Zeal Goes Live on Kickstarter

I gave my first impressions of Zeal not too long ago. It’s a game that’s in Early Access on Steam and as of right now you can download and try it for free. It doesn’t seem to have that big of a playerbase at the moment though, as I didn’t have much luck in finding matches when I tried it out. There are some basic arena and training areas to test and the game is being updated frequently with new tweaks and balances. Apparently the developers are aiming higher though, and have just started up a Kickstarter for the game. The video above will give you an idea about what to expect from the game, as can my impressions post. It’s basically a PvP arena with predetermined character builds with a smidge of customization options. It does sound like the developers have more in mind though. From the description:

Zeal is a 3rd person Action RPG where you don’t need to level up and gear up your characters, you just pick a class, make a build and jump right into the action!

Depending on the success of our campaign, the game will feature:

— No more placeholders, 90% of the assets will be replaced and graphics, animations, optimization and effects will be greatly improved.
— Up to 16 playable classes 
— Arena mode of 1v1, 2v2 and 3v3 with ladder system
— Battlegrounds, big scale fights that ranges between 5v5 to 20v20 depending on map with interactive objectives such as Capture The Flag or Defend The Base.
— Dungeons: An action-packed PvE mode with different difficulty levels.
— Conquest Mode: A massive map with 35 teams of 2 players fighting for dominance until a last team is standing.
— Story Campaign which can be completed alone or with up to 2 friends.

One of my early complaints was that the game looked kind of crappy and the animations were pretty wonky. Apparently they are planning to update their assets, which should definitely be a step in the right direction. There were already 8 or 9 characters to choose from when I played, but looks like they are shooting for 16. I also only tried the arena mode, but they aim to add Battlegrounds, Dungeons, Conquest and a Story Campaign. So they are trying to have some PvE content as well, which is good for people who care, but I would think that if they stretch themselves too far you might get lower quality in each. They also aren’t promising all of this for their original asking price, some modes are only part of stretch goals.

As of this morning, their crowdfunding efforts have brought in $8638 of their $102,691 goal. There are 29 days remaining, but that probably doesn’t bode well. $100k isn’t that much to ask for games these days, but I don’t know that this is exactly what people want. Some players actually enjoy the grind and many don’t want a predetermined character. This mixes some of the elements of MOBAs and MMOs in my mind, where you get the MMO style gameplay but you get more of a predetermined MOBA character with which to do so. I don’t see it as being detrimental, because I don’t really enjoy the grind and I would prefer to just jump into a MMO-like PvP experience without it. It’s definitely a to each their own kind of situation, but I have my doubts they get funded without an explosion of pledges soon.

I’ll keep an eye on this and update when the campaign is over.

Couch Podtatoes Episode 89: The Can’t Catch Up Myth

CP4

Tacktix is back to tackle another issue, and this time he’s brining to light some issues with the “Can’t Catch Up” myth, along with presenting his “90/10” rule. You’ll have to listen to the episode to know what he means by all of this, but the TLDR version is that this has to do with PvE gear treadmills along with the issue of gear in PvP engagements. We tackle these issues and have some witty banter about the games we’ve been playing lately as well. Check it out and let us know what your thoughts are!

 

Download this Episode Subscribe via RSS Download on iTunes Listen on Stitcher

Couch Podtatoes Epsiode 89: The Can’t Catch Up Myth (runtime: 50:46)

What are we playing? (starts at 00:54)
Discussion: Can’t Catch Up + 90/10 Rule (starts at 12:42)

Host Contact information:

Izlain
Blog: Me vs. Myself and I
Twitter: @mevsmyselfandi

Eri
Blog: Healing The Masses
Twitter: @ausj3w3l

Tacktix
Blog: Tough Love Critic
Twitter: @TaCktiX

Music Credits:
“Bit Rush” by Riot Games
“With You” by PantyRaid (from the album After Glow)
“Enchanted Rose” by Bury Your Dead (from the album Beauty and the Breakdown)

Couch Podtatoes is a podcast about gaming, though we might stray into other forms of media. Sometimes we use strong language, but we try to keep that to a minimum. All opinions expressed by us or our guests are our own and are in no way to be interpreted as official commentary from any companies we discuss. You can visit our official podcast page at Libsyn.com. Be sure to follow us on iTunes, and/or Stitcher Radio.

You can also find the show in video format at The Gaming And Entertainment Network YouTube page. Or, view it here:

Questions, comments and feedback are welcomed and encouraged!

Zombies Monsters Robots: 5 Reasons

Zombies Monsters Robots, otherwise know as ZMR, released on Steam the other day. I hadn’t noticed initially, but saw it on the storefront yesterday, and thought I’d give it a whirl. After spending the night with it, I can honestly say it’s the best shooter I’ve played in years. After having tried out much of the game and getting in touch with its various systems, I offer you, dear reader, 5 reasons why you should play ZMR:

1. It’s free

Yes, ZMR is completely free to play, and no game mode is restricted by a pay wall. There is a cash shop, but I’ll save that evaluation for later. Just know that you can download the client, and after a short registration you can get right into the gun-toting action.

2014-09-20_00009

2. It’s got PvE

Most people would be worried at this point, as a lobby-based multiplayer shooter is likely to only contain PvP. This is not the case with ZMR. It’s got PvE, and lots of it. As a bonus, it’s not a campaign setting, it’s actually a series of different game modes where you cooperatively kill baddies, in the form of — you guessed it — Zombies, Monsters, and Robots. They just added in an update that also includes Dinosaurs. Not just any Dinos though, we’re talking Dinos with rocket launchers and shit. It’s crazy.

2014-09-20_00026
Meh, didn’t get a screen with the machinery wielding kind.

3. It’s got PvP

Never fear though, if the AI isn’t enough for you, and you prefer the challenge of testing your wits against other players, there’s the traditional PvP modes we’ve all grown to love. Team Deathmatch, King of the Hill and more. There’s also a rather awesome Mercs vs. Monsters (MvM) mode that allows you to play as many of the big bad ass creatures you’ll fight against in PvE. I preferred the Monsters in this mode, but there is a “halftime” of sorts where you get to switch sides and see both sides of the coin. Monsters have a bunch of zombies and big mutant guys, while the mercs start human with guns but at later levels you’ll see big dudes and robots. It’s a crazy game mode but it’s a lot of fun.

2014-09-20_00017 2014-09-20_00018 2014-09-20_00020

4. It mixes everything from every lobby shooter you know and love

This game really covers all the bases, as I’ve played many a shooter over the years, and it does a good job of integrating ideas from different well-known titles. The third person perspective is reminiscent of Resident Evil, Uncharted, or Gears of War. There actually were some of the makers of GoW involved in its production, so fans of that series will feel right at home. The rolling around, cover system and gunplay are all very familiar. It doesn’t have the jumping and climbing of Uncharted, but as a long time player of that series, it still feels just fine. There’s a level progression and inventory meta game that are straight from Call of Duty and other military shooters. The clothing is mostly aesthetic, but there are some extra gains for gold/experience on some of them. There are mods to add to your weapons, and useable items as well. It does a good job of keeping everything concise.

2014-09-20_00027

The assault missions are more objective based and linear, but have some awesome boss battles.

2014-09-20_00011

My favorite co-op mode is called Kill Everything, and is basically a straight copy of Zombies from Call of Duty. It has the wave after wave of enemies, repairing barriers, traps that cost points, and even the mystery box. It just sucks because there’s a limit to the rounds. Perhaps there is an option to make it endless like in CoD.

2014-09-20_00004

5. Cash shop isn’t intrusive

There are multiple currencies which seems to be the case with most cash shops these days. You earn Gold and Rep during matches and by completing missions (which usually equate to just finishing a map in PvE or getting a certain amount of kills on a particular PvP map). These can be used to buy items, gear, and weapons. EMP is the RMT here, and it’s rather steep. $10 will get you 1000 points, which is basically good for one item. There are also lockboxes that drop from missions and those need keys that you can only buy with EMP, but I believe you can get 3 keys for that $10. Considering I got 5 boxes at once, this is also not a good deal. There are also some slot unlocks that you need for items and those are EMP only. This may be rectified in the future, but I don’t see where you need any of this to get ahead. A mini game that comes in the form of a shooting gallery can sometimes net some pretty good stuff, so basically you can grind your way through the game. In my experience thus far, I haven’t seen people with super awesome weapons or gear that I couldn’t earn myself. So besides the couple of things I’d like to have EMP for, it’s not a game-breaking thing.

I definitely recommend this game to anyone who enjoys shooters. It’s a lot of fun. If you catch me on Steam let’s get a game going. I’ll leave you with a couple of brag worthy score boards:

2014-09-20_00006
Top of the board by a lot, PvE Zombies mode.
2014-09-20_00016
King of the Hill match, my team won perfectly, didn’t let the other team get a single point!

#zmr #zombiesmonstersrobots #thirdpersonshooter #freetoplay

Soapbox Derby

I think it’s time to put some things to bed.

First, let’s cover the back story. Syp over at Bio Break, recently wrote a post about ArcheAge. I should also make clear that I have yet to play ArcheAge and I haven’t been following it all that closely. I know there was a paid Alpha, and I know I didn’t spend money on that. I was recently invited to the closed beta that’s starting next week, but that’s not clouding anything I’m going to say here. Regardless of my knowledge of the game or lack thereof, I was presented with some opinions about the game and it’s community in his post.

I should also mention that I didn’t read his post first. I actually read J3w3l’s response which lead me to his, but that’s not super relevant because I read both blogs almost daily. I basically read both posts at the same time, and here’s the gist of them:

Syp believes that because ArcheAge is an MMO, it should cater to all audiences. ArcheAge was apparently (correct me if I’m wrong) built to be a open-world PvP-only game. This means that even the most basic systems were composed with PvP conflict in mind. Something like that is rarely done, and Syp himself is part of the reason why. He isn’t a PvP player. People who aren’t PvP players would prefer PvE servers that at the very most have instanced PvP, but preferably none at all. That’s fine, to each their own I say. But the dilution of the MMO industry has occurred because of people who don’t allow games like this to be untouched, meaning the developers get to make the game they envision. Next thing you know, a game like ArcheAge is another run-of-the-mill themepark, just because someone who doesn’t like PvP games demanded that a PvE version be made.

J3w3l was a bit more hostile in her reply, though knowing her and her personality, she’s mostly joking. But the passion is there, and that’s what’s important. Passion makes good games. Good games don’t always cater to everyone. If you want to knock it down to its most basic level, there are many other MMOs on the market that already cater to everyone, and have a little bit of both. Go play one. But when a game that’s breaking out of the mold comes along you cry that it needs to be more of the same. That’s a shame, and as a result we’d never see anything new again. I’m glad some developers are still willing to take risks.

So that’s the basic argument, with a splash of my opinion sprinkled throughout. On J3w3l’s post, I commented:

The PvPers manifesto right here.

I read Syp’s post, and I too felt as combative as the players on the forums that he referenced. The entire industry (outside of instanced pvp or the call of duty series or MOBAs as a whole) is built on PvE. PvAI more like. And I’ve been a major supporter of PvP because it does create ever-changing dynamic content. Sure there are RP servers that do some pretty amazing things in other MMOs, but it’s still not dynamic, and it usually equates to do some frivolous stuff and standing around a bunch. The ability to have the dynamics that games like EVE had (and I’m glad Wilhelm brought that up) where PvE players can still participate in farming/mining/economy — whatever — is where PvE players could still get some fun out of PvP games, and maybe even learn to enjoy them. Supposedly the majority of EVE players stay out of the PvP areas.

One way or the other, I am all for diversity amongst games, and not just with race/class/sex issues, but also for the types of mechanics they use. There are very few successful PvP-only MMOs, and if ArcheAge is able to bring a new one to the fold without catering to the entitled folks, I’m all for it. I actually just got a closed beta invite yesterday, so I’ll be checking it out myself next week.

Kudos for the article. Well done.

That went unnoticed for a couple of days. Sure enough, it wouldn’t be for long. My buddy Doone, ever the antagonizer, had this to say:

I see people throw this term around a lot. Dynamic suggests unexpected things can happen in game, and to that end whenever there are players around doing ANYTHING, the game is dynamic. The constant threat of losing assets you spent a lot of time to get doesn’t add dynamism. It just adds risk. So what is this dynamic gameplay you all are referring to which can only be present when players are killing each other?

The funny part about all this is that Doone doesn’t have a problem with PvP, he just likes to argue. So I responded again, and I think I made my point clear:

The dynamic you are missing is that killing isn’t necessarily what is meant by PvP. It’s the dynamic element of HUMAN INTELLIGENCE which eclipses that of AI, and can create conflict from nothing, can create situations that wouldn’t occur when it’s a program run by a script. Tell me that running the same stupid pattern in a dungeon or raid over and over again doesn’t get old fast. Tell me that it would be more fun if you knew the enemy was able to actually ADAPT to what you’re doing, rather than wondering why he can’t hit you with the fire, but some other dumb player will stand in it?

I think that people who swear off PvP are afraid of a challenge. Each camp has its trolls, sure, but I think pro-PvP gamers are mostly looking for something dynamic and engaging. We are tired of the rails.

Now, I know that this isn’t speaking for the entirety of PvP players. I’m sure there are plenty of assholes out there who love to grief, and who might take things a bit too far. But there’s a breed of PvP player who feels just like the paragraph above, and I think they would agree that it puts the argument to rest. It won’t ever stop, but I feel like I got the best word in.

EDIT (7/28):
The discussion has continued, beyond comments here and on the posts linked above. Syp has posted a follow up to his original post. You can read that here. I’m sure we’ve all been entitled players at one point or another, so I’ll agree with him that we’re all hypocrites. But at the same time, I still stand firm that if a game was designed to be an open-world PvP sandbox, it shouldn’t have a separate PvE server. I also think that the way PvP servers are added in as an afterthought to PvE-centric games is stupid. I’m not against PvE games whatsoever. I simply want the market to continue and try new things, so we aren’t stuck with more of the same over and over. I think it’s a pretty logical position.

#opinion #gamediscussion #pvevspvp #archeage

To PvP or not PvP, that is the Question

The Talkback Challenge hosted by the NBI, is a feature that gets the community talking about the same subject. This was done in years past, and this year the topic at hand is: Do PvE and PvP mix?  There is another topic as well, but that one hasn’t made its rounds yet, so let’s cover one at a time, shall we?

I read Doone’s post on the topic over at XP Chronicles, and that was the first one I commented on. Here’s what I had to say:

I’ve only experienced open world pvp in one game, and that was Everquest II. I started playing the game in ’06, and had been playing a month or so when the pvp servers opened. I rolled a fresh character on Nagafen with my then-roommate and we had a lot of fun, as everyone was on an even playing field. There weren’t players that much higher than you, and the rules kept you within a reasonable level range for pvp conflict. There were raids that would form in the world and massive battles would play out over hours. It was an epic feeling. But as I leveled, the mid-game was terrible, as it got to the point that you couldn’t complete quests without being consistently ganked. The frustration of trying to do both at the same time eventually had me seeing through the eyes of a “care bear.” This isn’t to say I don’t think pvp has its place — Players will always be more of a challenge than AI — but I like instanced pvp in a battlegrounds fashion.

Being a League player I like objective based pvp, so battlegrounds are a good way to have your MMO and eat it too. I do think that it would be better to do something like League does though, and give a pre-constructed character to play with. Like your appearance/class would still remain, but you would be given a few class-specific abilities and your gear wouldn’t change their effectiveness. That would keep it “fair” and “separate” from the pve game. People who don’t normally pvp might jump on that too, because they wouldn’t have to worry about not being geared right, and being on an even playing field is a true measure of skill.

This is to say that I enjoy PvP, but that I can acknowledge that it is annoying when being followed around by griefers while trying to finish up quests. In most cases, I get my PvP elsewhere, outside of the MMO sphere. I play games like League of Legends, Awesomenauts and Hearthstone, used to be big on FPS conflicts, and still love a good Street Fighter variant. When I play massive games, I tend to roll on PvE servers just like the rest of the carebears, because there has yet to be a system that keeps things fair.

Fair is a relative term. People think that everything is unfair when they are losing. That isn’t to say that PvP in inherently unfair, rather that developers have always seemed to add it in as an afterthought, or do very little to address the balance issues. In games like LoL, you are able to choose amongst many different pre-set champions. The only real affect you have on their power is your Rune/Mastery setups, along with what items you build during the game. However, those items are available to everyone, and Runes/Masteries are earned, but don’t provide huge gains. This keeps the players on a level field, where skill makes up for lack of knowledge of builds. In MMOs, there are either limitations due to gear discrepancy, or mechanics that allow for griefing of other players.

The easiest way to avoid the conflict between so called carebears and pvpers (assholes) is to keep the PvP element separate from the rest of the game. WoW and others have done just that, where you queue up for a separate game mode to have it out in PvP style. Some people would argue that this dilutes the PvP aspect, because they are restricted to instanced PvP. But how is that really different than any other game that pits player versus player? All of the games I listed above are purely PvP, and its conducted in a way that people who join the game know what they’re getting into. I suppose it is blind siding to create a character in an MMO and be killed by people you thought were on your team. But in this day and age, unless you have been living under a rock and don’t read anything about a game before you try it, I’d say you knew what you were getting into.

I think PvP works in MMOs, but it would be best to keep it to the battlegrounds. That way the PvE players can avoid it, and those who want the challenge can participate. Taking it a step further, I would make either pre-made champions to play with, or have gear not matter. This way, someone who plays a Druid can stay a Druid in PvP, but they will be homogenized into a generic version of the character. Their gear wouldn’t make a difference, and they would have the same skills as another Druid on the opposing team. Then skill would be paramount, and the arguments over gear scores could cease. PvP can be a mini-game or end-game activity for people who don’t want to raid. Or simply another option. I think a lot of people who don’t PvP might give it a shot if they knew it was only a mini-game, and knew that they would start on a level playing field.

One bit that I noticed while reading other’s writing on the topic, is that those who are against PvP are more adamant about it being the wrong way of doing things than those who are pro-PvP. It seems like PvE players think that all PvP players are assholes and are degrading their game. I find that somewhat insulting, because as a player who is pro-PvP, I can see both sides of the argument, and am trying to brainstorm ideas where we are all happy in the end. Of course, this is a small sampling of people, so I know that there are most likely people on both sides of the fence who are assholes and those who are reasonable. It just almost feels like a more social issue, like people being adamantly against gay marriage, when really it doesn’t affect them one bit.

Anything else I could say on the matter has already been covered. Here’s a list of some others participating in the discussion:

House of Witches
Joseph Skyrim
Doctor Hannah
XP Chronicles
Looking for Playtime

#pvp #nbi2014 #newbiebloggerinitiative #community #opinion