Daily Blogroll 9/23 – All Queued Up Edition

"I could tell he meant business...."

“It would like them much; but an ye wot how dragons are esteemed, ye would not hold them blamable. They fear to come.” — “Well, then, suppose I go to them instead, and—” — “Ah, wit ye well they would not abide your coming. I will go.” And she did. She was a handy person to have along on a raid. — Mark Twain, “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court”

I work not half a mile from the house where Samuel Clemens wrote that book, and the book is my “bus book” I read on the way to and from work, and when I saw the lines about dragons and raids, well….

Anyway, lots of people are still waiting in queues in Aion. I think enough has been said about that, and I don’t ding NCsoft for going easy on the servers to start off. (Rer has some ideas on what to tell friends who might be reluctant to try Aion because of queues and other things). Nothing worse than making a million servers and then closing half of them in a couple of months after people go back to WoW. Because you KNOW they will. In the MMO space, WoW is like this huge dark star in the middle of the system. You can travel to another planet for a visit, but unless you nail your feet to the ground, that dark WoW star’s gonna pull you back.

Seems only natural to want to work there. After all, if they already have your soul, might as well make them pay for the privilege. That’s what Ixobelle thought, fresh back from Japan, as he drove to Blizzard headquarters in Irvine, California, with $500 worth of full color, 27 page booklets outlining his painstakingly designed raid dungeon, the Castle of Baron von Lupus. If that doesn’t sound like a natural fit for the new Worgen PC race, what does? Not knowing any Blizzard employees well enough to get through the front gate, he set up a table and sign across the street, hoping for a response. Did it pay off? You’ll have to read the post to find out.

Brad McQuaid writes about Vanguard’s Size Problem. As in, the world is so big, vast, tremendous, huge, etc that unless you stick close to the cities, you will only rarely see another person. Though with all the methods of travel available, 90% of Telon is just there to keep the quest hubs separated. Brad says this vast expanse was a pushback against EverQuest’s omnipresent crowding that had people bumping into one another at every turn. But overcrowding is better than the alternative….

Brad says people will group if there’s enough people in the area with which to do the thing. Thallian insists the reason people don’t group (in WoW) is because it’s not FUN enough. He goes on to give a lot of suggestions about how to make dungeons and other encounters more fun, most of which were done eons ago in EverQuest.

SOE’s working on a new EverQuest, EverQuest Next. They could do far worse than to go back to basics and try to capture what made EQ special for its time. EQ has changed so much now that it’s a different game, but back then…. and as someone who last year started over from scratch, I can avow that EQ still has that same magic, if you’re doing it with a group of friends. EQ nostalgia must be going around, because Rao has got it as bad as I do. I don’t see either of us jumping back into the game, though.

Werit reports that you’ll be able to level up entirely via PvP in Cryptic’s upcoming Star Trek Online, which, I hope, will have a longer shelf life than Champions Online apparently had (I kid, I’m sure it’s doing amazingly). Well, according to XFire, Champions looks like it has already peaked. But I don’t trust those numbers. For one thing, we KNOW the Aion numbers are inflated because so many people are never logging off.

Melmoth and Zoso of Killed in a Smiling Accident have just gotten word that many other MMO companies are planning their own versions of WoW’s Cataclysm. My favorite: Darkfall’s UBACLASYM! It’s IMPACTED!

Openedge1 takes the pulse of a as-yet un-Cataclysmed Age of Conan to see if it will merely last the winter or if it has a long future ahead of it.

And lastly, F2P impresario Warhammermer writes about Ran Online, a “beat em up MMORPG set in a high school/secondary school“.

I don’t know why that reminds me of Pirate Baby’s Cabana, but it does.

Daily Blogroll 8/10 — Thank God it’s Monday edition

Daddy's Little Girl in Champions Online

I got a spam comment today which mentioned, while complimenting me on explaining some vague idea to them, that they were unsure of this blog’s update schedule. Geez. When even SPAMMERS wonder why you don’t update every day, it’s getting out of hand ;) Fact is, most of the time I am doing boring stuff. CrazyKinux linked to a blog once that insisted nobody wants to read about someone running mission in EVE Online, so once I read that, I stopped posting about my adventures in EVE. I’m leveling up a character in Wizard 101 so I can do Grizzleheim with level-appropriate characters, but that takes time. I do fit in little bits about what I’m doing in EVE and Wizard101 now and then in these blogrolls… but they don’t seem worthy of entire posts!

I just spent my last weekend before Champions ships playing in the beta preview. I won’t be playing again because… it’s come a very long way since the last time I played. It definitely sets itself apart from City of Heroes. More on that when the NDA drops. The picture above is of my new “main” in the beta, Daddy’s Little Girl. Huge wings, but she doesn’t fly. Clearly a creature of some arcane reality, but she just pulls out a gun and shoots people. The screenie is from the tutorial. The lighting looks a LOT better outside of the tutorial. DLG is the hero of my third Champions comic…. Syp (whom I had the pleasure of meeting in game) thinks the game has advanced enough to spring for the six month subscription. I’ll probably go for that as well — because six months is about long enough to play, and it guarantees beta access for Star Trek Online, a game in which I’m intensely interested.

Peter of Dragonchasers is also feeling better about Champions. Trouble is that different pre-order places give different prizes, so, where to order from?

What happens when someone makes an MMO out of your favorite book, movie or game, and it ends up being nothing like its source material? Zubon apologizes, but he can’t get past Champions Online’s vast differences from the PnP game to give it a fair shake on its own merits.

I’m not really worried about the first Champions expansion. The game isn’t even released yet, right? Naamah of Aionic Thoughts isn’t wasting any time wondering about Aion’s expansion. On news that NCsoft is already working on the first expansion to this WoW-meets-Lineage 2 crossover, Naamah remembers game-changing expansions for Dark Age of Camelot and World of Warcraft, and hopes the same doesn’t ruin the core Aion experience. Well, how can it not? The current end game is RvR in the Abyss. If they add more PvP zones, it becomes harder to find good battles because players are spread out. If they add more PvE zones, it dilutes the PvP experience. You just can’t win with PvE/PvP games. One or the other has to suffer.

People chide me for noting that WoW players always return to the game. It’s like salmon returning to the river in which they were spawned. A biological imperative. Am I wrong? Well, Angry Raider is hooked again.

Brad McQuaid continues his expose on why Vanguard failed where EverQuest succeeded with a look back at their decision to ship a game that would bring most gamers’ computers to their knees, expecting them to be eager to upgrade their computers, as the original EQ players once were. What really confuses me is that EQ2 had previously failed to succeed largely because of that very same philosophy…. It’s not that hard a rule to understand. A new MMO must run at least as good as WoW on any given system.

I always love reading about Ramon’s explorations in Shards of Dalaya, seeing if I can tell what EverQuest zone a given SoD zone is based off of. In the latest installment, Oric and Ayba explore the East Badlands, what we knew of as East Karana, a hideously dangerous zone back in the day.

Lars of MMOment of Zen explores some of the bits of news from Square Enix’s forthcoming MMO, Final Fantasy XIV. This is a game without levels, where you can change your class depending on which weapon you wield. Lars notes that with Free Realms and Heroes of Telara (and DCUO and Champions, among others) letting you easily switch between roles, that this just might be one of those ‘third generation’ features that will separate newer MMOs from older, more restrictive games. Keen’s liking the new ‘discipline’ system, too, but expresses some concern over the instant travel system.

And lastly, Tesh loves that delicious quantum state of uncertainty about new games, where they might be the best world-changing game ever or junk — a state that collapses into reality when the game is released and it suddenly just is what it is.

Wow, that wasn’t so hard!

See you tomorrow, and keep gaming!

Daily Blogroll 7/31 — For Shannon

"And it goes on to say, 'My most loyal hound'. This is a DOG TAG, not an amulet, isn't it...?"

Sorry for the entire and almost complete lack of posts this week… family stuff. Guess I should have called it the “WEEKLY Blogroll”….

What makes an MMORPG an RPG? Nowadays, EVERYTHING seems to be called an RPG. First person shooters like Call of Duty 4 are suddenly RPGs because they include levels (and, arguably, classes as well). So is that it? Is any game with leveling now automatically a Role Playing Game? Zubon of Kill Ten Rats wonders if that’s all there is. Psychochild responds by taking a look back at the origins of the term in pen-and-paper gaming. These days, I tend to regard games that don’t force you into certain paths as more of an RPG that on-rails MMOs like WoW. Zubon has a point when he says Second Life is more of an RPG than most games that claim the title.

Kendricke of Clockwork Gamer looks deep into the folding cash money guild support brings to MMOs and wonders why more games don’t have strong guild support? Wizard101 devs, take note.

Rumor has it that 38 Studios, developers of the secretive Copernicus MMO, is looking for a few more tens of millions of dollars to finish development, a rumor the studio vehemently denies. Nonetheless, Genda looks at the perils of investing in a new business in a highly competitive field and wishes the guys well.

When Tesh hits the space bar in Wizard101, his wizard hops a little bit. This has no effect on gameplay, which is turn-based, not twitch-based. Did KingsIsle add hopping just because MMO players expect hitting the space bar to do something based on experience in other games? Tesh wonders if adding pointless features purely to make WoW-players comfortable makes any business sense.

Speaking of Wizard101, where’s our Harry Potter MMO? Time’s running out, guys! After the final two movies come out, nobody will care any more.

Lots of people are still raw about the EQ2 thing from last week. Quick summary: EQ2 is not WoW, lots of people don’t like the EQ2 character models, and the various newbie experiences need to all be equally rewarding, but otherwise, it’s still a competitive, deep, triple-A title with many unique features. Does that cover it?

Twitter was set ablaze with the news that there would be a MMO set in the world of tween vampire epic Twilight. Xav de Matos of Joystiq wrote “Twilight MMO to stop female interest in reality, threaten human race.” It appears, though, that the human race is safe — it’s only a student project. Keep making babies, folks.

Champions Online launches in about a month, and Syp over at Bio Break is cautiously excited about the game. Will it have enough innovative features to make up for the quest hub/kill ten rats gameplay? It just might!

LaTale, the new 2D action/combo-oriented MMO from Aeria Games has just entered Open Beta. It’s a pretty fun (and sometimes funny) timewaster; I’ll have more on it once I’ve played it a bit more.

And lastly, Openedge1 hates crafting. Just thought you’d want to know.

Daily Blogroll 7/23 — Aftermath edition

Statue District on Quarterstone in Chronicles of Spellborn

Okay, THAT was a day of good discussion, so thanks, Wolfshead :) Why did I feel your “first impressions” article needed rebutting? Well, SOMEONE had to stand up (and thanks to Hudson, who did!). I couldn’t say that stuff about WoW and expect to come away without comment. In grand blogging tradition, Wolfshead now has a rebuttal to my rebuttal :)

Adding fuel to this smoldering fire, Warhammerer does the same first few minutes analysis to SOE’s Vanguard. That company just can’t catch a break these days, even if it had sealed box with the words “WARNING — DO NOT OPEN — LIVE BREAK” stenciled on it.

Planning on playing Aion when it comes out, or have you pre-ordered it and are now allowed to play on the preview weekends? Naamah of Aionic Thoughts has some useful tips which will make your game flow more smoothly. Naamah also has some screenshots of the new lingerie introduced with the latest, 1.5 patch. This is the last major patch before release, if I remember right.

Stingite at Friendly Necromancer shows off the new sword he got from a code in Beckett’s Massive Online Gamer magazine. Pretty swanky, looks like an EQ1 epic…

Hey, did you hear that Sam Raimi of “Evil Dead” fame is making a new movie? About World of Warcraft? Zoso of Killed in a Smiling Accident managed to snag a few pages of the shooting script. Hilarity ensues when the Hunter rolls “need” on everything.

Anjin is concerned that Champions Online won’t encourage solo play, but then corrects himself. Truth is, Champions Online supports solo play the way EQ2 does. You can solo, but you won’t be able to do a certain portion of the quests from the yellow exclamation point dotted quest hubs unless you have a group available.

Yellow exclamation points above the heads of NPCs clustered in quest hubs? Not sounding super-heroish? Green Armadillo is just not a fan of the WoW model at all.

After Saylah of Mystic Worlds has been going on about the multi-boxing lifestyle in World of Warcraft, Spinks chimes in with the goods and bads of duoing through WoW.

Keen continues with his look back to the elder days of MMO gaming with his latest article on the importance of factions in old EverQuest. I remember getting my dark elf shadow knight loved in Rivervale!

And lastly (early meeting today) — as seen on Rock, Paper, Scissors, and from the creator of Crayon Physics Deluxe, a Post-It Note shooter.