Daily Blogroll 1/1/11 — Happy New Year edition

We’re way behind on our latest project at work, so I’ spent most of Friday working. I did take a break, though, to log on and participate in the final Beta 3 invasion event this afternoon. I’d spent all night (until 4:30AM) leveling my cleric from 12 to 20, and though I didn’t get a chance to visit the Iron Tombs, I did want to help keep Freemarch free. I’d leveled from 16 to 18 in a raid group at one of Thursday’s invasions. That also earned me nearly enough planar currency to get some nice epic items. I logged on, joined in, and earned enough to get some “purple” leggings. Good stuff.

While waiting for the servers to get turned off, I ported over to the Guardian lands and tried to invade the scholar’s grove. Those places are MADE for PvP — as you near an enemy stronghold, the familiar rift/public quest panel gets added to your quest display, and you get a nice list of goals that need to be met in order to capture the area. First, kill the guards. Then destroy the wardstone. All the while fending off the enemy players, who are being summoned to the area by broadcast warnings.

I could post a lot more about Rift — lots of people are. It’s all a reminder of the similar enthusiasm around Warhammer and Age of Conan etc, where the betas were incredibly fun and everyone was stoked. When the games went live, the laid back beta fun turned into laser-sharp focused achievements and min-maxing.

Will this happen to Rift? Of course it will.

Anyway, let’s see what’s on the collective blog-consciousness, this start of a new year.

Ex-subscription MMOs

2010 was a year that saw a lot of new acceptance for the “cash shop” model. Previously known as “free to play”, I’m really very tired of cheapening of the word “free”. There ARE free to play games where the majority of players never pay a cent in any way, but it’s hard to build a business plan on that.

As Keen puts it:

…the bottom line is that AAA games aren’t being released as F2P — that’s how they retire or reinvent themselves as a plan B.

That probably depends upon Keen’s definition of “AAA game”, which I suspect means “game that charges a monthly subscription”. I doubt the makers of Tera or, say, Lucent Heart, consider their games anything less than AAA, despite being released on the cash shop model. Keen might also extend his definition to exclude Asian imports… and then that runs right into Allods Online, the Russian MMO that mishandled its cash shop to the anger and disappointment of its many fans.

Moving on, Muckbeast points to a newly cash shop converted MMO, Lord of the Rings Online:

I think it was a wise move to do it before it seemed desperate. All available information pointed to LOTRO doing pretty well with subs, but Turbine must have been inspired by the success they had with their own game, DDO, and went for it. Doing it before it smells desperate is smart.

Star Trek Online

I don’t care what some people might say — I had a hell of a lot of fun with Star Trek Online in its first year. If I don’t play right now, it’s only because there’s so many games out right now that I simply don’t have time to spend on a game where I’m max level on one character and near max on another.

Sente of A Ding World looks back at his career in STO’s Federation; the ships, the missions, the crafting and the player-generated content, and pretty much likes what he sees.

EVE Online

Grats to Stargrace of Nomadic Gamer, who finally achieved one of her long time goals in EVE Online by flying the pseudo-capital mining control ship, the Orca. Is this the only ship with a hangar that can dock at stations? Anyway, grats!

EVE Online is still giving me the hard sell with its latest campaign to bring me back for five days.

Tipa Pinneau,

Five free days of game time and the free CONCORD Echelon are almost gone. Reactivate before January 3rd and get:

  • Five Free Days of EVE Online
  • The CONCORD Echelon, a frigate-class codebreaker ship
  • Thousands or even Millions of Skill Points that are waiting for you as a result of the recent Learning skills change

As an added bonus, when you reactivate, you can get 60 Days of EVE Online for only 19.95.

I had my mouse finger on the link, ready to resub. I probably would have, if I remembered the trick to docking my borrowed battleship in my corp’s hangar so I could jump clone back to Empire space, leave the corp, and just go back to making stuff and playing the market. Why I thought my gameplay style (updating spreadsheets and spending only a few minutes each day online) was at all compatible with a nullsec corp, I’ll never know.

Rift

Via Pete Smith, Dean Takahashi of VentureBeat actually called “Rift” a WoW-killer… Thankfully, the Trion guys didn’t take the bait.

VB: What is your marketing message these days about your game being the “WOW killer”?

DR: Well, to be clear, no one in Trion has ever said that, and I don’t think anybody in Trion ever will. If you look at the lineage of great MMOs, starting with Ultima Online, you see generational improvements. Ultima Online was the first commercial success in the MMO business, but it was two-dimensional and weighted toward players fighting other players. That wasn’t much fun for the new players. EverQuest came along with 3D animation and players fighting against the environment. It was a real commercial success and it was prettier. Still, it had its bugs. World of WarCraft came along in 2004. It was an improvement on what came before and it was very polished. Within that game, you could have some great solo experiences. Other games have tried to emulate it.

WoW-killer. When I hear a game labeled a WoW-killer, I only expect the worse from then on.

While not actually planned in the game, as far as I know, Rift Junkies has a video some player made of some potential PvP “souls” for each of the four callings. While there are certainly instanced battlegrounds in the game (as many PvPs in Meridian kept reminding me), there is also going to be a strong world PvP component — and I just can’t see giving invaders access to tools that defenders (in that case) would not have.

Chris of Level Capped wonders just how sustainable the “rifts”/public quest model will be once the game goes live. Everyone looks back to Warhammer’s public quests, which were fun and community building in beta, but turned out to be largely abandoned soon after the game went live.

Arkenor of Ark’s Ark has been posting a blow-by-blow play through of the beta from the perspective of a dwarf on the Mathosian front lines. Great stuff if, somehow, you haven’t got your fill of the game yet :)

Stargate Worlds

Via Massively, an interview with Cheyenne Mountain’s Jim Brown, who talks a bit about the game and the company and has some words of hope for those who’d like to adventure in the Stargate universe. Have to admit that it’s the perfect backstory for an MMO. Through every gate is a new world…

Tabula Rasa

A new year puts everyone in a nostalgic mood, and we’re back with Sente again as he waxes nostalgic in a gallery sharing his best time with Richard Garriott‘s follow-up to his legendary Ultima Online:

I miss this game… or at least I miss it where it was at some stage after the crafting became somewhat decent and before they screwed up the user interface. Of course I do choose to not think so much about that the game did not have any alternate leveling paths as in entirely different zones and that it was really bad at handling disconnects when you were in the middle of a mission or even wore running some missions in an instanced area.

Well, maybe it’s best left in the past after all. Tabula Rasa probably would still be around today if it had launched on the cash shop model.

Garriott is now a firm believer in the cash shop genre, by the way, having bent his considerable MMO and RPG making expertise toward Facebook games — Port Casino Poker (previously Sweet Ass Poker) and its innovative follow-up, Port Casino Blackjack.

I don’t really have anything useful to say about the guy whose games once kept me glued to my Atari 800 for hours and days on end. But I’d like to embed the video from his website.

Richard Garriott: Man On A Mission from Richard Garriott on Vimeo.

“Pioneering game developer, explorer, adventurer, award-winning entrepreneur, and global ambassador for space travel privatization.” Now making boring ass Facebook games. And I LIKE Facebook games!

Core Blaze

Via Big Download comes word of Core Blaze, a MMO that uses the Unreal 3 engine along with a detailed physics engine to make a lifelike world built on Eastern myth blahblahblah. That isn’t the interesting part. Here’s the interesting part:

“Moreover, numerous in-game dynamics such as geography, weapon alignment while fighting, team compatibility and the character’s own element will contribute to player’s overall development in the game.”

Well, people have been asking for a fantasy FPS for some time… but I’m not sure Core Blaze is it. Looks to be treading ground Vindictus has already passed.

Finding Neverland Online

I’ve just started following Viiral of Epic-Hero.com. Viiral’s blog showcases the latest in Asian MMOs; pretty cool stuff. You can find the latest and greatest about new games such as Tera there. His latest post brings us “Finding Neverland Online”, a game which doesn’t look to have fallen far from the DOMO/Florensia tree as far as graphics and UI go.

I take it all back. This no eyes girl gives me the creeps.

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Tipa

Web developer for a Connecticut-based insurance company that's over 200 years old! Also a bicycler, a blogger, a kayaker, and a hunter of bridges.