Virtual Shards

This is actually something that’s been ticking away at the back of my head now for years. Having server clusters and instances just didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me: it produces games that are only “massively” from a back-end perspective. If you’re going to do instances, just throw the server cluster concept away entirely. You can scope player names with a Second Life like approach, but then everything else you just instance.

But to avoid that resulting in a mess, a chaotic world of one-time encounters with no chance of community, I’m suggesting a relational index to allow community – or isolation – of the instances that different player characters might see… Virtual shards.

Mythic takes on the Farmers tooth and nail…

Mark Jacob’s of Mythic has described how they are fixing to show no mercy to the gold farmers who try to make a living in WarCraft.

Tragic confession: I’ve bought gold… In Everquest 2. Just the once. I didn’t think “What I need now is some gold, hi me unto the nearest vendor”. It was 3am in the morning, an email made it thru my spam filter and it looked like something Sonyish and I clicked. The site was vaguely EQ2 themed, enough that my remaining 3 brain cells didn’t think thru what I was doing as I thought “50plat for that little? hey, I can do that”.

I’d taken a leave of absence from EQ2 and upon returning it pained me, despite the mentor system, to be such a drain on my buddies. A few dollars and a few plat would allow me to upgrade and pull my own weight a little. The gold was delivered incredibly promptly so I resisted the urge to go to bed, decked my character out with good but not spectacular gear, and went out hunting with some guildies without feeling a bottom feeder myself.

Our fun was cut short by a gold farmer. That’s about when the rest of my brain woke up.

It’s not that I paid cash for gold, I am appalled at the fact that I furthered the cause of the gold farmers.

Gold Farming = Evil: A quest mob to you and I is a monetary resource to the gold farmer. It was created to be a quest mob, it was spawned to be a quest mob, the software and data environment it exists in was designed around it being treated as a quest mob. I’ve yet to meet a gold farmer who has stepped away from a mob so as not to interfere with my gameplay or who has left a group voluntarily to make room for a player.

Vanguard night 4

Once you start to get a handle on the bugs, there’s a glimmer of gold itching to be free. Early on, Granik and I formed a “brotherhood”. It’s not a guild, its not a group; members send their experience to the ‘hood and it is then shared out amongst all members. The result for us has been that we’ve remained in levelling lock step despite going off and doing our own things or playing different hours. We level within a kill or two of each other.

The quest line in Kojan dries up suddenly and harshly. Only Thestra and Qalia were available during beta so they are polished and nice and well rounded. Kojan is more of a Vanguard pro/conniseurs zone, IMHO. But it also has some of the more exquisite architecture and scenery.

View from the Asylum

Vanguard night 3

Granik and I are, somehow, still playing Vanguard. We were fairly close to ditching it with the stupid Ra’Jin roof jumping till we stumbled on some ways to game it and having put a good 3-4 hours into attempting to do it properly we just wanted it over.

The trick with frame rate seems to be to select the “Best Performance” item from the drop down, exit the game completely, log back in, select “Highest Quality”, disable Hardware Occlusion (which doesn’t work right, after a while everything starts to flicker in/out) and HDR (which doesn’t work right), then relog again. Give it upto a minute after you enter the game to finish loading stuff up and normalize its memory usage.

If you have a quad core, bring up task manager and after the launchpad starts the game and the splash-window is up, set affinity to just 2 CPUs and you get much better performance.

Lastly, you may need to turn normal mapping down to 0%. It runs fine with 100% normal mapping for me until it doesn’t, and once it doesn’t… relogging, rebooting, nothing will give me good FPS till I remove normal mapping.

The game itself…