Daily Blogroll 5/26 — Back to the Grind edition

Oh look! A bunny rabbit!

Had a fun weekend in New Hampshire! No gaming to speak of, but I didn’t really miss it. My stepmom and I took a hike in the back woods and saw the effects of the ice storm and the tornado they had last winter. Got bitten by deer flies, walked dogs, went to church, and what I mostly missed? Doing the blogroll? So… here ’tis :)

Myrix at the Wandering Rogue’s foray into MMO design brings us the race of Dune Elves, nomadic desert dwellers who are, as elves always are, better than humans at everything. EverQuest had Sand Elves, much the same, high elves who didn’t flee to Faydwer when Solusek Ro turned much of Tunaria into desert. In EverQuest, I used to insist we halflings were “shrub elves”, because of our pointy ears (after the new Luclin models pointified them). Anyway, I reasoned, it was clear that intelligence, wisdom, and sheer good looks increased as height DE-creased, so you’d have tall, ugly, clumsy high elves up there so high they couldn’t find proper air to breathe (but could feed from high tree branches, like giraffe) — then the wood and dark elves, who had a better balance, and then us shrub elves, who got the best of everything.

In Mabinogi (see, that banner image wasn’t totally random!), your character ages as you play, can get muscular or weak depending on your skills, and can even get a little plump fluffy if you don’t eat right. Well, Beau has found the answer for all of us struggling with our weight — just go visit your god and get reborn.

I never thought it would be that easy to lose 50 pounds fast!

Brian “Psychochild” Green wonders if all grinds are bad grinds? After all, people play Solitaire for hours on end, and in fact most casual games are the same thing again and again. So why do people hate the grind so much in MMOs? Or, is there a way to do the grind right?

Syp says, maybe it’s cookie-cutter combat itself that’s making people board the Ennui Express, and perhaps if MMOs look more toward alternatives means of progressions as recent games are doing with card games, mini-games, vehicles and achievement systems, they could bring new life to old ideas. I just want to point out to Syp that Wizard 101 is based on a card game, not mini-games, though it does have mini-games.

Hudson looks forward into the past with a comparison of an enchanter’s life in EverQuest and EverQuest II. Verdict? EQ enchanters constantly live on the exciting edge, while EQ2 enchanters have a lot more tools at their command… especially when there pet is no longer under their command.

Scott Jennings decided a few days ago, now that you can buy Darkfall without camping the Darkfall forums and now that they apparently have plenty of room for new players, to give the impact PvP MMO a good shot. Right between the eyes, with an arrow looted from a goblin. He found a kinder, gentler game than he expected, with friendly players always eager to help loot a corpse.

Anjin addresses some of the anguish of the self-described hardcore players over Free Realms’ meteoric rise (Smed writes today that their new F2P mini-game based MMO is closing in on two million players). Are the hardcore really just niche gamers? Is the MMO community really just mostly people looking for a quick adventure fix? Is Free Realms the only kind of MMO we’ll be seeing in a few years?

Relax!

Sente of Ding World looks at the recent kerfuffle about the realities of quest-driven MMOs — if you need to complete a thousand quests to progress through the game, they aren’t all going to be peasant-boy-destroys-evil-empire. 9,990 are going to be kill ten kittens. MMO players are no different from everyone else — they want to waste as little time as possible, and they will only do your quest or anything else if it is not a waste of time. I personally don’t understand why more MMOs don’t go the EVE model, where progression depends only on the time your character has been around, online or off. Your online time then lets you be free to do anything without wasting time…

Caliga takes a look at some of the secrets of group combat in Wizard 101. The targeting display is pretty much the only way you can combine your spells with those of others for best effects, and experienced players nearly always use these tricks to kill things dead the fastest way possible. Considering how difficult it is to communicate quickly with other players, these are very useful hints.

Well, off to work. Crunch time. Yay!

Daily Blogroll 5/8 — Darkfail edition

Actual Darkfall Screenshot
Apologies to Randall Munroe

Yes, I really do believe you can’t honestly review an MMO without investing yourself in it for a fairly substantial bit of time, so that any oddities with controls and stuff become second nature and you can understand the core of what the game developers were striving for. A 1999 EverQuest review could have written all about the low polygons and stiffness of the character models, the laughably sharp-cornered world and so on, and missed the forest for the trees. You have to play a MMO long enough to see and appreciate the forest before you stamp a score on a review.

Enough of THAT particular kerfuffle. Onto what REAL bloggers are writing about!

Saylah from Mystic Worlds, one of my absolute favorite bloggers, is taking a break from gaming to work on a screenplay. That’s pretty cool, but I’ll miss her thoughts on game design and her adventures in Runes of Magic!

Beau loves his horsie. She comes when he calls, loves carrots, can stomp answers to simple math problems and most importantly, doesn’t vanish when he stops riding. In Mabinogi, your horse isn’t just +40% travel speed — it’s a friend and fighting companion.

What else does Beau like? He likes playing MMOs a la carte. This game does this thing nicely, while this game is strong here. And with Free to Play games, he can choose among them for the kind of gaming he wants to do at the moment, and it costs nothing.

Hudson at Saving the World explains a little more how upcoming superhero MMO Champions Online will deal with duplicate hero names in its shardless universe. While I agree that it’s a REAL PAIN to be on different servers than your friends, I like the different ways server communities can grow. So I guess I don’t know if shardlessness is a good thing or a bad thing.

In the same vein, Syp at Bio Break, newly given permission to discuss Champions Online on his blog, weighs in with his official review first impressions (sorry) :) His verdict? Champions Online improves upon City of Heroes in many ways, but is still essentially the same sort of game. Evolutionary, not revolutionary — but better.

Peter at Dragonchasers has seven things you may have missed about Free Realms. Count me in on that — there were a few things that were totally new to me.

Wiqd of iMMOvation writes extensively about his ten year love affair with Norrath. He strayed, sometimes for years, but Norrath always kept calling him back, and now he’s tearing things up in EQ2. Woot :)

Wilhelm at The Ancient Gaming Noob takes his own look through EverQuest’s long history, talks about the nostalgia for “classic” EverQuest and wonders if World of Warcraft will be airmailing rose-colored glasses to all its original players when IT turns ten.

Via our friends at Eurogamer comes news that Hanbitsoft may be about to resurrect Mythos and possibly release it in the West. I loved Mythos. If it gets released in the US, I will play it. But I’ll secretly waiting for the game the ex-Mythos devs have got coming.

Abalieno at Cesspit notes that according to EA and CCP’s published subscription numbers, indie hardcore space sim EVE Online now has more subscribers than Triple A, super expensive, saturation-hyped PvP fantasy game Warhammer Online. It’s easy to draw negative comparisons between an indie MMO with modest expectations and a game with all the resources of one of the largest game companies in the entire world behind it, but I think the situation is even easier to figure out. EVE Online isn’t trying to lure WoW players, and Warhammer is. It’s pointless to market to WoW players. They are never going to stay with your game. WoW players, by and large, play WoW.

And that’s it for today! Tonight, I’m going to see Star Trek. I got my new computer yesterday and am loading it up with LOTS AND LOTS OF GAMES. My frame rate in LotRO’s Bree has gone from 1-5 with occasional lengthy freezes to over 145fps! OMG! So I’ll be back playing LotRO again :)

Web Log 4/22 — Earth Day edition

Day 2 of the Wizard 101 Name the Turtles contest! My site stats show that well over a THOUSAND wizards have come to this site to choose a name for the Marleybone turtle.

I think we all know the turtles are going to end up being named Raphael, Michelangelo, Leonardo, Donatello and Master Splinter.

Soon-to-be-shuttered, PvP-centric MMO Shadowbane is Wizard 101’s ancestor in spirit. MMO Gamer has the story of how the Wizard 101 devs went from designing a no-holds-barred, kill-or-be-killed MMO to the kid friendly, brightly colored MMO of wands and wizards we play today.

Undoubtedly swayed by his deep and passionate love for turtles, Caliga of MMO Gamers tried Wizard 101, and came away with “it’s fun and addictive and it makes for a nice distraction from your more serious MMO.”

Razakius wonders why modern MMOs don’t have more social networking features, like Twitter integration, or an open API that would let you make a custom page for your character listing your accomplishments.

Ten Ton Hammer’s lengthy article on the history and impact of beta testing was a boulder thrown into the still waters of the MMO blogarena. New dad Syp at Bio Break has a more cynical take on betas. Moorgard from Mobhunter (and 38 Studios) puts a more positive spin on things with his recent experience with the soon-to-come-to-America MMO Aion, and some further insights into the ups and downs of betas.

Potshot takes the now infamous survey that asks you to detail for researchers exactly to what degree your pathological MMO addiction is ruining your life, and wonders how the questions would sound if they were about work, enjoying life, or wearing funny hats.

Beau at Spouse Aggro looks at how MMOs are catering to disabled players, especially in F2P MMO Mabinogi which has made special efforts to cater to all their players. Fascinating article, and very relevant to me as someone whose poor eyesight is making it impossible for me to do things I used to enjoy, like reading books or comics without having a very bright high contrast monitor displaying the text (which works fine, thankfully!)

You may soon be able to watch yourself be killed, stomped, decapitated, run through, torn apart, burned, diced, shredded, flayed, dismembered and cooked in Age of Conan, now that you can you put YOUR REAL face on your character. The opportunity to see a top heavy, nude woman with the face of a teenage boy? SIGN ME UP!

Spinks at Welcome to Spinksville wonders if any MMO could ever beat WoW at its own game (short answer: no) in 2 games that could be WoW-beaters. She does suggest that Free Realms and Diablo III could give the venerable gaming behemoth a run for its money.

Easy Peasy 1.1, the latest netbook remix of Ubuntu 8.04, was released a couple of days ago. I love my Asus Eee 900. I bought a gaming laptop (which I’m using right now to write this), but it was so heavy, hot and power-hungry that I never actually bring it anywhere. The Eee is what I should have bought to actually bring places, and now that I have it, it goes with my everywhere. The vanilla Ubuntu Linux I use on it isn’t that well-suited to a tiny screen and a trackpad. Easy Peasy is made for small netbooks, and best of all, it’s one of the many totally legit files you can download from The Pirate Bay. Which I did, legit. And much faster than downloading from the developer’s site!

Well, that brings us to the end of another daily web log! Tonight, I’m making a promise to myself to NOT play Free Realms and to play something I can actually WRITE ABOUT.

Comparing EQ2 and Mabinogi Horse Movies

Because the Mabinogi movie has the really annoying habit of bursting into song when all you want to do is read the article, I’ve hidden it beneath the fold. So click through to read how EQ2 could take some lessons from Mabinogi in making their world seem fun and inviting.

Continue reading Comparing EQ2 and Mabinogi Horse Movies