Tag eve online

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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Multi-Subject: Null-Sec, Rapture And David Cage Is Back

Cloaked Myrmidon

I'm not here, look away. Please?

Time for another one of those multi-subject posts, I believe. I’ve been quite busy working over the last few weeks, which has felt great – I haven’t had this much to do, every day, for a long time. It also means I can feel a bit more secure financially, at least until this contract is finished (which might or might not be extended). But enough of that, to the games!

EVE Online – I took the leap, accepted the invitation to a null-sec alliance and moved into 0.0, straight into a war zone. It feels good, though, since the alliance I am in covers a pretty good area, which gives me room to rat and explore in order to get my ISKies up. I’m really poor, that’s for sure. I should be ready for some actual fighting in the near future. I never thought I’d end up in this situation, but now I am. Hopefully, when I finally leave EVE, I will have some good 0.0 stories to tell.

Heavy Rain – I got my promo copy of Heavy Rain last week and me and the girlfriend have spent about five hours with it over the weekend. I won’t spoil anything, don’t worry. It’s a magnificent game so far, completely different from anything you’ve ever played before (except Fahrenheit/Indigo Prophecy). Sadly, David Cage either can’t control himself or someone is forcing him to add all kinds of stuff to the game that has no place there. You will see what I mean when you play it, but some details do deter from what is one of the most subtle and beautiful games in a long time. I’m a bit worried about how it will turn out as we progress, as Fahrenheit went completely nuts after a few hours and spiraled out of control.

Heavy Rain

Two things you do a lot in Heavy Rain: open fridges and visit the toilet. You never, ever wash your hands though. Dirty video game people!

Bioshock 2 – I got the special edition of Bioshock 2 sitting next to me in the sofa, mostly because I still haven’t figured out what to do with it. That thing is huge. The game is…well, it’s not the first one. I’m not 100% certain that I really like it. Multiplayer is a lot of fun though, playing as a splicer fighting other splicers in the ruins of Rapture is hilarious. Trying to grab a Little Sister from the other team while my character is cackling like a madman makes me giggle every time. I just wish they would patch it up and make it a bit smoother to use, right now it’s quite cumbersome and getting into a game is not as easy as it should be on Xbox Live.

Playing Bioshock 2 also reminded me of one of the things I hated with the first game – the story is always told behind solid glass. You are always on the outside, looking in. I never feel like a part of the process, I never get to meet the characters face to face. Now, there was a twist in the first game that made me forgive this tendency a bit, but can they really pull that off again? I truly doubt it.

This picture is, in a way, Heavy Rain related. Get back to me when you understand the (bad) joke.

Allods Online – Allods Online is entering open beta tomorrow and the characters created won’t be deleted when the game is launched. Which, for most people (including me), means that the game is actually launching tomorrow. Great! It will be fun to see how things will turn out for Allods, and I do plan to play it myself. I just can’t decide on a Gibberling or Risen? Oh, the pain.

Star Trek Online – I am still trying to find the time to play this to a greater extent, but the servers are still quite unstable. Isn’t that grace period up? Shouldn’t we expect them to be at least fairly stable by now? I’m annoyed, but I mostly got myself to blame. I am going to give it a proper go this week, but I must admit that I’m not particularly enjoying it. It’s not nearly polished enough to be a subscription game, and I wouldn’t put the triple-A stamp on it (whatever that really means, discuss).

So, that’s another multi-subject post pulled off. How about you? Planning on playing Allods? If so, what faction? And what am I missing in Star Trek Online, where’s that detail that will make me fall in love with it? I am already a bit in love with my Borg engineering officer…

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Loving The Sandbox, Missing The Fantasy

EVE Online

I pwn noobs in space.

I do love EVE Online, even if some online drama and paranoia over the last week or so made me wonder if I really have the energy to move to 0.0 right now. Application has been processed, roles dropped, assets liquidated and jump clones prepped (more or less) but seeing the true paranoid face of EVE’s political alliances and corps is putting me off.

If I do the move I will end up in one of the most volatile areas of the cluster as well, straight into a war that will probably spiral out of control at some point. With Against All Authorities/U’K moving in on CVA-space in the south (death to the slavers!), Goonswarm losing their territories in Delve (and, well, the alliance itself) and Mostly Harmless fighting ev0ke in the north, the whole stage is set for all out war in more or less all of 0.0 space. It could turn out to be very interesting, and in some ways I want to get in there and get my hands dirty in case the whole madhouse starts crashing down. Then again, nothing might happen. I’m not that updated on the politics as I want to be.

For the record: Against All Authorities is the coolest alliance name in EVE. And no, I have not applied for membership with them.

Anyway, while the wonderful sandbox that is EVE Online is calling to me, I also miss fantasy. Yes, we have way too many fantasy MMOs to choose from, but still I miss it. Dwarves and elves and swords and stuff. I miss Lord of the Rings Online, which I haven’t played in a while. Between EVE, Global Agenda and Star Trek Online, I have enough sci-fi to last me a long time. I want a classic fantasy epic adventure! And no, I do not want World of Warcraft!

Darkfall

I pwn fantasy noobs.

So I’m looking at Darkfall…not to join up with a large guild/alliance, but perhaps settle down in a more tranquil area while the wars rage around me. You can only listen to Beu and SynCaine for that long before you want to give it a try. It also seems like Aventurine have done a lot of work when it comes to ambient things like monster and creature AI.

Of course, guild names like “No daddy not again” and “Genital Asphyxiation” make me dread the community (even though the latter is kinda fun). And yeah, the whole PvP forum warrior gang that seems to infest the game. Imagine, a sandbox fantasy PvP game without the nutcases. What an utopia that would be.

So, anyone with me? Let’s all move to Darkfall, be nice noobs, find ourselves a calm area of the world (ha!) and just…fish. And cry if someone starts ganking us. I practiced in EVE a few days ago, when a Mega had my Brutix as a snack in a low-sec exploration site.

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EVE Blog Banter SE – Follow Up

I’d just like to say thanks to CrazyKinux and how honored I feel for ending up on second place in the Blog Banter Special Edition. An extra shout out and congratulations go to Lea, who won, and ChainTrap who came in third. Of course, an extra-extra shout out to all the contestant, all 56 of them! A lot of great entries on that list! (extra note to CK – my e-mail is petter at dontfearthemutant dot com)

I had certain plans to write about how annoyed I got in (not at) EVE a few days ago, but I will save that for another day.

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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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Let’s Talk Star Trek Online

Me and my crew. The guys in the back are in big trouble.

I’ve been putting off talking very much about Star Trek Online here so far. It’s not that I didn’t want to, or were under any NDA (they were kind enough to not have a NDA for the press), just that I wanted to give it more time to sink it. After all, since my initial reaction was “oh my, Champions Online in space, where’s the exit button?”, I think I made the right choice.

Because, well…Star Trek Online is not Champions Online in space.

Here’s the thing though; a lot is similar to Cryptic’s last MMO, including graphical design and UI design (at least on the ground). I really had to get over that before going forward, which luckily went fairly fast. It’s not surprising in the least, the STO and CO teams have probably shared a lot of assets between each other, working on two MMOs under the same roof.

That being said, STO – at least during closed beta – didn’t run very smooth while on the ground. Space combat felt much more fluid, while the client had a tendency to stutter and spit at me at times. My rig might not be top of the line, but it is quite capable. I had similar issues with CO for some reason. I hope it will be better closer to launch.

Space combat.

Space combat is a lot of lines and floating circles. Lovely!

So far, space combat is the most fun I’ve had in STO. While I haven’t been in any huge battles together with other players, the few space quests I’ve done have all been a lot of fun. Constantly making sure that my strongest shields are facing the enemy, while making sure I can turn quick enough to fire my torpedoes when their shields are down, makes for dynamic combat. It’s nothing like EVE Online, considering this is twitch based, and it is this I am looking forward to the most when STO launches in February.

Down on the ground, the game turns into a more traditional MMO, except for the fact that you always bring a crew with you. So far I’ve only unlocked two bridge officers, one science and one engineer, that both follow me when I beam down to a planet or into a ship. The actual team you will have is much larger though, so the game fills up the empty slots with security officers – the good old red shirts that tend to get killed all the time in the series.

Firefight.

Even in closed spaces like this, the client can cough a bit.

Beaming over to a beset spaceship to save the crew is one thing, battling pirates while trying to make your way through the tight corridors. It’s standard fare, nothing to write home to the blog about. The diplomatic mission, where I had to listen to the complaints of a couple of miners and then answering a questionnaire about what those complaints were, was more interesting – no real action, it only took a couple of minutes to complete, yet was interesting enough to warrant more investigation further into the game. I truly hope the devs have done something good with this type of mission.

One thing we know Cryptic are really good at, after City of Heroes and Champions Online, is customization. STO is not an exception. You can customize your ship in a wide variety of ways, you can spend a lot of time tweaking your own appearance (and create your own race, of course) and you can do the same to your bridge officers. I’m really looking forward to creating my own, personalised team and take them out on adventures across the galaxy.

There’s a lot of things I haven’t had time to dig deeper into, like the leveling system where you get to spend points in a whole bunch of different skills (both for yourself and for your crew). I haven’t bought a new ship or fitted it with very exciting equipment either. There will be enough time for that at a later point.

Earth.

Space, compared to on the ground, runs smoothly while looking amazing.

So, where do I stand on the subject of STO? I will play it at launch, that much I know. It’s more fun than I thought it would be, especially the space combat. But when I think about it more, I am not sure I see it as a MMO right now, I see it more like a single player game where I can create my own bridge crew and customize my ship. There’s a danger in that, absolutely. Hopefully, that part will emerge when the game is finally released.

There was a major patch to the beta client a few days ago, I haven’t had time to check it out, but when I left the game it didn’t feel ready for release. The clunkyness of the client needs to go. It might already have been fixed, perhaps that last patch was some kind of “miracle patch”, perhaps Cryptic have a lot of updates to the client in the pipeline. But February still feels too soon.

We shall see what happens. I am glad we are finally getting a Star Trek Online. I was not, to say the least, a fan of Champions Online, but I hope that Cryptic will redeem themselves in my eyes with STO. They have some good stuff in there.

No, make that great stuff.

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Pick a MMO for 2009, or should I just sit down, shut up & get out?

No hugs in Fallen Earth!

We don't hug in Fallen Earth!

I can be so weak when it comes to MMOs. I bounce back and forth and I still have a hard time finding a place to call home – the only place that even resembles one right now is Atys. I’m slowly settling in the post-apocalyptic wasteland that is Fallen Earth‘s Grand Canyon, having teamed up with the Casualties. As I’m writing this, I’m AFK-mining in EVE using an Iteron V, hoping to at least make a few ISK without raising so much as a finger – even though my pride has taken a bit of a hit after I decided to go from PvP pilot to miner/industrial. I love all three games, but something in me feels restless already.

With the fall of 2009 here, the major MMO push is over for this year. As far as I can tell, unless I’ve been struck by a complete black out, there’s no other interesting MMO being released this year. I’ve already given up on Aion (as Wiqd said, “why play a WoW clone when you can play the real thing?“) and Champions Online never managed to grab my attention. Actually, it bored me to death, so I never saw a reason to keep playing it.

That kind of leaves me with the games mentioned above, with a few others circling around me, poking at my interest. I do miss Middle-Earth sometimes, I never did get to Moria after all, and I can’t help thinking that I don’t want to miss out on World of Warcraft’s patch 3.3. Star Wars: Galaxies still feels interesting, especially after the server mergers. And Vanguard will always be Vanguard, especially after Stargrace has started to blog about it again.

So, I’m trying to figure out what games to stick with for the rest of the year. At the same time I can’t help drawing parallels between my bouncing between MMOs and the way my head is wired in general. Right now I’m writing this, AFK-mining in EVE, poking around an EVE mining guide, trying to make the last few fixes to a review in OpenOffice, playing Brütal Legend, chatting on Skype and MSN, eating a banana (yum!), reading the Fallen Earth forums and considering doing a dive into various Star Wars: Galaxies-resources.

Brain...hurts...

That’s not very good at all. I am sure my friend Breki would chastise me for it. I need to learn how to focus on one thing at a time, instead of doing everything at once. I know my brain can handle it, but I’m not sure my mind can, especially since I’ve long since started to identify stress symptoms. Not being able to settle for one MMO is probably another sign that I have problems focusing on one thing, desperately seeking stimulation from multiple sources at one time.

So, perhaps I should just stick with one. Or three. Or maybe a fourth one…hmmmm. Ok, I might need help.

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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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GRTV: Interview with CCP’s Nathan Richardson

I had the opportunity to sit down with CCP’s Nathan Richardsson during the Nordic Game Convention earlier this year. We talked a bit about the future of EVE, of course, and how CCP handled the economic crisis – something that Gamesindustry.biz made quite a bit of fuzz about a few days ago. Heh. Nathan is a great guy, although a bit hard to talk to sometimes. I hope to see him, and the rest of the EVE crew, at Gamescom next week.

Feels rather fitting that I’m wearing a Wanted: Weapons of Fate t-shirt during this interview, since Grin sadly closed their doors today. Not all that surprising, but always sad to see more people in the industry lose their jobs.

(If you want to embed the movie the information is at the end. There’s currently a bug somewhere so you have to shift the first height and width parameters around, though.)

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Gender, feminism and their future in virtual worlds

Disclaimer: This post is all about my experiences in MMOs. It’s about what I’ve seen and should not be seen as a statement on how things look in virtual worlds in general. It’s not 100% truth, it’s all subjective and not very academic. It’s written in a rambling style because I’ve had too much coffee. Remember, please, that this is a blog, not a classroom or an academic institution. With that said, feel free to criticize me and my ideas. I always, always reserve the right to change my mind if I believe I’ve been proven wrong. Thank you.

Gender-play in MMOs is hardly a new subject. We’ve known about it for a long time – people like to play characters of the opposite sex. Sometimes they even roleplay members of the opposite sex. That last part has been the main interest of academics, especially the ones with a gender-slant, for a long time. For an obvious reason, it’s  interesting and fascinating. But it’s becoming old and for most MMO-theorists it’s old news.

That does not, in any way, make Sera Brennan’s recent post on Massively any less interesting. More often than not, the theories about why people gender-play in MMOs are written by heterosexual males or females from a distanced viewpoint. Sera, on the other hand, identifies himself/herself as a transgendered, as a female stuck in a male body (while still being heterosexual, mind you – far from all transgendered are gay). Not only does it take a lot of guts to write a post like that, it also brings a fresh perspective, written in the first person for once, about the subject of gender-play.

It got me thinking about my own experiences with gender in MMOs over the last couple of years. I believe I’m heterosexual, as far as I know I’m not attracted to men enough to call myself bi-sexual but I’ll keep an open mind, but I almost always play a female character in games when given the option to do so. It’s not about the old axiom that men like to play female characters because they would “rather stare at a female behind than a male for hundreds of hours” (that’s really getting tiresome, guys). It’s generally about female characters often being better designed than male (with a few exceptions, including EverQuest II and Lord of the Rings Online), probably because the designers are often male and have more fun designing females, or that it is much more interesting to identify with a virtual female than a male. After all, I’m male in the real world, something that I won’t be able to change until Kurzweil’s reality-bending nanomachines become a reality, so why play one in a virtual world when given an option to try something else?

Before we go any further, let’s take a look at feminism. That word is usually an invitation for trolls to come crawling out of the woodwork, stating that males and females alike are all burdened by gender stereotypes (usually wrapped in more or less veiled insults). That’s indeed very true, but feminism (for me – remember that this post is all subjective) puts the focus on the submission and oppression of women and how that relationship between male and female creates a reality in which everyone suffers. Men are supposed to be dominant, and many suffers from that, while women are supposed to be submissive, from which they suffer. By eliminating that dominance-submission relationship, feminism is able to deconstruct the gender-roles inherit in that particular relationship for the benefit of all. It’s all about where you look and (for me, again) feminism strikes from below, while other views on gender-problems looks at the problem from another direction. Read more

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Virtual worlds, massive multiplayer games and assorted ramblings

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