Assault on the Inbox: May 7, 2010

MMO devs fire broadside press releases at my inbox, and I inflict them on others. We’ll suffer together or not at all.

Actually, let’s start off with a non-MMO offer. The Humble Indie Bundle from Wolfire Games collects five acclaimed Indie games (including the addictive building game World of Goo, underwater fantasy Aquaria, innovative platformer Gish, rabbit beat’m’up Lugaru, and horror adventure game Penumbra Overture. Until Monday, you can get all of these games AND donate to Electronic Freedom Foundation AND Child’s Play … at any price you want, divided between charities and the developers any way you want. This is a can’t lose deal — I was up till 2AM last night playing World of Goo… on my Linux box.

Oh, yeah. Every one of these games works fine on your Windows PC, your Mac, or your Linux box. No DRM, you can install these games on every computer you own. (Unfortunately, not the iPad). So go to the site, pay a buck or fifty, get these great games.

If you’re tired of always having to seek out monsters for XP in Atlus’ Neo*Steam, relax! With the opening of their new Guild Magnusseum, the monsters will come to you. Take your high level characters and their friends and see how long you can last. Increased experience and unique weapon rewards await. Atlus has also added a new dragon mount for the kids, and are giving away another pair of steampunk goggles, so get in game and check it out. They have a calendar of all their in-game events. It’d be cool if more companies did the same.

Sony stats their full-court press to publicize their new Move controllers, super Wii-motes that will revolutionize gaming in much exactly the same way Nintendo did with the Wii. Some of the videos I’ve seen look impressive, but there are none of those videos here. This e-mail ends up being nothing but a tease that will likely only draw more comparisons to the cheaper Wii.

Dungeons & Dragons Online is having a sale on their 32 point builds, extra inventory space Veteran Status and more. If you’ve been waiting for a sale to snap up items in the DDO store, now’s your chance. Still waiting for Drow to go on sale….

JoltOnline, they of Legends of Zork and Playboy Manager fame, are moving into the Facebook gaming arena with their satirical take on Farmville, Farm Villain. You can do such family-friendly things as run a meth lab on your farm, discover dead hookers buried beneath the fields, spread mad cow disease and other hilarious hijinks. Head to Facebook to start distributing radioactive corn to your neighbor’s pigs today!

Runes of Magic announces their Patch 3.0.0 which raises the level cap to 60, adds a new adventure zone and a “Whack the CM!” event which will probably be over before you read this. Lots of new stuff, yadayadayada, full details here. Double diamonds in their cash store, so that infamous $10 mount is now only $5. Because paying more than $5 for a virtual horse is madness.

It’s Welcome Back Weekend time in Star Trek Online! If you’re an ex-subscriber and want to see if STO has earned your return, log in and check it out. They also are now offering a new free trial, and if you’re interested in subbing after that, see Longasc. He’s trying to earn Riker’s three-nacelle’d Enterprise by getting five folks to sub.

EVE Online has more information on their upcoming Tyrannis expansion, due on the 18th. Sure, they tell you all the facts about planet mining and so on, but they also include this trailer. Watch it. Would I watch a full length EVE movie? You bet. In 3D. I would SO BE THERE.

EQ2’s Halas Reborn patch is due out on the 25th; log in around then and you get a free supercute kitten pet. It’s an entirely new starter area, so this is really the best time to get in on the ground floor — it’s the one newbie zone in the entire game guaranteed to be full of people!

Wizard101’s May Newsletter is up (and has been for some time, I’m just lazy). It discusses the new advanced pet training (now on Test), some extra-curricular reading for fantasy-loving kids, and helpful tips on staying safe online.

Guess that’s it for this week! See ya next week for another Assault on the Inbox.

The West Karana Friday Offer Wall!

Unlike other offer walls, this one probably won’t infect your computer with anything TOO harmful.

Like watching pretty alien spaceships blow up in all sorts of interesting ways? I do! I bought Gratuitous Space Battles the day it came out and every now and then, I build some fleets and watch them get crazy on the devious (but not as devious as me) enemy. Positech Games sent me a 25% off code for the game, good for seven days only, and two of those days have already passed, so if you’ve been wanting the game, be the first to use up this discount code when ordering: BNXP00099.

From now until Monday morning, Cryptic is having a 25%-off sale in its cash shop. If you’ve been wanting to get that new starship in Star Trek Online or more of whatever you need from Champions Online, now’s your chance. Now if this were Blizzard, your new sparkly must-have mount would be only $19!

It’s not, though.

Runes of Magic is also getting with the discount cash store program. From now until Sunday midnight GMT, prices for diamonds, their in-game cash store currency, are half off. If they were Blizzard, that would mean your sparkly must-have mount would be only $12.50!

Oddly compelling iPad/iPhone MMO Pocket Legends has some new items in its cash shop, too. Throwing weapons for the archer, shields for the enchantress, new two handed blades for the warriors. Unlike other games, you can buy anything in the cash shop with either in-game gold or money via iTunes, unlike sparkly mounts from Blizzard, which no amount of in-game gold will purchase.

To celebrate the release of the newest compilation of orchestral Final Fantasy music, Distant Worlds, Square Enix and Arnie Roth are traveling the world, partnering with local world-class orchestras and the occasional visit by compose Nobuo Uematsu himself, to bring an evening of Final Fantasy music to you. I can’t think of much I’d rather do than attend, but none of the dates are anywhere near. Still, maybe you’ll be luckier!

Did looking at this page infect your computer? Are you sitting on a sparkly horse RIGHT NOW? Do you wish the sparkly horse had come in pink instead of blue? Let me know!

Quick Updates: Runes of Magic, EVE Online, EverQuest II

Fighting Wild Mane

I’m really enjoying Runes of Magic. When I first saw screenshots for the game a year and a half ago, I called it a WoW clone and didn’t think much about it, and this does turn out to be a game that knows its market – WoW players. Most keys work the same as in WoW. It definitely looks like WoW — if the starting zone doesn’t remind you of Elwynn Forest, then you never played an Alliance newbie, looking for a Hogger group. Though if you went looking for a Hogger group THESE days, you’d be talking to yourself, because it’s not 2004 and everyone is way past that.

In RoM, everyone is NOT past that. There’s lots of people around in all the main areas I’ve been to. I’ve never had trouble making or joining groups for the instances I’ve been in (Hall of Trials, Barren Caves) or to take on the various named elite mobs quests require, like for Wild Mane above. No question in zone chat goes unanswered, and nobody yells at a newb to “go back to WoW”. Though there’s a lot of WoW nostalgia going on in chat — but it’s always looking back to how WoW used to be.

The goat-footed balloon man whistled far and wee

RoM’s classes include Warrior, Knight, Rogue, Priest, Mage and Scout (Ranger). If you’re an elf (the only player race other than human), the recent expansion added the Druid and Warden classes. Where’s the human love, huh? Once you level to 10 in your main class, you have the option of adding a second class to your build — and are given an entirely new leveling path for your new class, a swamp and grasslands zone inhabited by goat people.

The multi-class feature means that every role in a group is open to negotiation. Someone’s always going to have priest as a class, someone’s always going to have a tank, someone’s always going to be dps, so you add people to your group at random (even for the big named mobs) and then figure out who will play what. You have certain abilities of the second class available to you. I play a scout/priest. I’ve been a scout in a group, helping out with the healing when things got hairy. I’ve also been the main healer for a group helping out with the dps by plinking the mob with crossbow bolts while waiting for the bubble I gave the tank to wear off.

It’s a good combo, scout/priest, because the scout abilities draw power from the Focus pool, and priest spells draw power from the Magic pool, so I can use all the big scout abilities I want without interfering with my ability to heal. I was a priest in World of Warcraft, and I REALLY APPRECIATE the ability to slot in a high dps class as my secondary and have no trouble soloing.

RoM wants to make things easy for you. For many quests, you can see the quest giver and the quest end NPC on the map. Often times you can just press a link in the quest and your character will just automatically run to the NPC. If you need to kill a monster for a quest, it will show up on your mini map, and hovering over it will tell you what quest it’s for, and how many more you need.

Tipa the Scout

Runes of Magic takes the basic World of Warcraft formula and brings it up to date. If you’re looking for some of the old WoW sense of exploration and grouping to take on the big bads along with the ability to define and shape your own unique class by picking and choosing skills from any two of them, you won’t go wrong with RoM. Plus, it’s free to play (though you will likely want to buy a mount from the cash store).

On the far side of the wormhole

This last weekend was the seventh EVE Alliance tournament, where the top Alliances in EVE get together and duke it out, fleet vs fleet. Watching that teaches me that PvP in EVE is a very, very complicated endeavor, and fleet PvP requires a LOT of strategy and teamwork.

We had our own taste of PvP in the corp this weekend. Director “Red” Sredans announced a wormhole op for Saturday afternoon. Last time I took an expendable cruiser into W-space, but this time, since we were going to go up against the Sleepers, I took my Myrmidon battlecruiser, “Not This Time”. I might have taken my Dominix battleship instead, but I’d blown that up the night before trying to finish a level 3 mission that had turned a little hairy.

Red discovered a wormhole not far from our target system. We gathered outside it — Red in a Raven battleship, two Myrmidons, an Exequror cruiser and a Tristan frigate. Red went in first and found an Apocalypse battleship on the other side, which immediately engaged Red, but fled as the rest of us made our way through the wormhole.

We showed him…

We discovered a Sleeper outpost and were taking them down. Red was drawing a little too much fire and warped back to the wormhole to repair… where he found that the Apoc had brought back some friends. Several battleships. They’d deployed a warp disruption field so that there was no escape (not in a slow-moving battleship, anyway). They tore him apart.

Directional scanners showed enemy probes running throughout the system, looking for the rest of us. We jumped from one deadspace point to another, but it would only be seconds before the probes closed in. Someone thought they’d found a second wormhole in the system and warped us all to it — but it was just that first wormhole again, and that was that. They cut my Myrm in half, then podded me.

Nirruden has a little post about it over on the Graffe forums. It’s easy to see from all the resources he found just why the enemy corp wanted to keep people out of its wormhole.

The corp replaced my Myrmidon (and my Domi! Thanks, Red!) so I was back and flying in about an hour in the Myrmidon “If You’re So Smart”. But, better than before, since I’d trained a lot more skills since I last fitted a battlecruiser. I also bought another battleship, a Megathron, but I’m a couple of months from being able to fit either battleship properly.

Mushroom Ring time!

This week, the Shard of Love goes live in EverQuest II. This single group zone scales to the group level, so everyone should be able to jump in and see what became of the Goddess of Love, Erollisi Marr, since her tragic death.

Well, it hasn’t done any favors for her home, which looks to be the decayed ruins of what was once a pleasure paradise. Players will learn more of the story and earn appearance items (like wings! everyone wants wings! even if you have wings, you want MORE wings!) and other cool stuff. I’m looking forward to it. Hey, I played on EQ’s Erollisi Marr server!

This weekend was the monthly mushroom ring instanced adventures, so I went around to them all and did the quests, earned more trees for the blossoming forest in the basement of my Gorowyn apartment, and dinged level 32 on those quests alone! I’m right on schedule for a new level every 3-4 months :)

And that’s pretty much what I’ve been playing during my “stay”-cation. Back to work and my regular blogging duties starting today :)

Daily Blogroll 9/17 – Kanye edition

Kanye pops up in Runes of Magic

Guy just keeps popping up everywhere, don’t he?

I am playing Runes of Magic now because, hey, WoW is coming out with a new expansion that I probably won’t play, so why not reminisce about good times in WoW by playing some other game? Runes of Magic only allowed me to pick from two races, Elf and Human. I thought they had some short folk in the character concept art, but I guess those were just meant to be children. It’d be kind of cool, by the way, to start of as a child in an MMO (optionally, anyway), and play children’s games of crafting, socialization, war and magic while slowly aging and learning more of the wider world and your place in it.

I’m a little late to the Runes of Magic scene, but I won’t let irrelevance slow me down. Expect a “first look” in a week or two.

Raph Koster is at the Austin Game Developer’s Conference this week (and I’d love to be there, too, to hear about all the new Wizard101 stuff!), and he’s been working his fingers to the knuckles transcribing various panels — he just posted a fascinating transcription of a panel about monetizing online games.

Because “Free to Play” doesn’t mean free. They expect between $5-$50 ARPU – average return per user per month (I believe it’s by month).

Speaking of modern gaming’s loose and liberal use of the word “free”, Free Realms is having a double Station Cash weekend Friday evening through Sunday night. Buy a Station Cash card, redeem it after 7PM PST Friday but before Sunday midnight, and they’ll match your donation. You have to redeem it within Free Realms, but you can use it in any SOE game that takes it. This puts a character transfer for your EQ2 characters at $12.50 each, effectively. Or you can spend it all on dressing your kitty like a pirate for International Talk Like a Pirate day.

If your F2P tastes run more toward stubby-legged cherubs than big-headed fairies, Dragonica Online has some Arr Ye Matey pirate wear in its cash shop, too. And of course, this is like Christmas Day for Pirates of the Burning Sea!

Here’s a little Pirate Alphabet to get in the mood:

Ravious at Kill Ten Rats has a fantastic interview with some folks at ArenaNet, the people behind Guild Wars and its forthcoming sequel, Guild Wars 2: Electric Boogaloo. Find out how the Wizards of the Coast folks have it so easy balancing Magic: the Gathering compared to the way tougher card game of primary and secondary skills, what the purpose of all those different classes is anyway, and what they’re keeping in mind for GW2.

Rer at (Insert Awesome Aion Name) was worried that the news that Aion’s Fortresses would only be allowed to be taken on that server’s prime time would really hurt legions (guilds) with members across time zones. Looks like NCsoft has taken that into account with a lot of tools to tell when a fortress is available for attack, which ones ARE being attacked and so forth to make it easier to get people together for those. Also, looks like the West Coast servers are gonna be the hot ones.

A random corner in RivervaleI used to twink my EQ alts by logging the alt in this little corner, dropping stuff there with my main, then logging in really quick and hope nobody had stolen it or it hadn’t just decayed. Was that cheating? *I* don’t think so. In EverQuest, that’s pretty much why people kept going to the old zones. Twinking — and farming stuff to sell — was the root of EQ’s social culture. It was the battery that kept the whole thing going. Gordon of We Fly Spitfires, alas, sees things differently. Is twinking just another form of cheating? Or is it a way to keep older zones active enough so that newer players can more easily find groups?

Syp thinks grinding has got a bad rap. In fact, it brings you to an almost zen-like state of relaxation. Seriously — grinding might be good for your health! So grind another rank of faction for your kids, because they love you.

If you’re gonna get that zen-like state going, what better reason than living through the apocalypse? Well, not quite living, not if you’re in Fallen Earth. You’re a clone of a DEAD person (oops, spoiler alert). Pete of Dragonchasers isn’t sweating the genetic stuff, he’s out scrabbling through the ruins looking for bits and pieces with which to make horrific weapons of destruction and finger-lickin’ fried chicken. Well, at least the fingers of one of those hands is lickable.

Spinks has words for those scallywags who pre-order a game just to get into the open beta, but then feel free to cancel it if they don’t like what they see. And those words are: go ahead! The game company gets good PR for all those pre-orders, and you got to see if you liked a game without shelling out big bucks.

Spinks is also liking what she hears about the new Captain’s Log in Star Trek Online. Yeah. The more I hear about that game, the more I like it. Please PLEASE I hope they take a cue from their Champions Online and make the STO universe a shared universe.

Openedge1 is stirring in his stone mausoleum… be frightened.

And Keen is agonizing over the server choice he must make for Aion. Every time it gets harder, whether for Pirates of the Burning Sea, or Warhammer, now this… at least Darkfall had just one server. Me, I just wait six months or a year these days. If the game still sounds like fun by then, I go for it. That’s what I did for WoW. Wizard101 lets you change servers at will. I don’t understand why more games don’t design their games around server pools. Dividing friends among different servers shouldn’t be a revenue stream. It’s a problem that needs fixing.

You know, if Lord of the Rings were anything like Lord of the Rings Online, Radagast the Brown might have had a little more trouble with the birds and beasts of the field than he let on…. and Melmoth of Killed in a Smiling Accident has the sad duty to write it all down. My problem with him, in LotRO, was — he was the one in charge of those annoying spying birds? When I met him in game, I wanted to ask him why he didn’t call those annoying pests OFF. But that wasn’t one of the conversation options.

Hudson writes about the closure of a dozen Star Wars Galaxies servers. I don’t think my server is among those, but I have long forgotten in which server I played. I suppose SOE is finally able to let go, now that news about their follow-up, Star Wars Babies, has come to light.

The Teal Nine Ring Highway Hazard has gotten subscribing to several MMOs down to a finely honed science. Get out your spreadsheet and follow along and you, too, can play five MMOs and pay for only one sub at a time.

Ardwulf, he of the one word Aion review, bids a fad sarewell to NCsoft Austin’s Dungeon Runners. I liked the game fine, just got too repetitive, but I am sad to see it go. I remember when NCsoft Austin was started with bright hopes and magical moonbeams to work on a mysterious groundbreaking MMO by game royalty Lord “Richard Garriott” British. I remember it just like it was Sunday. Now, what’s left of it? Gone, along with all our dreams.

The Friendly Necromancer spills the beans about the special PvP armor you can earn in Wizard101. -100% mana? Sounds like winning stats to me. But it does look cool, though making plate armor and metal helms kinda stretches traditional wizard-wear, doesn’t it?

A Titan under attack.

Keep gaming! I’ve had a pretty rough past couple of days IRL but I’m back now :)