Friday, December 29, 2006

Results of Reader's Choice

...not even going to comment. Take a look at the discussion brewing of this steaming pile of shit.

More console MMOs

A couple more have been added to the list of MMOs that are coming to the console. Warhammer and Battlestar Galactica Online. BG will be exclusive to the 360 and Warhammer is still in the category as a rumour IMHO.

I'm still firmly in the "I don't like this..." camp, but lets face it, this was bound to happen. I have no data to support my misgivings of this, call it a guy feeling that a move to consoles will water down the gendre. I'm also wondering what will happen to PC MMOs once devs get a taste of the console market. BG is already 360 exclusive, and if they hit a homerun with it the it might be a system seller as well which moves MMOs even further from being a PC centric game gendre.

The console market is a huge and has not been touched my any of the major MMO developers. You know that the first one there will get a head start on that market share. I would bet my left arm that Blizzard hasn't dropped the whole issue of WoW on the 360 or PS3.

I'm all Mr.Doom today, sorry, but the makings of a trend is appearing....I'm probably waaay out in left field on this one though. We'll see.

D out.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Clueless EB Parents

As was mentioning before that I cashed in my $60 worth of EB games gift cards during the boxing day sales. I bought a copy of Medieval Total War 2...great game by the way. While I was waiting in line, I noticed a lot of parents around with their kids. The man in front of me bought a copy of Diablo II and some other console game. Do to his purchases, he somehow got to get a free PC game of his choice. What did he choose? Auto Assault. His only question about this game was, "This is a PC game, right?". The EB worker said, "uhhh, yeah". The man who bought the copy of Auto Assault didn't even look at the box..had he done so he would have realized that its a MMO which requires a subscription fee of about $15/month. He just was happy that it was a PC game, and off he went.

This is another example of how parents don't read the boxes of games they get. For some reason, it just doesn't register with them. They read how much fat content is in their Cheerios, but they can't be bothered to read the box of a game. I'm looking at the box of EoF for EQ2 right now. On the box it says, "Internet Connection Required. Additional Subscription Fee Required". Now, I don't have an Auto Assault box with me, but I'm 99% sure that it says the same thing. Granted, the EB employee had same responsibility there, but the ultimate buying decision lies with the consumer.

The real kicker is that there was a no return policy for any games bought that day. So, that guy is stuck with a game he has to pay monthly fees for all because he didn't take 2 seconds to read the box. It wouldn't bother me normally, but these are the same types of parents who ask for government to regulate games due to their laziness.

D out.

Onward marching soliders...

2006...what was it good for??

It was not a great gaming year for MMOs. This year was mostly about WoW. If I had a dime for every WoW related article, podcast, and screen shot I would be a very rich man. Of course, this blog is very guilty of that as well. Can't blame us really and it does prove that 2006 was a dull MMO year if all we're talking about is one game. I'm hoping to keep the WoW chatter on this blog site to a minimum. I'll probably be only commenting on major news coming out of Blizzard and some stories of my adventures from 60-70...that's it. I hereby give you permission to virtually slap me for any WoW fluff that I put up here.

I restarted Eve Online and like I mentioned before, this game and I really did not like each other at first. That all changed when I got the point of the game...setting your own goals. My first goal of the game was to get a cruiser, and when I accomplished that first goal a giant light-bulb went on over my head. I'm not really "playing" Eve right now, just skilling up. I'm going to stick with this one because I really want to see the graphics upgrades and other goodies they put in when they finish up the Revelations patch.

Started playing EQ2 again in 2006. I first started it when it launched in 2004 and promptly left due to its bad execution. It was the first MMO that I joined a guild in...and I'm glad I did. The friendships that I made in that guild are still going on today. I started, stopped and restarted EQ2 a couple of times with the latest being the EoF expansion. The game is really good, but its just not sticking with me. I'm not sure if its because of the amount of time I'm spending in the two betas or if its the game itself, but something is missing. I think it comes down to the fact that I really don't have a solid group to play with in EQ2, so there really is no motivation to log in.

The Surprises of 2006

Ryzom was a nice surprise for me in 2006, even though I didn't end up signing up for it in the end. The game play was fresh but the character graphics and lore just didn't grab me. I'm very glad that this one came along to add some variety in this WoW dominated year.

I'm going to be keeping an eye on this game for 2007 as I may go back to see if it hooks me. I put this one in the same category as EQ2, i.e. I want this game to hook me and I'll give it every opportunity to do so.

Going Forward in 2007

Going forward in 2007 for MMOs, we've got an exciting year ahead of us. All of the blogs I frequent, the podcasts, we're all going to have a very good year in 2007...if everything works according to plan. We've got some big hitters coming out:
  • Vanguard (Q1 2007)
  • Age of Conan (Q2 2007)
  • Warhammer Online (Q4 2007)
  • Lord of the Rings Online (Q2 2007)
  • Gods and Heroes (Q1 2007)
  • WoW: Burning Crusade (Q1 2007)
I plan on hitting every one of those and post reviews here...but my plan is to really stick with only one plus Eve. Right now, I feel like an 8 year old with ADD...I'm jumping all over the place. The plan is to try each of these, and by the end of 2007, to have one MMO to rule them all.

The Gaming Resolution

Brent over at Virgin Worlds posted his latest show #45. The show has great interviews/commentary with almost all of the major players (as far as I'm concerned) in the MMO blog/podcast space. In the show, he asked everyone what their gaming new years resolution will be. It's a great idea and I had better follow suit since I'm a junior member of the community (Brent tends to beat those who don't comply.... :) )

So, my gaming resolution is to find one MMO and stick to it until I get max level. I've only got to max level in WoW...and thats really not a true MMO accomplishment. I do want this game to replace WoW so I'm hoping that one of the games on the list will be one to do it.

The Site

I reopened this site this year after a bad false start earlier in the year. The reason I didn't get it going earlier was a lack of focus on my part. Well...I've got that focus, i.e. MMO commentary/reviews with a bit of news and fun stuff. 95% gaming, 5% of stuff I see happening around me. I've gotten some great support from people like Brent (Virgin Worlds) and Bill Harris (Dubious) to help me get this site out there...without them, I think I'd still be talking to myself.

For the coming year, I'm going to put more solid content up. I've been mixing it up with link blogging and commentary and as I grow I want to try to get rid of the link blogging and put more commentary, editorials and reviews up. This will involve more work, but hey, I like doing this so it's something I look forward to.

As I mentioned before, I'm doing some developing on my spare time (such that it is). I would like to grow that into a site feature, where I step through my designs for a game, post the code and try to help others who would be interested. This is probably a 2008 resolution due to how long its going to take for me to really get proficient in C++ programming , but there it is.

So....2006 is almost behind us and we have 2007 lurking above the horizon like the monster that it is. I'm really excited about the future of MMOs and about the future growth of this site. Even if no one is reading in the end, I'll still write and continue to be a voice out there.

Talk to you soon.

D out

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Under the tree...

I hope everyone had a great Christmas. It was a pretty big one over at our house...especially for the girls. It's amazing to me how little space there was under the tree when you go from one kid to two.

So, what did I get?
  • MP3 player
  • clothes
  • $60 of EB Games gift cards
  • Firefly season 1
  • Family Guy Volume 4 (love this show)
With the EB games gift cards, I went and got Medieval War II since there were no MMOs to get right now. The game looks good so far. My wife got Super Mario for her DS and we're both loving that game as well. She also got Sims 2 Expansions as well...Pets and Open for Business and thats all she's playing right now.

Oh, speaking of EB...man do I feel bad for those guys during the Boxing Day sales up here. Dealing with all of those impatient thumb twitchers and their clueless parents must make one want to gouge one's eyes out with a spoon. As mind numbing as my job is, I'm so very glad I don't work at an EB Games store.

I also got invited to another MMO beta. I was kinda 'meh' about this game due to it being too much like another game that I play (if you're a regular reader, you know of what game I speak). I must say, that this game is starting to slowly win me over. Personally, I think this game needs some more soak time...more than what I think they are planning. It's slated for Q1 2007 release...if they launch it then, it won't be pretty. I'm hoping they prove me wrong.

That's it for now...got lots of other stuff I want to talk about, but that can wait. I hope everyone enjoys the rest of the holiday. Talk to you soon.

D out.

P.S.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Merry Christmas

I'd like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Enjoy this time with your family and friends.

I won't be writing much during the holidays, but check back frequently anyway...you never know when the mood will strike me.

We have a great MMO year to look forward to in 2007. See you all then.

D out.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

So close...yet so far

I had about 10 minutes to kill before picking up my daughter yesterday, so I decided to stop by my local EB Games. When I got in there, I noticed a line of parents (mostly mom's...who only show up at EB at this time of year). An EB employee emerged from the back with a stack of Wii boxes. Damn!! I said, "You got some it?!". She said, "Yup, but they're all gone". DOH!! (yes...I actually said, "DOH!"). I must have missed the ticket distribution by 10 minutes. Oddly enough, she did say that she had a PS3s for me to buy...pffft, I think not.

Take away the fact that the wife would have killed me if I had bought one, but thats the first time I've even seen a Wii box and the closest I'll probably be getting to one this year.

D out.

Rediculous...

So...I went into Battelgrounds last night with my Rogue. What a waste of time that was. Quoting from Lauren over at Mystic Worlds: Blizzard, I hate you.

Here are the numbers. I was in Arathi Basin. I figured I'd get the 30 tokens and 22000-ish honor required for the Rogue chest piece. I spent 2 hours playing...I got 700 honor for my trouble. That's 350/hr. If I do that math I would have to PvP for 62 HOURS!!! Now, the rate at which you gain honor in AB may be different than in other BGs, but really, I can't see how it would shave down that number by much. And yes, I was kicking ass and taking names...lots-o-kills. So, I've had it...I don't want to grind it out anymore. I think I'll be either playing the mystery beta or my WoW warlock until BC comes out. I'm really tired of the diminishing returns for by game time when you hit 60 in WoW...its getting old.

If anyone knows of a better way to get honor in PvP, let me know.

D out.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The wierdest thing....

Almost forgot to mention this.

As I was driving home last night, I heard a news segment about our local food charity here in the Ottawa area. These are the people who collect food for families and individuals who really need it during the holidays. A woman who works there was interviewed and she said that they would rather not take any canned or packaged goods because of, wait for it, the fat content. That's right, she's worried about hungry people getting fat during the Christmas season.

Of course, in her defense, she did mention that they were worried about heart disease and such, but come on. I'm positive that given the choice between turkey with artery hardening gravy and empty stomach, that most hungry people will take the gravy.

..."looking a gift horse in the mouth" comes to mind on this one.

D out

Monday, December 18, 2006

Geekin out

OK...so I've been playing my Mystery Beta (...man, I hate calling it that...) and I just had what can be call my "hook moment". It's the moment in a game where you think, "this is something I need to play when it comes out...". I had that moment about an hour ago.

It was an encounter with a certain creature, and I just geeked out all over the computer...I'm still cleaning up from the incident.

I've got to calm myself down...I know. This is still a beta and they have yet to launch the game. The developer still has to prove that they can handle this IP, not just at launch, but 2-5 years during the lifetime of this MMO. When I look at MMOs, I think it’s crucial that they start off on a solid footing and then grow from there. If they haven't got a solid base from which to grow, then it will be a long, tough haul to get out of the hole (i.e EQ2, DDO, Auto Assault).

They've got a good baseline from what I see with this beta. How they execute the first year of this MMO will make or break this title...and trust me, we do NOT want them to fail on this one.

D out.

Water runs dry...

Wow...the lack of news is appalling. I thought game developers worked at all times, slept in their offices and never went to the bathroom. Well...looks like I was wrong and now my world has come crashing down around me. Thanks a lot guys...

Anyway, it's going to be link day here at TCSGamer. So, hang on to your hats people...keep your hands and feet inside at all times, etc.

Christmas in the 80's was lots of fun. Given the toys we got, I'm very surprised we made it out of that decade alive.

And this....well, that is just insane.

A little bit of MMO stuff. Brent has put up a very nice video with some great looking action from Conan. I think the game is really looking nice, but its going to need more than looks and I'm almost certain that this one will deliver.

D out.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Good Game Development Info

Waaay back in 2001-ish, I was laid off when the high-tech bubble burst. I started taking up coding in C++ in order to pass the time. I also started dabbling in DX8.0 and 9.0 as well. I didn't get too far, but I learned quite a bit. Flash back to now and I've started coding again. Now, for those who want to start looking at this, there are some resources that I found very useful...

Web Sites

Gamedev
Flipcode

Books

Teach Yourself C++ in 21 Days
Beginning C++ Game Programming

..the last book is especially excellent I found.

Gamedev also has a forum thread that acts as a companion to the Teach Yourself book.

Now, take it from me....it will take time to learn this stuff. Plan to spend a good year or so to really understand how to code properly. I'm an electrical engineer by training, so I've done coding before, but I've got kids, work, gaming etc, so a year is the goal I set for myself. By that time, I should be proficient enough to start my own project. The forum thread above gives a great project and I've already started that.

Just thought I'd share.

Oh...and here is a free IDE and compiler if you don't have one.

D out.

Friday, December 15, 2006

The WoW Wall

What is the WoW wall? Well, it's what hits you right in the face at level 60. Yeah, I kinda thought you were wondering what that stinging sensation is.

I'm starting to see a little bit of a pattern in my WoW playing. I played a lot from 1-60. When I first started raiding, I also played a lot. The taste of my first tier 1 gear was awesome...they were my "Boob" shoulders (you Rogues out there know what I'm talking about). After that, I got my boots, then my pants. Then I wanted to Core Hound Tooth...so I raided..and raided...raided some more. BAM!!!! I hit the wall. I stopped playing because of the futility of it all. Sure, the CHT did drop once when I raided, but someone had more DKP then me and decided they wanted it. I started up again after a 1 month break. And I raided...pvp...raid..raid. No progress at all. PvP grind was too much to get the dagger in AV. Raiding MC...same problem...nothing dropped. After 2 more months of playing I stopped again, this time for 3 months...didn't touch WoW at all. Played EQ2 and Eve a lot. I started replaying WoW again to "gear up" for BC and I find that the time between hitting walls is getting shorter and shorter.

Tobold but up and excellent article for a possible solution to my "wall" problem. Well, its not a solution, more of a patch....but at least I get to control my destiny a bit more. He has a lot of truth in that one piece. Take a look, its the one titled Choice vs Random. Great work.

D out.

Back in the saddle of non-linearity

Well, looks like most of my cold is on its way out. I hate staying home from work sick...all I want to do is sleep and I end up getting bored out of my skull. No, contrary to popular belief, I really don't game much when I'm sick because, well, I'm sick.

OK...on to business. If you're even remotely interested in Warhammer Online, this is a must read article. It's a report of a teleconference with the guys over at EA-Mythic. If you don't believe that this has the potential to hit WoW where it hurts, well, you really need to think a bit harder. If these guys execute on their vision, they've got a hit. What really impressed me was this:

“How deep is the character system?” 6 races. Most of the races have two sexes. (Greenskins are orcs and gobbos.) As characters get more powerful, they start to look distinctly different (dwarven beards get longer). Even if a player has no equipment on, you’ll be able to tell the difference between a 1st and a max-level character. You can further customize your character during gameplay, by acquiring trophies. They’ll be discrete items you can actually place on your character somewhere. Trophies will be acquired from quests, from events, etc. There’s a screenshot on the website that seems to show a dead cat hanging from a player’s belt. This is one area I simply can’t find anything to complain about. Extra character customization is something you can never put ‘too much’ into, I think. Paul broke in and said “The goal is to be able to line up 10 different orcs, all of the same level and of the same class, and to have each and every one of them look different.”

Who wouldn't want a dead cat hanging on their belt...jeepers. Ryan, Gary, if you guys are reading...this is the game you are looking for. If I'm wrong...well..I don't think I'm wrong.

Two things about Wow. First is a nice analysis of the current PvP system in WoW as it pertains to AV (Alterac Valley). OK..so how do I put this nicely....AV is a piece of PvP shit. I'm not going to go into the whole imbalance thing of Horde vs Alliance, but the whole point of AV has been lost on players and Blizzard. It's no longer strategic. Like the author of the article says, it's turned into a zerg to the other player's base. We're in a PvP area, we run buy each other to engage in a PvE boss take down. No body really engages in an all out war anymore. I remember when we first started AV (before everyone got stupid) and it was strategic. The Horde would summon that big ice giant dude...see, I forget his name because he hasn't been summoned in months...damnit!! Anyway, the Alliance and Horde would free the Wing Commanders to get air support, and wolf riders as well. Not anymore. The only fighting with Alliance is at one graveyard...Stonehearth...and after that, it's only stalling actions to their base until they kill the Horde General. The author gives some good suggestions on how to fix this. Here is mine. Make the Generals indestructible until certain objectives are taken and held buy the opposing team. This would essentially kill the zerg. I like what the author says about making it more like Company of Heroes. I would also add that maybe stat bonuses are given to the team who links up these territory zones to simulate continuous supply lines...bebuffs to teams who don't have a supply line chain established. They've got to fix BG...its not working.

Lauren over at Mystic Worlds has put up a very funny rant-like article. The more I read of her, the more I like her. It had my wife and I laughing quite hard last night. What more can I say....I feel her pain

And this is not good news for Gods and Heroes. Official statement of the layoffs goes on to say:

"As some of you may have heard we have made some staffing changes at Perpetual. We are proud to announce that we are within a month of being content complete on Gods & Heroes: Rome Rising, our upcoming AAA MMO title. As we achieve this major development milestone, a number of content production roles come to an end. The Gods & Heroes team remains over 80 talented people strong as we enter the final phase prior to launch -- play-testing and tuning to deliver the highest quality game possible.

In addition, because we value the feedback our beta testers have been giving us, and because we want to ship the highest quality game possible, we have moved our target ship date from the spring to the summer of 2007. This extension of the testing and tuning phase of the project will allow us to focus entirely on making a great game – which is our #1 goal.

Perpetual remains 100% committed to shipping a fantastic Gods & Heroes game and to continuing development of the much-anticipated Star Trek Online."
]

I've seen that kind of talk before in other industries and from my perspective, layoffs are never a good sign for a company. No matter how an executive tries to spin it, this will impact the product in some way...and usually not in a good way either. I don't know, I could be wrong and I hope I am because I want to see Gods and Heroes as well as ST Online succeed. Good luck to all those who where let go, you will get back on your feet again...trust me.

There is a very nice debate going over at Virgin Worlds (as usual) regarding sandbox MMOs and whether all MMOs fall within that category. Brent (not Brad...inside joke) has put up a solid theory that by their very nature and by definition, all MMOs are sandboxes. I, being the pain-in-the-ass that I am, think that most MMOs are decidedly not sandboxes.

As I was developing my argument, I found that the definition of sandbox was its weakest on the the following:
Non-linear or nonexistent plot. If there is a plot at all, the player can simply ignore it, or there is a branching plot that evolves based on user choices (resulting in a game that is never the same twice).

None of the current MMOs are non-linear...they are, by their very nature, linear in their design. The definition of non-linear, from a mathematical sense:

Linearity of a system allows investigators to make certain mathematical assumptions and approximations, allowing for easier computation of results. In nonlinear systems these assumptions cannot be made. Since nonlinear systems are not equal to the sum of their parts, they are often difficult (or impossible) to model, and their behavior with respect to a given variable (for example, time) is extremely difficult to predict. When modeling non-linear systems, therefore, it is common to approximate them as linear, where possible.

In games like WoW or EQ2, it is extremely easy to predict and model the progression of a character. In WoW, I can predict that a character after level 10, if he's a orc, can be found in the Crossroads..9 times out of 10 I will be right on that. At any given time, I can predict the progression of any character in WoW because that progression is easily modeled. This is not a bad thing because that was the way WoW was designed. Eve models more closely to a truly non-linear game system. Take a typical new Eve pilot. Can you tell me, with the same degree of certainty, where he will be in 5 months? No...you can't. Of course, you can never program a truly non-linear game...that's impossible, but saying that a game like WoW is non-linear and therefore a sandbox is reaching a bit.

D out...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Still sick, yet still blogging

...what I trooper I am.

Turns out my 1 year old daughter is also sick. She's sleeping it off as I write this. And in this brief but wonderful moment of peace, I'll bring you this wonderful article by Elsyium over at Gamers With Jobs. We've probably all been there with WoW at one point or another.

Enjoy.

D out.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

It starts...

I'm home sick with a cold-ish type bug....suffice to say, we're not getting along very well. I just wanted to comment on this.

I don't like it...no sir I do not. I know there were a lot of rumors last year regarding the port of WoW to a console and while some where saying "yayyy", I was saying "boooo". Consoles are a broad market appeal platform...they always have been. Console gaming has traditionally been more accessible than PC gaming simply due to the plug and play nature of the beast. You plug it in, put in your game and you're playing. PCs are finicky and are known for incompatibility issues....just because you buy a game for a PC, does not mean it will work on your PC.

With MMOs getting into the console space, once again we are appealing to the lowest common denominator. We all know how console ports for PCs turn out...shitty. I just get the feeling that if the MMO industry get a taste of that large console install base, that they'll develop MMOs for consoles only and maybe port them to PCs. In other words, our future MMOs will be watered down pieces of console ported crap. Oh yeah, and you know who are really good at making those kind of MMOs? Eastern animie MMOs for everyone.


D out

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The basics of math

I just needed to post this...not game related and is suitable for work. It's just amazing to the ears at the sheer stupidity that we all encounter sometimes:

http://www.videosift.com/story.php?id=24151

D out

The WTFness of MMORPG.com - TCSGamer's 2006 List

Those who listened to Virgin Worlds podcast #43 have probably already taken a look at the ridiculous Readers Choice Wards of 2006 over at MMORPG.com. The categories are questionable and the finalists within those categories are even more so.

Take a look at the "Favorite Game" category. Only two choices?? Are you out of your frickin minds!? Where's EQ2? Where's AC? Where's Ryzom? CoH?? Those are really good games and I'm sure that they're somebody's favorites.

I can't add much more to the conversation and disgust that Brendon and Brent had, but I can compensate for the shitty job that MMORPG did. So, here is my list and categories for 2006. Vote if you want and I may put up numbers if I get enough responses.

Best Graphics
  • Eve Online
  • WoW
  • EQ2
  • Guild Wars
  • Lineage II
  • Ryzom
Best PvE
  • WoW
  • EQ2
  • SWG
  • CoH/CoV
  • DDO
Best Sound/Music
  • WoW
  • EQ2
  • SWG
  • Eve Online

Best PvP Implementation
  • WoW
  • Eve Online
  • Guild Wars
  • EQ2
  • CoH/CoV
Best Lore/World
  • WoW
  • EQ2
  • Eve Online
  • Ryzom
  • SWG
  • Matrix Online
Most Anticipated
  • Warhammer Online
  • Star Trek
  • Vanguard
  • Conan
  • Pirates of the Burning Sea
  • Lord of the Rings Online
  • Rome Rising: Gods and Heroes
  • Spellborn
  • Star Gate: Worlds
Game of 2006
  • Eve Online
  • Guild Wars
  • WoW
  • EQ2
  • Lineage II
  • Ryzom
  • City of Heroes
  • DDO
  • SWG
There you have it.

See guys...its not that hard, even an amature hack like me can do it.

D out.

The Perfect MMO

I've been doing a lot of reading lately. Lots of really good blogs out there with some great insights on the current trends and opinions of MMOs. We're all players in the virtual world, and armchair developers in this blog space that we've created. I think that this type of discourse can have nothing but a positive outcome for the gaming we all have come to love. But, will there ever come a time when we'll feel the need to stop writing about the games simply because we're having too much fun playing? What kind of game would it take to make that happen? Now, don't get me wrong, I hope it never happens because I think we have a great blogging community. But lets just suspend disbelief for a second and think...what would be the perfect MMO?

Basic Features:

There are some basic features that should come with every MMO. No matter if its using elves or spacships, every MMO must adhere to certain unwritten standards or it just won't fly.
  • Intuitive UI.
  • Progressive quest system.
  • Intuitive crafting system.
  • Character Creation system (with more than two options for hair type).
  • Travel system.
  • Guild system.
  • Current Graphics engine.
There maybe some missing for the list...but you get the idea. An MMO should have at least those very basic features. Now, lets go into some detail of what would make the perfect MMO.

PvP

Whenever an MMO comes out, some of them choose to leave PvP out. I didn't put this as a basic feature because its still not a standard with most MMOs just yet. It should be, but its not. Most of the MMOs that shipped without a PvP system put it in at a later date as a content expansion...and in there lies a big problem. The perfect MMO would have a PvP system that is implemented right out of the box. If a game does not have PvP designed into the system from day 1, then I would argue that any system designed afterward would be incomplete and far from seamless.

Another issue with current PvP implementations is instancing. Some MMO designers choose to either create PvP systems that are separate from the PvE world or they create 1 or 2 servers for the PvP crowd. PvP should be implemented on each server, with some protections for those who don't want to participate (consent etc). PvP should impact the world as a whole. A noticeable mark should be left on a city that has been attacked, for example. The players should be able to build and destroy any structure within the game. PvP should not be something that is turned off or on in the world...it should always be there, always be persistent and impact the world in noticeable ways.

Player Appearance

CoH did this perfectly. No character should look the same...ever. Not much more to say about this. I don't see that in the real world that look exactly like me, I shouldn't see it in the virtual one either.

Customizable UI

Given the creativeness of the mod community, the players should be able to customize their UIs. I see no excuse for MMOs of today to have a fixed UI these days. WoW is a great example of this implementation. There are literally hundreds of mods out there that players can use and tweak. This not only changes the look of the game for players, but enhances the accessibility of the game.

Non-grinding End Game


Somehow, and I don't know how or why, the end game in MMOs have just become a grind. A second day job for most of us. We all seem to have lots of fun leveling up to the cap, but once we get there its all about grinding for equipment, grinding for reputation, grinding for materials... grind, grind, grind. I'm sure an employee a Starbucks does less grinding than the average MMO player. We have to change that. The game past the level cap should be just as fun and engaging as the post level cap game. How do we do that? I really don't know. What I do know is that the current time to reward ratio is way off the mark. Lets get it to a more reasonable and accessible range.

Maybe the solution is multiple leveling systems. Once a character reaches a cap, they become a demi-god like figure and start leveling in a different realm of existence. They can interact and influence the lower plane player characters as they level up to a more god-like state.

Power and looks

Lauren over at Mystic World wrote in her recent article that EQ2 is missing a certain "god" factor. She's right of course. Take a look at a level 70 character in EQ2 and they don't look powerful. They look kinda, well, meh. Now contrast that to a level 60 character in WoW....big difference. Those characters look like they'll eat you up and spit you out for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

In the perfect MMO, you should look good throughout your character's life in that MMO. At the level cap, everything should glow, twinkle and oscillate to show off the fact that you've kicked a lot of ass. Now this goes back to the grinding point....every character should feel this way, not just those who have 8 hours each day to spend sitting in front of a screen. Player contribution when it comes to evaluating equipment rewards should not be dependent on large values of time.

Meaningful Crafting and Quests

Everything that I do in the MMO world should have some sort of meaning. I shouldn't be doing "Kill 10 rat" filler quest...unless those rats are 10 feet tall and shoot lasers out of their eyes (now, thats a threat that needs to be taken care of). I should feel like I'm changing the world somehow. I'm a hero damnit! When I was a kid we had a kid next door named Jimmy. Jimmy was one of those kids who liked to burn up bugs with a magnifying glass. OK..we all did that at one point, but he did it in that creepy "next is a cat" kind of way. That's how MMO quests are right now...we always start as that kid with the magnifying glass, and its creeping me out.

Now, next thing I say is purely a personal opinion, because I usually don't craft in MMOs..well, I do, but I usually get bored of it very quickly. I don't find crafting very useful in most of the MMO that I have played. They really haven't enhanced my game play by that much, and they certainly don't really provide anything of any real use or staying power. I would like to see crafting become a bit more engaging to the player. How? I have no idea. I would love to hear from real crafters on this one. How do you guys feel about crafting in MMOs right now? Do you feel as I do, thats its really not that useful? Any comments I get I'll be sure to post in a follow up.

Well...thats all that I've worked out so far. More thoughts are baking in my head but aren't quite ready.

I would love some comments on this one. What features do you guys think would make the perfect MMO?

D out.

Monday, December 11, 2006

So much to do...too much to do???

So I logged in with my level 47 Swashy on Guk last night and I immediately ran into a problem. There was too much to do. I think the EQ2 quest log can hold upwards to 75 quests on it...I was looking at around 50. They were scattered all over the place...Enchanted Lands, EverFrost, Ferrott etc. I must have sat there for a good 10-15 minutes trying to figure out what to do with myself. I started to feel a bit overwhelmed at how much there was to do. Its a good to have lots to do mind you, but it also has a bit a of a paralyzing effect.

I think this is one of the things that WoW does nicely. They limit the quest log to 25 (was 20 before the 2.0.1 patch). This is a nice number. You have lots to do and you at least have a vague memory of where you got the quest from and why you're doing it. No so with EQ2. If you have 75 quests, you start to forget why you're doing them. There is also a danger of out leveling the quests that you pick up. With my Swashy, as soon as I log in, I immediately feel like a 6 year old Ritalin kid.

What I really need to do is sit down and go down my quest log and knock them off one by one. Have one big huge quest clearance sale with my Swashy...or, dump him and start again and just experience EoF.

D out.

WoW Problems and Firefly

I usually make it a point never to log into an MMO a week or so after an expansion and/or patch...its just too much crap going on for it to be even worth the effort. My wife was playing WoW last night on Gilneas, and she encountered very large queues to get in. One guild member of mine had one as large as 800 or so. Just saw this nice little piece of information as well....nasty.

Thought I'd throw this one up there. Firefly is becoming an MMO. All I can say is, meh. Don't get me wrong, I love Firefly (Serenity was awesome)...actually I love anything that Joss Whedon does. For me, TV died when Buffy and Angel went off the air. I mean that, I don't watch TV anymore. An MMO in the Firefly universe...I don't know. It doesn't really excite me when I hear it. I guess we're going to have to wait and see on this one. The game is expected to launch in 2008, so they have lots of time to turn my "meh" into a "wahooooo".

D out.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Getting the hate on, Massive

Gary and Ryan of MOG had a great show in episode 42...and boy did they have a large hate-on for MMO games. If you listen to these guys regularly, you'll understand that they don't really like games like WoW or EQ2...they appreciate them...but they don't like them, at least that’s my impression. They like games like Eve, where the player makes their own destiny and impacts the world around them. I guess they're getting frustrated that the current and future set of MMOs don't have much to offer them on those terms.

Guys, I hear ya, and I agree. There really aren't any MMOs out there right now that step it up above and beyond the amusement park. Honestly, your expectations might be a bit high so you may have to drink the Koolaid like the rest of us. The only games that I can see that may fill the bill is maybe Warhammer Online and Darkfall (there maybe one or two that I'm missing...).

Man, I was finally able to find a copy of Massive. I'm really impressed with the quality of the articles I found. Of particular interest was some of the statistical breakdown that they had regarding the age and sex composition of MMOs. I need to collect more of my thoughts on this and then I'll write something about what I saw in those numbers. I highly recommend this mag to anyone who is even remotely interested in gaming. I usually don't buy gaming magazines due to the fact that the content is questionable and usually out of date. I'm glad to see this is not the case for Massive. Good job guys.


D out.

Friday, December 08, 2006

EoF Screenies







Not sure how this will look...but hopefully I'll get better as I go.

EoF So Far...

So my journey's in EoF have been brief up to now. I had no internet connection on Wednesday, and the beta I'm in had a big update put in yesterday that I wanted to check out.

I now have a level 11 Illusionist on Venekor named Belithu. Here are my impressions so far:
  • I like the new starter zone. I get a good sense of size and scale from it...its absolutely huge. Although, I wish a bit more sunlight would come through as it is a bit on the dark side.
  • In true EQ2 style, the number of quests that are available is staggering. There is always something to do.
  • I'm not traditionally a PvPer, nor do I really understand EQ2s PvP system, but its nice to have that extra sense of danger while you're questing. I'm wondering whether having that extra danger will turn out to be a hindrance to my play experience down the line.
  • The Fae race is very cool. I jump off of stuff whenever I get a chance.
  • The new horse animations are a welcome change. I remember thinking that the old horses looked like the ones Cowboy Barbie would use.
  • I haven't tried the deity system yet, but plan on looking at that tonight maybe.
  • Harvesting is a bit of a pain. I'm finding resource nodes very scarce.
I've got screen shots that I plan on posting soon.

2006 Review Part 2, Comments on WoW 2.0, LoTR

Brent has put part 2 of his 2006 MMO review. He hits the nail on the head with those games. Of course, I'm sure the the gun that was at Ryzom's head has been lowered to the knee cap area.

Heartless Gamer has put up his views on the current WoW 2.0 patch. This is one of the highlights for me:

The main complaint with the PvP changes has come from the hardcore rank grinders who were pushing for rank 14 prior to the 2.0 patch. They feel cheated because all their hard work was washed away when Blizzard reset honor back to ZERO. The only thing I have to say to these idiots is; "You got what you deserved. Blizzard announced the changes in plenty of time for you to stop, but you continued to grind. Someday you will wake up and realize what a waste your life has been and maybe then you will go out and do something with it." Yes, that is exactly what I would say and I believe I've just said it.

Word brother....word. I mentioned back in November that the "uber PvP dudz" would get grandpa on us....and its happening in spades. The only reason these guys are pissed is because they now realize how much time they wasted. I'm hoping that getting their nose rubbed in their own proverbial grinding shit will teach them something. If not, let me spell it out...if you need to spend 8-10 hours a day for 1-2 months playing a game for an item or rank, then something is either wrong with you or with the game. Its usually both though.

Lord of the Rings Online interview can be found here. Some great insights in to the game. It's in Beta right now and from what I hear/read it's going well. I think they may have a winner in this one if they manage to differentiate themselves from WoW and EQ2.

D out.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Aion trailer, WoW 2.0, 2006 in review

Don't know why I bother with this one....maybe because I love to hate Asian ports. A new Aion trailer here. This is yet another Asian port that I won't touch with a 10 foot hot-dog....mmmmmmm....hot dog. The graphics are very good, no doubt about it, but the character models are I get a console feeling from the combat sequences for some reason. Every humanoid character looks like a 15 year old school girl...even the men. Would it kill these guys to actually make male characters who, I don't know, look like actual men??

WoW 2.0 went live on Tuesday. Don't know why I failed to mention this on Tuesday...meh. Suffice to say, my UI mods are screwed and the Gilneas server seems to be quite hosed since the patch. I had a friend call me last night saying that she couldn't retrieve her character. I plan on staying away from WoW until the dust settles. Oh well, got EoF to keep me busy anyway.

Last, but not least, Brent has started a 2006 MMO review. Looks like he's going to tackle this is 4 parts. First part are the failures for this year. One thing stuck out on his list was DDO. I really don't consider that a failure really. I would have put that in the "wait and see" column. I think that DDO has one of the best implemented dungeon experiences to date in an MMO. Yes, its not a persistent world and its all instanced, but Dungeons and Dragons was a game about instanced dungeons. In that sense, Turbine delivered exactly what they promised: a truthful and accurate D&D experience. Brad did mention how ill suited this IP is for an MMO and I guess thats where the implementation clashed with player expectations. I think a lot of people will be surprised after this title soaks for a couple more years.

D out.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Nevrax, Vaguard, Eve...and a partridge in a pear tree....

We have an update regrading the Nevrax situation here. The important thing I get out of that brief statement is that Ryzom will not be dying away. Looks like they have some serious buyers for the game. If the buyer turns out to a be a big studio, like Sony, I wonder where that leaves the Free Ryzom campaign?

Vanguard pre-orders are now available. I'm leaning toward not getting this game at launch, but that can quickly change in a heartbeat. Right now, my first impression of Vanguard is that it's just EQ2.5. I haven't played it yet, so I may be completely out to lunch on that. I don't know, right now, Vanguard interests me but it's not screaming "play me!!". Is anyone out there excited about this game? If so, why? Tell me why this is not just EQ2.5??

Lastly. Eve Online hit a new record of concurrent users. Wow. Congrats guys.

D out.

EQ2 becoming WoW...part 2

Well, my article regarding the convergence of EQ2 and WoW has gotten a bit of play on this site. I think it got some of the most hits so far. Other bloggers have taken a look and also added to the discussion....awesome. I haven't got any hate mail or anything from EQ2 fans and I really don't expect any. The EQ2 community is just not like that (don't prove me wrong guys...lol)

All I can say is good....good that we're all talking about it and putting it out there. Again, its not bad if EQ2 borrows game play or entry barrier level aspects from WoW. Let's face it, in terms of getting a new player to play the game, WoW is king of the castle. There is nothing wrong with EQ2 evolving into a better game, I just don' think we need it to evolve into the same game. Sony has made the necessary changes to correct the mess that was EQ2 back in 2004, and that should be applauded. Now, the real test, is what their vision for the future is.

OK...bare with me on this analogy. In 2004, Sony and Blizzard got up to the tee box on the first hole, par 4, 350 yards. Blizzard hit a nice 210 yard drive down the center of the fairway. Sony got up, and duck-hooked the ball off the tee. Blizzard finished out with a par, Sony a double bogey. Second hole, Blizzard again drives it very nice and pars out, Sony still had a bit of a hook but managed to stay on the first cut and recovers with a bogey. Third hole, they both hit it in the same spot on the fair way, both get a par. We're now on the third hole...what will Sony do? Will they again try to match Blizzard shot for shot, or will they start to play differently and try to get those birdies. Maybe fade the ball a bit around the trees. Perhaps, put a bit more spin on the ball to stop it on the green, because we all know Blizzard will always hit the ball far and straight.

The golf analogy really fits nice for MMOs I think, because there are still 15 holes left for Sony and Blizzard to play. Like golf, MMO evolution is very much a strategic and long term process. If you screw up one hole, there is always the next one to improve. One bad hole will not loose the game for you. Now that Sony is on par with Blizzard, its time to start playing the course to their strengths.

D out.

P.S Sorry about ruining this article completely with the golf analogy...I know that my wife is rolling her eyes. But hey, its my party and I'll golf if I want to :)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Ok...I lied. Auto Assualt, Archlord

Yeah...seems I spoke to soon on stuff happening. I noticed a couple of things I want to talk about today.

First...the game I wanted to love: Auto Assault. They've released Update 3...lots of changes on the update list, but nothing that really makes me want to play the game again. I had a chance to play the game a while back...both in beta and a free trial. The game is visually very well done. The one thing that really turned me off was when you got out of your car and went into town. The controls were awkward, the characters weren't believable. I don't know, something just rubbed me the wrong way. Crafting really threw me for a loop mind you. I had no idea what to do and at the time I played there was no real directions on how to use the crafting system. When you're in your car, the game was a lot of fun. You blew up stuff, you crashed into things...yayyy...but it got a bit repetitive after a while. The game felt very much like CoH/CoV on wheels. I like to keep an eye on this this one because it has so much potential.

Archlord is now free. God...who cares...really. Man, I can't express my disdain for Korean MMO ports. My disgust for these games just doesn't come through over the web very well. If you can imagine the worse thing you can do with a cheese grater, duct tape and lighter fluid then thats how I feel about Korean ports. I'll leave it to your imagination. You you know why I can leave it to your imagination...because I know readers out there have one. These game-cloning smack-tard hacks obviously have no such thing.

D out.

Monday, December 04, 2006

I, the undersigned

There is really nothing much happening right now...at least, nothing I want to comment on. So, whilst I gather my thoughts about EoF, here is something for you guys to munch on.

Back in the 80's, the one day I really dreaded in school was report card day. I think we all did back then. We got these things from the teacher which would tell us how inadequate we were...I kid...kinda. One of the rituals was getting the report card signed by your parents. Ohhh boy is that ever fun. The signing of anything like that from school was the bane of most kids school life back in the day.

Welcome to 2006. We got The Boo's report card last night. She did very well....oh and guess what, not only do we have to sign it, so does she. W...T...F! When did this happen? When did we start requiring 6 year olds to sign off on their own report cards? What value does that bring to the table? Yeah yeah...inclusive education process, yadda, yadda....well, blow it out your ear.

Here's how it should go. The kid brings home the report card...parent sees report card...parent congratulates or scowls at child...parent signs report card...child returns report card to school. Child does not sign report card as if to give some kind phony approval to the grading process he/she just received.

World gone mad....that is all.

:)

D Out.

Uncle! Uncle I say!!!

I got EoF last night. There. Now the voices in my head will finally stop.

I started a Fae Illusionist on Venekor and started to play him. Got to about level 5-ish...until my daughter walked in and saw the wings. With The Boo eagerly looking on, we created a Fae...oh, sorry, fairy...a female Wizzard with the biggest pink wings we could get. The Wizzard was one of the first classes I had when EQ2 first came out in 2004....wow, I've forgotten how much fun it is to blast the crap out of stuff. I had so much fun with the wizzy that I leveled her to level 10 last night.

I've taken screen shots of my adventures so far and plan to write something up when I get one or both of my toons up to 20. I think I should have some good impressions of EoF by then. I'll also have more thoughts on the convergence of EQ2 and WoW as well.

Just as a side note to Brenden, Brent and Lauren. I blame you for tempting me back to this game again. Sure, there were other great reviews out there, but I figured it was your turn :) ...I've unleashed the hounds.

D out.

Free Ryzom, Mystery beta news, Mystic Worlds

Given the current situation with Nevrax, a group of players wants to make Ryzom's code open source. I love this idea. It does two things really: 1. It saves a really great game from oblivion, 2. Allows the actual community to shape the MMO, which I'm always for. Let's hope they pull this off.

Mystery Beta...been playing it like a mad man. It's driving me crazy that I can't do a beta preview for you guys. I've been taking screen shots and gathering my impressions for when the NDA is lifted or I get permission to put something here on the site. I think people are going to like this game. I've played almost all of the races, except for one, which I refuse to play on principle. I've also played most classes...and like what I see. There is still plenty of improvements and fixes that need to be put in, but it looks like the developers are all over the current issues. Thats all I can really say right now.

There was a special guest on Virgin Worlds podcast #42. Lauren from Mystic Worlds. I've linked her site for easy access. I like her...and I hope to hear more of her views in the future. I particularly noted how similar our stories are in terms of MMO introduction. I too was introduced to MMOs when I got AC2. Before that, I was mostly a played single player games. I must say though, I have some really fond memories of AC2. Good job on the podcast Lauren...I'll just be adding your name to the crowds of people tempting me to pick up EoF :)

D out.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Wiping the Floor

If any of you have kids around the age of 1 year, you'll get this...if not, I'm in more trouble than I thought.

Childhood from the years 1 and onward is really my favorite time when if comes to my daughters...its when they start to find their personality (read...they start getting funny). My youngest is at that age right now and I really don't understand her obsession with putting everything on the floor. If its on the kitchen table, it should be on the floor. Hey look, there's a coaster on the nightstand...floor. Oh my gawd, there is a book put away neatly on the shelf...floor. By the time this kid is done, there is no floor....there is only a mine field.

Insanity at its best folks...

Blizzard's Background "pain-in-the-ass" Loader

Hands up if any out there think this thing is a pain in the ass (hence my title)....

...cue crickets...

OK then.

As John Steward says...Blizzard, can I see you over at camera three.

You have a great game...a really great game. You've introduced millions to MMO gaming. You've opened the market to other developers and brought countless hours of joy to grinding fanbois. Ummm, so, you need to stop developing downloading utilities....you need to stop now. Every time you develop a tool like this, God kills a kitten...no no...worse, he kills a baby seal. So Blizzard, help save the baby seals...they've done nothing to you.

D out.

Innovation and Mii

I had a recent discussion with people about innovation, specifically in regards to the Nintendo Wii. The most recent is with Brenden over at FalconTwin.com. Some think the Wii is not innovative and that it is just a rip-off of other technologies paired with a less than stellar console.

OK...let's look at innovation for a second:

Main Entry: in·no·va·tion
Pronunciation: "i-n&-'vA-sh&n
Function: noun
1 : the introduction of something new
2 : a new idea, method, or device : NOVELTY

(source Merriam-Webster)

I know, I know…its takes more than a dictionary definition to get a point across.

Does anyone remember who Karl Jatho is...anyone...anyone? No, you really wouldn't. Does anyone know who Orville and Wilbur Wright are? You should...if you don't, please, please make sure you go back to school or for the love of gawd read a book on flight history. They're credited to be the first to sustain controlled, heavy than air flight. They are the ones remembered as the innovators of flight because they were able to take an idea, improve upon it (from the failure and successes of others...and themselves) and make it commercially viable tot he world.

See, innovation does not mean make something completely new. It also means taking an existing idea and making it better. Now, granted, the Wii console is not much better than the Gamecube...granted. The Wii games, are currently not much better than the Gamecube...granted. However, the way the player interacts the games they play is where the innovation of the Wii sets in. Yes, we've seen Nintendo do this with the PowerGlove in the 1980's...it didn't work out so good for Nintendo. Only two games where published with that functionality (Super Glove Ball and Bad Street Brawler)...both, crappy games as I recall. The PowerGlove is nowhere near the Wii controller...different technology and implemetation.

Now..Nintendo did not create something as historical as flight, nor am I saying that. What they have done is changed the way in which people interact with their games. They have taken an already existing idea, made it better and they were able to make it available to people’s living rooms. That, my friends, is innovative. I'll be very surprised, very, if Nintendo does not come out on top of the console wars just because of this.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Play the Fae

Update 30 is coming for EQ2. Mostly holiday stuff, however; they are putting in a 7 day trial where you get to play the Fae. Here are the details:

Play the Fae
As you can see, there's lots of fun headed your way with Game Update 30! But we also wanted to mention a special addition coming even before that.

The EverQuest II team is extremely proud of the Echoes of Faydwer expansion. We're looking forward to sharing it with all our friends and family over the holidays – and we hope you will too! In order to make the expansion accessible to all we will be launching a new trial program called Play the Fae. Starting on December 5th, anyone with new Station Account can log onto playthefae.com (.fr and .de for French and German) and try out a new Fae character through the Play the Fae 7-day free trial. This trial is similar to the Trial of the Isle, but it adds the ability to start in Greater Faydark as a Fae or any of the other races that can begin there. Your first character has to be a fae, and once you've been in game and checked it out, you can be anything that Trial of the Isle would let you be.

This update promises to be filled with excitement and fun! Goodness knows we're excited, and we sincerely hope that you are too. So have a good weekend, and we'll see you in Norrath!

...damn temptresses.

Really good interview over at RPG Vault regarding Warhammer Online. You doubt that this has potential...read this:

Play starts off within these ancestral pairings, but characters can move to other fronts to join their friends from allied armies. The ultimate objective in the inter-realm warfare is to seize the enemy's capital, which requires invading its homeland and winning key battles that take place in goal-based areas and instanced scenarios. An interesting twist is that although Player vs. Player combat and Player vs. Environment quests will occur on the same map, it will still be possible to contribute to the war effort without participating in the former. Naturally, we're following the game closely to keep you fully informed.

There is also a video there as well. I really hope they deliver on this world PvP, or I will be very cranky.

D out.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Is EQ2 becoming WoW?

In the course of my current internal EQ2 EoF struggle of "to buy, or not to buy", I came across this review here.

The Gamespy article opens with this:

EverQuest II has resided in the shadow of World of Warcraft since both games launched two years ago. This fact is far from lost on Sony Online Entertainment, evident in the direction that they've taken the game during the past two years. The game's third retail expansion, Echoes of Faydwer, is essentially the culmination of this process. SOE has worked the sort of casual-friendly, directed play experience into EverQuest II in as many ways as could be reasonably applied to its formula, and without question, it's the players who benefit. Echoes of Faydwer, in short, is quite possibly the most thorough about-face ever seen in the MMO world that did not bring with it disastrous consequences.

This seems to point to something I think we're all seeing and probably what I've been feeling about EQ2...the WoW-ification of EQ2. This evolution to a more WoW-like game seems to be well received by the community in general, however; am I the only one who has a red flag going up in his head?

In 2004, Sony screwed up...they really did. They created EQ2, a game with great graphics and promises of immersing game play. All true at the time, until you hit level 20. At level 20, a progression wall came sneaking behind and bitch slapped you. WoW, of course, took off like a rocket with its fun game play and low entry barrier.

We're now at 2006 and we see EQ2 and WoW starting to converge. Features, game play and experiences are starting to look very similar. Great for Sony and EQ2, but is it good for the MMO players? Ummmm, no. No it is not. If Sony's numbers start to go up due to this convergence to WoW, we're all in a lot of trouble because other companies will notice that trend. If they have any business sense at all, they'll do the exact same thing, i.e. copy WoW. This will give us, as gamers, very little variety. Basically, we're heading down the road that RTS's now find themselves in. WoW is turning out to be MMO's Command and Conquer.

Now, this really isn't that bad. WoW is a fun game from 1-60. I just would really like to see MMOs grow in a more three dimensional manner, so to speak. How do we get rid of grinding at end game? How can players really feel they can change the world they play in? How do we really strike a balance between graphics and performance? Can we make PvP really meaningful?

D out.

Free Trials, WoW attack, mystery beta

Fileplanet has a huge list of MMO free trials available. I don't think you need to be a subscriber to have access to any of these. Some really good ones in there .

Apparently there was a massive battle in Azeroth, you can read about it here. Great stuff to see in WoW....really it is. It's just too bloody bad that it really didn't make a mark in the world like it should have. Heck, I'm sure all of the cities in question already have a fresh coat of paint on them.

So I played a bit of the mystery beta last night. Was able to create a character and finish the tutorial. Wasn't able to get into the game after that due to server issues. The game looks very promising so far. Graphics are great, character feels right, and game play impressive as well. I know, I know...this is as about as useful as a knife in a gunfight if you don't know what game I'm talking about. All in good time my minions...all in good time.

D out.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Violent Video Games...bah..humbug!

I was trying to scrounge around for that study about violent video games that I mentioned yesterday, but Bill beat me too it. I suggest you take a look at Dubious Quality...he's got all of the latest info on his site. Take a look at his recent entries: "A Little More" and "The Stupid Wagon: All Aboard!". The link that I was mentioning is also there, and then some.

Never believe a study when it comes out, on any subject...ever. Especially when it comes to this subject. The only reason these eggheads do studies is for continued funding. The only reason people use these studies is for political gain. Period.

You hear of clowns like Jack Thompson shouting to the wind about "murder simulators". Well, I hope you guys have hunting next on your attack list. In Canada, I believe you can get your hunting license at 16...at least it was when I got mine. When you hunt, you use a real gun with real bullets. You're aiming at a real living creature that will bleed real blood and die. If I wanted to, I'd be able to make the connection from hunting deer to killing humans in a heart beat. But, the hunting and gun lobbies have more money...so I'd loose. Hunting, fishing and such are political "momma and apple pie" issues. Video games, on the other hand, have no lobby organization and are therefore an easy target for political points and research funding.

D out.

Wow....

No....not WoW...but Wow.

Bill over at Dubious Quality (a great site...) was gracious enough to post this site on his blog. That's the great thing about Bill...he always supports newcomers to the blogging field. Thank you Bill.

Also, Brent at Virgin Worlds has also linked me on his site as well. Brent's site is MMOs all the time and he also does a weekly podcast. Awesome stuff there if you want to keep up on MMOs.

Thanks guys...and welcome new readers. Remember, I'm always up for way to make this site better, so don't hesitate to contact me.

Cheers,
D

Where's my nutmeg!!

No...this post will have nothing to do with nutmeg or any craving that I may or may not have for said nutmeg. I'm in one of those moods...so bare with me :)

An new Indie MMO conference has been announced. It's going to be held in Minneapolis, April 14 and 15. I think this can only bring great things to the MMO space. Right now, the market is just flooded with elves and orcs. I think that indie development may be the only one that can save us from this. I don't mind elves and orcs, really I don't, but we need a bit of a shake things up. Oh...oh...I've got it...elves with jetpacks.

Another review of EQ2 EoF. I found myself in EB games last night to do some Christmas shopping (yes, I'm a guy and I did Christmas shopping before Dec.24...I hear that my membership to the male sex is being revoked). I came very close to picking this up. I have pressure all around me to get this expansion. Solid reviews like this one and an EoF podcast review over at FalconTwin.com don't make it any easier. With the changes in Eve, playing WoW and the Beta I'm in, I just don't have the time to spend in Norrath right now.

Speaking of EB Games....if I can go off of MMO news for a sec. My local EB had a working demo of the Wii. All I can say is wow...what a great machine. I played a racing game and you use the controller as a steering wheel....genius. I'm very torn about getting a Wii for Christmas this year. I usually never get a technology when it first comes out, for obvious reasons. Besides Wii Sports and Zelda, there is really nothing there that would sell the system to me. But after playing it and knowing how much the girls would like it....ahhhhhhh....crap! The fact that my wife would actually murder me for getting it also tips the scale a bit. Watch the obituaries.

Revelations I is live in Eve right now. Got to play a bit last night. Not much to say about it. I tried the new map...blew up some pirates and saw the wrecks that replaced the standard loot cans. It still looks and feels like the Eve I was playing last week before the patch. Meh...as are all things in Eve, more time will tell.

Here's an interesting perspective about Ryzom and Nevrax's current problems. The author made me think of another reason that I really didn't get into Ryzom, besides the art direction....because I really did have to. The free trial given to players of Ryzom is something we really don't see in MMOs. You're given the entire newbie island experience for free and for as long as you want to play. No 10 or 15 day limits...for as long as you want. Granted...they put a level limit on your progress, but you could spend a lot of time playing Ryzom without spending a dime. It's an interesting thought, but I'm wondering if things would have played out differently if Nevrax went with a standard 15 day trial.

D out.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Mother may I....

One of the founding principles of this site is common sense...well, let me re-phrase, about 95% of what I post here will be about gaming, mostly MMOs. The other 5% you'll have to put up with me venting about stupid shit that I see in general.

So..here it goes.

So, my daughter had a doctor's appointment yesterday. It got canceled and I brought her back to school (she's in grade 1). We stopped at the office, we signed an attendance sheet and I brought her to the classroom. Called my wife, told her about the appointment and I mentioned that I met her teacher when I brought The Boo to her class. My wife said something then that got my attention, "You mean they let you do that?". I said, "Well, yeah...". I got a thinkin that maybe I just slipped by them. It was kind of abnormal for a non-teacher to be roaming the halls of a school. Come to think about it, as I was walking the hallways, I did get the "I hope I don't get in trouble" feeling. This is completely ridiculous. I'm there to drop off my daughter to her class and yet I feel like I'm breaking into someone else's house to steal their 40 inch flat screen.

Flash back to last year. Same child...swimming lessons. There was a proud parent there with a camera. This parent's kid just happened to be in the same class as The Boo. The head lifeguard saw the camera and ran... I'm not kidding... ran over to the parent and proceeded to tell her that she needed the permission of every other parent in order to take pictures of her kid. She did. I, of course laughed and said "sure", and so did every other parent. Also, every other parent thought it was ridiculous that such a ritual was needed for a parent to take pictures of their own kid in swim class.

My point? It seems that we've gotten to the point where we assume that every person who enters a school or takes pictures at a pool or park is doing so for some deep and dark reason. It's gotten to the height of stupidity. I agree...we should have our kids brought up in a safe environment, but right now we're so concerned about safety that everyone and everything is threat.

D out

Gods and Heroes, MMO No No's and CoH and MMO addiction

There is a new Gods and Heroes interview here. This game is starting to intrigue me...it really is. I'm not really sold on the whole squad based combat thing though. With some exceptions, most implementations of squad based games have been less then stellar. Your minions are usually quite stupid and are more a hindrance than anything else. If they flop on the implementation, lets hope you can turn the minions off and that the difficulty scales accordingly. What really interests me about this game is the lore potential. I love Rome mythology and I think an MMO in that world will be a lot of fun. The combat animation looks really good, but I hope its not all flash and no substance.

MMORPG.com put up and interesting editorial here. I've got soo much to to say about this article, I don't know where to begin really. The article goes over some current pet peeves of the MMO industry. Although his grievances make sense on the surface, they do lack some depth of thought. His first gripe is with MMO developers making drastic changes to the game. So, out of recorded MMO history, only one game has really done a complete overhaul of its game mechanics, much to the chagrin of the community in question. That game would be Star Wars: Galaxies. Other MMOs, to my understanding, have changed themselves gradually over time with patches and/or added content. Dude...having one game burn us with a sweeping change does not make it a peeve with the whole industry. We have not seen a trend of MMOs doing this, and until we do, lets chalk it up as a blip.

Second peeve was the over promises of MMO companies. This is true, they do over promise, however; we all know that...so the bigger peeve you should have is "why do I keep believing them?".

"Talk to your testers" is next. Although I'm not privy to every software verification process that each organization has, I have worked in this field for over 10 years. Project Management groups have a tough job. At the end of the day, they have to make a risk call on quality given the input they get from the verification (or testing) groups. They'll usually make this call at whatever quality milestones that they have internally. Trust me, in more cases then not, verification is very much part of the "ship/no-ship" discussion. What you see in the MMO software industry is common place in every company in North America. I would be interested to see if their quality slips are larger than other industries, but until I see those numbers, I'll assume its on par with ever other company that delivers software.

The last is peeve has to do with somewhat with the issue of power-leveling in MMOs. There is only one game that takes away the power leveling that we find in the majority of MMOs, and that is Eve Online. You won't find any WoW power levelers taking up a game like this...it would drive them nuts. If you want 'fix" the power leveling, then one solution would be to tie in the leveling system to a skill-based real-time system. Think of it this way: What would happen if EQ2, Eve online and Ryzom had a baby (leave the sick threesome jokes at the door...please)?

Some good stuff happening over at COH. Issue 8 is live. Although there is nothing in there that would make me come back to COH, it's good to see that they're continually evolving the game.

Oh for the love of Pete. When will they stop? This is such a load of crap! MMOs are not addictive...period. They surveyed 7000 online gamers and found that 12 percent show signs of addiction. Sorry, but I'm calling bullshit. Let me ask them this... out of that 12 percent, how many already have an addictive personality type? It kinda reminds me of one survey they (not the same people) did a while back concluding that people who play violent video games tend to be more violent. What they didn't tell you was that the people that they surveyed where ALREADY prone to violent behavior to begin with. I'll scratch around for that survey and related columns to it...just don't have it laying around right now. What will really irk me later on is the people who will use this to get out the "ban stick". You know...the "professionals" who think that the rest of us need to be protected because a small minority of gamers out there don't know when to flip the off switch.

D out.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Funny as Hell...

Well...I mentioned how I found it weird that Ryan from MOG was on a WoW podcast. Well...you all need to listen to Episode 41. I listen to MOG every week, and Ryan has a certain style. That "style" was sorely missing during that round table....now I know why. Ryan appearing on a WoW podcast is like finding Larry Flynt at a Bible study meeting.

Lol...that guy cracks me up.

Warhammer Interview and Mystery Beta

Great interview regarding Warhammer Online over at MMORG.com. You can read the details here. And yes, the interviewer does ask the stupid question about the concerns over the similar art styles between WoW and Warhammer Online. I think Sanya Thomas addressed the concern quite nicely.

I remember talking to some of my guild mates about Warhammer...the first thing out of their mouths was, "oh...they stole from WoW". I preceded to inform them that Warhammer's art has been clearly defined since the 1980's, but they'd have none of that, "Ohhh...well, then they shouldn't have made the game like that anyway." I think this will continually be a thorn in EA Mythic's side until people truly get to see what they're bringing to the table. WoW fanboys will never be convinced that the orcs in WoW really were inspired by Warhammer art.

Yes, I've been invited to a beta just yesterday. No, I cannot tell you what it is. It is one of the MMOs that was on my radar screen. I hate NDAs...I really think they are, well, dumb. If I find a way to get info to you without breaking the NDA, I will do so. Once the NDA is fully lifted, I'll be sure to have a full preview with screen shots.

D out.

Monday, November 27, 2006

WoW Podcast Roundtable

There is a great round table discussion over at WoW Podcast.

They've got some of my favorite podcast personalities, including Brent from VirginWorlds.com, Ryan from Massively Online Gamer and Brendan from FalconTwin.com. Actually, it was really funny to hear Ryan on a WoW podcast (those who listen to Massively Online Gamer understand why)

Some interesting topics, not just about WoW, but with MMOs in general.

They talked about potential MMOs that are coming out that can steal away from WoW. I'm not really sure about the value of the question. Think of it this way. WoW currently has around 7 million subscribers. If any MMO comes along and only steals even just 3% of their players, 210000 subscribers, then they can call their MMO a success. If you look at the latest MMO charts, this is a nice comfortable average and puts them in the same number league as EQ2, Eve, UO etc. Not too shabby. I think the better question is what feature set would an MMO have to have in order to beat WoW? That gets us thinking about what new innovations are needed for the next generation to be successful. Besides, if the average MMO gamer is anything like me (and God help you if you are), then they'll probably keep their subscription to WoW while playing another MMO. This, of course, wouldn't hurt their numbers at all.

They also talked about communities in MMOs. Is WoW's community worse than others? The two best communities that I've come across hands down are Ryzom and Eve. The communities there are helpful, respectful and mature. WoW, IMHO, is one of the worst that I have had the pleasure of interacting with. Brent brought up the reason why. It's because of the large numbers and the anonymity that those large numbers bring. Just the other day, my wife was doing a quest killing something or other with her friend. This other toon was also hunting the same thing. This player got pissed at this and started to fear the mobs and proceed to call her and her friend "bitches" etc. There were plenty of mobs there...he just didn't like the idea of others hunting in the same area. It would be like going to the grocery store, and then verbally abusing the person picking from the same bushel of apples as you are. If you did that, there would be real social consequences. In the virtual world, there are no consequences for acting like an anti-social prick.

That's it for now.

D out.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Revelations on Tuesday

Eve is being updated on Tuesday, Nov. 28. Patch notes are here. The list is huge...and this is just part I of III.

Exciting news for Eve.

The Mario Dash

We have a Gamecube. I got the system because we have little kids and Nintendo is really good at gaming systems for that market. My daughter is playing Mario Kart as we speak. When she first started playing, she'd gravitate towards every obstacle that was put in front of her...cars, mushrooms, those big canon balls that bark. You get the picture. Anyway, it amazes me how quickly she learns how to stay on the road and to avoid obstacles.

Given what the Gamecube has in terms of entertainment value, I'm really excited about getting a Wii. I just need to work on the wife a bit more *wink*.

This is a great article worth reading. I really hope the people at Blizzard are thinking this way. How great would WoW be if:

  • We had Eve's player run world.
  • Had DDO's loot and trap system.
  • player housing.
  • World PvP, where boarders shift with ongoing territory disputes.

...man, I'd never leave.

Friday, November 24, 2006

More Eve Fanfest and Warhammer

I truly believe that Warhammer has the potential to be the WoW killer...I really do. No, not because of the orcs look the same (please look up who came first) but because I think the game play, specifically pvp, will outshine WoW in every way. There is a nice little write up about the current state of the game over at Warhammer Alliance. Of interesting note is the take on quests. The author tells us that there is a real sense of purpose in the quests and that they are very well written and executed. Please let this be true. If I see one "go kill 10 turtles...just because" quest, I'll scream.

More info from Eve fanfest regarding Revelations II and III. Although I'm really looking forward to the changes coming on Nov. 28 (Revelations I), Revelations II looks like it will really add some spice to the world of Eve. What I couldn't believe is that these guys are laying plans for Eve over the next 10 years. Thats insane! A good insane..but still insane.

D out.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

MMO Currency

This is interesting.

Over at Terra Nova they created a chart comparing the various online currencies to each other with Monopoly being the baseline.

Very kewl.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The trials of herding cats

So my daughter had her 6th birthday party last weekend and great fun was had by all. By all, I mean the kids. We took them all to a glow-in-the-dark mini putt place around town here. Now, mini-putt is not the easiest thing in the world to do. Putting in general is one of the toughest parts of golf and is something I'm always struggling with in my golf game. Now throw 5 and 6 year olds into the mix and you have organized chaos with just a hint of anarchy.

We all split up in 3 groups of 4 (12 kids in total) got our balls and putters and off we went. It was me, my wife, a family friend and a host bringing the kids through the course. We had cake and pizza...it was all good and a job well done by the establishment we went to.

The three of us had a talk in the van on the way home, and it was amazing to me how similar our groups were. We each had one hyper-active kid who obviously forgot his/her Ritalin that day (I say that tongue-in-check of course) . This kid was usually all over the place...using the putter as a sword, a bat, a spear or a sledge hammer. You usually had to tell this kid one or a combination of the following phrases every 2 minutes:
  • put that down.
  • move out of the way so others can hit.
  • no, its not your turn yet.
  • we're over here...no, over here!
  • don't pick up your ball.
  • stop climbing on that.
The other three kids were usually fine....but there is always one kid in every bunch who acts like his/her pants are on fire.

In the end, the only that is important is that these kids had a good time and that the Birthday Girl remembers this when she's 80. The fact that mom and dad were sapped by the end of this will be nothing but a footnote in the end.

D out.

Nevrax, Echoes of Faydwer and CoH

More news about the ongoing problems with Nevrax, the company who brought us the innovative MMO Ryzom. The company is going the way of the dinosaur. I do, however; believe that the game will go on with another company, simply because a game like this has to much potential in it. It's never good to see a company go under like this because there are real people working there. I wish everyone there good luck. Who knows, maybe this will work out to be a positive for all involved.

Up to now, I've been avoiding the inevitable. I haven't purchased the EoF expansion for EQ2. Why? Same reason I gave before. I just haven't been able to get into EQ2 again and I don't want to spend money on a game I won't play. I've been playing WoW and Eve almost exclusively these past couple of months and both are expecting expansions. Eve with Kali this month, and WoW with BC in January. How the heck would I be able to fit EoF in there? Answer...I can't, even though EQ2 is the better game (...go figure...). Add to that, is the fact that I'm close to pulling the trigger on Medieval: Total War II (waiting on Bill Harris' review on that one). It's a great time to be a gamer, but man, my head is just swimming. From what I read, EoF is being well received by the community. If you're an EQ2 fan and you don't have this, well, shame on you.

Issue 8: To Protect and Serve is going to be hitting CoH really soon. There are lots of features going in for heroes this time including a revamp of the Faultline zone, new mission types and more. I played CoH when it first came out. I really didn't plan on sticking with the game. I bought it more as a stop-gap game to fill in the time until WoW and/or EQ2 came out. Well...it stuck and I ended up delaying my purchase of WoW and EQ2. The game play of CoH is highly repetitive though. It’s combat and only combat...nothing else to do but beat up bad guys. But man...is it ever cool to fly around in tights.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Stargate Worlds info

I'm a really big fan of both Stargates..SG-1 and Atlantis. So when I heard about the MMO, my mouth literally dropped. No word on features yet...but I'm sensing that they'll be announcing stuff soon.

There are some new screen shots of the game here. Suffice to say, they look gorgeous.

Also, they've started a podcast. I haven't listened to it yet, but I plan on doing so tomorrow morning.

D out.

Ryzom on Death Watch

Ahhh crap!

I played Ryzom, and although it didn't stick with me (mostly didn't like the art direction), I do respect the innovation of that game. Lets hope this is a minor blip.

Jeff Butler on GFW Radio, Vanguard Radio and Conan

There is, what I think, is a great interview of Jeff Butler over at GFW Radio. It's the podcast from Nov. 10. I really like Jeff's take on what features an MMO should have. His views on the current MMO landscape are also very interesting....he plays WoW, fyi.

I was not going to get Vanguard due to the rumor that this MMO was going "old school". Jeff and the guys over at Sigil have been doing their best to get the word out there that this game will be casual friendly and the barrier for entry will be quite manageable. I must say, after listening to this interview, I will be getting Vanguard. I'm always weary of getting an MMO when it first comes out due to my EQ2 experience, but I think I'll have to plow through that for this game.

Vaguard Radio has its made its debut here. I'm glad that someone has started this for Vanguard and I really want to know more about this upcoming MMO. My only criticism is that they need to be less monotone and put some excitement and passion into their voices. So far, they haven't found their "zing"...but they'll find it. Good luck guys, and you know I'll be listening.

As we all know, Conan is coming to the MMO space. One of the more "controversial" aspects of this game was the single player experience that they offered for levels 1-20. Originally, in those levels you're on a destiny quest and you solo the whole thing. In the current Beta progress journal, they've added some co-op elements to those levels. During the day, you'll be able to group up and do guests and dungeons with your friends. At night, when you go to sleep, you trigger the solo guest again. I have some reservations about this. From this mechanic, what happens if I never visit a bed at an in from levels 1-20...do I skip the whole destiny thing? Conversely, can I choose to stay in solo mode? We'll see how this all fleshes out, but I'm really curious about this now.

One more comment about Conan. For a game that was rated Best of E3, it sure is being quiet. There is not much buzz about this game. Makes my head itch... (don't ask)

D out.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Curt Schilling Interview

Can find it here.

Not much there really, more of a "hi...how are ya" kind of deal. We shouldn't expect much with the interview, considering the GMG announcement just occurred last week. He says all of the right things, as expected. I'm looking forward to see what they have in mind over the coming years.

What was interesting, and what I didn't know, is that Curt still has one more season to go with the Red Sox. I'm sure this is not a problem, but it does distract him a bit during the first year of development of their entry title.

D out

MOG Video Cast

The guys over at Massively Online Gamer have posted a video podcast about their trip to Iceland. informative and funny as always.

What was really cool for me was the graphics upgrade to the ships. Up to now, I didn't see any screenies of it. All I can say is wow....its like night and day.

You can check out the video podcast here.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Eve News

Some really great news coming out of Eve Fest 2006. Some of the highlights:

  • Avatars coming to Eve. Meaning you can get out of your ship. There is even some hints that you'll be able to walk around your ship. For now, I think the devs are just planning for walking around the space stations for social interaction of players. However, if they pull this off, this opens the doors to all sorts of possibilities.
  • Graphics update. Some new graphics for DirectX 9.0. They also showed off some DX10 stuff as well.
  • Of course, the in game voice chat is coming as well. Gary and Ryan, over at Massively Online Gamer did a great video cast interview with the folks over at CCP. They demonstrated this new voice communication. It rocks...it really does. It sounded a heck of a lot clearer then Vent or TS.

Eve is going to get big people...really big. With the changes coming in Kali, this will make Eve one of the best MMOs out there. It’s these kinds of innovations which will keep me playing this game. Speaking of which...got some missions to do.

D out.