If there could be a greater revolution in online gaming than Microsoft’s upcoming Avatar Kinect, I’m not really sure what it could be. Avatar Kinect uses its popular new peripheral to track your gestures, mouth movements and even your eyebrows and use this data to create a lifelike puppet of you in an online chat room. The traditional problems of the Kinect remain; your avatar won’t be spending much time walking from place to place, but it is certainly worlds better than having to clean house to have friends over.
On to the blogroll.
What’s the Point?
Do MMOs really NEED a goal? That comes down to the basic difference between sandbox and theme park MMOs. In sandbox games, you set your own goals; the game won’t tell you what to do next. In theme park games, there’s a natural progression toward some larger goal. In World of Warcraft, this means heroic instances and raiding.
Rowan at I Have Touched the Sky calls the typical MMORPG end game:
… the fantasy equivalent of playing Madden 20XX. Repetitive, story-less, soulless.
But in an achievement-driven game world, you eventually will come to the end of the content. You could quit at that point until there’s more content, go through that content again via alts, or work on incrementally improving your performance via practice and gear. There’s very few game companies out there that want to ever give a player a reason not to continue playing.
Speaking of the sandbox vs theme park comparisons, Gordon of We Fly Spitfires believes that, if you just removed WoW from the equation, sandbox MMOs like EVE Online, Darkfall and Fallen Earth compare favorably, population-wise, with theme parks.
Viiral of Epic-Hero has bravely taken his first steps into the Taiwan version of Zodiac Online, known here and elsewhere as Lucent Heart.
Hey, if Massively can do a million articles on TERA Online, I can go a little crazy for Lucent Heart, OKAY?
Anyway, this dating sim/MMO is, as the screenshots show, very much based on the cel-shaded anime style that seemed fresh on Dream of Mirror Online but seems a little dated now. It’s hard to tell exactly what’s going on — looks like character creation has you choose your character and zodiac sign, go through a semi-animated opening sequence, and then run around a sparsely populated city, talking with NPCs. So far, not looking so terribly different from DOMO which, you’ll remember, had a compatibility line that would visually connect you with nearby players the game thought you’d like.
Via Massively, news that isometric action MMO Mytheon is moving its operations back to China, to:
… tailor Mytheon’s content to the preferences and needs of the community that has already grown around it
Presumably their Chinese community, though it seems there will be a new beta for current players. My static group, now in DDO, was thinking about playing Mytheon because of its outward similarities to Diablo. But now, not so much.
World of Tanks
Via Rock Paper Shotgun, Tank combat MMO “World of Tanks” claimed 74,536 simultaneous players on its Russian servers recently. RPS points out that, unlike EVE Online (which tells the number of simultaneous users when you log in), WoT players are not sharing a single, continuous world. Still, it’s a nice number, and that should only rise once the game is available worldwide.
Star Wars: The Old Republic
Scott Jennings of Broken Toys looks ahead to the big MMO releases of 2011, chief among those, Bioware’s blockbuster Star Wars: The Old Republic. This is a game that has sucked so much money that, if it succeeds, it could literally price “AAA” MMO development out of the range of independent MMOs like Trion Worlds’ Rift, which itself has reportedly cost more than $50 million to develop.
If it fails, it could dampen enthusiasm for MMO development of all types. Win or lose, SWTOR will change the genre.
I mentioned RedBana’s Mythos in passing yesterday. Once the tech test for Flagship Studio’s “Hellgate: London”, then a game in its own right, and lastly a lost opportunity when HanbitSoft took over all of Flagship’s assets.
This Diablo-esque action MMO was a big hit with beta testers entranced with its fantastical player races and unique, for the time, talent tree based class construction. We’ve been waiting ever since for the game to make a reappearance on Western shores.
Having been teased with news of a possible beta for half of 2010, the developers have been silent since July. Not even their forum moderators have any idea what’s going on with the game, or even if there still are any plans for a North American release.
Apparently it is in beta testing in Korea, so there’s still a chance…