Daily Blogroll Oct 10: Columbus Day edition

Creativity can be deadly

I realized today that I have no clue whatsoever what the term “MMO” means anymore. I gave it some thought and came up with “An MMO is an online, real-time game where other people affect can your game.” That’s pretty vague. Clearly there are games which call themselves MMOs and can be played as if they were MMOs, or as if they were solo RPGs. I don’t know. I just know the old definitions don’t work.

Take World of Warcraft and the current flavor of the month, Tiny Speck’s Glitch. One is the most popular MMO in the world (well, if you don’t include World of Tanks, though the developer does). The other is a super casual browser-based game where you can’t even kill stuff. The two games share almost no features, yet both are MMOs. I give up. If you can play your game and can see another player when you do so, it’s a MMO.

Which is going to make writing these Daily Blogrolls SO EASY. Checkers? Is it online? MMO.

The blogging world has changed quite a lot since the last time I was doing these (and work crushed my free time). People are leaving drops of content all over the Internet, on Tumblr blogs, on Google+, on Twitter. I’ll still be pointing out great posts by the bloggers in my blogroll, but I’ll be trying to collect some of these other far-flung bits of wisdom as well.

Before I get started, an update on my MMO gaming: DDO on Sunday nights, D&D fourth edition on Thursday nights, and Glitch. Driver issues have killed EQ2 — I can’t play it. I’ve been poking around in Rift. I’ve started working on the Saint’s Haven quests in Dragon Nest. Mostly Glitch for MMOs, though.

Beau Turkey has done a heck of a write-up on Glitch, btw.

Fighting giants in DAoC beta

It’s been ten years since Dark Age of Camelot went live? Wow. I remember calling it “EQ Lite” based solely on the screenshots they released in the early rounds of beta. When I got into the beta myself, I realized just how impressive an achievement the game was. Yes, it clearly had been influenced by EverQuest, but it was its own game and would become one of the influences that would form the mechanics behind World of Warcraft.

It would be physically impossible for anyone to spend more time in a game than I spent in DAoC. Scott Jennings, Mythic’s one time DBA, has a wonderful post from Matt Firor, DAoC’s original producer, one what it was like to ship an MMO before the market was crowded with hundreds of them.

It was a different world.

Star Corsairs

After taking the world by storm with his sandbox browser MMO Golemizer, indie MMO dev Dave Toulouse is set to unleash his second game, Star Corsairs. It’s an updated take on the old space exploration / trading games of the 80s (most notably SunDog) combined with the mining, ship construction and PvP of EVE Online. And maybe a smidgen of Star Castle. Explore, take on missions to protect the Federation, construct your own starship, blow stuff up, free to play. I’ll have more on Star Corsairs when I’ve played it more.

Donate, and he’ll name a star after you.

Speaking of indie MMO development, Andorov posted an excellent list of 15 important steps to wild success in indie MMO development.

Rule 4: Create a good company and MMO name. Recruiting for Joe Schmoe’s Awesome MMORPG is going to be a lot more difficult than Excelsior Games’ Islandia: The Re-Islanding. Most non-visionaries (which I may also refer to as dumb f**ks or DFs), though talented, are simple folk and easily impressed.

Lucent Heart, the “zodiac-inspired” dating MMO, not content with merely connecting up guys playing guys and guys playing scantily-clad girls, is about to unleash dance battles upon the world, says Anjel Syndicate.

Create your dance from dozens of dance steps, re-create music videos, and .. well, if a collection of Minstrels can do System of a Down in LotRO, I suppose a bunch of angel-winged schoolgirls can do Thriller in Lucent Heart!

See ya tomorrow!

Daily Blogroll 1/12 — Snow Job edition

A whole weekend lost in a Rift, but I think what I’ll remember most about this last weekend was this jerk in General chat — named, ironically, Karana — who was going on and on about how the quests and everything else about the game was a copy of WoW.

Well, heck, I didn’t know Thomas Edison was resurrected just to offer his genius insights. But some people just can’t see past their own experiences with WoW. Like, the people complaining that every one of the classes will have a 50/16/0 point spec, as if the class-defining abilities of each ‘soul’ only happen once 50 points are spent on it, similar to WoW’s talent trees. ACTUALLY, the class-defining skill is usually given for free, at zero points. Smart players will have a synergistic three soul mix. Anyway, already went on about that, and though I’m loving Rift and have applied to a guild, I’m really tired of reading about it.

Well, let’s see if there’s some stories from the weekend that aren’t about Rift, shall we?
Continue reading Daily Blogroll 1/12 — Snow Job edition

Daily Blogroll Looks Back: 2001

Some very VERY old floppies....I was cleaning out my closet and found a few old floppy disks, REALLY old. Someone had scrawled “Daily Blogroll: Sep ’01” on them. I honestly don’t remember writing any blogs way back then. I had no idea what was on them. They were two 8″ disks, so between the two of them, there could be as many as four or five pages of documents sitting there, unread, for eight years.

It was a wide, wonderful, weird world back then. The success of EverQuest, Asheron’s Call, Ultima Online and Dark Age of Camelot had changed the landscape of online adventure gaming. By requiring players to have hardware 3D graphics acceleration in their machines, EverQuest raised the bar for all MMOs that followed.

It’s not easy to track down an 8″ floppy drive these days, but after some calls, I was able to find someone who could read these disks for me, and he sent me a digital copy of the contents. So sit back, grab a snifter of absinthe, put on your bustles and top hats and travel with me back to a time when unicorns grazed the bowling fields and MMORPGs were young.

Graphic from Dawn, by Glitchless

If you’re having trouble releasing ONE MMORPG, why not start another? And if that isn’t working out for you, how but just one more? Glitchless, developers of groundbreaking, never-before-seen, you are not WORTHY of playing MMORPG Dawn, who earlier this year suspended development on Dawn to work on a new RTS set in the same world, Dusk: Dawn Tactics, has today announced that they are pushing all those aside and coming out with an even BETTER game, Racewar Kingdoms. Quoth GM Jeff:

Race War Kingdoms has been completely re-made and is now an entirely different title complete with graphics, and real-time gameplay! A public beta is being held for 3 days, get in before it’s too late!

Complete with graphics! Don’t miss it! Race War Kingdoms, you may remember, was originally a web page where the more you clicked, the more you won. Now it has GRAPHICS!

It wouldn’t be a Glitchless game unless it featured permadeath. As GM Jeff said in a Stratics debate last January, permadeath is a way to ensure that the people who aren’t SERIOUS about roleplaying quit the game, so everyone wins:

*GL-Jeff* Well the anti-perm death crowd has already stated that permdeath would “shorten” the lifespan of the PERSISTANT world. I believe they are already admitting that yes, the players that are not serious about playing for RP purposes will leave the game early.

Well, in reality, groups of PKs would just band up and completely ruin the game for everyone else at no risk to themselves. Jeff has apparently never played Ultima Online. Didn’t we just have this debate with Sierra’s Middle-Earth Online? It’s just weird seeing people seriously argue that EverQuest’s death penalty is not severe enough.

Rumor has it, btw, that the EverQuest devs are considering upping the three hours before your corpse and all your possessions decay to something a little longer. About time.

Artifact Entertainment's Horizons

You know what modern games really need? More lens flare. Seriously.

What’s that game where you can play a dragon, pick up a player in your claws, fly a few thousand feet up, and release? Oh yeah, Horizons. But heck, why stop there? Why not terrorize player-built villages by strafing them with your fire breath? In Horizons, you can be a Vampire (but as long as you kill only players nobody will miss, nobody needs to know). Or a demon, or an angel, an insect, a lizard… 14 races, most never seen before, embroiled in a complex, shifting web of loyalties and all-out blood war.

At least they’re staying mum on the whole permadeath debate

Artifact Entertainment, makers of Horizons: Empires of Istaria, recently signed a publishing agreement with Korean developers NCsoft. They must have been a little shocked when ex-Ultima guru Lord “Richard Garriott” British grabbed the spotlight away from the Horizons team with news that his Destination Games would merge with NCsoft’s US arm to become NCsoft Austin and develop their own new MMO.

Quoth Artifact CEO David Allen when asked how Horizons and Garriott’s new MMO would compete with each other: “At this point, not at all – Jake and Richard are developing something completely new and innovative; I don’t think they’re even going the traditional RPG route. We’ll have to wait and see!”

Ultima Online Worlds

Meanwhile, back at the ranch Origin Systems…. Ultima Online Worlds, 3D follow-up to the spectacularly successful (but non-3D) MMO Ultima Online, has been canceled. Asked why this title, which would have taken the Ultima MMO franchise for the first time into the 3D arena, was canceled, Origin’s David Swofford said the decision was made to focus on Ultima Online and try to reclaim the #1 spot among persistent world games from such Johnny-come-latelies as EverQuest and Asheron’s Call:

… We’re trying to get our numbers up higher than they are. We’re already up to about 230,000 subscribers and UO has grown about 80% in the past year. I think that’s one of the reasons that EA and Origin are saying, “Hey, why toy with success?” Rather than going forth with something that could be construed as a competitive product we’re going to put more of our resources on UO and make it even more of a success.

Well, they definitely don’t want to come out with a competitive product….

Dragon Empires by Codemasters

Information about sports game impresarios Codemasters’ new MMO, Dragon Empires, due out near the middle of next year, continues to trickle out. This groundbreaking game has player guilds warring against one another for control of the cities and resources of the world. According to the press release:

Due in 2002, Dragon Empires is set when magic is plentiful and the lives of humans and dragons intertwined. The game innovates by creating a world of adventures that will be filled with player clans, each striving to rule magnificent cities and, ultimately, empires through tactical dealing or clan-on-clan combat.

You won’t be able to play a dragon, though….

Atriarch

If your tastes run more toward building and crafting than all that messy war everywhere stuff, Atriarch might be more your style. Players will be able to build any structure they can imagine, LEGO-style. Tired of playing elves, dwarves, and elves? Atriarch does away with all that by setting their game on an entirely alien world. And unlike Dawn’s strictly sexual reproduction, Atriarch is a little more “don’t ask, don’t tell” about it. Atriarch lead designer Serafina Pechan says:

Atriarch supports the ability for player characters to have families. We call it the Lineage System. Every player can have its character spawn offspring through asexual reproduction. There are two ways your character’s family and lineage can expand.

It’s always been my fervent, till now unspoken desire to propagate like a bacteria.

News about the game has slowed down a bit recently, but alpha testing is expected to begin soon, and if you’d like to get in on the ground floor, bribery might help

Of course, if you truly want to ensure your spot as an early Atriarch tester, then bribes in the form of EQ platinum will be accepted on the Povar server. Other suggestions for offerings, donations, or outright bribes can be emailed to: pleeeeeezepickme@atriarch.com ;-)

Adellion: Tents in a desert. No, really.

If war everywhere is what you’re after, Adellion has the stuff. Massive battles. Permadeath. No magic. No elves, dwarves, or any race but human. A world so large that you couldn’t cross it if you set your character dashing across it on horseback for an entire day. Adellion’s recently released FAQ explains all this and a little more about what it means to play in a game where role-playing is enforced:

If you’re not a role-player in fact, you need not apply. Why? Because everything-and we mean everything-in Adellion will be done In Character. If you log onto the game with “Yo-wazzzuuuuppp?” you will be greeted with “Huh?” …

Gotta love a game that spells out why they don’t want you as a player in their FAQ.

Yay! Elves!

EverQuest’s latest experiment, the “anything goes” PvP server Sullon Zek, is now continually posting PvP stats on the aptly named Sullon Zek PvP stats page. As if you needed ANOTHER reason to hate Halfling Druids…

Meanwhile, the game awaits next month’s new expansion, Shadows of Luclin, which will bring an all-new graphics engine, all-new character models, a moon landing which devs assure us won’t be faked, and … hey, if there’s this moon called “Luclin”, how come nobody’s ever seen it before? Huh???

Anyway, EQ might be revamping all its graphics, but it ain’t no Adellion, that’s for sure.

Well, the floppies are getting full so I guess that means its wrap-up time. MMO gaming has never been better, with the huge success of EverQuest, Ultima Online and others spurring the development of dozens of huge worlds full of adventure. 2002 is shaping up to be the best year ever for the MMO genre.

Daily Blogroll 6/26 — Space Michael edition

jackson

I’m not gonna say anything snarky about Michael Jackson. When he died yesterday, millions of people all over the world played his music loud and sang along; people gathered to remember him. When you and I die, how many people will even remember we lived? Nobody will remember us for how many max level characters we had or how many nights we spent raiding. We’ll only be remembered by and because of the people whose hearts we touched. Beau Turkey finds the most memorable moments in MMOs are not the levels ground out, but the coming together of friends to work on something as a team.

Space Michael, btw, was the name of Jackson’s character in the Dreamcast game, “Space Channel 5“. I played that game so many times I could finish the entire thing in less than an hour. About 3/4 of the way through, you’d have the chance to save Space Michael by doing some of his signature moves. After, he’d join your crew and dance with you through the rest of the game.

In a weird bit of irony, Roy Greenhilt FINALLY returns to the land of the living in Order of the Stick. Roy, we MISSED YOU. Think you waited too long for a rez? Roy waited SIX MONTHS. And we waited two years (and 222 strips).

There’s actually one place in the world — and just one, really — where people care how many max level characters you have, and that place is a gaming convention. SOE’s Fan Faire starts today and we expect to hear more about the upcoming expansions for EQ and EQ2, the “go live” date for EQ’s new Mayong 51/50 server, and other fun stuff. Expect a lot of attention paid to Free Realms. Lazaretto is in Las Vegas with a live report from the pre-show — we’ll be watching his blog for more information all day.

I like how, in the SOE Fan Fair page, they list Vanguard after the canceled “Matrix Online” and “Trading Card Games”.

Growing up in the US, I didn’t know all that much about Australia. Our family was friends with an Australian family, but aside from the accent, they were just like anyone else, no difference. Australians were seen in US movies and TV as a rough and tumble people ready for a good laugh or a good fight, full of the enjoyment of life. That image has been shattered recently by Australia’s decent into the abyss of “why won’t anyone think of the children?” where games not suitable for children between the ages of 15 and 18 cannot be imported or played over the Internet. Oz gamer Stropp doesn’t want to live in a “Nanny State” where the government imposes complete censorship in the guise of “protecting the children”, any wants to spread the word — this is how freedoms get taken away.

Copra takes a look at the current state of World of Warcraft and for the life of him, can’t figure out how a new player could ever even think about joining WoW’s end game. Isn’t that the reason, though, that they do a complete gear reset every expansion? So everyone starts out at the same place every two years. New players only have to wait a couple of years for the next expansion and they’ll be fine.

Software developers have to constantly deal with the dreaded “check list” — if your program doesn’t have all the features every other program of that sort has, you fail and that’s all there is to it. MMOs aren’t immune to this. Myrix asks MMO devs to throw the check list away and just make a fun GAME. Don’t need crafting? Don’t add it just because WoW has it!

Gordon of We Fly Spitfires points to a really cool and non-condescending documentary about virtual worlds, watching it now…. Oh, hai, Raph Koster!

Lastly, Keen takes a look at Warhammer’s new “Land of the Dead” and finds in it the same sort of realm give-and-take he liked so much in Dark Age of Camelot’s “Darkness Falls” realm war dungeon.

Traveling again this weekend, so I’ll be back Monday. Keep gaming!