin collection, a core Tyria legendary, a core Tyria precursor, or prep for a Maguuma legendary?) So many collections? Aaahhh collect all the things? *falls over dizzy like Skritt in Tarir*”
So I decided to put my money where my mouth is and prioritize my own shit:
Raids (while new)
Certain shiny objects
Collect all the things
Raids (when they’ve gotten old)
This totally non-scientific list was mostly ordered by just choosing two things at random, eg. “Chase AP or Harvest Nodes to Relax” or “Chase AP or Gold?” and deciding which one I valued more, or which I’d pick if I could only do one thing that day.
It’s a little fuzzy around the edges, because technically, harvesting nodes is my main gold stream, but given the amount of gold I’m liable to invest into chasing AP or if the gold had to come from other sources like chasing events or doing dungeons, then certainly I’d choose to focus on easier AP goals first.
Yet if you were to ask me if I’d prefer harvesting nodes to chasing AP, I’d only have to look at my still undone Golden Badges in the Silverwastes to tell you that I’ve been hitting all the nodes first over something like that. Eventually I’ll buckle down and shove that priority up a tad, but as a general guideline, the above list works for me.
New stuff goes without saying for me. I was camped out in Tangled Depths over two weekends and quite a number of weeknights trying to bring down the Chak Gerents (all four of them.)
It may be potato graphics, but this reward chest has never looked shinier.
The end result of succeeding the meta was mostly a great big hole blasted through to Dragon’s Stand, a couple of crystallized cache chests and a strongbox made accessible. Plus a piece of Mistward something that’s presumably used for making Mistward armor, when I get around to it. (Probably around the time I finally get around to making a Revenant.)
Once that succeeded once, it was like a great big load fell off my mind and I could start voluntarily choosing to ignore some raid sessions, knowing that more would be organized every day / every week. There would be time to accumulate the zone currency gradually. Now I could prioritize other things with my GW2 play time to catch up on other stuff.
Some of that involves getting more or less prepped for the impending *ugh* closed 10-man raids to hit GW2.
I’m still looking on that activity with a fair amount of dread – mostly because it’s hellish to try and match timezones and turn up at a regular schedule, plus there’s always that rejection feeling from an activity with such small number limits.
(Look at how guild missions have been complained about, when they inadvertently only reward 15 players, leaving the other… oh… 35 people who showed up feeling jipped? Or left repeating the same goddamn guild puzzle over and over until maybe most people get their reward, except a few that seem permanently glitched? Speaking of which, they really need to get around to fixing that. So bloody annoying. I was certainly never one who asked for them to make guild missions closed instances.)
Everyone’s also kinda dreading their reward scheme for raids – many because it seems like Anet’s reward adjustments feel like throwing darts at a dartboard while blindfolded, rather than following any sort of real plan.
Me, I’m bloody terrified that it’s going to be a one-way no-alternate-path “forcing” of players into their shiny new activity that they are so damn proud of and want to collect salty player tears on (What’s going on with that adversarial relationship anyway?)
Take the sudden account-binding of Nuhoch Hunting Stashes and fractal thingumies (I haven’t done fractals seriously post-expansion, I have no idea what’s been going on there.)
I had -thought- it was a clever way to provide players an alternate route to gaining currencies for activities they’d rather not prefer to engage in, while giving players who LIKE those activities an income stream from the players who hate it but want some of the rewards from that activity anyway. Meanwhile, the trade sinks gold via the TP. Win win, no?
No. Apparently, if you want Heart of Thorns zone currencies, you better just grit your teeth and grind events. Vice versa for fractals, though with all the bitterness coming from that front, it doesn’t exactly encourage me to do that activity until everything is given another look.
I don’t know.
My assumption is they’ll keep freaking iterating until they get it right, and we only need to wait until then, but damn, this iteration is SLOW.
In the meantime, I may as well do stuff that’s right in front of me, not get baited by a million and one design traps, and freak out only when there’s solid info to get grumpy about. (Like how I can’t actually prioritize a precursor rifle hunt because some poor bastard who wanted to do it first found out that bits of it were buggy and don’t work.)
One example of those things right in front of me is the revelation that I’m really most comfortable on my charr guardian as a main – I haven’t been playing any other character through Heart of Thorns for any long period of time – so I may as well take some small steps in getting him raid-ready. Like an Ascended greatsword and possibly a mace too – he already has an Ascended sword/focus and scepter/torch, but it’s been super-obvious that Heart of Thorns really really likes you to go AoE in certain scenarios… bottom line, guardian greatswords can do that and my nerfed (but pretty) Fiery Dragon Sword just can’t cut it.
I’ve a warrior and necromancer alt that also needs to be run through Heart of Thorns, and pushed towards raid-readiness, so that’s something to be doing too.
Masteries, thankfully, I’ve knocked out most of the crucial ones, which leaves the nice-to-haves as a slow goal to work toward while doing other things.
Between that, attending open world raids, and maybe replaying the story for achievements, chasing mastery points and hero points for elite specs and harvesting all the things while the guild hall material demand is sending the economy into wild swings, I shouldn’t run out of still-viable things to do while waiting for fixes and iterations to the more egregious issues that have arisen, seemingly all over the game.
Looks like everyone, devs and players alike, will be quite busy until next year.
I play GW2, a game of lateral progression, and we encounter a great many people who find it difficult to understand the point of GW2, especially after being trained by WoW or other traditional MMOs.
I willingly played A Tale in the Desert, a literal crafting sandbox of -significant- grind which had progression on a mandatory to optional spectrum via a levels unlocking skills system. It appealed to a very niche audience only because other folk couldn’t figure out what to do with themselves in a game with no combat, and which took forever to walk anywhere.
I fully expect there to be a subset of people who will walk into a creative building game, be it Landmark or Minecraft, and go, um… where’s the game? What’s the point? What do I do?!
Some of them will get it if it’s explained to them. A few of them might try it and like it. Still many others will fade away from the game, having decided it’s just not their cup of tea.
I understand that Landmark is more of a “software toy” – if anyone is ancient enough to remember Will Wright and the original Sim family of games and the term as used then. You played with the software as it was, tinkered with whatever parameters you wanted, created your own goals and “what ifs” and then when you were done, you put it down and forgot about it until you got the urge to mess with it again.
Thing is, putting it down and forgetting about it is not a concept that sits very well with MMOs and the desire of its developers to be paid (though other free to play games like League of Legends, TF2 and Dota 2 seem to be doing just fine with a broad base of folks who do that, perhaps since they have a very hardcore cohort who play ’em daily and pay enough to keep development going.)
And that sort of unsettles me and makes me want to lay a finger on what specifically makes me feel that way.
I think I am less worrying about what the exact point of Landmark is (since it can be many things to different people – a place to build, socialize, craft, gather, roleplay, tell a story, design for other players or for future Everquest Next, be creative, indulge in artistic expression, make a virtual home, play with a virtual dollhouse, have an adventure, explore, learn, etc.)…
…but more trying to answer a burning question with incomplete information and stuff that is yet unknown, undecided and/or undetermined.
And that question is: Should I be investing my time or money into this game?
Of course, that answer is different for different people.
Some people have even willingly spent $100 on its Alpha stage. They were happy to pay for the privilege of being involved in the game’s development from the ground up, have a voice (such as it is) in where the game is going, to playtest with unpolished tools and systems and be the first guinea pigs (or *ahem* first to get to play around with the game or have a headstart), to create and design and maybe, just maybe, have it included in Everquest Next. They’re dedicated fans of the franchise and the studio.
I mean, if you asked me if I would do the same for ArenaNet and Guild Wars, I’d -seriously- give it some thought. (Though the initial payment would put me off.)
But here’s the thing, I’m not them. And since this is my blog, we’ll dig into my perspective today while I try to get it sorted out in my own head.
I didn’t pay for Alpha. I didn’t pay for Beta. What kind of game would I pay or not pay for?
WoW’s design is primarily a raid endgame centred around vertical progression of gear. Eve Online encourages very dubious player behavior and morality in its design. For me, the answer to both is no. Because I don’t want to support games whose design I’m not in favor of.
Other people play them, and pay for them, and keep both games going just fine. To each their own.
I paid and played games like City of Heroes, Guild Wars 1 & 2, A Tale in the Desert, Minecraft, but not games like Wurm Online or Darkfall or Fallen Earth.
I generally support games that foster friendly and cooperative groups and social experiences in their design, but also give leeway to solo at one’s choosing. I’m drawn like a moth flies toward light to games that show off innovative design and interesting novel systems to play with and learn, but I’m turned off by games that have room for nonconsensual PvP, take forever to progress or get anywhere (aka too much time grind) or are sluggish and buggy.
My fascination for grokking systems may see me knowingly put up with some annoying game design choices. at least for a short while.
Mob Wars: La Cosa Nostra is one example. I played it religiously for a month, logging in every day, doing all the stuff, incrementing numerically for the sake of incrementing numerically, but one day I just decided to skip a day. It stretched to two. Three. Then I didn’t bother logging in anymore. The addiction/compulsion was gone. Gimmick design works for a while, and then it loses its hold, especially when you break the habitual pattern formed and find other more prioritized things to do.
I put up with quite a bit of crap in A Tale in the Desert. The endless running across large tracts of land, for one. I avoided doing that as much as possible, and credit to the game, it wasn’t excessively forced. Mostly because the multiple systems and minigames in ATITD just kept blowing my mind. Each required days to learn and probably months or more to master. Observing the social interactions and conflict between cooperation and competition was so fascinating that I was willing to put up with a few not-so-comfortable things, since there was nowhere else to get the same experience in more convenient form. And there were always many lateral progression options and ways to get regular feelings of accomplishing something too.
As for Landmark, well, I can’t quite get a proper grip on what kind of a game it is and where it intends to be going, leaving the existing Closed Beta experience sitting smack dab in the middle of the Play-Don’t Play spectrum.
You see, for MMOs, I want to know that the game is still going to be around for a bit and popular enough to have some people playing it, for me to want to invest time, money and energy into playing it. How is Landmark going to work, exactly?
I’ve kind of read the Blueprint. But it still leaves me with questions as to what exactly the game is going to entail.
Harsh death penalty and PvP are big twitching red flags for me, for example. Waste too much of my time, threaten me with resource loss, and your game goes right into the Eve Online pile. It may be a great simulationist sandbox in the vein of all those others, but Trammel killed Ultima Online for a reason. If you can still find your niche to play and pay, all power to you. I’ll just not be there.
(The Everquest brand is not particularly promising on this front. Time-wasters and harsh penalties aplenty. And Landmark is already actively showing signs of time-wasting.)
How is the payment model of the game going to work? What kind of economy is going to drive this game? What types of playstyles and gameplay niches are we expecting to see?
The Bartle model may not be the most ideal one to use, for this sort of game. This is pretty much unexplored territory for triple A MMOs – it’s more the purview of games (*ahem* “virtual worlds”) like Second Life and Neverwinter Nights (the old one, with the Aurora toolset that players created content with) and maybe multiplayer Minecraft.
Here’s my best guess on what playstyles we might see in Landmark:
Builders/Designers – artist builders, artisan builders, home builders
Roleplayers/Storytellers – using the world to create and tell stories of their own choosing
I am a so-called Adventurer. In truth, I’m probably a harvester-gatherer. I collect resources and enable the larger game to function. I may have to put up with some grindy aspects via number accumulation and vertical progression tiers. I ought to be able to walk in and play for free in Landmark because I pay in time. (Caveat: I am not SOE, I do not come up with their payment models.) I exist as content for the other more dedicated players because I bulk up the game with more player population to socialize with, to admire their constructions and perhaps run their scripted dungeons/adventures/experience the stories they want to tell (assuming those systems come in.)
My payoffs? I should be able to sell or trade resources to the other players who need them… but in exchange for… what? I need an in-game marketplace or auction house or trading exchange. Perhaps I can trade for some amount of currency or Station Cash that enables me to keep a small-sized claim and cross over to the other playstyles. I should be getting in return the thrill of adventure, the fun of exploration, some sense of accomplishment, the excitement and novelty of seeing what’s over the next hill and around the next corner, etc.
Builders are a pretty broad category, since this is, after all, a building game:
I am an artist builder. I want to make large towering works of art out of voxels. I need large-sized or multiple claims. I need lots of resources. I have the option of buying templates from the Player Studio like windows, railings, decorations and more to copy-paste stamp them into larger pieces. My payoffs? I get to express myself artistically and show off works of great beauty. I develop a name and reputation for myself. I perhaps contribute to parts of scenery in Everquest Next (assuming that’s a plus in your perspective, having paid $$ for the privilege.)
Big question is: Am I going to have to pay real life money out the nose for these things? If so, why should I be choosing this game to build in? Minecraft is looming as the equivalent of WoW in the creative building genre, and it’s buy to play. More such games are on the way as competitors.
I am an artisan builder, I make works of art that can serve as templates to be used in larger pieces. Besides all the regular perks of the artist builder – name and rep, EQN contribution, creative expression, etc., my payoff is potentially selling them in the Player Studio (assuming you live in the correct country for it), or the satisfaction of giving them freely away to others to see them used in larger works of art.
(There can be, of course, plenty of overlap between artisan and artist builder playstyles in the same person. Or the other playstyles, for that matter. The more playstyles one enjoys, the closer match Landmark is going to be for one – though I don’t know how much more money you’re going to end up paying. But we’re separating them here for clarity.)
I am a home builder. I have a vision of something I want to build – likely a house or a castle or something cool for me to stay in. I likely value environmental immersion of some kind. I may not be that great artistically. I might be able to supplement my not-so-great artistic skills with a few choice templates bought off the Player Studio, or trading in-game resources with artisans and artists, or even getting them free off social interaction (providing value by being there as a player.) I will probably be willing to foot a small upkeep for a small to medium claim, though having the option to pay in in-game resources might be better for a subset of these players.
What happens though when I am “done?” When I have created the house I want? What do I do next? Stop playing? Move to another playstyle, assuming I can find one that matches?
I am a roleplayer/storyteller. I tell stories and make them up using the game’s voxels and props. I interact with other players in some fashion, be it via chat or posting on the forums. (See a great example in progress here with a builder/immersive roleplayer combined in one person, creating some very natural constructions to tell a story in time.) My payoff is the stories I create and the people that see/view/experience them.
Eventually, assuming scripting and NPCs make it into Landmark, we’ll have crossover designer/builder/storytellers that will be similar to GameMasters of tabletop roleplaying games, designing adventures for others to experience – probably similar to how existing player-created content in other MMOs like Neverwinter Foundry or adventure mods in Minecraft work.
Crafting is the part that still puzzles me at this point. It seems to exist for the sake of existing and time-wasting. Here’s a bunch of technology trees. Go get the required number of resources and then come back and click a button to make it. You need to do it to unlock other things, like the tools you want for other playstyles.
Maybe, just maybe, one might have a dedicated crafter niche who pretty much goes out to collect resources and bring them back to craft, and then trades the finished, desirable products to others? Like those elusive Legendary picks and axes?
I dunno though. There is one danger of trying to add such niches though, taking lessons from A Tale in the Desert, there is the possibility that time-plentiful veterans will learn how to do it all, and do it much more quickly than newbies. This leaves newbies with nothing of value to offer veteran players.
How does the food chain function here?
Are there going to be enough players willing to pay for convenience and shortcuts to make up for playstyles that they don’t want to crossover to?
Are the rich folks on the very top willing to pay lots of money for what? Vanity? Prestige?
On one hand, lots of cosmetic options in other games say yes, there might be sufficient people willing to pay for pretty dresses. On the other hand, Glitch did die from lack of participation in the clothing shop and insufficient thought about a viable payment model…
I guess what I’m wondering at this point is… what’s the Landmark demographic going to be like? How much of each playstyle is there? Is there going to be a viable monetization strategy, and how acceptable is that strategy going to be for the various playstyles? And is it going to be enough to keep Landmark afloat and/or making oodles of cash?
And even, -does- Landmark need to stay afloat or make oodles of cash, or will it be shielded by SOE as the parent company, bundling the game along with its All Access Pass and/or profiting from whatever is designed in Landmark going into EQ Next?
Back to me. I’m not much of an artist builder, I can tell you that.
Nor am I much of a home builder. I can’t seem to understand the compulsion to build a pretty virtual house to stay in.
Further thought reveals that I am more of a -functional- builder. I build stuff to fulfill some kind of in-game need.
Zombies going to eat my face at night in Minecraft? Well, I better hack a hole into a cliff and hide in it. Or build walls to surround myself. And I may as well put a door in it so I can get in and out more easily.
Landmark may not fit that building playstyle as well. Perhaps only mining for ores and designing those temporary tunnels into cave systems might fit.
Or for example, hacking a hole into the ground because I want more studio space but don’t want weird geometric creations floating in the air ruining my nice wilderness desert landscape immersion.
I suppose I -could- learn to be a bit of an artisan builder. Experimenting with microvoxels and seeing what kinds of odd geometric shapes get produced is pretty much the only thing keeping me hooked to Landmark at present.
I probably couldn’t produce anything worth selling – far more skilled players could probably recreate them in no time flat – and besides, I bet Player Studio will never quite open for my country, with all those legalese concerns.
Problem is, the tools and various controls as they exist in Beta are somewhat awkward and not very smooth or intuitive to use.
One example and big culprit here is Shift-Tab to switch between translate, rotate and scaling, plus Tab for the directions. Having twisted my wrist far too often to the left to reach Shift+Tab one too many times, I gave up and wrote an AutoHotkey macro to keybind them elsewhere.
You can replace R and Q with whatever keys you want.
I have an entire profile on my mouse dedicated to Landmark, just to give myself two buttons for left-click (Button 5 uses the thumb and spares my index finger when it starts to scream), and to bind Numlock (Autorun? Who puts that -there?- Obviously I don’t play Everquest!) to the middle mouse button and button 4, which I use in GW2 and has become natural.
Proper keybinding cannot come soon enough in Landmark. No idea how Alpha players put up without it.
Said building tools have quirks that some dedicated builders are learning and sharing. Apparently all I had to do to fix my misshapen arch which was bumpy on one side, was to just copy the good side and mirror it. But how did I get a misshapen arch in the first place? The circle used to cut the arch and the smoothing tool used to round out the arch wasn’t consistent on either side.
It all begs the question: Should I invest my time learning to build here, with its unique idiosyncrasies, or spend my time learning how to use a free alternative like Sketchup or Blender instead (which admittedly uses polygonal modeling, not voxels) or locating voxel modeling software or just build for fun in creative mode Minecraft when I can spawn all the blocks I desire without paying real money or grinding hours for it?
How about the other playstyles?
I confess to being weird and not minding mining or chopping wood. I find it oddly meditative.
But I don’t like feeling forced to go get them in order to get the next tier and the next tier of stuff – that just feels like busywork. I’m not really fond of game design that just exists to waste one’s time – it’s a carryover from subscription-based MMOs that shouldn’t exist in free-to-play ones.
Also, my system is truly on the low-end of the spec pool when it comes to Landmark, and starting and stopping with crashing framerates, falling through the floor and just plain crashing, or getting stuck on loadscreens and having to force the client to re-draw by hitting ctrl+alt+delete and canceling makes me think that I simply can’t participate in an Adventurer playstyle until I have the funds to upgrade to a better computer.
(Pushing the envelope is all very well, but that does restrict the playerbase some. EQ2 was reportedly less popular due to the need for high graphics capability at the time, whereas WoW’s popularity took off into a cult phenomenon – one of the foundational reasons being that people with low end computers still could play and enjoy it.)
I still have big unanswered questions about PvP, griefing and how other players are going to be able to affect you. Big questions about death penalties and potential resource loss, microtransactions and planned payment model. Other questions like:
Will my favored playstyle(s) be available for free, or low to reasonable cost?
Otherwise, why should I start now and invest the time to learn this game?
Well, don’t start now then, some people will reply.
Fair enough, I could just pack up everything, let whatever’s on my claim save into a template (assuming it does, apparently anti-voxels and negative space don’t?) and let the upkeep expire to make room for others. Log out and wait to log in later.
But fundamentally, I’m a little antsy about what the answers to the following questions are going to be:
Why should I spend a good amount of time on this game?
Unnecessary timesinks. Is that valuing my time? (I want to build creative designs unhindered by said timesinks, would be a better answer.)
Why should I keep playing?
Upkeep. In order not to lose stuff in 5 days? (Or, because there are fun things to do that cater to multiple playstyles in-game?)
If SOE swings one way, Landmark would be dropped like a hot potato. By me, at any rate.
The other way has more promise.
But it’s all a big uncertain gamble right now, isn’t it?