Monday, January 26, 2009

Interview with Tobold, Cult Leader of MMOs

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I've been speaking with Tobold from Tobold's MMORPG Blog about him and I having an interview regarding his opinion on certain MMO issues. He was ever so kind to shoo away his army of loyal readers for a brief moment and agreed to chat up with me. So here you go, the first official "The MMO Experience" interview. (The one with Eskil Steenberg was for NegativeGamer, and Thom from still hasn't responded in several

Danshir: Something that I've been curious about for some time, what got you into MMOs?

Tobold: I've been playing pen and paper roleplaying games since the early 80's. Which then got me into computer RPGs, and later MUDs. MMOs were just the next logical step.

Danshir: What is your favorite aspect of an MMO? The social aspect of it? PvE? PvP?

Tobold: I'm an ESAK Bartle type, that is my favorite aspect is exploration, not just the geography of the virtual world, but how everything works and is connected. Social aspects come next, I prefer playing in groups to playing solo, as playing solo I could do in a single-player game. Achievements are at third place, and Killing other players comes way last.

Danshir: There are several non-traditional MMOs possibly coming out this year such as Aion, JumpGate Evolution, The Agency, and so on. What are your initial thoughts on the 09' line up for MMOs? Is there any you suspect will be a dark horse or any that you suspect will go the route of Tabula Rasa and Hellgate London?

Tobold: I think Blizzard's competitors are making a wise choice to look beyond classical fantasy MMOs. I'm not saying that WoW couldn't be beat in that area, but it obviously would be much harder. A game with a different setting and different gameplay has a much higher chance of getting enough players together to be profitable. But I don't think you can predict the success of any of these games without having played a late beta. Success or failure are often determined by hard to grasp intangible things like "is the game fun?". You can't predict that from a feature list and some screenshots.

Danshir: Since you mentioned World of Warcraft, let's go ahead and discuss that. Considering how quickly some of the more "hardcore" guilds completed all the challenges that Wrath of the Lich King offered near immediately upon release, what in your opinion could Blizzard do to prevent this in future expansions?

Tobold: The only option here is to release expansions with more content. Blizzard did the right thing by making the first raid dungeon of the expansion, Naxxramas, accessible to a wider audience. But then you need at least one medium hard and one hard raid dungeon at release, not patched in half a year later.

Danshir: Is there something that isn't currently being implemented into World of Warcraft, or any MMO for that matter, that you would love to see?(My answer for this would be more interaction with one's environment)

Tobold: I'd love to see player housing in World of Warcraft, preferably combined with guild housing, including a system that rewards people for staying in the same guild for a longer time. I think houses add a lot of feeling at home to a virtual world.

Danshir: You may or may not have heard about some people wanting Blizzard to put in an "Elite" patch that would cater to the hardcore guilds. In their argument they stated that if Blizzard did not take action, that "normal" players would lose their heroes and role models, what is your opinion on THAT statement?

Tobold: I know a lot of ultra-casual players who aren't even aware that people like Ensidia even exist. I don't think the "heroes and role model" argument is valid, because by definition someone is always "the best", even if someone even better just left the game. There will always be someone in full epics strolling around the auction house and getting admiring looks for his epic armor. Blizzard certainly shouldn't patch the current patch to make it much more hardcore. But what they should do is add more raid content, which would occupy the elite for a little while, and the rest of us for a longer time.

Danshir: Since I used to lead raids in my guild back before I quit WoW, there are several aspects of raiding that I simply detested. Such as people wanting to loot items outside their spec(IE feral druid wanting healing gear) when there are people that could use those items immediately. Is there any part of raiding that you dislike? This doesn't have to be a personal experience in your own guild, just something you may have discussed in the past or heard about.

Tobold: The one thing I hate most about raiding is raid IDs and lockouts. Organizing the first raids of the week is so much easier than organizing the later raids, where you can't put people with different raid IDs together.

Danshir: Alrighty, let's talk about your website, Tobold's MMORPG Blog. Which do you enjoy the most to discuss with your readers? MMO Mechanics? Your own experiences? or do you enjoy your open discussion sunday's the most?

Tobold: I have to same MMO mechanics, the theory of what works and what doesn't work in an MMO. Personal experiences aren't as rich, because my personal experience how I killed that dragon in a raid in the end is neither personal not unique: Thousands of other players killed the same dragon using exactly the same strategy. This is one of the major weaknesses of WoW raid content.

Danshir: Recently on your blog you mentioned that you had to have readers register to some website(Blogger, wordpress,etc) to be able to post comments on your blog due to "trolls", was there some sort of final straw that caused you to decide this or were you just fed up with the whole thing?

Tobold: Final straw is maybe not the right word, it was more a resurgence of a problem I had before: Trolls claiming they had the right to tell me what to write or not write on my blog. A blog is a very personal publication of the author's thoughts, not like a magazine with a fixed subject, writing style, and chief editor to watch for coherence. A blog's content and writing style changes with the mood of the writer. Readers need to either accept that, or just skip the posts they don't like. As this is free content, it is silly to claim that the readers are entitled to anything, or have the right to harass the blogger if his content doesn't agree with their expectations. It is okay to disagree with me, and to tell me that, but don't tell me "don't write this way or I unsubscribe!". There is no subscription, nor subscription fee.

Turning off anonymous posting was based on John Gabriel's Greater Internet Dickwad Theory, which says it needs anonymity and an audience to turn a normal person into a troll. Taking away their anonymity hopefully makes people on my blog behave better. Did you know that Wal-mart managed to substantially reduce shoplifting by hiring people to greet customers when they enter the store? Same principle, greeting people takes away their anonymity.

Danshir: One quick question, since I've been trying to have an interview with Thom from concering the lawsuit against his company and NCsoft. What is your opinion on the lawsuit between the two companies?

Tobold: Sorry, I don't have enough legal knowledge to say anything about whether the patent is valid or not.

Hope you enjoyed the interview with Tobold! If not then his swarm of minions will more than likely dismember you limb from limb. Which is always pleasant. You should catch Tobold's current discussion over at his blog which talks about possible cost reductions done by Blizzard due to the financial situation.
Be sure to vote for what type of prize you would like in a hopefully soon to occur raffle.

Until later...Kick some gnomes!


  1. Good perspective ! I have been following Tobold's blog for a long time. I just want to know how he can write so much content so fast ! :-)


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