Archive for the ‘SOE’ Category

The SOE Patcher Is Complete Garbage…

I don’t even feel like explaining all the details for why the above statement is true but here is a brief rundown.

  1. On my connection at my family’s house, the patcher would literally stop after every third file (of decent size)  It would get stuck and I would have to stop it and restart it (thankfully not from the beginning,) which means that on really big patches (as well as when I digitally downloaded EoF) I had to spend the entire time in front of my computer, or it wouldn’t do anything.
  2. When we used two accounts on the same computer, it would patch everything twice.  My brother actually took a screenshot (that’s not on this computer) of one patcher running that was playable, while the other had a 45 minute patch to get through.
  3. Several times I’ve been able to get into the game after patching previously in the day, before logging off and having to patch yet again later that day! Yes there was a hotfix last night, and yes I spent 45 minutes patching it, so why the heck do do I have two more f’ing hours of patching NOW?

Don’t get me wrong, I still love EQ2 and I don’t want to burn SOE to the ground, but seriously, get some competent coders or whatever it is you need to figure out how to get a decent freakin’ patcher running.

~Kanthalos

Thoughts on Browser-Based and Free-to-Play MMO’s

This is somewhat in response to Aaron’s recent post about getting different people playing online games (beyond those of Bejeweled and Diner Dash, etc.) It’s basically a mish-mash of ideas I have about browser-base and free-to-play games and their future (in my opinion.)

I came into work today and noticed that another person I worked with was playing Runescape. He’s a high school student, so still pretty young, but before I saw this, I would have never expected to find him playing an online fantasy-based game. I’m sure that he wouldn’t be willing to pay to play a game such as EQ2 or WoW, but even with the somewhat poor graphics, the game is interesting enough for him to play it. This really got me thinking about the endless possibilities for browser-based games.

The glory of browser-based games is that they of course don’t need a client to run, meaning you can log in and play on virtually any computer. Furthermore, they are usually free. This means that for younger people who don’t have access to a credit card or for older people who aren’t willing to give it out right away, can give it a shot without getting too invested in it.

While there are definite graphical limitations with a browser-based game, a good number of the people playing them aren’t really going to be graphics snobs. They either won’t know any better (being the younger crowd) or they won’t care, because they enjoy the game play enough (older crowd) and they haven’t really seen how good a full-fledged MMO can look. Furthermore, even if they know there are games with better graphics out there, they expect this because the game is free, and they understand that that for the most part means something has to suffer, and better for it to be graphics than game play.

SOE seems like they are trying to get their foot in the door with this market with their new game coming out later this year. While I’m not sure that FreeRealms (a free-to-play game) is going to be browser-based or run from a client, the idea behind FreeRealms running straight out of the browser would be brilliant. Have a quirky, witty persistent world with a wide variety of mini-games to hop into seems perfect. John Smedley said his goal is that parents as well as their kids will be able to enjoy this game. This would mean that not only could parents watch their kids play without being bored out of their skulls, but possibly even play alongside them. If they can create a game that can capture the attention of both parents and children the number of accounts would be unimaginable, especially if a client isn’t required.

Areae also seems like they plan on toying with web 2.0 rather than just another standard MMO, so it will be interesting to see whether they try to hit up this market. I believe Raph said they aren’t really aiming for the typical MMO audience, which leads me in this general direction, making a far more approachable game for the average person. After all, their “mission statement” is,

Areae, Inc. is a company dedicated to taking the tired old virtual world and making it into something fresh and new. Something anyone can jump into. Something where anyone can find something fun to do or a game to play. Something where anyone can build their own place on the virtual frontier

While I can’t be sure that they are going with a client-free game, or that it’s a F2P game, I think they pretty much go hand-in-hand with their goal. Furthermore, I’m not even convinced that this will be simply a game, but rather more of a world where you can play games if you choose, while doing a lot of real-life things as well… a Second Life 2.0 kind of thing in my estimation.

Most of the time browser-based online games either have an item mall or an upgrade option. I’m sure Runescape has a payment option of some sort. Adventure Quest has a Guardian membership for $20 that gives you access to more items, gear, locations, quests, etc. but you don’t have to if you just want the basic game. While I think $20 is a little steep (especially since it’s only for one character, and not the whole account) for a child to convince their parents to pay for, this system is pretty intriguing. A one-time fee and you can play the game on any computer with an internet connection since it’s Java-based. FreeRealms is going to have an item mall to purchase certain items while making the game itself free. Nearly every Korean F2P game follows this model, and it seems to be pretty successful. This is a great way to get some funding for the game while making it free for the majority of players to enjoy themselves.

While I don’t know if this would in turn bring more players to the style of MMO’s we play now, it will definitely make people more aware of them (although WoW did a great job of this already) and it will reduce the stigma associated with online games (especially adults who play them.) I’m really surprised that the bigger players haven’t really tried to tap into this market already, but it definitely won’t be long before it happens, in fact it is starting to happen — there’s simply too much money in it not to.

~Kanthalos

P.S. This is probably my longest post yet, and not revised and edited as much as it should be, but hopefully its understandable and thought-provoking anyways J Also, as Areae has been really close-lipped about their new project, almost everything I’ve described is speculation and simply what I think they are going to try to do, so take it with a grain of salt.

Legends of Norrath — Collectible Card Game

Well, it looks like my prediction was incorrect, which is alright I suppose 🙂  It turns out it’s going to be an online collectible card game called Legends of Norrath.  At least I wasn’t the only one predicting an MMO, but this could be cool.  I don’t have a lot of money to drop on cards, but one cool feature is that you can find cards in both EQ and EQ2 so maybe I’ll still end up with a couple playable decks 🙂   Well, that’s all the news I’ll have for the weekend (even though I was beat out by several other bloggers, hehe) so I’ll be back next week.

~Kanthalos

New SOE Game: An Experiment

Well I’m sure you all know by now that Smedley plans on announcing a new MMO at Fan Faire which is set to release this month. I’m thinking this is going to be something of an experiment for SOE. Even announcing a game less than a month in advance in unprecedented in the MMO industry, or really the gaming industry in general. I think a policy more like this should be taken with MMO’s. While a month is a little short, I think it’s more reasonable to announce around 6-8 months prior to expected launch, or possibly beta rather than two or three years prior. This is enough time to get all the info out about your game to get people interested, but not overly hyped. Too much anticipation can breed extreme disappointment. I really don’t think that any amount of PR can build this game up enough to sell it at $50 a pop in just one month, though. Furthermore, if the game is getting released this month, that means there is likely to be no beta testing. (at least open, perhaps there was closed beta testing that was very hushed, but I doubt this, it would have leaked somehow. It’s more likely that it was all internal testing.) This all flies dead in the face of everything we’ve come to expect with MMO releases. What does this tell us? That they are trying something entirely new.

My primary belief is that this game is going to either be free to play with advertising (not so likely) or a free to play with an item mall of sorts. I think they want to turn some MMO concepts taken for granted on their heads, including how an alternate revenue system will work for a big-name western company, simply making enough money in the process to break even. That said, I have no idea what concepts they want to toy with, or even what genre the game will be. I could be completely wrong about this one, and they could release a full-fledged standard MMO (which I think would be equally as cool, since we won’t even have to wait to play it, and beating out all of the other competition on the way,) I just don’t think so. I suppose we’ll know soon enough whether either of these are the case, or whether I’m completely off-base.

~Kanthalos

SOE Customer Support = FTL

Ok, so I was five minutes from Best Buy last Friday afternoon while out doing some stuff and I just about went over there to pick up a copy of Echoes of Faydwer, but decided that since I was done shopping I’d just head home and use the digital download. I had made a second account to use the trial and make sure that I could get the game looking pretty which I could. I decided that since I wasn’t going to use the character I had played before because he was on the wrong server that I would just get the expansion for the trial account and save $15 on the first month, but after buying it, I realized that for the DD you had to have a copy of the original game. How stupid is that? I already was up to date on patches and such with the trial and I had a copy of the game for my other account, not to mention if you go to the store to buy it, it comes with the original and all three expansions anyway. So I get on chat support and they tell me they can switch them and it will take two days. I realize this means four because they are closed on the weekends. So Wednesday afternoon rolls around with no change in sight, so I hop on chat support again. “This issue will be resolved in 2 hours” I’m told. You guessed it, they lied. So five hours AFTER that two hours I get on again and they tell me that it’s been bumped up and should be resolved quickly. Three hours after they open the next day (yesterday) I get on once more and say,

“Look, I’ve been waiting six days to play this when I could have just gone to the store and bought it, either fix this quickly or please give me a rufund.”

“I can assure you it’s in my supervisor’s ticket box and will be fixed very shortly,” he replies.

“So this will be fixed today?”

“Correct.”

Let me tell you what folks, they had six hours after this chat before they closed and it’s still not fixed. If they haven’t done anything about it before 3 p.m. Pacific Time today, they aren’t going to want to listen to my fifth enquiry, I can assure you. And it won’t be with chat support, it’s going to be over the phone. All that said, I will still play this game because it’s a quality product, I just wish I had taken the extra five minutes to get a hard copy and been playing a week ago.

~Kanthalos