Friday, September 3, 2010

If you don't have anything nice to say...

I know it's been getting more and more quiet around here. But honestly when I feel like saying something lately, it's just not been anything positive, so it's best left unsaid. I didn't want to turn this into some grumpy ramblings blog. Oh but what the heck.

I've been back to EQ2 for a couple months now just in time for the new FTP update. I played through the expansion, which felt like something that was quickly thrown together in a couple weeks. The zone is very small with quests mindlessly running back and forth to the same spot to kill the same mob multiple times. And there weren't enough quests to get you to the next level cap, so there is some grinding required for a few levels. The appearance of the items, even Legendary and Fabled, were just re-used graphics from the low levels. Gone are the neat cloaks and glowing weapons. Those are only in the Marketplace now.

EQ2 has always had a different approach to spells and abilities compared to other games. Along with armor, your spells also need to be upgraded. You get an Apprentice version of your ability automatically when you level, and this gets upgraded to better versions either via crafting or drops. So it used to be that when you dinged, your new Apprentice spell would appear in an empty spot on your hotbar as a reminder you have a new spell to upgrade. But this was changed so now the Apprentice version overwrites your Master version from the previous tier. Definitely not a fun thing to lose your best spells in the middle of a large fight and have to find them again in your spell book. But this was done to help the players on the free to play server who can't upgrade their spells anyway. And I won't get into the UI and merchant changes, and removal of experience potions from veteran rewards to help promote their Marketplace further.

Taken individually, some of this stuff you could just suck it up and get used to, but when they're all lumped in together, the community has not been pleased. I thought the feedback thread when Station Cash was introduced a couple years ago was huge. But that's nothing compared to the feedback from these particular changes.

And then there's Final Fantasy XIV. I had been testing since Alpha but passed on the open beta as I was having to force myself to log in to test. Even though they made the mouse eventually usable along with some other positive changes, it felt like I was playing an interface game rather than an MMO. Everyone has probably heard all about the number of steps involved to perform the most simplest of activities, so won't rehash it here. Pretty world, but otherwise a huge disappointment.

And there are my grumblings for the day. Still waiting for Rift and Guild Wars 2.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Rift - Dungeon Lovers Rejoice

With Gamescon taking place right now in Germany, Trion has been pretty active releasing a couple articles or videos each day. IGN shared their hands-on experience at Gamescon. At the end of that article they stated that the developers' ultimate goal was to have enough dungeons that the player could reach maximum level by running each dungeon once. Either leveling is really fast or that's a heck of a lot of dungeons.

The videos coming out have been short teasers. The dungeon mentioned in the IGN article was Realm of the Fae, where you experience the four seasons as you progress through it. And it will be something we can experience early on, as it's a lower level dungeon. Rumors are that beta will begin in September. It's seriously getting harder for me to wait for Rift to release.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Forum Popularity = Beta Invite

I've never been a fan of forums that utilize a reputation system. People vote up those that represent their view point and vote down the opposing view. It's just never made any sense to me to even have this "feature". So it's just been something that I pretend isn't there. But that's been hard to do lately over on the Rift forums since the topic seems to work its way into the majority of posts.

A couple weeks ago the CM announced that forum reputation would be one of the things they would look at when choosing beta participants. What a huge mistake that was. Groups started forming exchanging private messages to vote for each others' posts. Some members admitted to creating multiple accounts in order to vote for their own posts. Members who were voted down were posting the names of those who had done so in retaliation. Those who found themselves at the bottom of the reputation list hurried to fill the forums with their idea of "thoughtful" posts, hoping to regain some favor with the forum posters.

Recently, one fellow posted a suggestion that all the released Rift information be consolidated in one spot on the forums so it is easier to find. Currently, if you want to find the latest information on Rift, you have to do some digging on your own to visit fan sites, listen to podcasts, etc. Now if the reputation system weren't in place, I expect the forum thread would have had more normal responses to that post. Instead, hoping to gain forum favor with the fansite people and the CM responsible for posting forum info, members insulted the fellow, called him a troll for disparaging all the hard work they'd done. It's like some high school reality show over there. What a mess.

For any interested, the CM has also started a thread for you to post why you should be in beta. I'm not a fan of publicly selling myself so will likely be sitting this beta out unless I get invited through some other means. *crosses fingers*

To end on a more positive note, have you guys seen this Guild Wars 2 video? Wow, just wow. This is really looking and sounding amazing.

Friday, August 6, 2010

News from SOE Fan Faire

As most were expecting, the next EQ2 expansion will be Destiny of Velious and releases February 8. I'm crossing my fingers it's not a bunch of snowy islands high up in the sky with some sort of snowdrift-type hover board transport. The expansion will include EQ2's first flying mounts.

The EQ1 expansion releases in October and includes player housing!! Woohoo! Not that I'm playing, but maybe I'll have a look. :)

And they released some concept art for EverQuest Next, which you can find here.

DC Universe Online releases November 2. Not something I have an interest in personally. Just not into the comic books. But pre-ordering supposedly gets you a lot of free goodies.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

And I Write Like...

Joining the I Write Like bandwagon, I took a two blog samples and came up with:

I write like
James Joyce

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

and then:

I write like
Dan Brown

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

To get a different perspective, I took a sample of some fiction I wrote elsewhere and came up with:

I write like
Dan Brown

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

So I suppose Dan Brown it is.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

EQ2 Extended - FTP Option

SOE has announced they will soon be offering their own version of free-to-play for EverQuest 2.

They will continue to offer the subscription model; however the Extended model will function separately on completely different server lists. While you technically can play completely for free, your options will be limited to two character slots, two backpacks, eight classes, and four races. Free players also will be unable to upgrade their spells and gear, and will have restrictions in gold and broker usage. There will also be a subscription model available on these servers. As far as I can tell, the difference for subscribers between the Extended and Regular servers will be a more "robust" cash marketplace including the ability to purchase stat armor, buffs, and cutting your spell research time.

While initially, I suppose current players opposed to ftp or this type of cash shop will rejoice that they're not on the same servers, I don't think in the long run this will be a good thing for the population of the current servers. New players trying the game will automatically start on the other servers now and are more likely to stay there than have to start over on new servers, especially knowing the option to purchase certain perks will be available. Researching a spell currently takes me 30 days to complete...who wouldn't want to pay to speed that up? Also players from normal servers will be able to have their characters copied to the new servers for a fee and minus their gold and many of their items.

I realize they've done it this way to not chase off their current subscribers as they've done in previous MMO's, but in the long run I don't think this fares well for the old servers and is more a way of getting players used to the idea before merging the old servers with the new.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

EQ2 - Direct2Drive Special

For the next week Direct2Drive is offering EQ2's latest expansion Sentinel's Fate (including all previous expansions and content), along with 25% bonus experience flasks and some sets of appearance armor, all for $14.95. New accounts also get a 30-day subscription.

This deal was too good for even me to pass up.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Final Fantasy XIV - Possible UI/Mouse Changes?

After reading that Rift interview a couple blogs down regarding customer being king, I couldn't help but think about FFXIV. If anyone has been reading or FoH forums, it's clear that the controls are worse than FFXI and can be a huge road block for attracting new players to FFXIV. With release supposedly just two months away, I couldn't help but wonder why they'd be so stubborn with this one issue when every other mmo out there is playable with a keyboard/mouse.

Now Gamer released an interview yesterday with FFXIV's Hiromichi Tanaka. Here's a couple responses:

Do you fear that some MMO players, unfamiliar with Final Fantasy, might feel like they’re coming to the franchise too late to join in?

There may be some people who are unfamiliar with the series, and it’s very important that we communicate the game well to them. But our main target is Final Fantasy XI players who have stuck with us for eight years and want to proceed into the next generation of MMO.

How has your approach to MMO development changed alongside the market?

We had an alpha test for Final Fantasy XIV and received a lot of feedback from players in Japan, Europe and America. A lot of them said that ‘because World Of Warcraft works in this way then we also expect Final Fantasy XIV to play in the same way’. We heard that a lot and though we’re not trying to imitate any other games we are taking player feedback into account.

I think it's great that they want to keep in mind their loyal fan base for all these years. You often don't see that as companies only see WoW dollar signs/WoW game play to strive for. But I'm sure they'd love to find a way to keep that base and bring in new folks. I'm not sure specifically what sort of World of Warcraft feedback they've gotten, but have to imagine it's UI or control related more than anything.

I just could not get the hang of the controls in the old Final Fantasy. And when I heard it was the same way or even worse in the new version, I just had no plans to even bother. If this article is an indication they might consider making it playable with keyboard and mouse combination, and it's actually playable on my system (not looking good if the benchmark is correct), then I'd definitely give it another look.

Friday, July 16, 2010

VIE - August Beta

Virtual Island of Entertainment is now accepting beta applications. Per their website: "Like a lot of resorts, the emphasis is on fun and making sure our guests have a good time together. It's not just some giant island chat room where you are left to your own devices in order to make and build friendships. Our planned activities bring people together," said Steve Coallier, Executive Director of Product Development at enVie Interactive. "We are developing a multitude of games to play, an assortment of adventures to puzzle through, a plethora of parties to attend, lots of things to earn and buy, and all sorts of fun miscellaneous activities to facilitate interaction. First off we will have several customization options for your avatar, clothes to buy, and things to decorate your house," adds Coallier. "Then there will be characters to meet, mysteries to dig into and ways to connect to your fellow players that you just don't see anywhere else. "

I'm curious, but cautious, particularly when I see a statement like this: VIE's stunning 3-D realistic virtual world includes episodic adventures with multiple storylines. It provides the only realistic virtual environment where it is safe to take part in a variety of desirable activities for adults. Players can explore, experience and indulge in activities they have only been curious about in the real world. If it's in your face "adult", then it won't be for me.

But I do have to say the screenshots look quite nice and realistic, assuming these are actual in-game shots.

Rift - The Customer is King

MMO Gamer released an interview yesterday with Trion's Russ Brown (VP of Development) and Cindy Bowens (Sr. Community Manager), and this has to be one of my favorite interviews to date. While they're not releasing much as far as game features we didn't already know (except for dwarves!), the article mainly focuses on their views of the customer and community.

Cindy discussed the value of community feedback and that major changes may in fact be made as a result of polls. While I love the community there now and the polls to date have been more representative of my play style, still I hope they use their best judgment on some decisions rather than us fickle forum posters. Rift does have a relatively small forum community compared to other MMO's on the horizon, with a good lot of us seeming to be EQ/Vanguard refugees.

This portion of the interview, however, was what really had me cheering:

Russ Brown: I also think it’s important, as I rant against other companies sometimes, I never understand why companies change things that are popular.

The customer is king. If they like it, encourage it. If your game has something else, oh well, they like it!

So many times I see companies say, “Oh my god! Millions of people are exploiting this! Or doing this in the game!” And yes, they like it, they’re enjoying it, encourage it. They’re the customer. You are a service, that’s what an MMO is.

The MMO Gamer: That’s very similar to the position of Craig Morrison, the game director of Age of Conan.

We had a very long conversation last year, revolving around the question of “Why can’t MMOs just be fun?”

His position was that designers generally spend the bulk of their time trying to keep people playing the way they want them to, as opposed to just letting players find their own fun—even if some might consider it to be “not as designed.”

Can I assume based on that answer that you’re more of the let the players play the game the way they wan—

Russ Brown: Damn straight.

The way I’d like to see it work, the way I want it to work, is that as long as players aren’t griefing, or totally making it terrible for other players, let the players play the way they want to play, as long as they enjoy themselves.

As long as they make it a fun place to be, and a fun place to play.

I love these guys.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Player Housing in FFXIV?

I missed this article from a few weeks ago, particularly this snippet:

Mr. Tanaka mentioned that players would be able to create and join groups called "Companies." Similar to player guilds in other games, Companies can themselves "level up," presumably offering additional benefits to the members therein. When asked if Companies would have shared housing or other group-owned assets, they smiled and said that players would have real-estate to call their own, but "weren't ready to announce anything more at this time" - sounds like a "yes" to me!

Since it was lumped in with a discussion on guilds or "companies" as they call them, not sure if this will be in the form of guild halls, player housing, or maybe both. For an MMO scheduled to release in a couple months, they certainly are tight-lipped. But maybe that's not a bad thing. Sometimes we tend to do so much reading and studying up prior to release that there are no surprises. My past vacations tended to be like that. I spent all year looking up information, seeing pictures, and planning everything out, that by the time I got there, I felt like I'd already seen everything. Here's hoping FFXIV has some amazing surprises.

Friday, July 2, 2010

TERA E3 Video

Just caught a condensed version of a video that was shown behind closed doors during E3. It's looking great in my opinion...except why does that girl have to run all bent over?

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Things People Say After A Couple Pints

Overheard at the water cooler in regards to Warhammer Online, "EA is going to shut it down later this year I know that for a fact, the entire team is being retasked and the dead weight is being laid off, GW is quietly taking the license to a new company I have it on good authority that THQ will get that as well as they are working on a yet unannounced WHF RTS similar to Dawn of War. But don't expect it till 2015 way after the fail of WAR has been forgotten. And no links no way to prove any of this I just know folks at GW who like to talk after a couple pints."

Yeah I know...people say all kinds of things on the internet, and this one is a bit hard to believe. But something is definitely going on over at Mythic as I posted before. Still though, shut down completely? While not necessarily a reliable source, MMO Data thinks Warhammer has around 125,000 subs. Definitely not close to the million they were expecting, but other MMO's have been running for years with less than that. But then again, there's word of merging their existing US servers into one, which would indicate a much smaller subscriber number.

The fellow above linked a blog article which seems to be his own regarding what Warhammer was initially intended to be like and eventually ended up as. I thought was a pretty good read which I wanted to share. His final paragraph summed up much of my own thoughts of why I've not been enjoying the latest batch of MMO offerings:

"I also hope that one day they will sit down and look at the train wreck they helped create in a realistic way, and that EA will understand that you can not have a subscription based MMO that is basically Halo with swords, that you need to appeal to a broad base, of players PVPers, Crafters PVE players and socializers, etc. the companies that got it right and are successful (as in will still be here in five years) understand that, the companies that don’t produce harebrained catch phrases, and pour zippo fluid on a game that is already burning…. I think the last nail in the Warhammer Coffin is when at the Febuary Baltimore Gamesday Erik Mogensen more or less apologized for the game, and assured people that would never happen to another Games Workshop License again, he seemed more than a little agitated as he spoke those words..."

Final Fantasy XIV - September 2010

Looks like FFXIV has announced a North American release date of September 22, 2010. There will also be a collector's edition, which along with some fluff items, includes eight-day early access. The subscription start $12.99 per month for one character slot and an additional $3 for each extra character.

With so many in an MMO slump and release of the other big name MMO's not yet announced, I would expect they'd at least have a decent number of box sales for the NA version. But unless they change the awful keyboard controls between now and then, I wouldn't expect it to be widely accepted here. Not sure if anyone caught that painful combat demo at E3, but the player was obviously having trouble moving. But there's still a couple months yet. If I don't have to go out and buy a controller in order to play comfortably, I'll definitely be trying it out.

Monday, June 28, 2010

If Facebook Indicated Subscriber Numbers...

As someone who is anticipating Rift: Planes of Telara, I have it added to my Facebook page to get the latest news. Seeing how many fans they had on Facebook, I was curious to see the fan numbers for some of the other upcoming MMO's. And while I was at it, I then took a look at some of the existing MMO's.

So with no facts whatsoever backing this up and strictly for fun, assuming that Facebook fans represent 10% of the subscribers, here first is a list of current MMO subscriber numbers.

2,465,000 - World of Warcraft
810,000 - Aion
515,000 - Star Trek Online
498,000 - Eve Online
476,000 - Lineage2
420,000 - Guild Wars
317,000 - Lord of the Rings Online
229,000 - Dungeons and Dragons Online
185,000 - EverQuest2
162,000 - City of Heroes
153,000 - Champions Online
146,000 - EverQuest
135,000 - Final Fantasy XI
115,000 - Age of Conan
75,000 - Dark Age of Camelot
63,000 - Warhammer Online
53,000 - Anarchy Online
35,000 - Star Wars Galaxies
17,000 - Fallen Earth
14,000 - Asheron's Call
8,000 - Darkfall
7,000 - Vanguard: Saga of Heroes
2,000 - Istaria: Chronicles of the Gifted

Some of these numbers are actually believable, but obviously others aren't. But still was interesting to see how many fans these games have. Looking at the Final Fantasy number, Facebook definitely doesn't represent a world-wide interest, Asia in particular. And in more recent MMO's such as Aion and STO, those numbers make me think members added those games to their profile early on and then left them there. But I was more curious about the hype surrounding some of the upcoming games. If fans would subscribe today using the same 10% figure, here's what we'd have:

1,203,000 - Star Wars: The Old Republic
660,000 - Guild Wars 2
213,000 - DC Universe Online
170,000 - Secret World
94,000 - Final Fantasy XIV
14,000 - Rift: Planes of Telara
7,000 - Tera Online

I would have included The Agency, but they had only a very small fan-generated page. Rift and Tera definitely have some work ahead of them to generate more interest. I truly hope Rift doesn't get lost in the crowd of more recognizable names.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

DAOC - The Day The Guilds Died

Things just don't seem to be going well over at Mythic. They had that billing snafu where subscribers were majorly overcharged. The past couple months they've let go of several major devs; some have been part of DAOC since nearly the beginning.

And today was a patch. While there were some nice loot updates to old dungeons as well as some mysterious content in which the world is now covered in darkness, everyone on Gaheris server logged in to find all guilds had been disbanded. All the guild homes are without owners and homes have been randomly assigned various guild emblem designs. I can't imagine this can be fixed without a roll-back.

I have to be honest that while there's so much that I like about DAOC, the game in its current state is a bit depressing. I was one of the few players that didn't have an army of bots following me. When you see ten people online in guild, it usually means there's really only three players on. And there's no communication at all from anyone at Mythic except for the occasional "here's the patch notes". Players never know what they're working on, if anything at all. While they caved on their stance of not having official forums for Warhammer, the DAOC community has had to rely on VN boards which isn't always a friendly place to be. I guess the reality is that they're done with this one as EA continues in their pursuit of million+ subscriber MMO's. And what a shame that is.

I've let my subscription go, and it runs out in a couple weeks. Looks like I may be without an MMO home for awhile. *gasp*

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Reliving the Past

If you've ever checked out the links to the right, you've noticed one particular blog called Being Bahama. The writer is always in character and tells stories of her life in SWG, her business there, her guild's town, and the comings and goings of its citizens. Although I no longer played SWG, I would read the wonderful stories and couldn't help but feel an occasional tug wanting to relive what once was.

So it was with a mixture of sadness and excitement to read about the closure of their guild's town and a dream sequence in which she finds herself with her friends in the same place, but a different time. That story, coupled with another old acquaintance also stepping into the past, motivated me to do the same.

I wanted to just have a bit of fun and ease into things slowly so I went with an entertainer for my first character. As someone who always loved Naboo, I made the poor choice of starting in Theed. There were only a few people in the cantina and no trainers in site. Fortunately, they started me off with a small sum of money, so I caught the first ship out to Mos Eisley. I spent a little bit of time here, learned some languages so I could understand what the non-humans were saying and struck up some conversations. As nicely populated as Mos Eisley was, I was told Coronet was the place to be, and I'd have better luck finding other entertainers to train me. So spending the last bit of money I had for a ticket, it was off to Coronet. And it was packed with people.

It's been very much like the old days, both good and bad. Ninety percent of the entertainers are still afk and macroing their *winks* and *tips appreciated*. But also like the old days, lots of nice people are to be found and I really had a great time. Lots of things still aren't implemented and I can't speak yet for how well the combat side of things works out. But with the other half looking over my shoulder, I got him interested enough to start the download. There are no character slot limitations this time around, so I'll likely be starting up a Teras Kasi with him again. For anyone who enjoyed the game before the CU, it's definitely worth a look. And if you find yourself in the Coronet cantina, look for the dark-haired human in the dingy brown starter clothes.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Brad McQuaid Hiring For New Company

Per his blog:

"I am pleased to announce that I am a co-founder of a new company based here in the San Diego area. We’re starting small and growing as needed. Our focus is going to be on bringing some sophistication to casual/social gaming. At some point we will also return to developing MMOs.

After a needed 3 year break from 11 years of working on massively multiplayer games with the large teams, budgets, and 3-5 year development cycles I think this will be a nice change of pace. I’m also very excited to be involved in a genre that is relatively new to me. I look forward to bringing MMO design principles to casual/social gaming.

More information on the specific jobs can be found at his website. If I understand correctly, it seems he wants to somehow merge MMO ideas with Farmville type games. Regardless of some past mistakes, personally I've had a lot of enjoyment from games he's been involved in. So I wish him the best of luck and look forward to seeing what the company team come up with.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

TERA - E3 Update

I learned a few more tidbits about TERA from an interview posted at theGamerVg. One of the more unique concepts will be targeting/aiming. If I understand correctly, where you first aim is where the attack or spell will land, even if the mob or player moves. So groups will need to keep the mob steady so that all ranged attacks will actually land. And this will apply to healers as well. If the tank keeps running around, they will not be able to heal. There will be collision to prevent mobs from running through the tank. This sounds like it could really offer a fun challenge for groups and I'm curious to see this in action.

There was also definite confirmation on PvE/PvP. The PvP servers will be open world PvP, while the PvP on PvE servers will be strictly consensual either by dueling or entering their battleground system. But they have stated their focus will be on the PvE experience much more so than their Korean counterpart, and they are adding enough quests from 1-60 so there will never be any grind required. And while there is a strong focus on group play, they are adding additional skills and areas so that soloing is a viable option as well.

There was also vague mention of crafting where you'd be able to take regular gear and craft it up to be epic gear equivalent to what would drop from dungeon monsters. But given where the game was original developed, I'm not expecting an involved crafting system such as EQ2 or LotRO.

Their trailer can be found here.

I Don't Think So, Tim

Well that was a good chuckle. But stranger things have happened so you never know.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

E3 Excitement

It's always exciting to see and hear the new stuff coming from E3. Most of you are probably already on top of what's going on there, but for those wanting all the details, there's a live stream at IGN, as well as continuous updates at E3Feed.

SW:TOR released a pretty amazing trailer. While I'm still not sold on playing this one and the trailer isn't in-game footage, it was really well done and worth a watch. Rift: Planes of Telara also just released a trailer. I'm already a bit excited over this one and the trailer only reinforced that. And finally, Final Fantasy XIV released a trailer as well. After having seen the other two, this seemed a bit boring and was a disappointment. Definitely nothing in the video inspiring me to play. But still going to keep my eye on this one regardless.

Friday, June 4, 2010

CItadel of Sorcery - Guild Halls/Housing

Although they are still early in development and no official forums up yet, Citadel of Sorcery does update the developer's blog on occasion. The Memorial Day weekend update included this juicy bit of info:

Our Art Department has been busy with upgrading the in game User Interface art. Our goal is to add this new art to the game within the next month. In addition our modelers have been building castles, lots of castles, big castles, massive fortresses and tall fantasy castles. With a world as massive as CoS we wanted to make sure that the castles were equally impressive. I know you would like to see some screenshots of these castles, but we are holding off on those until the new terrain system is far enough along. Be patient, it will be worth the wait.

Design has been working on our Guild system. This is very important to the game and the designers have been revisiting the Guild system to make sure that it has everything we want. Guilds will have a physical Guild Hall that Players build out in the Reflected Worlds. They can build them, improve them, add new halls and ramparts and they can keep improving their Guild Hall over time. In addition Players may purchase land around their Guild Hall (from the Guild) and construct their own house and business. Eventually they will construct their own village or town around their Guild Hall. Only Guild members may enter the actual Hall, but other players (non-guild members) can visit the village / town and make use of the various player run businesses.

There can be a whole economy setup and run by the Guild in these locations and we are trying to give the Guilds many options on how they want to run their Guild.

First, I can't wait to see those fantasy castles. But I love the guild hall system where members can build houses and businesses around the hall and construct their own villages. Reminds me a bit of SWG's guild towns. And last I heard, there's no forced PvP or even any sort of PvP-focus, so another "yay!" from me.

They have stated the world will be the size of Earth, so that you could play for over a year and still not have seen everything. This also guarantees there will always be real estate available to guilds.

And equally interesting was this comment, "CoS is a new kind of Quest world, not a PVP mmo or typical cheesy PVE game. It contains no time sinks, no farming zones, no typical crafting. In fact, it has very little to do with any MMO game you or anyone else has played in the past. This is an entirely new system of game play, not another rehash of the same old system. Citadel of Sorcery is about quests, but not like what you may have seen in other PVE MMO games. The depth and quality of our Quests are what set this game apart from other MMORPGs. Each quest in CoS is the equivalent of a multi novel fantasy book series. It is about involved game play content with no time sinks, grinds, repetitive play or any of the other methods MMOs have traditionally used to keep from adding rich content."

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Rift: Planes of Telara

A couple posts back when I discussed some of the upcoming MMO's, Rift: Planes of Telara was not on that list. To be honest, I had seen the title and a few screenshots and immediately thought of Aion's rifts. Thinking it was yet another Eastern open PvP MMO, I just overlooked the game.

So here I was Sunday night watching four and a half hours of the Lost finale (yikes!) and reading the latest issue of Beckett Massive Online Gamer during those hundreds of commercials. One of the articles included an interview with Scott Hartsman on Rift. Hey, that's the EQ/EQ2 guy. Reading further I learned they have some tremendous talent on this team from just about every Western MMO made. They've got people who worked on diplomacy in Vanguard, as well as the public quests in Warhammer.

The world will be seamless with no zoning. Your decisions often will affect the world around you and your future dealings with NPC's. They also plan to have different ruleset servers--PvP, PvE, RP, etc. Checking out their official forums, I was amazed at the number of names I recognized from EQ2 and Vanguard. Given the large PvE following, there have been posts wanting clarification of forced PvP via the rifts. Mr. Hartsman's answer was "I didn't say 'it could never happen' just 'not as a matter of course' (e.g. all over the place, when you're not expecting it, etc - That would be unsmart/unfun.)"

Rift is still at least a year or two from release and one I've definitely added to my watch list. I'm hoping from the feedback they've been getting they might reconsider the "occasional forced PvP" at least on a separate ruleset server. Otherwise the large following they have from EQ/EQ2/Vanguard may likely move on, as will I.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

EQ2 Cash Shop - Then and Now

There's lots of opinions circulating about EQ2's recent expensive mount addition to their cash shop, including a recent article over at Massively. Based on comments, this is definitely a heated topic. Those in support of this type of business model feel it will encourage innovation and the extra income will go towards providing more content and a better gaming experience overall.

SOE introduced Station Cash in December 2008. I thought I'd refresh my memory by reading through all the update notes in both the year prior and after to see how well all that extra income has been put to use in EQ2.

In the year 2008 prior to SC, game updates included 1 raid zone, 2 group zones, 1 complete zone revamp, and six events. For those not familiar with the events, this is additional content added that runs for a few weeks involving new NPC's and new quests. I'm not including the holiday events which occur every year. This year also brought the Shadow Odyssey expansion which included additional overland and group/raid dungeons.

In the year 2009 following SC, game updates included 2 raid zones, 2 group zones, 1 complete zone revamp, and three events. This year also included the addition of Moonlight Enchantments and City Festivals. These are events which consist of the same repeatable quests each month as a way of obtaining housing and other fluff items. This also was the first year that an expansion was not released. The Sentinel's Fate expansion eventually was released in February 2010 somewhat incomplete. Dungeons aside, it was a very small expansion, and while the level cap was increased to 90, there were only enough quests to reach level 87.

To be fair, 2008 was a pretty phenomenal year as far as events go and there were other years a bit more sparse. However, given all the positive theories regarding the cash shop, shouldn't EQ2 players have gotten more? Why then was the expansion delayed and so incomplete? They also seem to be going towards more recyclable events that just involve turning the switch on rather than creating completely new events. You can't blame players for feeling gouged and thinking perhaps the money may in fact just be funding their three other games in development and/or deepening someone's pockets. Personally, I'm not a fan of this business model and it was part of the reason I left EQ2 behind.

On the bright side, SOE has a job posting for a Senior Programmer where they state they are "working to revamp, rethink, and enlarge upon the efforts that have gone before, working to make this already excellent game into something even larger, better, and more entertaining for its players." Let's see what the rest of 2010 brings.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Server Merges for EverQuest

EQ1 will be processing server merges beginning June 22. Twenty servers will be merged into ten. Only eight characters will be permitted on your account, so if you have characters on both servers that are merging you will need to delete some of them. The list of merged servers is here.

I was under the impression that EQ1 might actually be doing better than EQ2 since they had many more servers, but I guess that wasn't the case. As much as I'm sure they hate the impression merged servers leaves, it's definitely the right thing to do for the remaining players.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Current and Future State of MMO's

Wolfshead wrote a great article expressing his views on the current MMO situation. It's well worth a read.

I recall when my husband and I were playing EverQuest and imagining how amazing MMO's might be ten years from then. Here we are ten years later and we're both playing old MMO's because the new stuff is so lackluster. What the heck happened? I think Wolfshead's explanation of what happened is pretty spot on.

Will we see something more innovative and going back to our community roots in the next ten years? Well, let's see what's coming up:

- From SOE we have DC Universe Online, The Agency, and references to EverQuest "Next". I'm sure there will be some innovative items for sale in the cash shop, but as for gameplay, guess we'll wait and see.

- Many old school gamers seem to have their hopes in Final Fantasy XIV. This is one of the few upcoming titles I have an interest in. We'll see if they innovate and improve upon the previous version or are just slapping the WoW formula on top of it.

- Admittedly, I haven't read up much on Guild Wars 2. Having recently purchased the original Guild Wars Trilogy and no longer playing, I just have no enthusiasm for it. I felt too isolated with all the instancing.

- Star Wars: The Old Republic is another one I have no interest in. It seems like a single player game with not enough features to keep me interested for any length of time.

- Still not enough information yet on TERA. Not getting hopes up for innovation and community.

- Funcom is working on The Secret World. Not much more to say.

- Cryptic will announce a new MMO this summer. Please no. *crosses fingers it's not related to Forgotten Realms.*

- Add to that a Wheel of Time MMO by Red Eagle Games, and some yet unannounced titles by 38 Studios, Slipgate Ironworks, and ZeniMax Studios.

This list is by no means complete but that's a lot of games. I honestly don't expect any of these to be an improvement and offer something completely new. I hope I'm wrong but I think it's going to take more than ten years. It's going to take time for the WoW effect to start wearing off. Maybe as the current gaming population ages, their tastes will change so they begin to seek out greener pastures. Or maybe many be too deeply rooted to leave. I can only guess, but I'm definitely not as inspired to imagine the wondrous things that companies might bring to an MMO ten years from now as I once was.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Funny Quote of the Day

So over on the forums of that one game I used to play where the recent update introduced group instances, a couple players commented that while they really enjoyed the game, they had concerns about the population and how long the company can stay afloat.

The response from the current fellow in charge: "I simple(sp) don't understand the furor and commentary over player numbers. How does the issue of low numbers affect your gameplay experience and what is the relevance?"

DAOC - Continuing Adventures

My Cabalist's most recent adventures took me across multiple zones (again). Starting at level 5 up until 50 there are NPC's in the main cities that give you tasks. They send you to various zones to make deliveries or kill mobs, and they're great for getting an idea of where you should be hunting at that particular level.

My first task involved a delivery to the Abandoned Mines. The Mines are located under each of the three cities, and they also connect to all the dungeons in that realm. Quests start in the mid 20's and continue through the 30's. It's easy to get lost, but fortunately you can use the mine carts to help you get around.

The next task involved killing toads in Avalon Marsh. While toads aren't particularly exciting, I'm amazed at the variety of mobs found here and throughout DAOC, especially compared to more recent MMO's I've played. Along with the typical marshy type critters like frogs, rats, lizards, crabs, and worms, it's also home to various forms of undead, bogmen, mud golems, marsh scrags, ogres, and other misshapen sentients.

Needing to dry out my boots, I headed back to the city for another task which took me to the Shrouded Isles. Each realm has their own version of the Isles, but I was off to Albion's version. Unlike the other zones, faction plays an important role here and you need to do a bit of research before you start randomly killing. Once faction is high enough, at later levels additional towns become available to you for further questing. My task here involved ridding the apple orchards of some undead.

Despite my best efforts, the undead continued to return so it was off to the New Frontiers for my next task. The Frontiers connects all three realms and on the RvR server this is where all the action is. While there is no RvR happening on the Gaheris server, certain restrictions are still in place here making this not one of my favorite areas for hunting. Run speed is much slower, you can't use your level 10 mount, and you can't use any port stones to get out. So getting around is very slow. But with all the huge keeps, it is pretty neat to see once in awhile and I managed to arrive as the sun was coming up.

I've reached level 33 and still have a lot of content yet to experience. I may start dabbling in the other realms to keep things fresh.

DAOC had a patch this week and with the patch came an oops...Christmas in May! Seems the December holiday activities were reactivated so I quickly took advantage of it with one of my higher level toons and snagged some quested decorative housing items before it gets taken down again. Ho, Ho, Ho!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Vanguard, Oh Vanguard

So I was on my daily two-hour car trek yesterday. The rain was pouring and the radio was annoying. I reached in the glove compartment and pulled out the CD on top. It was the Vanguard soundtrack. A couple years ago I was able to pick up the collector's edition for a steal at $9.99, and it included the soundtrack. I absolutely love the music Todd Masten produced for Vanguard and haven't heard it for over a year.

Later in the day while visiting, I noticed page after page of players saying they are returning, forming guilds, looking for helpful information. What's with the sudden renewed interest in Vanguard?

Then I thought I'd catch up on my Massively articles and read Beau's article linking the wonderful pages players have put together for Vanguard.

Darn you all for enticing me back again. I really can't afford to take on another monthly payment right now, so stop tempting me!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Alganon - Update from a Little Known Blog

I told myself I wouldn't post anything further on Alganon. There's plenty of sites covering the continuing saga and I really didn't have much to add that hadn't been said already before. But...

If the whole plagiarism arguing didn't seem like that much news before, it just got a bit funnier. For the couple of you that read here that might have missed the story on another blog, check out n3rfed who contacted John Smedley for a response. Thanks to Broken Toys for pointing me to the site.

Now back to my life less ordinary.

Monday, May 10, 2010

DAOC - Exploring the Early Levels

Aside from the occasional diversion of Free Realms, Dark Age of Camelot continues to be my only MMO. While I've never been in more than one guild at a time in any MMO, it seems to be a very common practice here, or at least on the Gaheris server. Part of that is because you can have up to 30 alts. Another factor is that most of the guilds on the server seem to be part of one of two alliances. Alliance chat functions just like guild chat and has its own separate tab where you can see who is online. It's one big happy family as everyone has alts spread throughout guilds in the alliance.

When I first returned a couple months ago, I had alts in two guilds--one with a couple members logging in here and there, and the other with no signs of life for the last three years. Shortly after resubscribing I also joined a more active guild with my main. Two weeks ago my husband received an email from Mythic that since there has been no active guild leader, as the most recent character logged in, he had been promoted to guild leader. While I knew it was their policy to do this, with their small staff I was surprised they are still actively managing the comings and goings of guild players. So now we have a guild! And housing nut that I am, the first order of business was to spend most of the rest of my puny fortune and set up a guild house.

With access to a new guild house, guild port stones, and the ability to enable guild bonuses...along with needing a break from farming seals, glass, and scales on my main...I decided to start an alt. Having a level 50, I could have taken a shortcut and used the /level feature which bumps me to level 20 from the start. But I wanted to re-experience the old stuff and without the tutorial. Never having played a class with a persistent pet, I decided on a Cabalist and started my journey in Camelot Hills. The quests here are much more enjoyable than the tutorial and really offers more to get you into the setting of the realm vs. the generic tutorial. Early on there were more quests than I could possibly complete and I was having to delete several as I out-leveled them.

Coming from Camelot, I wanted to focus all my experiencing in Albion. In the mid-teens the quests began to dwindle some so I thought it was time for an old-fashioned dungeon crawl. Mobs spawn a bit too quickly in the open dungeons, though, so it was more of a dungeon camp than crawl.

With bags completely full, I headed back to the city to sell and continued my leveling in the Roman Aqueducts, which is part of The Catacombs expansion. Quests were plentiful once again. The Catacombs are some of my favorite zones. Visually they are really neat to explore and the dungeon instances found within them drop items which you can turn in for armor. I did get in over my head here though, and suffered my first death shortly after taking this shot.

So far I'm having a ton of fun with the Cabalist and revisiting zones. Next stop will be Shrouded Isles.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Five Indie Games - Name Your Price

Just wanted to pass this along as it will be something I intend to take them up on. Five different independent game developers are offering a bundle of five games for whatever price you wish to offer. Also, you have the option of any or all of that amount going to one or both of two charities--Child's Play or Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The games you will be getting are Aquaria, Penumbra, Lugaru, Gish, and World of Goo.

Some of the games look like they might be fun, and hopefully most players are making reasonable contributions to help support both the independent developers as well as the charities. Offer only available for another six days. Visit The Humble Indie Bundle for details and to make your purchase.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

NCsoft Woes and Getting Realms Roll'd

Trying to get Guild Wars set up for both of us has been an exercise in patience to the point where the other half was ready to give up on playing. When we originally played, our Guild Wars accounts weren't tied to NCsoft in anyway. But we did have NCsoft accounts from when we both tried CoH and more recently for Aion beta. The game now requires you to log in through NCsoft and tie your Guild Wars account to it. Long story short, it was impossible to get the previous account up and running so I just had to create a new account and start new characters.

My husband upon attempting to log into his Guild Wars account received a popup stating they believed his account had been compromised and he needs to contact them. He then logged into NCsoft and saw a big red "banned" next to the Aion link. Considering at least two games under his account had been hacked, he decided to just start over as well. Then you get to the log in screen which makes you go through more hoops just to get in. The whole process was beyond annoying so we played only briefly.

On a more lighthearted note, after a DAOC marathon weekend taking advantage of bonuses, I spent a little time in Free Realms for stress-free fun. I've had some Station Cash accumulated that SOE gave away as rewards when I was playing EQ2 and decided to buy something in Free Realms. Along with mounts, pets, and clothes, some of what they sell are items that can be dropped on the ground for a few minutes for other players to enjoy. It might be a clickable illusion, balloons, temporary pets, and then there's boomboxes. One box was called a Realms Roll'd Boombox. I honestly had no idea how this was different from the other boomboxes but I bought it out of curiosity.

The box looked like a typical one. The music started playing like a typical one. Then the music scratched and cut off and was replaced with a fancier boombox. And then it began playing "Never Gonna Give You Up". Everyone nearby turned into Rick Astly and did his cute little dance. This was probably one of the funniest things I've ever seen in any game. So kudos to SOE on this one. Unfortunately the young ones weren't getting it and were asking why they were dressed like a boy in ugly clothes. Ah well, I had a good laugh anyway.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Guild Wars Trilogy on Sale at Steam

This week only Steam is offering a $19.99 deal on the entire Guild Wars Trilogy. Considering there is no subscription fee and you get all this content for the same cost as Alganon, this was just too good a deal for me to pass up.

I played the original Guild Wars, but never had picked up the other campaigns. I really liked the early game, but the content toward the end game had just gotten more and more frustrating for us to a point where we couldn't proceed any further as a duo. So we'll see how far we get this go around.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Another Server Merge for Vanguard

On the official Vanguard forums, Silius has confirmed another server merge in the works for Vanguard: Saga of Heroes. They are still working out the details but the future looks grim.

There are currently only four servers left, three PvE and one PvP. My guess is that the three will be combined, while the PvP server left as is. Since it's one big open world, I can only assume players will lose their homes and guild halls in the transfer. But I have to wonder how long will SOE continue to support an MMO with two servers?

As was mentioned in comments in a previous post, Vanguard could have been the real Everquest successor. It just needed a little TLC...okay maybe a lot of TLC. If SOE had piled on the love and care EQ2 has received, I think Vanguard could be a phenomenal game. But maybe that was intentional. Maybe they didn't want Vanguard to be good enough to compete with EQ2 which might have caused population issues there as well. They want to bring in new subscribers not spread out the ones they already have. Could they have let it flounder for that reason? I don't know, but whatever their reasons, the state of the game is a tremendous shame.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

If You Liked That MMO, Then You Might Like This

While doing some internet searches for relevant DAOC information, when I'm not landing on dead links, I often find myself at old DAOC guild sites. Many of these sites had referring links as the guild has now moved on to another MMO. What was surprising was that in nearly all instances, they had moved to one of two games--LotRO or WAR. The role-play and more realm pride focused guilds tended to be in LotRO, while the RvR "we're going to kick some arse" focused guilds moved on to WAR.

It got me curious as to what players from other older MMO's were more likely to be playing now or for an extended period of time after leaving. So I did some searching through old guild sites, as well as lots of posts by individuals to see where they came from and what they liked afterward. Obviously, everyone's taste is different so there's much room for differences of opinion. But here's a summary based on gamers' first MMO experiences and where they moved on to for long terms:

If you liked Dark Age of Camelot, you might like WoW, LotRO, WAR, or Darkfall. The first three were mentioned most frequently from retired DAOC players, with Darkfall in a distant fourth. Single players more often went to WoW and LotRO, while entire guilds tended to focus on WAR or LotRO.

If you liked Everquest, you might like WoW, LotRO, DAOC, SWG, EQ2, or Vanguard. Considering how hardcore EQ1 was considered, it was surprising how the majority seemed to end up in WoW. WoW offered something for both the raiders and the casual players who had been struggling to continue in EQ1 as each expansion and mob difficulty became more raid focused. But aside from WoW, EQ1 players had varied tastes and ended up across several MMO's.

If you liked Ultima Online, you might like SWG, EVE, DAOC, WoW, or EQ. I never played this to make comparisons, but SWG and EVE were mentioned more frequently. I'm guessing the whole sandbox thing has some relevance here.

If you liked Asheron's Call 1 or 2, you might like LotRO, EQ2, WoW, or Vanguard. I didn't notice a clear number one choice here, but these were the MMO's most mentioned.

If you liked Anarchy Online, you might like EVE, Age of Conan, Ryzom, WoW, CoH, or SWG. EVE seemed to be the winner here, and I was surprised at how often Ryzom was mentioned. Also surprised to see CoH, but I guess they share similarities in the mission styles--pick them up, click on door.

If you liked SWG, you might like EVE, LotRO, CoH, and perhaps STO. LotRO was about even with EVE. Definitely something to be said for a good story line you're already familiar with. More recently, several guilds had set up shop in STO, but still too early to tell if they'll be sticking around.

I'm sure there's some I've left off here, but these were some of the older MMO's I was more famliar with. There's a few things to note here. The taste in MMO's definitely doesn't work both ways. While many EQ1 players may like WoW, odds of WoW players liking EQ1 may be slim. Same goes for DAOC/LotRO. Also there seems to be some brand loyalty in some of these cases. Why are Anarchy Online fans interested more often in Age of Conan than other gamers? Sometimes there's a comfortableness with your developer. You know what to expect from them and you already feel at home before even playing their next title.

It also reminded me how varied the older titles were compared to newer ones. Dark Age of Camelot had features to accommodate different tastes. You had a sense of belonging to your realm rather than a visitor passing through. This created such immersive play which also was a great setting for role-play guilds to form. The PvE content was expansive enough that you didn't have to RvR if you didn't care to. I felt none of that immersion playing WAR. I felt no connection to where I was and just was a visitor plopped down in a blazing outpost. The city was a place to bank, not a place to belong to. And the PvE.....bleh.

But not everyone is into that immersive play and RvR is plenty enough for them. So a portion of that type of DAOC player went to WAR, while some of those seeking the open world adventures, housing and immersion went to LotRO. How could an older game on a much smaller budget accommodate several play styles, while newer MMO's spending millions of dollars are so narrowly focused?

Ten years from now I wonder where those whose first MMO was WoW will be playing. If the new MMO's keep churning out like the last several, I'm guessing they'll still be playing WoW.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Mythic's Apology

For the billing blunders that took place a couple weeks ago which affected players of both Warhammer Online and Dark Age of Camelot, Mythic issued a public apology explaining what and how it occurred and implementing precautions to ensure it doesn't happen again.

To help restore relationships with their players and as a thank you, they will be implementing some special goodies in both games:


For starters all players will earn 100% bonus experience and renown when killing enemies and monsters for two weeks. As well, during this time we’ll be hard at work designing and implementing a special vendor. This vendor will only accept special tokens that will be sent to your mailbox, using these two tokens each of your characters will be able to receive two of the following items:

• Bottomless Black Dye
• Bottomless White Dye
• Imperial Griffon Mount (Order)
• Enslaved Manticore Mount (Destruction)
• WAR Tract – earn a free level
• Choose from any of these pets – Order: Imperial Hunting Hound or Dwarf Keg Handler; Destruction: Warlord’s Fell Hound or the Goblin Bar-Back.
• Change your appearance with any of these illusion items: Skaven Skin Cloak (skaven), Kossar’s Helm (bear), or the Signet of the Cursed Company (skeleton)

Since I'm playing DAOC, I was more interested in what's coming my way, which is:


For starters all players will earn 100% bonus experience, bounty and realm points when killing enemies and monsters for two weeks. As well, during this time we’ll be hard at work designing and implementing a special NPC. This NPC will allow each of your characters to select two of the following items:

• Bottomless Black Dye
• Bottomless Crimson Dye (Albion), Hunter Green Dye (Hibernia), and Royal Blue Dye (Midgard)
• A selection of rare mounts: The Fire Steed, Clockwork Steed, and Storm Steed
• Choose from any of these pets – Clockwork Cat, a Mini-Dragon, and a pet of your realm.
• Vegas Round Table Trophy
• The Old Dragon Heads of Smoldering Golestandt (Albion), Frozen Gjalpinulva (Midgard), and Glimmering Culldurach (Hibernia)

Dye is easy enough to get, so not sure why that's there. I'm guessing I'll be going with some of the trophies as I'm not big on overly flashy mounts. Time to start stocking up on my realm point seals!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Gods and Heroes Nostalgia

I came across some old screenshots from the Gods and Heroes beta. While there was no transgender option in character creation, I logged in once to find some funny business going on with my female toon. And here I thought the TERA armor was skimpy.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Westernizing Asian MMO's

I was reading about yet another new free to play Asian MMO. I've gotten into the habit of not bothering to take a look since I know how it will turn out. But the screenshots in this one seemed sort of pretty along with some cool mounts so I thought maybe...just maybe. But no, yet another open PvP MMO.

So I couldn't help but think "about darn time" as I read an interview with former Blizzard guy Patrick Wyatt, who is now one of the head honchos at En Masse Entertainment. While I realized En Masse would be the Western publisher of TERA, I hadn't realized the company was formed for the purpose of adapting games to make them more suited to the Western audience.

According to the interview, they will be enhancing aspects that Western players like, while de-emphasizing anything that doesn't work well here. They will be rewriting stories as necessary that might not otherwise translate well. And in the case of TERA, there will be PvE servers.

TERA is their first project. There are currently six races and eight classes planned. It will be releasing in Korea this summer, while the Western version is scheduled for some time in early 2011. Definitely one I'll be watching. And hopefully there will be other female armor options to cover up a little more *cough cough*.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Alganon - Civil Action Filed

Per David Allen:

In an effort to enhance Alganon’s® market visibility and following the direction of certain investors, QOL hired Derek Smart as a consultant on December 3, 2009 to assist in the area of sales and marketing. Soon thereafter, and for reasons unbeknownst to me, Mr. Smart began a smear campaign attacking my credibility, first privately among the investors, and then publicly. As many have read on various Internet websites, Mr. Smart has made disparaging remarks concerning my professional work and comments that could lead others to question my loyalty, honesty, and ability to successfully create, build, run, and manage a multi-million dollar MMOG development company; something I have been doing successfully for over four years. Please be aware that Mr. Smart’s comments are false and that I have filed a civil action against him in Maricopa County Superior Court for his defamatory conduct, among other things. I have been advised by my legal counsel to offer no further comment at this time on this matter during the pendency of the litigation.

I've read the entire complaint which covers Smart's scheme to infiltrate and take over Quest Online, Allen's unlawful removal in violation of the Operating Agreement, and Smart's false and defamatory statements which has caused irreparable damage to Allen's career. I think the defamation went to extremes so I hope he at least gains some compensation for that. A very interesting read and I wish him much luck.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Greener Pastures of Aerrevan

There have only been a few MMO's where I involved myself in the forums prior to or even after the game's launch--Vanguard, Alganon, and more recently Aerrevan. I'm typically not much of a forum poster. But when the community is smaller and new, it's not so intimidating to be joining in and adding your own voice and opinion. So it was a pleasant surprise to find myself not so alone over there when someone I'm familiar with from Alganon read my blog and posted over at the Aerrevan forums. And then more came. She in turn spread the word to other displaced Alganites, and each day I've seen another one or two familiar names show up there as more continue to trickle in.

And then I started thinking (yeah I know...uh oh). I wondered what the motivating factor was for our interest in Aerrevan. We don't know enough to really say it's the game itself. Considering we've all come from Alganon, it's likely we all have a common interest in a smaller gaming community. Although I've never held a conversation with many of these players, there's a certain familiarity after months of reading their posts and seeing them in the chat channels in game. And with a smaller community, there's often a keener developer interaction both in the forums and in game, further cementing that community bond. It has a very cozy feel to it and is what kept many playing Alganon despite all the problems.

Hopefully, the good people over at Aerrevan and its established community aren't feeling invaded upon as the migration continues. We're just looking for a friendly place to hang our hats for hopefully a long while.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Free Realms - One Year Later

With Free Realms approaching their one year anniversary, I thought I'd have a look at all the new things added that I've read about. I had played at release and stuck around for a month or two. There have been a heck of a lot of changes since then.

I opted for the $4.99 subscription which is really hard to beat. While you can do some things for free, it's become much more restrictive. The combat has been completely revamped. I had left as an 18 archer and still had quests on me that were too difficult to complete. The past few levels had become a bit tedious.

So checking my quest list, I headed into one of the instances I couldn't complete previously. I'm not sure why, but they removed targeting of mobs. I used to try to single pull a mob, since getting too many would mean being knocked out. But now you just pretty much charge in and your attack abilities hit whatever is in front of you. The first time I saw about a dozen mobs rush at me I thought "uh oh". But my main arrow attack is now an area attack and they all went down pretty easily. Combat has definitely been sped up and the instances don't take nearly as long as they used to. Also, instead of being granted three knockouts before you fail the instance, you are given 15 in most.

Regeneration also seems higher. I used to be annoyed at all the potions I had to buy and consume. Now I only had to use them for the boss fights and a few times when I just took on too many. I'm sure many were not happy with the combat being made easier. But for their targeted younger audience, I do think it was a bit too hard before. And I even thought it was fun blasting tons of mobs at a time.

Housing has been added and I was given a small house with a yard for free. You can buy a larger house with Station Cash, but I thought the small one was plenty large enough for now. There's furniture of course in the SC store, but you can also purchase furniture from various merchants with game coins. Since there is no housing zone (you just click a button to get to your home), I haven't seen any way to randomly visit other player's homes to see how they've decorated them.

Guilds were also added and anyone can start one up solo. I think the kids are having a lot of fun with this. Looking at some of the guild names, it's pretty easy to tell it wasn't started by an adult, but some are actually cute. The guild names all are sent for approval before showing up, so you can be sure you won't see some offensive name as you or your child runs around.

Travel has been made much easier, not that it was difficult before. You used to be able to only teleport to certain hubs which you've opened up. Now you can teleport directly to any point of interest or instance.

While you always were able to see new areas referenced on the edge of the map, these areas still have not been implemented yet. But they have added more quests and more activities such as soccer and pirate plunder. And of course the SC market is filled with tons of stuff like furniture, pets, mounts, and cosmetic outfits. You do also get lots of free stuff. There's a daily wheel that spins that gives you some random item. Also, if you go to the main Free Realms page, there's usually an item displayed that you can claim.

I like the changes they've made, and I think it's a great value for 5 bucks a month. It's a cute, casual diversion from the typical MMO grind.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Alganon - No Soup For You!

Remember that episode of Seinfeld with the soup guy, where basically if he didn't like something a customer said or did he yelled "No soup for you!", and out they went? Typically, you wouldn't want to run a business that way. Especially when there are other bigger and better soup kitchens in town. Especially when you have a reputation for customers finding bugs in their soup. And especially when you only have a declining few dozen customers who stroll in each day.

With my morning coffee in hand, I looked to see what was new over at the Alganon forums. There's been a continuing post on what people would like to see in game. One mentioned they weren't posting much anymore waiting to see what developed. Another member added to that and Derek Smart responded with the following:

Wow, how rude to a customer. Might as well have said "Don't let the door hit you on the way out." Just as a background, the poster above has been with the community a long time and has been extremely supportive to the point of picking up several one-year subscriptions. While he certainly shouldn't be shown preferred treatment, he should at least be treated as a customer, as we all should, and not expendable trash.

But unfortunately it didn't end there. A couple community members posted that they thought the response a bit inappropriate. Their posts were respectful, well thought out, and in no way inappropriate. I left to run some errands, and when I returned they were deleted. Now I've seen some posts in the past that warranted deletion. There was one fellow who created an account called "QOLSucks" and you can imagine what sort of posts those were. Ok, I get that. But if you want to keep even the slightest hint of negative posting off the forums, then it needs to work both ways, you know?

There were some responses of upset members who had seen the posts and questioned their deletion. But then many of these posts were also deleted. I did manage to catch a couple posts before deletion. There is no valid reason to be deleting this stuff.

Well, anyway I guess I have to admit defeat at this point and throw in the towel. This is above and beyond even my tolerance level which is much higher than most. Mr. Smart stated he's only there temporarily. Maybe once he's gone it will be safe to come back.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

DDO - Guild Airships!

Turbine announced their summer update will focus on an entire revamping of the guild system, including the addition of guild airships. The ships will function similar to the guild halls in EQ2, where you acquire amenities such as an auctioneer. There also will be a navigator npc that provides transportation. After the update, guilds will gain status through player actions unlocking additional amenities and rewards.

I've already been tempted to fire up DDO to see how things have progressed with all the changes this past year, but this sounds much too cool to pass up. This will be a great opportunity for guilds to gain new players, giving the unguilded a little more incentive to join up.

The spring update comes next month, which includes a bunch of nifty new dungeons. But guild airships!! I have to see that.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Alganon Needs a Community Manager

In my long years of gaming, I've really developed an appreciation for the great Community Managers of various MMO's. They handle the angry posts with grace, patience, and wit, while conveying a genuine affection for all the players. And they relay information from other folks in the company who don't have the temperament for posting on the forums. For potential new players coming to the forums looking for a general idea of type of community present in an MMO, a great CM can really set the tone for the entire forum and the game.

I've been part of the Alganon community for four years. So having a prior long-term connection there, it's a little easier for me to not take the recent shenanigans that seriously. But if I knew nothing of the game and the people involved and just started reading the forums, I'd be really put off and wouldn't be playing.

I've stated before that I appreciated the candor that Derek Smart initially expressed to the players. It was great to finally know what was going on and what direction the game would be taking. And it was great to hear that someone actually wanted to fix the game instead of leaving it broken while adding more broken new stuff on top of it. But he shouldn't be posting anymore. They desperately need a Community Manager.

In reading his posts as well as the subscriber posts over the last few days, this is not is not a direction in community I like to see. His more recent posts have been along the lines of, "If you don't like the game, leave. Any negative posts will be deleted and the poster banned with no warning!" (yes, he did boldface those words) I've been reading the posts and have seen nothing ban-worthy. I have never been part of an MMO community where negative posts are deleted and users banned. I mean seriously, what the heck? Foul language, yes. Name calling, yes. But negative opinions?

This in turn has changed some of the posting styles of some community members. For some there seems to be a need to get on his good side as they join in on snide remarks against the negative poster. His display of preferential treatment to certain players who agree with him or impress him drives the wedge further. And if I hear one more gushing "I really like you, Derek!" grrr. What was already a niche game may become even more niche.

I think he's well intentioned with wanting to help the game and I still appreciate his effort in "getting er done". But he needs to hire a Community Manager pronto to moderate with a kind, gentle hand and stay off the forums. They need to contact Sandra Weathers for advice. She knows how it's done.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Aerrevan Beta Testing Beginning Soon

In my continuing search for MMO's off the beaten path, I recently discovered Aerrevan, created by The 13th Hour Studios located in Winnipeg, Manitoba. They just wrapped up alpha testing a few days ago and are about to enter beta. So keep an eye on their website over the next couple weeks for anyone interested in signing up.

Aerrevan will consist of humans, elves, and orcs, on the continent of Lurris. At some point in history, a huge meteor crashed into the continent bringing with it excess amounts of something called Aer. This stuff begins to accumulate in your body and if you don't periodically cleanse yourself of it, you will begin to mutate. Two separate great mages rose to power, one working toward ridding the world of Aer, while the other wishes to harness its power for use.

The world is 100% seamless and there will be zero loading screens. They are introducing some sort of dynamic npc conversation system. You can communicate with npc's as you would other players. They are programmed to understand the English language and will respond back in meaningful ways. There will be no classes. You just choose which skills you wish to use. There will be player run shops, which you can hire shopkeepers to run for you.

The most important aspect to me and the first thing I scanned for was that there would not be forced pvp. You can pvp in hostile territories where you will receive a warning upon entering. And you may also be subject to pvp if your guild is at war with another guild. Pvp is not based on the three races, but rather which of two great mage alliances you choose.

There will actually be two types of guild structures, depending on whether or not you wish to participate in pvp. The first is referred to as a "guild". The guild and its members will follow one of the two alliances. Guilds will be able to take control of towers and capital cities. They also are subject somehow to corruption, which requires much responsibility from the guild leader to manage. Not sure exactly how that will play out, but sounds like a stressful job. For the pve players, rather than guild, their organization will be referred to as a "battlegroup". These are for players who have not chosen an alliance. They function as a guild, but they will not be able to take control of territories as the guilds do.

The screenshots look very pretty, but there are only concept drawings for character models. I discovered the site in a very roundabout way. Considering they intend to release this year, they definitely should be doing some advertising. And I'll definitely be keeping my eye out on this one.