Archive for April, 2007|Monthly archive page

StarCraft 2 – The Clash of Two Gamers

So it is 99% clear that Blizzard’s next game will be based on StarCraft as a) They announced that within the decade (most assume of when the original was created) a new StarCraft game would be out and b) it would be nothing like WoW. Though I’m not quite sure what that means in every aspect I’m going to guess that this means it is going to have a far stronger FPS feel than we currently have with WoW, something similar to Tabula Rasa IMO.

This has some interesting potential to be sure. Almost every MOGer (there it is again đŸ™‚ ) is looking at games for questing, exploration, and skill systems. Of course there are other elements, but none of these elements involve twitch-based systems that require you to get someone locked in your crosshair and fire. What this means is that many of the Quake/Halo/Counter Strike/Other FPS fans are going to end up giving these MMO’s a try, which could be good and bad, but I believe it is going to mean a clash of two very different types of gamers, and both of these types of gamers are very set in their ways. FPS players want very fast-paced action oriented games with little downtime. They want to get in, get out, and get back in again. I have a feeling they aren’t going to be interesting in heavy questing that involves potentially waiting for other group members, or actually planning for fights before you dive head first around a corner and get fragged by a 6 year old on a cable modem who hasn’t even had time to register your character. On the other side, MOGers are also set in their ways and want to analyze their stats (on the most basic level), get quests, trade, craft, go exploring, etc. but the good majority like to take their time to some extent, and that’s the way most of these games are built. So in terms of PvE content this is going to be rather interesting watching these groups connect, and I’m not even going to touch on the console debate right now. Now for my PvP concerns.

FPS players (at least a good chunk of them) have really gotten good and the whole aiming and firing bit, since that’s what these games are. They are extremely talented, and while the games aren’t as deep as MMO’s, there is still something to be said about becoming a master of any game genre. That said, for the vast majority of these games (perhaps all) these players simply have to decide which weapons they want to use and fire. There aren’t really skills involved that go along with firing their weapons. Again this is a double-edged sword for an MMO incorporating FPS elements into their game. FPSers will come in wanting to get down and dirty and simply start firing, but they will be very confused when they find that there is a skill that gives a slight degree of autoaim, or triples your damage for the next six seconds, affecting the fight drastically. Will they be able to learn to balance their trigger-happy mouse finger with the number mashing of their other hand? Chances are yes, but would they rather just play Quake 4 where they don’t have to bother? Also, on the other hand, MMO players (have to balance it out before it catches on) will have a firm grasp on the use of skills at this point, but will they be able to compete with the accuracy that FPSers have honed over the years instead? My answer to this is probably a few, but the vast majority of MMO players are going to be at a great disadvantage in this department. Will this disadvantage, like the use of skills, drive them away from PvP combat in a FPS-based game, just like the use of skills for FPSers? Who knows, but it will be interesting to find out. I’ll probably hit on other topics about Blizzard’s new game in the days and weeks to come.



A Return to Asheron’s Call

So yes, it is going to happen. After playing for around a week, I’ve decided that I am going to give it another go. Sure the combat system (for melee classes) is a bit rudimentary and the engine is a bit dated, but there is still a lot to offer, especially since I haven’t played in nearly 3 years and Turbine puts out monthly content updates and there is a whole new expansion to discover. There is still a decent sized community on my server Leafcull (about 300 accounts active each night) and the three things that mean the most to me in this game (besides the combat system) are community, exploration, and the skill-based system. When I say skill-based system I don’t mean the skill you have to play your character, but rather the idea that all the experience you get can be put into whatever skill you choose, rather than improving your attributes through leveling and gear. To me this is something that other MMO’s need to implement, as it gives you much more control over your character, and makes you feel as though your character is YOU, and not a replica of nOObPWNr.

My character maxed out at 126 when I was still playing and the current level cap is 275, so that should say something about how much new stuff there is to do. Even the graphics have gotten a huge update, and while they are limited by the engine, they are very crisp and greatly improved since I last played. While it is difficult to determine just how long I will stay, I’m quite sure that I will not be bored within the first month of play.

Given all of the hate that I’ve dropped on Vanguard, it is still calling out to me, and I will probably give it a shot after three or four more updates, and I for one don’t see any problem with teleportation devices if it means easier grouping and the like. Also, who cares if SOE takes total control over it? I agree with Cuppycake in that SOE probably has a larger role in the game than we know, and likely has the ultimate decision on what goes into the game anyway, so what does it matter?

Oh, and by the way, I am officially done with WoW for good. I just came to the conclusion that while there are new instances, gear and creatures, that is all they are. Nothing innovative was given to the players with the Burning Crusade, just more of the same, and I for one am not going to pay to spend four hours four nights a week playing the same instances I have played for the past year. The climb was fun once, but I don’t want to do it more than that. Change end-game, and I might change my mind, but we won’t see another expansion for 1.5-2 years in my estimation, so that won’t be for a while.


A Return to Asheron’s Call…?

As you know, I have been going crazy trying to find my place in MMO space that continues to grow and improve. I saw recently a 14-day free trial of Asheron’s Call: Throne of Destiny. Seeing as it’s been over three years since I last set foot in the world of Dereth, I decided I’d give it a go. Starting fresh, I created a character on my old server, Leafcull. I was shocked to find that two of my best friends from the game are still playing. I reconnected with them and they were thrilled to see me, urging me to resubscribe. There are a few reasons that I’m not quite sure that I want to do this yet, and here they are.

1) Starting up the free trial, my initial goal was simply to get high enough level to go check out all of my old stomping grounds, explore, and reconnect with my friends if they still played. I still find myself recalling some of the landscapes from AC, thinking about how awesome they looked, even though the graphics are/were sub-par at best, there are still some amazing vistas to be found within the game. I also wanted to remember some of the critters that I’d forgotten, and get a chance to whack at them one more time. To wrap this point up, I was going for a nostalgic conclusion and finally put this game to bed.

2) I’m not sure if I want to open up this can of worms. I spent FAR TOO MUCH time playing this game during high school when I could have been doing hundreds of other things. While I looks back with pleasure on my time spent playing, I can’t help but wonder what more I could have done during that part of my life. Expanding on that, coming to the end of my college career, classes are becoming extremely difficult and time-consuming, so between balancing classwork, a social life, and a gaming habit, I almost don’t even want to risk opening that border-line obsessive play. I have gone slightly overboard playing WoW (and occasionally in EQ2) but it was nothing like it was during AC’s hayday.

3) After becoming spoiled by more modern game-play (mainly combat systems and questing) as well as improved graphics, I’m afraid that after several weeks, I will find myself bored to tears, wondering why I ever resubscribed in the first place. While AC has an absolutely immense amount of content (due in large part to their monthly updates, that I believe other games should include) I’m worried that I will find it all too similar and won’t have the drive to see the content that they have added since I last quit.

So there you have it. I still have 12 days to decide whether I’m going to give this game another try, but my gut is telling me that I will likely enjoy this time, get e-mail addresses from my old friends, and move on.


And now for something completely different…

Long time no post from me, but here it is.

Ok, so it’s not an MMO, but I am really enjoying Titan Quest.

I officially took the leap and removed WoW from my system last week, and now Titan Quest is on the plate. I won’t be playing anymore MMOs till I get a different computer, but until then I’ve been doing my homework and reading up.

But back to Titan Quest.

The game is simple. Point and click, hit a number every once and a while. Kill some bosses. I’ve got the expansion but I haven’t really done anything with it yet in the multiplayer sense. It is mindless, but it brings me back to the Diablo 2 days. I especially love that it’s based in Greek mythology thus far, and I’m pretty much a Classics-nerd here at college. You don’t get to personalize your character much beyond tunic-color and sex, but I’ll let that slide. For someone who has hardly any time to play games until the end of May, I think it’s a good distraction. It’s not much of a time commitment, but it still takes your mind off of RL and directs it into the virtual.

For what it is, I think Titan Quest (whether the expansion or the original) is well worth the money if you’re looking for a quick fix.


Building an MMO for the Future — Suicide or What?

I just can’t help but wonder what Sigil was trying to do with Vanguard building it for specifications that won’t even be possible for another 12-18 months. It’s true that technology doubles very quickly, I believe it’s 18 months, but still… is that any kind of way to advertise your game?

“OK everybody, we are going to have an awesome game for you to play 18 months after we release it! I know this doesn’t make any sense, but we actually need that 18 months to fix all the bugs that we failed to take out in the longer-than-usual production time we had to build this game. So even though there will be more than a dozen new MMO’s for you guys to play, we feel confident that you will be ready to try our game once you can buy a computer than can run it at more than 20 FPS”

I don’t know about everyone else, but that to me seems like exactly the message they should have slapped on the box of this game before it shipped. My only question is this; How many gamers are actually going to stick around for a year and a half waiting for this game to become playable, when there will be new games coming out left and right (LotRO, WAR, AoC, Spellborn, Huxley, Tabula Rasa just to name a few) that surely won’t have such high expectations of its players bank account to buy a top-of-the-line PC? It seems like this is the problem with EverQuest 2. I have a pretty decent computer… 2GB RAM, 2.8 Ghz Pentium 4 processor and a Radeon X600 256MB graphics card. It’s a decent computer and I can’t even play EQ2 on high settings or else my graphics card shuts down every 5 minutes or so. I’m not going to play a game that I know could look good with a great PC if everything looks blurry and faded on my PC, especially when the game came out over 2 years ago. Just use common sense Sigil. Sure, you will get a few new players when tech rises, but it won’t be anywhere near the 1-300k you probably lost by a) releasing too soon and b) asking far too much of your customers. Get it together, and hopefully other companies will realize that they need to build their game for today, not for three years from now so they can retain customers better.


Are MOG’ers Socially Inept?

OK, so yeah, I am going to start using the term MOG’ers because I like it, I think it sounds better than MMORPG players, and it is more concise. So anyway, now I am going to get to my point.

So I was having a conversation with one of my friends the other day (a jaded former WoW player) and he was telling me that “MOG’ers” are socially inept. He assumes that since they aren’t face-to-face with another person interacting with them that they have some sort of problem. The main reason that I disagree with this is the use of VOIP systems like Ventrilo or TeamSpeak, or an integrated system as used in EVE Online or DDO. Also, even without the use of a VOIP, people will still be talking to other players, using their social skills to work together, trade, argue, debate, etc. Just because they aren’t in person doesn’t mean that they are socially inept. This is a very, very broad statement that perhaps can be attributed to quite a few MOG’ers, but cannot be used as a sweeping generalization and is quite untrue for a large portion of them. I, myself play MMO’s because I would rather play with other people most of the time than play a dungeon crawler or GTA3 by myself, which I often find him doing. I also make sure that I take time to spend time watching him actually play GTA3. Just kidding, but I do make sure that I get out and take the time to enjoy being with my friends and family and don’t get too absorbed in my current MMO that I’m playing. I don’t tell him that he needs to get out into the world and interact with people because the game he is playing is isolating him from the people around him, so why should he, when I actually play a game that involves other players who I am actually interacting with and talking to, either through in-game chat or some type of voice-chat system. I am just a bit curious whether anyone else has had a similar experience, or believes that my friend has more validity behind his statement than I give him credit for…?


New Guild!

Hey all,

Just a little update, but I found a new guild for my rogue, so I’ll inform you on how things go with that. It’s amazing how important guilds are once you reach end-game in an MMO, but I’ll comment more on that later. Back in a while.


Trying WoW again…

Well, as you know, I was getting frustrated with WoW due mainly to my guild, so I figured I would take a break for a while. Well, I found out last night that half of my old guild split into a new guild. I honestly had been hoping this would happen, and I think its enough for me to go back and give it another go. While I don’t know whether I will go with the newly formed guild or a new guild entirely, I am really excited to try to get through some of the new instances and hopefully I will get this chance now. Wish me luck.


How Much Influence Does the Publisher Have?

I was just posting a reply on MMO Evolution today about how I initially had dismissed Vanguard because I knew that SOE had become its publisher. Since publishers provide a lot of financial backing to these games and get them out to the public, I was just wondering how much influence they really have over different aspects of a game? Is it different for every game or does it have to do with how experienced and successful the creator has been in the past? I would love to hear what anyone has to say about this.


The WoW Expectation

As you know, I have been jumping around from MMO to MMO for the past month or so trying to keep myself busy and entertained, but as of now, I still haven’t found anything that captured me the way WoW did pre-70. I am of course excluding Asheron’s Call from this statement as I had a lot less real-life obligations and things to keep busy with out of the game, so for that reason I was much more immersed in Asheron’s Call than WoW or any other game, and probably any other game in the future. Anyways, getting back to my point, I believe that the main reason (not only) reason for this is the fact that WoW’s incredibly unparalleled polish makes me want every aspect of an MMO be flawless in its execution. Even if I find something new and revolutionary or just interesting in a new game I try, if there are flaws with it, then I have trouble getting really excited about it or delving into it for hours at a time and loving every minute of it. My brother used a great analogy of HD TV. WoW is like watching Office Space in HD, as opposed to the Matrix on a standard television. Office Space isn’t really known for looking or sounding really cool, but if its in HD, it will look really nice. Matrix would look amazing in HD, it even looks really good on a normal TV, but if it were in HD, it would blow Office Space out of the water. Hopefully you understood that, but I’ll follow it up by saying this; While WoW didn’t push the boundaries or take any serious risks with the initial creation of WoW, it worked for them simply because everything was implemented so well that no one had any problems with what they did do. This is both a bane and a boon for the rest of the MMO industry. It is good because it raised the expectation of games in terms of polish. Players have grown to expect it, especially if WoW is their first and only MMO. If they jump into Vanguard and their character gets bugged and loses xp, or doesn’t recieve an expensive item they just purchased, chances are that is the last they are going to play the game, even if Vanguard has lost of new features and a much larger, realistic world. This goes for everything from the newbie experience, to questing, to raiding, to exploring, and so on. Even though I understand this, it doesn’t mean that I can overlook certain flaws in other games, realizing that Blizzard is THE exception that is the definition of polish in MMO’s. I still find myself comparing it to WoW, which ends up being the bane. Perhaps Blizzard simply has far more manpower and money than the rest of the companies, and they can afford to spend an extra six months prepping a game for launch, or fixing a quest that doesn’t give the proper reward, unlike some other companies. Maybe these are the things that we just need to learn to live with and lower our expectations to pre-World of Warcraft.