Daily Blogroll Oct 10: Columbus Day edition

Creativity can be deadly

I realized today that I have no clue whatsoever what the term “MMO” means anymore. I gave it some thought and came up with “An MMO is an online, real-time game where other people affect can your game.” That’s pretty vague. Clearly there are games which call themselves MMOs and can be played as if they were MMOs, or as if they were solo RPGs. I don’t know. I just know the old definitions don’t work.

Take World of Warcraft and the current flavor of the month, Tiny Speck’s Glitch. One is the most popular MMO in the world (well, if you don’t include World of Tanks, though the developer does). The other is a super casual browser-based game where you can’t even kill stuff. The two games share almost no features, yet both are MMOs. I give up. If you can play your game and can see another player when you do so, it’s a MMO.

Which is going to make writing these Daily Blogrolls SO EASY. Checkers? Is it online? MMO.

The blogging world has changed quite a lot since the last time I was doing these (and work crushed my free time). People are leaving drops of content all over the Internet, on Tumblr blogs, on Google+, on Twitter. I’ll still be pointing out great posts by the bloggers in my blogroll, but I’ll be trying to collect some of these other far-flung bits of wisdom as well.

Before I get started, an update on my MMO gaming: DDO on Sunday nights, D&D fourth edition on Thursday nights, and Glitch. Driver issues have killed EQ2 — I can’t play it. I’ve been poking around in Rift. I’ve started working on the Saint’s Haven quests in Dragon Nest. Mostly Glitch for MMOs, though.

Beau Turkey has done a heck of a write-up on Glitch, btw.

Fighting giants in DAoC beta

It’s been ten years since Dark Age of Camelot went live? Wow. I remember calling it “EQ Lite” based solely on the screenshots they released in the early rounds of beta. When I got into the beta myself, I realized just how impressive an achievement the game was. Yes, it clearly had been influenced by EverQuest, but it was its own game and would become one of the influences that would form the mechanics behind World of Warcraft.

It would be physically impossible for anyone to spend more time in a game than I spent in DAoC. Scott Jennings, Mythic’s one time DBA, has a wonderful post from Matt Firor, DAoC’s original producer, one what it was like to ship an MMO before the market was crowded with hundreds of them.

It was a different world.

Star Corsairs

After taking the world by storm with his sandbox browser MMO Golemizer, indie MMO dev Dave Toulouse is set to unleash his second game, Star Corsairs. It’s an updated take on the old space exploration / trading games of the 80s (most notably SunDog) combined with the mining, ship construction and PvP of EVE Online. And maybe a smidgen of Star Castle. Explore, take on missions to protect the Federation, construct your own starship, blow stuff up, free to play. I’ll have more on Star Corsairs when I’ve played it more.

Donate, and he’ll name a star after you.

Speaking of indie MMO development, Andorov posted an excellent list of 15 important steps to wild success in indie MMO development.

Rule 4: Create a good company and MMO name. Recruiting for Joe Schmoe’s Awesome MMORPG is going to be a lot more difficult than Excelsior Games’ Islandia: The Re-Islanding. Most non-visionaries (which I may also refer to as dumb f**ks or DFs), though talented, are simple folk and easily impressed.

Lucent Heart, the “zodiac-inspired” dating MMO, not content with merely connecting up guys playing guys and guys playing scantily-clad girls, is about to unleash dance battles upon the world, says Anjel Syndicate.

Create your dance from dozens of dance steps, re-create music videos, and .. well, if a collection of Minstrels can do System of a Down in LotRO, I suppose a bunch of angel-winged schoolgirls can do Thriller in Lucent Heart!

See ya tomorrow!

Web Logging!

The original definition of “blog” was as an abbreviation of “web log”, where you’d point out interesting places you found while surfing. I don’t really have anything to write about today — I did 1.1.11 in LotRO last night on my hunter and started in on the Forsaken Inn quests, and played Free Realms for a couple of hours but I can’t write about that, so… welcome to my web log!

Stargrace has betrayed her illusionist to a coercer. Why? Not because she loves the betrayal quests so much (but maybe she does), but because EQ2 has strayed from its initial promise that every archetype (fighter, mage, scout and priest) could do their job (tanking, magical dps and crowd control, melee dps and heroic opportunities, and healing respectively) as well as any other of their archetype, but in their own unique way. Now, we have 24 classes with 24 different roles and capabilities, and it’s natural that players would rank them. If you want dps, you’re not going to ask for a bard. EQ2 was going to be the game where it almost didn’t matter what class of the twenty four you eventually chose.

Despite Age of Conan’s heavy emphasis on its PvP gameplay when it launched, Openedge1’s picture-heavy log of his trip through the Ampitheater of Karutonia kinda tells me that AoC’s real strengths may lie in its PvE arcs. Colin Brennan over at Massively touched upon this yesterday when he asked if PvP really was the “killer feature” that conventional wisdom insists all new MMOs must have in order to gain cred with MMO players. Even though I play on Spellborn’s PvP server, I admit, PvP is not my reason to choose a game. I’m more likely to look for a game with good customization and a rewarding PvE experience. The more games talk about their blood, gore and random killing, the less I am likely to play.

Suzina at Kill Ten Rats writes about the recent changes that have made Lord of the Rings Online so much easier than it was at launch. She’s absolutely right. I took my new, from scratch, hunter on Landroval from level 0 to level 18 in about five hours of play. The new (optional, but who won’t use it?) quest tracker meant I never had to figure out where to go, or even read the text. I’d swoop in, click on any NPC with a ring over their head, sort the quests by level, and then just follow the arrow. Was there a story? Beats me! I think it involved dwarfs. But just as Suzina points out, my investment in my hunter is nearly nil. I leveled so fast, even without rest experience for most of that time. Just targeted a monster, pressed a couple of keys, targeted another, and when the quest was done, moved somewhere else.

I’m still loving Ommatidia, the daily 101 word story by Brendan Adkins. Gems, every day :)

Darkfall’s two biggest supporters, Keen and Syncaine, recently mused about how the impact PvP MMO, Darkfall, could be losing player interest even though it offers the best sandbox PvP of any fantasy MMO currently available? Is it because not enough players are truly looking for an even, honest fight? Is it because people have been so quick to make themselves feel safe that they have carebeared their fun away? What would it take to make a PvP-centric MMO where real PvP happened on a continual basis? Nobody has yet found the magic formula. EVE Online comes closest, perhaps, but even there, most players do not PvP on a regular basis.

Hudson over at Hudson’s Hideout just got into the Champions Online beta! Grats :) I’ll definitely be looking forward to hearing about his adventures at his new blog, Saving the World… which he didn’t link. Will have that when I get it.

Psyq at Dalayan Diary writes about his adventures in Blackburrow, lair of the dog-like gnolls. That was a deadly place in old EverQuest, and has only gotten deadlier in Shards of Dalaya. No matter how many times they wiped, though, they didn’t lose any experience — SoD has removed that worst of EverQuest’s death penalties. Is that a good thing? Players of old EQ were so paranoid about dying that you wanted to know your groupmates before you did anything even slightly risky. Because you NEEDED to know everyone’s rep, a strong community was formed based on your skill and reputation. Remove the penalties for failure and you remove a lot of the incentive to be skilled… I feel that is amply shown by the rather weak communities of games with little to no penalties for failure.

Green Armadillo at Player vs Developer writes about EQ2’s Splitpaw adventure pack. That’s long been one of my personal favorites, and though GA points out that SOE was charging for content other MMOs gave for free, I felt it was well worth the money, and one of the reasons to subscribe to Station Access, where these things came free. Splitpaw scales with your level, so no matter when you, alone or with friends, enter, you’ll always find a challenge and reward appropriate for your level. GA mentions the Trials of Harclave instance, where you are given a godlike buff and sent alone into a dungeon to wipe it clean of group mobs that would kill you in an instant, normally. Great fun :)