Tag ccp

Does Freedom Need To Come With Such A Price?

Darkfall startup

Get if off! Get it off! Get it...oh, that's the UI.

I decided to take up Aventurine on their $1 for 7 days offer and created a Darkfall account for the US server. After all, I have wanted to give that game a try for a long time and it seemed like a good way of doing it without having to pony up the ridiculous amount of money they charge for it.

Most Darkfall-fans often point out that you will hate the game at first, because the UI and controls are so different from other MMOs. I would like to second that. The UI and controls are not only bad, they are both a piece of stinking dung. They are completely and utterly worthless, like they have been created for the sole purpose of driving new players insane by just being stupid.

I haven’t played much more than one hour of Darkfall in total, rerolling three times because my character looked too silly when I finally got in the game. The one I have now looks pretty cool, a wolf-man pirate ready for some sandbox action. But the game is such a hassle to play, there’s nothing intuitive about it at all. Fighting goblins, looting, harvesting…all a pain to everything my gamer self has learned about design over the course of my gaming career.

I can’t help feeling that the UI is a prototype, that it was built this way to get the game up and running so it could be shown to investors. Then Aventurine ran out of money and didn’t have time to replace it, instead the game kept being designed around that mess. Darkfall-fans, including SynCaine, often say that it is like that for design reasons. I don’t buy it. If it is, it’s at least not good design.

UI setup

My UI after fiddling around with for a while.

While I will keep playing Darkfall for a bit, for despite the glaring flaws of the new player experience and the insane babble in the chat channels the world is quite inviting, I was reminded of my first time in EVE. Three years ago, EVE Online was hardly a very nice place to start out in. The introduction to the game was, just like in Darkfall, a mess. But the cluster was inviting enough for me to hang around, and slowly the designers at CCP have created a better way for new players to get a feel for its potential.

Perhaps Darkfall will go down the same route, perhaps with future patches or expansions Aventurine can dig deep into their own designs and rethink certain aspects of their game. Because seriously, just because it is a full PVP, full loot, warfare-focused MMO doesn’t mean that it has to be designed in a way that would give most intelligent people a headache (I am sure Darkfall has many intelligent players, they just seem to stay away from the chat channels – like in most MMOs, come to think of it…). Or does it? Ryzom can also be quite hard for people to learn. Do “sandbox” and “convoluted controls and game mechanics” go hand in hand?  Do you think that a MMO with mechanics similar to World of Warcraft or Allods Online ever could be the foundation of a good sandbox game?

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A Grand And Pretentious Love Declaration To EVE Online

In this special edition of the EVE Blog Banter, CrazyKinux himself asked “[w]hether you’ve logged into the game every day since its launch in 2003, or you’ve taken one or several sabbaticals from your capsuleer career, you’ve always come back to New Eden don’t you. Why is that? [...] To put it simply: Why do you love EVE Online so much?”

The EVE Blog Banter invites an enthusiastic group of EVE Online bloggers to address–within a specified time period–a common topic related to EVE. The resulting articles may be short or long, funny or serious, but are always great fun to read! Direct questions about the EVE Blog Banter to crazykinux@gmail.com. Other EVE Blog Banter articles will be listed at the bottom of this post when the final list has been compiled!

My EVE Online avatar

My Internet spaceships face over the last three years. Can't wait to see her walk around in a station.

Over the last year or so, most of my time in EVE Online has been spent docked up. My skill points have slowly ticked upwards, I’ll be hitting 40 million soon, while my own skills at the game have deteriorated. The corp I’m currently in is a nice place, and I do leave the station to hunt down rats in nearby low-sec, but most of the time I’m just sitting there, chatting or staring at my Brutix’s giant navel.

It’s weird, I should be incredibly bored with EVE. Most of the time, my account is just there so I’ll be able to log in to see the changes introduced by CCP first-hand. As a member of the press, with MMOs as my main interest, it can be important to do that from time to time. But that part aside, I should not even feel compelled to log in. After all, it’s not like I do very much.

So what is it with EVE that makes me come back? In some ways, it’s nostalgia. While I have never been involved in massive 0.0 warfare, I’ve never seen a Titan or even a Dreadnought in anything except screenshots, I had my glory days a long time ago. I flew with a rebellious outfit, I felt the rush of PvP, the excitement of politics, the despair of losing an expensive ship or the thrill of taking down a powerful enemy.

But real life, that other MMO that we all have to play, got in the way. I left EVE, at least I thought I did, but I kept logging in. I sat in Perimeter for ages, a member of my own alt corp, not talking, not moving, only planning my skills and dreaming of a better tomorrow. I’ve even blogged about it here, which feels like ages ago.

EVE Online has something no other games do. It’s getting old, six years and counting, but it never stagnates. The boys and girls at CCP work hard to keep it fresh, update graphics and content. The players, from small Empire corps to the gigantic galactic empires of 0.0, keep it just as fresh, with constant wars and intrigue that keep even the mainstream non-gaming media fascinated with the game. I don’t log in to only my ship, I log into a breathing universe that evolves without me.

Brutix

My Brutix, hanging outside a Gallente station. I love that ship.

It sounds corny, I know. In many ways it is. But EVE keeps pulling me back, even when I am busy with work or other MMOs. It’s a true gem, a unique MMO that has managed to stay relevant through its whole life. With Incarna, the elusive “walking in stations”-expansion, still on the horizon, I can’t see myself leaving for a long, long time.

Incarna is also one of the reasons why I’m fed up with sitting around waiting, doing nothing. When it comes out, I’ll be ready. I’m currently talking to a new corp, I’m sharpening my sticks, gathering up my anti-matter rounds to once again bring fire to the sky and death to my enemies. I am getting ready to once again declare war on the universe.

Most of the time, it will probably be my own ships that will fill up the killboards. I don’t care, it will be beautiful. And while real life will interfere again, as it always does, I know that EVE will still be there when I get back. For some reason, when you’ve dug yourself down deep enough, you can check out whenever you want or need to – but you can never, ever leave.

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Joining The 2010 Predictions Fun!

In 2010, we will all be wearing funny hats.

Yay! Scott Jennings, Heartless and Keen have done their predictions. Syp went on Massively Speaking and did his (I believe, haven’t had time to listen to it yet). I want to have some fun too, especially since I can then look back at my mistakes at the end of 2011. It all works out for the best. Most of this is pure speculation, of course, and I am not sure I believe all of it myself. “But it seemed so plausible,” you will hear me moan. G’damn it, I’m a doctor of journalism!

/cough

I guess I’ll just do the whole year company by company, starting out with the most obvious choice…

Blizzard: Blizzard stall the Icecrown Citadel raid zone for as long as they possible can, until Arthas is being farmed by every guild in existence. Wrath of the Lich King is good for one more content patch, presumably adding another Troll raid. At E3, Activision Blizzard announce that they will release Cataclysm at the end of September, with Blizzcon being used to hype the expansion like crazy. This will be the last Blizzcon to focus that much on a World of Warcraft-expansion, however. Patch 4.0 is released a month before Cataclysm and Arthas will be killed by a 3-man (druid/paladin/death knight) group. There might be films on YouTube about it. A content patch is planned, ready to strike against Bioware’s upcoming release of Star Wars: The Old Republic. I will probably be raiding again, denying ever having left the scene.

Cryptic: Star Trek Online is delayed by two weeks because Cryptic still have a lot of work to do before it is “ready”. The game will be released, lacking a core function or two, which will have its players up in arms for a while. Balance between players and mobs will be an issue, especially in space, just like a lack of content. Cryptic will have learned some lessons from CO, and the uproar won’t be as gigantic this time around – except amongst Trekkers, who will constantly complain about the game not being Star Treky enough on the official forums. Forums you can only post on if you, ya’know, still subscribe to the game…

NCsoft: NCsoft will remind everyone that marketing is marketing. Aion will get some new features, but no housing in sight. Around E3, the company will announce the game’s first expansion pack, which they promise will bring the graphical updates shown in Aion Vision. It will not be released in 2010. At Gamescom, NCsoft will talk about expanding Aion and show some new videos from Guild Wars 2, perhaps force a shy Korean producer to talk about Soul and Blade. No real hands on with GW2, though.

Pic unrelated.

In December, millions of emo Jedis will invade the Internet.

Bioware: The Old Republic goes into closed beta towards the end of the summer, with release set in November/December. After all, EA need their money. The game will be praised for its storyline content, with some players burning through it in a matter of weeks so they can troll the official forums about the lack of end-game content. There will be an actual lack of end-game content. The game will show us that “full voice overs” is a relative term. There will, of course, not be any space content. Seriously, you expected actual space content? We will all be playing it.

Mythic: Warhammer Online gets another server merger, Mythic keep trying to straighten up Tier 4 and city sieges. During Q2, they will announce the first expansion to the game, which will be a digital release comparable to EVE Online’s model of doing things. It will not have a third faction, but new zones that you have to pay to get access to. EA will sack some more people, but the game will not be cancelled. Live events will be held, as usual, and the expansion will be released after Cataclysm. WAR will not become free to play.

Funcom: Rise of the Godslayer is released early summer, it will get high grades in the press but fail to make a large dent in the MMO genre. Funcom will keep moving people over to Canada, and move devs from AoC to The Secret World. TSW will go into closed beta towards the end of the year, major hype will start to build up and it will become Funcom’s new flagship game.

CCP: EVE Online will not get walking in stations.

SOE: Despite rumors of their demise, Star Wars Galaxies and Vanguard will not be cancelled. SWG will get the Galactic Civil War update early during the year, with additional game updates over the next 12 months, and the players will complain about their light side jedis on the forums for all eternity. Free Realms will not be released for the PS3, DC Universe Online will fail to shift many units when it’s finally released for console during the summer. Most MMO gamers will give up on the whole “MMOs for console”-thing for this generation of consoles. A new MMO, maybe EverQuest 3, will be announced during the autumn, SOE will be very silent when asked about the new game’s business model.

All new games mentioned above will get completely pointless and annoying Twitter/Facebook-features, of course.

In 2010, Great Cthulhu will arise and devour some people.

Then we have the unknowns, like 38 Studios, and the ones most people don’t really care that much about, like Aventurine. I will leave them out of my predictions, since I’m not convinced that 38 Studios will tell us what Copernicus actually is or that Aventurine will do anything really interesting with Darkfall. Then there’s that scary question about what Winch Gate will do with Ryzom, but I don’t want to think about that for too long, since I might get all sad.

I won’t go into the whole “war of the business models” either. That’s really tricky and it’s getting late here. Predicting the future like this is hard work and the Old Gods of Time And Space want their tribute. So, Cthulhu fhtagn! and have a great New Years Eve!

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GRTV: Hilmar on Dust 514 and EVE Online

You can never get enough Dust 514-interviews! So here’s one from GRTV, which we recorded at Gamescom this year. Me and Hilmar Pétursson talk about Dust 514, how it is supposed to be connected to EVE, future console generations and what planets we might get to see when CCP’s first-person shooter is released.

(If you want to embed, we are still suffering from that stupid bug where the first height and width elements need to be switched around. Sorry! Information is at the end of the video.)

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London, Nordic Game and a wedding

I’ve had two fairly busy weeks, including the aforementioned trip with THQ to London and the annual Nordic Game convention here in Malmö. The trip to London was very nice, especially since most of it went so smoothly – the press event was held at the same hotel as we stayed at, so we more or less just had to leave it to head over to a restaurant in the evening. I’ve been to London so many times that I can’t really be bothered with actually walking around in it (except to visit Forbidden Planet and Atlantis Bookshop, my two favorite stores that are only three blocks away from each other), and since the hotel was only 5 minutes away from Victoria we didn’t even have to care about buses or the Tube. Too bad for Eirik, our camera guy, who had never been to London before.

We did get a bunch of interviews done there, including one with Joe Madureira – as an old Marvel and Image-fan, that was a bit of a nerdgasm right there. The interviews are currently being edited and should be online next week or so. Also got some hands-on with Darksiders, Joe’s upcoming game, which looks promising. We’ve seen the formulae before in games like Devil May Cry and God of War, but I think the visual design of Darksiders is so much better than in those two games. Will Porter from Eurogamer was there as well and he has penned  down some first impressions of the game if you want to read more about it.

Then I had to spend the weekend more or less locked up in my apartment, reviewing The Sims 3…that review will go online June 1 (in Swedish) and should be in print around the same time (in Swedish, of course). It was a tight deadline, had the review code waiting for me when I got back from London, but I managed to get a lot of playtime in before the review was due.

Nordic Game this year was nice as well, even though I only had time to go to one of the lectures. We did get some interviews done there as well, and some pre-E3-stuff at the same time, and the big nerdgasm this year was getting to meet Suda51. I didn’t do that interview, in fact I only did one with Nathan Richardson from CCP, but I got to stand around and look like some form of GRTV-supervisor. I should had kept my sunglasses on inside and had a much sterner look…when the interview was done I did manage to get to use my Japanese to ask to take a photo of him before we had to get going – at least I still remember how to ask that. Expect the interviews to go online over the coming weeks.

I’ve also started to deal with some personal issues and things might actually look a bit brighter. Hopefully things will be more stable in general soon and give me an opportunity to some real restructuring of my life. It’s sorely needed and hopefully DFTM will be updated more frequently as a result. We’ll see.

With all this going on, and a wedding this weekend to plan for (I’m the Best Man, which means I need to finish writing that damn speech), I’ve hardly had any time for some good old MMO-gaming. I’ve promised Brendon to take a look at Rappelz, but the damn thing refuses to patch properly. I might strangle it soon. When this weekend is over I do hope I will have some time to just sit down and fix the darn game, as I really do want to give it a go. EverQuest II is also beckoning me back, I kinda miss my Gnomish berserker already.

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Virtual worlds, massive multiplayer games and assorted ramblings

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