Everquest Next
August 3, 2013 1:55 AM   Subscribe

At several moments during the presentation, I wrote in block capitals, circling and underlining. This is the headline feature. This is something nobody has tried or managed to do before. Then, toward the mid-point, while I was still processing what had already come, lead designer Dave Georgeson demonstrated a feature that changed everything.
Everquest Next’s world is made of voxels and everything in it is destructible.
posted by Elementary Penguin (126 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
Interestingly, Everquest Next is going to be free-to-play, which might explain why Blizzard's Titan whatever-it-is is going to be free-to-play now, as well. It looks like the day of the subscription MMO is finally over (though on the other hand, people still subscribe to Asheron's Call, so what do I know).
posted by Elementary Penguin at 1:58 AM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


WAIT WHAT
posted by DoctorFedora at 2:14 AM on August 3, 2013


Oh, and I didn't put this in the FPP because it felt (even more) like an ad, but Everquest Next is in open beta, if that's your thing.

WAIT WHAT

I KNOW RIGHT?
posted by Elementary Penguin at 2:17 AM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I played EQ for several years. Gave up around the time that pay to win started to show (well, the main reason was that my connection became unplayable and my friends had already drifted away, but you get the idea). It was a fun game, but grind heavy.

The first post was interesting, so I went to the second link, the game website. And they have plastered on the front page a couple of overly sexualised sketches of female playable characters wearing clothing only appropriate in a brothel and I realised that I'm done with this.

May be a good game, but until they start clothing the toons in something resembling actual armour rather than something for a teenaged boy to wank to, I'll give it a miss.
posted by YAMWAK at 2:23 AM on August 3, 2013 [16 favorites]


MineQuest?
posted by fullerine at 2:24 AM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also intriguing: the simultaneous announcement of EverQuest Landmark.
To be released later this year, preceding Next, it’s a construction and exploration game drawn from the same vein as Minecraft. It’s also the entire toolset used to build worlds and assets for Everquest Next.

[...]

All creations can be submitted to the Player Studio and, from there, downloaded by other players, who will pay real money for them. The creator will receive a payment every time there is a sale. Not only that, but if another player borrows a specific architectural feature for use in their own work, the original creator will receive royalties based on the percentage of the new work that part comprises.
If that actually works, then SOE has just incentivized the entire EverQuest player base to create and curate content for EverQuest in a way that... wow. Just.... Holy shit. My mind. It reels.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 2:42 AM on August 3, 2013 [12 favorites]


On the other hand, Penis Dungeons Forever.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 2:44 AM on August 3, 2013 [11 favorites]


Hello, I'll be your skeptical bastard for the evening. (Sits in the Skeptical Bastard chair.)

Everquest Next’s world is made of voxels and everything in it is destructible.

Uh-huh. This looks exactly like the designers saw Minecraft and didn't see a wonderful and interesting new kind of game, but a list of product points they can add to their new design.

Here's a question to think about. Why does Minecraft only have a handful of enemies, and they don't "scale up" in difficulty like they do in MMORPGs?

Also, there's a reason more games don't do it the Minecraft way, and why Minecraft's world is made up of large blocks -- voxels are still pretty challenging to work with, performance-wise. Just representing that kind of world in memory is an amazing challenge, the smaller the blocks get, the faster the memory required to hold it all ramps up. Honestly, I'd be more likely to believe they'll deforming polygon geometry in real-time than actually simulating voxels.

It’s big-studio exposure to the kind of things that have been going on in the world of gaming over the past few years.

And THAT is why I'm in the Skeptical Bastard chair right now.

This isn’t a reinvention of the wheel, it’s the unveiling of a hovercar.

I haven't read the site a huge amount, but I thought one of the good things about RPS is they were less likely to resort to this kind of hyperbole?

A wizard destroyed a bridge, sending goblins tumbling to their death. Impressive, and in keeping with the fast-paced, skill-based combat and movement, which is built around weapon-specific fighting styles and parkour elements.

Like I said, product points.

Providing elegance and variety to movement and combat, making exploring and fighting interesting activities for their own sake, does solve many of my issues with the WOW (and original Everquest) model.

If they can actually pull this off. I want to give them the benefit of the doubt on this, but the danger is that they'll just trade off the old MMORPG model of static and greatly level-based challenges (which Everquest popularized, long ago) for something else just as boring and static, because it's just a lot easier to design it that way in a way that product managers, not to mention players, won't immediately decry as broken. Because really interesting gameplay will appear to be broken to traditional ways of looking at MMORPG game design, and I'm unsure a large team can be brought to gaze upon that kind of monolith all at once in a reliable manner.

Some of those ancient things may wake up and emerge, creating new problems and new opportunities.

The problem with waking up ancient things, as a gameplay challenge, is not difficulty. It's that the nature of ancient means there's only so many to go around, that new examples of those things aren't being generated, unless you're cheating with the world by constantly generating new procedural areas... meaning that these kinds of interesting regions are probably all instanced and not persistent. The same goes for deforming the terrain -- unless the game wipes out those changes on a regular basis through some mechanism, pretty soon all those players will destroy all the terrain there is, and you're left with whatever Everquest Next's version of Minecraft's bedrock will be.

A gang of orcs, for example, won’t simply appear at a specific point in the world, replenishing shortly after they have been eliminated. Instead, when they appear, they react to the changing world. They act as bandits, and their purpose is to steal and murder. Therefore, they’ll lurk near settlements, finding good positions to carry out roadside ambushes as goods and people travel from village to village.

There was once a game that tried something like this. It was called Ultima Online. What they discovered is that the weight of all those players can quickly destroy any AI ecosystems you develop. Which isn't to say that it isn't a great idea really, if you're willing to go through with it, and balance it. But truly interesting procedural content is interesting because it blows open the possibility space, and makes possible radical kinds of solutions to game problems, some of which the designers might not forsee unless player abilities are strictly limited and ruining the whole point. Honestly, other than a lot of hype, I'm not really sure a big-budget studio is capable of the kind of design transcendence that would require.

And they have plastered on the front page a couple of overly sexualised sketches of female playable characters wearing clothing only appropriate in a brothel and I realised that I'm done with this.

I'm actually not so upset about this, it is a fantasy world after all, and their cultural norms are allowed to be different from ours. Although of course the male characters will be hulking walls of metal, and combat will not be of such a nature that one would expect wearing next to no armor would be survivable, so yeah, your point stands really.

Maybe there is an interesting game to be made that examines why the female characters are all wearing pastie bikinis and the males are covered up tremendously. Except that questioning those choices while making them would cause the game to grow to be somewhat about those gender differences, what causes them, whether players can remedy them, and it's unlikely that Everquest Next would be willing enough to devote that much of the audiences' mindspace towards exploring a topic like that, or really any thoughtful topic, not when there's Generic Adventures to be had.
posted by JHarris at 2:46 AM on August 3, 2013 [14 favorites]


The whole way characters are designed on there really is a very real and unfortunate thing. It's almost like, it wouldn't be such a problem if it were anything LESS than 100% of the female characters.
posted by DoctorFedora at 2:47 AM on August 3, 2013


Well, the mage in the screenshots only has a Power Girl-esque Cleavage Window on her ankle length dress/robe, which feels like progress. {/}
posted by Elementary Penguin at 2:48 AM on August 3, 2013


JHarris: "
And they have plastered on the front page a couple of overly sexualised sketches of female playable characters wearing clothing only appropriate in a brothel and I realised that I'm done with this.

I'm actually not so upset about this, it is a fantasy world after all, and their cultural norms are allowed to be different from ours. Although of course the male characters will be hulking walls of metal, and combat will not be of such a nature that one would expect .
"

Of course you're not bothered by it. You're a dude and don't have to put up with that sort of thing all the time. That's why people that do are turned off by it.
posted by ShawnStruck at 3:40 AM on August 3, 2013 [31 favorites]


Here's a question. Why are you bothered about it? Why would it matter to us if the female characters in a fantasy world are dressed like what our culture tells us are whores?

Of course, the reason they're dressed like that is male titillation, and it's omnipresent in gaming, and it only applies to female characters, and those things are all problems. But it's not to say it's not possible for it to be done well. I notice you stopped quoting my comment right at the point where I mentioned that.
posted by JHarris at 3:50 AM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yes, there's some stuff that doesn't ring true about this. There's just no possible way to handle the amount of traffic a truly voxelish world of that detail would require in real time, and the memory requirements are beyond mind-blowing. As JHarris correctly points out, minecraft blocks are big for a very good reason. If you make the voxels just 10x smaller (ie 10cm cubes instead of 1m cubes) you need 1000x the memory and processing power.

So how would your present rig and connection handle running 1000 instances of minecraft?

And I'm sure he's right that they have to regenerate landscape otherwise it will look like the battle of the Somme within days.
posted by unSane at 3:52 AM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


If that actually works, then SOE has just incentivized the entire EverQuest player base to create and curate content for EverQuest in a way that... wow. Just.... Holy shit. My mind. It reels.
It looks like democracy/capitalism work (until The Wrong People start being "incentivized" to create The Wrong Things)
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 3:55 AM on August 3, 2013


(and now imagine the server that has to deal with thousands of users each running a thousand copies of minecraft...)
posted by unSane at 3:55 AM on August 3, 2013


You're a dude

Lesbians also exist. Of course [reason why that isn't relevant]
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 3:56 AM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm definitely interested in all the ambitious stuff they've laid out here, but for each neat feature I was constantly thinking 'players will ruin that and/or they'll have to design so many systems to prevent players ruining it that it won't resemble what they're describing'.

I would be so so super excited if the game they were talking about (expansive underworld breakable-into from almost anywhere, roving monster bands with drives and complex reactions etc etc) was single-player or small-group co-op, but there are so many things about the necessities of a massively multiplayer game that I've just come to think are antithetical to what I want from a big quest-y fantasy RPG, and so little to be gained from having a shit ton of other people pogoing around.

I think more than the magnification of potential for intentional trolling, griefing and so on that a more user-changeable world brings (entirely legitimate concerns as those are), I'm pessimistic because MMO players, historically, voraciously learn to optimise and min-max until the wheels come off the game systems and all the illusions shatter. Again, I think it's less of a problem in single-player or small-group games where there's so much smaller/a nonexistent audience for virtual status symbols and the opportunity to feel like the elite amongst noobs. I've seen what I suspect is the opportunity for virtual self-esteem boosts in front of a mass audience drive otherwise pretty reasonable players to absurdly work-like behaviour even in traditional completely-static-world MMOs, and the more those players are allowed to affect the world the more I expect they will end up railroading everybody else into the same no-fun, virtual-return-maximising 'play'.
posted by emmtee at 4:10 AM on August 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


It's almost like, it wouldn't be such a problem if it were anything LESS than 100% of the female characters.

So I was logged out for a bit, as you do.

(The one at the top of the page was Star Wars Old Republic. Mostly robots.)
posted by solarion at 4:12 AM on August 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


There are possible cheats they might could implement concerning the blocks. Minecraft needs to know what all its blocks are generally, because mining is a big thing, it performs cellular operations on them, and such. Maybe the world here is stored as a bitmap? Maybe it only effectively stores the border voxels on the air region? There are potentially other optimizations that could be made. Maybe the ground is being stored as a heightmap only?

But there are other problems too. The acts of walking around becomes a lot trickier when the ground could be very rough. Just standing in a stable manner might be difficult when the ground at your feet could be a sharp point, and the AI would have to perform a lot more checks when it comes to navigating such a world, especially in the intelligent ways the developers are aiming for. Not saying it's impossible, just that there are challenges to overcome.
posted by JHarris at 4:14 AM on August 3, 2013


If the game does what is claimed, it opens a whole new world of griefing opportunities where griefers can fundamentally break the game.

Here's my Everquest Next "everything is destructable" griefer's guide:

- blow up/destruct the weapon/potions store in the central town
- digs pits to hell across all intersections in town
- build noob towers (in Minecraft, pile up blocks in a vertical stack to make an unsightly, high tower, then jump off.)
- get your wizard to blow up *all* the bridges they can find
- build piles of stone blocking the entrance to all the stores

Basically, if the game works entirely based on in-world defined systems, players can determine how those systems work and game them.
posted by sixohsix at 4:22 AM on August 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


JHarris, sure, I'm sure they're doing something like that. But then 'the whole world is made of voxels' doesn't really ring true does it? And as soon as you get into procedurally produced caverns etc, it's hard to see how the optimizations keep pace.
posted by unSane at 4:30 AM on August 3, 2013


Agreed, I'm just wondering if they might have thought of something I hadn't.

I am wondering why games generally don't use procedurally-generated, deformable polygon terrain. Is there a mathematical reason? Maybe the topology is too difficult?
posted by JHarris at 4:33 AM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Basically, if the game works entirely based on in-world defined systems, players can determine how those systems work and game them.

I am not going to say that's always possible, no. They can figure out the systems, but with enough effort it IS possible to make systems that are either impossible to game, or require more effort than is feasible. The problem is that it's very difficult, it requires a lot of thought and design work and then play testing, maybe too much to be practical, unless the world is simplistic enough that it becomes easy, which is mostly what we have now.
posted by JHarris at 4:36 AM on August 3, 2013


Look at those screen shots. Look at how detailed the world and the things in it are. You don't own a computer powerful enough to render that with voxels unless your box says "Cray" on the side or the zones are completely separated by loading screens and are a couple of dozen yards on a side.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:42 AM on August 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


On the subject of sexualisation and typically weird as fuck female character design, the beta signup page* has this completely hilarious bit of 'concept art' on the left. You know the kind, where there are a couple of very artificially pencilled-in notes around a picture that's almost-but-not-completely coloured in to show that yeah look concept art so legitimate so look into development process so wow.

And it's like, the notes on this majestic elf wizard conjuring the elegant majjykks of her people are
  • Hair
  • Straight
  • Flowing
and so on. I feel they omitted the actual notes used in the process of pulling this unique creation fully-formed from the imaginarium of this generation's Tolkien, such as
  • Midriff
  • Exposed
  • That we may know she has a navel and is not a pod person
  • Weird diamond shaped midriff holes are so now txt it
  • Cleavage
  • Exposed
  • Boobsocked in skin tight leather slash brocade creation
  • Topped with jaunty collar not really attached to anything though green straps imply backpack, maybe add one?
In summary: fucking fantasy game art.

*yes okay because despite everything, I have a tragic history of being curious about MMOs that inevitably ends in disappointment and/or drinking
posted by emmtee at 4:47 AM on August 3, 2013 [20 favorites]


If that actually works, then SOE has just incentivized the entire EverQuest player base to create and curate content for EverQuest in a way that...

is like Second Life
posted by yoHighness at 4:47 AM on August 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm not sure those are really game client screenshots, even if they're rendered using the game engine.

Look carefully at the language of the article and Sony's claims: everything is destructible. That doesn't actually say what will be allowed to be destroyed where, and at what intervals, and for how long, and requiring what abilities or resources, etc.

The discussion of a world reacting to player choices and in-world activity isn't all that different that from the description of features of existing MMOs (or MMOs that came and went). It's basically a group/public quest mechanic.

The fantastic claims here are about what Next is capable of in a vacuum, not what it necessarily will do in the form that it's released.
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:54 AM on August 3, 2013


If they show more of Landmark, that would provide more grist for the mill. Or, beans on the plate.
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:59 AM on August 3, 2013


Uh, if the game is in open beta then it seems like there's a fairly easy way to discover how true the claims are.

I've been following this blog where Miguel Cepero has been creating a voxel based game engine, and if you go back over a few posts he goes into a lot of detail about streaming, optimisations and the other various challenges that voxels throw up.

I believe his engine is being used in TUG and a couple of other projects. 7 Days to Die is another voxel based game which features destruction.
posted by lucidium at 5:04 AM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Those are chunks with physics. Not voxels. Imagine movable, sculpted Minecraft blocks, with weight, friction, and adhesion.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:04 AM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Here's a question. Why are you bothered about it? Why would it matter to us if the female characters in a fantasy world are dressed like what our culture tells us are whores?

Alas, the fantasy worlds we create are not separate from the culture of the human world. Imagine a fantasy world where there's a 'race' of dark-skinned humanoids whose main attributes are low intelligence, brutishness, criminality, and so on. Such a construction would rightly be called out as racist.

Actually, we don't have to imagine so hard: Robert E Howard's Conan stories are mind-bogglingly racist. And because it's not the 1930's anymore, and people don't really get a pass to publish blatant racism anymore.

As to those caricatured MALES in piles of armor.... Consider that there are also caricatured males in wizard hats, cleric's robes, theives cloaks, and so on. In these games, the male avatar is defined by profession. Meanwhile, every female character is apparently a multi-classed sex bunny. That's kind of fucked up.
posted by kaibutsu at 5:07 AM on August 3, 2013 [38 favorites]


The only game I know of that actually used voxels was Blade Runner, but nowadays "voxels" seems to be shorthand for "grid based world rendered with polygons". The appealing Minecraft quality of having everything be "real" and fairly near player-scale is the main feature to me.
posted by lucidium at 5:09 AM on August 3, 2013


Fucking Vangers used voxels, and had fully destructible scenery, and was basically the best and most utterly peculiar thing ever, and I have big dreams of one day finding and buying up the rights and making the best goddamned sequel.
posted by emmtee at 5:13 AM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


As the saying goes, the men are male power fantasies, and the women are male sex fantasies.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:18 AM on August 3, 2013 [23 favorites]


Alas, the fantasy worlds we create are not separate from the culture of the human world. Imagine a fantasy world where there's a 'race' of dark-skinned humanoids whose main attributes are low intelligence, brutishness, criminality, and so on. Such a construction would rightly be called out as racist.

But it's not quite the same thing. The race of humanoids implies something about genetics and the nature of humans, while the clothes thing is something our culture has told us. It is not the case that exposed skin must mean sexual promiscuity. I mean, even your use of the word "sex bunny" is imposing your own idea of what you think those clothes are obviously for.

Well -- to be realistic, that probably IS sort of what the designers intend, because we can't presuppose that the creators of a mass-market MMORPG have any artistic ideas about inventing an actual alien culture, and are instead just glomming together whatever fantasy cliches they've been sketching in notebooks since seventh grade.

But I wonder if it must necessarily be so. I've been known to play Gauntlet Legends from time to time, and its female characters gad about in very revealing clothes. But so do its male characters, even the wizard (who is a lot more ripped than your traditional magic user). I'm wondering if this means the same principle applies to it?
posted by JHarris at 5:24 AM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh, but this:
Consider that there are also caricatured males in wizard hats, cleric's robes, theives cloaks, and so on. In these games, the male avatar is defined by profession. Meanwhile, every female character is apparently a multi-classed sex bunny.

I do agree with this. In fact, I pretty much said so in my original comment:
Although of course the male characters will be hulking walls of metal, and combat will not be of such a nature that one would expect wearing next to no armor would be survivable, so yeah, your point stands really.
posted by JHarris at 5:26 AM on August 3, 2013


Uh, if the game is in open beta then it seems like there's a fairly easy way to discover how true the claims are.

That is a damned good point.

The only game I know of that actually used voxels was Blade Runner,
...
Fucking Vangers used voxels,

Maximum Overkill, and other Novalogic games.

There's an interesting series of Codermind articles on voxel engines, here's Part One.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:28 AM on August 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


At the risk of turning the thread into a list of games with voxels, I can't believe the mere mention of voxels didn't get me yelling OUTCAST! Outcast used voxels for its landscapes and is another fantastically ambitious old PC game where I would do terrible things to see a similarly ambitious sequel made!
posted by emmtee at 5:37 AM on August 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


In fact, I pretty much said so in my original comment

And that part of your original comment was what I was responding to there: Male characters aren't necessarily hulking walls of metal, because their avatars reflect their class.
posted by kaibutsu at 5:38 AM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yes, lesbians exist, and I have a problem with female characters designed like that, too, thanks. Strangely enough, lesbians also want females to be represented like human beings instead of sex objects.

While I know they don't have the world's best record on gender/etc issues, the best visual comparison I have is this NSFW Penny Arcade comic. It's not just a costume decision that happens to highlight more skin on females than males. It's a decision that your male characters exist to be characters, and your female characters exist to be tits and ass. Shirtless guy is not the male equivalent; that comic is the male equivalent, and I don't think we'll ever see it on a game by a major studio, anyway. The female equivalent, we see from major studios all the time, and that's why it's upsetting.
posted by Sequence at 5:39 AM on August 3, 2013 [14 favorites]


Yeah, there is that. I would agree on that too, that there should be more variety in female representations, and that it's weird that ALL the females are arrayed in duds that our culture would deem "stripperific."
posted by JHarris at 5:41 AM on August 3, 2013


Of course, I mostly play fantasy games where all the characters look like @.
posted by kaibutsu at 5:51 AM on August 3, 2013 [11 favorites]


Could some enormous stonking server cloud handle the more difficult number-crunching and push the results back to the clients?
posted by dudekiller at 5:59 AM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, there is that. I would agree on that too, that there should be more variety in female representations, and that it's weird that ALL the females are arrayed in duds that our culture would deem "stripperific."


Dude. It isn't weird at all. It's art direction. This culture did not evolve organically over millennia. It was put together by an art team, working to a brief.
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:04 AM on August 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


ArtW linked to this fantastic article recently on MetaFilter: The Simulation Dream. I think it's relevant.

It argues that you can aim to make a game which is "realistic", but that has little to do with what makes a good game. Games (of this sort) are about narrative and enjoyment. Games that allow (for example) players to create enormous trenches to prevent transit round the world will have enormous trenches that prevent transit around the world, which will be no fun.
posted by alasdair at 6:07 AM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Do I want to create my own content?
posted by Brocktoon at 6:10 AM on August 3, 2013


Fully half of purchasers of the original Everquest bought it for the box art alone and didn't even care if there was an asphalt shingle in the box instead of a CD.

From what I can see on the site and online, SOE has scaled back on the fan service by at least 90% for this. And for that, I'm grateful. It really says something that Sony is listening to smart people now when they design their products. For a long time Sony was engineer-driven, which produced some amazing technology buried in shit-tastic UI and wretched marketing. It's almost like they've learned something from Apple's success.

Actually, I'm only partly grateful. I do like eye candy. Being honest here. What I really wish is that they'd keep up the fan service but make it equal gender opportunity and based on realistic depictions of armour.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:13 AM on August 3, 2013


It sounds like somebody read REAMDE.
posted by 256 at 6:19 AM on August 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Lesbians also exist.

Oh! Hi there! Checking in! Here's the thing: last time I checked my existence, I am also a woman and am not attracted to male fantasies of women!
posted by liketitanic at 6:27 AM on August 3, 2013 [38 favorites]


But it's not quite the same thing. The race of humanoids implies something about genetics and the nature of humans, while the clothes thing is something our culture has told us. It is not the case that exposed skin must mean sexual promiscuity. I mean, even your use of the word "sex bunny" is imposing your own idea of what you think those clothes are obviously for.

You're not talking about a different culture here, you're talking about a product that's designed, written, and produced within a predominantly Western culture with a long history of patriarchal representations of women. I don't know if it's worthwhile to stretch your suspension of disbelief to that extent. Look at the Everquest Next page. This is their background image. Those representations of women are about half a step up from this, which is to say that they've taken prepubescent teen fantasy to it's modern day equivalent. It isn't anything new to hear that the majority white, 30+ males who make up the video gaming demographic are glossing over this as secondary to gameplay and graphics.
posted by dubusadus at 6:42 AM on August 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's at least interesting that they're doing different things with tech. In the last few years, it's felt like the "big studios" are just doing the same thing over and over, incapable of learning from the success of Minecraft, EVE, Super Meat Boy, Hotline Miami, or the dozens of other indie games that have done something unique.

Get this: since 2006, there has literally been a new Call of Duty game every single year. They're all virtually identical.
posted by sonic meat machine at 6:42 AM on August 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


it's kind of funny, isn't it, how often fantasy cultures just HAPPEN to involve exactly the same biases and shit as our own world .... like weird !! all these imaginary people are developing their imaginary cultures via hundreds of imaginary generations of imaginary people having imaginary social interactions, you know, springing this imaginary culture into existence, and somehow 90% of the time they end up with a culture where the individuals who have physical characteristics that we identify as "female" look just like modern real-world-western-culture "male sex fantasy" concepts ! since this could not possibly be caused by actual real-world human-culture people writing the thing and making it up themselves, it's definitely totally 100% caused by the fictional culture itself, i think we should have an imaginary sociologist do an imaginary study
posted by titus n. owl at 6:59 AM on August 3, 2013 [32 favorites]


All the female characters should just be big white rectangles with "A HOT BABE" written in the center. Nothing sexist about it whatsoever. It's just their culture.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:10 AM on August 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Until I am wearing some sort of VR thing and can walk in place to simulate running and can smell the world and touch the world and have my facial expression and voice transmitted THROUGH the game then I am done with mmo's. There is nothing to recommend them as they are now and I seriously, SERIOUSLY doubt that EQN is going to do any of this stuff at launch or ever. I would love to see this go well and do well.
posted by Our Ship Of The Imagination! at 7:29 AM on August 3, 2013


Everquest was super popular when I was in college. I lost several friends to that game, including my best friend, who flat out told me that if I ever wanted to see her again, I'd have to take up the game. (And people wonder to this day why I don't play MMORPGS.) The last time I saw her, she was playing the game and grumbling about having to make enough money (or whatever) so she could buy enough clothes to cover up her skanky character, and how it gave her the creeps that all the women were dressed like hookers.

Some things never change.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:29 AM on August 3, 2013


Also: if you want to discuss the actual game there is probably a better place for it than MeFi. This has turned in to a "no I hate fantasy armor more than you!" type of thing.
posted by Our Ship Of The Imagination! at 7:30 AM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Totally okay to turn it back into discussing-the-game, though. Best approach is probably to discuss the game.

I think the biggest issue there is newness, really; until more folks have had the time (and the inclination) to spend more time with it, it's more a thing that exists in abstract than something people can really chew on the details of, so we're sort of stuck talking about the stuff around the edges.
posted by cortex at 7:35 AM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also: if you want to discuss the actual game there is probably a better place for it than MeFi. This has turned in to a "no I hate fantasy armor more than you!" type of thing.

Yeah, sorry for the derail.

I should have phrased the point along the lines of 'some things never changed' or 'the revolution only goes so far'.

The game mechanics look interesting, but as mentioned previously, griefing is going to be an issue. It was a big issue in EQ original and giving players the ability to mod the terrain won't help.

Now, if the game was everyone on one server and the gameplay almost entirely PvP, it might be worth playing despite the sexism. Think EVE Online in a fantasy setting, thousand-player raids against mobs etc. Would work (power creep, server slowdown won't help your 'parkour' combat timing etc.), but I can dream.
posted by YAMWAK at 7:37 AM on August 3, 2013


I kind of wish there were a PvE game like EVE, where instead of the ultimate goal being large groups of people screwing over other large groups of people, the game world itself was so aggressively unfair and malevolent that you basically had to cooperate or everyone would get their butts kicked and get pushed back to the starting zones. I dunno, I suppose that might be a tough sell... most MMO players seem to go for relatively easy and predictable if the popularity of games like WoW is any indication.
posted by Zalzidrax at 7:39 AM on August 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


I like the concept of a game along the lines you suggest, Zalzidrax, but it would be impossible to balance. All the Americans go to bed and suddenly the Asian players are overwhelmed by the enemy, or summertime rolls in and everyone stops playing or whatever.

A surprisingly large number of players like to do single-player stuff on MMOs as well - that was one of the shifts that happened as people moved from EQ to WOW. In EQ a single player by themselves could not do anything unless they were at starter level, heavily twinked or had top raid level gear. In WoW, there were a few things people could do while waiting for their friends to show.
posted by YAMWAK at 7:44 AM on August 3, 2013


The game looks intriguing I will be trying it out to see how it runs. The last good sandbox mmorpg was Star Wars Galaxies where, at least in the beginning, pretty much all you could do was craft, hunts mobs to craft, and pvp. I quit because they were constantly changing the combat. And I still say someone with a gun is going to waste some unarmed combat guy way before unarmed combat becomes an advantage.

AC Darktide was the ultimate sandbox PVP environment. I miss that dynamic.

I'll have to see how restrictive EQN is regarding PVP. The DAoC/WoW/SWTOR use of "sides" never jibed with me. FFA please, doubt we'll see that in EQN though.

As Zalzidrax has pointed out, most people want ease and predictability, " if I do X I will automatically get Y results" rinse repeat.
posted by Max Power at 7:45 AM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Regardless of quality, there's a mental block against me playing Free-2-Play stuff because I can't get past the idea of purposeful unbalanced design to extract money from players. I realize that for some games it's merely cosmetic stuff, but the general impression I have of F2P turns me away from the genre as a whole.
posted by codacorolla at 7:46 AM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Whoa, Vangers looks awesome.

I saw some mentions of terrain regeneration, and from the videos it looks fairly time consuming to make even a dent (in stone at least), so it won't be down to the scrith too fast. You'd definitely need gameplay incentives that make griefing less "rewarding" though, or just make player structures immune.

I'll be excited to see what people build in a properly next gen minecraft (whether or not this game is that), given what people produce with the relative crudity of cubes.
posted by lucidium at 7:52 AM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I kind of wish there were a PvE game like EVE, where instead of the ultimate goal being large groups of people screwing over other large groups of people, the game world itself was so aggressively unfair and malevolent that you basically had to cooperate or everyone would get their butts kicked and get pushed back to the starting zones. I dunno, I suppose that might be a tough sell... most MMO players seem to go for relatively easy and predictable if the popularity of games like WoW is any indication.

The problem is that games with no player conflict get boring quickly. The corollary to this is that a sufficiently large player group can make any environmental challenges irrelevant. For example, in my brief time with EVE, I joined a corp that wanted recruits. In return for my joining, they provided me with ISK, ships, weapons, and training on advanced techniques. As a newcomer, I got the boring jobs, but the environment ceased to be a threat because they owned the environment around themselves, despite it being in EVE's 0.0 space (which is itself more hostile than most MMO environments). After a while, I contributed to this safety with my ability to kill the big "rats" that might threaten newcomers, and so it was a "virtuous cycle" in which new recruits could come in and add layers of security over the top of the environment.

You see something similar in DayZ, which initially seems completely inhospitable and difficult. When you're solo, it can be hard to get a character to survive even to find a hatchet; when you have a couple of friends, they can give you a place to meet, give you some matches and a Lee Enfield, and their group just got stronger. The threat then comes from other groups that are similarly equipped, not from the "Zeds" (zombies) that make up the environmental hostility.

All of this isn't to say that most MMO gameplay isn't completely broken. EVE has interesting gameplay because it barely has any; most of the game is politics, economic maneuvering, and the metagame. That's why posts about EVE can be interesting while posts about World of Warcraft never happen; the PvP is engaging. Even people who don't play can find it interesting. By contrast, MMOs like WoW and EQ are mostly a sorting algorithm keyed on who has the most free time (and/or values their real lives the least).
posted by sonic meat machine at 7:52 AM on August 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


I kind of wish there were a PvE game like EVE

There is the X series, currently on the last X3 expansion, with X4 ("X rebirth") on the way. Although it's like EVE hybridized with Freespace 2. Combat is in the cockpit, you pretty much need a joystick (and a throttle, imo). Terran Conflict is a good jumping-on point.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:53 AM on August 3, 2013


AC Darktide was the ultimate sandbox PVP environment. I miss that dynamic.

No, ArmA is. Or, specifically, DayZ. :)
posted by sonic meat machine at 7:53 AM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Regarding some of the griefing concern: Kotaku reports that many things will be "monster-destroyable but not player-destroyable" so as to avoid the "Let's turn Norrath into a parking lot!" effect.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 7:55 AM on August 3, 2013


> Robert E Howard's Conan stories are mind-bogglingly racist.

Conan, who has been the Ur-fantasy-barbarian figure graphically for how many decades now? is also always, always depicted--viz, a thousand Frazetta pulp paperback covers, a million Conan comics--as just as ridiculously unarmored and underclothed as any female fantasy barbarian character ever. Bunnyfur jockstrap, period.
posted by jfuller at 8:00 AM on August 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


They don't need to do anything earthshatteringly unique. WoW will tell you all you need to know about making an MMO. The numbers don't lie. Just make it better!
posted by Brocktoon at 8:01 AM on August 3, 2013


Scattershot responses here:

Dude. It isn't weird at all. It's art direction.

That is not the variety of weird I had in mind. Not weird as in unusual. It's more like telling.

The problem is that games with no player conflict get boring quickly.

Actually no, this is not borne out, at least not by the European board gaming community. It is possible to have player interaction without player conflict, and not only be interesting, but very interesting. And this idea, that players have to be able to directly affect each other, has been used to justify terrible design choices before, not the least of which against poor Dani Bunten back when she tried to implement Son of MULE on the Genesis but Electronic Arts insisted she include weapons to attack the other players.

WoW will tell you all you need to know about making an MMO. The numbers don't lie. Just make it better!

World of Warcraft's growth has slowed, and several of my friends who used to obsess over it have moved on to other games now. And to Blizzard's credit, they have always had a good sense of their game's limitations and how to navigate around them. "Just make it better" over WoW will probably bring marginal returns and anyway is being chased by a horde of other companies, it's time to break new ground. At least, Everquest Next is trying something potentially interesting.
posted by JHarris at 8:19 AM on August 3, 2013


No, ArmA is. Or, specifically, DayZ. :)

Haven't played DayZ in probably a year. It was all FFA to be sure but unlike AC Darktide no one had set up territories and defended them. Also DayZ is more FPS than an ongoing game. More than once I logged off in a safe place loaded for bear only to log back in on the beach, all my loot gone.
posted by Max Power at 8:21 AM on August 3, 2013


Uh, if the game is in open beta then it seems like there's a fairly easy way to discover how true the claims are.

Somebody here with more free time than I have please do this and report back to the rest of us. A lot of these claims really do sound like the kinds of things game designers have wanted to do for years if not decades but technical limitations have always gotten in the way.

I'm also a bit concerned by the whole free2play aspect; there are a lot of really noxious ways to implement that.

Fucking Vangers

Okay, where can I get this?
posted by mstokes650 at 8:23 AM on August 3, 2013


Okay, so this is the first game that made me want to become a /btard and form a guild with the sole purpose of strip-mining all the starting areas... I mean as in, start characters just to dig. Thousands and thousands of a-holes hell bent on digging a portion of the map to irrelevance. Yeah, crappy dream, but hey, that's all that I can think of now.
posted by Nanukthedog at 8:24 AM on August 3, 2013


Haven't played DayZ in probably a year. It was all FFA to be sure but unlike AC Darktide no one had set up territories and defended them. Also DayZ is more FPS than an ongoing game. More than once I logged off in a safe place loaded for bear only to log back in on the beach, all my loot gone.

Fair enough. What about EVE? As I said in my longer comment earlier, a lot of that is about territorial control; see this map for an example. (Interestingly, I see that Goonswarm's position has moved completely across the galaxy from when I played. Odd.)
posted by sonic meat machine at 8:24 AM on August 3, 2013


The problem is that games with no player conflict get boring quickly.

Glitch wasn't boring.

On preview, JHarris arrived just in time to elaborate on my "nuh-uh".
posted by Room 641-A at 8:26 AM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Actually no, this is not borne out, at least not by the European board gaming community. It is possible to have player interaction without player conflict, and not only be interesting, but very interesting. And this idea, that players have to be able to directly affect each other, has been used to justify terrible design choices before, not the least of which against poor Dani Bunten back when she tried to implement Son of MULE on the Genesis but Electronic Arts insisted she include weapons to attack the other players.

I'd argue that any game which has a "winner" has conflict, not just interaction, no matter how abstract the media of conflict may be.

I'd also say that a board game is a completely different beast than a persistent online world; an online world with no player conflict is essentially just a solitaire game with other people visible as they also partake in the solitaire game. It can be an interesting design choice, but it's not really making an interesting online world. Consider MUDs in the 90s. As new MUDs came online with somewhat different ideas for skills, quests, classes, and so on, they gained a following. As people mastered the games, they grew bored and left, or the implementers focused on providing an ever-higher ceiling for mastery (later exemplified by WoW expansions). The games that lasted a longer time were the ones where conflict was not purely PvE but also PvP; even if their systems were more primitive, they often held more emotional interest than their more advanced successor.
posted by sonic meat machine at 8:33 AM on August 3, 2013


Everquest isn't in open beta btw - they're accepting sign-ups for what sounds like an NDAed, closed beta, to begin at an unspecified but probably reasonably far-off date based on their description of it as 'still in the early stages of development with no announcement date set'. There's also a beta signup for the EQ Next Landmark design-tool thing, which sounds like it'll be closer but obviously not a look at the game itself.

Fucking Vangers

Okay, where can I get this?


Sadly, legitimately pretty much nowhere - there's a wishlist page for it on Good Old Games where about ten people share my love for its complete and utter strangeness. There are definitely torrents around for it that work, or were when I had a brief resurgence of wanting to play it about a year ago, but I was damned if I could get it to work right on a modern PC.
posted by emmtee at 8:37 AM on August 3, 2013


I want to believe.

But as JHarris summarized, there's a lot of challenges to making the game they describe actually work and be fun. Ultima Online explored a lot of this territory and while it was a successful game, it closed a lot of doors on what an MMO could be. I'm excited that Sony is trying to reopen a few of them but I'm skeptical of how well it will work.
posted by Nelson at 8:51 AM on August 3, 2013


I'll have to see how restrictive EQN is regarding PVP. The DAoC/WoW/SWTOR use of "sides" never jibed with me. FFA please, doubt we'll see that in EQN though.

There are some FFA areas in SWTOR. Not used much except when a recurring event partially takes place in one of them, at which time there's always huuuge amounts of complaints about it.

(SWTOR sadly does still have the skimpy armor problem, though there's also plenty of actual armor for female characters. And they have been adding some skimpy outfits for male toons too.)
posted by kmz at 9:12 AM on August 3, 2013


Glitch wasn't boring.

Datapoint: I found it so boring that I'd rather drive nails into my skull with my bare hands than every play it again, which, fortunately, I can't.
posted by unSane at 9:27 AM on August 3, 2013


I'm really curious in an academic way to see how this plays out, but the MMO I'm actually excited to try is Elder Scrolls Online, because they really do seem to be building a game with valid exploration/crafting/non-combat gameplay options with the signature huge, detailed world of the Elder Scrolls games. I have killed enough rats in my day, but I can never get over wanting to see the other side of that hill.
posted by restless_nomad at 9:45 AM on August 3, 2013


(And yes, the reason I never picked up EQ was in fact Firiona Vie. The female characters in ESO look like this and that is what I want out of art direction.)
posted by restless_nomad at 9:50 AM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure this is it, but there is a huge bucket of money for whomever finally makes "Minecraft except correctly programmed and optimized".
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:55 AM on August 3, 2013


On the big "why is female character design in games so terrible" conversation, I want to say that this is a big reason why I enjoy Second Life and the Megami Tensei games (although the MMO is not the bee's knees, it does have some cool fashion going on). Both feature lots of genuinely awesome, stylish clothing that I, as a woman, would be happy (for my avatar) to wear; the former, because it's all user made (so people are thinking, "Hmmm, what would I like to wear?" on some level) and the latter because it generally tries to avoid cliched fantasy worlds and the adolescent boy trappings of the genre/medium.

Playing around with my avatar's appearance in a game or virtual world is a lot of fun for me and an enormous part of my immersion or sense of presence in that space, so character and outfit design are important to me and poor design sends me the message that, "Hey, this isn't for you." When poor design is drenched in oversexualization of female characters, that message can be a little too loud and aggressive. I'm happier deciding for myself what is and isn't for me, thanks; lots of games really don't appeal to me, but I don't need embarrassingly "sexy" clothing trying to stop me before I even take a peek at something.

Also interesting to note: tons of clothing in Second Life is way, way more sexualized than anything you'd see in a game. But I'm actually perfectly happy with that, because there's enough diversity that, if someone has chosen to represent themselves that way, it's cool. They are doing so with agency. There's nothing wrong with sexiness--it is fun and human; it's all about how much of a voice you have in that. Are you represented sexually because you want to be or because the social context around you leaves you no choice?
posted by byanyothername at 10:06 AM on August 3, 2013 [9 favorites]


any hero can grab a pick and start digging

If this is true, the entire world will look like the surface of the moon within a few hours, with only gigantic stone phallus structures breaking up the monotonous wasteland.
posted by pravit at 10:35 AM on August 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Re voxels:

Imagine a minecraft world where instead of square blocks, each cube is actually a point on a polygon. So you get a smoother world, but with all the modifiability.
posted by empath at 11:31 AM on August 3, 2013


Lesbians also exist.

So I take it you've heard rumors about them ("They exist!") but have no idea what they're like or what they want from their video games?
posted by straight at 11:53 AM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry, that was unnecessarily hostile. But is there any lamer defense of the male gaze than, "Lesbians might like it"?
posted by straight at 12:03 PM on August 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


empath: "Re voxels:

Imagine a minecraft world where instead of square blocks, each cube is actually a point on a polygon. So you get a smoother world, but with all the modifiability.
"

If the voxels are fine-grained enough, it makes really no difference to the user. Check out Procedural World for a really gorgeous implementation of user-editable procedural terrain using voxels. Or just check his latest video.
posted by vanar sena at 12:43 PM on August 3, 2013


But is there any lamer defense of the male gaze than, "Lesbians might like it"?

Sure, there's "what's wrong with being sexy?"
posted by dubold at 12:48 PM on August 3, 2013


I'm actually not so upset about this, it is a fantasy world after all, and their cultural norms are allowed to be different from ours.

Jesus Christ. Do you even remotely actually believe this, or are you just trying to play Internet Contrarian Hero on the easiest difficulty setting?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:01 PM on August 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


Regardless of quality, there's a mental block against me playing Free-2-Play stuff because I can't get past the idea of purposeful unbalanced design to extract money from players. I realize that for some games it's merely cosmetic stuff, but the general impression I have of F2P turns me away from the genre as a whole.

Just try thinking of it as a free demo. If the free version of the game isn't fun, they're doing it wrong and you probably won't like it better if you pay for some stuff.
posted by straight at 1:01 PM on August 3, 2013


Look carefully at the language of the article and Sony's claims: everything is destructible.

Yeah, that wouldn't necessarily mean anything is player-destroyable. It could just mean the developers have the freedom to easily destroy/build/rearrange/generate the environment.
posted by straight at 1:05 PM on August 3, 2013


Whoa, Vangers looks awesome.

Well, not Heinrich.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:24 PM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Jesus Christ. Do you even remotely actually believe this, or are you just trying to play Internet Contrarian Hero on the easiest difficulty setting?

Do you have a point in rebuttal to make, or are you just engaging in Lazy Ad Hominem Snark on the easiest difficulty setting?
posted by snuffleupagus at 1:24 PM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


also what any women like is completely different from what any men like (neurology), which is why I can discern the audience of a thing with 100% accuracy
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 1:44 PM on August 3, 2013


Do you have a point in rebuttal to make, or are you just engaging in Lazy Ad Hominem Snark on the easiest difficulty setting?

I'm pretty sure my comment clearly spoke for itself, and that you already know that but had that quip in your head and just wanted to get it out anyway. But that said:

We're not talking about the tribal wear of a foreign nation or peoples' perceptions of burquas or geishas or anything like that. The suggestion that there should be a more attuned level of tolerance about a completely fictionalized group of people who happen to dress all their women in outfits meant to sexually titillate male players as "different cultural norms" is, as titus noted above, horseshit. And I call out statements like it because they provide nothing to the conversation except noise to block out actual points, and are meant either to satisfy the whims of the writer or insult the intelligence of the reader. Neither are acceptable.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:55 PM on August 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Jesus Christ. Do you even remotely actually believe this, or are you just trying to play Internet Contrarian Hero on the easiest difficulty setting?

It's complicated. For more, I refer you to every comment I've made in this thread. Pretty much everyone who has responded to that part of my initial comment has ignored the followup, in the same comment, which basically says, "but that doesn't apply here, so never mind." But then people quote the part immediately before that, and then other people respond to the quote. Then I try to respond to that to clarify, and it happens again.

So it's not that I'm playing "Internet Contrarian Hero," thanks for that BTW, it's that I have a complicated idea I'm trying to bring across, maybe not real well, in a thread where I guess people are mostly just wanting to snark.
posted by JHarris at 2:19 PM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Turns out EQ:N is using the Voxel Farm engine.

That's really neat, I remember stumbling across his videos back when it was almost a proof of concept, and he had a poll up asking readers what direction he should take the engine in. It's amazing to see one man (slash genius) take something that seemed interesting but probably over-ambitious to a commercially viable engine in use for something like Everquest. I'm not even jealous, just pleased.
posted by lucidium at 2:59 PM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I stand corrected on the technology, but those fragmenting trees still look a lot like lego pieces, which is kind of what I had in mind.

The Voxel Farm stuff is pretty cool, I saw some of his work earlier!

They've got a lot of work to do on their particle systems though. Really generic stuff. But hey, it's a beta. It needs to work before it needs to look pretty. I'm down with that.
posted by seanmpuckett at 3:03 PM on August 3, 2013


It's also really impressive to see the sort of art they've managed to produce with the engine, presumably with everyone having to learn how to use a whole new set of tools. I wonder if they're making any use of his procedural generation as well, because he's done some serious work there too.
posted by lucidium at 3:13 PM on August 3, 2013


Oh, and I didn't put this in the FPP because it felt (even more) like an ad, but Everquest Next is in open beta, if that's your thing.


As has been mentioned, this is a damn lie.
posted by kbanas at 4:21 PM on August 3, 2013


Noted.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 5:14 PM on August 3, 2013


If that actually works, then SOE has just incentivized the entire EverQuest player base to create and curate content for EverQuest in a way that... wow. Just.... Holy shit. My mind. It reels.

Well, Valve has paid out more than ten million dollars (or brokered other players paying that money) to players who have created content for the game. It is an interesting new world, and not everyone *cough EA cough* is focusing on using the new ideas and tools to tighten restrictions on customers and Get More Money.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:35 PM on August 3, 2013


Elder Scrolls Online

valid exploration/crafting/non-combat gameplay options

oh please be true oh please be true oh please be true
posted by BitterOldPunk at 5:38 PM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


And on the tangent I'm going to say I'm male, like to look at attractive women. And I don't find stripperific armour attractive. I find it silly, degrading, and a mark of incompetence. Armour is designed for a purpose. And armour that fails at that purpose is inherently unsexy. The simple rule should be that every item of female clothing/armour has an exactly matching item of male clothing and vise-versa (with the single exception of minimum breast coverage for "armour" that's the equivalent of a simple loin cloth). And the concept of the trolls and griefers using male avatars wearing the Borat Mankini has its appeal. (Game rule. Any armour that gets removed on petition is removed for both sexes).
posted by Francis at 6:00 PM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's complicated. For more, I refer you to every comment I've made in this thread. Pretty much everyone who has responded to that part of my initial comment has ignored the followup, in the same comment, which basically says, "but that doesn't apply here, so never mind." But then people quote the part immediately before that, and then other people respond to the quote. Then I try to respond to that to clarify, and it happens again.


I don't think it's that people are ignoring the second part, for the record - I just think it's not really game-changing as a statement. It's possible to have a fantasy world in which women's armour is not clearly impractical, and designed for the titillation of a (presumed male) playing audience. Bethesda has pretty much made that standard in its fantasy world, for example. Likewise Taleworld's Mount and Blade, where, once introduced, female characters wore mail shirts that protected their vitals, rather than being ripped to expose the heart and belly.

If you say "I guess you could make a game that interrogated why the women are dressed in chainmail bikinis, but that would turn into a game about gender disparity", that's true, but it's kind of presupposing that the chainmail bikinis are non-optional - that every cod-medieval culture is necessarily going to have chainmail bikinis, and the question is whether or not to hang a lampshade on it. Whereas I think it is demonstrably possible not to have chainmail bikinis in the first place.
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:03 PM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Totally okay to turn it back into discussing-the-game, though. Best approach is probably to discuss the game.

To be honest, discussing the seeming sexism in the game, for a game that has traditionally relied on it, is discussing the game. (In as much as there is to discuss at this point.) It may even be more important than a credible AI or a destructible world for some people in deciding whether or not they'd like to play it.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:03 AM on August 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I think discussing it within the purview of this game is a valid part of the overall conversation, but if the discussion just becomes a general conversation about sexism in gaming as opposed to talking specific points about this game, well we've had very many posts and long conversations about that, and at least one thread on the topic that's open right now.
posted by taz at 3:44 AM on August 4, 2013


I really, really hate to say this, but semi-naked sorceresses are not unrealistic. It's the heavily-robed sorcerers that don't make sense. Read the following article, imagine what the wizards at Unseen University are probably really wearing, and then go wash your brain out.
Thor and Loki are Probably Naked Most of the Time: On Godly Manifestations of Power

posted by Joe in Australia at 3:54 AM on August 4, 2013


Elder Scrolls Online

valid exploration/crafting/non-combat gameplay options

oh please be true oh please be true oh please be true

Wildstar looks interesting if you are interested in non-combat options. Otherwise it looks exactly like WoW, though.

I'm actually a little worried about ESO. Are they planning to charge a subscription fee? Because I think that day is done. It feels like the sun is setting on WoW's dominance of the genre, but I don't know what's going to replace it. Someone is going to win the lottery, and there are going to be a lot of also-rans.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 4:16 AM on August 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Comparing the "gameplay" videos for ESO and Everquest, it looks like Sony has flipped the script and decided to market hot, dead chicken as eternal life instead of the other way around as is their usual wont. Elementary Penguin is right that Wildstar looks intriguing.

As far as the clothes and armor for female characters, I thought the outfit in the video I just linked for EQ wasn't terrible. I'd rather they let people look like whatever they want to to look like, let every character put on every outfit, making sure to include both sensible and sexy outfits for both sexes, and just let people do their own thing.
posted by ob1quixote at 4:49 AM on August 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Simple: When you die you respawn as a baddie of approximately the same level and you have to do five minutes service playing AI.
posted by fingerbang at 7:47 AM on August 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


I really want Wildstar not to suck, but if it doesn't get ten million subs three months out of launch I worry that NCsoft is just going to shut it down, like they've done with every other non-Guild Wars American product.

I have issues with NCsoft.
posted by restless_nomad at 8:42 AM on August 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


I really, really hate to say this, but semi-naked sorceresses are not unrealistic.

I don't think people have a problem with "Mighty sorceresses can wear whatever they want." It's the "If women could wear anything they want, it would be outfits designed for the male gaze" part that's stupid (and/or wishful thinking).
posted by straight at 8:43 AM on August 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I kind of wish there were a PvE game like EVE, where instead of the ultimate goal being large groups of people screwing over other large groups of people, the game world itself was so aggressively unfair and malevolent that you basically had to cooperate or everyone would get their butts kicked and get pushed back to the starting zones.

Co-op Left 4 Dead: MMO'd?

And it's like, the notes on this majestic elf wizard conjuring the elegant majjykks of her people


This made me laugh gleefully. Good job!
posted by ersatz at 10:04 AM on August 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't think people have a problem with "Mighty sorceresses can wear whatever they want." It's the "If women could wear anything they want, it would be outfits designed for the male gaze" part that's stupid (and/or wishful thinking).

For example, the female character in the EN gameplay demo has quite the cleavage window and hourglass figure, not to mention the difference between her art direction and that of the tank. It's not a worst offender but it's also makes for a terrible standard when viewed in context of the design for Zoe from Dreamfall or even Elizabeth in the first act of Bioshock: Infinite.
posted by dubusadus at 11:00 AM on August 4, 2013


There are also gender issues with their community questions. The one that asks "Should female dwarves have beards seems problematic. The idea being that because all dwarven women don't hold to the standards of femininity, they should be treated as men, not as women. Give them beards! It's funny! It's empowering! If you already fall outside of normative standards and the male gaze rejects you then we might as well make you into a circus sideshow.
posted by dubusadus at 11:18 AM on August 4, 2013


The female dwarves having beards is likely a bit of an in-joke. The head of community at SOE is a woman who cosplays (spectacularly) a bearded female dwarf at every possible opportunity. She's very vocal about it.
posted by restless_nomad at 11:23 AM on August 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Heh, I had no idea. The range of her cosplay is amazing.
posted by dubusadus at 11:39 AM on August 4, 2013


To be fair, the idea of beards on dwarven females goes back to Tolkien at least.
posted by logicpunk at 11:41 AM on August 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


She comments on it at 2:00 or so here. (And that is an only slightly exaggerated version of her actual accent.)
posted by restless_nomad at 12:21 PM on August 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


the game world itself was so aggressively unfair and malevolent that you basically had to cooperate or everyone would get their butts kicked

Over on MeFightClub a few of us are playing the Minecraft mod Better Than Wolves like this. BTW is a deliberately difficult mod, very difficult, surviving the first night requires serious effort and preparation. Then you're OK for a few days until you ate all the nearby animals and realize you have no way to feed yourself. It takes a long time to get a working farm going, and meanwhile you're trying to scrounge up enough calories to let you do the labor to mine the ore you need to build the tools to till the soil.

One thing that makes BTW particularly challenging is if you die, you spawn randomly a long, long way from base, like two Minecraft days' walk. (Certain death if you just tried to go directly, and besides you're lost.) One of the MFC community's current projects is to leave little survival packs at findable spots all around our base, so that lost souls can find a pointer to home and a bit of food to sustain them on the journey.
posted by Nelson at 12:44 PM on August 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


I wonder if a reverse pyramid type thing would be effective- make the ladies start out as covered as possible, then as the levels get higher and the gear more rare/expensive, make it skimpier.

I.... am entirely unsure if this idea is sarcasm or not.
posted by Jacen at 3:17 PM on August 5, 2013


Is the goal to make women increasingly uncomfortable until they quit?
posted by restless_nomad at 3:28 PM on August 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


kaibutsu: "As to those caricatured MALES in piles of armor.... Consider that there are also caricatured males in wizard hats, cleric's robes, theives cloaks, and so on. In these games, the male avatar is defined by profession. Meanwhile, every female character is apparently a multi-classed sex bunny. That's kind of fucked up."

My husband and I played GuildWars2. He started a female warrior, because the image they show in character creation has some kickass looking armor. Going through the levels, none of the armor looked like that, but she actually wore armor. Tummy covered, legs covered; ya know...armor. Then we hit max levels; and all of the armor was stripper gear. Full on, OMG stripper gear. Not long after we'd done the quest to get his final piece, and he looked at the whole set, he was just disgusted. Hasn't played the game since. In that same game, I found the only way that I could play a female character, and not end up in stripper gear at the end game, was to play their little house-elf race. That race gets to keep it's clothes on. Probably because they're short little pepperpots with big floppy puppy ears. But pretty much every other female class ends up in midriff baring bikini tops with long skirts that are missing the front panel. Sigh.
posted by dejah420 at 10:33 PM on August 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


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