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MMORPGs: A broken design philosophy

Posted by Gameloading Monday October 5 2009 at 11:54PM
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If I compare the MMORPG genre to the other genres I find that the MMORPG genre is the only one that really doesn't have anything going for it and has a very flawed design philosophy behind it. I think that despite the fact the mmorpg genre has never been more popular, the genre might lose it's popularity if it doesn't change some of its core designs.

There is a reason why people play video games. People play racing games because they let you drive fast and against other racers, people play shooters because it's fun to shoot and people play fighting games because it's fun to fight and learn combos. The reason to play MMORPGs is character progression. Character progression has become the main objective of just about every MMORPG avaible. The big problem with this is that Character Progression isn't a direct gameplay mechanic, rather it's a result of another gameplay mechanics which in most cases, doing quests and defeating monsters.

MMORPGs are an online evolution of single player RPGs. The class system, levels, they have been based on singleplayer games and It even goes back as far as Dungeons & Dragons tabletop games.
The big difference is that, unlike MMORPGs, character progression takes a back seat to other elements like an adventure, storyline and dialogue. while character progression is an important element of these games, it's not the real reason these games are being played, it's a secondary mechanics.

Right now, MMORPGs are like receiving candy for doing chores around the house.. Some people describe todays MMORPGs as Theme Parks but I don't think that's an accurate describtion. You go to a theme park because the act of going into a ride is fun and entertaining. You don't get rewarded for going on a ride, you won't get any progression. An MMORPG would be like work. It's not quite entertaining, but you do get a nice paycheck.

A big problem with MMORPGs is that the actual gameplay mechanics are very poorly done when compared to other genres. It isn't challenging and very repetetive. Battles in most MMORPGs don't require any skill and every enemy can be defeated using the exact same strategy. The reasons for this is that developers usually give a class one skill for each situation and games suffer from a lack of enemy variaty.

You never have to wonder how you should tackle a certain enemy because you usually only have one strong strategy that works on every enemy. There are lots of different enemies in an MMORPG but they all act exactly the same. Sure some have a bit more hitpoints than other and some might have a stronger offense and a weaker defense, but that doesn'tt change the strategy you use to defeat them whatsoever. The AI is also weak, enemies will in most cases blindly run up to you and start using auto attack and sometimes a developer feels like being fancy and might actually give them a skill. Maybe even two if he feels like being silly. This skill is usually a DOT attack, a knockdown attack or just a stronger normal attack, none of which are going to change the skills which you, as a player, will use. The only way you will change your skill pattern is when the game gives you a new, more powerful ability which you will then use for days, weeks or even for the rest of the game. If a game were to give you all your skills at the start of the game and you were to defeat one enemy, you would have killed all of them.

MMORPGs used to have the feeling of a large open world with thousands of players going for them, but one of the recent trends has become to actually discourage interaction with players as much as possible. A common law nowadays is that the vast majority of the game has to be soloable but just to prove developers didn't forget about grouping either, about 10% or 20% of the game will be suitable for group play. If you group up nowadays and do things that are not in the 20% of the content suitable for group play, you will actually only damage your progress because enemies XP and quest rewards don't scale with it. Grouping up with, say, 2 other players doesn't mean that you will now be able to do quests 3 times as fast or kill mobs 3 times as fast.
The reason for this is because solo mmorpgs copy the class system of games that were designed for group play. Lets take World of Warcraft for example and examine a few of their classes: The Paladin, The warrior, The Rogue, The Hunter and The Priest class.

If you want to have fast progression, you will pick the Rogue, The hunter and to a lesser extend, the Warrior class. Picking The Paladin and Priest class will seriously damage the speed at which you progress through the game. Why? Because these classes were designed for a group environment, which only makes up about 20% of MMORPGs nowadays. The design philosophy of the Paladin is, low damage (which means killing mob goes slower as well) but the ability to tank and heal. But because everything needs to be soloable for Rogues and Hunters as well, Tanking and healing is no longer required for about 80% of the game. Priest has the exact same problem, it has low damage, low defense but has the ability to heal, but again, as Rogues and Hunters need to be able to solo as well, being able to heal is not required at all to progress, only in the 20% of the content that is built for group play.

The result is that you'll be playing with the handicaps of a group designed character with none of the benefits of your class for 80% of the game. Rogues and other DPS classes will still benefit from their high DPS but don't have to suffer for not being able to tank or heal because 80% of the content doesn't require tanking or healing. When it does, You can just eat food or even bandage yourself. Result for group play is that If a DPS class groups up with a healing or tank class he will cut his XP gain in half, but he won't kill mobs twice as fast. the duo also needs to kill twice as many mobs to get the same amount of XP which means more time spend looking and walking to mobs and since you need to do more quests, more walking to quests as well.

In my opinion, the combat and class system of mmorpgs need a complete overhaul.

The last issue I want to touch upon, and which also touches upon what I think is the core problem, is the quests of MMORPGs. When you compare the storyline of a game like Final Fantasy (The offline ones) to MMORPGs, you'll notice a huge difference. One offers a storyline about trust, friendship, love, betrayel, politics, evil, good. The other will tell you to deal with the local wolf population. Why is that? Because it's impossible to do in an MMO? No. It's because, and here is the big problem, MMORPG have a design philosophy of Quantity over Quality. Instead of developing 1 very well done quest with a good storyline and awesome events, A developer will chose to create 10 quests that involve to collect 6 spider legs or clean a farmfield of rats by killing 10 of them, but you don't actually have to clean the farmfield, you just have to kill 10 of them, so if there are still 20 more running around, don't worry about that. The reason for that is because it makes it seem as if the game has a lot of content, it offers more chances to reward the player (hand out candy) and because we have a very unrealistic expectation of MMORPGs: We expect to be able to play them for 4 or 8 hours a day for months, even years. Now you might say that that is not unrealistic at all, because MMORPGs have been played for years.

Thats true, but they sacrifice quality of content for that. The only reason people play MMORPGs is not because the gameplay mechanics are fun, but simply because they keep rewarding. Character progression.

When you do a quest, it will tell you you will get XP, Gold and maybe even a new weapon. When you level up you will get better stats, new skills, access to better looking armor, a mount, a flying mount heck even a motorcycle.

Why is it that when people speak about video game addiction, they are almost always refering to MMORPGs? People have died while playing MMORPGs. Because they are addictive, they keep giving you more and more candy if you keep playing.

Something interesting I noticed was with the recently released Aion. There have been a number of people who say that around level 25, they suddenly hit a wall and claim the game suddenly becomes a grind. What's actually going on is that around level 25, the quests suddenly become more rare. Ofcourse there is nothing stopping the players from going to different areas and kill different mobs themselves, after all that's exactly what they have been doing all this time. The reason why it suddenly becomes a grind is because suddenly it takes longer to get their reward, their next piece of candy. There is no NPC to give them a piece of candy. One of the most commonly asked questions about an MMORPG is, what is the endgame like? People ask this because they know that once they reach the endgame, there will be no steady supply of candy comming in anymore. Suddenly the only thing the game has going for it are it's core gameplay mechanics such as combat and questing. Combat and questing are both poorly designed and the result is, people will quit.

There is a good reason why PVP is such a highly demanded end game feature. Because when you're PVPing, you'll actually get to enjoy the game not because it's rewarding, but because the gameplay mechanics are enjoyable. Enemy players don't have only one or two skills, they have tons of skills, entire skillbarts full of them. They don't attack you head on front the front, they will attack you from all directions, trying to sneak up on you and work together with other enemy players. They all provide a very different challenge for each person and class you encounter

So why can't developers create just as much indepth PVE enemies as they can create player classes? Again, The quantity over quality problem. We have a very high expectation of the amount of content, but not for the quality of content. We expect to play MMORPG games for a very, very long time.

But I wonder, what if games became shorter and went for a quality over quantity design philosophy? How would it be to play a game for maybe only a couple of weeks before you're maxed out and play games with a smaler world, less dungeons and less quest but in return you get a more beautiful world, higher quality dungeons and higher quality quests with better storylines and objectives? Here is a silly thought: How would it be to create an alternative character not just to get that sense of progression again but because the actual game content was so much fun to play through? How unreasonable would that be?

MMORPGs on consoles

Posted by Gameloading Wednesday May 27 2009 at 5:13PM
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MMORPGs and Online Roleplaying games have a long history on the PC gaming platform. On consoles, Online roleplaying games are still rare. It's an untapped market that only few dare to enter.

I will take a look at online roleplaying games on consoles. What is the state of MMORPGs on consoles and which direction are they headed?

Before we can answer those questions we should first take a look at the history of online roleplaying games on consoles. Let me take you back to 1998, the launch of the Dreamcast. The Dreamcast was SEGA's final attempt to gain a respectable market share in the console market.

At it's release, the Dreamcast was by far the most powerful console avaible, but what really made it stand out was its huge emphasis on online play. While consoles had played with online functionality before, the Dreamcast was the first console to make online play one of its main selling points. The console even came with a built in moden right out of the box.

 

In November 2000, Sega released the very first online roleplaying game on consoles: Phantasy Star Online. Phantasy Star Online was released to high critical acclaim and was an instant hit, It was unlike anything ever seen before on consoles.
Players could meet up in a visual lobby to chat, enter game rooms or make one themselves. As players reached certain levels, new difficulty levels would open up which contained stronger enemies and more rare loot.
Communication was possible through symbol chat and word select and players had the option to purchase the Sega Dreamcast keyboard for communication.

 

While it really was little more than a hack & slash game through the same 4 levels over and over again, Fans came back for more due to its addictive and social nature.

With that said, PSO wasn't without its problems. Due to a lack of a hard drive, new content was hard to come by and Team Sonic wasn't exactly interested in fixing bugs and glitches.

Also, to save the character data client side instead of server side and expecting players not to hack their own player data was probably a bit too much to ask.

Despite these problems, PSO lived on long after the death of the Dreamcast with ports of the game released for the Nintendo Gamecube and Xbox, and a PC version in the form of Phantasy Star Online: Blue Burst.

 

Despite the success of PSO, interest in console online Role playing games was low and it wasn't untill 2002 when the very first console mmorpg was released in Japan.

SOE likes to claim Everquest Online Adventures was the very first console mmorpg, but Squaresoft beat them to punch by releasing Final Fantasy XI on May 16, 2002 in Japan.

 

It was then that the limitations of console hardware at the time became obvious. The Playstation 2 did not have a build in hard drive or internet modem at the time. Both were required to play Final Fantasy XI, making the entry fee for FFXI more expensive then traditional PC MMORPGs. Square Enix also struggled with the release schedules of the game. The Japanese PC version of Final Fantasy XI was released 6 months after the PC version and the North American PC version was released a full year after the Japanese PC version. The North American Playstation 2 version was released in March 2004 and Europeans got their hands on the first version in september 2004, well over 2 years after the Japanese release.
This wouldn't be so much of a problem if it weren't for the fact all versions of the game played on the same servers. Japanese, Europeans, Americans, Playstation 2, PC and eventually, Xbox 360 owners all played on the same servers. This led to some early frustration as the Japanese had already played through the entire game before the game was out in NA and the EU.

Despite early frustrations, Final Fantasy XI quickly became popular and is still widely considered to be a good MMORPG. The gameplay of FFXI was similar to Everquest, but the UI was much more similar to the singleplayer games. This allowed both PC gamers and Console gamers to quickly pick up and play.
Square Enix claims Final Fantasy XI has around 500.000 active subscribers, making it one of the most popular MMORPGs around. It's hard to find info how many people are actually playing on consoles, but I think it's safe to assume the vast majority of FFXI players are playing the game on the PC. The Playstation 2 version is expensive and the hard drive is not compatible with the Slim Line Playstation 2. The Xbox 360 version was released in 2006, years after the game came out and the game performs very poorly on the system with noticable framerate drops.

SOE release Everquest Online Adventures in 2003, but unfortunately I never had the chance to play it. The subscriber base only reached 30.000 subscribers, well below the expected 100.000 subscriber base SOE was hoping for. Perhaps more memorable was the horrible advertisement.

EQOA commercial: www.youtube.com/watch

Meanwhile, Microsoft was about to launch its Xbox live service for the original Xbox and was looking for a game to premiere the service. Microsoft came in contact with Japanese developer Level 5, which at the time had worked on games such as Dark Cloud 1 and 2. Microsoft and Level 5 came to an agreement to develop what would be one of the most anticipated console MMORPGs yet: True Fantasy Live Online.

Development of True Fantasy Live Online had faced many issues. Level - 5, which had only developed offline games, was inexperienced with network coding and had difficulties implenting full voice chat, which was never done in such a large scale mmorpg. Microsoft insisted voice chat to be implemented in the game and was against the use of a keyboard. Level - 5 struggled to meet the demands of Microsoft, while Microsoft became frustrated with the lack of progress on the title. Despite the game being nearly complete, TFLO was eventually cancelled.

TFLO is still considered to be the one of the most disapointing cancellations of recent years.

True Fantasly Live Online gameplay footage: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWqSo5oKlHA

So where does that leave us now?

At the moment, none of the current generation of consoles have any modern MMORPGs avaible, The Xbox360 port of FInal Fantasy XI and the Japanese exclusive port of Angel Love Online for the PS3 being the only exception. Fear for failure seems to be the primary reason, the console mmorpg market is a risky market, and few projects are more risky than an MMORPG. There are a few ports of PC MMORPGs on their way, but nobody seems to be able to risk a console exclusive mmorpg.

The Xbox360 will be receiving ports of Champions Online, Age of Conan and Huxley.
The Playstation 3 on the other hand will have to do with a few other games. SOE is currently working on The Agency, DC Universe Online and Freerealms. NCsoft is currently working on a yet to be announced project for the Playstation 3.

Still despite this, it' doesn't look as if console MMORPGs are really taken seriously. Both The Agency and DC Universe Online are made with the Unreal 3 Engine, and if there is one thing thats obvious about the Unreal 3 engine it's that it does not like the Playstation 3. At all. According to joystiq, The Agency is no exception:

http://www.joystiq.com/2009/05/26/impressions-the-agency-ps3-pc/

"Immediately, it was clear that the PS3 version wasn't running on par with the PC version (which is probably why this was the first time the PS3 version had ever been shown). The PC version ran smoothly with sharp, crisp graphics and superior textures, while the PS3 version suffered from noticeably lower-quality textures and a slightly sluggish framerate. Overall, the PS3 version still looked quite solid, but when displayed next to the PC version, the disparities were very apparent."

 

Unfortunately, the vast majority of the console MMORPGs lineup are (inferior) ports of PC MMORPGs.

I don't think that MMORPGs on consoles will ever really take of if this trend continues. Console gamers are not waiting for inferior ports of PC style MMORPGs.

So, what needs to be done to have a successful mmorpg on consoles? I personally think the following must be done to start the mmorpg snowball on consoles

- Understand the differences between console and PC games. It's no secret that MMORPGs are a natural evolution of the singleplayer RPG genre, but RPG games on the PC are very different from RPG games on consoles. Where as PC gamers grew up playing RPG's such as Diablo, Baldurs Gate and Neverwinter Nights, Console RPG gamers grew up playing games such as Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger, Star ocean and the Tales of series.

These two type of games are very different from each other, and I personally think this is what killed Everquest Online Adventures: By making a PC type game in a "generic" PC game fantasy environment and expecting console gamers to feel comfortable in that.

- Use a recognisable franchise for console gamers.

It's no secret that MMORPGs build upon existing IP's tend to be more popular than MMORPGs which are not. MMORPGs are something alien to console gamers, and using a franchise that is recognisabale for them may encourage them to make the jump. A console exclusive mmorpg of console IP's such as Fable, Final Fantasy or Grand Theft Auto could go a long way.

- Make it a console exclusive. Console gamers play their games, especialy rpg games, different from PC gamers. Expecting a console gamer to adjust to PC gameplay mechanics and expecting both audiences to be happy is simply unrealistic.

I think that MMORPGs are becomming more and more present on consoles, but I think they will always remain a niche genre if no company is willing to really put in the time and effort to create a console mmorpg. As of yet, it's simply not possible to tell if console MMORPGs are an untapped market, or an unreachable market.
 

The new Generation of Korean MMORPG's - top 5 mmorpg's to keep an eye on

Posted by Gameloading Saturday January 24 2009 at 11:07PM
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Korean MMORPG's have long and rich history in PC gaming. The genre enjoyed high popularity in korea after the release of games such as Lineage and Ragnarok Online.

Unfortunately, Korean mmorpg's never reached the same amount of success in the western market.
Often "suffering" from Point & click movement, long grinds and a heavy death penalty, many western gamers turned away for a more casual approach in games such as World of Warcraft.
 

World of Warcraft was the first to find the missing ingredient to cross the cultural border, enjoying success in China and Korea. Combined with decreasing subscribtion numbers of Lineage and the disapointing results of traditional Korean mmorpg's such as RF Online, ArchLord, Granado Espada and Ragnarok Online 2 and it became all the more obvious that change was inevitable. Korean Gamers want more than simplistic point & click games. They want to explore new gameplay mechanics, depth and more content.

Developers took notice and went back to the drawing board and today, the results are in,
It is difficult to predict how well these games will do or if they will ever see a western release, but perhaps we are witnessing the rebirth of the Korean mmorpg.

I have made a list of 5 next generation Korean mmorpg's. Take note, most of them have been announced only recently, and due to the fact these games are Korean it's often difficult to find information about them.

Note: All gameplay videos are hosted on Youtube, I suggest you click the "Watch in high quality" or "Watch in HD" settings to get the best results.

5 - Kingdom Under Fire II

Developer: BLUESIDE.Inc
Publisher: Phantagram
Western Release: Likely

There isn't much known about Kingdom Under Fire 2, aside from the fact it will be an MMORTS. It's scheduled for release on the Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and PC. Considering that all Kingdom Under Fire games are released in the west, there is a big chance the game will make it over to our side of the world.
The developers claim it will be the first of its kind and allow players to wage war onto each other on a huge scale.

I'll keep this one up in the air. MMORTS remains an unproven formula. Still, if BLUESIDE can pull it off, we may have a hit on our hands.

A picture says a thousand words, so how much does a video say? who knows, but here is one for you anyway.

Gameplay video: www.youtube.com/watch

4 - Blade & Soul



Developer: NCsoft
Publisher: NCsoft
Western Release: Questionable

Blade & Soul received a significant amount of hype for a game that was never announced for the western release One look at the trailer and it's not difficult to see why. The game has gorgeous graphics and action packed gameplay. The gameplay in Blade & soul seems to be twitch based and much more action packed than in traditional mmorpg's. Using martial arts moves such as wall crawl don't hurt it's appeal either.
It's still up in the air if Blade & Soul will received a western release. The game has only been announced a few months ago and is still in development. I don't think the game was developed with a western audience in mind as the theme of the game is clearly Asian culture. Still, perhaps Blade & Soul will receive a western release considering how much hype there already is for the title. Fingers crossed!

Gameplay video: www.youtube.com/watch


3 -  Continent Of the Ninth



Developer: NHN
Publisher: Hangame
Western Release: Questionable

It's quite difficult to find information about Continent of the Ninth as, just like Blade & Soul, it's only been revealed a little while ago and with no mention of a Western Release. However just by watching the gameplay trailer, one thing becomes very obvious: Hangame gathered all the remains of traditional Point & click gameplay, put them in a nice box and tossed it in a fire. If you're looking for a twitch based action packed mmorpg, this game is made for you.  This might actually be the most fast paced mmorpg ever made.
It's amazing how far combat in mmorpgs has come. This game probably won't see a western release. No western announcement has been made and while NHN does have its own game portal, Ijii, it's not made for MMORPG's. NHN's other published MMORPG, ArchLord, was published by Codemasters. Unfortunately, Neither NHN nor Codemasters have announced a western release.
Please Codemasters? Pretty please?

Gameplay video: www.youtube.com/watch
 

2 - Aion: The tower of Eternity
 


Developer: NCsoft
Publisher: NCsoft
Western Release: Confirmed

We are looking at a new generation of Korean mmorpg's and Aion is leading the charge. Many people have wondered what would happen if you take the best things of western mmorpg's and the best things of traditional asian mmorpg's and put them together. Apparently NCsoft had the same thing in mind as Aion has been developed with a global audience in mind right from the start, including room for casual play and a focus on WASD movement instead of Point & Click

The game is set for release this year and is already a huge success in Korea. Aion promises PVPVE gameplay, siege warfare, aerial combat, Combo battle system, a deep crafting system, a living world that is influenced by the players and much, much more.

Gameplay video: www.youtube.com/watch


1 - TERA



Developer: Bluehole studio
Publisher: Hangame
Western Release: Likely



TERA deserves attention for a number of reasons. 
Bluehole studios may be a new studio, but it has some of the most influencial developers of the entire industry on board, including the Producer, Lead Game Designer, Lead programer and lead artist of Lineage 2.

What set this mmorpg apart from most other mmorpg's is the ambition of the developers. I'll quote a few phrases from the Bluehole studio website.

 


"? The game under development, "TERA" is a blockbuster scale MMORPG.
? TERA is clearly differentiated from World of Warcraft or Lineage II by ...
i. Dynamic battle system
ii. Next generation graphics
iii. Enhanced community experience
? An executable game prototype that demonstrates the dynamic battle system is ready for evaluation."

""1,2,3,1,2,3…"


Facing the mob and repeatedly pressing a skill button is no longer exciting.
Even the unprecedented hit title, WoW, doesn't deviate from the traditional combat system.


TERA introduces a ground-breaking innovation to the MMORPG combat system.

From the start, the company hoped to realize a combat system that would set a new global standard. After careful consideration, it was decided that TERA's fight sequences should closely resemble real fight scenes. Hence, TERA will introduce omni-directional attacks, where distance and direction must be coordinated for weapons and spells to work; moreover, healers must continuously take new battle positions to cast spells. Also, depending on body weight ratio between a mob and player, an enemy hit will register a fall-back reflect. These are some of the innovative features in TERA.

Also, unlike games that claim to be a MMORPG by emphasizing action-style gameplay, TERA does not utilize zoning (section loading). All users will seamlessly move throughout the world, sharing a singular combat experience. Moreover, the foundation for the innovative combat system originates from the robust client/server technology. This breakthrough technology is one of the many revolutionary features developed by Bluehole to enhance the end-user experience.

 Epic sized content, re-enforced community system!

MMORPG is a game enjoyed simultaneously by numerous players. For long-term enjoyment, initial content volume must be augmented on a timely basis. TERA will appeal to end-users seeking continuous content support without the sacrifice of high quality graphics. Even after a week… a month… a year… the game will pull the player deeper to the virtual world.

The goal is to achieve the world's highest concurrent user load per server!
Players in TERA will not only experience battles with higher concurrent users, but also encounter a revolutionized interaction system for political and economic professions. TERA will offer a stable, non-disruptive in-game social life.


Currently there is one gameplay trailer avaible for TERA Online. it shows that the game is build from the ground up to be an action mmorpg and shows some of its architecture, combat and grouping.

Gameplay video: www.youtube.com/watch


Conclussion:

It's very clear that Asian mmorpg's are moving away from their traditional gameplay mechanics. Point & Click is clearly on its way out and fast paced action gameplay is the way of the future, I have only touched the tip of the iceberg as many, many more action focused asian mmorpg's are under development.

It seems that the focus is now much more on actual gameplay instead of just character development. I'd say it's a change for the better.
With that said, MMORPG communities are very unpredictable and it will be interesting to see how gamers respond to these revolutionary changes.

 

 

Girl Gamers, please stop

Posted by Gameloading Wednesday January 2 2008 at 7:23PM
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Before  every female gamer starts jumping me with knifes, blades, baseball bats and cooking pans I'd like to clarify the thread title first.

If you're a female gamer who enjoys playing games, enjoys talking about games then rest assured, you can sit back and enjoy this entry as this is not directed at you in any way or form. However if you're a female gamer that feels a strong urge to rant on how terrible your gaming experiences as a girl have been and if you feel a strong need to let others know that girl gamers do exists and that they can in fact compete with males in gaming then please read closely and pay attention.

If you visit gaming website frequently then you're bound to come across a few articles that either have girl gamers rant of the 'many' horrible online experiences they have encountered or to point out that there are many girls playing online games and possibly reffering to a professional girl gaming clan like Frag dolls or something like that.

Everytime I read an article like that I sigh a little and I find it difficult to even finish the article, because I already know exactly what the article is like the moment I read the first line.

"guys don't believe I'm a girl"

"guys ask me for pictures"

"guys are flirting with me"

"guys give me items and equipment just because I'm a girl".

I'm sure I left a few out, but you get the point.
I can't help but feel that many girl gamers exaggerate....a lot.

I have known many girl gamers over the years and I rarely hear complaints. Some girl gamers would like to make you believe they are being harassed all over the place, but there is little truth in that.
Yes, we know that you, girl gamers, get crap sometimes. Well guess what: We all do, male gamers included. What, you thought I never got a request to show other people my picture? You think I never had a girl hitting on me online? it just happens, get over it already.

Seriously, so what if a guy or a girl flirts with you and gives you items? I can imagine far worse thing then a person of the other sex flirting with me and give me free items (I apologize for the lack of political correctness in this sentence. If a lack of political correctness bothers you, please don't read the previous sentence)

Now to be fair I don't know of anybody who would suspect of a male character to be a female in real life while many people often question the real gender of a female character. Phrases as "Male until proven otherwise" "MMORPG: Many men online role playing Girls" and "Girl: Guy in real life" are not uncommon.

However the issue here is that there are, in fact, a lot of men who play female characters in games, I think it has little to do with the perception on girl gamers.

Yet some girls insist that there is a significant number of male gamers who believe there are no such thing as girl gamers. They seem to base this on surprising reactions from male gamers when they find out you are, in fact, a girl.

However most men do in fact, know there are female gamers, they just aren't as common as male gamers. I play Xbox live quite often and I don't encounter a lot of girls. It's less worse in MMORPG's, but..the vast majority seems to be male.

Even though I know of the existence of female gamers, I still get to read tons of articles of females who are trying to let me know there are girl gamers. I don't care about professional gaming at all, I wouldn't be able to name one professional gaming clan even if a gun was pointed towards me and yet even I know of the "Frag dolls". Why you ask? Because the Frag Dolls are a female professional gaming team which has been pushed in my face by insecure girl gamers to prove that girls can game...just in case I had second thoughts about the gaming abilities of girls.

type in the words "girl gamer" in google and you'll find tons of websites dedicated to girl gamers, there has even been a gaming show "Girls n game" about girl gamers and girl game development.

Yes girl gamers, we know that there are female gamers out there, you don't have to remind us over and over again, please stop asking for attention.

thank you

Kotor MMO? Please no.

Posted by Gameloading Tuesday November 6 2007 at 8:49PM
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If the past few years have taught me anything, it's that there are 2 ways to get the mmo playerbase in an uproar. One is Blizzard announcing a new World of Warcraft expansion, in which half of the mmo playerbase jumps in the air of excitement, and the other half will nitpick at the expansions because these days it's cool to bash whatever is popular. The other is the mentioning of Bioware or star wars, preferably both.

Ever since Bioware announced a new MMORPG project fans have speculated what the project could be and some new rumors add a bit of extra spin to the rumor mill.

The vast majority of MMO fans are hoping for a Star Wars MMORPG developed by Bioware because apparently fans feel that the franchise hasn't been milked enough just yet.

Perhaps it's because I was never a fan of Star Wars or Bioware games that I'm not having the same religious experience everyone else is apparently having.

To me, Star Wars has always been nothing more than completely unrealistic boyish fantasy.

I personally like my sci fi movies, books and games a bit more realistic, something that gives you the idea "wow, this could actually happen!". The Matrix is a perfect example of this.
When we reach the space age I'm pretty sure that there is no way we would ever shoot red and green laser beams at each other out in space, nor would we wield glow - in - the - dark swords.
And if we were ever to get an evil person the universe, I'm pretty sure he would not be stupid enough to wear something silly like Darth Vader and his storm troopers are wearing.

Another reason I hope Bioware will come up with something unique instead of using the star wars license is because Bioware promised to do something new, something that has never been done before. Jumping on the "lets create an MMO based on an IP!" bandwagon is a bad start, and the fact a Star Wars MMORPG already exists only makes it worse. creating an MMORPG on an already existing franchise seems to be a popular trend these days. It's getting so far that we almost have more mmorpg's based on an existing franchise than MMO's who are not and it's not just happening to mainstream franchises anymore.

Nowadays there are MMO's about anything. Star Wars, The Matrix, World of Warcraft, Dungeons & Dragons, Lord of the Rings online , Warhammer, Final Fantasy, Lego, Conan, Ultima and I could go on and on and on.

Somehow I hope Bioware will be a bit more imaginative than to just rely on a popular franchise.

The new world is a crowded place

Posted by Gameloading Sunday August 26 2007 at 6:47PM
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As you may or may not know, Sword of the New World: Granado Espada has recently gone free to play. After only a month of retail, K2 network decided that a monthly fee was not the way to go, and changed to a full micro transaction. this is really a missed opportunity, had the game been advertised as free to play from the very beginning, the game would have probably caught a lot more interest.

Now if you look around on different forums and boards, you will find a lot of "K2 network bashing". K2 network scams, has bad servers, bans posters on forums and will claim your first born child. Now after having played SotNW back in beta and retail, I found out that most of that is not true. But today I found out that K2 network made its first big mistake with Sword of the New World.

Sword of the New World is not really a social game, thats probably because there is really is no reason to socialize. I personally blame this on the lack of grouping content. There is a serious lack of group based dungeons and areas in the game. If the game had some more group focused environments in the game, players have more reason to socialize with each other. Another reason is the competive nature of the game. When you see another player walk into your hunting spot, you don't think "Ohhh, how nice, another player..maybe I should group with him?"No, you think "That bastard is taking MY mobs damnit". There are 3 things you can do. Live with it, Move to another channel (Similar to Everquest 2) or beat the living crap out of him in pvp.

K2 network noticed that the community was pretty quiet, so they decided to live things up a bit.
They thought it was a good idea to close 2 channels and jam all players in one single channel in order to socialize with each other and to establish new friendships. (Really, I'm not kidding: http://forum.swordofthenewworld.com/index.php?showtopic=9508)
Sword of the New world has a very linear world. there are a lot of maps, but each map is really small.There is only one map for each set of levels (Say, map 1 = lvl 1 - 5, map 2 = lvl 5 - 10, etc). thats right, only one. thats why the game has 3 different channels in other versions.

The reason the game is so fast paced is because there are so many monsters to kill due to the high spawn rate. the "goal" is to kill mobs as many mobs as possible with different skills and abilities. Its the fast paced gameplay that makes the game fun. But in order to keep that fast paced action, every player needs enough mobs to kill, If there are not enough mobs to kill, the pace will go down significantly. Because everyone is jammed in one channel, there simply aren't enough mobs to kill.

But as if that wasn't bad enough, K2 network made this change at the same time as the game went from pay to play to free to play. So not only is everyone stuck in one channel, there is also a huge wave of new players joining the world. And to finish the chaos, a whole load of chinese farmer bots made its way to the new world.
Yeah, I'm sure that will establish a whole lot of friendships Mr SotNW producer.

So the result is that the fast paced action is simply gone. whats left is an auto - attack afk grind fest because there is no reason to use skills. there are simply not enough monsters, its to crowded.

I mean, seriously, what were they thinking? The fact that this is done at the same time with the recent free to play change is just a horrible idea.

According to K2 network: "Also, we have currently reduced the number of channels per world to 1. This is so that we can closely monitor and encourage the growth of the in-game community."

I honnestly don't understand why you need to jam everyone in one spot to closely monitor the growth of the community, and I'm sure this change didn't help encourage the growth of the in - game community at all.

Its like K2 network is looking through pink coloured glasses.

What K2 network wants: "Oh joy! I just started playing this wonderfull new game, and oh look, the world is so populated! I can't wait to make all kinds of new friends and donate my entire paycheck to K2 network!"

What they get:"What the hell!? This place is freaking crowded, I lag like hell and I get kill stealed from left and right. you know what, fuck this, I'm out of here"

The Western and Eastern MMO market

Posted by Gameloading Monday July 16 2007 at 8:03PM
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I often discuss the MMORPG market with other people. Which MMO will be the next MMO to dominate the market? Will an MMO do well or will it fail? What company will reigh supreme? Things like that. I often refer to the asian MMO market, and people often ask me "Why?". Why should we, as western gamers, care what happens on the other side of the world? Who cares which games are popular in Korea, China or Japan? Well here is why.

The most obvious answer is ofcourse, without the asian market, we would have less games to play. No Lineage 2, No Ragnarok Online, No Silkroad, etc. Now you can like or hate those games, But they do cause more competition in the western market. But there is more to it.

Lets take NCsoft for an example. Everybody knows NCsoft. NCsoft became the company it is today thanks to Lineage. Lineage is still to this day one of the most successfull MMO's in the world. NCsoft reported that, at one point, Lineage had 3 million active subscribers. To compare, Everquest peak was about 500.000 subscribers. Almost all of those subscribers are from Asia.
Its safe to say that it was Lineage that made NCsoft the biggest MMO publisher in the world.
Because of its success in Asia, NCsoft was able to publish not only asian games, but western games as well, such as Guild Wars, Auto Assault, City of Heroes. There are more companies who let asian companies publish their games. Flagship studios lets Namco publish Hellgate london in the west, while Hanbitsoft & The9 take care of the publishing in korea and china. All points bulletin will be published by Webzen. Tabula Rasa will be published by NCsoft. Gravity Corp made an investment of 8,5 million KWN in perpetual entertainment, the company behind Gods & Heroes.

The Asian market has a direct impact on our market, its that simple. Discussing the MMORPG market without the asian market is like discussing the console wars without including Nintendo.

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