The Magic 8 Ball predicts the losers and winners of 2011.

I suck at predictions, but everyone else is doing them. Luckily, I have a Magic 8 Ball. I’m just gonna list some games, and ask the Magic 8 Ball what it thinks of them. Question to the 8 Ball for all of these games: Will this game have a good year in 2011?

Age of Conan: “Outlook Not So Good”. AoC released its first expansion, “Ride of the Godslayer”, last summer, and that’s pretty much the last I’ve heard of the game. I don’t think the Magic 8 Ball is correct; I think Funcom is content to support their current player base without feeling the need to go F2P. Their massively hyped launch should have helped them recoup their development costs years ago.

Aion: “Concentrate and Ask Again”. November saw Aion publish a massive revamp which added more loot to the game. December brought with it a rebalancing of the world PvP via rifts. Perhaps the Magic 8 Ball’s confusion stemmed from the game’s more Asian market?
Continue reading The Magic 8 Ball predicts the losers and winners of 2011.

A Parent’s Guide to MMO Gaming

Someone needs to tell the truth about MMOs. I guess it falls to me to explain to parents about the games their children are playing online with people whose idea of a good conversation opener is “I AM SO HIGH.”

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm by Activision Blizzard.

In the original World of Warcraft, children could take the role of a virtuous human fighting on the side of the Church against the evil Horde. The Burning Crusade expansion revealed that the enemy Horde came from Hell itself, and the humans took the fight against the villainous Orcs and other demons to the lower realms.

Blizzard’s game took a decided turn for the worse with Wrath of the Lich King, where human players were encouraged to become Death Knights, soulless minions of Satan. This trend continues with the Cataclysm, when Hell comes to Earth, and the good players become bloodthirsty werewolves. Expect your children to call one another “bitches”, because, hey, they are playing female dogs in heat, and you’re paying for the privilege.

Hello Kitty Online by Sanrio, Inc.

In his novel “Rising Sun“, Dr. Michael Crichton exposed the cruel designs Japanese megacorporations had for the trusting citizens of the United States. This lesson has been forgotten even as Japan has come to dominate the electronics and auto industries. Now they are coming for our children in the guise of a game where children help cheerful cartoon animals with household tasks — tasks such as the mindless slaughter of cartoon creatures.

As innocent as this may first appear, Sanrio’s real game is to replace your children with soulless androids, programmed to obey the orders of their Japanese masters.

Don’t underestimate this threat. Ask your daughter to tell you about the bishonen boys in her hentai manga. And don’t take “ee-ay” for an answer.

TERA Online by Bluehole Studio

Do we even want to know what a “bluehole” is in Korean? I sure don’t. Your kids may learn when they play South Korea’s “TERA Online”, a softcore pornography simulator coming to your son’s bedroom later this year.

In TERA, your son controls scantily clad lingerie models who undress for his pleasure. Don’t worry — TERA understands if your son would rather see boys disrobe; chiseled male models cater to any sort of preference. There’s even animal characters for especially disturbed children. Players may group into sex parties and have drunken orgies in a wide variety of adult fantasy locations.

If you’ve been putting off having “the talk” with your son, but he plays TERA Online, your work is done. He already knows.

APB: All Points Bulletin by Realtime Worlds

You might expect that Asia would have little use for our “outdated” sense of Western morality, but you might be surprised to find that Great Britain hopes to lead our children into the criminal life with their gang simulator, APB: All Points Bulletin.

Children can experiment to see how they would look with tattoos, piercings and high powered weaponry as they take to city streets to drive irresponsibly, spray graffiti on public buildings, take drugs, become prostitutes, and kill policemen. An important portion of the game lets your kids design their own piercings and tattoos, and then have it done to them for real.

Remember, parents, we trounced Britain in 1776 and 1812, and they’ve never forgiven us for beating them back, cowering, to their side of the Atlantic. Their greatest dream would be to push our children into anarchy.

The Bible Online by FIAA

Surely a MMO based on the Holy Bible would be a safe haven for children? Not so fast. German developers FIAA GmbH, known for their adult fantasy KALOS Adventure and their war simulator Operation7 (where you may “bare (sic) your own unique gun“) have turned the struggles of the Tribes of Abraham into a game of resource control.

In The Bible Online, FIAA GmbH brings together the Torah and Microsoft’s Age of Empires in a way that manages to cheapen them both. Have the Tribes of Abraham battle each other in exciting, bloody battles on their way to claim the Holy Land for the victor.

We all look forward to the inevitable sequel, when heavily armored Christians arrive to take it all back.

Fallen Earth by Icarus Studios

In Fallen Earth, Icarus Studios has created a near-future utopia where the basic rights of Americans are preserved — the right to bear arms, the right to defend ourselves, the right to our own happiness no matter the cost, and the right to free speech (especially when coated in armor-piercing titanium). In a land where pathetically clueless liberals mouth words they can repeat but never understand, only those with the strength and determination to make their perfect America out of whatever land they can defend will thrive.

Don’t like your neighbor? Kill him. Don’t like your neighbor’s dog? Kill it. Like your neighbor’s house? Take it. When someone tells you to stop, don’t retreat. Reload.

The only America worth having is the one patriots will die for.

This post is satirical in nature. If you take offense from any part of it, take a deep breath, then take a step back, and try to look at the games we play as an alarmed non-player might.

Weekend gaming: EQ, LotRO, STO, DDO

The games in the title — EverQuest, Lord of the Rings Online, Star Trek Online, Dungeons & Dragons Online. Three of the four have “online” in their name. It’s Lord of the Rings, except ONLINE! It’s Star Trek like you never imagined it — ONLINE! Throw away your pencils and dice because D&D is ONLINE! EverQuest is just — EverQuest. Online is all it knows. That’s the power of having a pre-existing IP for your game; its name is its best feature.

Since capping out my level in Star Trek Online, I’ve really wanted to try out the “raidisodes”. I’ve been farming the special currency you get from doing the daily missions for awhile, and nearly have enough for the uber epic science kit. I decided to head into Infected just to see what I’d be up against.

Borg cubes and spheres slowly circling a planet. These weren’t the wimpy Borg of the tutorial, but ones that would slice through a single ship in no time. I warped out of the system ahead of a barrage of green-tinged beams. There were lots of groups forming for “Infected” and its follow-up, “The Cure”, but there were reports that people were losing all their xp when they died. ALL of it. And sinking well into the negative.

Given that death was nearly certain in the raidisode, I decided to move along and play STO when a death wouldn’t mean the end. Of course it was just a glitch, probably fixed already, but I’d rather just avoid the problem entirely.

Relaxing in Evendim

This last weekend was one of LotRO’s free weekends, where they open the gates and let anyone who ever has had an active account play. Lots of people have been urging me to give LotRO another shot. It DESERVES another shot. A lot of people I respect really enjoy the game.

I logged in and checked my bank balance, first thing. Buying a horse has always been an unachievable dream for me in LotRO. I’d get close, and then some expense would arise and I’d be poor again. 3 gold and about 250 silver; a pittance. Even if I sold everything I had, that would only add another 140 silver to the total. Still a very long way from a horse at four gold. To get the rest of that money, I would go through and finish as many quests as I needed, but I would be riding away on a horse, one of the new ones they had for the spring festival.

I didn’t make it. Evendim was just as I remembered; twisty paths, death around the corner, long lonely roads dotted with wolves, bears, and robbers. I finished a couple of quests, dinged level 37 (yay!), but died in the end without a horse to my name. Maybe next time.

Playing DDO like a house on fire!

The Sunday DDO group decided we’d seen enough of the Waterworks for now. Time to take a vacation in the sunny Cerulean Hills. I was livid when I got there and found that the hills weren’t cerulean AT. ALL. They were GREEN. Heck, if I want to see green hills, I can look out the WINDOW.

The hills weren’t only NOT BLUE, but they were full of orcs and bugbears… and bugbear BARDS, which are crazy, brutish-looking bugbears with long-necked lutes strapped to their backs. When we killed the bard, the other bugbears thanked us. No, really.

The Cerulean Hills are filled with little pockets of adventure here and there; mini-dungeons and things to see. The lengthiest of those was a poor trader whose caravan had been waylaid by orcs; orcs had overrun his farm and those farms near him. Would we, perhaps, go find his dogs? Of course we would. Unfortunately, we had to keep his dogs ALIVE, too, which meant we didn’t get the best score for the adventure. Who knew?

Also needing saving was a princess and her loyal servants. Yawn. Another day, another princess. You can buy them half a dozen to the box at the local market.

Tony dinged 5; I am closing in on it. We all visited the Coin Lord patron outside the bank in the Marketplace and each earned an extra inventory tab for our services. Still pretty far from unlocking the Drow race.

Grinding XP in Zeka

Most of my free time this weekend was spent in EverQuest. I didn’t INTEND to spend so much time in the game; it just happened that way.

I logged on yesterday intending to do some more work on my Epic 1.5. I noticed some friends were in the Plane of Earth; turned out they were farming rock monsters for the fabled rogue pet weapon, which eventually dropped for them. Egat asked if I would like to come up and we could see if the Spawn Gods would drop another for me, and of course I said yes.

After a couple of hours, we realized that Spawn Gods demanded a sacrifice. I volunteered. Fabled Glimmerstone killed me. I ran back and Fabled Glimmerstone killed me AGAIN. Carlisle came by to help, and in another hour or so, my pet weapon dropped from Fabled Shimmering Gem Monster Or Something Like That. YAY!

Sispis and Achernar asked if I’d like to do the trifecta of “classic dungeon” monster missions, and of course I agreed. They asked me to lead the Lower Guk – Dead Side mission. I used to know the place very well, but that was a long time ago. I got lost a few times, but we did manage to finish it.

After a short break, I noticed that another old friend from Crimson Eternity, Banayd, was on. (Most of the people I have grouped with have moved on from CE; the power of a good friend list cannot be denied, though). Banayd and I got to chatting; he’s just returned from Xegony and is still getting used to the high-level guild politics in EMarr. Anyhow, he offered to take me and my two-boxed druid, Etha, recently returned from Luclin herself, to get some experience.

Wall of Slaughter was light blue; so was the Muramite Proving Grounds and so was Riftseeker’s Sanctum which Etha, not yet 70, could not enter. We decided to move the party to Zeka, one of the experience instances off of Dragonscale Hills in the Secrets of Faydwer expansion. Experience was fairly slow, even after I popped my Lesson of the Devoted. I think Etha was dragging down the experience; SHE made a level and a half, so grats 68.5 on her, while I struggled to make two yellows, leaving me a yellow shy of level 79 on the rogue. Next time, I leave Etha out of the group.

I also transferred my mage back. Bolvi — he of the Hole runs — was asking if I was ready to bring her down into those Stygian depths but I was xping… am looking forward to it tonight, though!

Too many good games out there and too little time. I’d really like to give Fallen Earth a shot, but I have no time! And I have a LOT of stuff still to do on EVE.

Daily Blogroll 10/14 – Puns R Us edition

Earth Eternal’s Sylvan have to put up with this every day….

First off, responding to parental concerns that their children would be gambling away their RMT currency for minimal rewards, KingsIsle has announced that the “wishing well” cash slot machine will NOT be making it out of test. Thanks to Fallon of Diary of a Wizard for the scoop!

Kaozz of EC Tunnel has compiled a list of a lot of Octember All Hallow’s Eve events for all the major MMOs — including Maple Story, big props for including even the MMOs that are way more popular than WoW — so there’s your to-do list for fall fun.

Gordon of We Fly Spitfires is so excited by Quake Live that he wonders — why can’t “EverQuest Next” be more like “Quake Live” — fully in the browser, zero downloading, etc? And also, more pewpewpew…

Well, maybe, but if you read between the lines, it’s almost certain that EverQuest Next will be a PS3/PSP release. A browser-based EQ would compete with Free Realms, and they’ve learned the lesson about competing with themselves….

Dalayan Diary’s Ramon writes about using the Shards of Dalaya web-based item marketplace to buy some new swords for his happy haffer. Web-based marketplace? Yes, please! Talk about bringing some pretty meaty gameplay to the web.

Scopique has an epiphany and realizes that most recent high-profile MMO releases are essentially identical. I commented on his post and will repeat it here — DON’T support MMO clones. If you want WoW’s gameplay, PLAY WOW. If you want something different, PLAY A GAME THAT DOES SOMETHING DIFFERENT.

Is fighting other players too scary? That’s okay, Darkfall is adding boars, wolves, bears, lynxes and annoying little birds that follow you around adding into fights and just wasting your time to make quest grinding even more tedious. Oops, sorry. LotRO flashback.

Budding stalkerazzi have a friend in Luna Online — now you can choose from a list of matches randomly chosen by the game based on your player profile and go to a special, two-person instance for the purposes of LURV. And you can have some hot coffee afterward!

And finally, Syp really, really wants you to stay away from hit-indie MMO, Fallen Earth. Seriously. Your 80 Night Elf Hunter misses you. Nothing in Fallen Earth for you.