Tag eurogamer

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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Eurogamer vs Aventurine – FIGHT!

darkfall-dwarfEurogamer gets Ed Zitron to review Darkfall. Ed scores the game with a 2/10. Aventurine gets angry, claims that Ed only played for 2 hours – most of which he spent in the character creation screen. They got the logs to prove it, states that as “just the facts“. Blogosphere goes a bit crazy over it, jumps on Eurogamer and claims that their reputation has been damaged. Stropp even compares it to Gerstmanngate. Darkfall-fans are upset. Ed claims that he played for at least 9 hours and that it seems like Aventurine is missing some logs (update: Tasos replies to that claim).

Now, first of all – 9 hours, even if that’s true, isn’t enough time to review a MMO. But it’s still 5 times the amount of time Aventurine claims he played. In the end, that doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that everyone automatically believes Aventurine. They have been wronged, game journalism is in a bad state, Eurogamer is evil and won’t pull the review. Aventurine is automatically telling the truth.

If you’ve ever been working as a game journalist, you know that most of the low scores you give a game will come under attack. If not from fanboys, then from the game company itself or its PR-people. It’s part of their job. Giving a 2/10 to a game won’t stand undisputed. Why would it? It hurts the company who made the game being reviewed. Of course they’ll fire back in one way or another. In certain cases it’s nothing more than a PR-rep calling up the editor, yelling a bit and then hanging up – end of story, business as usual. In other cases it can lead to incidents like Gerstmanngate.

But do remember that it’s business. Reading Ed’s review I can agree, even if I’ve never played Darkfall, that it seems like he didn’t play nearly enough to get into it. But Aventurine knows it’s a niche title and should be fully prepared to get some low scores. You make a niche title which has a hard learning curve, get ready to take some flack. You make a game with UI-problems and a non-intuitive control scheme (which as far as I’ve understood it, Darkfall does have), get ready for some bad reviews. Sadly, that’s the name of the game. Get a PR-rep to handle the contact with Eurogamer’s editors.

In general, this incident has lessons for all of us – both for journalists and developers. Journalists should be aware that they are being monitored if they are playing on an account supplied by the game company. They should be aware of the problems this might bring if a) they don’t do their job and if b) they give a game a low score, no matter how much time they actually spent in game. Developers might even learn a lesson in how to manipulate the press, if Tortage wasn’t enough already.

In the future, when more and more MMOs flood the market, we’ll need to find a new way and a new format for reviewing MMOs. The old ways won’t work in the long run, something more obvious than ever. But please, don’t judge Eurogamer purely on what Aventurine is telling you. I’m not saying that they are lying, but that it’s part of their job to refute low scoring reviews. Until a neutral third party reveals exactly what happened, don’t jump the gun too quickly.

And Aventurine, where’s the Gamereactor press account for Darkfall? I promise, I’ll give the game more than 9 hours.

Update: Keen writes some good stuff about the whole incident over at his and Graev’s gaming blog, also offering some ideas about how Aventurine could’ve dealt with the review in a better way. I agree, the “you are wrong and we got proof”-tactic doesn’t really help, except making people that already love Darkfall hate Eurogamer a bit more.

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Eurogamer dings level 10…twice

My emo Shadowknight in Everquest II. Yes, I use the alternate models.

My emo Shadowknight in Everquest II. Yes, I use the alternate models.

Eurogamer MMO, which just gets better and better, published what is the first article in their Ten Level Test-series today, where two MMOs and their first ten levels are pitted against each other to see which one comes out on top. It’s a great idea, similar to something I had planned doing myself for Gamereactor (if any of my editors decided to buy into my idea), and it’s great to see other games than the Big Three (World of Warcraft, Warhammer Online and EVE Online) get some time in the spotlight.

First out is Everquest II and Vanguard, two games I’ve been playing myself. Both are SOE-games and both are from the fantasy genre, so it’s quite fitting to see them go up against each other. The write-up is a great laugh, especially the comments about the Ratonga wizard they create in EQII. Almost makes me want to re-roll, but I still have an aversion against small races because of my gnome in World of Warcraft. I’m quite satisfied with staring at crotches in one game, thank you very much…

Oli Welsh has written down the rules for the whole test in his blog, noting that

Ten Level Test isn’t an infallible test of a game’s quality. That’s what reviews are for. While we firmly believe World of Warcraft is the best MMO out there, its first ten levels could quite easily lose in a fight with LOTRO, Warhammer Online – or even Age of Conan. What’s more, a round could be swung by factors that are completely out of control of the game’s designers and support staff; it will work in a game’s favour if we end up in a great group or make a new friend. And then there’s raw luck; a game’s fate could rest on a roll of the dice, a random loot drop.

which I personally find really exciting. This test isn’t based on reviews, it’s purely based on the writer’s experiences during the first ten levels – like a gonzo new games journalism-kind of thing (if you excuse me using the old NGE-term), applied to MMOs. That approach is great for MMO-reporting, considering that the genre is horrible to write traditional reviews about, something most game journos have noticed when they are suddenly faced with the task.

Vanguard? Bugged? I have no clue what you are talking about.

Vanguard? Bugged? I have no clue what you are talking about.

Upcoming matches are Lineage II vs Final Fantasy XI, Guild Wars vs Dungeon & Dragons Online and Star Wars Galaxies vs City of Heroes. I’m especially psyched about seeing how D&DO stands up to Guild Wars, as I’ve been considering picking it up just to give it a spin. Guild Wars is a good PvP-game, but I never found it immersive enough to start playing it again, even if I still got it installed on my hard drive.

I am looking forward to see how things develop from here. When the first batch of matches are done, the winners will be pitted against each other for level 10 – 20, until a single game remains. I am happy to see that the winner of the first round is Vanguard, which is a really underrated game that never managed to get over the initial bad reputation it got (even though it was well deserved at first, since it was a buggy piece of crap at launch). It almost makes me want to switch over my current EQII-sub to Vanguard…

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Virtual worlds, massive multiplayer games and assorted ramblings

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