Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Why I amn't Playing Multiplayer (Company of Heroes)

1. I have mislaid my original game box and I don't think I can patch the game or add expansions without it. This is a pretty lame excuse, I know I could find it if I wanted to.

2. Patches: "Last year everybody spammed tiger tanks, patch 923.11 nerfed the tiger but water pistols are way overpowered now." I'm a slow learner, I want the rules to settle down so I can figure out what's going on. Chess has survived as a popular strategy game without any major rule chages for almost two centuries. Why do computer games need to change the rules every few months?

3. I am a little concerned about the level of maturity of the games player base after reading some fan forums.

4. I am a big wuss. I am afraid I will get my ass whooped.

5. I am a slooooow player. Recently I spend a leisurely four hours completing the "Hill 192 mission". The medal reward required it to be completed in 40 minutes. Chance are I would still be figuring out where's the best place to put some barbed wire when my opponent turns up on my doorstep with a full division of panzers.


Melf_Himself said...

I think they have to be updated so regularly because it's very hard to balance a big, multiplayer game, and the ratio of really talented designers : so-so designers is getting smaller and smaller.

I chalk it up to new graduates being churned out of crummy courses or something.

mbp said...

Hi Melf, I can understand that it is hard to get all the elements balanced correctly and even talented designers probably can't anticipate all of the things players are going to do. I don't understand why the number of patches doesn't slow down after the first few months though. Guild Wars for example is addicted to continuous re balancing. Even skills that have been around for years are fair game for the nerf bat.

Anton said...

Some people play these games so much, online vs. modes are impossible for the rest of us--I learned that in Warcraft 2 long ago. You can always go for some cooperative games against computer opponents where you team up with a friend somewhere, though!

Melf_Himself said...

I think another factor is that in MMO's, balance is impossible due to the ridiculous number of skills involved (say, 500+ skills).

Guild Wars is an interesting example. The introduction of certain skills and classes with the expansions unbalanced what had been a very well balanced game. They've been playing catch up ever since.

This is why I'm an advocate of a minimal number of skills and classes in RPG's, with massive functional differences between them (instead of the massive overlap like in current systems).

Recently though (the last year or so? I've lost track as I don't play it regularly anymore), I've been reading the balance changes and just thinking "wtf". They go through and change so many skills, sometimes giving them completely different functions. Then the next week they go and nerf it back again. I wouldn't mind re-learning the functions of 500+ skills if they were guaranteed to be balanced, but I think some new people must have taken over the reigns, because it seems that no such guarantees can be made.

Having said that, I think small balance tweaks every now and then are nice to spice things up, make sure fotm builds don't get boring, etc. It keeps the build strategisers interested in the game (it's almost like new content for them), but as long as it's done in moderation (like with most things).