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Understanding The RMT Economy And Sparkly Ponies

AT-AT in SWG

It's pretty! I'll take it!

I am really glad for all the interesting comments I received on my last entry, and in case you’ve read them I’d direct you over to the Buzz-version of the thread where a couple of other MMO-bloggers (including Tobold, Spinks, Chris and Pete) chime in on the subject. Thanks to everyone! I have been giving this a lot of thought ever since the sparkle pony was released for World of Warcraft, and it’s great to take part of other views on RMT in subscription MMOs.

But I thought that I’d take an entry to explain why I believe this is happening. The reason for this is that I believe that partly the item shops are misunderstood, as I see the word “greed” thrown around a lot by critics. Ark pointed out, again, that there might be a difference of opinion depending on political standpoint of the viewer, and I am starting to agree with him. Because I don’t think it is about greed at all, except for the greed inherit in the capitalist system. It’s all about the money and how economics work.

Disclaimer: I am not an economist. I have never studied economic theory. This entry is based on my understanding of economics through the very limited reading I’ve done on the subject, including books like The Undercover Economist and various books by leftist economic and cultural theorists that would drive the more right-bent readers nuts if I mentioned them by name. If you are an economist, or have studies the subject, or just happen to know more than me – please comment and enlighten me. Economy is fascinating and I would love to learn more. Neither am I saying I am the only one, or the first one, to bring this up.

There are a couple of scenarios that I believe are bringing this change to MMOs. They have nothing to do with greed, at least not from a developer standpoint. Some have pointed out that they’d support the cash shops much more if they knew where the money goes – if it is invested back into the game or to the money-men at the top. The answer to that is complicated, as the money goes straight into the pockets of the company itself. But the company have to give money to a lot of people, including the ones on its payroll, investors, shareholders, etc.

Despite being highly critical of the highly overpriced mounts (subjective, I know), these reasons make sense to me. They are legitimate, even though I don’t condone them. But in an economic reality, we’ll probably have to accept them – especially when it comes to games like EQ2 and WoW.

Cataclysm goblins

Improved goblin graphics are not free, you know.

Reason 1: Development costs go up, while the subscription price stays the same. Stargrace (and someone else, I can’t remember who right now, sorry) names this as her reason to support this RMT over on Nomadic Gamer. It’s a perfectly fair point. Development costs do go up, a new MMO is much more expensive to develop now than it was 10 years ago (or even five, or two). Cataclysm is probably much more expensive to produce than The Burning Crusade was, for example. SOE is developing at least one new MMO (DC Universe Online), which is probably even more expensive than Cataclysm (since developing a game from scratch takes a larger team and more tech than a live team working on an expansion). And we know that Blizzard is working on a “next-gen MMO”.

At the same time, we can probably expect operation costs to go down – bandwidth gets cheaper and cheaper, and storage space gets cheaper by the minute. That’s not to say these costs evens out, even though most of the development investment is returned by box sales at launch. The live team, which then will keep the game updated (new content, squash bugs, QA, etc), is normally a lot smaller than the development team so the running costs become smaller again. These are all columns on a spreadsheet, but they do lead us on to the next point…

Reason 2: World of Warcraft and Everquest 2 are not making as much money now as they did. This is not to say that they are dying or anything of that nature. World of Warcraft is alive and kicking, and Cataclysm is bound to make Blizzard a crap-ton of money. Everquest 2 seems to be doing alright as well. But they are not as big as they used to be. People keep throwing around the 11 million subscriber number for World of Warcraft still, despite the fact that it’s been a long time since they published official sub numbers (which is enough proof for me to draw the conclusion that the game isn’t growing anymore). Also, there is all the trouble Blizzard has had in China – that’s a huge loss of revenue, and a lot of lost players. There’s also the simple fact that the games are aging.

New Halas housing

Fluff items cost a lot of money to develop. Housing included.

World of Warcraft is still making Activision Blizzard millions of dollars each month – the large Western player base is enough to secure the game’s future for many years to come. But that doesn’t matter, especially since the two companies merged (Vivendi culture was a lot different, trust me). What does matter is that it isn’t making as much money as last year. If we put last year’s earnings, and this years earnings, next to each other it will produce a red number. And God forbid we compare it to two years ago! In this economic system, what matters is growth. Not subscriber number growth, the shareholders don’t care about that. Economic growth. You might have made us a billion dollars, but last year that number was 1.2 billion! Disaster!

While Activision Blizzard expect to make up for the investment for Cataclysm this year, we have to remember that they are working on their next MMO which probably has a long way to go before it is released. That’s a pure expense, it is making them no money at all right now. And as development ramps up, the cost will do nothing except increase. Saying that it will make the company even more billions in 2012/2013 doesn’t really cut it today.

SOE is developing DC Universe Online, which is another cost on the already pressured games company. The last game they released was Free Realms, and despite all the news we hear about registered accounts, we know nothing about how much money they are making from it. Insider sources, and with that I mean people in the actual MMO industry, have told me that Free Realms has been a disaster for SOE. Take that with a grain of salt, as with any unnamed source, but personally I have no real reason to doubt this person. More red numbers, more money that must be gained elsewhere.

I think that’s the whole reason why Blizzard introduced the pet shop, the reason why SOE started to dabble in pretty small scale RMT (not sure we can call the virtual card game small scale, though). With that success came the sparkle pony and with its success followed the prowler (I subscribe to the theory that SOE’s price point is not a coincidence). Not because they necessarily wanted to. Not that a developer thought it’d be a cool service. Not because they are greedy, or because they believe it gives the player more choice (the amount of mounts in both games are quite enough to give the player a lot of choices, with more or less grinds involved). But because they simply had to.

Free Realms dog

If you're lucky, you might be able to pick this up in Vanguard soon!

The price point – $25 – was with great certainty not picked out of a hat at a Activision board meeting. There’s probably a lot of science behind it, just like the 1200 point price for the Stimulus Package for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. It’s all about perceived value, and similar economic buzz words. That’s what they figured people would pay, and that’s what they needed to sell it for. And they were right, with the sparkle pony being a huge success (we still don’t have numbers for the prowler, do we?).

The other alternative would be to raise sub-prices, as Tobold mentions in the Buzz-thread linked at the beginning of this entry. And just like the $25 for mounts, I believe that only Blizzard can set that precedent. Expect a higher subscription fee when their next-gen MMO is released, or at least a pricing model that will be radically different from what we have now that will make them more money every month. Then the rest of the genre can follow suit. Otherwise, you risk having potential customers stay in whatever game they are playing now.

You know what? I can kind of buy it, if this theory is right. It doesn’t mean I condone this form of economic system, it causes a lot of problems, but I’ll accept is as a sad part of modern life right now. If this is what it takes to keep old games rolling (let’s face it, WoW and EQ2 are old), then it might be worth seeing 200 000 people rushing to buy a sparkly, flying pony the second it is released. It will sting in my eyes, but if the prowler keeps EQ2 out of trouble for a bit…well, I’ll accept it. I guess that’s where the choice comes in – more MMOs on the market is a good thing.

For now, this might be the price we have to either pay (and get a mount) or simply accept to keep our favorite games alive as they grow older. Let’s face it, a lot of us have rosy colored glasses on when it comes to what MMOs used to be back in the “good old days”. Many of us play games that were released 6 – 7 years ago (which includes World of Warcraft). If we don’t want the shareholders, or CEOs, or board of directors, give the developers we love trouble we might as well just pay the $25 when a sweet mount is put on sale. I know my gnome would look awesome on a proto-drake (preferably without the sparkles, please).

I can’t be bothered to be upset anymore. I’m just gonna go “meh” and move on. If they truly try to screw us completely in the future and the slippery slope we’re worried about becomes a landslide, I’ll be back. For now, I think I’ll just stop caring. Buy a prowler, support your lovely developers, and be happy.

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The SOE Copykat – An Honest Question

Lolcat

This entry craved a lolcat.

When Blizzard released the sparkling pony of doom I mentioned that I wanted a convincing argument and I’d stop criticizing MMO companies for going down the overpriced RMT + sub route. With SOE jumping on the bandwagon, giving the critics more fuel for their already very hot fires, I’m going to ask the question again. Last time I mostly got people agreeing with me, and only one “they are a business, they want more money” which doesn’t really make it any better.

The second the new prowler mounts (or “copykats”;  thanks, Ark) went up in the Everquest 2 item shop, both Beau and Cuppy praised it. Beau jumped straight in and bought one. So I know there are MMO-bloggers out there that support this. I am looking at you guys, and the people that share your opinions on this, to give me the answer I am looking for.

In short, the question I want answered is this:

- In what way is adding a mount to an item shop, and charging extra for it on top of the regular subscription fee, good for the consumer?

I really want an answer. I am ready to be convinced. We mostly get to hear the critics (because, let’s face it, we’re pretty loud), now I want to hear the people that support this development. Give me a reason, a reason that I can believe in and agree with. I won’t flame you, and I’ll of course delete any comments that do.

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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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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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The first steps on the path to the Dark Side

The Jawa trading post, filled with junk.

The Jawa trading post, filled with junk.

My first week in Star Wars: Galaxies is coming to an end. I ditched my bounty hunter after, again, realising that I am much more of a melee character kind of guy than a ranged one – I guess all those years playing as a rogue really got to me, after all. I tried the smuggler class during my first trial period and didn’t feel like going back to that, so I ended up picking a Jedi.

I know, I know. It’s bound to be the most popular class, and it’s not a very creative pick. Yet, I’m glad that I did – melee combat in SWG feels a lot better than ranged. I don’t know why, but it always seems like developers have a problem when it comes to ranged combat in MMOs. Tabula Rasa did pretty well, but in both SWG and Fallen Earth ranged feels clumsy. Most of the time it looks incredibly awkward, just two (or more) avatars standing around, shooting at each other, hoping to score the killing shot.

And as iconic as the laser sounds from Star Wars are, they still get old really fast. Replacing my blaster rifle with a two-handed lance was probably the best choice I could have made.

A raised village, destroyed by the Dark Side of the Force. Imperial March, please. Thank you.

A burned-out village, destroyed by the Dark Side of the Force. Imperial March, please. Thank you.

This means I’ve gone through the tutorial part of SWG three times now – as a smuggler, a bounty hunter and a Jedi. All classes and races start in the same area and do their first couple of missions on the Tansarii space station. Usually that kind of design bugs me, but Tansarii is an exception. The missions and storyline there are different depending on what class you choose – the smuggler gets quests from Han Solo, the bounty hunter from Bobba Fett and there’s some random Jedi master (in full Jedi robes, someone note the proper Empire authorities, please) to give out Force-related quests to the fledgling Padawan.

Compared to, for example, Aion (and Warhammer Online these days) where all classes do the same quests in the same starting area, Tansarii is a lot closer to Tortage in Age of Conan than anything else. The main difference is that the part on the space station is short. I dread going back to Age of Conan (which I will, at some point), thanks to having to slug my way through the first 20 gorram levels again. In SWG, you can be on solid, planetary ground in just a few levels, while still having enough new content during the tutorial to keep up your interest for every class you try out.

It’s a completely different deal when you end up on Tatooine. The Legacy quest line, which starts on Tansarii and follows you for the next 40 levels or so (it’s long, trust me), can luckily be skipped though. There should be enough missions from various NPCs and mission terminals to keep you busy – I’ve gone through the Legacy past the initial White Thantra-infiltration on all my three characters (the Jedi is the only one I kept playing beyond that), and I don’t plan to ever do it again. Ever. It’s well-written and pretty exciting, so if it’s your first time in SWG, I do recommend following it.

Also, you get to work for the great Jabba. You get Jabba-rep. Screw you, Argent Dawn, Jabba is the guy you want reputation with.

No! Dont dance there!

No! Don't dance there!

At the end of my first week in SWG, I’m at level 22. 4 more levels until I get my lightsaber, after which I plan to experiment with one of the non-combat classes. Am I having fun? Oh yes. Do I regret starting out on the project? Absolutely not. I’ll get back to impressions of actual game mechanics and my first steps into the sandbox-part of the game over the next couple of days. If you feel like contacting me in-game, look up Ri’Kali on FarStar-Europe – the bounty hunter is going the way of the deletion button any minute now.

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Heading for a galaxy far, far away

As a follow up to my last post, where I asked if Star Wars: Galaxies is actually a bad game, I’ve decided to pick up a new project for DFTM – I’m going to put my mouth where my money is and play through the first free month of a Star Wars: Galaxies subscription. My trial has run out, I didn’t get very far, but using an old retail code I had I now have a full account, including all the expansion packs.

Anioo Gtak, armed and dangerous. Level 7 dangerous, at least.

Anioo G'tak, armed and dangerous. Level 7 dangerous, at least.

Since there’s no interesting MMO coming out until next year, I thought this was as good a time as any. I shall play my bounty hunter and see how far I can get, how interesting the sandbox and leveling/questing mechanics are, and if the game – 6 years after release – still has anything to offer me. And, perhaps, you.

The NGE-fiasco has given Star Wars: Galaxies a terrible reputation, just like Vanguard’s launch blues ruined a lot for that particular title. I really like Vanguard, I think more people should keep an open mind and try it out, and who knows, perhaps the same goes for SWG. Worth a shot.

I’ll start out with a typical fighter class, playing as a Zabrak bounty hunter. It feels like a safe bet, since I have no clue what I’m doing. My character is called Anioo G’tak and I’ll be setting up shop on the Europe-Farstar server. If you see me, or feel like helping me getting accustomed to my new life in a rather confusing MMO, feel free to send me a tell. If not, just send me a friendly message or wave to me on the streets of Mos Eisley!

I’ll keep blogging about other things as well, but I shall try to keep as much focus on this project as possible. Wish me luck, if it turns out that SWG is a big pile of Bantha dung I might need it.

(Just for the record – I’m also one of the cool kids. I’ve been playing Dragon Age: Origins like crazy and I’m totally and madly in love with Torchlight. I’ll leave the more interesting commenting on those titles to great minds like Dusty and Syp for the time being, though.)

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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 loneliness of the long distance runner

Having some time to kill today, and since the Aion beta event is over, I decided to put my money where my mouth is and do the trek from Lotus Hold to Tanvu in Vanguard. I guess the word “trek” has a whole different meaning after playing Ryzom, where a “trek” is something fraught with danger and not something usually done solo, but anyway. The run between Lotus Hold and Tanvu, I suppose I should say.

That’s the thing about the world in Vanguard – it’s huge. The area between those two locations would probably have spanned several zones, and several level ranges, in most other games. But not in Vanguard. During the whole journey I didn’t see a mob with a level higher than 12, and that would be some bandits I decided to avoid. I stumbled upon a settlement, a small keep (which housed the teleport between the island LH is on and the one where Tanvu is) and a monastery in the woods occupied by friendly spirits (where I took refuge when my cell phone rang). These places all housed quests for me, the world might be large but it’s not empty, but I decided to press on instead of getting caught up in a new quest chain. I guess I should have picked them up, it would’ve made the whole journey more interesting in one way, but it would also take days instead of the 30 minutes it took now.

I did manage to take a wrong turn at one point, since the main road was covered by some undergrowth, and ended up outside Magi Hold instead. A detour that cost me 10 minutes or so, but I was happy to have found a new place that I’ll hopefully get to revisit at some point. I was really happy when I finally made it to Tanvu. I took a brief tour of the city before I found the horse vendor outside the House of Mirrors. So now, at level 10, I finally have my first mount. I guess I should decide which city to fight for soon, so I can aim for one of the racial mounts, but I will have to do some more research first. Don’t want to let precious time go to waste!

I was also happy to see some other players running around town. While the Isle of Dawn was quite populated, the main land (at least the Kojan main land) has so far been rather barren. Chat is quite silent too. Could be that most players are up on Thestra, but it’s sad to see a large capital city as Tanvu be that empty. One can clearly see that Sigil designed the capital cities to host a whole horde of players, considering their size, and Tanvu is still quite small compared to cities like Bordinar’s Cleft. I doubt they will ever look like Dalaran, or Ironforge back in the day, which is actually quite sad. Vanguard is still a gem, a really cool game, and it’s too bad it never got – and probably never will – the mainstream praise it deserves.

If it is closed, as some people seem to think will happen after SOE closed down Matrix Online, well…I will be a sad Petter, even though I might not even be playing it when that happens. I might be playing Dungeons & Dragons Online for free instead. Probably not, since I’m not a fan of instanced content, but still. I just might.

Now I’m going to go poke one of my rats, since she’s fallen asleep in their food bowl. She might be trying to “protect” it from the new rat I introduced to them today, but somehow I just think she’s a little bit stupid. Cute as hell, yet stupid.

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And then there was E3

I have this love/hate-relationship with E3. First of all, I’ve never been to the expo myself – as a European game journalist you’re at the mercy of whatever budget the publication you work for has. This year we decided to send three people, which included a camera man, and since I was number four on the list I got to stay home and try to cover it from here. Only because you’re not on location you don’t get to slack, so we’ve been working a lot to give our Swedish readers the best E3-coverage we could. And, I must say, we certainly delivered (link in Swedish, of course).

ffxiv

The really big MMO-announcements were lacking from E3 this year, but that’s probably because the major movers have their own events later this year. Who knows if SOE got something big to show at Fan Faire (hopefully Tipa’s “Free Realms-based” EQ3 or something completely different) and Blizzard probably saves the next expansion for World of Warcraft until Blizzcon. Instead, we did get Heroes of Telara, which looks pretty neat. And, of course, Final Fantasy XIV. OK, so that was a pretty major announcement. Shut it, E3 always makes my brain melt a bit. The whole concept of a new FF-MMO, playing on the PS3, sounds freaking awesome to me, so I guess I will have to get back to that in a later post.

Bioware did give us a incredible cinematic trailer for Star Wars: The Old Republic, and even though a cinematic trailer for any game is just that – cinematic – it’s still the best Star Wars-related film produced since, well, 1983. I am almost looking forward to the next trailer as much as the actual game. Come to think of it, I’m not even sure I’m looking forward to the game that much, at least not as a MMO. Currently it seems like they could just have done KOTOR3 instead of what they are doing now. If you want to tell a story that bad, go single player instead.

I also know that my RSS-reader is filled with MMO-related posts right now that I haven’t had time to read over the last couple of days (394 posts and counting). I guess I got myself to blame, since I have a tendency to add any MMO-blog I come across to it. So I’m going to get cracking on reading those between Aion beta game sessions. I’ll get back to Aion as well, the beta event they got going right now will only last through the weekend. But first impressions? I love, love the art. The world and the design is what currently make it compelling, since up until now it’s a pretty standard MMO. We’ll see how it develops, hopefully we’ll get to try some nice PvP in the near future.

One thing is for sure – it was really hard to jump from Aion to Vanguard. I’m still enjoying Vanguard, finished the Isle of Dawn-questline with a nice group yesterday, but when it comes to graphics and character design it is certainly lacking. It’s a problem most of SOE’s games suffer from, perhaps with the exception of Star Wars Galaxies where I think the characters do a pretty nice job. Vanguard still got that whole “enormous epic world”-thing going for it and I’ve decided to trek to Tanvu instead of just taking the riftway from Lotus Hold. If the world is there, and you want to experience it, teleporting just doesn’t cut it. I’ll see if I have time for it this week when the Aion server closes.

And I want to level my high elf in Sacred 2 on the 360, finish inFamous, try out Valkyria Chronicles, finish Assassin’s Creed (since AC2 looks great)…and get all the writing I have to do done. It’s official, my life completely revolves around games. This weekend I found a Sega Master System in my wardrobe I forgot I even had. I would sigh at myself if it wasn’t for the fact that I love it. With the personal problems I mentioned a few posts ago slowly getting better, let’s see what we can do with this gaming life of mine. Toodles for now, though!

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Screenshot love: Dance the magic dance!

Dance! Dance the magic dance!

Ribbicus the Conjurer and Frooglefruit the Berserker hitting it up at the Queen’s Colony (long live the Queen!). So far we’re only on our trial periods, but with characters like these what is there not to love? And yes, I decided to give EverQuest II another chance.

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Virtual worlds, massive multiplayer games and assorted ramblings

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