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Daily Blogroll 6/4 — Get off my lawn edition

Posted by on June 4, 2009

Retirement Party

Just like pretty much everyone else, I bought Sims 3 and played it for awhile yesterday. I started off in a full family with two kids, a husband and me, and it didn’t go so well. I restarted living single and had plenty of time to myself, lots of chances to learn and have fun and relax, and never once felt hurried, and in all ways my life was better without a family. But at least I didn’t make my family the cast of Joss Whedon’s Firefly. Yet.

When I say GUILD, you say DRAMA. Guild — DRAMA! Guild — DRAMA! Why do those two words go together so well? There’s this ideal of a guild being a group of good friends who gather together to do things in-game for no better purpose than the pleasure of each other’s company.

Yeah, and I’m about to strap a rocket pack to my back and fly to work. Guilds are started with the best of intentions but always seem to end up mired in drama. Angry Raider’s character Grabthar (by Grabthar’s hammer… by the Sons of Warvan…) lasted a week in his new guild. Everyone was great, friendly … and twelve years old. The guild master demanded he follow his orders and all the little’uns were looking for power leveling. So that didn’t end well.

Spinks tells the sorry tales of two guild hoppers, both of whom decided to switch guilds for guilds further up in the World of Warcraft raid progression. One hopper was treated like dirt by his new guild, the other is only as loyal to the new guild as long as they keep bringing the shinies.

Doesn’t matter what game it is. EverQuest was much, much worse.

Maybe it’s just as well Wizard 101 doesn’t have guilds. It does have, by the way, full voice acting for every quest in the game, so it’s a little surprising to learn that Bioware’s Star Wars: The Old Republic will be the first fully voiced MMO. Um, Wizard 101? And I doubt it was the first.

It’s okay. I figured out how to tell when an E3 game company rep is, um, stretching the truth. Their lips move.

Speaking of Wizard 101, the Evil Theurgist found some lesser evil in the cast picture of W101′s new world, Grizzleheim. Blood? Could we actually be killing stuff in the new expansion? Maybe those glowy swords could do more than fan up a healthy breeze? Could happen. Thomas the Friendly Necromancer serves up some top sekrit promo codes for Wizard 101 that nets you a pet, an end table, gold and an amulet for the cost of free. Cool stuff.

E3 brought news that Square-Enix would be following up their breathtakingly kooky (and grindy) MMO Final Fantasy XI Online with the innovatively-named Final Fantasy XIV Online (rumored for the past four years under the code name “Rapture” and apparently featuring some very new game mechanics if you’ve been following the leaks). The game is promised to be on the PlayStation 3 only, and also the PC. And probably a year or two, the Xbox 360, if this follows the same arc as its predecessor.

Unlike the extremely, super-grindy, group-required gameplay of FFXI, the new game will have content for soloers, groups, and raiders. Whether this is solo content like WoW (who needs groups?) or more like EQ2 (you can solo, but you’ll be wishing you were in a group), who knows?

Beau doesn’t care. He doesn’t even play MMOs. At least not as the games they have become. He plays them as the worlds they want to be — where hanging out and having fun aren’t wasting time, they’re the entire point. Read the comments for some excellent thoughts by Bhagpuss on how MMOs came to their current sorry score-obsessed state.

Ravious at Kill Ten Rats has some thoughts about SOE’s new shooter, The Agency, based on its showing at E3. Gotta admit, it’s looking better and better.

Werit takes us on a tour of Warhammer’s new unlockable PvP/adventure zone, The Lands of the Dead. There’s been a lot of speculation on whether this will solve the realm balance issues that exist on most servers, but we won’t know that for awhile. Still — looks quite nice!

Lots of people trying out Vanguard again to check out the new changes. Ardwulf returned to Telon to soak in the ambiance of a vast world waiting to be explored. Openedge1 had a somewhat chillier time with it.

And lastly, Gordon at We Fly Spitfires wonders why people always choose beautiful looking avatars in their games when they could be fat, balding old men with beards? Because, why the hell not?

See you Friday, and keep gaming! Now to just get Sims 3 running and see what my virtual me does when I’m not there to remind her to eat….

11 Responses to Daily Blogroll 6/4 — Get off my lawn edition

  1. Petter Mårtensson

    I had the same experience in Sims 3 – I started out with the same family as I spent the most time with in Sims 2 and it was a complete disaster. Created a new, single character and learned the ropes before going back to the full family again. Now I have no problems with it and boy, am I having fun. It’s a great game, I ended up giving it 9/10 in my review. Sims 3 will certainly be the greatest competitor for the MMOs I plan to play this summer…

  2. Saylah

    I had canceled my the Sims 3 pre-order figuring I wouldn’t have time to play. I do however, find myself with an hour here and there to play something and not always wanting it to be EVE. I’m taking a break from W101 but will keep tinkering in FR when I feel the urge. So late last night I decided I wanted TS3 and found that it could be purchased for digital download. Sahweet. Except that it took about as long as EQ2 to download so I didn’t get to play yet.

    I’m NOT happy that once again, it’s just the base game and we’ll be forced to repurchase TS3 versions of expansion content. How can you go back to playing just the vanilla game when you’ve had seasons (farming & weather), home businesses, pets and hobbies. AND WHAT THE F is up with them trying to start up micro transactions? Their content is never as good as the custom content developed by the community at large. Why on earth would I pay EA for their bland designs when I can sub to a custom content website and get awesome things for a flat fee?!?! EA needs to get a freakin’ grip. Isn’t suckering us into rebuying the expansions over and over and over enough money????

  3. Syp

    That’s what I exist for — to make other people feel less bad about their gaming addictions.

    I also made a Captain Picard and BSG’s Boomer. Picard turned out to be a party animal, who knew?

  4. Green Armadillo

    Quoth Tipa: “more like EQ2 (you can solo, but you’ll be wishing you were in a group)”

    I just hit level 64 on my main without ever joining a group. I don’t think I’ve ever been left sitting around wishing I was in a group, though I’ll concede that my visit to the KOS expansion areas was short, brutal and painful. Gotta love it when the second quest on the “solo” timeline is flagged heroic because it sends you to an area where it takes extreme care not to be swarmed by half a dozen heroic Gazers. I don’t see how anyone can solo that thing without stealth/invis.

    (Ironically, my level 13 Sarnak Warden has joined a group twice, once to share credit on a named quest mob respawn and once for a guided tour of how not to get ganked by guards on the way to our Qeynos guild hall.)

  5. We Fly Spitfires

    The Firefly Sims house just cracked me up :) Thanks for the link.

    When I played the original Sims I made a Buffy: The Vampire Slayer house. I know, I know, but I was still a teenager…

  6. Graktar

    SW:TOR is the first FULLY voiced MMO because not only is everything the NPCs say voiced (not just quest text), but player responses are also voiced. Remember that this is more like KotOR than WoW, players will make choices when interacting with NPCs and their choices will be voiced. That’s what they’re talking about.

    Now, I usually play with the sound off anyway to avoid annoying the missus, so . . . *shrug*

  7. Lars

    Fully voiced? What’s the point. 99% of the player base will just hit escape and cut it short. Plus it would slow down the release of new content.

    EQ2 was supposed to be fully voiced but nowadays voiceovers are pretty rare.

  8. Tipa

    They moved the voiceovers to the optional voice packs afaik, but yeah, I appreciate the little flavor text from the NPCs, but I can read a quest way faster than an NPC can tell it to me.

    And the same will be true of SWTOR. Unless they force me to listen to it, I probably won’t unless it is an important quest.

  9. Ogrebears

    i think i am going to break down and buy Sim 3 now…

  10. rob

    Call me silly, but I am way more excited about FFXIV than I should be. FFXI was the first MMO I played for any decent amount after EQ started to fade for me. In fact, FFXI is probably the closest thing we have to old school EQ these days … at least in some ways. Both have/had nearly forced grouping to make any progress in levels, both had steep death penalties, both had a player base where knowing your job and “how to play” was nigh a requirement, etc.

    I have played WoW to death now and I have finally come to the realization the social aspects of MMOs are hurt by being able to solo through the game. Although forced grouping makes it hard to play casually, which is important these days. I think the answer is to make it rewarding to group. If you CAN solo in a reasonable amount of time, people will. However, if soloing is painful, and only something you resort to when you can’t group, I think that might be a decent solution.

    All of that being said, I hope that FFXIV at least tries to find this balance.

  11. Bhagpuss

    “Lars says:
    June 4, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    Fully voiced? What’s the point. 99% of the player base will just hit escape and cut it short. ”

    From Sanya Weathers’ recent article on MMORPG.com, apparently more players do wait for voiced quest dialog to play out than stop to read it. I guess she’s been in a position to see the metrics.

    For me, it really depends on the quality of the voice acting. EQ2 had pretty much full voice acting at launch, but to an English ear most of the accents were so embarassingly bad that I couldn’t in good conscience hear them out. Eventually I got used to them and in the end found them quite endearing, but I would certaibnly never have pegged them as an incentive to play.

    In Wizard 101, however, I do listen to most of the voiceovers unless I am in a real rush. They are sometimes bland, but always very professionally done and there are some interesting, subtle ironies in tone. They do sound like the work of a very small company of voice actors, though.

    Oddly, my favorite MMO voice acting is in Vanguard, where NPC voice is limited to background comments. Apparently these were done by the devs and friends-and-family, but they are gorgeously understated and often quite zen. I have a particular fondness for the Qalia merchants who greet you with “Always pray for rain”. It’s the pause between “always” and “pray” that really makes that one sing.

    Anyway, whether or not SWtOR is the first, based on my memory of Baldur’s Gate I am happy to believe it will be the best, and best always trumps first.