Archive for the “World of Warcraft” Category

The #1 MMORPG in the world.

Ophiga and friend

The big news yesterday was the dropping of the Press NDA for Bioware’s Star Wars: The Old Republic. I read all the press reviews I could find; I’ll point to some of those later on, but almost all of them credited the storyline for pulling them deeper into the game. The game mechanics may be old hat, and the standard roles, dungeons and raids are present, but the story, by all accounts, is worth the price of admission.

I still fondly remember the story from the original Knights of the Old Republic. I played the game twice, once good and once evil, and the story didn’t change that much, but that was okay because it was a good story.

That’s really the job of an MMO, isn’t it? To give you something that gets you to log in again each day, and then when you shut the game down one last time, to leave you with some memories.

I don’t HAVE a screenshot of SWTOR, so up there is a shot of my DDO rogue with a Favored Soul hireling. We’ve destroyed a generation of kobolds and I made two new discoveries in the Sands of Menechtarum, but in a few minutes, I and my hireling would be dead. Stupid swarm of revenge-minded kobolds and their named chief…

News? We have that.
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If you were given six months to live, you wouldn’t spend it leveling up a new character in some MMORPG. You’d want to do something that gave your life meaning. Six months at the end of your life isn’t more valuable than six months right now. In fact, six months right now is way better. Truth is, your friends and family don’t care that you leveled a character. They care about the time you spent with them. (Fact is, it’s almost certain nobody in the world cares about your achievements in video games, and in a couple of years, neither will you).

People all around me are getting older — old! An old friend died (ten years ago! some friend, eh? but I just found out!). Another friend had a heart attack last week, nearly died. Yet another friend is getting radiation treatment on the west coast.

I discovered recently that I love life and that the world is a beautiful and wonderful place. Years ago, in the depths of my EverQuest addiction, a warm sunny Saturday just meant I’d have to keep the blinds closed so the sun wouldn’t wash out my display (maybe I would type to the guild, “Beautiful day out today!”). Now I bike, I hike, I do things. I don’t play many MMOs, and when I do, I play casually. I want desperately to live in the real world.

It was with some trepidation that I read about Damion Schubert (lead systems designer for SWTOR) and his talk at the recent Game Developer’s Conference about turning casual players into hardcore addicts. From the capsule description:

Hardcore gaming isn’t dead — all of the big ‘mainstream’ successes (WoW, Starcraft, Wizards 101, Facebook games) have a hardcore path, and work hard to convert their casual gamers into hardcore gamers. But doing so may require rethinking your definition of ‘hardcore’, and what it means in your particular game.

I still love games and I still love MMOs and I still plan to write about them — but I’ll have to enjoy the sixteen hour raids and repeated nights after nights of failures against a big boss until eventual victory makes it all worthwhile in other people’s writings.

Time for the blogroll? Sure, why not!
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Magic Castle for Sale: Sold!

A few days ago I was trying to define what I thought of as an MMO. I started off thinking it was just a realtime, online game with other players, but as the day went on, thinking about it more, I felt it had to include a persistent avatar representing the player that could be named and customized. I was pretty confident that nailed the essential nature of an MMORPG.

Well, Zynga’s newest semi-interactive “Ville” game is going to bring MMO gaming to Facebook. Via Massively,

You can build your castle, show it to your friends, and craft things like potions or armor. You can follow the game’s story and its characters. You can trade and barter with friends by visiting their towns. And you have to defend your town against beasts who are outside the walls. The game has more personalized storytelling; players explore the world around them. You meet characters and make them happy and unlock new characters as you progress.

“In short, Zynga is bringing massively multiplayer role-playing games to the mass market,” Jackson said.

If this sort of non-realtime probable clickfest is the future of MMOs, then the genre is dead. It does sound like, after CityVille and Empires & Allies nudged into SimCity and Civilization territory, that it will be returning to the avatar-based gameplay of Farmville and Frontierville. Of Frontierville, the NY Times writes:

Cityville, its biggest game, has picked up a little steam recently with 13.5 million daily users, according to AppData. FrontierVille, however, has been sliding faster than a pioneer bitten by a varmint. Introduced in June 2010, FrontierVille peaked with nine million daily players but now has about 5 percent of that.

So there’s a winning strategy right there, I guess. Zynga has to keep pumping out the games ever faster because people tire of them ever faster. How fast Zynga can shovel new games at us now? They have 2500 people writing them!

But there’s more stuff to talk about than Sims Medieval clones! After the break!
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Star Wars: The Crayon Republic

So yeah. I’d have a better screenshot, but somehow I’m the only person who did NOT get into the Star Wars: The Old Republic beta weekend. But I have MS Paint, and I’m not afraid to use it. Doesn’t matter. Game is going to be a hit — that’s not even in doubt. You can kill stuff with light sabers. Kiss a wookie. Visit Alderaan before it went to hell. And even though the game is set three thousand years before the events of the movies, everyone still wears the same frickin’ clothes.

That vest and farm boy shirt? Smugglers don’t mess with something that works! Seriously! Three thousand years pass, the galaxy convulses through light and darkness a dozen times over, and almost nothing has changed. By the time Han hooked up with Chewbacca, wookies and Corellians probably get paired for life at birth or something.

Well. On to the blogroll.

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