Tag mmo

All You Need Is Love

I love World of Warcraft! Or no, not really. But I used to!

I’m glad that people took time to read and react to my post on the WoW-clones. I was a bit afraid posting it, since I had already been accused of trying to rile up the masses. That’s not what I meant to do at all, instead I guess that accusation just goes to show how little humor and how little love is in the MMO-sphere right now. So bah, screw the hate – let’s get some loving going instead.

I might be frustrated over stuff in my life and blah blah blah but I want to give some extra love to the MMO scene. After all, the genre is doing great, we got more games than we can shake a level 60 Benediction at (if you don’t get the reference you’re obviously a nub, nub), and I am a level 90 Jedi. Hell yeah. Subs are not dead, not all F2P devs want to eat your first born children’s allowance and more games should have funky Maple Story hats. Dude, those hats are funk-ey!

Also, not all MMO-studios are evil masterminds bent on your destruction so they can pick up whatever spare change you leave behind when you implode. No, no, no – I’m serious! They are not. They are not trying to overly copy World of Warcraft in any way they can, since down that route lies disaster and ruin. There might be certain trends going in the genre and we don’t always like those trends, but you know what? Trends change. And luckily for us, there is a crapload of games available at all times. Some of them might have shut down, but usually that’s because they weren’t economically viable – either because they were crap, or they tried so hard to go against the trends that no one wanted to play them. Or a combination of the two.

One day we will be able to say “remember that time when all third person shooters were all brown” and we’ll laugh and laugh and still remember what a great time we actually had with Gears of War despite its overly…brownness. Remember that only a few years back we were prone to saying “oh, no, not another fantasy MMO” and it felt like CCP was the only studio that would ever release a space-MMO?

This game is going to be the greatest MMO ever created! I've been to the future!

That’s not to say we shouldn’t be critical. We should always be critical, we should shun hype, we should at least try to not jump to conclusions long before a game has been released. Or, wait. You know what? Screw that. Unless you’re a games journalist, or a journalist, or a human being that try to at least maintain a standard of rationality…go ahead, get all hyped up. It’s great that you’re excited! Be excited! Or vice versa – be bitter and angry and whatever you want to be. It’s ok. I’m starting to realize that I don’t have to listen to you and luckily, you don’t have to listen to me either.

Pete asked on Twitter today who had been disappointed in the news that Cryptic is working on Neverwinter Nights. You know what? I am disappointed that Cryptic is working on Neverwinter Nights. I didn’t like Champions Online, I don’t like Star Trek Online. I’d rather have a huge, persistent world based on the Forgotten Realms-franchise. But I’m not going to go completely nuts over it, troll my way across the Internet and then spend the rest of my evening throwing sharp objects at my Jack Emmert-poster (that I don’t have, but have you seen his hair? It’s certainly poster friendly).

Here’s my promise. I will keep being vigilant and critical. I will raise eyebrows when eyebrows need to be raised. But if I start getting totally bitter at the MMO genre, if I fall into the trap of spreading more hate around me than appreciation…then I’ll stop writing. I’ll even stop playing MMOs.

Update! I am so sorry, I totally forgot to add a picture of a funky hat. Man, I wish my level 90 Jedi could wear one of those. She can’t though, since she’s a Twi’lek. A level 90 Imperial Dark Side Jedi Twi’lek. Now that’s riling up the masses.

Check that hat out!

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What A Long Strange Journey It’s Been

No, I’m not talking about E3. I know that the last time I posted, I was packing for LA. But that was weeks ago, E3 is over and we’ve all internalized and processed all the information. Let me just say, for the record, that I had a great time. It was stressful, and at the end I was a tired mess, but it was wonderful. Now to get ready for Gamescom…

Anyway, what I’m talking about is Star Wars Galaxies. I started out in November last year, planning to give the game a month to see if all its bad rep was deserved or not. I ended up falling in love with it, and the week after E3 I hit level 90 – the cap. During that time I have been a Jedi, a Bounty Hunter, a Smuggler and back to Jedi. I have grinded a Trader to level 90, I’ve picked up a second account where I got an Entertainer to cap as well.

Now I am getting ready for “endgame”, which in Star Wars Galaxies I’m not sure really exists. At least not in the traditional sense. I’ve put my foot in one of the heroic dungeons, the Temple of Exar Kun, and I’m hoping to finish up the few remaining heroic pre-quests I have left this week and see the rest of them soon. I’ve started to dabble in invasions, I’m trying to re-decorate my new house, trying to learn about crafting enough that I can actually use my Trader for…well, for something.

I feel at home in Star Wars Galaxies. It’s a great game, with a long and sad run. Seven years of constant controversy. But also seven years of sandboxy goodness, with a dedicated playerbase and ideas that haven’t been seen in other MMOs. I plan to stick around for a long time coming, even if I’ve started to feel the call of the classic fantasy MMO. My Lord of the Rings-account is still active, and Vanguard’s server merge has put it back on my radar…

What a long strange journey it’s been. And what a long strange journey I have yet to look forward to.

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Global Agenda Review Up

While Global Agenda at first glance looks like a pretty easy game to review, it still puts me in a rather awkward position. It might appear as a simple third person deathmatch shooter, but it isn’t just that – it also includes MMO-like aspects, including a persistent world map where player organizations, called agencies, battle for supremacy and rare resources. It has levels, experience points, gear; all the stuff you’d expect to find in a massive multiplayer game.

My review of Global Agenda is up on our international site, all kinds of disclaimers in place. Review spoiler: I’m enjoying it immensely.

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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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One month of Star Wars Galaxies – the summary

Big, hungry, not very cuddly.

Big, hungry, not very cuddly. Soon to cut into pieces with my lightsaber.

One month. Wow, that was fast. Time is speeding up, man. Nothing beats keeping track of time like checking your MMO subs and finding out that the next billing cycle starts today. Calendars are so outdated and clearly not Web 2.0. In other words, my month of Star Wars Galaxies ends today – it’s actually been that long since I started.

But this post is not about me getting older by the minute. I haven’t had time to blog as much as I would have liked over the course of the month, but that’s how it goes sometimes. But I think that a summary of what the time in SWG has been like is in order. After all, I feel that I can now, at least partially, answer the question I asked a month agois Star Wars Galaxies really such a bad game as its reputation would have us believe?

I’ll break it up in two parts, the pros and the cons of the game, starting with the cons. I’ll also add a TL;DR at the end, in case you’re lazy or feel like flaming me no matter what I write. I aim to please.

Disclaimer: Do keep in mind that I only have a Jedi at level 39 and a trader at level cap (after a grueling grind). I have not experienced the game fully, including things like heroics and PvP.

Hit the jump to find out the good stuff! Read more

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Honestly – about that Star Wars MMO…

My old smuggler with her speeder.

My old smuggler with her speeder.

No, not Star Wars: The Old Republic. Too many question marks up in the air about that game and I’m not ready to herald it as the second coming of MMOs or the “World of Warcraft-killer” that some people will happily call it long before we even have a closed beta to poke around in. I’m talking about that other Star Wars MMO, the one that people seem to love to hate.

Yes, Star Wars: Galaxies. I’m going there. I might live to regret it.

I’ve been thinking about this for a while, but this post was ultimately spawned by Dub’s comment on Werit’s post about Death Troopers (be sure to check out the trailer, it’s awesome). Dub states that he looks “forward to SWG finally dieing [sic] out once ToR releases”. I’ve heard it said before, the hate against SW:G never seems to die out – the pure hatred that some people feel towards SOE’s controversial NGE-initiative is as alive and kicking today as it was when it rolled out in 2005.

But let’s be honest here. Is Star Wars: Galaxies such a bad game? This month the NGE happened four years ago, the game has had all that time to improve, there’s been a ton of updates and despite the server-merger there will still be a ton of servers to play on. Obviously the game is still alive, be that from subscriptions or Station Access.

I’ve played the game twice, never going past trial – not so much because I didn’t like it as I had tons of other games to play. I never tried it before the NGE, so I don’t have that to base my experience on. To me, SW:G felt like a solid MMO with lots of mission and sandbox options, with advanced player owned housing and cities and with a really good Star Wars-feel to it.

Isn’t it time to forget and forgive, perhaps take a look at it with a fresh pair of eyes? My current trial is running out, but I’m considering turning it into a full account and give it a proper go. If I can find the time between EVE, Fallen Earth, Ryzom and Dragon Age…

(I realise that this post might get no comments at all, or spawn a whole lot of flames. Please, keep it civil and don’t drag up old grudges. Try to stay as nice as possible.)

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Ryzom website gets a makeover

The new Ryzom site, in all its glory

The new Ryzom site, in all its glory

It was about time Ryzom got itself a new website, since the old one was…well, old. But while it came as good news that Winch Gate were rolling out a new site for their game, I must say that the new one is not an improvement. The new one still looks old.

I hate to say it, I really want to do nothing except praise Ryzom, but the new site looks unprofessional. It does not, in any way, convey trust or give the impression to be made by a company that deserves your money, or can be trusted with your credit card. Had I not been playing Ryzom already, I’d probably would have decided to not even give it a try based on the website.

It’s not only the general design – it’s also about the language used. The game itself is originally in French, and at times the GMs and event managers have had problems with English, but to have the official English version of the site sport such weird language is not a very good idea. How about this wonderful quote?

The MMORPG Ryzom is the best FRENCH 3D role playing PC game playable online. Ryzom is a role-play game of science-fiction, fantasy and adventure, massively multiplayer, named RPG, MMORPG, MMO or virtual world. Ryzom MMORPG is set 30.000 years in the future. Ryzom won the MMORPG Awards of Best RPG role-play story game and is a reference in the MMORPG’s virtual world. Ryzom is downloadable online FREE, with 21 days of FREE TRIAL.

Eh. OK. Even though Ryzom is an actual MMO, that makes it sound more like a scam – or a game as serious as Evony. It might be the “FREE”, and “FREE TRIAL”, that does it. The next logical step would be a flash banner advertising the game as a new online game that can be PLAYED FOR FREE! PLAY NOW! FREE!

Yuck.

Winch Gate, please update it as quickly as you can. Or even roll back the site to your old one, which actually looked better. This one is a pain to look at, the typography is horrible, and not using enough padding makes the whole site look cramped. Did you develop this in-house? If not, I’d suggest getting your money back from whatever design studio you hired. At least take a long, good look at the 96 errors in your markup.

I love Ryzom, it’s a great indie-MMO that I hope survives for a long time to come. Anyone that’s been following this blog or read my Twitter feed should know that by now. But this website, it’s just not good enough for 2009. Please, pretty please with sugar on top, Winch Gate. Update it.

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Champions Store gets retconned

Somewhere, at some point, someone decided that microtransactions and subscription based game could actually go hand in hand. Champions Online is one of the games that have adopted this philosophy, and one of the justifications that people tend to bring up is that World of Warcraft has been doing something similar for a long time. Blizzard began with server transfers, but these days they offer both complete makeovers and even a faction change for your current characters.

Want to look like this? It costs about $3.12.

Want to look like this? It costs about $3.12.

There is a pretty major difference between World of Warcraft and Champions Online, though. Server transfers, faction changes or makeovers are not really needed in a game that only has one shard, one faction and that lets you change your characters whole appearance more or less at will. The major difference is that Champions Online offers the kind of stuff you are used to see in the item shops of free to play games, like Maple Story or Runes of Magic – new costumes, more character slots (which is also something you can buy extra in for example Guild Wars), emblems and action figures (CO’s version of vanity pets).

When I saw the store the first time, I raised an eyebrow since I didn’t think an item shop had a place in a subscription based game. Extra services, fine. Extra items, no. But the same thing can be said for SOE’s item shops in Vanguard or EverQuest II, and since Champions didn’t include things like XP-potions, I didn’t mind much. I would never pay more for costumes in CO (unless it was really, really, really cool – luckily I think CO’s character design is an atrocity towards good taste, so I doubt that would ever be an issue), and I’m fine with few character slots. The stuff in the Champions store had nothing to do with gameplay, so screw it.

Until now, when the store is suddenly offering full retcons for your characters. In more general MMO-terms, it’s a full respecc for your character. That you can buy, for real money, since a full retcon is incredibly expensive using the regular in-game currency.

Read more

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The End Times: Post-apocalyptic sandbox or just another quest grind?

Syp, of Bio Break, wrote a great post about why you shouldn’t play Fallen Earth a couple of days ago. Syp is a big FE-fan, but he still manages to see the faults, for which I applaud him. And while I love Fallen Earth as well, more and more cracks are starting to show in the otherwise so lovely (in a barren, post-apocalyptic sense) facade.

I call it...mister Pointy.

I call it...mister Pointy.

I’m still sticking with what I said about immersion – Fallen Earth does such a great job when it comes to that. I am also having a lot of fun questing, fighting, harvesting and crafting. After all, who doesn’t love wearing a top hat while stabbing things to death with a pointy stick? I did have a head towel that had better stats on it, but seriously, there was no way I could stay away from the top hat. I look awesome, especially wearing my sunglasses. Killing coyotes or bandits never looked this good before.

But I can’t help thinking that I’m forgiving Fallen Earth for sins that I’ve blamed other MMOs of doing. While I am having fun playing it, I wonder if certain design choices that Icarus Studios have made that are just as damning here as they are in other games. So, I thought I’d take a look at things that are already in place, but which I personally hope will get fixed/changed before they make me burn out prematurely.

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Gold Spam Nation: Why buying gold makes you an asshat

Or “Why trying to exaggerate your way out of being an asshat is not working, you’re still an asshat for buying gold”.

Gold spam at its finest.

Gold spam at its finest.

If you’re not playing Aion, chances are that you’ve still heard about the gold spammer problem the game is currently facing. Take a look at the picture to the left, that’s the Looking for Group-channel on my server (Castor-EU), a snapshot of about 5 seconds. The thing just kept rolling and rolling in a never ending stream of gold spam. If you look closely, you’ll notice that it’s not only one spammer – there are actually two of them captured in that shot and there were probably more of them lurking about. In a game that doesn’t even have a free trial yet, which means that the spammers are using paid accounts, that’s a quite impressive amount of gold selling right there.

Because of the problems Aion is having, the discussion about gold buying being OK or not has cropped up again. It keeps popping up, for a reason. It’s a controversial subject, after all. I can see all kinds of side to the phenomenon, but there’s one thing that always gets me – the ridiculous justifications some people bring up to excuse their gold buying. It’s not enough just to say that they are too lazy to get their hands on the gold, the blame is often shifted on the game developers instead. Most of the time, this is absolute BS. SkyRi has given me an excellent example in his comment on Insert Awesome Aion Name. He’s written a post about it himself on Aion Insider, but it doesn’t really say much about the subject at all, so I’ll stick with the comment – that’s where the juicy stuff can be found.

Read more

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Virtual worlds, massive multiplayer games and assorted ramblings

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