Superhero comics have to be the most consistently grim form of literature imaginable. Here you have people with cosmic supernatural powers, and those powers bring them no joy. Instead, they are crushed by tragedy after unthinkable tragedy. Their lives are living nightmares, and for most heroes, there is no peace even in death. Satan once bet God that he could shake the faith of his most pious worshiper, a rich man named Job. God said sure, go for it, and Job was robbed of his wealth and his family. Satan went on to wrack Job with terrible illnesses, but Job struggled on, never losing faith. We see that in the Book of Job was written the very first superhero story.
I guess this is a sort of roundabout way of celebrating the lifting of the DC Universe Online NDA. But what of The Agency, the other SOE Action-MMO property? News of both, and more, after the break.
DC Universe Online
Pete at DragonChasers has been playing the DCUO beta, and reports that it is a very actiony game, best played with a gamepad. FFXIV and now DCUO… the thing about gamepad-centric games is that they make it rather inconvenient to chat with people.
Are Action MMOs a sign of the future direction of the genre? Syp of Bio Break writes in “The Wheel Still Works” that if companies try too hard to change what it means to play an MMO, they could well lose the winning formula that MMO players enjoy.
I’d more or less written off SOE’s console third person shooter/MMO hybrid off. “The Agency” had a few great trailers, but actual gameplay videos showed glacial, low-energy action compared to other games in the shooter genre. Via Massively, I learned that the game is, in fact, still going to be released at some point in the future. Commenters rightly point out that 2011 is a year already anticipating a fair number of high profile MMO releases, such as Guild Wars 2, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Rift and others. Still, shooters are a different genre, and perhaps it can find a way to get the Medal of Honor and Left 4 Dead 2 players to give the game a shot.
Speaking of SWTOR, Eurogamer reports that the Bioware CFO is telling people that he hopes SWTOR will have “a ten year life span“. While SWTOR may struggle along for ten years, I feel the constant influx of new MMOs almost forces the games to be short-term flings… and then a grateful return to WoW.
By the way, WoW’s next expansion will have a whole new continent! I was always curious how, with all these magical means of transportation available to them, the explorers of EverQuest could always find new, unknown continents to explore. And every one of them was deadlier than the last!
The Ancient Gaming Noob makes his elderly way to EverQuest to find a place to live… but first he has to dig up enough money to pay for his hovel! It’s a great look at how SOE mixed the decorating freedom of EQ2 with the neighborhood concept of LotRO and DAoC to make something that looks… like EQ, all over.
World of Wowcraft
Clearly, no possible way to get out of here without some WoW discussion. Scopique at Levelcapped notes that new MMOs no longer claim to be “WoW killers”. This is a GOOD thing. By killing every game that plays too similarly, WoW is actually forcing the MMO world to evolve in new directions.
Arkenor of Ark’s Ark notes that now that Ten Ton Hammer has bought up the rights to the popular and divisive add-on “GearScore” and renamed it “PlayerScore”, the chance that your skill at your class will ever count for anything has just vanished into bit heaven. While “PlayerScore” will let people give your character a “thumbs up or down”, there’s little chance that will be used in any but a negative way. Welcome to WoW. Your worth as a player depends now only on your gear and your achievements.
Over at Combat Archaeology, the Adventure Historian reminisces about the twisty path he took to come to EVE, finally resubscribing on the very eve (heh) of WoW’s Cataclysm. Will switching from the mundane Caldari to the religious zealotry of the Amarr bring life back to the game? Well, if you’re not WITH the Amarr, you’re against them… so maybe it’s just a case of survival. Read more about it in his short story :)
Final Fantasy XIV
FFXIV stalwart Tramell writes at Steel Warrior about what the latest patches to the beleaguered MMO have done to improve the game. I dunno. I played through almost 15 levels of the game, and, aside from the occasional story quest, the entire thing was “go here and kill this” or “go here and make this”. I am absolutely not convinced that MMOs either have to be on rails or filled with boring and mundane tasks.
If you do something fun for free, it’s because you want to. If you do something fun for money, well, now it’s a job. I found that out when I wrote for Massively! Zubon at Kill Ten Rats points us to a study that showed how people were less likely to play with a toy if they got no reward, if they had even been given a reward for playing. Does that mean ten million MMO players have stopped having fun if they know they won’t get an achievement for it?
That’s it! Tune in tomorrow for more buzz from the blogospherium!