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To PK or not to PK? That is the question

Posted by AndyLee Friday October 31 2008 at 3:27AM
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PKing is one of the most common features of MMORPGs. Fighting with other players face to face offers much more fun than slashing those AI mobs in the single player games. Defeating other players is the most obvious way to show off your power in a MMO. During the immersive battle, elaborate control techniques will be discovered, and players will be motivated to level up. As a result, the gameplay will be promoted. Moreover, PKing can force players to form a community, to have friends to protect each other, to remember enemies for revenge, or just to make you stay cautious on your journey. However, PKing is also a double-edge sword for MMORPGs, which might destroy an otherwise terrific game.

Imagine you were a newbie again, and trying to fit in the game. However, some battle hardened veteran suddenly comes up and PKs you without any reason. As a newbie, you don’t know how to handle it and feel upset. If it happens over and over again, you will probably think that this game isn’t fun, and you’ll just delete the client and quit the game forever.

Some might suggest the MMO world should adapt to jungle rules, new players get owned until they can grow up. But please remember, an MMO is a community for players. No community can exist in a lawless state. If someone with higher level and superior equipment can run on a killing spree without restrictions, the online community will eventually be destroyed. Consequently players will leave and then the game is doomed.

Therefore, game developers should design a fair PK system in MMOs to prevent the problems mentioned above, for players and also for themselves. Like Blizzard, they provide different types of servers for players. You can choose to join a PVP or PVE server according to your attitude on PKing. Conquer Online, as a PVP oriented MMORPG, provides its players with a well-designed PK system, which can ensure that most of players, either newbie or veteran, can enjoy the fun of the game. In Conquer, killing other players will make you accumulate PK points and the color of their character name will vary so as to warn others. If someone is killed with high PK points, he/she will be sent to jail and some equipment may be detained. The detained equipment can be redeemed and the payment will be awarded to the player who captured the killer. This bounty hunter system can protect new players from repeated random PKs, while keeping the gameplay as immersive as possible.

PKing is fun, but if it runs out of control, the game will be damaged. You must temper your bloodlust, or else there will be no one left to kill.

Obama ad encourages gamers to get off the couch

Posted by AndyLee Tuesday October 28 2008 at 8:20PM
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Barack Obama's campaign is definitely aware of the fact that appealing to gamers is in its best interests. Besides using ads in video games to encourage players to vote early, the presidential candidate now has an video on YouTube that seems targeted specifically towards gamers.


Blizzard: Echoes of War

Posted by AndyLee Monday October 27 2008 at 1:22AM
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Here's a riddle for you: What do you get when you cross the developer of the world's most popular MMO, with an internationally renowned orchestra dedicated to playing scores from videogames?

The answer? Echoes of War.

Australia's Eminence Symphony Orchestra, which gained notoriety worldwide from its viral videos of music played at its A Night in Fantasia concerts, has teamed up with Blizzard Entertainment, creator of World of Warcraft, Diablo and StarCraft, to produce an album of rearranged orchestral music. We're talking iconic music from titles past – Diablo, Starcraft, Warcraft III and World of Warcraft, and well as orchestrations from upcoming games - Wrath of the Lich King, StarCraft II, and even Diablo III. This truly is a 'best of Blizzard' package.

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MMOs can improve your language skill.

Posted by AndyLee Friday October 24 2008 at 3:47AM
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Among the enormous MMORPGs player population, kids account for a significant percentage. In the meantime, more and more non-native English players are joining the English MMO servers for various reasons. For them, playing MMORPGs is an efficient way to improve their language skill.

Compared to other genres, like ACT and RTS, MMORPGs contain much greater quest dialogue and lore. To progress in the game, players have to constantly read and understand the content. By this way, players can unconsciously improve their vocabulary and reading skill.

Moreover, as a highly interactive game genre, MMORPGs can also provide players with an engaging platform to communicate with others. In a MMORPG, you have to team up for quests, join guilds, trade and etc. All of these require you to interact with other people in the game. Usually we can find out that new players not only suck at PK, but also suck in typing out coherent sentences. While playing the game, players’ communication and typing skills improve greatly.

To hook more players onto the game, developers usually provide forums and blogs, where players can chat with others and compose their in-game stories. Conquer Online has once hosted a fan story competition to let players share their sweet and bitter experience in the game and with the whole community. In this fashion, MMORPGs can enhance players’ writing skill.

Obviously players can learn the basics of a language from schools. But schools can’t force you to master something that you have no interest in, especially a foreign language. For those non-native English players, MMOs can provide a platform where they can be exposed to a real English environment, and contact with native English speakers. Compare this to the traditional study method; MMOs create a positive and efficient environment to learn a language.

Take Conquer Online for example, significant non-native English players from Middle East and European countries have joined the Chinese style, free MMO’s English version servers, which makes for a quite multicultural game community. Aside from the immersive gameplay, many of these players admit that Conquer is a good channel for them to improve their English. Undoubtedly, the vivid game world is much more acceptable and attractive than the traditional classroom teaching.

E3 2009 will still be private

Posted by AndyLee Thursday October 23 2008 at 3:43AM
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From ars technical

"We have just received word from the ESA that E3 2009 will be a much bigger show, although the rumor that the public will be invited turned out to be just that. The show will now welcome "all qualified computer and video game industry audiences, including international and U.S.-based media, analysts, retailers, developers and business partners to preview the latest in interactive entertainment and technology." The show will take place June 2 to June 4 in 2009 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

After conducting both qualitative and quantitative research, ESA officials stated changes were necessary to better meet the needs of both exhibitors and attendees—these changes include increased booth sizes, increased qualified audiences, and an intensified focus on reinforcing the high-octane growth, innovation, and captivating entertainment that are driving the computer and video game industry," the ESA stated. Even better news it that more companies will be eligible to participate, including non-ESA members. Let's hope for a few more surprises than we saw the past few years; the return of a Kentia Hall-type environment at the show would be welcome"

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Major developers are leaving E3 and E3 2008 has received fierce criticism from EA and Ubi. How long will E3 hold on?

Blizzard's going to provide Paid Char Customization in WOW

Posted by AndyLee Monday October 20 2008 at 1:22AM
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My previous blog entry: What Is Your Opinion on Real-Money-Trade in MMOs?  Many people are against the RMT in MMOs for various reasons. Now it is said that Blizzard is going to provide players with certain "Paid Character Customization" in its market-leader MMO World of Warcraft. 

"Jay Allen Brack was asked about the Paid Character Customisation that has been found in the game files. At first, he dismissed the question, and would not comment on it, then a few minutes later, he brought up the subject and said that there is going to be paid character customisation. No details yet though."

Even WOW would have the cashshop. What is your opinion now?


Trick or Treat –Players Own MMOs

Posted by AndyLee Thursday October 16 2008 at 8:27PM
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"Are online games owned by the gaming communities?" The author seems to reject player intervention with the process of game design. However, my opinion is opposite. The games are owned by the community, not the creator.

Just like other businesses, the need to satisfy customers has the priority. Game developers are providing the gamers with what they are looking for, basically with the end goal of getting the gamer to empty his wallet to purchase something. Moreover, players are spoiled by the game industry. Years before there was only very few MMOs for players’ choice. As a new genre, MMOs easily satisfied players’ needs. But now, everything has changed.

New MMOs are coming out every week, from fantasy to SCIFI, western style to Asian style. The market is nearly saturated. Players are much fussier than before, or even start to burnout, leaving the genre altogether. In such a buyer’s market, gamers surely own the game to a significant extent. Game developers have to constantly add new content, modify the skill and the lore, and host various events according to players’ anticipation.

For the upcoming Halloween, game designers are releasing various events to amuse their players. Conquer Online has prepared a Halloween Masquerade in which players can dress up and upload the photos to win the rich in-game currency. This is “trick or treat”. Give us the candy or we egg your house! Anyway, it is Halloween. Enjoy it.

Should Players Intervene the Game Design?

Posted by AndyLee Tuesday October 14 2008 at 10:08PM
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Are online games owned by the gaming communities?  This article is about players’ influence on the online games, or more exactly, the game developers. The author seems to against players to intervene the game design. Below is the summary

Most game developers have a vision when creating a game. They decide what type of game they want to make, and where they want to go with it. This isn’t any different with MMORPGs, and we seem to forget that sometimes. When companies create and develop a game, they want to take it in a certain direction, they want to do what they think is best for the game. Let’s take World of Warcraft for example. World of Warcraft at this point is a game that is owned by the community. Blizzard implements things that the players want to see, completely overlooking their original intentions often forsaking their characters, and their lore to create a simplistic type of game-play that will earn them a ton of money

I believe game development to be an art. Not just the programming, but the graphic design, the music, the writing, etc. All of these components, when combined properly can create an overwhelming alternate reality for players to explore and enjoy for hundreds, or even thousands of hours. That said, the direction of this interactive art, and its ultimate goal should be decided by the creator, not by the ‘fans’. It’s fine to have an opinion, and it’s fine to hate something. However, when it comes to the MMO world, we seem to want to change everything in a game to our liking rather than hate it and go play something else. We pressure the artists, the creators, we threaten them with our money to create a world that we like, rather than follow their vision and see where they’re going with it.

Think about it. What if we went around altering the original intentions of every artist out there? We’d update the Sistine Chapel to feature tribal painting, or random Japanese characters. If we start altering art at the rate we want to alter video games, we’d end up living in a cultural wasteland where we eventually wouldn’t even be able to remember the great minds of the Renaissance.


Top 5 "Made Me Mad" Pains when playing games

Posted by AndyLee Thursday October 9 2008 at 8:19PM
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This article is hilarious. Especially when I read the part 4, I just cann't help bursting into laughs.

Top 5 "Made Me Mad" Pains when playing games

From Hello, Benjamin

1) BSOD (Blue screen of death)

You experienced this before didnt you? BSOD could easily piss you off, probably making you out of mind and behave as a psychopath especially when you are playing games. Maybe at that time you are just going to get your loot, casting a debuff to your enemy, trading with someone else or even flirting with a nice girl/guy, the screen pops up on Microsoft in a sudden, delare you can get a break now. You absolutely do nothing wrong, even Bill Gates knows it, anyways unfortunately you have no choice but to reboot your computer. You also have to learn anger manaement so that you can get over the unreasonable accident to cool yourself before doing something bad to your keyboard or monitor...

2) Power Off

it happens just unexpectedly, your house gets murky in a single second and all your excitement and passion on games lose the possibility to hang on so quickly that they brake inside your heart then explode from your mouth, like WHAT THE F*CK !!! You probably dont know how to react to the emergency at frist, what you care is like, hey, have I saved my progress so far? Are you kidding im raiding the instance!

3) Save loss

Another high rate of pain ever, especially for a video gamer. Each piece of the saves means a lot, it may be a milestone of your combos record in a fighting game, it can be a memorable ending of an epic RPG game. No doubt Lost means shame to a hardcore gamer, the pain that you never regain a chance to go over your brilliant records again will bite you heart time by time, at least for a long period, it won't disappear...

4) "It's Time Now, Tom"

- It's time now, Tom
- Just a few seconds, Mom.
2 minutes later
- Tom?
- I'm coming-------(come on, where's the save spot!!)
3 minutes later
- You really don't want to piss me off, do you? (appears in front of the door)
- Just a few seconds....Oh, Ohh, Ohhh w...wait, Mom!! (powers get cut...)

5) ill buttons

These small errors exist sometime, it's no big deal to get fixed, you just repair the keyboard or joystick, even change a new one. But it really drives you crazy when you get back from school or work, try to have fun, you find out there're some problems with your keyboard or joystick, what you get is the endlessly unconfortable control of your gaming character. However we always ignore the reason why it happens, even worse, we abreact the anger of unconfortable controlling again and again to josystick or keyboard, that is really a vicious circle..

What Is Your Opinion on Real-Money-Trade in MMOs?

Posted by AndyLee Tuesday October 7 2008 at 8:16PM
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The gold farmers in the MMOs are infamous to most players as they spamming in general chat channels and on various game forums. Designers and gamers alike are blaming them for the obstruction of gameplay and inflation in the game’s economy system. I used to agree with this point of view and thought that as a real gamer, one should not pay real cash for the virtual items. But as my gaming experience grows, my opinion has changed.

Game developers hate gold farmers as they may destroy the economy system in game, and consequently lead to efflux of players. On the other hand, the game designers, as the creators of the virtual world, keep adding new mounts, items, equipment, skills, scrolls and other dazzling items to suck gold from players. These items are usually essential for gamers to enter high-level/dangerous regions. Players have to spend more time on grinding (P2P) or turn into cash shops (F2P) if players want to continue their adventure. For example, Blizzard is constantly adding mounts and items to WOW and players who are hooked are spending uncountable hours to gather rare ores, herbs and other high value material to trade for gold. In this way, Blizzard is earning tons of money, the “real” kind of money. For those free-to-play MMOs, the status of a cash shop is even more critical as it is the only way that the game developers can earn money from the games. Look at Conquer Online’s cash shop, it has everything necessary to transform a noob into a superman –all you need is a wad of cash. So most game companies police gold farmers with an iron fist to protect their own interests. In a word, fundamentally, the game companies and the gold famers are just rivals who are trying their best to hook game money.

To gamers, rampant gold spamming is indeed annoying, as well as noobs with real-cash-bought super gear. However, maybe we shall observe the problem from a different aspect. As I stated previously, the MMO gamers are exploring a virtual world which is designed and controlled delicately by the game developers. To access the higher-level regions and new game content, gamers have to obtain decent items and experience, usually by grinding, to enhance their characters. But for those players who don’t have much time, like someone who has a real day job, they only have 2 choices: quit playing or find someone else to grind for them. If some extra bulk purchases can make the gameplay much smoother and help many couch potatoes to get a life, why should we still blame it.

I know many hardcore gamers are pissed off by the real-money-trade. But remember, in many aspects, the MMO community is just like the real world, where money can transform a zero to a hero in an instant. Don’t like trimming your lawn? Just pay someone to do it for you.

Playing Computer Games May Help You to Get Insurance Discount

Posted by AndyLee Tuesday October 7 2008 at 2:45AM
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Recently there seems to be more positive views about the video games. I have read many reports, such as " Gamers Are Smarter, study Shows", "Gaming Makes Kids Better Citizens". This time, a new report from CNN claims that a insurance company wants to find out whether computer games can turn people over 50 into better driver. In that case, you should play game with your old man to help him get an insurance discount!

The details are as below:

Under a new pilot program called InSight, Allstate will offer specialized computer games to 100,000 customers in Pennsylvania aged 50 to 75. The games' developer, San Francisco-based Posit Science, will track the total number of hours these drivers play.

Then the group's accident rates will be compared to a control group of people who do not play the games.

The games are not all specific to driving. They're designed to reverse age-related cognitive decline and improve visual alertness.

For example, a game called "Jewel Diver" has players keep track of underwater jewels that pop up on the screen for a moment before they are hidden under fish swimming around. When the fish stop moving, players click on the fish hiding the jewel. It's like Three Card Monte but without the cheating. Over time, the game gets more complicated as more fish appear on the screen.

Allstate recommends that drivers complete at least 10 hours of training. It's being given as a free option to the 100,000 Pennsylvania drivers, and Allstate plans to decide next year whether to roll it out in other states.

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