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.